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Steve Jenkins Creature Features

After finishing our animal research projects we turned to our favorite author and animal guru Steve Jenkins to extend our project a bit more.

We used his text Creature Features and focused on animal adaptations.  Students created a question about their animal that readers might want to know and then answered it.  We used layered paper like Jenkins does for the artwork.

I love including art into the classroom throughout the disciplines because it allows kids who usually have a hard time being included freedom to express themselves and have something completed that gets to be hung up with their friends.

Last year, we used Steve Jenkins' Never Smile at a Money.  After researched they analyzed their animal and came up with something readers would never want to do if they encountered that animal.

Biography Reports

We've just completed our Biography Reports.  The kids chose famous Americans they would be interested in.

I pulled out some of my books and some from the library and we did a book pass where they sat in a circle and had about 30-60 seconds to look at each book.  This opened their curiosity to who else was out there and what they've done

We researched in class and online filling out graphic organizers to gather information.  They wrote a report synthesizing their information and created a body that opened up to information inside.  I was so impressed with  all that they had created!!!!


Get all of the materials by clicking here....

Tabletop Math

When introducing any mathematical concept without a doubt we are using manipulatives.  I like for the kids to explore the concept, make mistakes, and it always gives us a chance to ditch the worksheet/save a tree.  

For teaching addition and subtraction regrouping I get really fancy with Popsicle sticks and beans.  For area they use square tiles and a string for the perimeter and measure it with a ruler.  

For fractions we use pattern blocks.  Each piece gets a name.  The hexagon is our whole and then the kids have to figure out the names of the other pieces.  They make a key as they figure it out.  The triangle is no longer a triangle but 1/6th.  When we call them by those names they stop stressing about the math.  
They quickly start discovering "things equal the same thing Ms. Sarah" and just like that they are working with equivalent fractions.  I ask them to show me their thinking and they always blow me away with what they figure out when given freedom.  I might be green... but boy do they impress me!

For multiplication they roll a dice.  For arrays the first roll is the rows.  They place that many chips down.  The second is the columns and then they fill in the array.  They write the repeated addition and then multiplication problem.  Same goes when teaching sets in a group.  The first number is how many groups the second about is the stars or circles they draw in.

The fact that they get to write on their desk and it's at their own pace keeps them engaged and differentiated.  

I leave for Kenya in ONE MONTH!  It is surreal that we are on the countdown.  This week we are making round two of the chalkboards.  Home Depot donated ALL of the supplies!!! The Boy Scouts cut and sanded the boards and now all of the students are going to be painting them.  UNREAL!

Today I had the honor of depositing this money--- all collected from the hands of students.  You are looking at allowance, first communion money, door to door selling of lemonade.  I can't handle the hearts of kids.  They put everything into perspective.

This money is going to buy one world futbols.  

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Who Would Win?

I am always trying to find ways to integrate multiple subjects into one project.  Last year I was introduced to the book series Who Would Win which lends easily to a student based project.  In each book the author chooses two animals to match up against and provides various facts about each.  He does it as a narrative with pictures but then also adds in interesting fact bubbles throughout the book.  Students can complete a checklist of who would win based on various comparisons--- height, fur, speed, etc.  At the end he puts them in a final match up and students are able to see if their predictions are correct.  They are engaged from the beginning!

As a class we decided we would create our very own who would win books.

#1 I started by reading a book to them.  We noticed various non-fiction text features the author uses throughout the book and listed them.  I then let the kids get into pairs and choose one of the other books to partner read.  I gave them a sticky note.. on one side they completed the checklist and on the other they wrote what new features they noticed.  We shared out and added the additions to our list.
#2 I introduced the kids to World Book online. Go to Kids---World of Animals. We talked about how it wouldn't make sense for me to compare a wasp to an elephant, so when choosing animals they would choose from similar species. In World Book they make it easy and have animal selections grouped by land mammals, water, reptiles, etc.  The kids get to select the two animals to compare and it creates an easy format that shows different facts about each.  The program has an easy print button that doesn't use up all of the ink. 
 #3 After students got their animals we came back and listed what we thought would be important to include in each book.  I wanted to give them a framework, but all them AMPLE space for creativity. I modeled some of the pieces for the book and how to do the comparisons with math.

