Tag Archives: Social skills

Fifth Grade Research Historical Figures

Our fifth grade students are studying the United States around the turn of the 20th century and are required to know about several historical figures.  I made a list of the names and divided them among the three classes.  Each teacher assigned the students groups (about 4 students in each group) and they pulled a name from a hat.



I had the students use either World Book Online (we have a subscription) or Britannica School Encyclopedia (available online in Georgia through the state). They used their Chromebooks to independently read about their person and take notes, each student required to record about 5-8 facts.  I narrowed their focus on the time period around 1900, as several of the historical figures had long lives with many accomplishments.

Besides including the facts, each group had to cite their resources on the poster. I’m trying to repeat this requirement over and over.

Social Skills-Group Work

Each group then had to decide which facts they would include on their large poster (white butcher paper).   I had a copy of a photo of each figure they could use to draw their person from.  I could tell they need more practice working in groups as a lot of time was spent on deciding who would do what. Or one person was telling everyone what they were going to do–and I had to remind them how to decide as a GROUP who would do what.  After observing for a few minutes I also had to tell them that I should NOT see anyone just sitting there, that the paper was sufficiently large to allow ALL group members to be working at the same time.


Repeat Activity?

I’m not sure I will do this activity again; too much time was spent coloring in dresses, etc.  The third grade classes did a similar activity and they were much more effecient in accomplishing the work in much less time.

Finished Products

It was a struggle to get the students to fill the large piece of paper.  Many of them wanted to draw very small portraits of the people.  They also wrote very small for the most part and it was hard to read.  If I do this again I’ll let them use markers as this might make reading the sentences easier (not as easy to correct mistakes, however) and have a model product for them to view.

Extended Activity-Making Connections

I tried something different this week to follow up on the poster research and poster activity.  I had the students make connections with the accomplishments of the historical figures with the world today (or their life). Using a basic graphic organizer they chose one figure and with a partner read the facts on the poster and then decided how the discoveries/accomplishments of that person impacts our lives today.  We then went back into the library and each group shared.  I think it went very well and hopefully they now have a better understanding of why we study these “old” people!



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Third Grade Research, Posters, Native Americans

Our third grade students study Native American groups, Georgia Standards of Excellence-Social Studies: SS3H1 Describe early American Indian cultures and their development in North America.  I wanted the students to practice reading for content, taking notes, working in groups, and citing their sources.


Working individually or in pairs (I did one class one way, the other classes the other) the students used their Chromebooks to access a Livebinder I created to curate some websites.  Since each teacher already had a class Portaportal account I just sent the link to my Livebinder and they added it to their science section…so much easier than having third grade students type in a URL-even an easy one like a Yellkey (which is my favorite URL shortener).img_4274.jpg

After collecting information about the Arapaho’s lifestyle (shelter, food, where they lived, other interesting facts) the students worked together.  They chose an image to use, how facts would be included and they were required to list the online resources they used.IMG_4275

It took us about three library visits to complete the projects.  They really enjoyed the process. I displayed one class’ posters in the hall outside of the library for about two weeks.  I’m keeping one poster up where I have examples of all the work done by all grade levels. The other classes were given their posters.IMG_4282IMG_4283

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Galimoto, Makerspace and Third Grade

I was searching for an idea for a makerspace activity when I thought of Karen Lynn Williams’ book, Galimoto.  I also have a galimoto I purchased years ago and figured the children could create one using pipe cleaners (I know, they’re called chenille stems…but I can’t break the habit of 50 years of saying “pipe cleaners”).

I decided that third grade would probably be able to think three dimensionally and have the motor skill development to do this. And, they did (although some really struggled).

Read the Book

After reading the book to the class, I showed them my galimoto.  They were amazed and intrigued by this simple toy.img_4904.jpg

Design the Galimoto

I had the teacher group the students into pairs and each pair was given a sheet of paper and a pencil and instructed to decide what wheeled creation they were going to create.  They drew their design and that is all we accomplished in the first session.  Some used non-fiction books if they were stumped as to what their vehicle really looked like. They had to work well as a team to decide on what they were going to do and then how to draw it out.

