Feathers instead of workbooks

Published 7:07 pm Friday, August 15, 2008

The brain child of a Challenge Program workshop lead to a day of learning and discovery using only feathers.

Pearl River County School District Upper Elementary students were treated to a day where feathers were the basis for learning. While instruction was still rooted in the fundamentals of math, science, language and creativity, two traditional learning materials were left out.

“Instead of using textbooks and workbooks, they’re incorporating feathers into their lessons,” said Challenge teacher Kathy Grantham.

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Teachers came up with their own creative way to get children to think differently by implementing feathers into the lesson plan. Various ideas included writing stories, poems and conducting science and synthesis construction projects.

Synthesis construction projects were inspired by a book entitled “The Perfect Purple Feather.” Ideas in the book gave children a basis to come up with their own ideas to create an object in real life out of everyday items.

“We want to encourage them to think in a different way,” Grantham said.

Feathers also were used to add and subtract numbers, divide words into syllables and as a form of measurement.

Third grade teachers asked all 275 students to craft a large bird in the hall way, made up of construction paper and feathers. Each construction paper feather lists a child’s favorite book. Attached on the paper feather is a feather of matching color, said third grade teacher Shannon Matute.

Another third grade teacher, Lynette Adams, said she will have her students try to clean up oil from water, a play on a recent local event. Using substances such as cotton, spoons, sponges and mop strings the students were expected to try to find the best way to remove oil from water.

Children also tested the different effects of water and oil on a feather.

Other things the third grade students were planning to do included using feathers to learn about math fact families, Matute said.

“I hope we have enough time to finish all the things we have planned to do,” Adams said.

Feathers were used as a writing utensil. As fifth grade students attempted to write their name using only a feather dipped in paint, they discovered writing with a feather was a bit more difficult than using a pencil, said fifth grade teacher Phoebe Smith.

Fifth graders also learned about gravity and how a feather takes longer to reach the ground than other objects. They were then asked to explain why they thought this was true, said fifth grade teacher Kelly Ax.

Fifth grade teacher Joanne Saucier asked her students to create collages out of feathers. Some of the more interesting ones included the “Taj Mafeather” and “Mt. Featherest,” she said.

Fourth graders categorized feathers according to color, size and shape, wrote poems and used feathers to separate words into syllables, said fourth grade teacher Carol Rice.

Feathers were also used to learn about Native American culture and how birds were revered by that culture, said fourth grade teacher Martha Cox. Students also made a compass out of feathers, said fourth grade teacher Darby Lenoir.

“The kids have really enjoyed it, they really have,” said Martha Cox.