The second round of Extension Block classes started this morning, much to everyone's delight. Extension Block (EB) time gives children an opportunity to learn and play with children from other classes, and to explore a topic that they are particularly interested in. It gives teachers a wonderful gift - the time and space to teach (and learn more about) a topic they have a passion in, but that might not fit in with the regular curriculum. In the past, EBs have included everything from pickling, to carpentry, to knitting, to geo-cacheing, to baking bread ... and much, much more.
This time, I decided that the EB I would offer is about Jane Goodall, a long-time hero of mine. Most the children who signed up for this EB have a special fondness for animals and nature, and most list art and science as their favorite subjects. This EB was meant for them!
We started this morning by meeting our special guest teacher, yet to have a name. "Bananas" seems to be a top contender:
Bananas (if that indeed is her name) told the children how Jane Goodall was her favorite person, and wanted to know if they knew why. Responses included the fact that Jane helps chimpanzees, and helps nature, and that she lived with the chimpanzees and became their friend.
We started our research by reading one of the many lovely books written about Jane and the chimpanzees. This book, called The Watcher, takes Jane from being a very curious child to the woman she is today.
We are going to be "watchers" too. In future weeks, students will get their very own field journals and binoculars, to be able to observe and document wildlife in our own woods. No chimpanzees, unfortunately, but maybe we will see a bird or squirrel.
The illustrations in The Watcher served as inspiration for a two-session art piece. Using various techniques and materials, we will each create a jungle scene with a chimpanzee. This morning, we used oil pastels and paint to create our chimps. Next week, we will cut the chimpanzee out and create a beautiful backdrop and tree for them to swing on.