Mammals on the Rio Chama

The last time our 4th-6th grade River Classroom was at the Rio Chama, we placed some game cameras in areas that had quite a few signs of life. This week we met again at NMWC to take a look at the images and begin some important research into the animals that live along the river.

Here’s a sample of what we found:

Can you spot the rabbit?
A fox
A bobcat

Our students were pretty excited to see these images and correlate them with the signs of life we saw at the river!

Once we had reviewed the photos, our students began some basic research on these mammals. We wanted to know their natural history, where they belong in the ecosystem, whether they are threatened, and what changes to the ecosystem and habitat could have negative impacts on the species. We also discussed taxonomy and the scientific names of these species.

Books are always a good place to start.
Comparing the rabbits in the book to our photos
Moving on to online research
Debating characteristics of rabbit species
Taking detailed notes


After all of this work, we took a much-needed lunch break. After lunch, we began some preliminary work on a summative project. One of the great things about studying the environment is that everything is connected in some way. In most schools many subjects are separated by class- Algebra, English, Science. It’s not easy for students to see how they relate to each other and to the world around them.

To get our students thinking about how everything we’ve learned is connected, we had them brainstorm a (very long) list of topics we’ve discussed. We did this as a group and typed everything up. We printed copies for each group of students and had students organize them into categories. Our only requirement was that students only have between 5-10 categories.

Cutting out the words
Our students came up with three pages of words!
Discussing organization of terms
Organizing words into categories under the watchful eye of the magpie


Our students were proud of completing their task, which at first seemed insurmountable.


Once again our students exceeded our expectations. These kids are so smart, and we can’t wait to see the finished projects that they will put together connecting all of the knowledge they’ve gained over the last few years!

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