Opening up the world to Grade 4s
When reflecting on a theme with my Grade 4s, I am constantly amazed by what “sticks with them”.
“I learned a lot at Maropeng. I learned how long the world has been around for and how Early Humans survived.” Bailey
“Maropeng was amazing and I learned about Early Humans.” Zoe.
“Maropeng told us about history I did not know about: Early humans who made tools and some had settlements which we can now learn about.”
“Maropeng made me wonder and curious about human beings and what we were like before.” Lilly.
A visit with an overseas friend to Maropeng last year sparked the idea for our theme “Where do we come from?”.
There – within an hour’s drive of school was a rich, primary resource which offered a hands on feel about artifacts, evidence and a story about the beginnings of our world.
Our theme started with a class trip to Maropeng.
I did not prep the class before but rather left them to wonder, explore and question what they saw. They returned to school full of questions and ideas.
What does it mean to be human?
Back at school we discussed the question “What does it mean to be human?” and “What makes us different from animals?”
We started in groups with a chalk and talk and discovered that although we may have differences in opinion we could respect, listen to and question others’ points of view.
“Although we learned about Early Humans, I still believe that God created us.” Lincoln.
So, we talked about the Creation, from both a Christian and Muslim perspective (a Muslim mother kindly came in and chatted to us), our ancestors, and even if we are descended from apes.
Looking at Evidence
Next the Grade 4s explored a bag of evidence looking for clues, making predictions, and asking questions to establish what the evidence was telling them.
From this they tried to established facts provided by the evidence.
In groups, they researched the Early Humans and presented their information in posters.
“Australopithecus has two different species – robustus and africanus.” Barack
“The best work this term was the group project we did on Early Humans.” Zayaan.
“Homo Erectus were the first Early Humans to walk upright like is.” Jessica
“We developed from Early Humans.” Ciara
“Australopithecus, Homo Habilis and Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens came before us. We are Homo Sapiens!” Kayla.
“I loved learning about Home Erectus because they made better tools than Homo Habilis so they were better hunters.” Kyro.
“Homo Habilis had real thumbs so they could make proper tools.” Lincoln
During this time André and Miss Harmse facilitated learning opportunities for the Grade 4s in the CLA. They made stone tools, built natural shelters and made their own paint brush so they could paint on rocks.
“We learned how to make and do things in CLA – like stone tools and painting on rocks with homemade brushes”. Zoe.
“Anything can be creative in CLA like making stone tools and painting rocks!” Lilly.
“You can make a paintbrush from a stick and grass and then paint on rocks.” Katelyn.
“The stone age axe and spear I made were very good.” Mihla.
“I made a tool out of rock.” Cooper.
One mathematics lesson was spent on the timeline of Early Humans.
We read the numbers, wrote them down, ordered them and counted between them. Words like millennium and decades seemed little when talking millions!
We chatted about our year 2019 and its significance, which lead to discussing the year 0; certainly not easy concepts to grasp, but an ideal opportunity to sow a seed for later.
The Grade 4s also had individual activities to complete. There were four groups of activities and they had to choose one task from each: a content-based task, a demonstration, a thinking question and then an opinion piece.
The demonstrations were great fun.
Brogue and Kyro discovered that making a fire without matches was not as easy as they thought. Ciara made a tool from recycled items and the others collected evidence which described either themselves or a person in their family.
Finally, we ended the theme with a life essentials – what if I was “Stuck in a deserted cave” scenario – one person, one tool, one item of food – what would you take? We were surprised by some clever thought-provoking ideas and some “just live for the moment” plans.
Living our learning
Think. Explore. Investigate. Wonder. That we did.
Not with a textbook. Not in a book. With no formal assessment.
My Grade 4s experienced the world around them. They were present in it. They saw how it all fitted together.