Thursday, June 13, 2019

Seasonal Units (Part 1)

Last time I blogged, I mentioned I'd do some lessons on emotions as well as a fall seasonal one.  I am still going to share the "emotions" one, but for this post, I thought I would just throw all the seasonal ones I do together.

If you're like my district, you do have students that celebrate and don't celebrate certain holidays.  I tend to leave some of the traditional ones to the individual classrooms, but there are some that I do in the library that I feel are appropriate for everyone, no matter what you do or do not celebrate!

So let's go!
BookMonster Needs a Costume by Paul Czajak (October)
Who doesn't love monsters?  In this story, a boy and his monster want to dress up for trick or treating, however the "treating" isn't the main part of the story.  Monster sees things, such as cowboys and ballet, and wants to dress up as each one, changing his mind constantly. Finally at the end he does a combination of costumes.  It's a really cute story and like I said, you can downplay the end where they are trick or treating.

So the activity I chose to go with this was using some monster clip art I had, print out several different types of monsters (I suggest checking out Educlips or Creative Clips - they are two of my favorite).  The link takes you to the Educlips blog so you can either choose her website to buy from or Teachers Pay Teachers.  The Creative Clips takes you to the TPT site (since I don't know if she has a personal site to buy from).  

I printed out full size pages of each monster and instructed the children to create a costume for monster - they could do a mixed up one, like the end of the book, or create a brand new one.  They loved it!  I added a line at the top of each one that said, "My monster is a _____" and they (or I helped) wrote in what they chose!

Image result for run turkey run    Image result for a plump and perky turkey
BookRun Turkey Run by Diane Mayr and A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman (November)
Activity:  turkey calls 
Materials: "Solo" cups, twine, toothpick or qtip, turkey head/tail template

So several years back at my State Fair, I received a free Educators box from the National Wild Turkey Federation.  In it was a way to make turkey calls.  I know if you go to their site, it's a $50 box but if you plan on teaching turkeys to multiple levels each year, it's worth it.  However, the turkey calls are easy to assemble, for the most part, so I'll see if I can explain them here.  Side note: when I did this in my 4th grade classroom, one of my hunters used his call he made and it worked!

I pre-did my calls so that all my Kinders had to do were to color the head and tail, cut out, and glue or tape to the cup. (To make your own template, just use clip art with a turkey head and then tail feathers).
To create the call:  Take a "Solo" cup (or any off brand plastic cup that's like it) and using scissors or some sort of punch, make a hole at the bottom of the cup.  String twine through so it rests below the cup, kind of like a bell.  Tie the end of the twine to a toothpick or qtip so that the string won't go all the way through the hole, so it's resting on top of the cup.  A few quick tugs on the cup, and it sounds like a turkey making a "cutting" sound.  If you go to the NWTF site, you can actually play real turkey sounds for students!  I created a powerpoint with different wild turkey pictures that you can access {here}.  I play the turkey sounds in the background while they work (included in the box was a CD so it's continuous, but I'm sure you can look up turkey sounds on youtube for continuous).  

Book: Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes (November)
Activity:  Thankful turkeys
This year, I also added to my traditional "make the turkey calls and drive the teachers crazy" November lesson.  I also did a lesson using this book, Thanks for Thanksgiving.  I know in the classes they talk about the first Thanksgiving, but I wanted the students to understand WHY it's a time people celebrate being thankful for things.  Again, it doesn't have to necessarily be about the holiday (although in the book, it shows them gathering together).  If you have students who don't celebrate Thanksgiving, you can tell them it's a family meal.  After, I had a huge bulletin board turkey I used on the outside my library bulletin board, and the students wrote on feathers what they were thankful for or drew pictures.  I actually did this lesson with K-3 this year.  It turned out really cute!  If you don't have a bulletin board (I asked for one and actually got one!), then you could have students either fill out feathers or clip art turkeys to do the same thing.

Image result for how the grinch stole christmas
Book: How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (December)
Activity:  Spreading Kindness
I actually went the easy route and showed the original animated film (Boris Karloff) with this.  They were using my library for the "PTA Holiday Shop" and I wanted an activity where students who didn't bring money to buy trinkets would have more to do than just watch a movie.  I'll include a picture of the finished bulletin board, but we discussed how the Grinch grew kinder at the end of the story and each child decorated a heart and (at lower levels), drew a picture to show a way we've been kind to others.  Older students (and yes, did this K-5) wrote down a kind act.  The Grinch's example was how he always fed Max and took care of him.  That's what's hanging from his hand on the bulletin board.  The kids who were not buying were the ones who would go with me to hang everyone's heart up.  It made a great display and went with our kindness theme this year!  Oh!  We also collected canned goods for our local food pantry, to show kindness as a school.  

So that's it for the first semester.  I also do a gingerbread comparison (depending on whether teachers do it in class) some years - take the original, then do some of the "other" ones like Ninjabread Man and the Laura Murray books, then kids create a gingerbread man.  I actually do that one more in January because December is so short, so I'll share it then!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Friendship and Sharing: Kindergarten Unit 2

The second unit for Kindergarten was "Friendship and Sharing."  It's a hard concept for those that are not used to a school environment or a class size of 20.  Not to mention the playground!  So, using the following books, we focused on positive messages:
Dinosaurs series by Jane Yolen
Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems
Groovy Joe by Eric Litwin
Snatchabook by Helen Docherty

I would have used Pete the Cat and I used to do a unit on different Pete books, but now it's part of Kindergarten curriculum, so I didn't want to "double up", but it is fun to read later because the whole "Did Pete cry? Goodness no!" is so cute coming from Kinders who know the story!

