As one of Upham Woods’ Teaching Naturalists, I was ecstatic when I was given the opportunity to visit a handful of 4K classrooms. Thus far, I have visited 8 different classrooms of eager preschoolers throughout Baraboo, WI in February. I will visit these classrooms and teach the same groups of students again in March and April. The focus of this wonderful, on-going outreach program is to give our youngest learners the opportunity to get excited about animals; specifically, reptiles and amphibians. Each time I enter a new classroom, I get stared at by at least 12 starry-eyed, enthusiastic preschoolers. Many of the students will ask, “What are in those boxes you’re carrying?” My reply is always, “It’s a surprise.”
My February visits incorporated an introduction to animal habitats and what animals need to survive by doing our “basic needs dance”. My March visits will include the comparison of reptiles and amphibians and adaptations that help these animals survive in the wild. The students will also act out the life cycle of a frog starting with a tadpole and emerging from the water. The final visit in April will focus on identifying different reptiles and amphibians based on how they look as well as moving like different animals such as slithering like snakes, lumbering like turtles and hopping like frogs. The highlight of the lesson for the preschoolers is meeting the education animals I bring. I brought Little Mama the painted turtle and Aldo the leopard gecko in February. The students will get the chance to meet 2 new animals in March and 2 more in April. The students truly enjoy the opportunity to get a close look at some animals that they may have never seen before as well as ask any questions they have about those animals.
It has been a fulfilling experience so far working with these passionate, young learners and I am looking forward to my next lesson in March!