Curriculum Expressions

(These are the curriculum expressions that are the backbone for Rose Honey’s unit, “Discovering Our Relationship with Water.”)

Big Ideas

  • Honoring tribal legacies along the Lewis and Clark National Historical Trail through honoring water and helping children to build a reciprocal and respectful relationship with water.
  • Water connects us to everything and everyone on the globe.
  • Water utilizes different processes that work towards keeping nature and us happy and healthy.
  • Our relationship with water is sacred and important to respect.
  • Recognizing our relationship with water, and learn to take care of water, just as water takes care of us.

Enduring Understandings

Water is sacred in that it is essential to all living things. Our relationship with water is important to respect and take into consideration in our daily lives.

Essential Questions Aligned with Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and/or Tribal Themes

Where is water in our community? What is our relationship to water? How can we treat water as a friend, and how does water treat us as a friend? How did and how has water altered tribal relationships, values and practices along the Lewis and Clark Trail? What was the significance of water to Lewis and Clark and their journey? These questions as well as scientific phenomena regarding water at the early learning level are explored.

Early Learning in Science

The Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Grade Level Expectations Handbook developed by the Louisiana Department of Education states that, “Science at this level should foster children’s natural curiosity of the world around them. Prekindergarten children are actively engaged in observation, exploration, and discovery in their environment. Students begin to acquire a scientific knowledge of the natural world.” To this end, each activity within the learning episodes will encourage early learners to practice and sharpen their scientific exploration skills. One way to do this is to explain, utilize, and emphasize the following words and phrases while working with the children: Formulate Questions, PredictExplore, Experiment, Observe, Identify, Record, Data, Form Conclusions, and Communicate Results. Within the learning episodes, these words are bolded and highlighted in green as a reminder to use this language.

Stages and Standards Table

In order to ensure that this curriculum is accessible and appealing for teachers that range from Head Start, to Public Schools, to informal education programs such as those in the National Park System, I focused on a number of standards. The standards listed in the Standards Table include: Honoring Tribal Legacy standards, scientific concepts that are explored, Next Generation Science Standards, and Common Core Literacy and Math standards. The Scientific Concepts listed include natural systems (i.e. waterways, weather, the human body), models (representation of a real object; maps), constancy and change (i.e. growth), scale (size, distance, etc.), patterns and relationships, cause and effect, structure and function (relationships between the way things look, feel, smell, sound, taste and the actions they perform), variations (discontinuous and continuous properties), and diversity among objects and organisms in the natural world. The Honoring Tribal Legacy standards encompass tribal values that are included in each learning episode, and are more detailed expansions upon the Honoring Tribal Legacies 11th Standard described above.

The Corps of Discovery didn’t discover anything. Everything the Corps reported on—plants, animals, and landforms—had been known to and used by American Indian tribes for generations. The Corps were, however, the first to record these items for science.

–National Park Service, 2013

Discovery Journals

One of the main assignments of the Lewis and Clark expedition was to learn what they could of the land and its wildlife. Lewis spent a lot of time walking along animal trails and climbing hills along the river to learn about plants and animals. He noted different animal habitats, described how predators like wolves hunted antelope, listened to bird calls and tasted, smelled, looked at and felt plants so that he could describe them accurately in his journals (Lavender, 2011). Discovery journals are a part of each learning episode, and can be worked into the activities at any point. Some children learn best when allowed to process their discoveries on paper. At the early learning stage, student journals may not be detailed, complex or lengthy. However, copying or pasting an already printed word into their journal, pasting an object such as a leaf or a photo, or even drawing a picture in their journal will promote literacy and an awareness of the idea of recording information in journals like Lewis and Clark did, and that the process of scientific discovery includes recording and documenting information.