Materials List: yarn, science learning logs, magnifying lenses, rulers, scissors, materials to create an optional terrarium (soil, plants, organism, etc.), Science Learning Log Rubric BLM.
Review the terms ecosystems and habitats. Explain to the students that they will be going outside to explore and study an ecosystem in the schoolyard. Define the words microhabitats (small habitats) and minibeasts (small organisms living in microhabitats). Have students predict what they expect to observe or any questions that can be answered through their observations.
Investigation Task: Review the classroom safety contract (see Unit 1) with students and include specific safety procedures for outside activities as well as investigation tools.
Divide students into groups of two to four students. Give each group a length of yarn. Explain that they are to go outside and create a circular observation area in the grass, garden area, or playground with their yarn. (Choose in advance areas for the students where activity within their “ecosystem” may be more readily observed.) This square represents the ecosystem he/she will observe. Remind students that careful observation is required to detect activity within the ecosystem. Magnifying lenses will help students to observe more closely
Have students illustrate and make notes in their science learning logs (view literacy strategy descriptions) about their observations. Once students have completed their study of their ecosystem, they should share their discoveries with the class.
Students should make a class or personal ecosystem that can be observed over a period of several weeks. Use 2 liter bottles or other appropriate containers to create terrariums. Components might include soil, seeds, plants, and a houseguest such as a mealworm or caterpillar. Visit www.thegardenhelper.com/terrarium.html for additional information.
Upon completing the unit, science learning logs will be assessed using the Science Learning Log Rubric BLM.