A Cross-Curricular Journey through the Changing Seasons
Helping students connect across subjects at an early age can be a difference maker for emerging learners.
With fall in the air, it was refreshing to recently spend some time with the second and third graders as they uncovered the nature of the changing seasons. First, Ms. Roarke and Ms. Ewert divided the students into small groups and asked the question, “Why do the seasons change?”
And then it happened: the classroom came to life. The students shared their memories and experiences with the seasons in a multitude of ways. As they spoke, I could hear the wind howling with the morning chill. I could see the multitude of colors of the leaves and feel them crunch underfoot. I could smell apple cider in the crisp air and taste all the delicious flavors of the season.
A Creative Approach Leads to High Engagement
Of course, this activity was just an attention-grabber to get the students thinking. The assignment was to use multisensory strategies to create a myth about seasonal changes and compare their myths to actual science. The result was high student engagement, skill development and knowledge acquisition.
Listening to the students brainstorm ideas for their myths was the most entertaining part of my day. The students were thoughtful. They were inspired. They were hilarious!
One student talked about “Mr. Clouds” and how he gives heat and water to “the guy in the sky.” Another explained that God was mixing potions until he added the right ingredients to make thunder. Yet another told a tale of a secret organization in the clouds with a vote to determine all weather changes. One young man told his friends the story of the weather inside the “tummy of the gods.” But maybe the most fantastic myth was the one about the monster truck that jumps over the sky to move the seasons forward.
As if on cue, the final student shared a very scientifically accurate myth about weather patterns, providing the perfect segue to the actual science of seasonal change.
Connecting Information in New Ways
Why are these teaching techniques so effective? Research shows that cross-curricular learning helps students connect information in many ways including:
- Helping students become connected and care deeply about the content
- Allowing for the study of objects, subjects, and ideas from multiple angles
- Helping students develop problem solving skills
- Helping students work together to understand perspective taking
- Preparing students for the complexity of the real world
- Helping students think about related topics that will be a part of their future
I learned a lot from the second- and third-graders that morning. As I watched them act out their ideas with excited expressions and buzzing energy, I remembered how much fun it can be to learn things from different angles. Even more, it reminded me how perfectly full of potential each of their minds is.