Amazing Adaptations and Life Cycles

Third grade ecoliteracy programs nurture a student’s inquisitive nature and sense of wonder by encouraging them to ask questions about living things and their relationship with the environment. Students will learn how to carefully observe plant and animal traits and compare complex life cycles through engaging, experiential learning activities. A deep connection to nature will be cultivated as students discover how plants, animals, and humans adapt to environmental changes in our evolving world. 

Games, stories, and direct observation around campus will captivate students as they learn about the diversity of nature, how plants and animals meet their needs, and how we can make a positive impact on the living world.

NGSS Supported: 3-ESS3-1, 3-LS1-1, 3-LS4-3, 3-LS4-4, 3-LS3-1

In Ancestral Skills classes, students will learn about the Tongva (Gabrielino), Acjachemen (Juaneño), and Payómkawichum (Luiseño) people, the original inhabitants of Orange County and surrounding areas, their historical relationship with native plants and animals, and what we can learn from them today.

HSS Supported: 3.1.2, 3.2.1, 3.2.2

Topics and activities to choose from:

The Life Cycle of a Bee

We need bees! One out of every three bites of food we eat in the United States exists because of honey bees and other pollinators. We can help bees by learning about how bees live, what they need to survive, and making choices in our lives to support the bees. Students will engage in a simulation game to learn about the life cycle of a honey bee, then taste bee pollen and honey from a local hive.

The Life Cycle of an Earthworm

Have you ever dug into the earth to see what is hidden below? Earthworms are nature’s recyclers! Examine the engineers of the underground world as you learn about vermicomposting (composting with worms) and the life cycle of an earthworm. Get up close and personal with worms at every stage of their life.

Plant Survival and Thrival 

How do plants in the desert survive without water for long periods of time? And how do some vegetables grow better in one season and not the other? Explore how adaptations help plants survive by getting up close and personal with different species of plants. Students will compare plant characteristics and life cycles, and discover how they survive and thrive in different ecosystems. 

Adapting to Change

Drought and extreme weather impacts people all around the world. By examining how native plants and animals have adapted to their environments, humans can learn and design solutions to extreme weather changes. Students will explore the role of adaptations in nature, and learn how these adaptations create resilient ecosystems. When we apply these concepts to our lives, humans can reduce the impact of these weather related changes.

Plant Families

Plants have families! Leaf shapes, growth patterns and other details help us identify plants that are related. Students will observe characteristics a plant shares with its family and have the opportunity to touch, taste, and explore similarities and differences between plant families.  

Acorns (Ancestral Skills)

Acorns are an important part of our history and have been a food source for thousands of years all over the world. Why don’t most people eat them today? Students will learn how to process locally gathered acorns for food by cracking, shelling and grinding them with a mortar and pestle, and compare modern techniques to traditional methods of local indigenous tribes. At the end of this hands-on workshop, students will have the opportunity to taste bread made out of acorns. 

Plant Fiber (Ancestral Skills)

Making cordage (rope) from plant fibers is an inextricable part of historical tool making and a foundational ancestral living skill. Cordage can be used for the string on hunting bows or on bow drills for making fire, the lashing to bind poles together for shelter, the netting used to catch fish or make bags, the string on a trap, fine jewelry string, rope for building bridges, binding rafts and much more. Students will learn how to process plant fiber, get to know California native, chaparral yucca, and take home their finished yucca rope. 

Before people made cups from materials like plastic, glass, or metal, they used natural items like gourds, shells, or animal skins to hold liquids. Students will carve their own small gourd to take home and use as a natural cup. 

Plant Medicine (Ancestral Skills)

Plants have been used for medicine by our earliest human ancestors for hundreds of thousands of years, and many people still use them medicinally today. Students will learn about the healing properties of plants, get to know a few well known medicinal plants, and make a healing salve to take home.