The first grade curriculum surveys the animal and plant kingdoms to determine how different species use their features to survive, grow, and meet their needs. There is a specific focus in each lesson on how each species communicates, which culminates in a final Animal Communication Challenge, where students will be given a set of tools and will use the idea of “biomimicry” to apply what they have learned about different ways to communicate in a team challenge. In the garden, they focus on plants in the Allium and Solanaceae families and learn how animals affect the growth and pollination of plants.
Students study live crickets to examine their adaptations. They visualize how vibration make sound waves using an oscilloscope and make a vibrating instrument to mimic the cricket’s leg stridulations.
Students learn how different bird parts help the bird survive. They test different beak shapes to learn how they are adapted to eat certain foods. They listen to bird calls and learn how birds use different songs to communicate.
Students learn how bats use echolocation to navigate and how bats have different adaptation depending on their food source. They conduct a simulation to show how bats use distinct sounds patterns and scents to identify their offspring and eat a snack of food that depend on bats for pollination.
Students learn how skunks and dogs use scent to communicate territory and warnings. They play a game that simulates how ants in a colony use scent to organize work. Students dissect onion bulbs to learn about their pungent scent and bulb structure and make a natural pest repellent spray. They plant onions.
Students learn how bees tend larvae within the hive to take care of their young. they perform a bee dance to show how bees communicate the location of food. They have a honey taste test. They dig a deep trench and plant potatoes.
Students learn how snakes use thermal sensors to identify prey and can feel vibrations in the ground to detect movement. They learn about rattlesnakes and the importance of warning sounds for both snakes and humans. They bury the potatoes deeper.
Students work together to solve challenges given a set of communication tools from each lesson (scent, movement, sound, dance, echolocation, song). They mound up dirt above the potato leaves.
Students harvest the onions and garlic and hang them up to cure.
Students harvest the potatoes and process the onions and garlic. They cook a potato, onion, and garlic hash or soup. They close their garden beds for summer.