Cindy - I love this! I actually teach at a school in Woodbridge and would love to hear more about your center! My thing is worms :). I agree that every one loves butterflies. Not everyone loves worms lol. I do a unit on worms, and emphasize how much good they do. I have had classes that spend their recess digging for worms. We move our bodies to pretend we are worms making holes in the dirt. We sing Herman the Worm. I bring in worms hidden in dirt....the students find them and explore with them. Many of them get over a resistance to touching/holding them over the course of a week. My students spend at least 30 minutes every day enjoying this and don't ever lose interest. My victory this year...one boy said "I was wrong, worms aren't yucky".
------------------------------Susan FergusonLead TeacherSt. Paul Preschool and KindergartenWoodbridge, VA------------------------------
Smith, C. and M. Landry. 2013. The Wonder of Worms: Inquiry-based learning for early elementary. Science and Children. National Science Teachers Association, Vol. 50:6 (6pp) 2/1/2013
------------------------------Susan FergusonLead TeacherSt. Paul Preschool and KindergartenWoodbridge, VAOriginal Message:Sent: 06-02-2021 12:16 PMFrom: Cindy Smith, PhDSubject: Are cicadas your favorite insect?Thank you for your comments Mars,My bigger idea is to move kids away from fear of insects, and to slowly gain an understanding of how essential they are to us and life. Not to get too much into research, but globally as well as locally insects are declining. You can see this trend around porch lights, and even when driving around during the summer. How many bugs are you seeing smashed on your windshield? Bringing the awareness that insects play a critical role in our ecosystems and food production is important. In my experience working with preservice elementary ed teachers, I ask them what they remember learning about bugs in their K-12 years. Most of them like butterflies and understand their life cycle, and many believe most bugs are gross and that bees are always looking to sting them. They are likely to share these fears with their students. By immersing them in insect activities, we slowly change their mindset. Like for example, I took them all (allergic students could opt out if desired) to our honeybee teaching hives. Even when dressed in full bee suits, for some it was challenging to be around around bees because they knew 'for a fact', that the bees wanted to sting them. After watching the honeybees go about their jobs in the hive, the realization dawned on them, that bees are just doing what they need to do in life, and humans aren't really a part of their daily life. I also have them sit quietly and observe and describe pollinator behavior on a flower (e.g. how long a bee spends on a flower, what it does when it lands, etc..).Changing insect aversion as adults is more challenging than teaching insect empathy at a young age. Providing opportunities for kids to engage with insects in a fun way allows them to explore life cycles, differences in males, females and hopefully to build empathy for insects. I'd love to help kids become protectors of our environment by recognizing the different aspects of the ecosystems.Long-winded I know...Thanks very much for your feedback------------------------------Cindy Smith, PhDAssociate Professor; K12 Education DirectorGeorge Mason University's Potomac Environmental Research and Education CenterWoodbridge VAOriginal Message:Sent: 06-02-2021 10:42 AMFrom: Mars April CaultonSubject: Are cicadas your favorite insect?I admit that I cringed at the thought of children using live insects for Olympics and entertainment, because it sounds too much like zoos. But I really enjoyed the photos on your website! The students seem to be handling these great creatures carefully while they get up close, hands-on experience with nature. Plus it is adorable : ). I think I might try making something more geared towards what big bugs might "wish" they could do, such as a cicada playground / amusement park. In Reggio Emilia that was one of their famous projects that the children wanted to do -- design an amusement park for the birds. If it happens this summer, I will post photos. Thanks so much for what you are sharing!------------------------------Mars April CaultonEducation Coordinator,Mary Crane CentersChicago ILOriginal Message:Sent: 05-20-2021 02:52 PMFrom: Cindy Smith, PhDSubject: Are cicadas your favorite insect?For kids who are a bit unsure about handling insects, I love using these magni-viewers. They're easy for littles to hold and manipulate, and they can observe from the top or the sides without the insect running away. For cicadas, they are so slow moving that kids can easily pick them up, have them ride on toy cars, toy boats, or play in dollhouses. They are my favorite teaching insect! I'm such a cicada fanatic that I put a collection of activities together for what can be a neighborhood or school-wide event, The Cicada Olympics. https://www.drcindysmith.com/cicada-olympics------------------------------Cindy Smith, PhDAssociate Professor; K12 Education DirectorGeorge Mason University's Potomac Environmental Research and Education CenterWoodbridge VAOriginal Message:Sent: 05-20-2021 01:41 PMFrom: Peggy AshbrookSubject: Are cicadas your favorite insect?