Curriculum from Ball State University Students
Centerville, Indiana | December 02, 2016
A team of social studies students at Ball State University have channeled their inner child to create a series of activities that will help elementary students engage with nature.
The college students worked on social studies curriculums for the Children of Indiana Nature Park (Park). The Park gives K-12 children from all over Indiana the opportunity to be part of Hoosier history and claim a bicentennial ceremonial deed of trust for their unique piece of land in the Park. Hands-on activities, such as hikes, gardening, exploring, tree planting, and outdoor study, are led and facilitated by the staff of Cope Environmental Center, located next to the Park’s grounds.
The elementary students who visit the Children of Indiana Nature Park can now learn more about their “piece of land” through a series of new activities. The activities can be accessed by going to http://www.ilovemyland.org/resources.
Melissa Moran, Community Outreach Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy in Indiana said, “The Park website has had a number of lessons available that make the connection between science and caring for the land, but this was our first experience with adding the human dimension of social studies lessons to this project.”
The curriculum has been produced by Ball State students through the elementary social studies class under the direction of professor Ronald V. Morris.
“The students did some really interesting work to explore important ideas in social studies and relate their findings to the needs of The Nature Conservancy and Cope Environmental Center,” Morris said.
For example, one of the lessons asks upper elementary students to consider “Why are people spending less time outdoors in today’s society?” and “How can nature and humans benefit each other?”
Jessica Mills, a senior in elementary education at Ball State, said, “I am very happy I got to participate in this project. It gave me another opportunity to learn about social studies education.”
“This project took a lot of hard work and fully immersed us in the social studies curriculum. It was a great experience to be able to apply the standards to a real life situation,” said elementary education major senior Mariah Kiefer.
Alison Zajdel Executive Director of the Cope Environmental Center said, “We were really excited with what the students created; it will help elementary students and teachers in our area for a long time as they use these materials.”
The curriculum is part of series of curriculum resources made for educators and cultural institutions by students under the direction of Morris. Other curriculum projects include The Farm at Prophetstown (2015) and Indiana Limestone (2015) for the Monroe County Historic Preservation Board.