Biology, English, Reading
Teachers might prepare students to talk about threatened and endangered species, or the animals in our world, by showing “12 Pup Photos for National Puppy Day.” Enjoy the photos and learn that not all “puppies” are dogs — or members of the canine family. This could lead to discussing the different words used for young animals.
Additional vocabulary development is found in activities suggested in this month's curriculum guide.
Meet the Botanical Illustrator
Art, Biology, Botany, Career Education, Visual Arts
The Post’s gardening columnist Adrian Higgins takes readers to the U.S. Botanic Garden and introduces Mara Menahan, a 24-year-old botanical illustrator. Before reading the article, teachers may introduce students to the purpose of botanic gardens and the U.S. Botanic Garden that was established by Congress in 1820.
Review the photograph and illustrations before reading the article. What do students learn before they have read the first word? What do they expect the writers will include? Next read the headline. What are three key terms in the headline?
Read and discuss "At the U.S. Botanic Garden, a young painter practices the art of observing." Questions could include:
• Tell about Menahan’s background that prepared her to be a Truman Scholar.
• What did Menahan do to fulfill her main job at the U.S. Botanic Garden?
• What tools were required to paint accurate images?
• What does the reader learn about the following plants: wild banana, cacao tree, coconut?
• Explain the “most disgusting” image she rendered?
• What is gained by capturing life-cycle stages of plants rather than a single image?
• Who is a Truman Scholar?
Observe the Details
Art, Biology, Botany, Meteorology
Phenology is the "timing of natural events, such as flower blooms and animal migration, which is influenced by changes in climate,” as defined by the EPA. “Phenology is the study of such important seasonal events. Phenological events are influenced by a combination of climate factors, including light, temperature, rainfall, and humidity.”
Use the activity sheet, “Observe the Details,” to discuss this concept through observation of current signs of the season. The third question may be related to the article, “What backyard birds can tell us about our changing world,” with older students. Question 4 gets students to think about weather-related rhymes (April showers bring May flowers; rain, rain, go away) and the observable weather conditions they relate. Do students know of any other nursery rhymes or sayings associated with other seasons? What about songs that refer to weather?
Question 5 takes students to the Weather page to locate different types of information. One of the charts gives a year’s overview of temperatures (high, low and actual). Teachers could use this information to explain that the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) using data (temperature, precipitation, wind for example) collected over three decades to determine the climate of an area. The longer the data collection period, the more accurate changes in climate can be verified.
Color in the Details
Art, Science, Visual Arts
Four pages to color, with brief introductions, and assignments to observe and sketch are provided in the Color in the Details activity. Artists, scientists and all folks can benefit from being more observant. This activity encourages going from observation to photograph and sketch. For more on using nature to inspire artwork see How Does Your Garden Grow?
Take Time for Backyard Birds
Biology, Botany, Environmental Science
“Backyard Birds — A Closer Look” is provided for use with the guest commentary, “What backyard birds can tell us about our changing world.” This is another activity that is based on a Post article and observation. Holahan’s commentary begins as a personal essay and then transitions to a statement about man’s impact on the environment.
Before reading and assigning the discussion questions, teachers may wish to review the vocabulary found in the sidebar. All terms are used by Holahan in this essay.