Saturday, January 21, 2012

A "Jewel" of a Bear

I believe that respect should underlie all that we teach. Respect for others helps to prevent misconceptions, or ideas, about how we believe things to be. Respect for nature is an important aspect of this too. Black bear common lore includes many misconceptions and myths. The North American Bear Center has a wealth of information gathered from several decades of research. Much of the data is gathered by noting their habits and whereabouts of radio collared black bears in the wild. Follow this link to learn more about black bears:

Last year my classes watched Lily and Hope and this year I introduced my classes to Jewel. Each time, we have quickly fallen in love! Jewel is a three year old bear who is expecting cubs any day now. She is currently in hibernation and we watch her daily periods of wakefulness and grooming through a web cam set up in her den. Here is the link to Jewel's den cam:
Jewel is awake and grooming and wow are we excited!

As you know, we are in the midst of our bear unit in kindergarten. Here is where I gather much of my inspiraton:
One of my favorite ways to incorporate this learning into a half day kindergarten day is to use the den cam to inspire our writing. We learn the difference between observing with a "scientist" eye and creating with an "artist" eye and give each its' due credit. My students note their observations in a journal. They are learning to use "tools" in the classroom, such as our Days of the Week poster and our vocabulary list generated through our reading and discussions. They use "invented" spelling to sound out any unknown words. This student drew Jewel just as he saw her. Her back was to the den as she was curled up in sleep. The lines along her back show her fur that he was seeing. The lines along the bottom of the den show some dry grasses that he saw. Ah....he's learned to use labels too!

Next on our agenda is to learn how black bears find and make their den for their hibernation period. I'm thinking.....FABULOUS BOOK NOOK! I'll post our creation of a classroom den in a few weeks.!

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