A last minute idea turned out great! I needed a quick book and activity for third grade classes for our first week back to school after the winter break. I perused through some new books and saw, The Most Perfect Snowman by Chris Britt. This story is about sharing and being judged on your clothes; it’s a combination of fantasy and real emotions. After reading this book, I asked the students to create their “perfect snowman.”
Creating Their Perfect Snowman
I asked them to think what their perfect snowman would look like. Granted, our children don’t have much (in some cases, any) experience in building real snowmen, since it hardly ever snows in south Georgia.
I asked them to think of how their snowman would show emotion and motion. How could they express themselves? What might they do?
They really enjoyed the freedom to be creative. Some struggle when they have very few directions. I did hear a few, “I may a mistake; I need a new paper.” No, just turn it over or treat that “mistake” as an opportunity!
They loved this activity and it was so simple, construction paper and crayons.
I love their artwork, including traditional snowmen, a cowboy snowman, police snowman, teacher snowman, football player snowman and more.
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!
Sometimes inspiration strikes when you least expect it. I wanted to design a lesson for first grade students to introduce them to a couple of historical figures they will be studying for their IB Unit of Inquiry. Sometimes grades will also have what we call “stand-alones” or standards that don’t fit in with their Unit of Inquiry, but they will cover during the six weeks.
So I was looking to combine historical figures and magnets (their stand-alone science standard). As I was mulling this over I remembered a box of business cards and magnets that my son left behind when he changed careers and moved to Atlanta. So I have this box of cards and the magnets that can be adhered to make the business cards into a refrigerator magnet. Bingo! It came to me. Have the students draw a portrait of one of the historical figures on the reverse side of the business card, peel off the protective sheet on the magnet, place the card on the magnet and you have a project!
Britannica School Elementary via Galileo website
We are so fortunate that the state of Georgia provides libraries free access to some fabulous web resources including Britannica School Elementary encyclopedia via Galileo. I projected the website on our large screen and we read some basic information about three of the historical figures from the social studies standards.
Georgia Standard of Excellence: Social Studies: SS1H1 Read about and describe the life of historical figures in American history. a. Identify the contributions made by these figures: Theodore Roosevelt (National Parks and the environment), George Washington Carver (science), and Ruby Bridges (civil rights).
George Washington Carver, Ruby Bridges and Theodore Roosevelt
I found several photographs of each of the individuals and placed copies on the tables so that students could refer to them. I also included the names on each sheet so they would know who was who and how to spell their names.
After reading about these three people students decided who to draw portraits of and I had them include the name of individual on their drawing.
I helped them attach their drawing (business card) onto the magnet. I set up a station of several objects for their magnet testing; cardboard, plastic, metal, glass, and wood. Fortunately I had a volunteer or a teacher to assist the children as they tested to see what the magnet would stick to.
S1P2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to demonstrate the effects of magnets on other magnets and other objects.
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.
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.