written by Andrea Galdames and Blue Earth River students
As the leaves turned color this fall, students in Blue Earth River pioneer classroom (4th grade) were inspired to learn more about leaves and plants. As a class, we collected both deciduous and coniferous specimens outside and learned to use a dichotomous key to identify different tree species. Many students drew beautiful diagrams of leaves and brought in leaves and seeds from home. According to Henry Stumme-Hanson, “The leaf collecting was fun, but the identifying part was kind of hard. It was hard to find the correct tree because sometimes we had dried out samples and they weren’t as good, but with perfect samples it’s super easy to tell.”
One group of students followed up on a lesson about photosynthesis by writing a skit based on the “leaf factory” Montessori chart. This group wrote and revised the script, gave out parts, created props (including water and carbon dioxide particles), and performed the skit for lower elementary students to teach them about the process of photosynthesis. The rest of the students in the class got pulled in and became backstage props managers, audience greeters, and clean up helpers. According to Margo Willis, “I think the play was challenging. We all worked really hard on setting it up. There was a lot to remember. But it was good because I didn’t know people at the beginning of the year and the play made us connect more.” Other students echoed Margo’s remarks. “I enjoyed the play and enjoyed the fact that I was able to do something and be backstage and be part of the play,” said Antonia Sanmartin.
Henry Severtsgaard observed the flexibility and team work of the actors with admiration, “Everyone seemed to keep it together. When someone messed up they would act like it waspart of the play and it was no big deal. I was happy that I got to help.” This project can be summed up in the words of student Morgan Kane, “I thought it was fun.”