The Peace and Beauty of Winter in your Classroom

Whether they work in the field or in a laboratory, scientists make observations and collect data to learn more about what they are studying. Not matter what field scientists are a part of, observations and data collection are crucial to their progression. This blog post will give you several ideas to get your students acting like real scientists!

Squirrel in winter

Winter has finally arrived! The solstice brings a sense of peace and serenity to the great outdoors. Likewise, Teachers and students are getting ready for some much-needed relaxation. But if you like to plan ahead, and are looking for a new way to engage your students in the New Year, I suggest introducing phenology into your classroom. By learning about phenology your students will gain insight into the work of scientists.

What is phenology, you might ask. It’s the study of events that repeat/cycle in nature each year. The goal of teaching phenology is to teach students to interact with these cycles and gain a robust understanding of the natural world.

The basic method of teaching phenology is observing, recording and tracking natural events. Events can include watching flowers throughout the year or tracking geese and butterflies on their great migrations. Students make observations, recording the date, time, and weather. Once they’ve collected information over an appropriate amount of time, they can use several options for finding cycles and patterns.

Students record information on a giant classroom calendar. This allows them to look back at each month to see what happens throughout the year.

Working from the calendar, create a time line of what happened each month or season. I saw one once where the months were labeled on the time line. The students used natural things like sticks and leaves to make a collage representing what was happening each month.

Another approach is to have students create phenology wheels. This gives an excellent visual of the cycles that happen in nature. A phenology wheel is great for tracking a natural event like the life cycle of a butterfly.

Making observations and collecting data is a crucial part of studying science. By embarking on a phenology activity, students will sharpen their scientific skills! But even more important they will gain an appreciation and love for the stunning patterns of our natural world!

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