Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Late Thanksgiving...Macy's Parade!

My love of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is almost sickening! I haven't missed it, except for maybe once when I as in a parade myself. Therefore I was sooo excited when I found the book Balloons Over Broadway
It tells the story of the man who brought the balloons to the parade...how he went from balloons on sticks to how they became "upside down marionettes". The images are fabulous, and illustrations are a great mentor text for publishing.

Beyond that, it was a great activity for that crazy day before Thanksgiving break. I read the book and then told the students that in honor of this history, they are going to create their own balloon to be in the parade. I explained that they add balloons each year depending on what the trends are that year. Therefore, what balloon should make next years parade?

They were given a long piece of paper, on part of it they were to design their balloon..even add how the balloon will look, and then write a persuasive letter on why their balloon should be chosen (2-3 details). They were quite convincing and artistic:

Harry Potter Balloon (snitch)

Green Bay Balloon

Hugo Cabret Balloon

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Hugo Cabret

Wonderstruck Balloon

Students were silent as they hovered over their creations and couldn't wait to share not only their balloon but what they had to say about why their balloon should be picked. 
It was a great day before break! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ohio's Native Americans

In honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to post our latest social studies lesson and project.

4th graders in Ohio need to be familiar with the Native American tribes in Ohio, how they got here, how they lived, and why they left. During my student teaching 5 years ago I created this project, and have done this in many different variations for each of the grades I have taught. Now that I teach fourth grade again, and probably will for a while now, it is a staple in my unit.

Students are separated into 6 groups, and then assigned a tribe. After  they are assigned their tribe, I call them that tribe to help get them in the mood. I give them copies of internet pages on their tribe, as well as research books (including textbooks) that they can use to research their tribes.

I give them a list of questions to go by to make sure they have the essentials: food, clothing, shelter, famous chiefs, religious ceremonies, year they were around, why they left. They fill out their fact sheet, which takes about one to two days.

Once they finish their research, I give them a puzzle piece. They decorate this puzzle piece with pictures and captions to share their research. When they present their information we put the pieces together, which forms Ohio. But each piece is the region in Ohio where the tribe lived. The students then use this to compare the tribes:

Students love this project each year :)

A quick shout out to my husband...Happy Birthday Honey!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Life - Stay cation

My husband and I have started the tradition of staycations. We started last year in the fall with a visit to Acres of Land Winery on the Eastern Kentucky University campus, staying at a Bed and Breakfast, which I had never done! We continued with a stay in Hocking Hills near Columbus, which was fabulously funded by Mike's brother as a wedding present.

This year we started by staying even closer to home. Thanks to my parents, we were blessed with two tickets to Wicked. My husband then took it as a perfect opportunity to plan a staycation. He went onto Hotwire.com and found a fabulous deal to stay at the Millennium Hotel downtown, where we basically stayed for two nights, for the price of one.

Before the show we devoured our favorite things...coffee, and visited some places we haven't visited before such as Coffee Emporium and It's Just Crepes.
Mike had a savory crepe...egg, bacon, mushrooms, spinach, cheese.

I went sweet...yogurt, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries :)

Lunch...pesto, mozzarella (fresh), and tomato...a must make at home.

Mike's lunch, thumbs up of turkey swiss and red pepper jelly.

We went back to Coffee Emporium for breakfast the next morning. We were short on time, otherwise we would have partaken in their Sunday morning waffles. Smelled fabulous!

We loved spending the evening before the show, acting as if we were tourists, especially in Fountain Square and at McCormick and Schmicks for dinner.

And then on to the best show I have seen:

So in closing, I highly recommend taking some time to take a staycation, to rejuvenate, reconnect, and enjoy your town with new eyes.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy Veterans Day and Many More!

It has been awhile since my last post...but it has been a busy time. A load has been lifted with our school's levy passed, so that means job is safe for the next 5 years unless our state does something weird.

That aside...we have been busy in room 204! Especially this Veterans Day. I feel like these holidays are important to focus on with my students so they can learn to respect and honor these days early on. My students had already read the book The Wall by Eve Bunting and had several connections by having family members being soldiers...so I knew this would be a very important activity for them.

As I was planning I knew my main goal was to teach my students how Veterans Day came to be, and then have them create something that would honor the day as well. We had done something for 9/11, so I wanted it to be a little bigger than just our class creating a memorial quilt. Taking the idea of a memorial wall, I thought it would be great to get the whole school involved. So, I just emailed everyone telling them the idea of building a wall where each student creates a brick. On it they would reflect on what freedom and peace mean to them and then a quick thank you to Veterans. I was amazed by the response...here is the end result:

It was great having the school come together for this :) What was great is that the students REALLY did connect...one of my students dedicated his brick to his family members that served:

Speaking of holidays we also had students prepare for the Thanksgiving season and write down what they are thankful for...surprisingly this was harder than the Veterans Day activity:

It certainly has perked up the hallway :)

In between it all we have started our opinion writing unit, and as part of their generating ideas, we had students listen to an NPR "This I Believe" broadcast, where a kindergartner wrote down 100 things he believes in. This sparked our students to then write a list of their own. They then picked one and started to write three reasons why they believe that statement they made. Here are some examples mid process:

Sorry for the sideways glance...can't get it to rotate!

Before this we looked at different opinion pieces and discovered they had things in common. So, we made a chart "toolbox" to refer to as we write our opinion pieces.

 To end my post...should be a piece of cake :) We had fun with idioms! Students watched the cartoon "Symphony of Slang" as well as saw different examples of idioms to understand what an idiom is. We then gave them their own idiom, to practice using it in a sentence and what that would look like if it was taken literally..they loved it!

Caught up for now...next week I hope to share some of the great things we are doing with Main Idea and Details!