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The Pond Alphabet Book

School: Alice B. Beal Elementary

City/State: Springfield, MA

Grade(s): 3

Format(s): Children's book: Alphabet

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Visual Arts

Project Overview

3rd grade students from the Alice B. Beal Magnet School in Springfield, Massachusetts, created this alphabet book as part of a learning expedition on pond life.

Students did multiple rounds of fieldwork at a local pond to make observations and gather specimens. Their classroom housed more than a dozen aquariums in which they put their collects plants and animals – all of which was carefully returned to the pond. Students also worked with various local experts, including people who worked at the park.

Students from this school created a number of products as a result of the Learning expedition on ponds, including interpretive signs (project #407) and a field guide. The students who created this book also took part in a in a miniature watercolor project (project #277). Because of the skills and passion they developed for watercolors, students and the classroom teacher were inspired to create this book as an additional project for the expedition.

Each page is a different letter of the alphabet corresponding to information about pond life. Each page also includes a watercolor painting. The watercolor paintings are done a very loose “wet” style, which suits the topic of pond life beautifully.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Highlights a product with very strong aesthetic quality – the watercolor paintings are nicely done and are very engaging
  • The medium of watercolors fits for a pond book – students used watery water colors – which lends a very pleasing quality to the book
  • Shows students taking a lot of care with their artwork, but the pages still feature the charming, loose hand of young artists, in part because watercolors forces the loose hand. For example, see “G is for gills”, “R is for reptiles” and “D is for dragonflies.”
  • Shows a beautiful example of the beauty of combining student artwork with academic content
  • The aesthetic quality of the artwork reminds one of a glue-bound, professionally published children’s book

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can determine the meaning of unknown words in informational text.
  • I can write an informative/explanatory text.
  • With support from adults, I can produce writing that is appropriate to task and purpose.
  • I can conduct a research project to become knowledgeable about a topic.
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