Urban natural environments in teaching younger school children

Tatyana Kropocheva (Russia), Mariya Sineva (Russia)

Under the conditions of intensive introduction of information technologies into learning practice (presentations, e-books) and various printed media (printed notebooks, dictionaries and reference books), teachers everywhere have ceased to perform nature tours, and during lessons devoted to Surrounding World it becomes common to study nature without nature. Observations of nature and laboratory experiments, introduced in the 19th century to methods of teaching natural science, were referred to as the main methods of teaching natural science to younger schoolchildren in the 20th century. However, in the 21st century the observations nearly disappeared from elementary school, and experiments are performed either as home assignments or are substituted with presentations. Aiming at elimination of drawbacks of verbal presentation of Surrounding World discipline, becoming more and more popular in modern elementary school, the authors tried to analyze the opportunities of close natural surrounding for organization of research activity by younger pupils. This article discusses educational opportunities of the use of urban natural environment in formation of direct observations and nature study by younger pupils. Information about the natural and climatic features of the urban environment, about diversity of flora and fauna species can be useful for the teacher. The mentioned features are exemplified by natural environment of city schools in Kemerovo oblast. Floristic lists of trees and shrubs at schoolyards of some schools in Kuzbass are provided as well as specifications of species diversity of various classes of animal world of the mentioned cities (birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and insects). And though the urban natural environment cannot be considered as rich, the species diversity of synanthropes and ruderal plants of urban nature present wide opportunities as learning material to train investigative researchers capable to see, to analyze, to compare, and to generalize natural phenomena.