As the end of the year draws near, it’s always such a pleasure to have our families visit one last time to see all of their student’s hard work and learning. Our end of year open house gives me the chance to chat with parents and let them know how proud I am of their student and all they have accomplished. This year we delighted our families by turning our hallway into a beautiful life cycle garden.
Learning About Life Cycles
Towards the end of our year, our second graders spend a lot of time learning and writing about life cycles. During this time our classroom is buzzing with activity as we grow, observe, read, and write about the stages and processes of frogs, insects, plants, and butterflies.
During our butterfly unit we raised caterpillars and observed the changes as they grew through the stages of their life cycle. Students conducted various investigations and wrote to explain the process of metamorphosis, pollination, and the butterfly’s compound eye. We compiled all of this into our culminating butterfly booklets.
We did hands-on learning labs and explored how butterflies help plants grow through a pollination simulation. Next, students used kaleidoscopes to imagine looking through an insect’s compound eye. You can see how we did our butterfly learning labs and grab some free activities and printables while you’re there in this post.
Students wrote butterfly haiku poetry and illustrated them with watercolors. The challenge here was to describe these beautiful insects in haiku format without using the word “butterfly”. I was so impressed by the amount of thought that went into their carefully crafted poems!
Incorporating Math In Our Life Cycle Garden
I really wanted to incorporate math into our hallway display and we did so by making these fun “arrays of sunshine”. I read about this fun math craft from Teaching Maddeness and knew they would be perfect for our theme!
We incorporated math by graphing the life cycle as we observed the changes. You can see our butterfly data and graphing in this post plus grab a FREE butterfly measurement math page while you’re there!
Writing About Life Cycles
Another display in our life cycle garden featured foldable flower booklets made during our plant study. As with our butterfly study, we explored with hands-on learning labs, made models of plant adaptations, conducted simple seed experiments, and wrote about how plants make their own food, the job of the roots, and how leaves helps a plant get light. You can read all about our plant activities here. And be sure to get the free download there, too!
In art class, my students learned about Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings and a few students decided to make their booklets into sunflowers.
While learning about the frog’s life cycle we added key facts about each stage to these charts. My class loves to use thematic shapes on our charts and these are so easy to make! I cut out the shapes I want then use repositionable glue sticks to turn them into sticky notes.
Students read lots of informational books and watched videos on BrainPop Jr. about frogs while taking notes in their journals. They then applied what they learned about frogs by making this fun frog life cycle on a string craft and wrote about each stage of the life cycle inside the lily pad booklets.
We added a cut out of each stage of the life cycle and tied white beads on the end of the sting to represent the eggs.
The life cycle strings are tucked inside large lily pad pockets, and students pull out the string to explain each stage to their parents.
Including Clouds and Weather
Earlier in the year when we learned about weather and the water cycle, we made these cloud types crafts and wrote weather idioms on raindrops. I saved both of these to hang above our bulletin boards for the open house.
We incorporated some narrative writing by turning everybody into a butterfly kid! Students then used their science vocabulary to write about what they would do if they were a beautiful butterfly.
We added fan folded tissue paper to students’ pictures and stapled it on. This was such a hit with all of my kids! We added these throughout the grassy area we made for the space between the floor and the bottom of our bulletin boards. You can download the FREE Butterfly Kids writing templates here.
My brilliant teammate came up with this idea for publishing the writing her class did about bees.
These were super simple to make by using a ruler to make the shape on construction paper then drawing the same shape an inch further out. Students cut them out on the outer lines, cut into the inside shape at the corners to create sides, then folded the sides inward. A parent volunteer took them all home and taped the sides in place.