Today was a bright spring day. The sun was shinning and it is the second day of spring. Here in Minnesota we still have several feet of snow on the ground and the temperature this morning was in the teens. ( Yesterday it was 6 degrees when I got up). We ARE still calling it spring and so I set off with my students for a short walk to observe the sights and sounds of spring.
Really, there was no music teacher today and no reserve for her so my students were with me all day. I decided to use that bright sun and our up coming science test to begin the spring work on science and close observation. What do we see that tells us spring is really going to come to Minnesota? We took our science notebooks and slipped out the back door.
The first thing they commented on was the warmth of the sun on the building and the brown grass that was visible against the building. The heat of the bricks was allowing the snow to melt more quickly. We traveled on the a small tree and looked closely at the buds pushing out and discussed what alternating branches looked like. ( We also enjoyed the fact that the snow was so crunchy from our last snow/rain that we could all sand on top of the snow and not sink in).
We found that the snow was melting in places even though it was still below freezing – the fact that the sun was so high in the sky this time of year was helping create the snow melt. They listened for birds and found mud. Even though they are fifth graders the mud was a great fascination.
We walked around the north side of the building to the community garden just before heading back into school. This is a small section of the school grounds that has 24 raised bed garden plots for people in our school neighborhood to rent and grow flowers and vegetables each summer. We stopped to write in our science journals again and I was asking them to write a short description of what they saw. We would come back out in a couple weeks and I wanted them to remember, compare and reflect on changes.
This is when the two world of science and writing collided. SP, a girl who was just moved into my room because of large issues and who struggles with school, turns and says ” it looks like a graveyard – those beds are all silent like graves.” The class stopped to listen. I asked her why she thought that. She looked at me and replied ” I don’t know”. So I just waited quietly as they wrote and looked out at the winter garden beds. She finally turned to me and said ” was that one of those similes you keep talking about when we read and write?”
All I could do was smile – someone in the class said yes and I noticed that almost everyone used this simile to describe the gardens that were still sleeping under the snow and my new girl who who was feeling on the outside was now on the inside.