Job Training "Entomologist"
With summer well underway in Japan, you can expect a big part of summer to be around as well: insects. For some, it is something that they can do without. But for Mountain friends, it was their Job Training topic for June and the source of a lot of fun. To start things off, the Mountain friends had a crash course on insects: their body parts, what they eat, and where they live. They saw real pictures and drawings of insects and looked at the typical insects that one might find in Japan during summer, and, probably most importantly, the ones to avoid.
Once that was under their belt, it was time to take the knowledge out into the wild. At Nipponmaru Park the children practiced catching insects with an arsenal of tools. The children had 3 different tasks: the net leaders’ task was to try and catch butterflies or other flying insects using their nets. The digging leaders’ task was to use shovels, digging forks, pails, and other instruments to try to collect insects that live just beneath the soil. One of the children managed to find a worm within the first 2 minutes of starting! The insect box leaders’ task was to take care of their team’s terrariums, make sure they were secure, and collect materials for the inside such as soil, rocks, and plants. The children alternated between the roles so they could experience the challenges and skills required for the respective roles.
After that it was time to take things to the next level with a proper insect hunt at Honmoku Sanchome Park. With more open areas that had a variety of environments, the children had many opportunities to explore and discover insects to their hearts’ content. The trip yielded a successful haul and the Mountain friends left with new additions to add to their already diverse terrariums.
Now that they saw some real insect habitats, it was time for the children to draw the habitats to present what they have learnt and seen. The children worked together to mix paints to make realistic colours and use fine brush techniques to create realistic habitat drawings and detailed insects on large poster paper. These were then used as murals to decorate the classroom. Along with their terrariums, the murals helped to bring the insect world into the children’s own world.
This month’s study of insects allowed the children to explore a different world. But it also gave many opportunities for them to improve on other skills. During the group work activities, the children had to exchange ideas, consider the other person’s perspective, and discuss how to divide tasks. Whether it was successfully catching an insect or making their drawings come to life, the children had to use their social skills to ensure that the task could be completed. A sign of learning is when the children can use their social skills to facilitate learning whilst also developing these skills.
As well, the children were given activities for them to use skills and knowledge that they learnt from a previous unit. In April, the Mountain friends looked at sketch artists for their Job Training. As the children drew their murals of insect habitats, the children had some really good ideas on how to draw flowers by holding their paintbrushes down in a certain way, or how to make thinner lines by using just the tip of their paintbrushes. These are skills that they learnt previously which they used naturally here. It means that they have learnt these drawing skills and can now use it in any other situation in the future. These skills are now a part of them.