Environmental Learning for the Future | 2016-2017
WHAT IS ELF? Environmental Learning for the Future is an educational program developed to promote an understanding and appreciation of the natural world and increase environmental literacy. We hope to encourage children’s curiosity and concern about the natural world and to provide hands-on experiences for learning. ELF encompasses four different year-long concepts: Cycles, Adaptations, Designs of Nature, and Earth and Sky. ELF has been piloted in classrooms here at Mitchell with great reviews. It has also been very successful for the past 19 years at our neighboring school: Kyffin Elementary, where they have a tremendous amount of parent and teacher support. We are hoping to continue the success of the program at Mitchell.
See what ELF is all about.
WHO CAN HELP? Looking for enthusiastic parents, grandparents, family friends, community volunteers who would enjoy going into a classroom for hands on teaching. Training and materials are provided. We need at least six volunteers per classroom!
This year we are also seeking 2 or 3 dedicated, organized people to step up as ELF Coordinators for the School. Time commitment per session is about 10 hours. (This includes time in your own child’s classroom). Your volunteership would serve best for 2-5 years. It is imperative that we find these volunteers ASAP as the founders of ELF are moving on to middle and high school support.
Earth & Sky is our topic for the 2016-2017 school year.
What is the connection between plants and the air we breathe, between honeybees and the earth’s magnetic field, between ancient shellfish and limestone rocks? In examining the physical characteristics of the world around us, children discover that the living and the nonliving are interwoven in an intricate tapestry.
Life does not exist apart from the physical world. Plants produce oxygen that forms a portion of the earth’s atmosphere. Honeybees depend on cues from the sun’s position and earth’s magnetic field in order to find their way. Over the millennia, the remains of shellfish accumulate on the ocean floor where they are pressed and cemented into stone.
Learning about the physical environment involves examining the properties of rocks and air, sunlight and sound, and wind and water. Through the activities in this theme, students will explore many different aspects of the physical world as well as the forces that affect and shape the earth over time. These explorations will help children to understand the connections between living organisms and the nonliving systems that support them.
Unit One: Finding Your Way – CANCELLED
Animals, including humans, use various methods to recognize their surroundings and orient themselves in the natural world. We will explore how observations and memory help us, and animals, locate familiar places and objects, and how to use this ability to make mental maps. Students will learn how to use a compass and practice learning cardinal directions. We will familiarize students with a United States map and use of map directions. And finally – there will be a treasure hunt!
Unit Two: Rocks & Minerals
We will focus on the fact that every rock tells a story of how the Earth was formed, shaped, and changed over time. We’ll learn about some of the characteristics that scientists use to identify minerals, using some tools and methods used in the lab. Students will become familiar with the rock cycle and some examples of how rocks change form in the rock cycle. And finally – they will make a simple craft showing how rocks are made of minerals.
Unit Three: Air & Sound
Air is all around us, but it has no shape or size. We can’t really see, smell, feel, or taste air, but it is vitally important to all life on Earth. Among other things – air allows us to breathe, to smell fragrances and to hear sounds. Sound waves, caused by vibrating objects, make the air around them vibrate – sound waves play key roles in the lives of animals and people. The ability to produce, hear, and distinguish sounds is crucial to the survival of animals. Air, the invisible mix of life-sustaining gases that comprise our atmosphere, is necessary for survival. We will study these concepts in depth with the students. And finally – we will study actually pig lungs (a healthy lung and a diseased lung) with extreme care.
Unit Four: Weather & Water
Earth’s water is a finite resource that circulates from the land, lakes, rivers and oceans to the air and back again, in a continuing cycle – call the Water Cycle. We will demonstrate how clouds are formed, learn about weather maps, and observe how weather patterns move across the country. We will teach how convection currents cause thunderstorms to form and experiment with wind direction and wind speed and how wind affects weather. We’ll also learn about characteristics of water and the water cycle. And finally – we’ll head outside to evaluate the weather and make predictions!
Unit Five: Erosion – CURRENT UNIT
The shape of the landscape changes over time due to the erosive forces of wind, water, gravity, weathering, and ice as well as human activity. We will learn to recognize some of the causes and effects of erosion. We will explore how wind helps shape landscapes, as well as water. We will experiment with various materials and designs to limit or control erosion. And finally – we’ll explore our school grounds to look for signs of erosion and determine what the cause is.
When will my child’s class participate in ELF? PDF Schedule PDF Calendar
Elf Sessions 2016-2017
Carrie Bazewicz 303.359.8586 -MitchellELF@gmail.com
HOW MUCH TIME? Volunteers need only give about 4 hours during an ELF month (bi-monthly during the school year); time approximation is given:
You too, can help launch ELF! Be a leader in learning!
ELF began in 1972, when the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) educators teamed up with parent volunteers in one elementary school to teach hands-on nature education. Today, ELF reaches beyond Vermont as parents and educators in other states and countries have discovered this effective, adaptable program. While schools in states outside New England cannot sign up with VINS, and get training and materials directly (as New England schools can do for a fee), the program concepts can be used anywhere.
Check out the VINS web site for more information on how this program started and what it contains.