October 2018

A Week in the Local Geography Block

The third and fourth grade class began the year studying local geography.  At City Garden, we start the study of geography right where we are, in our classroom and at our school, places that the children know very well.

To begin our study, we took a walk around our building and made some detailed observations.  I prompted the children with some questions like, “What is our church made of?” “Does it look like it was all built at the same time?” “What is the building used for?” “Why do you think they decided to build a church here?” These questions help the children learn observation skills. They noticed lots of details about the building and made many guesses about why things were done the way they were!

Then we came back and drew a beautiful picture of the front of the church. As we drew, we talked about the different building materials and uses of the space.

The next day, we completed a piece of writing that we created together as a class about our building and our observations.  We wrote 5 sentences!  We write together in third grade and at the beginning of fourth grade for many reasons. This writing process allows me to work on and talk about spelling and grammar with the whole class.  It also illustrates the writing process and how we can make creative, refined sentences!

Another important aspect of our local geography study is to introduce the “eagle eye perspective” … the perspective that maps are drawn from and one that children are not able to really grasp until third or fourth grade. To further their understanding, they all stood up and made a “map” of their desk from the eagle eye view.

As the block goes on, we continue to move outward and upward. The children worked on a beeswax model of our classroom.  Then we drew a map of our model and made a composition about our experience.  Many of the children mentioned how difficult it was to draw from above instead of from straight ahead!

It was a wonderful week of observing, exploring, and creating!