Not Where, But Why
Exploring Settlements in Grade 2
Showing us the shapes and sizes and distances between places, maps are usually a place for answers. In Grade 2, however, they take on a new life – not giving answers, but raising questions instead.
In the “How We Organize Ourselves” Unit of Inquiry, students learn how geography influences where communities settle, so students look to maps to tell them not only where things are, but why things are. Led by teachers Mrs. Megan Baker, Mrs. Katie Carr, Mrs. Selena Dobie, students look at different kinds of maps and ask important questions: Where did people settle? Are they close to water? Near mountains? By hills?
Students investigate and look for similarities. Between maps of ancient Egypt and current day Canada, students learn to identify human-made and natural boundaries, assess topography, and spot placement of key resources. Students even create maps of their own, mapping their bedrooms, their classrooms, and even their communities. With their map-making skills sharpened, students then head into the North Forest for some hands-on groupwork and learning.
Put into groups of four, students are given a tarp, three ropes, and one command: “Go!”. Based on their learning of settlements and mapping, students must build a shelter, large enough for all, and with access to key resources. Students had to find places near water, with space to grow food, and safe from their surroundings. Having walked the trails many times before, students were more than comfortable for the task ahead.
“Between maps of ancient Egypt and current day Canada, students learn to identify human-made and natural boundaries, assess topography, and spot placement of key resources.”
Using trees and logs and sticks, students’ creations were not just structurally sound, but spaced out and positioned well. Students demonstrated their learning by staying close to the creek, near trees and bushes, and safe from passersby. “They did really well!” our teachers share, “and they loved it.” That’s because hands-on learning is not only effective, it’s fun. “They get to just go out and do,” our teachers smile, “through trial and error, they get to explore and see what works, what doesn’t, and try new things.”
Next up, students will take their learning on to a new challenge: creating their own country! Using what they learned in the forest, students will create a country and, based on population, topography, and all else, settle a community.