Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Helen Keller

As we continue our study of Famous Americans, we focused yesterday and today on Helen Keller and apparently, I created a whopper of an activity, according to my students! I was shocked to hear my most unmotivated student claim to someone that it was the "coolest thing!" What was even better, when we reviewed today, he knew so much about Helen Keller and was EXCITED to share!

Thinking about teaching Helen Keller this year, I wanted my students to understand why her accomplishments were so great (because it's hard as a second grader to put ourselves in someone else's shoes like that!). So, I developed a "sensory" activity for my students.
We actually did this over two days since (as usual) Math went long yesterday, and I couldn't fit everything in! The first activity, I took scents from my house (such as vanilla extract, lemon, mouthwash, etc.) and put them on cotton balls, then sealed them in these great little boxes I got (package of 10) from Dollar Tree.

The kids sat in a circle on the carpet and passed them around (one at a time) and got to try to guess the scent once everyone had a good sniff. (One word of caution: I used fingernail polish remover and wow, it ended up pushing its scent onto every other one! Whew! Stay away from that one!).
Of course I forgot to take pictures the first day, so when one of my students wanted to sniff the pumpkin spice again, I snapped a quick pic during Literacy Centers! :)

The following day, we tried to identify things by "touch." I have no idea where my brown paper bags went to, so I used these cool ones I had gotten from the Target Dollar Zone to do something with (I'm still trying to decide!). I picked objects literally up from my floor at home to use for students to identify. This went over just as well as the "scent" boxes! We did another "touch" activity when we discussed what it would be like to read Braille. I had a worksheet with the Braille alphabet (no idea where it came from, or I'd link it here!). Then, we took a little trip out of the classroom and felt the raised dots on our classroom sign, as well as a few others in the hallway. All the way to lunch, after History, my students were a little obsessed with finding Braille! It is very cool that our school (in its 2nd year) does have Braille on signs, so students can really see what its like. Most agreed that it would be like learning a foreign language, but a few are already trying to teach themselves!

So, it was nice to put ourselves in Helen Keller's shoes for the last few days, and students now have a better understanding what life would be like without being able to see or hear. I'm pretty pleased on how well this lesson turned out! I'm hoping to share my whole unit with you on TpT when we finish! Until then, there's the blog and pics! :)

Oh! Had to add this last bit! My "wiki learning pages" have some really cool things about Famous Americans on them, including a newsreel (love YouTube!) with Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan! Click on the link to the side to go check it out!


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