People are spending increasingly more time indoors. As much as 96% of our day is spent inside so consequently we are experiencing the outdoors less and less. This is an unfortunate and unhealthy trend. Nature deficit disorder, a term coined by Richard Louv in his book,
Last Child in the Woods
, identifies a result of this extreme amount of time spent indoors. Children are not being exposed to nature on a regular basis and are not making a connection to their natural world. He points out that the children who play outside are less likely to get sick, to be stressed or become aggressive, and are more adaptable to life’s unpredictable turns.
My students most certainly fall into this statistic. They travel to school inside a bus or car, generally, spend many hours at school, many go to after-school programs, with many sports and activities played and experienced inside buildings: basketball courts, soccer “fields,” swimming pools. While these are all important parts of a child’s day, we need to think about moving them to the outside world. New Haven offers tremendous opportunities for outdoor experiences with its many parks and natural waterways. I want to get my students outside where they can become comfortable with exploring and investigating.
The New Haven Public School Science Curriculum includes a focus in second grade on Earth’s Materials, specifically how materials cycle through the Earth’s systems. I will begin the unit by reading
Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean
, a picture book by Arthur Dorros that introduces to primary-level students how water moves and how it has shaped our earth over time. This quick read aloud presents fundamental concepts about water. It draws the students into the action by addressing the readers (listeners) in the second-person "you." It clearly explains such terms as "brook," "stream," "river," and "delta," and illustrates such basic concepts as where water comes from, how it travels, and where it goes. An additional introductory resource is
Down Came the Rain
by Franklin Branley, a concise and informative look at the water cycle. Branley provides a elemental understanding of how water is recycled, how clouds are formed, and why rain and hail occur. A few science activities are included which could help launch a basic understanding of the water cycle, a concept students will learn more about in future grades. From these two resources, my students will have some fundamental vocabulary and conceptual understanding to begin the hands-on work that will come later in the unit.