Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Seasonal Units Part 2

So from late December/January til the end of the year (May for us).  I will say I don't do Mother's Day or Father's Day since those are handled in the classroom.  Plus, you have those students who are raised by grandparents or in foster situations, so I like to avoid those, if possible.

Sorry for skipping a few weeks - we had the shock of our lives when my 18 year old, 4 days post graduation, was diagnosed with leukemia!  He had complained about his leg hurting and my husband thought, at worst, a hernia.  Imagine our shock when he got that diagnosis! So I've been spending a lot of time in the hospital (UVA in Charlottesville VA - good thing it's like 45 min from our house) with him and frankly, haven't felt much like doing schoolwork!  Today we're hoping to hear the news that he's in remission so cross your fingers!

On to the units:

Gingerbread (January):  I sometimes have to scrap this unit if the classes are already doing it, but I LOVE doing the "alternate" Gingerbread stories.  Sometimes I will do this along with the classes, making sure I'm adding a different one than what they are using.  My favorite "alternate" to use is Ninjabread Man by C.J. Leigh.  (The cookie is dangerously delicious!).  To go along with the story as a follow up activity, students do a number of different stations with a gingerbread theme:
*decorate (paper) gingerbread people and houses
*"Roll a Gingerbread" - where they roll the dice and add whatever feature the dice dictates (6=mouth, for example)
*Gingerbread BUMP
*Gumdrop patterns (I usually use colored cubes for this to match the gumdrops on the paper because you're bound to have one kid eat it after lots of dirty little hands have been on it!).

I've had these activities for so long in my files, I'm not quite sure where they are from (sorry!).  I do remember them being freebies so check TPT and Pinterest.  I also have some gingerbread puzzles and counters (where they match the dots to the number), that I inherited with the library.

February:  I love doing Black History Month stories and always try to choose the less mainstream heroes students do not study in the classroom.  Also at this age, it's hard to point out that people discriminate based on the color of your skin. That's why I fell in love with the book that I used this year:  Ron's Big Mission by Rose Blue about Ron McNair and his access to the library as a young boy.  It's a fantastic story that doesn't get too heavily into segregation, but is fantastic for this age since he can use the library but can't have a library card because of the color of his skin.  He decides to stand up (literally - on the desk, and not move) until he can get one.  As a bonus, I found his biography in our Spring Book Fair and was able to share it with some of my older students as well. Obviously, the levels differ (it's more of an older grades biography), but I could also use this book with my older students and then show the biography of this man's incredible life.  As usual, the Kinders love the fact that the person is still living and that his photograph is at the end of the book.  As a follow up activity, we colored pictures about space and students drew Ron in his astronaut uniform in space, or a rocket ship with a smiley face out the window, etc.  Again, nothing to share here with you since it's from a coloring book.  I'm sure you can find something online at one of the free coloring pages or you can use mycutegraphics.com, which has astronaut clipart for free.

Iditarod:  I LOVE doing a big unit on the Iditarod for all grades.  Last year, I started using Google Classroom for my 3rd-5th graders and chose a focus for each grade - Alaskan Geography/Climate, Klondike Gold Rush, Dog Sledding (focusing on the Denali sled dogs).  For Kindergarten, I do a much shorter unit on sled dogs themselves.  We decorate sled dog outlines and use the globe to find Alaska, pointing out the distance from where we live, and talk about the weather there and why they would use sled dogs.  I also have some plush husky dogs and a few race memorabilia I've collected from either ordering from the Iditarod store or from a conference I went to when the musher (in 2018) was from Fredericksburg, VA.
May Finds Her Way (amazon.com)  by Betty S. Casey:  The illustrations, as well as the story, help introduce the Inuit culture, as well as the race from the dog's point of view.  May gets lost during the race but manages to find her way back to the trail, where she's found by a volunteer/race official (it's never quite clear) and she's reunited with her musher/owner and the other dogs. 
Yukon Sled Dog by Judith Presnall:  A great story about how dogs are trained from puppyhood until they're ready for their first race. 
Iditarod (Extreme Races) by Sue Hamilton:  A great nonfiction book, I don't read cover to cover but highlight parts to students.  It has amazing photographs and afterwards, students decorate a "quilt square" (square piece of paper that taped together, they can hang outside their classroom) about what they've learned.  I actually save this for my third book since they have so much more information to draw in their square.

So, during this time, I'm also reading our 10 nominees for our state awards (Virginia Readers Choice), so if you're wondering why I don't have more going on from January-March, well, the others are filled in with whatever books we have nominated that year, along with follow up activities.  I've put the titles of the books I've mentioned below so you can see the covers.  May Finds Her Way I've only been able to locate on Amazon which is a shame, because the binding in the one I have is broken, so I'll probably end up ordering another one and using the "broken" one to read.  The rest were either already on my shelves or I ordered from the more popular vendors.  Next post, I'll let you know some of the fun units I end the year with, including dinosaurs, oceans, zoos, and I Spy/Hidden Pictures!
Image result for ninjabread man

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