What, exactly, is an ecosystem? How are its elements related? What crazy and cool organisms exist in the diverse rainforest ecosystem?
Ellen Senisi – Ecosystem Connections with All in a Rainforest Day Book
Creative Writing, Visual Arts
In-person full-day visit: $950
In-person half-day visit: $550
Virtual presentation including follow-up activity: $250 ($350 for two sessions on the same day)
Travel expenses apply outside New York’s Capital Region or Manhattan.
The program length runs from 25-50 minutes, depending on grade levels addressed. Generally, schools opt to use the rest of the school day for individual classroom visits to answer questions and show production materials up close but other options may be arranged.
The presentation is structured around her book, All in a Rainforest Day, which shows diverse plants and animals and how their needs are met in the rainforest ecosystem throughout a day. Before the reading, background information about the rainforest ecosystem is shared through photos, video clips, and selections from a trip journal created on a visit in the Amazonian Rainforest Basin. This provides background knowledge of the rainforest ecosystem to deepen understanding of the book when it is read. Journal writing and primary/secondary sources are also covered briefly for intermediate students.
After the reading, Ellen asks students questions about what they saw or heard in the book. They review a graphic organizer and a brief video summing up the ecosystem theme. Students are then encouraged to write their own rainforest day story using what they have seen and heard in the presentation.
For intermediate students, if time allows, she reads her story with photo illustrations about a mother and baby orangutan who find all they need in the rainforest ecosystem. For intermediate students, picture book structure and rainforest conservation are also discussed. These students also view a brief video about rainforest destruction, hear about conservation efforts, and learn specific steps that they can take to support rainforest preservation. The program closes as students exit with photos set to rainforest sounds.
Program structure is flexible. Ellen prefers to present to smaller groups (1-2 grades levels at a time) but other options can be arranged. Presenting to kindergarteners and fifth-graders at the same time doesn’t work for either age.
Opportunities for follow up are available. Teachers may designate several note takers to record ecosystem components shown in the presentation so students have a list to refer to while writing their own rainforest day story.
Downloadable resources that will be made available to teachers include discussion questions, an ecosystems graphic organizer, and six hands-on activities (one for each grade from K-5). Documentation is provided on science and ELA standards addressed.
1834 Lenox Road, Schenectady NY 12308
— Create a Photoessay (K-5) Students in an individual classroom get a photo skills session, a lesson on blending photos and words, practice writing, then do hands-on work creating their own picture stories.
— Star In A Picture Book (pre-K – 5) Students are photographed by Ellen at work and play or on a chosen theme in their classroom. Class uses the photographs to create a book about themselves. This program works successfully with pre-K as well as students with special needs, who are often not able to benefit from traditional programming.
— Writing Steps and How a Book is Created (K-5) How is a book created? How can kids get motivated and organized for writing? These questions are answered with the help of a spunky special needs child, an iguana, and lots of photographs. Ellen shows the book creation and production history for her title All Kinds of Friends, Even Green. The theme of the book aligns with the theme of the presentation as Moses, a boy with spina bifida, struggles with how to write about a friend for a school assignment. The book’s history is followed from scratch paper to printed book. Along the way she emphasizes the importance of the creative process and editing. Her sub-themes are drawn from the book and include special needs awareness and pets as friends and inspiration. Teacher resources with follow up materials are included.