A great way to keep your kids engaged in learning is to make a KWL chart. A KWL chart is looking at what I KNOW, then thinking about what I WANT to know, and after the lesson writing down what you LEARNED. It’s a great idea for a science lesson as you read a nonfiction book.
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How do you fill out a KWL chart?
Take a giant piece of paper, I did ours on a chart tablet. Then draw two lines on the paper, dividing it roughly into thirds.
First, ask the kids what they know (you’ll get to see our example in a moment). This can be rather hilarious with young kids.
Then ask what they want to know and write it down.
Now read the book, or teach the lesson, and after the lesson is over, see if you actually learned what you wanted to learn.
This can be the start of a great writing lesson.
To start our insect unit we put together a KWL chart
We did it on two different insects:
Here’s what my kids know about ants:
1. They bite Mommy.
2. They live in anthills.
3. Ants bite people.
4. Ants eat bread, all kinds of food.
5. Ants eat princesses (that’s when they started getting silly).
Here’s what they want to know about ants:
Princess: How not to be bitten?
Superman: Are there good ants?
Batman: How to kill ants?
Here’s what they learned
(the first two were done on a chart together, I’d show a picture but after we were done they drew their names all over the paper and were quite proud of themselves, this one I did one on one with each of them in a blank book)
Princess: Ants eat Mommy. They eat Daddy. They eat other ants. Ants live in ant piles. Boy ants have wings. The queen ant lays eggs.
Superman: Ants bite Mommy. Ants live in ant piles. They steal food from people. Ants live in food (one of the pages in the book we read was about an ant colony that was made inside a fruit of some kind). Ants eat leaves and lay eggs. They eat other ants. They eat flowers.
Batman: Ants eat other ants. They protect people from other bad ants. Ants bite people. There are black ants and yellow ants. Ants die (Batman is very interested in death right now and why people die). Ants lick other ants.
It’s very interesting to see what they absorbed from the books we read that day. I can see the origin of each fact from the book and how they interpreted it. They were all very interested in how ants protected themselves, and so they paid the most attention to that part. Princess was very interested in girl ants, so she made sure to mention about the queen.
I will say, it also took a lot of coaxing to get the information out of them. They were having much more fun filling out and coloring the worksheets I’d found.
And I leave you with Superman’s illustration of the night sky.
Here’s his description: These are stars, and that’s a sun, and this is the moon.