Friday, November 10, 2017

STREAM - The Ravens of Farne

STREAM - a little type of activity we do at our co-op class, incorporating {Science - Technology - Religion and Reading - Engineering - Art - Math} that you might like to enjoy with your children at home, in a classroom, or even at Vacation Bible School. I am not a STEM professional - my background is in English, Drama, and Debate - but that just proves that even you can do STEM if I can do it!  Consequently, please let me know how you improve the activities, as many combined minds often produce better ideas.

Science - natural science with birds and maps
Technology - if you are really interested in this, add an internet search*
Religion and Reading - St. Cuthbert and The Ravens of Farne
Engineering - you could incorporate the physics of flight and skeletal structure
Art - drawing by shapes and lines
Math - order of numbers in the index
The Ravens of Farne,** by Donna Farley, is a lovely tale about a monk living as a hermit on an island and the cheeky but repentant birds that keep him company.

First, I read the story aloud to my Kindergarteners and First Graders. If I have time, I ask them to take turns telling it back to me.

Afterwards, I turn to a page with many kinds of birds and ask the children to point out a raven in the picture. Yes, you are right! I write the word Raven on the white board. Let's find out more about ravens using our Field Guide to the Birds of North America. It tells us about all the different birds.

I flip through the field guide, allowing the children to see how many different birds are inside the book. There are so many - how can we find the raven? We can use the INDEX, which is organized by your A,B,C's. Let's say them now to review. (This is a fun and easy addition, because when a person is learning something new and perhaps difficult, it is nice to have an easy success to fuel things along.) Ok, let's look in our index - yes, there is the A, with all the birds that begin with the letter A.


 And then the B's,



and so on all the way through until...





We found the R's! Can you run your finger down the page until you find "Raven"? Only the first grader was game for that challenge. She had a reference for the spelling, however, because I had written it on the board earlier. Most everyone can answer the next question as I point to the page. What number is that? That is our page number, and the pages are in order, so let's find it!

We search through, starting with the lower numbers and moving up until we've gone to far and must go back. This is actually great math practice, though I admit the Kindergarteners were getting fidgety until...


Yes, you found it! That's it!!!!!

I mention that there are two kinds of ravens in the Field Guide but don't go into detail. You would know how much bird science to include or not at this point. Are your students ready to talk about RANGE and MIGRATION? We were not there yet when I did this lesson, because we had not been preparing for that beforehand. However, we had been doing map songs during circle time, so we do a little map skill work. We have been singing the states of the United States, so they were ready to point to our state. 
I explain that the purple area is where the birds can be found, and we realize that ravens are not in our state. Oh well. The Ravens of Farne was a book about an English saint, after all, on an Island off the coast of England, which is way across the ocean in Europe. (Another circle-time song, the continents and oceans.)

Let's observe that Raven in the picture. What do you see? I let them tell me as many details as they can, which is both an easy way to experience a little success after the more difficult map reading and also a preparation for our next activity. If beforehand you the teacher have read the Field Guide, this will equip you to help the children with new vocabulary when they point out something by describing it, not knowing that there is a word for that. You're right, Sammy, that tail is a WEDGE shape.

You know, being forethoughtful you probably would have told the children at the beginning that we were going to read a book, learn more about the birds in the book, and finally draw the birds. I think I did that. I will next time, for sure. Thanks for the idea!


Not being able to find a step-by-step example of how to draw a raven, I took my little non-artistic self and made one up. I tried to use the principle that most objects can be built out of smaller shapes and lines. The photo above is for my own reference, as I drew the shapes on our white board and erased bits as we went. The children's pictures turned out remarkably well.



There you go. STREAM.

Science - natural science with birds and maps
Technology - if you are really interested in this, add an internet search*
Religion and Reading - St. Cuthbert and The Ravens of Farne
Engineering - you could incorporate the physics of flight and skeletal structure
Art - drawing by shapes and lines
Math - order of numbers in the index





*to expand the map part of the lesson or even to do a google (you may prefer to use kiddle, a safer search engine for kids) image search for "ravens in the wild"* to see more pictures.  Just don't scroll down too far, though, because then the images will be of football players instead of birds. In fact, the first time I searched for simply "ravens," google produced almost entirely football related results.

This could be a great time to start teaching your children how to go about internet searches, especially about not giving up when the first search doesn't work. I almost always end up revising my search phrase once or twice based on the results I get. Walking through this process with the children helps them learn to do the same. When I first started teaching high school I was surprised when the students would quit searching after one try and tell me, "there's nothing good on my topic." After that, I walked them through a search of my own using the over head projector and taught them a little Boolean Logic before going to the library or computer lab with them.

**In fact, speaking of older children, the picture book above is a small tale in a larger young adult novel that my son loves, Bearing the Saint.


1 comment:

  1. Hello! This is a lovely post, and I'd like to share it with our readers at Ancient Faith. Please contact me at mjohnson@ancientfaith.com. Thank you! Melinda

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