Please note that our integrated, interdisciplinary units are called "expeditions."
Our Place, Our Home, Our Community
In Our Place, Our Home, Our Community Expedition, we looked closely at the new schoolhouse property and surrounding area of Somesville. The question, “What does Home mean to us?” guided our work. The children reflected on the attributes of their own homes, along with places in their life that feel like home. They solidified practical knowledge of their home town, street and address, and of the geographical location of our new schoolhouse. We walked along our neighboring watersheds, met and interviewed the people who surrounded us-- from our local librarian, to the builder who was working our schoolhouse and grew up here on MDI-- and we learned many of the native species that share our school property. Each of us reflected upon the feeling that one associates with Home, as we explored, journaled, illustrated, drafted maps, and collected specimens-- all the while developing a newfound, meaningful relationship with our new Community School home along Babson Creek . As their final projects, the children created their “Sense of Place Mobiles,” collecting 5 found object that represented each: a body of water they know, a special place, a species they know how to identify, a person in the community they appreciate, and a sense of home. The children hung the objects from a branch they found, and wrote and/or illustrated what each object represented, ending in a presentation to a partner, then a sharing afternoon with their parents.
Salt Water Habitats
In our Expedition, Saltwater Habitats, we studied the Saltwater Habitats of MDI and surrounding areas. We asked the questions, “What makes this habitat unique?” and “Who lives here (plants and animals)?” On our outings, we explored almost each habitat that we studied and plotted it on a map along with the species we observed living there. Along the way, the children made written and illustrated entries in their Expedition Logs-- diagramming the intertidal, organizing creatures into like families based on their characteristics, and documenting the substrates and land forms that are quintessential to these habitats. As we observed the tides coming in and out each day and explored along its banks, one of our major undertakings was completing our own species inventory of Babson Creek. Another long-term project was taking an ocean poem that each child had written at Ship Harbor through several drafts to a final draft. For our final project, each child chose a saltwater plant or animal to study and illustrate through many drafts, the final of which was an acrylic painting on canvas to be put on our classroom underwater mural. The children worked on researching, drafting, and painting their species with the help of guest natural history illustrator, Amy Gagnon. Each child presented their animal, complete on the mural, along with a reflection on the process to the school and parent community.
Our Place, Our Home, Our Community: Acadia National Park
Our opening Expedition focused on Acadia National Park (ANP). Through story and outings, we explored the history of Mount Desert Island (MDI), focusing on the people and historic communities of MDI. Throughout our study, the essential question that guided us was “why this place?” As a class, we examined timelines and maps as tools to help us organize and understand historical information. As a reflection on our studies, each child created a timeline of important moments in ANP history and a free form map of our Babson Creek schoolhouse. In addition to our study of area history, we examined the diversity of our island through a focused study of dendrology. The children built a solid foundation in tree ID over the course of many outings and mini-lessons in the field. As a class, we completed an inventory of the trees on our school property. Learning to use scientific field guides, each child completed a focused project on a tree species of their choice. Our culminating project, was a beautifully illustrated and informational guide to the trees of Babson Creek, a useful treasure to add to your home libraries! The children were able to share these books with the K-1-2 Class, and a copy of our field guide is now an important part of our school library.
Our study of Greek Mythology began by establishing a strong foundation within the Greek stories, giving us insight into Greek culture and how stories are used to make sense of the world around us. The children retold the stories through poetry and explored the vivid world of mythology through careful drawings in their Expedition Logs. We paired the imaginative world of the Greek Myths with a discussion on culture, guiding our exploration with the essential question, “What contributes to a people’s culture?”. For our final projects, each child selected an element of culture to study, write about, and present to our school and parents. Throughout this project the children used informational texts to complete research, practiced effective note taking skills, learned to organize information into topic-specific paragraphs, and practiced presenting with confidence and clarity. Each child wrote a multiple paragraph essay, created note cards to structure their presentation, and crafted a visual aid to accompany their oral report.