Here’s a “peek” at just some of the engaging lessons in our 3rd – 5th grade curriculum
(Also suitable for most 6th graders!)
This is a sample of 7 core lesson plans for grades 3-5 Biodiversity PEEK. The full curriculum consists of 25 complete lesson plans. That’s enough for a full semester of weekly STEAM activities, and so many interdisciplinary project-based extension activities that you can use it as a base curriculum for an entire year!
Take a PEEK at a sample lesson here!
Beach Surprise: A Biodiversity PEEK Story from Ecuador
This true story about some PEEK kids rescuing a sea turtle packs a big punch. It gives your kids a real Biodiversity PEEK example of how important their citizen-science work of collecting photo data and making observations can be for the conservation of biodiversity. It also gives them a chance to get familiar with and explore the iNaturalist database, and apply some key terms. Plus, who doesn’t love sea turtles?!
Sun Prints: Cause and Effect Art
This is the first truly STEAM experience for your students. They go to their EyeSpots, or at least just outside, to create art in a mysterious cause and effect process of light that you DO NOT explain at first Instead the kids play with some variables, make observations, and form an evidence-supported claim for what may be happening and why. And, they’ll have some hauntingly beautiful art to show for it!
EyeSpots: Journal Wonderings
Curiosity doesn’t kill cats, it teaches kids! First, students sit in their EyeSpots and observe the plants and animals they’re curious about. Then they use a writing and drawing journal activity to help them develop several questions about what traits and behaviors help those plants and animals survive and thrive. Later on, students will research their questions to help develop and present an argument with supporting evidence. Half your class can do this lesson while the other half does Photography in The Weeds.
EyeSpots: Photography in the Weeds
While half your kids are Journal Wondering, this group takes cameras to their EyeSpots and photographs the plants and animals they find there. The photos will be later used as citizen-science biodiversity data and possibly as first-hand evidence to support the arguments they develop about what traits and behaviors help plants and animals survive. If you have few wild plants, don’t panic, we have an idea!
Sharing Photo Data
Your students become full-fledged citizen-scientists as they share their best photos and observations made so far on the iNaturalist database! This lesson was created to be used in conjunction with the previous one, the Survival Game. Assuming you are limited on computer access, half of your kids upload their observations on iNaturalist while the other half play the student-led Survival Game.
Tinkering: Handheld Cameras Obscura
This iterative-process lesson is the backbone of Biodiversity PEEK’s engineering and applied math experience. Students design their own handheld “dark rooms” and tinker as long as you want with various iterations of their designs. As your students make adjustments to their devices they will isolate variables, note causes and effects, raise new questions, and explore new hypotheses. They may even realize that they have created a model of the human eye!
Class Biodiversity Challenge
This is the heart of Biodiversity PEEK’s project-based learning. Students evaluate their specific site through the observations and data they have collected there. Then they brainstorm ways they can help native plants and animals near school have a more supportive and biodiverse environment, and develop a feasible plan and take action to improve or protect their local biodiversity. They do the work, not you!
Here’s your chance to show off to the entire school, parents, and greater community the variety of work your students have been doing as a part of Biodiversity PEEK. We don’t have a “cookie cutter” plan for you, but instead enable you to create an event that works for you and your situation. You may even choose to have your Biodiversity PEEK projects displayed as part of a larger event that your school already hosts, thus bringing in more visitors with less work on your part. The main thing is to step back and let the kids use their growing skills in communication, planning, art, math, design, etc. to create the display. All you should do is guide them so that an organized and feasible exhibition happens and that it shows off the work and talents of all students. We give you some ideas for a successful exhibit and remind you to creatively upcycle whenever you can and make what you’ve got work like a beautiful beast!