Volume:9, Issue: 1

May. 15, 2017

Organizing students' independent work in the classroom's wildlife corner
Brodovskaya, Zinaida V. [about] , Babicheva, Natalia N. [about]

ABSTRACT: The paper discusses the necessity of arranging a wildlife corner in every classroom in elementary grades. The authors present different possible activities and equipment necessary for such places. The discussion is based on available literature and personal observations. The terms, conditions and strategies of how to develop the basics of an individual ecological culture in schoolchildren are being analyzed as well.

KEYWORDS: a wildlife corner, observation, training research activities.


For the successful development of children 6-10 years old a holistic and systemic view of the world and a human being’s place in it must be closely and organically linked to the teaching about the world in classrooms that have the so-called wildlife corners. The latter allow studying the objects and phenomena in wild nature. In elementary grades students have a mandatory class called, The world around us. It is very important that students accumulate gradual knowledge about nature while studying this class.

Communication with nature is most likely random and episodic, and that makes it difficult to consistently observe natural phenomena. And even when the teacher is using live natural objects while explaining some new facts, they do not always serve such a purpose, as teaching students to observe, make comparisons, uncover causal relationships between phenomena, and the like.

In principle, the class “The world around us” contains great possibilities for developing in students such feelings as love for their homeland, love and respect for the nature and its riches, ability to work hard, appreciate the beauty, etc. Experienced teachers use students’ interest to their native nature in order to achieve the aforementioned educational goals. They also show students how fragile natural connections could be and how easy it is to destroy nature by wrong and unkind actions. In other words, students need deep knowledge and certain skills to become appreciative and caring towards the riches of nature.

Wildlife Corners

In schools today we witness an acute necessity to return to the practice of wildlife corners of the past. It is caused by the fact that otherwise collecting living objects for herbaria and other visuals is regulated and limited considerably. The importance of wildlife corners is especially critical in cities, where children have fewer possibilities for establishing direct connections with nature. The wildlife corner is not only a place of storage of living plants and animals, but also a space for conducting class projects and extra-curricular activities. It also helps to provide for children’s continuing education: regular nature observations and experimental work allow developing in children necessary working skills and foster kindness and caring attitude towards animals and plants. Schoolchildren should be accustomed to work in the wildlife corner starting from Grades 1through 3 [3].

The wildlife corner can be organized in any science lab and become part of it. However, it is preferable to keep a separate room of this kind. This can be a room used by students of all grades but the nature of work could be different depending on students’ age and interests [4].

Such a room should be well lit and meet other standards and requirements for keeping animals in a safe atmosphere and providing all the conditions for growing plants. Another condition is room temperature that should be maintained at the certain level, which by itself is a must for a successful growth of plants and animals.

Maintaining the wildlife corner

Plants for the wildlife corner are selected in accordance with the curriculum. There is a great variety of room plants, and they should be selected in the way that allows students to study plants’ external structures, ways of reproduction, and also to carry out multiple practical projects. The most common plants are: aspidistra, asparagus, aloe, araucaria, begonia, impatiens, saxifraga, coleus, various types of the cacti, cypress, monstera, geranium, ferns, sansevera, tradescantia, African violet, ficus, and fuchsia. Each plant should have a tag attached to it with its name, home, and planting time.

In the wildlife corner there could be hydras, mollusks, daphnia, Cyclops, diving beetles, larvae of predaceous diving beetles, dragonflies, and mayflies. As for insects you may consider a moth, cabbage white butterfly, ladybug, etc. In terms of vertebrates, it may contain fish, amphibians (frogs, newts), reptiles (lizards, turtles), birds, and small mammals. Aquarium fish should be chosen considering particular conditions of every wildlife corner and the size of the aquarium; for the maintenance of the aquarium use cold-water fish (crucian carp, Rudd, eel, Gambusia, guppies), warm-water (sword, macropoda, gourami, etc).

As for reptiles there could be turtles at school, especially you may consider purchasing the Central Asian turtle. The maintenance of turtles is not difficult even for students from primary grades. Turtles could live in a terrarium or even in a box, and it is preferable to put it on a wooden stand or any other elevated object closer to the heater.

For keeping birds in the wildlife area it is necessary to create certain conditions, as the birds, unlike reptiles and amphibians, are much more demanding. It can be explained by the fact that birds are more mobile, they have a very high metabolism, and they cannot tolerate starvation, and need be often fed. Before purchasing birds for the wildlife corner it is necessary to be well prepared. Out of the large number of songbirds that may be kept in captivity, we would especially recommend the following: redpolls, goldfinches, siskins, parrots, and canaries. Birds are part of the curriculum in elementary classes; therefore, it is necessary to teach students how to provide care for birds and how to conduct observations.

Finally, wildlife corners might have a limited number of mammals. Squirrels, hamsters, hedgehogs, white mice and guinea pigs can easily survive in captivity. The maintenance of the animals in the wildlife area requires compliance with sanitary regulations; therefore it is not allowed to bring a random animal to school.

Variety of activities in the wildlife corner

The analysis of the recommendations made by N. F. Vinogradova [5] allowed us to come to the following conclusions. Work in the wildlife area provides a variety of activities.

Students receive an opportunity to:

  • participate in constructing dwellings for animals (for their seasonal or constant stay): aquarium, terrarium, insectariums
  • make permanent pet care: feed, water, clean housing; change water in the aquarium and plants in the terrarium and insectaria
  • take care of the plants: to water, spray, hoe, and reproduce them in different ways
  • carry out experimental work on plants’ cultivation
  • participate in small experiments on how to train and tame animals; e.g., training fish to come to the feeder on call, taking food from students’ hands (squirrels, hamsters, birds) and respond to their names
  • grow plants to feed animals (oats, grass)
  • fill in journals (tables, calendars) of plants’ and animals’ observations; arrange exhibitions of students’ drawings [5].

