Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pasta of a Different Color

I love when you can actually come away from a workshop with practical ideas. Years ago I attended one where they made us color a bag of pasta. I rolled my eyes a bit, but did it-you put a little bit of rubbing alcohol in the bag with the pasta and then food coloring-shake around, let dry and voila! Now every year for this activity my kitchen is strewn with trays of colored shells to dry and I have that rare Martha Stewart moment.

This was supposed to be like the pictures the Native Americans made to go along with their stories, but most of them didn't turn out that way. *shrug* what can you do? At least we got to do some art and work with a medium we hadn't worked with before. And no one ate any-which is a good thing! People laugh but in Kinder you have to give the speech before each activity like this--let's not put these in our noses, mouths, ears, etc. please. Ah, the joys of teaching!

They came out pretty:

Legend of the Bluebonnet

I am a Texan now, so of course, we have to read this story!  I wanted to have the kids do a writing activity that showed they could apply the plotlines of the story to their lives (can you tell we are using the Rigor and Relevance framework at our school :). After reading the story, we talked about the word "sacrifice" and how people often sacrifice time-for example to do lesson plans when I could be playing with my puppy. We compared the actions of the little girl in the story to the sacrifice of the Giving Tree. I asked the kids to come up with something (non-living-I don't want to end up on the news!) that they could bury in the ground and what would then grow. Some of them really, really "got" it-which has to make you smile as a teacher.

My favorite one--I just love the flow of his thinking here!

I'm not even completely sure what this says, but I'm so glad when they put in the effort to actually try to write a sentence.

I know it looks a little creepy-but it was a really original idea-she was the only one who made the flower like the object.

Love that they are pink flowers-Barbie would be happy with that!

This was just before Thanksgiving-they had turkeys on the brain I think.

Just love the detail.

"How did the rose grow I sacrificed my toy".

Friday, November 25, 2011

What I Did Over My Thanksgiving Vacation

So we were lucky enough to qualify for a bond that passed to build new campuses for some ailing schools. Our old building is over 80 years old and though a landmark in the community; we have outgrown the classrooms. Plus we have limited access to technology, simply due to the wiring available. Our air conditioning was so tempermental-we often had buckets in the hallway to catch random drips.

Very excited to move into a new space! It's been a lot of work though. I've never had to pack up a classroom while still in use before. And my poor garage is so full of boxes-we have much less storage space in the new classrooms and "clutter" has already been forbidden. :) Anyway this is the before picture:

Still a work in progress, but this is the after:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Native American Unit

I think this is one of my favorite units of the year. I have always been fascinated with Native American culture and hope to give my kiddos a little insight into traditions they are probably not already familiar with yet. Unfortunately, this week I was at professional development for 3 days so we haven't yet been able to incorporate many of the activities. Hopefully we'll have some good examples from the upcoming 2 days we have left.

Some ideas to increase rigor in Native American activities.

Using GT Icons:

1) Ethics is an obvious one-was it fair the way the Native Americans were treated? But also to write about the ethics of the people as a culture. They way the tribes worked together, the way they never wasted anything.

2) Multiple Perspectives: They could compare the perspective of a pilgrim to someone coming to America today. Perspective of a tipi compared to that of a house, pilgrims to the Native Americans.

3) Big Idea-storytelling was a constant tradition and after hearing a story we discuss what the big idea learned was. My kids make storytelling belts out of colored pasta-they make an image and then write a story about it-what is the big idea learned from that story?

4) Language of the disciplines-we incorporate this into a unit about homes-so vocab of an architect. Or that of a historian.

5) Overtime-how has America changed since the Pilgrims landed? How has the Native American culture changed? How have Native American homes changed over time.

Higher-level thinking ?'s:

What would have happened if the Pilgrims hadn't made the voyage to America? How would the life of the Native Americans be different? Would our environment be different today?


We love to make tortilla tipis. Using food coloring the students paint the tortillas and put pretzels at the top for the wood. Nothing like eating art! :)

I've never been brave enough to try this (and I don't think this is the class to do it with yet):  how cool would that be?!?

Using a feather to create something new (trying to get back on the horse after the leaf fiasco :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Leaves and Ethics

Ok, so the kiddos were supposed to write about the ethics of leaves-is it right or wrong that the leaves fall off the trees? The directions were to write 1st and then paint, but the idea of painting was a little too exciting for many of them. :) I had to write what they dictated after the paint dried.

What I love about activities like this is how their creativity really comes through. Look how different each image of the leaves are. Some did blobs, some did little dots, some made patterns...each and every one is unique which I think is such an important lesson. I've been in classrooms where teachers dictate what color to make the sky, the tree, the turkey--whatever the subject is. I can't bring myself to do that because I selfishly love to see what they come up with on their own. I limited their color choices, just because it was easier to give them palettes of certain colors--but their vision was all their own!

My favorite reasoning!

Over Time Icon

Time is a tough nut for little ones. They will often say "yesterday I am going to go to Wal-Mart" or "tomorrow I forgot to do my homework". So the concept of over-time when it comes to looking at how characters changed over past/present/future is a challenging one. The students chose any character from the Wizard of Oz story we finished reading, and wrote about how that character changed over time. I thought they did a pretty good job considering it was their first time with this concept.

The lion from coward to King of the Forest.

Dorothy on the farm, having to do away with the witch and then life back on the farm.

I like that they future is good for Dorothy!

I love that this student sees Dorothy going on more adventures when she gets older. I know there are other books in the series.

Dorothy in the land of Dainty China People, clicking her heels and then home again.

Our First Frames

Frames are a staple of GT curriculum. They are a way to make connections between the students' thinking and various icons. We are reading the Wizard of Oz right now (anyone who knows me knows I am a great advocate of reading to kiddos above their grade level-not only for the vocab and listening skills they can develop; but also because it lends itself to activities like this).

The students used the concepts of multiple perspectives, details, big idea and ethics. They chose their own ideas from the story to match each icon. Considering this was a new activity for them and we aren't very far into the school year (and they are 5-years old :)-I thought they did a really remarkable job! It was a challenging task to ask them to do; and not one of them complained-I was very proud of them!

This student did perspective from different characters in each side.