I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with kids more closely this past week and it has been really amazing. Pulling up to the parking lot for summer school program at Siuslaw Elementary school really brought back memories. Two other rangers and I spent two days educating groups of kids that ranged from the ages of six to thirteen. One of the rangers, Jaime Hunt, is the youth engagement specialist and she was previously a teacher. I learned a lot from observing her interacting with each class. One of which was implementing various types of activities to supplement the lesson and reenforce what they are learning. She would introduce the subject of adaptation and indirectly get the kids thinking about what that means and figure out an example of it. She also had some visuals of some adaptations and we also had a game that was very tactile and gets them involved in the concept. Because we were talking about the ways that birds adapt to their environment, we had a game for the kids to use different beaks: tweezers, toothpicks, clothespins and spoons to ‘eat’ different types of foods such as goldfish, sprinkles, gummy worms and sunflower seeds. The kids really enjoyed this game, pretending to be birds and figuring out what foods are best suited to their bill. It was a real hands on way of figuring out why different birds cannot eat the same things.
Jaime told us about activities she had with her that would challenge the kids to start thinking mathematically and creatively that she could implement if the time allowed. And it was really eye opening because it not only brings what they are learning into reality but it makes sure that everyone grasp the material. Because everyone learns differently. It is great to see kids make connections between points that you are discussing and those are not directly in front of their face. There was a girl that came to sit and talk to us while I was tabling at a State Park and she really made me feel so happy because she was genuinely interested in learning as much as we could teach her. She asked me about the different processes that the dunes go through and how they form as well as so many other things. And I truly enjoyed discussing with her and even coming up with theories for questions that I did not know the answers to. It was really invigorating to think that she taught me something as well.