The grade four class has just finished the first unit of the year, in which we began a new voyage of discovery through local geography and history. In grades one through three, the children learn about the environment by connecting with their surroundings and how people live and work from the land. Grade four children feel increasingly at home on the earth and they seek to explore and understand it.
A new, more concrete source of knowledge begins, encompassing both space and time. The children explore the surrounding neighbourhood of the school to explore the physical features of the land, and they hear stories of the people who discovered it. The children develop a sense of the stories and individuals who shaped the city in which they live. Various day and overnight class trips complement the in-class curriculum and provide experiences that both broaden and deepen the children’s understanding of their city and province’s history and geography.
Beginning with the area around us in the classroom and moving outward, the children begin to experience and orient themselves in space. In their main lesson books, the children began to develop map drawing and reading skills and to work with the four directions. The students made drawings of their classroom, their bedrooms at home, and their route from home to school. This was used as the basis to expand outward to the Greater Toronto Area. Through the process of making maps, the children became aware of a bird’s eye view perspective by observing their city from a high view point, and taking in the surrounding landscape. The class will return to a second history and geography block at the end of the school year, and in the meantime, we will interview local residents about their history and experience of the geography of Ontario, while creating and discovering our own, as well.