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Milky Way, 04 August; Living Things

This week Milky Way class has continued the transdisciplinary theme of how the world works, with the central idea that living things have specific requirements to grow and be healthy. The scope of the central idea is being defined by lines of enquiry including:

  • The stages of life and life-cycles
  • The requirements for life and health
  • How we help plants grow
  • The diversity of life

The class is continuing daily to review and reinforce the unit’s vocabulary list of over fifty animals and life-related words. They are also learning simple taxonomic definitions for, and various example species within mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, crustaceans and fish.
In more practical lines of investigation, the class continues to monitor the germination and growth of plants under various controlled conditions, have kept frogs, and now have an ant farm with around 100 ants whose tunnelling and behaviours the children enjoy watching, a tadpole whose complete metamorphosis we anticipate, and additional plants.

Continually, the students are being encouraged to pursue their individual questions about ‘living things’ in their own time and again, any help from family members in this regard is greatly appreciated.
This week the class looked in some detail at polar bears and learned some fascinating facts. For example, the height of a polar bear was measured onto the wall with a tape; the students consecutively stood on bathroom scales and the collective mass of the class was calculated & shown to be significantly less than that of a polar bear. Learners were surprised to hear that the bear’s fur is 5 cm long and transparent and that under their skin they have a 10 cm layer of fat that helps them to float and stay warm in the ice. They were similarly surprised at how far polar bears will walk and swim for food, and that they can pick up the scent of a seal from as far as 30 km. Students’ observed that the cubs feed from their mother’s milk and learned that this is a defining feature of mammals – herein the class was astounded almost beyond belief on learning that other in-class model mammals (for example) orcas, whales, mice and giraffes also feed like this.
In language, the class has begun studying prepositions; speaking and writing grammatically correct sentences with diagrammatic representations that describe the position of one object in relation to another.

In mathematics, Milky Way has commenced a unit on length. Hitherto they have learned about measurement and units (mm, cm, m, km) and can discuss which units may be most appropriate for the measurement of a particular length. They have also learned the words long, length, high and height and they will go on to use comparative and superlative grammar points in their mathematics classes. Concurrently, drawing a specific-length, straight line using a ruler is proving challenging and a great way to enhance their motor skills and coordination.
The class went on a short nature walk with the intent of collecting fallen vegetation with which they could create something artistic. They all thoroughly enjoyed this and it was a substantial success.

Further entwining their disciplines, Milky Way have begun to concurrently use language and mathematics together with a ‘living things’ theme-related craft project that we will spend more time enjoying tomorrow with the aim of finishing Monday.
During morning and afternoon routines, the class continues to study and sing Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World.  Many students can now talk about Dixieland jazz, brass instruments and scat singing, which the class absolutely loves to improvise spontaneously.  They are also studying The Tokens’ The Lion Sleeps Tonight and have started to rehearse Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah in preparation for the ISN sports festival.