Friday, February 20, 2009

The Scoop on Poop

Supplies for Poop Class #1
You may have noticed our "library basket" list of books in the sidebar to the right.  I'm sure that if you have looked, you have also noticed an interesting variety in the subject matter, quite a spread in our family that ranges from a 3 and a half year old to a doctoral student brain deep in aesthetics.  I quite enjoy the intermingling of books on the cyber bookshelf. It makes me giggle, particularly with the addition of all the poop books, but I thought I should explain.  

It is my turn to teach a month of classes at our homeschool coop, and my first choice was moon journaling. My dear friend Kimmy led this class in Richmond, and I got to assist, and it is lovely - part science class, part nature journal, with poetry and art interspersed throughout, and lots of room for following the interests of the kids in the class.  Then I got to thinking about the weather here in February (my month) and checked out the Farmer's Almanac, and sure enough, there was much Weather forecast.   Then we invited a guest teacher to lead a writing workshop in the elective slot of the day, and it seemed another reason to look for something else to teach. I do not know how I went from moon journaling to poop, but I did.  I was in part trying to find a subject that I thought would be FUN and would appeal to the cluster of 7-10 year old boys that we have.  I admit, I know very little about this age of boy, and was feeling intimidated.  I thought if I could grab them with some juicy (heh) subject matter, we'd have a good time and we'd all learn something.  And so began my journey of the poop.  I am here to report on class one. (If you do not need the details, you should probably just skip the rest of this post. I am LOVING this class, so I will lay it all out here, because who knows, The Universe may have brought you here, to this blog, at this very moment, because you too have been called to lead an Examination of Elimination.)

We began by passing around a bag of castings from my worm bin. I had the kids guess what it was, and do you know, they all guessed dirt? Ha HA! We then read "Everyone Poops", which I thought might be a bit young for this group, but do you know what? Not only does everyone poop, but everyone LOVES a funny book about poop!  Then I read excerpts from a book chock full of great information about the subject, called "The Truth About Poop" (example: a skipper caterpillar, 1.5 inches long, can shoot its poop 6 feet so that no predators can track it down by smelling its poop). From here we went on to talk about how poop is made, and spent the rest of the class going through the digestive system.  There are some fun activities you can do to demonstrate and explore this - talk about the role of teeth and saliva while chewing a soda cracker, pass a hand squeeze around the circle and talk about peristalsis, put some OJ and a cracker in a ziploc bag and talk about the stomach and bile. My favorite, though, was talking about the intestines.  First we stretched a 25-foot string across the room a couple of times to show how long the small intestine is (that is long. super long.), and then I fed a cup or so of cooked oatmeal into the leg of a pair of nylons, and squeezed it through to the toe, while talking about villi absorbing nutrients and water from the food, sending it to the blood stream. This was so EW! It was great. Then everyone picked a part of the system they wanted to portray, and we sent a particle of food on through.  This is an activity I adapted from this website. A boy I am just getting to know immediately volunteered to be the the butt of this project - a job I thought I'd have to bribe someone to do.  Donning the "Colon to Anus" placard, he took his place at the end of the table. This is also the kid who came to me later in the day to announce that hearing about all that poop just made him have to go, and voila! Success!! I was so proud.  At the end of class I suggested that they notice this week how often they go, what doesn't get digested (corn, seeds), what makes their poop a different color...a little poop journal of sorts. I'll let you know how things come out, next week.


kimmy said...

THAT sounded fantastic. What in the world will you do next week to top that class?

I'll be using your "lesson plan" sometime in the future, no doubt.

Jennie said...

This sounds AWESOME. The shooting 6 feet is extra cool. :-) I love your bizarre library shelf! Our library/bookshelf is similarly odd. In fact,the guy who came to install our cable modem in the new place commented on its randomness, funny!