I want to give you a free sample of Environmental Issues for Kids’ online homeschool curriculum. This curriculum uses video lessons to teach your child about science, and it’s for children in kindergarten through fourth grade.
The free online homeschool video I want to give you is the first step in the Backyard Buddies lesson. This lesson is part of a 9-week series about animals. In this series, I will guide your child through all of the steps of a scientific investigation so they can learn about animals that live in your community.
Enter your email address in this form to get your free video lesson now. Keep reading if you’d like an overview of the lesson.
Location and Materials
The Backyard Buddies lesson is very easy to complete because the only places you need to go are right outside your home and possibly the library. If you don’t have a yard, that is okay. You can go to the nearest green space, or you can even find animals along city sidewalks, especially if there are trees or bushes there. Look for big or small animals, like birds, spiders, and insects.
You need basic materials, including a notebook or paper, pencil, colored pencils, the internet, and books. There are also optional materials for the modeling section of the lesson. These are paint and paintbrushes.
Ask a Question
The first step in a scientific investigation is to ask a question. I’ll supply the question for your child. It is “What animals live in my yard?” You can help your child modify this question if you don’t have a yard. For example, “What animals live on the sidewalk?” They will write down this question. If your child is not writing words yet, then you can write the question for them if you choose to, and your child can draw a picture of an animal that they have seen around your home or that they think they would see.
Design an Investigation
The next step is to design the investigation. I will supply the steps for your child, and they can write them down. If they aren’t writing yet, then they can listen to the steps. Your child will learn how to ask the question and design the investigation in the first video in the lesson. It’s possible to watch it in one sitting as the video is less than four minutes long. Your child will need to pause the video when writing down the question and the steps or when drawing the animal.
The next step in their investigation is to collect data. They will follow the steps for the investigation in an area around or near their home. The video for this step shows how I did the investigation in my yard so your child has an example to follow.
Organize the Information
After your child has collected the information, they will learn how to organize it. I will guide them through each step of making a table and a graph. There are two videos for this section. The early learners video is for those children who are not writing very much yet or are not writing at all. Their table and graph will be simple, and there is an option for drawing pictures instead of writing words. The advanced learners video is for children who are writing a lot and are ready for complex tables and graphs. Both early and advance learners will work on communication skills by explaining their table and graph verbally or in writing.
Make a Model
The next step of the investigation is to make a model. Models can be 2-D pictures, or they can be 3-D models to show what something looks like or how it works, or they can be mathematical. Many times when children do scientific investigations in school or by following textbooks, the modeling step is not included. It’s a very important scientific step for children to learn how to work with models, whether that is using one that somebody else made or by making one themselves.
For the Backyard Buddies lesson, your child will use paint and paintbrushes to make a 2-D model. It’s also possible to make this model with colored pencils or another artistic medium, such as a computer art program. For all of the animal investigations in the series, I have a video that shows an example of how to make the models.
Conclusions and Explanations
At the end of their investigation, your child will draw a conclusion by answering the question that they asked at the beginning of the investigation. Their answer can be in words or pictures, and they can also verbally tell the answer to somebody. They will include an explanation, which is information that supports their conclusion. This information should be based on their observations or what they learned through books or internet videos.
Time Needed to Complete the Lesson
I recommend taking a week to go through the lesson. Here is an example of a possible timeline:
Monday: Ask the question, design the investigation, and collect outside data
Tuesday: Use books and/or the internet to research the animals
Wednesday: Make the table and graph
Thursday: Make the model
Friday: Draw conclusions and develop explanations
However, if your child’s interest level is high enough, you can condense the material into a shorter amount of time. It would be feasible to conduct the Backyard Buddies investigation within one entire day, however with most of the other animal investigations, your child will need more time. Usually a week will be sufficient.
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