The United States is rich in natural resources, fresh water, wildlife, rich soils, and many forests. The United States is also faced with some environmental problems. Water pollution, acid rain, over run landfills, and air pollution are just some of the environmental issues that our nation must address.
Man has made ample changes to the environment which he shares with plants and animals. With the invention of tools and other modern technologies, we have created a world more comfortable for ourselves and our communities. But our wish for a better standard of living is contingent on our natural resources.
The changes made to achieve these higher living standards has not been without harmful effects on the plant and animal population. Some of the changes have even produced negative effects for some people. With the building of cities and the invention of cars and highways, we have created threats which have affected the wildlife population and their habitats.
We have relied on the resiliency of planet Earth to conform to the changes we make and to repair itself no matter what we do to it. We are now beginning to realize that this is not true. We now understand that our natural resources, land, water and air, need our protection and safe-keeping. We see that if nature’s balance is to be recovered, then we need to make some changes in our lifestyles in order to help.
The purpose of this unit is to sensitize young children to the value of Earth’s natural resources and to encourage them to share in the responsibility for its care. By the conclusion of this unit, it is hoped that a friendship will be formed between the children and their environment which will endure the test of time.
My kindergarten class will begin this study by looking at the ecosystem and how plants and animals have adapted to the conditions of their environment. They will see that the ecosystem is a complex community where trees, plants and animals are dependent upon each other for survival. By studying several types of environmental concerns affecting these ecosystems, the children will be led to understand the fragility of the ecosystem. Disturbances that change these habitats can have negative effects on both man and animals.
An ecosystem is created when plants and animals adapt to the type of soil, land forms, and climate of an area by working together. The wide variety of soils, land forms and climate have made it possible for a great many ecosystems to exist in the United States and across the planet.
The areas on or near the surface of the planet, where plants, animals and humans can survive is the biosphere. Here many different species of plants and animals can survive in a special environment called habitats. Many of these habitats overlap leading the species to be dependent upon one another for survival thus creating an unique biological community.
As we begin our study, we will look at several features of the ecosystem. This will include a study of 1.) land forms, 2.) soil, 3.) the Hydrologic Cycle, 4.) vegetation and 5.) climate. We will learn how all these features are dependent on each other for the survival of the ecosystem. The negative effects of land pollution by solid wastes and chemicals, water pollution through the dumping of trash and hazardous materials, and the effects of acid rain, a combination of air pollutants and water vapor, will be explored. The children will learn some of the current solutions to these problems and will be asked to create some of their own solutions. By posing a series of “theoretical” questions, the children will be led to understand that the answers to environmental questions are not always so easy to settle.
Finally, it is hoped that the children will see the small part which they can play in solving Earth’s environmental problems and will implement changes in their lives that will lessen the negative impact of pollution on planet Earth.
This unit is expected to cover a period of four months. Through the use of books, periodicals, videos, music, experimentations and field trips the children will gain some basic information on each topic. Much of the learning will be teacher directed while experiments and art projects will provide the children with hands-on experiences. The interdisciplinary approach will allow the children the opportunity through language, writing and the arts to share their ideas and concerns with each other and the school in general. Our culminating activities will be to create a Rain Forest, to build and display our version of “A Tale of Two Cities”, to write our own story of a raindrop traveling through the Hydrologic Cycle entitled “Drip the Drop,” and to create our own Totem Pole of the 3 R’s: recyclabe, reusable, and reducible.
With our objectives firmly implanted in our minds, we’re on our way to take a look at . . . ..
Land forms are the distinctive topological features of the earth, like hills, valleys, rivers, and ponds. The distinctions in land forms are caused by natural forces like ice, fire and wind. The surface of the earth is constantly being fashioned through the process of erosion. These forces, working alone or together, have modified the topological features of the earth.
Erosion is a natural process by which the soil and rocks of earth’s surface are constantly scraped and worn away. Flash floods can erode tons of soil in a short period of time. The soil can be carried many miles away from its original point and deposited elsewhere building up new land.
Huge masses of ice, called glaciers, can act like massive filing boards, eroding existing land forms leaving countrysides flat. They moves rocks out of their paths as they move, while rocks below the surface are broken up and carried away. Large mounds of gravel, sand, and clay, cailed moraines, are created by glaciers.
Earthquakes and volcanoes can move land and causes much destruction. By the shifting of solid plates of rock under the earth’s surface, islands and mountains can disappear or new land forms can be built up. Volcanoes spew lava which hardens to modify the land forms.
1. Take the children on a nature walk to look at the different land forms in your area. Look for hills, mountains, valleys, ponds, etc. Discuss how the animals and plants use the land. Look to see how man has changed the landforms (i.e., added a bridge).
2. Take the children on a trip to Sleeping Giant. Discuss the similarities and differences between the land forms here and those around the school.
3. Have the children create different landforms in the sandbox or a shoebox. Allow them to talk about their creations.
4. Discuss the various wild animals who live in the area. Allow the children to talk about the habitats of these animals.
5. Let the children cut and paste pictures of various landforms out of nature magazines.
6. Have the children create a diorama depicting various land forms. Ask them to create mountains, valleys, or hills. Let them use sand for soil. Save for future activities.