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First Grade learns about Australia

As a part of the UCPS Global Initiative, the first grade classes of New Salem Elementary have adopted the country of Australia. The young learners have spent time immersed in a collection of books about Australia and the animals of the country during reading. One of the favorite books read was Possum Magic by Australian author Mem Fox. Students were able to listen to the story online and take a literature virtual tour to the Australian sites mentioned in the book using Google Earth.
In science, the students engaged in reading classroom magazines and book about the animals of Australia. Through reading and research, they learned many interesting facts about the unique animals of the country. A few of favorite animals were the koala, platypus, dingo, and kangaroo. The students enjoyed the nonfiction book, Coral Reefs, by Gail Gibons. too. This book was a spring board for a study of the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia. Students utilized the school computer lab and classroom computers to access teacher bookmarked websites to learn more about the animal and plant diversity supported by this ecosystem. Some favorite animals of the Great Barrier Reef were the manta rays, sea turtles, and hammerhead shark.
In social studies, the first graders have learned about the culture and history of the people of Australia. The students learned about the native people, the Aborigines. They learned that the Aborigines love the animals and land of Australia and respectfully place them in their art and songs. The students were able to view ancient rock and cave art to guide them in creating their own cave art drawing. The first graders have also learned about Australian celebrations. They were fascinated to learn that in December Santa visits Australia wearing shorts due to the heat. His sleigh is often pulled by white boomers (an Australia term for Kangaroos). Some celebrations are very similar to our own traditions and customs.
The study of Australia during this school year has been exciting. The teachers and students have learned many wonderful interesting facts and tidbits. The connections made through classroom studies have inspired many students to continue learning more about the animals, landforms, and people of Australia outside of the classroom.

Written by: Cheryl Batten, 1st Grade Teacher
Posted: Apr 26, 2012 by Gina James

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