BookHow Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? (or any other book dealing with sharing/friendship in the  Dinosaurs series)
Materials: plastic eggs (24 per group), 24-piece puzzle, picture of completed puzzle (i.e. box or tin it came in), buckets to put eggs in as they find them

How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? is an excellent book for this unit.  My only problem is that I could only find it in board book form at the time I ordered it.  It's got a great message though and is definitely worth reading!  I love being interactive with this group and depending on the personality of the class, we'll either do a verbal yes or no or a quiet thumbs up or down as we read.  After reading, I had my older helpers hide eggs in the library (because dinosaurs lay eggs, right?).  These are leftover from Easter and I try to buy the patterned ones so that each group had a different pattern to find.  For example, one was sparkly, the other had butterflies printed on them, and so forth.  I have about 4-5 different kinds I've collected over the years.  Inside each egg is a puzzle piece.  I have purchased these 24-piece puzzles in the tin from Dollar Tree because they're small enough to fit in the eggs.  If you are unlucky enough to have smaller pieces like that in a 24-piece or (gasp!) no Dollar Tree near you, it is possible to cut up pictures, like old calendars, into however many pieces you want and have students put these together.  Just like the dinosaurs had to share and work together in the book, student groups (of no more than 4) work together to "crack open their eggs" and put the puzzle together.  At this time, I would be circulating around tables, helping find "lost" eggs (if they didn't have all 24), and reminding them to put together matching colors with their pieces.  Also, reminders to share like the dinosaurs because there's always that child who wants to do it him or herself!  If it's taking too long, I have them check out, then come back to their puzzles to complete.  If you have time, it's fun to have them hide them for the next group!

BookElephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems (almost any will do)
Materials:  centers/stations with items students have to share to play (see examples below)

Since these stories are sort of short, we read two:  A Big Guy Took My Ball and Can I Play, Too?  These are great to use to talk about including others, as well as playing together nicely.  I am lucky enough to have Gerald and Piggie stuffed characters, so I use them to introduce the story.  As we read, students give a thumbs up/thumbs down about whether they think the characters are doing the right thing/playing nicely.  We go over, after we read, some of the scenarios, and I get students opinions on what they should/should not have done.  Another good one to read is, Should I Share My Ice Cream?  A great follow up activity for any of these books are to have students do activities that involve sharing, whether it's putting together a puzzle, playing with a limited number of Legos/building blocks, sharing a limited supply of something (View Masters and the Train Table are two big ones we have to work on during the year!), or whatever you think students would enjoy but need to remember to share.  You can also do the inclusion in there as well, reminding students that not everyone plays the same or looks the same, but we can all find a way to play together!

BookGroovy Joe by Eric Litwin
Materials:  ice cream cone patterns, ice cream scoop patterns (3 per child)

Groovy Joe Ice Cream and Dinosaurs is a great one for sharing and like the Pete the Cat books, have that repetition the kids love to join in!  Since it talks about sharing during the story, there isn't much to stop and discuss, but it's fun to have the students predict what will happen next!
After, for our activity, students had a lot of fun coloring a cone and then creating 3 different ice cream scoop flavors, then gluing them all together.  For the sake of time, some classes I had the scoops precut and laid out on tables (for those that were still struggling with scissors and cutting).  A triangle ice cream cone wasn't too difficult for most of them.  We created ice cream cones to remind us of Groovy Joe and we sang, "Love our doggy ice cream!" when the teacher came to pick them up!

BookSnatchabook by Helen Docherty
Materials:  stack of books (4-5)

I love the story of Snatchabook!  It was one of our state reading books a few years back and I was happy to "revise" it for this unit.  If you're not familiar with the story, it takes place in a forest village of animals and each night, the bedtime books keep disappearing!  Eliza Brown decides to get to the bottom of this mystery and captures the "Snatchabook" who was only taking books because no one would read to him.  So, Eliza offers to read to him IF he returns all the books, which he does.  It really resonates with this age because too often, it's the "I want" and then they grab it without thinking of the consequences.  We have some great discussions on other ways Snatchabook could have asked to be read a bedtime story, even if he felt shy. 
For our activity, we then play a game where I show students 4-5 book covers and then stack them up.  I pick a student who goes out of the room and I "snatch" a book from the stack and hide it.  The student has to figure out which book is missing when they return.  Very similar to the "Doggy Doggy Where's Your Bone?" game.  Since these are quick rounds, I try to give everyone a chance to play.  We then go out to our tables and students draw and color a picture of Snatchabook and his new friends.  Many will draw Eliza reading to him.  It's very cute what they come up with!  I walk around and students share with me what their picture is about (because at this age, sometimes it's hard to tell!). 

So that is my unit for Friendship and Sharing!  Next is two mini units on Emotions and a fun one:  Monster Needs a Costume.

I blogged two weeks in a row!  I have to admit, this is a great way for me to review my year as well as share some ideas that worked pretty well!  I hope you're able to use some!  Thanks for reading!

Image result for snatchabook