California Out of the Box Projects: Encouraging a Closer Look

Leaf Observation Collections

In my California Out of the Box online classes, another fun project we completed was putting together leaf collections. How does this relate to California? It applies in every way; important to the California Out of the Box Curriculum is the notion that history is related to the natural features of the land such as plants, animals, and the eco-regions of California.

As students read Island of the Blue Dolphins and learned about plants the main character Karana used, I asked my students to do the following project: Look closely and gather plants from the area around where you live. Using the Audubon guide to California, they classified leaf shapes and flower types. This is important to being able to tell plants apart.

How is this related to California history? The amount of water and the type of plants largely determines the insect and animal life that can be found in an area. Do you think plants had an impact on where settlers built forts and missionaries built pueblos and missions? Yes, it sure did! Access to water, plants, and animals had a lot to do with areas of settlement.

Above are some photos of one of my student’s collections. Alina collected a great variety of samples, from green to flowering plants. This project idea comes from my daughter, who on one walk with a native plant guide, just DID this project. Taping leaves down in books is a botanical study that is easy to do, and very tactile for kids.

Poetry: Using Descriptive Words to Explore California Life

This is another one of my favorite projects in California Out of the Box. As my classes do these projects, I am always amazed by how creative and dedicated my students are; and how much polish students put on their work. Here are some beautiful poetry examples. I can see my students have had real experiences with what we have explored so far!

Sea Otters

By Sarah, 4th grade

Delightful Milkweed

By Noora, 4th grade

Sequoia Tree Stump

By Abdullah, 4th grade

How can I learn more?

If you are looking for resources for learning California history, please explore both our California Out of the Box online classes, as well as our literature-approach curriculum book. More information on California Out of the Box curriculum can be found here.

And as always — if you are one of my students seeing this work, message me and I would love to display your work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *