Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Snowflake Bentley

Ok, I have to admit it - I've been thinking about snow!  It's been cold enough - why not have some of the picturesque white?  I'm sure I'll eat my words later (especially in January and February), but for now, I guess I'm tired of 70 one day, 30 the next!  Ah, winter in Virginia!

Today was our first day of break and after doctor appointments and finishing up the Christmas shopping (few last minute items), as well as dropping my daughter off at a friend's for a sleepover, here I am back at school.  Crazy, huh?  Well, my teen son loves the high speed wifi so he's sitting in front of me in gaming heaven!  I'm sure I'm not the only one that does weekend hours!

So, today, I was excited because I finally created a packet for one of my favorite winter books:  Snowflake Bentley!  I fell in love with this book years ago and when I started in the library, I ordered posters and items from the museum in Vermont.  The kids are fascinated with the pictures of the different snowflakes!

There is a lot more out there on him than there used to be, so I took advantage of it!  My kids love QR codes and using tablets, so it was only natural that besides the creating snowflakes (which I'll add as a station in our Makerspace), they can learn more about the man, his photos, and snow in general.

If you'd like to check it out, click on TN or TPT (your choice).  Another great discovery was (after I thought I lost my copy and a teacher checked out our only library copy - but I found it) several read alouds on YouTube.  Here's one of my favorites.  Watch, enjoy, relax (are you on break now, too?).

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Breaking the Silence? An Any Time of Year STEM Idea

Wow, I haven't blogged since August - sorry about that!  As usual, the year has been busy!  I've been meaning to blog, and I gotta admit, I post some great imaginary posts!  I'm still waiting for someone to invent something that can record your thoughts and ideas in the car and shower!

Well, what I wanted to blog about today is an activity I'll be doing with my students on Monday.  Yep, we have 2 more days of school til break.  Jealous, right?  When we come back in January, it's for another 2 day week.  So, I wanted a lesson I can teach this week and then do when we come back!

Well, we just read Laura Murray's Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas.  We've previously read Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck as well in October.  So, with the popularity of those two, we're going to read The Gingerbread Man Loose at the Zoo!  Because this is such a crazy time of year - especially with behavior - I wanted something that they would be interested in listening to as well as an activity that will steer their energy in a positive direction!

We love doing STREAM in our Library.  So it was only natural for me to create an activity where students would build something - this time, a zoo!  It's something I feel is totally flexible - the animals, the materials, the groups, the time I definitely wanted to share it!

I'm lucky that I have my now 10 year old daughter's Lego Duplo Zoo animals.  So, my students will be using Legos to build the enclosures.  That will give students an idea of size to build their enclosures.  I'll also be providing books with pictures for each group so they can see the type of habitat they need to build for their animals.

While I'm using this with my K and first graders, it's a project I really could use with any grade.  I've also thought of the possibilities of taking it farther.  Especially with Legos, we tend to break down after we build, so that the next group can use them.  Taking pictures of each group's project, I can save them and use it in a multimedia presentation.  Recently with our Kinders, we did a project where they built either a house for the 3 little pigs or a chair for Goldilocks.  We took pictures and then using the app, Chatterpix, students talked about what they built and why they built it the way they did.  I then imported the Chatterpix into iMovie and created a movie for each K class for them to watch in the classroom.  Talk about stinkin' cute!  The kids LOVED watching their pictures "talk" with their voices.

With older grades, you could do the same as with the above project, but each group could add a fact about their animal and/or its habitat to the picture using Chatterpix.  Hmm, even sense a research project in there somewhere as well!

So, even though it's not a winter or holiday theme, I'm excited to do this with my students on Monday.  I think they'll enjoy it, it'll channel their energy in a positive direction (Friday nearly took me under!), and it's something I can definitely take to greater (or lesser) levels!

If you're interested in learning more, I've uploaded it to TPT and TN.  Click on the name you like to shop on for the link! (By the way, it's my 300th product on TPT!!!!).