- America the Beautiful Quarters
Students will describe characteristics of a salt marsh and identify plants and animals typical of this environment. Students will synthesize and apply knowledge of a salt marsh.
Major Subject Area Connections
- Language Arts
- Sessions: Five
- Session Length: 30-45 minutes
- Total Length: 151-500 minutes
- Whole group
- Small groups
- Individual work
- Plants and animals
- Elements of a news show
Terms and Concepts
- Reverse (back)
- Obverse (front)
- Great blue heron
- Salt marsh
- Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
- 1 overhead projector or equivalent technology
- 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the "Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge Quarter" page
- Copies of the following:
- "Salt Marsh Reading" worksheet
- "Salt Marsh Research" worksheet
- "Salt Marsh Research Answer Key"
- "In the News Checklist"
- 1 copy of an age-appropriate text that gives basic information about salt marshes, such as:
- Following the Coast by Jim Arnosky
- Salt Marsh by Paul Fleisher
- Marshes and Swamps by Gail Gibbons
- A Day in the Salt Marsh by Kevin Kurtz
- Access to age-appropriate Web sites that provide basic information on and images of salt marshes, such as:
- Class map of the United States
- Chart paper
- Internet access
- Butcher paper
- Construction paper
- Make an overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the "Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge Quarter" page.
- Make copies of the following:
- "Salt Marsh Reading" worksheet
- "Salt Marsh Research" worksheet
- "In the News Checklist" (1 per student)
- Locate a text that gives basic information about salt marshes (see examples under "Materials").
- Bookmark Internet sites that contain information about salt marshes (see examples under "Materials").
- Arrange to use the school computer lab for Session 2.
- Create a chart titled "Salt Marsh Characteristics" for Session 1.
- Collaborate with the art teacher for Session 3.
Worksheets and files (PDF)
- Display and examine the "Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge Quarter" page. Locate this site on a class map. Note its position in relation to your school's location.
- As background information, explain to the students that the United States Mint began to issue the quarters in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program in 2010. By the time the program ends in 2021, there will be a total of 56 designs. Each design will focus on a different national site—one from each state, territory, and the District of Columbia.
- Tell the students that the front of the coin is called the "obverse" and the back is called the "reverse." Ask the students to tell you what they see in the image on the quarter's reverse. Explain that the image depicts a special kind of environment called a tidal salt marsh. Tell the students that they are going to be learning about the special features of the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.
- Explain that the image on this coin represents a salt marsh found in Delaware within the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. According to the National Wildlife Refuge System, "the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans." Define a "wildlife refuge" as "a naturally occurring area that is protected by the government for the conservation of fish, wildlife, and plants." Identify the birds in the image as a great blue heron in the foreground and an egret in the background.
- Ask the students what characteristics they notice about the birds in the image, encouraging them to identify the long legs and beaks in both birds. Ask the students to brainstorm other plants and animals that might be found in the same environment. List student responses on chart paper. Tell the students that they will be learning about the salt marsh environment.
- Introduce the students to the selected text about salt marshes. Distribute the "Salt Marsh Reading" worksheet to the students. Explain that they will be making notes about the salt marsh based on what they learn from the selected text. As the text is read aloud, give the students time to briefly make notes about characteristics of the salt marsh and the plants and animals typically found there.
- Read the text aloud. After reading, ask students to share two facts they learned and one question they have about salt marshes with a partner. Guide the students to list the book title and author in the "Source" section at the bottom of the worksheet.
- Ask the students to share characteristics of a salt marsh that they noted on the worksheet. List these responses on chart paper. Using the text and the student notes, work together as a class to come up with a definition of a "salt marsh," such as "a wetland with many grasses and quiet salt waters."
- Explain to the students that they will be researching more information about the salt marsh environment in the next session.
- Display the "Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge Quarter" page. Review with the students the material covered in the previous session, including the class definition of a salt marsh.
