Category Archives: Books

Second Grade, Fred McFee and Skeletons

I love the book, The Bones of Fred McFee by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus.  The rhyming text and luscious illustrations make it a delight to read.  I needed an activity for second grade and one of the Georgia Standards of Excellence they are exploring now is in physical science, S2P 1 b. Construct an explanation for how structures made from small pieces (linking cubes, building blocks) can be disassembled and then rearranged to make new and different structures.

I was thinking of having the students assemble something and it needed to be from supplies that I had a lot of.  Thought a bit and remembered the tub full of popsicle sticks!  The idea of assembling a skeleton just popped into my head and that made me think of Fred McFee.

We read the book and I showed them examples of non-fiction books that had information and illustrations of skeletons; a dictionary, an encyclopedia and a non-fiction book.  I placed these on the tables and the teacher paired up the students.  Each group had a dictionary with the skeleton illustration and a heap of popsicle sticks.

Initially some students asked how could they assemble a skeleton.  I referred them to the illustrations and asked how they might form a head or legs.  The soon got the hang of it.  One of the classes did this activity on a day that they were dressed as super heroes as part of Red Ribbon Week.  You’ll notice that some students posed their skeletons in super hero poses and then posed themselves for the photo!

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Kindergarten and Halloween

I have been attempting to give the kindergarten students more opportunity for drawing and writing in the the library.  They are currently exploring holidays in their unit of inquiry.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

img_7539.jpgAfter we read a book about Halloween, Linda Williams’s book, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, I asked the students to think of something they were NOT afraid of, that others might be afraid of. I copied a paper headed with “I am not afraid of” and asked them to draw that thing.

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Today one of the kindergarten students asked when they came in with their class if they were going to “write” today in the library.  Building up those expectations!

 

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5th Grade Immigration and Padlet

5th grade is starting to study immigration and I wanted to read some picture books that would give an overview or an overarching picture of the topic.  I started with Faith Ringgold’s We Came to America and afterwards we talked about some of the reasons people immigrate to the U.S.A.

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Next-Hamid’s Story

The next time we met, I read Andy Glynne’s Hamid’s Story: A Real Life Story of His Journey from Eritrea.

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I asked the students to reflect on what they would do if they had a child who had recently immigrated to the U.S. in their classroom; posting our IB Learner Profiles nearby to encourage them to use these as inspiration for their response.

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I knew I saved this metal tripod thingies from the trash for a reason!

Padlet

I used Padlet for the students to record their responses.  I like Padlet as it gives the students a variety of ways to record their ideas, through writing, making an audio recording or video taping themselves.  I was surprised that so few from each class chose to video!

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Padlet

Many of the students wrote very heartfelt reflections and this is a lesson I will definitely repeat and Padlet is going to be a the top of my list for recording student voice.

 

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IB Approaches to Learning-Makerspace Activity

After a not very productive group activity with one of our fourth grade classes, I decided they needed to work on their social skills.  In the International Baccalaureate program we have something called Approaches to Learning and one component is Social Skills.  This class needed more practice and I decided to give them the opportunity!  I wanted to use a fun makerspace activity to engage the students, one that wouldn’t require any academic prep.

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Tower-Makerspace Activity

The library media specialists in our school system attended a makerspace workshop at the beginning of the school year conducted by Cari White from Texas.  We did an activity where we built a tower using index cards and round labels.  Easy-inexpensive, not much prep on my part, accessible to all skill levels!

The Hook-the Book-Rapunzel

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I chose a book with a tower in it, Rapunzel and decided to use Bethan Woollvin’s version as it short.  I needed to allow time for the students to read the IB Approaches to Learning: Social Skills before working in groups. After reading Rapunzel, the teacher divided the students into groups of three and each group did a carousel reading of the skills.

