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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I will be sharing this book with this grade level over the next couple of weeks. Just not sure how yet!
I usually have the third grade students use atlases a couple of times during the year. I try something new every once in awhile and this year I made use of a huge stack on laminated United States maps we had in the library.
The third grade is required to know the location of several rivers for our state standards. I designed a graphic organizer that the students would utelize to gather information about the location of these rivers.
Altas and Index
We reviewed the purpose of an index and how to use an index and then I had them look up the rivers, noting the page of the map where the river could be found as well as the map coordinates. After they listed all the page numbers and map coordinates, I had them work in pairs and using this information actually find the river on the map. They were also required to list all of the states that the river flowed in or between.
Our students do not have a grasp of the names of the states or their locations. Hey, it’s not a standard and it’s not tested, so it’s not covered. I was hoping that the more time they spent looking at the map and tracing the rivers would pay off in a better concept of geographic locations. This process took two library visits.
Laminated United States Maps
On the third visit the students used their completed graphic organizers and look for the states they had listed for each river. They pretty easily found the states and then they could look for the river. They had dry erase markers which they used to trace the length of each river. Hopefully this practice with atlases and maps will pay off during testing and in other occasions when geography comes into play!
Fourth grade students study planets (Georgia Standards of Excellence-Science S4E1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to compare and contrast the
physical attributes of stars and planets) They chose a planet or spacecraft to research and write a script to record using the app, Chatterpix. Limited to 29 seconds students have to carefully consider what information to include about their topic. Recording themselves is an important skill as they can hear what they actually wrote and they can then edit their writing (they realize their errors as they try to read their own writing).
I prepare a Livebinder of resources in order to supply them with credible resources and to speed up the process. The whole process still takes about 3 plus library visits for each class in order to record all of the students.
I upload the videos to YouTube to give the students’ work a wider audience and the opportunity to share with parents and fellow students.
Link to one of the classes uploaded Chatterpix videos: https://goo.gl/WXqfK4