The K-1 class is a class full of makers: they love creating art of all types from watercolor paintings to wood and bottlecap sculptures. They also share Running River’s passion for nature, and have been captivated with grasshoppers since the beginning of the year. After catching them out at recess, they expressed interest in bringing them inside to study and share. The faculty has been studying experiential learning, and I had been looking for a meaningful way to bring a quality project to our K-1 curriculum-- their love of building coupled with their love of insects was the perfect intersection! These homes, inspired by sincere student interest, were an opportunity to teach about the process of creating work, practice patience while working on a long-term project, incorporate teamwork, and teach academic skills like measurement. Here’s our process:

Step 1: Draft: After briefly discussing the needs of grasshoppers, students created an “architect’s draft” of their ideal grasshopper homes on paper. They added details like hinges, lighting, doors, breathing holes, beds, and even climbing walls.

Step 2: Model: Students used supplies like popsicle sticks, paper, cardboard, tape, and hot glue to create a model of their homes. These homes were similar to the types of creations they had been making during choice time. In most cases, the homes differed from their paper drafts, but they did have some consistent features.

Step 3: Collaborate: After spending a few days on the models, students gathered to discuss similarities, differences, and important features. As it was our first class project, I told them that we’d be using ideas from each of their models to create one design for the whole class.

Step 4: Material Preparation: Students helped to pre-sand the boards, measure and cut the screen, and measure the wood for the project. They learned about using a measuring tape, a square, sandpaper, and a carpenter’s pencil. Later, I used their measurements to cut the wood and pre-drill holes at home.

Step 5: Assemble and build: This was a particularly fun step. We brought in an expert to teach the class about 3D printing and had custom 3D doors printed for the homes. The students learned about the CAD program, saw the printer in action, and assembled the 3D printed components for the door. Next, we split up into teams to help each other build the homes. They took turns holding wood, screwing in nails (learning about not stripping the screwdriver bit!), and using tacks to attach the screen.

Step 6: Write about it: The students presented their grasshopper homes to their parents at Parent Night. In preparation, they wrote captions for photos that documented the process.

Now it's January and we are studying evolution.  If you go to Building a Nature Park you can read about how we built models of bird feeders for our Nature Park.  We'll start on the real thing soon. We're learning a rap about evolution - from the beginning all the way to when humans appeared on earth.  We're going to perform it and share some of our projects.  Here are a few photos of our giant dinosaur diorama!

This story started a long time ago
It is the history of rockin roll
All the rocks on the whole earth
Came together in one big birth
The dust, the dust, it spun through space
They all came together to form this place!
The core, the mantle, and the crust
Can you believe it was made from dust?
It rained and rained for a million years
So the ocean, the mountains and the land could appear
Hot. Cold, always changing
This good old earth did a lot of rearranging