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Lesson plans for the classroom


Since my primary goal of this trip was to find opportunities to bring my experiences back into my 2nd grade classroom, I have found two activities that I plan to use. Both of them are tasks that I did in the research of the monkeys, and I feel will both work in my classroom.

The first revolves around my primary task: careful and accurate observation of the movements of the monkeys. First we found a monkey (not always an easy task and involved some heavy duty tracking and binocular work!). Then we identified which one it was. Then, with a partner we began to write in code what the monkey was doing every minute until we lost the monkey. Sometimes that was 15 minutes, other times it was 2 1/2 hours. One of us held the clock and announced when it beeped. The other kept sight on the monkey and said what the monkey was doing, precisely on the beep. It was recorded on a sheet, with the monkey's name on top, date and time at start of 'follow' and our names as observers.

My plan, after showing my PowerPoint slide show of my trip, is to explain to my students how important accurate observation is in the scientific process. I'll go over the steps in the process in a way my second graders can understand: hypothesis (or guess as to what you think will happen), procedure, materials needed, observation, recording, and conclusions.

We will then try to duplicate my experience with an animal much easier to do in the classroom--crickets! I have them anyway as food for my leopard gecko. One could also use large birds such as crows if you wanted to do it outside. Children will pair up, choose a cricket to follow, and then record behavior on the minute for about 10 minutes. We would probably have codes such as: MO for moving, RE for resting, CL for climbing, FO for foraging for food, DR for drinking, etc. We can compare results, graph them and use them in a variety of ways after collecting the data.

The next lesson I plan to do was an activity I did just one day--vegetation plotting. Again we were paired up but this time a botinist was also with us. We were shown a randomly selected 10x10 meter plot of the forest. Our task was to find all trees with a diameter larger than 5 centimeters, label them, and record their name. The purpose was to find what kind of food was available to the monkeys in different parts of the forest.

The way I would bring this into my classroom, would be to have my students plot the vegetation in a 10x10 meter plot of school property. We have 5 acres and some of it is quite wild. I would stake out the area ahead of time and then ask the students to record by drawing on paper, all the trees, plants and grasses they see. We will try to give them names. Again, accuracy in recording what is seen will be the goal.

I hope you can use some of these ideas!


This is so exciting!

I have to ask: Did you bring back any music resources? (I imagine that, if you have a music teacher at your school, that was perhaps the last thing on your mind) If so, however, if you get the time, I'd appreciate it if you could drop me a brief e-mail. One of the subjects my students are really engaed in, is world drumming.


Patricia Smith
Kiptopeke Elementary School
Cape Charles, VA


I also just returned from a most spectacular trip to Kenya where I was visiting friends for one month. Our trips overlapped, and I just wanted you to know that I have really enjoyed reading the account of your trip whenever I could access internet. Thank you so much for sharing. I like your ideas for the classroom. I graduated this year and am desperately searching for a teaching position, but when I have a class of my own, I hope to put your ideas to good use.

[email protected]
Allentown, PA


I just found your site today, and wanted to connect with you after my own Kenyan adventure. We traveled from Hope College in Holland, MI to Churo, a small village in central Kenya. Our group worked at a dispensary and the boys/girls secondary schools in the village, all sponsored by AIC.

We had a great time expanding our world view and building relationships as we encouraged the staff and students at these fairly new (7 yrs/2 yrs) schools. We were also blessed to spend time on safari and enjoy the beauty of God's creation and creatures in that amazing place.

Thanks for your great blog.



Hi barbara,

It's exciting to read that you were in Kenya. how great did it sound over here!

Am a kenyan and wish that you will be back again when you are ready please do not hesitats to contact me!

wow, Barbara and Mary. Good to learn that one of you came to Churo, the amazing place.Having schooled there for more than 12 years from childhood to adulthood, just became a usual place and home. But wait, justto realize how beautiful the place is, fantastic!Hills, bushes and a stream!No... there is no other place as cool as Churo..Churo is our home town!

I saw some great ideas to use with middle schoolers.I taught 6th grade Special Ed Intensive Reading for the last 4 years. Because we are in Florida I taught "The Talking Earth" by Jean Graighead-George. I try to teach the students about our uniqe Everglades and the endangered animals. We have a Cupress head swamp behind the school. I'd like to see if we could do some of you activities. Check out "Eveglades by he same author You may want to use it. It's a picture book. Good Luck in your class this year.

very good. thanks.
I love it !
I like it !


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