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 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
After 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.
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!
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.
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.”
We did it! I am celebrating International Dot Day again with our students and this year I did something a little different, creating one large art project. I was inspired by an Instagram post by art teacher, Kristi Wenger; she did this display at her school. First, I had to organize a lot of crayons! This was time consuming, but very necessary. Good thing I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts!
Some other planning was involved to get the rainbow effect, but it was worth it.
I read Peter Reynolds book, The Dot, to every class and then each student created a dot. Over 400!
Our second grade classes are exploring forces, especially the concept of push and pull. Georgia Standards of Excellence: S2P2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to explain the effect of a force (a push or a pull) in the movement of an object (changes in speed and direction). I started thinking of books featuring a push or pull and thought of the traditional folk tale, The Great Big Enormous Turnip, written by Alexei Tolstoy. I like the version illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.
After reading the book we talked about how the people pulled on the turnip, creating a great force to get that vegetable out of the ground. We also made the connection to a similar experience they have every year at field day–the tug of war! I asked them to think of another person, animal or thing that could apply a force to get that turnip out.
Using paper and crayons they drew the turnip and how they imagined another version of the story. For the most part they came up with different ideas, gorillas, trucks, shovels, even Big Foot (when I told them to thing of something very strong). Some just illustrated the story (the old man, the old woman, grand-daughter, dog, cat and mouse); I guess I need to encourage them to think outside the box, use their imagination and get crazy!
I even bought a turnip as I figured few if any of the children would have eaten one. Several had heard of turnip greens (we are in the south after all).
We took part in the International Dot Day for the first time this year. I am so glad we did! Over a two week period I read the book to every class in the school, from Kindergarten through 5th grade. After we shared the book, each class did some creative activity in response to the reading. Some grades created art work, while others did a written response. We even used the iPads with 1st grade to draw and take photos on a dot scavenger hunt. The art was displayed in the hall outside the school library. Boy, is it an impressive showing of creativity and making a mark “and seeing where it takes you” (to quote from Peter Reynolds’ book, The Dot).
Kindergarten art created with our art teacher, Svetlana Reed.
3rd grade students did a circle design, cut into 1/4’s and shared.
Create, Connect and Collaborate
Some of our students made the connection between the message of the book and some of our IB/PYP learner profiles and attitudes. The students said Vashti was not a risk-taker at the beginning of the book, but by the end she was. They also said she showed creativity and commitment (2 IB attitudes) in her actions by experimenting and trying new ways of painting dots.
Skype with FSUS
We reached out to collaborate and connect with another school who was also recognizing Dot Day on the official International Dot Day, September 15th. One of our 2nd grade classes (taught by Camille Little) Skyped with Sara King’s 2nd grade class at Florida State University Schools in Tallahassee, FL. I connected with the librarian there, Jenn Underhill, who taught one of my classes this summer at FSU. We did a reading of The Dot, with our Spanish teacher, Lidia Olds reading one page in Spanish from the book (El Punto) followed by two students from Ms. King’s class reading the next page in English. Then the classes took turns answering questions and sharing ideas about the book. I think both classes enjoyed themselves. It was our first Skpye at the school and I’m anxious to repeat the experience!
Collaborate with Other Teachers
I collaborated with another teacher at my school, our art teacher, Svetlana Reed. She did several projects with different grade levels that involved dots and circles. The students turned out some very nice art. We also had a good showing of staff wearing dots on International Dot Day, anyone from the paraprofessionals, teachers, office staff, to the administrators!
Here is the Animoto I created to capture some of what went on at our school.