Who Would Win Book Pieces
 1.  A cover--- which we modeled after Steve Jenkins layered artwork.  I made them the cover "Who Would Win" pieces and they did the rest.
2.  An introduction posing a question of what would happen if these two animals came across each other.
3.  THREE math comparing measurement using pictures AND words. (We were working on measurement in math so that's how I tied all of this in :))
4.  At least one page of other facts and a map
4.  Include interesting text features from the list--- tales of the tape, facts, etc.
5.  A final battle
6. Checklist of their comparisons

I set out all of the papers and pieces and honestly let them have at it! It took about 2 math blocks and 1 literacy to get it all done.  They were engaged THE ENTIRE time.  I roamed around and helped as needed... but it was all completely independent.  Clearly there were a few stragglers but for the majority that is all the time they needed.

I bound them with binding combs and then the kids had a book sharing party where they rotated around and read each other's books.  They were so amazed with what the other kids had done and just loved them.  I hung them in plastic zip lock bags outside in the hall as a display so that other kids/adults could read them.

Here are some snippets from their work

Here are the files I created for them to make their books.Happy comparing and creating!

I've added pages for to use World Book to compare Countries!  It's all part of my country report back.  Here's a freebie below

Makin Music

I don't live without my music in the classroom.  I rarely give instructions but let the music do the talking instead.  Here are my favorite hits to get us movin' or at times... relaxin'. I keep them all organized in playlists so that I can easily access it and that once it's done... no other random songs come on.  Have any others that I need to add?!?

Catapult Math

We have been working on engineering and simple machines in science.  I am of the mindset that if we are going to be doing something awesome/fun in one subject- we better try connecting it across the curriculum.

So here is how our Friday went---

First thing this morning kids made catapults using Popsicle sticks.  Check out THIS website for detailed instructions on how to make the catapult.  We tried different amounts of Popsicle sticks but found that having about 8 in the middle works best for getting distance.  :)

I arranged the desk in a large rectangle and I marked the space in one foot increments in the open space using green frog tape.  

After students made their catapults I had 4 students line up on opposite sides of our "field" (8 total). Each student had 3 trials to flip their pom poms the farthest.  Students filled out THIS RESPONSE sheet which includes numerous math operations and questioning- regrouping, measurement, comparing numbers.  

Here's the kids using the catapults! 

Students had to measure their distance and figure out how many inches it was total.

During literacy we read about the Vikings and watched how people use catapults today.

During science we watched some of the Punkin Chunkin' videos and decided to have our own in class using the pom poms :)  

We flung a few with our catapults... and then decided that using our simple machine levers... aka our arms might be a bit more fun.

Needless to say the kids loved it!  After it dried we voted on a motto-- which was pretty much unanimous and painted it on our art work. We were inspired by Oliver Jeffers as our mentor illustrator :)

My goal is to encourage the kids and make sure that they know.... it doesn't matter if they have flops... those flops leads to successes.  Success has flops-but you have to DO SOMETHING!  We use this motto all day and it helps relieve the anxiety of not doing something perfect... they just have to DO SOMETHING. This now proudly hangs in our classroom.  My question to you is what do you need to do?  What scares the bejesus out of you or makes you anxious that you need to try or move in that direction?  I have 3 big ones on my list that I am actively trying to DO SOMETHING in.... what are yours?!?

100th Day of School

We had a lot of fun today!  Minute to win it, activities, SNACKS... all of the good stuff.  I created this stuff for me to keep organized and for the kids to learn and hopefully have a good time.

Happy 100th day of school!!!!

(snack labels for godlfish_