Finding Winnie

I have been working my way through the NCCBA books with my K-2 students, and always think of so many ways I can use them in later years for other lessons. This past week, we were reading Finding Winnie and it was one of those books. As I was reading it, there were so many tangents you could go on – how transportation and life has changed in the last 100 years, biographies, WWI, family trees, and so on – but my favorite idea that I think I can see myself using a lot is PRIMARY SOURCES. The book has a section at the back with photos of the actual people involved in the story along with photos of items like Harry’s diary where he wrote he bought a bear and the zoo card that showed Winnie coming to the zoo and some other information about her such as date acquired, where from, death date, etc. This could be an excellent introduction to primary sources in future years, and could even start with these BEFORE we read the story and have them make predictions about the story the evidence tells. Then, we could use other primary sources sets from the Library of Congress to do something similar and make predictions about what the sources or photos tell us.

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I try to introduce research starting in Kindergarten and have the students start working on it on their own by the end of Kindergarten or beginning of first grade, often it depends on if the teachers want to do projects and what my schedule looks like as far as how much flex time we have. I usually use this 3-2-1 format (3 facts, 2 questions, and 1 thing most interesting) with my 1st graders to start out with. It encourages them to find information, brainstorm questions, and can be applied to any topic.

We usually do it together the first time about crocodiles (Caleb the Ctoc is our school mascot). The next week, I pull some 1st grade level books about various animals. With a partner, they choose a book and complete the 3-2-1 on their own the following week. We also practice adding the title and author and start talking about citations and sources.

Here are a couple of the ones they completed just before Christmas.

Hour of Code

So, I am a little late on this post, but before Christmas my fifth graders participated in the Hour of Code, and they LOVED it! the website uses Blockly to introduce students to coding and how to tell the computer what to do using popular characters such as Minecraft, Star Wars, and Frozen. I had planned to do with each grade, but my technology teacher had the same plans. Great minds think alike! So, she is doing it now with 4th and then 3rd grades.

Some other resources that my son has used at home are the board game Robot Turtles, which requires zero technology and not even any batteries! Also, for Christmas, he got a Code and Go set from Learning Resources with a robot mouse that you code to go through maze challenges. Either of these could be great for a center or intro to coding for younger kids.

Here are some shots of my 5th graders coding away!

Apps for iPad Minis

We have recently purchased two iPad minis for the library to use with classes thanks to a grant. We are hoping to eventually get up to about 10 or 12 so students can work in small groups to use apps (you can help us do this with our Donor’s Choose project!). The first ones I am considering using are the Stickbot app for stop motion animation, Chatterpix for kids to do something similar to Blabberize (but easier), and Shadowpuppets edu that allows kids to create narrated slide shows. All would still include research, but would give them some different, more fun and more thoughtful presentation forms than simply writing it out somehow. Did I mention these are all free apps? (Although I did buy a Stikbot kit that includes a green screen, a blue screen, and some poseable people from Costco.)

I am especially excited about the stop motion animation because in order to create it, the students have to actually understand it, storyboard it, think of how to represent it, and then create. I also think it will get them far more engaged and excited about a project.

What apps do you use in the classroom or library and what would you recommend for me?


Kindergarten Pumpkin Life Cycle

With Kindergarten, I was working on building onto previous lessons. We did apples and apple life cycles a few weeks ago when they were doing an apple unit in the classes. Then, we talked about bees and pollination and related that back to the apples. This week, we talked about pumpkins and their life cycle to compare with apples and how bees help them too. At their tables, students each drew a part of the life cycle and we connected them together to make the whole cycle at their table. Here are a couple of them. One did seeds, flower, pumpkin, and the other showed seeds, flower, pumpkin, jack-o-lantern. Update

As you have seen in previous projects, like this one, I have used for about the last year. I used it again at the beginning of the year for a similar natural disasters project. No lie, a WEEK later, I used it for a dog breed research project as a tie-in with Because of Winn Dixie, and they have changed what is free. You can no longer download and print a pdf of your project for free, you have to have the monthly subscription. You can still create and present on a SMARTboard or other interactive whiteboard, but not print unless you subscribe. The subscription is only about $40 a year for about 50 kids, but I use such a variety of tools, that I cannot subscribe to all of them. I will likely continue to use it because the kids love it, but we will not be able to print. Just wanted to let you all know in case you want to use it too!

Book Pumpkins

Our third grade has once again created awesome book pumpkins! Here are just a few.