The Construction

At the beginning of our second session, I handed each student a copy of the IB Transdisciplinary Skills-Social Skills.  They took turns reading aloud so that everyone was familiar with what good team work looks like. Each group was given ten pipe cleaners and some scissors along with their drawing.  I did make a couple of suggestions, for instance, to create shapes with the pipe cleaner and then cut off excess.  I reminded them that they only had ten pipe cleaners so to plan wisely.

Motor Skills and Hands-on Experience

Some students do not have highly developed fine motor skills (their thumbs are probably very developed!) and had a difficult time figuring out how to twist the pipe cleaners together or around.  Lack of experience mostly.  They were getting the hang of it by the end.  Many of our students don’t seem to have a wide range of experience of making things with their hands and also seem awkward using scissors.  All the more reason to provide more opportunities for makerspace type activities.

Many students created an outline of their design, ie. a two dimensional obect, and thought they were done!  With further support they figured out it had to be three dimensional, just like the galimoto I had.


The Final Product

Pretty much each group completed their galimoto after about thirty minutes.  Success.  They were very proud of their accomplishment.




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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.


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


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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Third Grade-My Teacher Is a Monster

I really like Peter Brown’s book, My Teacher Is a Monster and one night in the early hours I woke up and was mulling over how could I come up with an activity that would go along with the book.  All of a sudden I thought “What is the opposite of a monster teacher?”  Answer: a perfect teacher!  I wanted to combine several concepts: the IB’s Approaches to Learning-Social Skills (formerly known as Transdisciplinary Skills), IB-PYP Profiles, writing practice and art work.

I read the book to the classes and it was very popular with the third grade students.  Some students noticed that the teacher gradually changed from a monster to a more human form.  This gave us the opportunity to make a connection with a IB concept-perspective.  They decided that she didn’t really physically change, but Robert’s view of her did change.

I told the students that they would work in groups to create a “perfect” teacher.

Graphic Organizer: Brainstorming Individually

I created a graphic organizer which combined the IB-PYP Profiles and Attitudes, adjectives, verbs and activities.  Each student received a copy of the graphic organizer and were instructed to brainstorm independently.  I also placed thesauri on the tables and reminded them that if they needed a more interesting word they could find a synonym in these books. This is as far as we got the first week.



Good review of thesaurus!

IB’s Approaches to Learning: Social Skills

I downloaded a PYP Transdisciplinary Skills Toolkit from Mary’s Store on Teachers Pay Teachers (free) as it had each group of skills contained on one page with student-friendly font and text.  I made copies of the Social Skills and laminated them.

The second week we started by reading the Social Skills of the IB’s Approaches to Learning.  I filled up my tables (which seat six) and each student had a copy of the Social Skills in front of them. They did a round robin reading of the skills and had an opportunity to discuss and ask questions.

I divided each class into small groups of three groups, adjusting for personality conflicts or behavior.  After reading the Social Skills I moved the students so they were seated with their group and they began comparing the attributes of a perfect teacher.  This gave them the opportunity to practice those Social Skills!



Social Skills

From Mary’s Store on Teachers Pay Teachers

Creating “My Perfect Teacher” Begins

In week three the students finally got to what they called “fun.”  I gave each group a length (about 36″) of white butcher paper and a container of crayons. I drew a head, two hands and two feet on each sheet to give them a starting point for their drawing.  They were reminded of the Social Skills that were reviewed the week before to encourage a positive group experience.  I told them that all of the words on their graphic organizer had to appear on their creation.

Several students said after this session that it was so “fun.”  Judging by the conversation and energy in the room, it was a positive beginning.


Week Four: Completion!

I gave the students about 20-25 more minutes on their fourth visit to complete their drawings.  They were having such a good time and for the most part working well in groups.  IMG_4437v2IMG_4451v2jpgIMG_4452v2IMG_4434



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