Endangered Species Unit Study Review & Summer Planning

“Wait while observing.  That is the motto of the educator.”
Maria Montessori

…And we’re back!  We hope everyone’s enjoying their summer.  If you’re new here, we are a Montessori homeschooling family of five.  Our oldest daughter is 3, our son is now 2, and our newest bundle of joy is our 3-month-old daughter.  

We’ve been taking advantage of some pretty mild weather by us this season and can’t believe a new academic year is almost upon us already!  We have some really exciting Montessori works we will introduce to our children as the year unfolds and we’re pumped to start this new year of our homeschooling journey together.  We have added a few great selections to our primary curriculum resources from last academic year and we’ll be sharing those with you in an upcoming post.  I also just received my Erin Condren teaching planner for 2019-2020 and have been getting my planning and recordkeeping files in order along with my scope and sequence.  Feel free to check out what lesson planner I used last year, including the requirements I have for a successful planning and recordkeeping system.  But first, I thought I’d circle back to what we’ve been up to since May.

We are among the population of homeschool families who choose to homeschool year-round, mostly because it’s become a natural part of our rhythm and routine.  We follow the natural progression of things as we follow our children’s interests so it makes sense for us to keep riding that wave through summer.  

We began the month of May with our Endangered Species Unit Study and that was the focus of our children’s play until mid-June.  We had a lot of great resources at our fingertips for this unit and our children spent a lot of time with several in particular.  

In addition to the main book and inspiration for this unit, Don’t Let Them Disappear:  12 Endangered Species Across the Globe, with its rich vocabulary and vivid illustrations, our preschooler concentrated a lot of her efforts on The Field Guide to Safari Animals.  It’s a very attractive and realistic depiction of a naturalist’s field guide and has beautiful hand-written sketches of exotic animals.  It was easy for our daughter to imagine she was on the safari adventure, exploring maps, making observations, and drawing sketches of elephants, rhinos, giraffes, etc. while using this field guide.  Throughout the book there are transparent pockets which the child can open to reveal 3-d puzzle pieces.  When put together, the items correlate with the images associated with that specific section.  Our preschooler spent several weeks putting the 3-d puzzles together and taking them apart again using the control charts included in the book. She also incorporated the items into her imaginative play.

Whose Tracks Are These? was a popular picture book for this unit study.  Each page includes a wildlife scene along with a set of tracks and some playful content.  The inquisitive nature of the book made this an exciting choice for learning about various animal tracks.

Animal Tracks! was a great addition to our children’s shelf work.  I picked a subset of the 40 pairs of animal/tracks cards to highlight specific endangered species and setup a matching game on one of our Montessori trays.  The matching game was an activity that our preschooler showed persistent interest in and there were times where both our older children were pulling their Schleich animals over to include as object-to-picture matching and imaginative play.  The realistic images and the facts included for each pair of cards make this a great resource for our homeschool as our children expand their understanding with age.

The self-correcting sequence puzzles include a few puzzles that pertain to this unit and were popular shelf work with our daughter for a short time but were quickly mastered so there was not as much interest after the initial introduction and work cycle.  I then added some of the puzzles with other subject matter and saw the same result.  They’re probably a great resource if you introduce them at the right time.  Our daughter has worked her way up to 35-piece jigsaw puzzles recently so I missed the window on that being an enticing work for her.  If I didn’t have younger children we would probably just donate them.  Also, I wanted to mention that the puzzles actually include realistic images which is nice.  I’m not sure why they are showing up as cartoon-like pictures on the product link.

Our children usually work with their art materials at some point on any given day so they enjoyed having the endangered species materials to work with.  The masks definitely garnered the most interest overall.  Given that they were showing persistent interest in most of their materials well past the month I had originally scheduled, I would deduce that they really enjoyed the unit as a whole.  Our preschooler loves animals and I know that these works will reappear in her homeschool environment throughout the year at her request.  Feel free to check out the full list of resources used for our Endangered Species Unit Study.

After our endangered species unit concluded, our preschooler’s interest naturally shifted to birds with all of the opportunities for bird watching indoors and during outdoor play.  At that point we put together a mini unit on birds with an emphasis on backyard birds, using books, self-correcting puzzles and art materials.  Our children have recently moved on to another topic, especially as they have seen me gathering resources for the upcoming year.

We look forward to sharing some of what we’re up to and can’t wait to begin another year!

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