Thanks for the resources Ellen. The one from Killingly is great!
I'm starting a PALS program for the first time and am searching for resources. I do plan on having my students create lessons but would like some to start the program off with. I'm starting a recycling and composting program for the school district this Fall so any curriculum that relates to that would be much appreciated.
We don't do a great job of PALS year round but I do try to have my students interact with the elementary students with a few projects.
1. Food for America (Fall usually October)
2. FFA Week (Wednesday the students dress in official dress and read to the elementary students agriculture books)
3. Farm Safety Day in conjunction with ADM and FCS
We also help with small projects during the year like pumpkin carving, seed planting, insect collecting
I pull some lessons from Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri Department of Conservation
(I have placed the following information on a Google Doc in case anyone would like to make their own copy to edit, change, or share with friends or local staff.)
I have my sophomore level students travel to the Kindergarten classroom once a month (typically the same day each month but usually we just decide which day works best on their end - we stay flexible). I use this outline but we also leave it open for my sophomores to plan and choose which topics we should teach each month, I may give them a few options to mold into a cool lesson as a class.
We have 5 kindergarten classes so I split my class into small teams and tried to stayed consistent throughout the school year so the K-ers are familiar with the HSers. The hardest part was planning a common visit time to make work between my 2 sections - and touched base every month to plan around conflicts.
October- Pumpkin lesson: We had some pumpkins that we gutted with the K-ers (cut off the top and used as a lid before we got there), and took the seeds out and counted them with the K-ers. They collected the seeds as one of the K teachers baked them as a snack for later that week. I also dug out some pumpkin plants we had growing in the garden so that the kids could see an actual plant, the flower the pumpkin came from, and the roots.
November- In the past, they did a paper plate/leaf cut outs wreath. I believe we called it a Wreath of Thankfulness & then we helped the kindergartners write what they were thankful for on each wreath. Of course, they were multiple colors, etc. The K teacher had some reading/coloring paper books they commonly use that were Turkey themed, so we colored them and shared some turkey facts. Read a book or two out loud with them, and called it good. The K teachers used their library resources to request certain books. Could also write a thank a farmer letter. Also we had some indian corn and dried field corn that we looked at and counted etc. Had to be watchful for K-ers not to eat any of the corn.
December-didn't meet, gets crazy with their report cards and the breaks we have. Could help write letters to santa or do a weather activity to learn about snow/precipitation, rain etc. I'd let the kids help brainstorm this one probably.
January- This is the one we focused mostly on animals, and a bit on weather ( for example, how farmers treat their animals in the cold). We found a short simple "farm animals" youtube video that my kids searched for (had to be simple, short, and of course appropriate for our purposes). We read a book or two, talked about how animals are cared for, what they're used for, and all sorts of stuff. A HS kid in one of the classrooms I think pretended to be an "Old McDonald" type farmer to answer questions! They may have colored a few things as well.
February-dairy, watched a short video. Colored a cow pic and then shared pudding & cheese with them.
March- Made bagel bird feeders. Get cream cheese, spread on bagel halves, tie string around bagel through center, and place in ziploc baggie so K-ers don't eat it and can take home and hang. Alternated with the other class for the second station which was to learn about different types of birds. Groups of 3 in my class researched Iowa birds (state bird was one group, other winter birds in other groups). We decided to have each team choose the following for their bird: picture of male and female (because they can be different), find an audio clip(s) of their chirps/songs. Information & facts about the bird, and finally a decent coloring sheet for the bird. If time the kids could color but to be honest they ran out of time so were able to take their coloring boxes back to their room and color those later). AllAboutBirds is a great website resource for HS students! 1/2 my HSers made bagels with each of the K classes, while the other half shared information about the birds gathered by all the groups. They really took ownership for this activity and I had some proud teacher moments that day, for sure!
April: We looked at grass seed, planted grass seed in some short clear cups so that they could make grass heads out of them. Need to have potting soil (we used a bag we use for the greenhouse plants). We made some in the HS class as a trial run to decide how we were going to instruct multiple K-ers at once to do so, and how to make the process most efficient and avoid messes. Also okay to poke a small hole or two in the bottom of the cup for drainage/aeration. We also had some other seeds for students to take home and begin planting for Mother's Day. (or this could be pushed up to March as well depending on timeline). Those seeds were donated by local grocery stores during the end of that sale season (end of July is the best time to ask for seed that will be thrown away from stores, sometimes they can't give you all of it but a box or two is never turned down by us! Leftover flowers, veggies, and herb seeds are usually abundant.) Students can place on windowsill to watch grow, and take home whenever their teacher wants them to.
May: A local family brought in many small animals for a small petting zoo. Not much formal educational activity but definitely good! (lambs, bunnies, a guinea pig, two small goats, etc.)
Please share with others who plan to do a cross-age teaching or mentors lessons with a Kindergarten level class! If you have any other questions feel free to contact me, or if you have other topics or ideas you would like me to add to this document. It is a safe bet that no matter how well the HS kids do during a lesson - it is a great experience for all age groups involved and can give a very positive image to your program!