My students need manipulatives and specimen sets to learn about insects and spiders, farm, rain forest, and classic forest animals. The specimens will make the vocabulary and concepts I am teaching them come alive.
Have you ever tried to learn a new language and science at the same time? My students need hands-on manipulatives to make both the language and the concepts come alive for them.
My students are Kindergarten through 4th grade students whose first language is English.
They attend a public charter school where the predominate home language is Spanish. Seventy percent of students in our school qualify for free and reduced lunch. My students are curious, full of energy and eager to learn about the natural world. They are excited about learning Spanish because they want to be able to understand and speak the language with their Spanish-speaking friends. Our school believes the best learning happens when it is hands-on, so we provide lots of opportunities for students to explore and investigate the world through fieldwork outside the class and tangible experiences within the class. We believe that learning moves from concrete to abstract.
The animal manipulatives and real life insect and spider specimens will make the vocabulary and concepts I am teaching them come alive. Instead of learning that insects have a head, thorax and abdomen through pictures or drawings, they will be able to use magnifying glasses and observe these body parts on actual specimens. Rather than relying on just pictures of tapirs while studying the tropical rainforest, they will be able to hold a replica in their hand and observe the scale of their legs and tail to their heads. They will be able to use more accurate language to describe these animals which many of my students are learning about for the very first time. Being able to manipulate and move these objects opens up more language opportunities and solidifies content knowledge in tangible ways.
My students have an early opportunity to learn a second language because research shows that people who speak more than one language have greater cognitive flexibility.
We teach language through content (science and social studies units) because they give a meaningful context for and facilitate the learning of a second language. These manipulatives will help my students connect more deeply to what we are studying, understand the world better, and enhance their ability to learn a new language.
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