2nd Grade at Cambridge: Creation and Its Care
By: Alissa Wilcox, 2nd Grade Unit Teacher
A bird’s-eye view of a landscape reveals land and water. As you zoom in closer, you discover bright colors, complicated patterns, beautiful plumage, fluffy furs, and slimy scales, all designed by the all-knowing creator.
That’s 2nd grade.
It’s a year-long adventure that brings us from the waterways to the wetlands, the rainforest to the desert, the cold of the polar ice caps to underneath mountains, all because God made it … FOR US!
We relish in His creation and learn how to care for the creatures that live within it.
We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.
With this in mind, I serve as the pilot, taking 2nd graders on their travels and teaching them to preserve and enjoy His good creation.
As with all grades, we start by learning about the first few days where the Lord created the world, animals, and us. The students learn about the duties we were given to be caretakers. We talk about ownership, recycling, responsibility, and how to be good stewards in and out of the classroom.
We travel the waters and learn about the greatest oceans and the longest rivers. We visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore and wonder at the multitudes of fish. Children are always amazed at how detailed even the tiniest scales are. Our God is an artist!
We travel to the rainforests and explore the need for water. We learn about the animals and insects, and we wonder how many more there are that haven’t been discovered yet. We see unique insects in real life, too, when the Insect Lady comes to our classroom!
Unfortunately we also learn the sad truth that the forests have been quickly disappearing. We write letters to family and friends about conservation and ways to help the environment. The students are always disappointed by the destruction of the rainforests after they learn about all the amazing animals that call it home.
We travel to the North and South Poles. Though this is after Christmas, this isn’t about Santa!
We explore the lives and habitats of penguins, polar bears, foxes, coyotes, and more! Students complete their first research project and share all that they learned! We learn about the importance of friction and get to test our own abilities as we go ice skating! Each year I get better as the students help me overcome my own fears of falling on the ice.
From the freezing Arctic we travel to the hottest deserts of the world! We learn about survival and how a desert quenches its thirst through the little rain that it receives, just as the Lord is the only one who quenches our need for Him.
We visit the botanical gardens and see the desert plants in real life. Seeing the multitudes of cacti always gets them excited, and they identify the differences between desert and rainforest plants.
After the desert we travel underground and learn about mountains and how they are formed. We visit the caverns and see how deep grottoes can go. We learn about volcanoes and earthquakes. We challenge ourselves by building shatterproof buildings, connecting what we learn in math and science directly to our unit studies. We test them on our classroom earthquake simulator and watch them fall or celebrate the successes of stability!
As we wrap up the second grade year, we visit the grasslands. We go beyond the lands of the Lion King and learn about the first colonists and the true story of Pocahontas. We have a big party at the end of the year with our Western Day as we play games dressed as cowgirls and cowboys! We eat buffalo burgers and hot dogs! We look back on all that we’ve learned and how we’ve grown! We bid the year a “Yeehaw” and say “Howdy” to summer!
I love learning alongside students and landing that plane at the end of each year. The Lord gave us the world to enjoy it and take care of it! The students are at an age when they truly take ownership over their choices and their actions. This goes beyond the classroom and the home and into the world where they keep growing, learning, and evolving!