Monday, June 23, 2008

A Tale of Two Swamps

Last week my husband and I biked the Tunnel Hill trail, visited the Cache River State Natural Area, toured the Barkhausen Wetlands Center and ended by walking along the Heron Pond Boardwalk through the wetlands swamp of Southern Illinois. This past week, 1100 miles away, we walked along a boardwalk through the wetlands by the banks of the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Two communities linked by their desire to preserve the ecological balance that development threatens— and yet worlds apart.

Here are a few pictures of the Illinois swamp--some of the cypress trees have been living here for 1000 years. Walking the length of the boardwalk through these wetlands was like walking through a Tolkien-like landscape. I wouldn't have been surprised to see a hobbit perched on one of the conical "knees" which are part of the cypress trees' root system.

Now take a look at these shots- taken about 8000 feet higher in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. The pictures look out from the wetlands to the snow tipped mountains in the distance. Cottonwoods and wildflowers replace cypress trees; a free-flowing river replaces a forested swamp.

Although most of you won't have the opportunity to take your students on field trips to observe such contrasting landscapes, you can visit many of them online. Beyond an interesting compare and contrast essay, what other activities can language arts teachers cull from field trips such as these? If you're committed to writing across the curriculum, then the possibilities are endless. Consider a few ideas:


Travel brochure
Persuasive letter to a legislator supporting
relevant legislation
Blog with uploaded pictures or movies
Power point presentation
Design a game


Fantasy --What type of creature might live here? What problems would he/she experience as a result of living in this setting/environment?
Historical fiction--Who or what used to live in this area of the country? What made survival difficult?


Poetry (shape, haiku, limerick, free verse)

Puppet show

Picture book

If all else fails, you can ask your students to peruse a list of young adult books such as this one, or a classical literature list such as this one and find a title that relates to their field trip(s) which can be creatively renamed and voila´- they'll have something catchy like, "A Tale of Two Swamps."

E-mail me if you have other ideas of how to correlate science, social studies, and language arts. I'll post a blog for other teachers to use.

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1 comment:

C.R. Evers said...

Beautiful pictures! And a great creative writing idea to partner with vacation and nature!

I'm an Illinois girl born and raised, so that part of the country is dear to my heart!

Looks like you had a great time!


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