Fletcher Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) students learned a bit more about their fellow students, and helped out local wildlife, by collaborating on bird-related activities. UPK classrooms led by Everett Nelson, Jennifer Schrader, Ricki Krulish, Lisa Campbell and a kindergarten to second grade classroom led by Rebecca McGrath participated in several activities including: creating a bagel bird feeder, learning songs about feeding birds, creating ice cube painting of bird pictures, and finger painting cardinals using student thumbprints.
The teachers decided to collaborate because some UPK students inquired about special needs students, often seeing them in the hallways. The teachers thought it would be beneficial to introduce the students so they could meet and help each other. Also, the first UPK module “All About Me,” teaches students that all people are special. Working together with students of varying abilities was a continuation of the first module. Currently, the UPK students have been studying animals, including birds. The teachers talk about all living things needing food, water and shelter. The teachers thought the collaboration was a success.
“Integration made a difference by enhancing the children’s knowledge of the world,” said UPK teacher Miss Schrader. “The activity widened the children’s environment and had a beneficial impact on their social and cognitive development. The UPK students became role models and helpers and provided time to develop compassion and understanding for others. It was an opportunity for students with special needs to socialize with their peers. It provided the idea that looking differently and acting differently is okay. The students were very accepting of each other.”
Special education teacher, Rebecca McGrath said, “It’s very important for my students to be with students who are more verbal. The UPK children really helped my students.”
After the success of the first collaboration, the teachers look forward to additional opportunities to interact with each other throughout the school year and future years.