- Distribute a copy of the "Salt Marsh Research" worksheet to each student. Explain to the students that they will be using the Internet to research additional information about salt marshes.
- Allow the students time to work with partners to conduct their research and take notes on the worksheet. Guide the students to list the Web sites used in the "Source" section at the bottom of the worksheet.
- After allowing time for research, ask the pairs to share their findings with the group. Add any additional salt marsh characteristics discovered to the chart created in Session 1. Revisit the class definition of a salt marsh as a whole group and revise it as needed. Have the students staple together their two "Salt Marsh Research" worksheets.
- Explain to the students that they will be using what they learned about salt marshes to create a mural representing this environment in the next session.
- Divide the class into three teams. One team will be responsible for the overall layout of the mural, the water element, and the background. One team will be responsible for the plants. One team will be responsible for the animals. If time allows, let the teams begin planning their murals.
- Display the "Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge Quarter" page. Review with the students the material covered in the previous sessions.
- Distribute supplies for creating the mural.
- Allow the student groups time to create the salt marsh mural. Display the completed salt marsh mural in the classroom.
Sessions 4 and 5
- Display the "Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge Quarter" page. Review with the students the material covered in the previous sessions. Display the "In the News" checklist and review it with the students.
- Explain to the students that they will be using the information they discovered about salt marshes and the class-created mural to create a news show.
- Ask the students to brainstorm features of a news show. Responses might include news stories, weather reports, traffic reports, interviews, and cooking segments. Record all ideas on chart paper.
- Tell the students that they will be creating their own segments for a news show from the salt marsh. Tell the students that their news show should encourage someone to visit Bombay Hook.
- Guide the students to come up with a creative name for their class news show.
- Allow time for the students to plan their segments. Allow the students to work as individuals or groups and to create props. Encourage them to be as creative as possible. Provide time for the students to write scripts for their segments and rehearse them.
- As the students complete their scripts, have them rehearse and record their segments using the class mural as a backdrop.
- Share the class news show to teach others about the salt marsh. Options for sharing the news show might include open house, parent night, science fair, or morning announcement show(s).
Differentiated Learning Options
- Allow students to dictate written responses on the worksheets and scripts.
- Allow students to complete worksheets and products with a partner.
- Provide students with sample scripts and framed sentence starters for the news show.
- Allow extended time for research.
- Have students create murals of other environments represented on coins.
- Have students compare the characteristics, plants, and animals of other national wildlife refuges.
- Have students incoporate persuasive language in their scripts and news presentations.
- Have students learn more about another water environment (the bayou) with the 2015 Kisatchie National Forest quarter lesson plan for kindergarten and grade 1 at www.usmint.gov/kids/teachers/lessonPlans/viewLP.cfm?id=443.
- Have students create and explain a model to show how the salt marsh serves as its own filter system.
- Take anecdotal notes about the students' participation in class discussions.
- Use the students' worksheets, scripts, news show performance, and "In the News Checklist" to evaluate whether they have met the lesson objectives.
Common Core Standards
Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.3 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 3
Cluster: Comprehension and Collaboration
- SL.3.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
- Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
- Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
- Ask questions to check understanding of information presented, stay on topic, and link their comments to the remarks of others.
- Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.
- SL.3.2. Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
- SL.3.3. Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.
- SL.3.4. Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
- SL.3.5. Create engaging audio recordings of stories or poems that demonstrate fluid reading at an understandable pace; add visual displays when appropriate to emphasize or enhance certain facts or details.
- SL.3.6. Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification. (See grade 3 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)
Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: K-4 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 2: Using knowledge of structures and functions
Grade(s): Grades K–4
- Students know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas
- Students describe how different expressive features and organizational principles cause different responses
- Students use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas
Domain: NGSS-2-3 Next Generation Science Standard
Cluster: Life Science Disciplinary Core Concepts
Grade(s): Grades K–4
- 2LS4-1 Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.