Monday, November 30, 2015

Even though Thanksgiving was last week, I am still celebrating all the things I am SO thankful for. This school year has been both busy and challenging, but its been full of learning and joy. I am thankful for my students, their parents, and my colleagues. I am thankful for our supportive administration and for my wonderful husband who supports me through it all!

Just to sum up some of the awesome things that have been happening over in Room 137 this Fall:

October 12-16
This week was all about Native Americans. We had a special field trip planned to go to the Pioneer Museum of Alabama in Troy. They had a special Native Americans song, dance, and legends module set up for us.
In class, we focused in on Native American Legends.
We read:
The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie DePaola, The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie DePaola, Arrow to the Sun by Gerald McDermott, and The First Strawberries by Joseph Bruchac.
The students especially loved The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. They were curious about the buckskin paintings and how the boy in the story used these paintings to tell a story. We studied a few different Native American symbols and then used crumpled paper bags as our "buckskins" and painted our own Native American Legends. While they dried, students "interpreted" their paintings by writing out the story to glue onto the back of their paintings once they dried.
Our field trip to Pioneer Museum was a great way to cap off the week - the students learned a lot and got to experience what life was like long ago.

October 19-23
We spent one last week studying a folktale in depth, and comparing the different versions from different cultures and countries. We chose to read "Stone Soup."
We read 5 different versions:
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown, Stone Soup by Ann McGovern, Cactus Soup by Eric Kimmel, Fandango Stew by David Davis, and Stone Soup by Marilyn Sapienza.
I even created a QR Code book guide for the students to work on independently throughout the week. They had to scan the code, listen/read the story, and then fill in the story elements chart on the packet. Students were engaged and were easily able to identify the characters, setting, beginning, middle, and end.

About two days into our study, the kids were adamant that we must make our own soup. As a class, we created a list of ingredients that Stone Soup needed. We created a large grocery list and asked the parents to send in an item. We also created a paper version of the stone soup pot with all its ingredients. We practiced sequence of events as we put it all together.

Students also requested to make their own version of the Stone Soup story. Some retold a version they'd already heard, and others created their own story with new characters and new ingredients. They wrote and illustrated, then created a video recording of themselves reading it and posted it to Fresh Grade (our assessment system). They turned out to be phenomenal!
(note - I forgot to take photos of our actual booklets, so here is a similar version)

At the end of the week, we had our Stone Soup feast. We prepared the soup first thing in the morning and read a poem and sang a song to go with it (found the song on iTunes). We also made our own butter to observe the changes in matter. There was one last important ingredient we forgot about...the stone! We took a hike outside and found a lot of worthy stones. We chose 1 stone for each pot and scrubbed it to add to the soup. By lunchtime, it smelled delicious.

The kids loved it! Many came back asking for seconds. 

October 26-30
This week, we focused in on the nonfiction part of Halloween.
Students got to choose between bats, spiders, pumpkins, mummies, or owls for an in-depth independent or group research project.
Reading A to Z was an awesome resource - it had an on-level book for each of these topics. As a class, it seemed like there was a lot of interest in the pumpkins so I did a pumpkin read aloud each day - The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons, How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin by Margaret McNamara, The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll, and the Pumpkin Circle by George Levenson. The students wanted to investigate a pumpkin, so I asked them to bring in a small miniature pumpkin. We measured, weighed, compared, and tested our pumpkins all day. We did a few estimations and the kids wanted to know whose pumpkin would have the greatest number of seeds. We carved them and separated the pulp from the seeds and began the loooong counting process! In the end, we discovered that they more lines on the outside of a pumpkin, the more likely it is that the pumpkin will have a higher number of seeds. We cleaned the seeds and then roasted them in the toaster oven for a tasty treat at the end of the day. Yum!

Students wanted to cap off our literature study on Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Tall Tales, Fables, and Legends by planning their own "Fairy Tale Festival." The students divided themselves into committees: Decor, Menu Planning, Organizing, and Entertainment. They planned what we were going to eat -
Apple Juice (from Johnny Appleseed)
Pig Cupcakes (from 3 Little Pigs)
Cookies (from Little Red Riding Hood)
Pigs in a Blanket (From 3 Little Pigs)
Twizzlers (from Rapunzel)

We also had streamers and colorful plastic tablecloths. Students dressed up in their Fairy tale costumes and we paraded into a few Kindergarten classrooms and showed introduced ourselves and what story we were from. After students decorated the room and enjoyed their treats, we went on a Fairy Tale Scavenger Hunt and then two of my students from the entertainment committee taught the class how to do the Waltz! We turned on classical music and had a ball.

We also did Halloween Rotations on Friday, October 30. Each lead learner had a Halloween-related activity prepared for the students. We rotated each family through 3 activities. In my room, students were given the "Candy Carrying Container" challenge. They were offered a variety of materials - pipe cleaners, construction paper, straws, paper clips, copy paper, paper plates, aluminum foil, and coffee filters. The container had to be designed ahead of time, then students were given 10 minutes to build. The container had to be strong enough to hold a ziploc baggie with 10 pieces of candy inside. The students came up with some really creative ideas!