Thursday, February 28, 2013

Character Court

Every year we do a performance project based on ethics in fairy tales. The students choose who they want to play, they write their lines, paint their backdrops and on the big day they perform their little debate. We had some really great costumes this year and the kids worked so hard to perfect their speeches.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dr. Seuss and Rigor

I know a lot of people are doing Dr. Seuss units this week and I wanted to share some ideas I was going to use to spice up the critical thinking level a little bit.

I am fascinated by Dr. Seuss. I love his success story. He was actually voted Least Likely To Succeed by his college friends. He tried many times to get published before anyone actually let him. He started out in advertising because he had to have a job to pay the bills and was quite successful in that industry. He was also the quintessential prankster. Friends would come home to find their bathtubs filled with goldfish and Jell-O (I don't even know how you would get Jell-O out of your tub!). He and his wife lived in an apartment with a telephone number one off from the local fish store and would get calls from people ordering fish. Instead of telling them they had the wrong number he would draw what they ordered and deliver it to their house. Could you imagine! They said most people got mad about but how valuable those drawings would be today!

Anyway, back to rigor.

Critical Thinking: Would the Cat in the Hat act the same way without his hat?
What would a Texan Dr. Seuss story look like?
Write about another character-like Skippyjon Jones the way Dr. Seuss would.
Dr. Seuss Sudoku.
Create your own Dr. Seuss story (we'll do characters out of clay and try our hand at claymation again! :)

Ethics: Oooh-his books are filled with these questions. The Lorax and the environment, Sneetches and discrimination. I like to have them write about if how the Cat in the Hat acted was right and Maisy from Horton Hatches an Egg.

Multiple Perspectives: Write from the perspective of the egg Horton is sitting on, from the Cat in the Hat's hat. Compare the perspective of the trees from the Once-ler's perspective and the Lorax.

Over Time-how would the Cat in the Hat change over time (they need to use their imagination for this one-how was he as a child, how would he be when he's older). How did Dr. Seuss stories change over time?

Rules: What is always true of Dr. Seuss stories? Use those rules to create your own story.

Literature: There's a book called The Boy on Fairfield Street which is a pretty good account of his life. It's more geared toward like 2nd Grade and above but I've used it with my Kinders before.


What Jazz Looks Like

None of my munchkins had ever heard of jazz music before. It is kind of before their time. :) Let's face it, these kids don't know what records were, much less CD's-they think music comes from phones! We learned about Louis Armstrong and how he was basically saved from a life of crime by that saxophone a police officer had given him. Then we read the book Duke Ellington which I love because it even talks about the different colors that the different instruments can make you think of.

I played some jazz for the kids and asked them to close their eyes and paint what it made them see. Here are the results:

Makes me think of home.

is wonderful, I feel good, I play it a day wonderful.

Makes me happy and sad.

I know the quality of the pic stinks-but this is my favorite answer. "It makes me think of a fancy restaurant".

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ethics and Ivan

On the suggestion of Miss Foote over at Chickadee Jubilee:  we have started reading The One an Only Ivan. (Bonus for me because it's on the list of books my 3rd-5th book club has to read for next year, one of the Bluebonnet selections, so I'm starting early! :)

The story is based on a real gorilla who was a mall exhibit and lived life in a glass cage until people protested and apparently got him moved to a wildlife refuge. I love that the book is written from the perspective of the gorilla and we haven't gotten very far yet, but there were some a-ha moments for the kids. At one point one of my little scholars said "I love how this author uses words!". Ivan believes humans use too many words and I have to agree with him there.

We do a lot of activities with the concept of ethics in our class. Not just is it right or wrong, but I'm really trying to get the kids to justify their opinion. So often they leave that part out-it's right because that's how it is. I'm a big believer in explaining why. So I asked them to think about the ethics of keeping animals in cages. Now, I didn't tell them how depressing the zoo always is for me because I think it's sad to limit a wild animal's life like that-I just let them form their own opinions.

This is what they came up with:

right because they might step on us

right because they can really fool you

Wrong because they need wild stuff

right because they are wild animals

Wrong because the animals do not like it.

Wrong because even cheetahs can be treated as pets.

Wrong because they need space so they can be wild.

Right because what if kids want to pet it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Glass Slipper Perspective

We have been finishing up our fairy tale unit and I found these. I asked the kids to write from the perspective of Cinderella's glass slipper-I liked how many different things they came up with:

it would hurt if she sat on me.

She would step on me

I would feel gross because she wears it.

Of course, one of my boys had to mention stinky feet! :)