by Melissa Wagner
Biomes of the world are a wonderfully fascinating and enjoyable curriculum of study for all ages. The wonder and excitement that is peaked at seeing living things come together in a beautiful dance, to exist and adapt, is inspiring! In this manual I have brought my experience of teaching these awe inspiring places to the very young child. Through these ways of teaching the biomes in the 3-to 6-year-old class, students are able to not just learn about, but are actually provided with experiential learning as they move through life-sized representations of the world biomes while being introduced to them. They further are able to spark understanding and imagination as they literally create miniature representation of those biomes. It is an experience that few of my students forget. Each individual shelf work has a fairly involved and many times unique process for the student that explores it. These shelf works individually have their own series of steps to both assemble and disassemble each one. The skills used for this process can include very intricate sequencing, strengthening pre reading and pre math skills. Many provide development of practical life skills, such as pouring and cleaning up water inside and on items, or using pincher grasp to construct and deconstruct plant structures. These skills vary with each shelf work. As with any shelf work in the classroom, the goal is to have students work through the process of setting up, interacting with the material as they learn through play, and then returning the items back to their initial order. Through this work students are able to recall the names of animals and plants found in the biomes of the world, as well as characteristics of what makes each biome unique. The opportunities to use these lessons to expand other areas of classroom study are immense. I have provided examples of how teachers can interweave these lessons into other curriculum studies, but these lists are in no way all-inclusive. I hope that teachers will use them as a springboard, and seek even further creativity in their application, for the individual teacher’s passions of study.