Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Most People

"Ungulate" is a weird word. Most people don't know what it means, whether it is a noun, verb, or adjective. But most people haven't discovered the pre-science education world of Jeff & Paige. My kids are not most people.

When we were visiting my aunt, uncle and cousins I saw first hand how impressive learning through song could be. My family was sitting at my aunt's table eating dinner. I was talking with my cousin about what he knew about teaching and learning because I thought his perspective on my current curriculum development project would be valuable (and it was). By way of explaining just how amazing the learning opportunities when children learn from Jeff & Paige songs, I asked my children to tell my cousin what they knew.

I asked, "Can you guys tell Cousin Nick what is an ungulate?"

Mikey (6.5 years old) answered, "It is an animal. It has hooves and fur."

Anna (4 years old) chimed in, "A giraffe."

My cousin looked flummoxed. "Ungulate?" he asked, eyes wide.

Mikey went on, elaborating on the habitats and eating habits of ungulates. Anna continued to list more examples. My cousin was impressed. "Wow!" he said, "I've never heard that word. Thanks for teaching me."

Anna replied with a shrug, "It's no big deal. We learned it from Jeff & Paige."

Jaws dropped. My family looked at me and knew I was on to something...

In fact, this kind of discussion happens a lot with my kids. They teach a LOT of people what they have learned from books, music, and experiences. They speak with great confidence about science, nature, karate, and ballet. And when they are talking about it, they are learning it better but also demonstrating a little bit of what science they know.

The curriculum specialist in me started to wonder: how can I show the value of their learning. I headed over to the Next Generation Science Standards, which is increasingly becoming the official guide for schools across the country for teaching science. I found Standard 2-LS4-1 to be applicable here. The song "Ungulates" invite children to learn preschool-sized information related to "Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity."

I understand that just naming ungulates and their habitats is not necessarily going to meet the standard. However, singing the song and going on an adventure outdoors will... The song can be a springboard into learning science. The song can teach science language as well as science content. The song can bring the joy of music to science classes everywhere.

A lot of words in science are weird, just like "ungulate." Most people don't know a lot of science words or what they mean. But, like I said, most people haven't discovered the pre-science education world of Jeff & Paige. I have a feeling that is about to change.

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