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!
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.
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).