What exactly is meant by "biodiversity" and "invasive species"? Children will hear these words, but may not have a clear concept of their meaning. This Ecology 101 study introduces children to 22 key ecology concepts that are part of our everyday language. The terms are explained in simple, clear language for the elementary child.
Ecology is the study of populations within their respective environments or ecosystems. In gaining an understanding of ecological concepts, the child comes to understand the idea of a system, and humankind's role in the larger ecological system in which we live. These scientific concepts are part of the broader Montessori cosmic curriculum that teaches the interconnectedness of all things. I found that my elementary students took greater pleasure in and had more understanding of all life science activities after mastering these basic ideas: ecology, environment, biodiversity, biome, ecosystem, habitat, natural community, food web, species, native species, invasive exotic species, population, limiting factor, organism, nutrient, predation, symbiosis, parasitism, disease, decomposition, conservation, and stewardship.
Beginning with a wider ecological picture follows the principle of starting with the general and moving to the specific.
This unit can be used with children of different ages. The 3-part card set can be used with a younger child, while the research commands and activities can be used with children throughout the elementary grades. Corresponding assignments and activities can stretch over multiple school years. Activities or extensions encompass some art work, biography, literature, map work, and field work. This cross-disciplinary approach is designed to appeal to different interests.
three-part cards for 22 key ecology concepts (picture, label, and paragraph);
22 corresponding research command/task cards–one research topic per card;
36 additional ecology word cards that can be used for any purpose–dictionary work, alphabetizing, research prompt;
20 corresponding activities (map work, field work, art work, community service, and literature);
35 children's book links to support ecology concepts and research.
Since this unit features research tasks, included as a bonus are comments on helping children with research and correcting their written work. These comments are excerpted from The Complete Montessori Language Arts Teacher's Manual
Print on card stock, laminate, and use a paper cutter to separate the 3-part cards, research commands, and word cards to create child-directed shelf work. You may wish to number the pictures, labels, and paragraphs on the back for correct matching.
An understanding of ecology is vital to scientific literacy and to understanding our place in the interrelationships of all things on Earth. Have fun with this child-friendly introduction!
The interrelations of things certainly contain within themselves an impulse towards activity. At this age we have a deep and strong interest which urges the child towards research. This urge toward research cannot be gained by more detailed information about things; even supposing that these details are clearly given and acquired through motor activity, this is not sufficient. We must apply the principle here of giving a logical unity to the importance of knowledge…the principle we have here is the system and not the single object. If a system can be presented clearly and simply, it may become, as it were, a central point, incandescent, burning with interest.
Lecture 1, 21st International Course, London, 1935
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