Thursday, October 18, 2012

Penguins and My Philosophy of the One-Room School House

If you've been following our school process, then you know I've been teaching a little class at our local aquarium. We are blessed to have a great place for children to learn and interact with water animals (and butterflies). This week's class was on penguins.
Our aquarium has both Gentoo and Macaroni Penguins. I really enjoyed finding out about the differences between these two.
Two crazy facts about these penguins:
Macaroni Penguins lay two eggs--the first almost always dies and the second is raised to adulthood.
Gentoo Penguins lay two eggs as well, and they are rare among animals by taking care of even the
weak and sick of their young.
In order to take advantage of the great Penguin Room in the aquarium, I gave the kids a check list of things to do in the room. They especially enjoyed finding the names of the penguins and observing the penguins like a real scientist. Oh, and the suckers I gave them when they brought me their completed checklists. : )
Our craft for penguins was making our very own cute flightless bird:
You'll need shapes that look like this. I just free-handed them (by drawing one side, folding the paper and cutting them out.)
The large piece and the boomerang-shaped piece will need to be black.
The feet and beak will depend on what kind of penguin you want to make. 
Black: Emperor Penguin
Pink: Macaroni (you could add the orange crest on the head as well)
Orange: Gentoo (these penguins have a white stripe above the eyes)

Our bodies are cut from that foam poster board stuff at Walmart. I don't really recommend it. It's a beast to cut. If I could have had my way, we would have used foam for all the pieces.
The wings and feet are from black poster board.

For our class, we needed to be able to put these together quickly. So I gave each child a bag with all the pieces plus a small piece of sticky stuff. They were supposed to break their sticky stuff in half to put on the eyes. In the meantime, one of my momma helpers handed out four pieces of double sided tape to each child. Two for the white belly, one for the wings (on the back) and one for the feet (also on the back.)
The beak is cut out of sticky foam. (Just peel off the back and stick it on.)
And there you have it. 

 Oh, and a word about teaching different ages all at once:
I've been doing the one-room school house bit for about 9 years. I love the fact that my great-grandmother taught in a one-room schoolhouse in the county where I grew up back when that was all there was. Now we split up our children most of the time, and that method has its pluses, but I really love teaching across ages. There are many reasons this is great:
1. Children learn to interact with others of different ages. This helps with self-esteem and having a clearer idea of one's abilities instead of just one's age.
2. Younger children learn a lot more than we give them credit for. If you teach all of your children together, you may be quite surprised to find that your 2 year old can tell you the difference between a Gentoo and a Macaroni Penguin or that your 5 year old already has his times tables memorized. 
3. Older children who need to use their hands in order to learn often benefit from the kinds of simple crafts like I've used above. In a age-grouped classroom they might not get this kind of craft, but with a one-room schoolhouse approach, they can use their hands to build a penguin at the same time they are hearing about penguins. This often helps them absorb the information better. 
And suckers never hurt either!

Happy Learning!

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you on your philosophy! :) And I still can't believe you cut each of those pieces out! Cutest little 2 minute craft ever. :)