The beautiful fall weather has made for some great days of learning, exploration, and fun for students in the Johnston Community School District.
Our elementary classrooms have been busy; everything from community outreach to insect hunting has helped kindergartners through fifth graders learn more about the environment around them.
At Lawson Elementary, students paired up with their buddy classrooms to package meals for the Meals From the Heartland program. The students raised enough money to package 7,500 meals in just over two hours. Students scooped rice, textured soy protein, dried vegetables and vitamins into bags, weighed and sealed them, and packed them up to be shipped around the world and across the U.S.
“This is always a fun activity for the students and there are many lessons that can be taught regarding world cultures, food and hunger, and community service,” said Lawson principal Trisha Garmoe. “It also supports the pillars of character that we emphasize to students throughout the year.”
Horizon Elementary second graders took their classroom to the great outdoors for a field trip to Jester Park. Under the guidance of Polk Co. Conservation naturalists, students rotated through five learning stations: the pond, an insect hunt, insect art, a scavenger hunt, and a hike.
“The kids think this is one of the best fieldtrips of the year,” said second grade teacher Matt Siegner. “It’s not every day that you get to catch bugs in the woods, explore a pond, and go on a fun scavenger hunt with your friends. This experience gives students something they wouldn’t normally experience in the classroom or on their own.”
Students prepared for the fieldtrip by studying insects and the process of a life cycle in their science class. Second grader Erin Kleinschmidt said that while she knew about the body parts and life of an insect, she was still surprised to see how different each looks when she got up close and personal with them during the pond study.
“Each insect has three body parts, two antennae, and six legs, but they can look different depending on where the insect lives and what it does,” Kleinschmidt explained. “I was surprised to find all the different insects living in the pond and down in the weeds. But the best thing I caught in my net was a tadpole!”
Over at Wallace Elementary, fourth graders finished up a project they started as third graders when they harvested the Farm Bureau Learning Plot corn and soybeans.
In the spring of their third-grade year, students carefully plant corn and soybeans. Often, the plants are up and growing by the time school is dismissed for the summer. Over the summer, the plants grow and when the kids come back as fourth graders, they see the life cycle of the plant through.
Farm Bureau classroom educator Cindy Hall gave students a quick lesson in harvest history, complete with a demonstration of hand-shucking corn by one of the students. She also helped students understand just how important Iowa corn and soybeans are to the rest of the nation, citing their uses in cereal, ethanol, printing inks, and much more.
Due to the extreme heat and lack of rain this summer, Hall explained why the corn and beans looked different than they had in years past.
Students finished up their harvest with a contest to see how many soybeans they could hand-shuck in five minutes. Each class measured their total and the class with the most beans would be announced at the end of the day.
More than 700 students at Beaver Creek moved and grooved to popular dances such as the Chicken Dance, Macarena, and YMCA on October 10 as they celebrated Fall Fitness Day. Students and staff marked the occasion with fifteen minutes of walking and fifteen minutes of line dancing. Fall Fitness Day was organized by Anne Eckermann, Jim Quam and Michelle Roquet, Beaver Creek’s physical education teachers.
“Fall Fitness Day is a yearly event and encourages healthy activities and habits for Beaver Creek Elementary students,” said Beaver Creek principal Eric Toot. “Staff and students have a great time getting outside and participating in wellness events.”
Whether they are dancing, harvesting, exploring, or helping, Johnston students are making the most of their school days to learn about the environment around them.