Students in Grade 2 through Grade 5 joined a co-curricular activity that ran after school for five weeks. One of the most successful portions was a trip to the campus snack shop, where students were asked, “What is the most positive choice for all four areas of the compass?” Once the group made a choice, they ate the snack and discussed their ideas. The group chose two items: a Thai meat snack cooked on the grill, and watermelon. The students noticed things like:
- neither of these items had wrappers, so there was less waste (N)
- the number of pieces offered good value for money (E)
- fruit is renewable, since the plant grows more fruits and more trees/vines can be planted; farmers can also raise more animals for meat (N, E)
- both foods were traditional Thai snacks and foods the kids enjoyed eating (S)
- fruit is healthy, tastes sweet, and provides energy (W)
The teacher, Kate O’Connel, hoped that requiring students to make a choice might prompt students to think more deeply and even change a behavior outside of school. She was very pleased with how it challenged and stretched the kids. Another activity everyone really enjoyed was testing water quality at the campus farm. Students used nets to scoop sediment, plants and water out of drainage canals and collected living things in bowls. Then they marked a scorecard that gave point values for each living thing they had found. The students discovered that the water was considered very clean because of the types of living things it could support (such as those requiring oxygen). The activity gave them a tangible way to experience and understand ecosystems and humans’ effects on water quality.
Submitted in cooperation with Kate O’Connel, 2011, while serving as Grade 2 Teacher at Prem Tinsulanonda International School.