Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

First Grade Athropod Hotel

By Sofi Kurtz
Coordinator of Lower School Service Learning; Science (LS)
The GFA Arthropod Hotel is open for business!
Over the last several weeks, first-grade students embarked on a scientific journey to build a hotel structure for our arthropods that live on campus ahead of the winter months. We began by exploring the habitats around campus, looking for arthropods, while learning what an arthropod was. We watched segments on what the their behavior is, where to look for them, and went on several adventures to the forest and pollinator meadow in our search.
We took what we found and started a classroom dialogue on how we could help these friends survive the winter. The kids were really curious — which as an educator is always a win — and this discussion fueled our research. One of the many benefits of technology, each student picked an arthropod and conducted research on Seesaw, which allowed them to both listen and read through it, as many of our first graders are learning how to read.
We worked on scientific drawing, drawing what they saw using their senses and observation skills, labeled our drawings while learning about the exoskeleton, and then each student presented a fun fact about what they found.
Part of the research included looking at each habitat, taking that information, and forming a plan for its room at The GFA Arthropod Hotel. We searched for gourds, leaves, pinecones, sourced bricks and wood — any material we needed for each catered room in their hotel. Then construction began... 
At the end when it all came together, we talked about how similar this is to our own GFA community — all of these things are living together and trying to work together in one place. We placed the hotel by the garden in hopes the students go back and visit throughout their years on campus.
I couldn't have possibly done this project without the help of the first-grade teachers and AT's. From the first meeting, they were so on board and willing to weave this in to their own classroom lessons. It's the silver lining of only having two weeks with a grade, you get to truly collaborate for this period of time. This is my favorite part about teaching and while it's hard to do, these teachers invested the time in science and created an influential project. It worked (and was fun!), and proves how contagious that 'fired up' feeling is — when the teachers are into it, the kids are into it.
With hard work, always comes reward, and for me it's the kids begging to keep doing science and seeing a true love for it through their eyes. You know when it extends into recess the project was a success! It's moments like these when I leave a classroom saying "YES! This is why I teach."