The Building of the Tower

The challenge is simple: work as a group to build the tallest tower using 20 index cards and 8 round labels.  In reflecting on this activity, I would spring for a better quality of index cards.  I used the ones that you can get at the beginning of the school year for 50 cents.  They didn’t have quite the stiffness that a higher quality of card would have.

The students, as I predicted, were a little slow in getting started.  Not much communication or collaboration, but eventually they got the hang of it!

And they were so proud of their towers!

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Fourth Grade Primary Documents and Inferences

Fourth grade is studying the American Revolution and I wanted to introduce them to primary documents as an information resource.  I also wanted to acquaint them with the book, George vs George: The Revolutionary War as Seen by Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer. This book is a great example of the IB key concept of perspective.

Cover of the book George vs George by Rosalyn Schanzer

Borrowing an Idea from WritingFix

I found a lesson plan on Writingfix.com and used the first part of it (http://writingfix.com/WAC/HistoryFix/George_vs_George1.htm) which used portraits of George Washington and King George.  The website also provided a graphic organizer for the students to use to analyze the primary source document.  This was also an opportunity to have the students practice making inferences, an ELA skill they work on in this grade level.  I marked the word, “infer” in dictionaries and had one student read the definition while the others followed along.

Model First and then Small Group Work

First I modeled what the students were going to do.  I have a large poster of a portrait of Paul Revere from a collection of posters, Picturing America: America’s History Through Our Nation’s Art, from a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  This portrait by John Singleton Copley is a good way to have the students, as a whole group, work through “reading” this painting.  They noticed the tea pot, the tools, his plain clothes, etc.  Then they brainstormed what that might mean (inferring) about this person (I covered up his name).  Then they worked in small groups looking at the two portraits.4-3

Two Men-What Can We Infer?

I gave each group a small copy of each of the paintings, one of King George and the other of George Washington.  At this point they had just begun their study of the Revolutionary War and most didn’t know who these men in the portraits were.  I gave them about 5 minutes to observe the first portrait and make notes on their graphic organizer and then I had them move onto the second portrait.4-1

For the most part the students did a good job and were surprised to see what they could find out about a person, just by looking at a painting. After we shared a few observations, I revealed who each man was and showed them the book, George vs George.

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I will be sharing this book with this grade level over the next couple of weeks. Just not sure how yet!

 

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Kindergarten – Grandparents and The Hello, Goodbye Window

The kindergarten’s current Unit of Inquiry focuses on families and in preparation for our school’s upcoming Grandparents’ Day we read, The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster. After reading this book about a little girl and her grandparents the students drew a picture of their grandparents. I suggested they think about what their grandparents looked like.  Did they wear glasses?  Have a mustache?  Have grey hair?  I think it helped some students key in and include these details.

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Created Window Frames

I created window frames by cutting a large piece of construction paper (12 x 18) in half and using a template cut openings with an exacto knife and metal straight edge.  A bit tedious but not complicated.

They glued on a window frame and created their own “hello, goodbye window.”

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Second Grade-Chickens Build a Wall and LEGOS

The idea of International Day of Peace, LEGOS and the book, Chickens Build a Wall just sort of coalesced one night.  We were celebrating IDP with grades 3-5, but I needed a lesson for second grade.  Makerspace activities were also on my mind and I thought about Jean-Francois Dumont’s book, Chickens Build a Wall, which led to the idea of having students build a wall, which led to LEGOS.

Chickens Build a Wall  is about a flock of chickens who don’t act very peaceably towards a stranger who appears in the barnyard.  Students designed and built a wall using LEGOS to protect their chickens (represented by dried beans).  They then disassembled the structure which supports one of their Georgia Standards of Excellenc-Science:  S2P1 Construct an explanation for how structures made from small pieces (linking cubes, building blocks) can be disassembled and then rearranged to make new and different structures.

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LEGOS

Many of our children have no experience building with LEGOS, so it looks like any reason I can find to let them build things will help them improve their fine motor skills, their creativity and engineering concepts.

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