Collection or Field Guide

Students make a field guide or “collection” of things within a focused category, such as leaf types, rocks in a stream, things that are red, or tracks. Children are natural collectors. Kids (and adults) collect cards, stamps, coins, bird eggs, or any number of other objects. Focused observation of a category leads to a deeper understanding of it. A stamp collector scans every envelope that enters the house and notices unusual stamps and postmarks that most people would miss. Students can harness that type of focus to deepen nature observations by making a field guide. Any topic will lead students to explore a world that they might otherwise overlook and to develop understanding of a category of things. If a student makes a collection of fall fruit in their journal, they begin to see fruit on every bush and vine. If students make a field guide to “fuzziness,” they will begin to see objects, relationships, and patterns among fuzzy things that would otherwise go undetected. Exploring with narrow focus will spark questions about similarities and differences among the objects, such as “What might be common functions of fuzziness?” paving the way for deeper learning about science concepts.
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