Under One Rock
“No child will be able to resist looking under a rock after reading Fredericks’s rhythmic, engaging story.” That’s what Weekly Reader’s Managing Editor said about Under One Rock: Bugs, Slugs, and Other Ughs—the latest Mystery Contest book selection. I’ve invited author Anthony Frederick’s to be this week’s Guest Blogger.
By Anthony Fredericks:
When I wrote Under One Rock I wanted readers to get a sense of the natural world around them—the world right outside their front door or the world immediately under their feet. I wanted them to experience something as simple as looking under a rock—observing a bevy of critters, watching the movements of fascinating creatures, and learning about a small world simply by observing.
Each semester I teach a course entitled “Teaching Elementary Science.” One of the requirements of the course is that students work with the naturalists at a local nature preserve—leading elementary children (from local schools) on walking tours of the preserve and instructing them on how nature can be a valuable learning experience in their lives. Recent comments about their experience included:
- I didn’t realize that the outdoors could be a classroom.
- You were right about inquiry-based science – the kids couldn’t get enough of it.
- This was really fun…I never imagined a tree could be so interesting.
- This has really changed my perception of what science education could be.
What makes these comments particularly interesting is that these students are part of the generation that Richard Louv talks about in his book Last Child in the Woods. They have been kept away from nature. They have been in classrooms where nature is not a priority component of the science curriculum, and they have been tethered to an arsenal of technological devices that tends to pull them away from the natural world and into unnatural (electronic or “plug-in”) environments.
Many preservice teachers save my course as one of the last in their teacher preparation program simply because they have a basic fear of science. That fear has frequently been spawned by high school and elementary school courses in which lots of facts were presented, lots of textbook pages were read, and lots of standardized test questions were answered. In short, these teachers-to-be have a perception that in order to be a good teacher of science they must be repositories of lots of science information. However, through their experience at the nature preserve, they discovered the exciting learning opportunities nature provides.
The other books in my series—In One Tidepool, Around One Cactus, Near One Cattail, On One Flower, and Around One Log are geared to helping children appreciate the world at their fingertips. Teachers have also found these books to be valuable adjuncts to their science programs—opportunities for youngsters to learn about, enjoy and discover first-hand a world of amazing sights and sounds—a world unlike that in dusty science texts, dry curriculum guides or standardized tests.
Inside: My Life Under One Rock
Invite students to work independently or in small groups to select one of the animals featured in Under One Rock. Encourage each child or group to do some necessary background research (Internet, library, community experts) on each identified creature. Then, invite students to write a series of diary entries told from the perspective of each selected animal. For example, “A Day in the Life of a Slug,” “My Life as an Ant,” or “My Life Beneath the Rock.” Invite students to gather their stories together into a notebook or oversized journal. Or, even better, they may want to design a blog (similar to this one) and share their writings with a larger audience.
Outside: The World Under One Rock
After sharing Under One Rock with students invite them to form small groups. Take the students outside and invite each of the groups to locate one or more rocks (on the playground, along the edge of a field, beside a road, in a back yard). Ask each of the groups to carefully lift their respective rocks and observe the creatures that live there (you may want to provide students with simple hand lenses). Afterwards, ask students some of the following questions:
- Which of the animals featured in the book were under your rock(s)?
- Were there animals under your rock that were not mentioned in the book?
- What other kinds of creatures do you think could olive under your rock?
- If we lifted up many rocks what do you think we might find?
More Under One Rock Fun and Facts
- Get more Under One Rock Inside and Outside activities designed by Anthony Fredericks. And find hundreds of activities related to both science and reading comprehension in his book MORE Science Adventures with Science Literature.
- The Music in Nature web site “is dedicated to celebrating the miracle of nature, the “music” inherent in all living things.” Your students may enjoy listening to the sounds of nature as you read Under One Rock to them.
- Around One Log is my latest Dawn book. It’s designed to get kids looking in, under and around a fallen log – the creatures they will discover are just as amazing as those Under One Rock.