Our observations and studies allow us recommend the following sequence of developing children skills’ and ways to care for plants and animals:

  1. The teacher carries out all the work him/herself, explaining the sequence and expediency of all actions. The students are watching.
  2. The teacher asks a little help from students, still fulfilling most of the work him/herself.
  3. The students work independently under the supervision of the teacher who assists with advice or provides direct assistance.
  4. Children do all the work themselves.

The teacher pays special attention to the introduction of the rules of care for plants and animals, trying to develop the feeling of respect for the creatures which live in the wildlife corner and explaining to the students that without their help all these creatures might not survive [5].

Children need to learn some other rules: all the work should be done without causing any harm to any animal; cages should not remain open without supervision for a long period of time, otherwise animals might run away; all the equipment should be cleaned and put back just in the right place.

The work at the wildlife corner should be directly connected to the curriculum objectives. It will deepen and enrich the information delivered during classes. While working there, students gain practical skills for keeping and feeding animals, caring for them, learning how to observe them, how to stage simple experiments and carry out research.

Before starting experimental and research work with animals, students should learn to maintain them, which requires careful monitoring. Observation is an activity associated with a deliberate perception of objects and phenomena of the external world. Therefore, observation is the initial stage of experimental work, which involves research activity. Students’ research can be characterized as specially organized and creative cognitive activities, which correspond with adults’ research, the latter being marked by purposefulness, objectivity, motivation, and consciousness, and the result of which is the formation of cognitive motives, research skills, new knowledge or ways of working.

Involving students into scientific-oriented research and project activities at the early stage of their education will let them realize and then develop intellectual and creative skills. Elementary schoolchildren are by their nature curious researchers, and they participate in different studies with enthusiasm. Success of such studies mostly depends on how they are arranged.

The first task of a teacher is to organize such conditions that would promote students’ development in independent thinking and creative approach to the activity.

Revealing the content of organization of project-research activity at the elementary school as a way of implementing requirements of the Federal State Educational Standard, it is important to emphasize the following ideas: project-oriented research activity helps to shape key students’ competences; it is also a way of perception, a method of accelerating perception, a means of forming analytical skills, critical thinking, mastering logical perception and processing information. It is part and parcel of the Federal State Educational Standard (FSES) requirements to the capabilities and skills, allowing to change every student’s reality with his/her own strengthening and fulfilling each part of the algorithm. Project-oriented research activity also allows to achieve personal, intra classes and subject-related results, required by FSES [9]. 

The nature and types of independent observations and research can be different. Some of them should precede classes, first collecting data for the future studies, others should be held during the classes, still others could increase and deepen the information received during classes [1].

Variants of creative tasks in the wildlife corners and rooms

When children develop special interest to nature and experimental work, they can be offered an opportunity to grow exotic plants. For example, growing a coffee tree, or lemons, or a chestnut tree. One can try growing onion plants, such as hyacinths, daffodils, tulips, as well as growing plants from the seeds of beans of nasturtiums to make a school green and also having flowers for International Women’s Day. An interesting work can be done on trying to grow hydrangeas of different colors. It is achieved by watering a plant with water containing potassium permanganate and brilliantine. The conditions of the wildlife corner or room allow growing green onions, parsley, fennel, celery, and even room tomatoes and cucumbers [8].

The suggested observations, experiments, and research work do not demand any complex equipment. All necessary recommendations are provided in the course of work.

Conclusion

It is clear that in the process of work on this or that topic students will take care of animals, feed them, observe their behavior and other similar activities. Then the observation results will be represented as tables, written reports, diaries, electronic presentations [2] or oral reports. All aforementioned activities and especially independent students’ observations and studies will help promote successful learning of the basics of ecology, accelerate the development of practical skills and also lay the foundation of an ecological worldview. All of the above shows the importance of schools’ return to the practice of having wildlife corners and rooms and organizing students’ studies there.


References

  1. Antropova, R.M. (2004). Infocommunication as a factor of professional socialization of a future teacher. Siberian Pedagogical Journal, 2, 171-174.
  2. Antropova, R.M. (2017). The structure of free time of future teachers. In Modern directions of psychological and pedagogical support of childhood: Materials of scientific-research conference (Novosibirsk, Aprel12-13, 2017 г.)  ( G.S. Chesnokova, E.V. Ushakova, I.A. Fedorchenko, Eds). Ministry of Education and Science of the RF, Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University.  Novosibirks: Publishing House NSPU, 3-5.
  3. Brodovskaya, Z.V. (2014). Development of younger schoolchildren’ research skills in the process of being introduced to nature. In Problems and prospects of elementary school teachers’ training (V.G. Khrapchenkov, Ed.). Novosibirks: Publishing House NSPU, 112-123.
  4. Brodovskaya, Z.V. (2012). Ecological games and puzzles: A manual for elementary school teachers, teachers of ecological circles, students of primary education departments. Publishing House N Iqirew.
  5. Vinogradova N.F. (2005). The surrounding world: Methods of teaching: 1–4 grades Moscow: Ventana Graf.
  6. Krolikova, J.V.  Research activities in elementary school. Retrieved from: http://aneks.spb.ru/index.php/publikacii/82-preschool-projects/267-l-r
  7. Petrosova, R.A., Golov V.P., & Sivoglazov, V.I. (2000). Methods of teaching natural science and ecological education in elementary schools. Мoscow: PH «Academy».
  8. Approximate main educational program of an educational establishment. [Comp. by Е.S. Savinov] (2010). 2‑nd edition.(Standards of the Second Generation). Мoscow: Prosvescheniye.
  9. The Federal State Educational Standard of elementary public education.  Retrieved from: http://xn--80abucjiibhv9a.xn- 1.




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