Sunday, 20 April 2014

Studying the Inuit (with a freebie)

I always find studying different cultures fascinating, and I find that the kids who I've taught become very engaged when we are learning about how people live in different parts of the world.  
One of my favourite Socials Studies units is The Inuit.  I often include it as part of a dual Science and Social Studies unit on The Arctic.  Usually we do it right after returning from Christmas break when there is still lots of snow around and we can go outside to simulate some Inuit activities.

There are loads of great videos on YouTube that fit well with this unit.  One of my favourites is Owl and Raven by the National Film Board of Canada.  It used to be on tape at our district resource center, but then it disappeared (probably due to old age), and I was so sad.  But this year, to my delight, I rediscovered it.  It is and Inuit legend about how the raven came to have black feathers.  It is very short, and one of the things I love best about it are the singsong voices of Raven and Owl as they go about painting each other.

Have a look.  I bet you'll love it too.  I give out an 8 page booklet and have the kids rewrite the story and illustrate it afterwards.

There are so many excellent kids' books to use with this unit, but the one I love best and lood forward to reading to the class every year is The Very Last First Time, by Jan Andrews, illustrated by Ian Wallace.

The story is about Eva, an Inuit girl from Ungava Bay, who is going to collect mussels under the sea ice on her own for the first time.  Who knew that when the tide goes out in the winter in the Arctic it is possible to go down under the ice and walk on the ocean floor??

As Eva gathers mussels she becomes distracted by the sights in her under-ice cavern.  She wanders off to explore and just as she realizes that she must find her way back to the opening in the ice, her candle blows out, leaving her in darkness.  Desperately Eva fights of her fear in order to relight her candle and make her escape from the incoming tide.

There is a short BBC video that shows just what a dangerous venture this can be.  Use this link to go to it.

Ian Wallace's amazing illustrations are a perfect partner for this wonderful and gripping story.  They capture the wonder of the sea bottom, the feeling of impending danger, and finally the relief of returning back to the world above the ice.  They are done in pointillism and are excellent for turning into an art project.  I've used cotton swabs to replicate the technique, but recently saw some that used the spiky plastic balls you can pick up at a Dollar Store.

Last time we studied this unit we made igloos from mini marshmallows and white glue.  I used a cardboard base painted white, and a small fruit cup container for a form (I cut a rounded door out before we started to put the marshmallows on.  The size is just right and if they start from the bottom they   will  build quite successfully (unlike if sugar cubes are used........).

Although this is essentially a story book the illustrations give a good idea of how Inuit people in far northern villages live.  I show portions of this video that shows an Inuit family on the move in the 1950's.  The kids can immediately see how life was much different back then.

Then we do this sheet that compares some of the differences between Inuit life today and in the past.

If you'd like a copy you can get one here at my TpT store.

I am joining Collaboration Cuties again this week for their terrific linky on mentor texts. I get so many good ideas from the contributors.  The topic this week is Social Studies. Thanks everyone!

Happy Easter!

Debbie K.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Cloud Book Mentor Text

I am always on the lookout for good books to add extra interest to the Science units that I teach. The Cloud Book by Tomie DePaola is an oldie but a goodie.  I have been using it for 20 years with classes from first to fifth grade, and the kids always enjoy it and learn a lot.

The book is full of wonderful illustrations in typical engaging dePaola style. There is a lot of information about different types of clouds, often presented through an artist's eyes. A couple of examples are "Stratus clouds are like wide blankets of grey" and "Cumulous clouds are puffy and look like cauliflowers".  Many of the pages have a humourous comment, as well as historical information.
After reading The Cloud Book I have some favourite activities that I love to do.

The first, of course is to get outside and see what kind of clouds we can spot. April is a great month for this because the weather is so changeable that over a couple of days you're likely to see several kinds.

The second is the old standby "make a cloud in a jar" demo. The kids never cease to be amazed by've never done this activity (or even if you have) you can see how it's done in this clip on
YouTube. I have a big two liter glass jar that I like to use instead of soda bottles.

         I often read either 

It looked like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw               or                The Little Cloud by Eric Carle.

Then we do an art project.

I recently found this wonderful resource that has suggestions for a whole bunch of books that can be 

used in connection with Science and Math lessons. Each book that is recommended has a picture of 
the cover, a book summary, and a lesson suggestion. 

You can navigate to this site by clicking here.  

I am joining Collaboration Cuties  this week for their Mentor Texts for Science link up. Thanks for hosting!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Bunny Bump freebie

I am joining up with The Primary Gal for her Friday Free-for-All (on Saturday....)

Math games are one of the cornerstones of my Math program.  They are so excellent for practicing and reinforcing important concepts that have been taught. 

Every day we do 10 minutes of Addition or Subtraction facts practice right after coming in from lunch, followed by a 10 to 15 minute lesson.  I hand out an assignment with about 6 questions to practice the day's lesson, then the kids head to our "Math Drawers" for the last 30 or so minutes. 

I have the class divided up into small groups of 3 to 4 kids and they're each assigned a drawer for two days.  The drawers contain a variety of games and centers that are a spiral review of the concepts that I've taught during the year.

During this time I am able to meet with the groups.  Sometimes we work on their drawer together,
and sometimes we review a concept that they need extra help with. I love this time because I can really see them making progress. It is a great opportunity for me to delve into the way that they're thinking and help them change any misconceptions they have. You just don't get that many chances to do that working with the whole class.

One of my go-to activities for the drawers is Bump. The kids love these games so much that I've made a bunch of different seasonal ones. They are so excited when a new version appears in the drawers. I will be putting this one in next week just in time for Easter. This is the first product that I have posted to Teachers Pay Teachers.  It only took me most of the night to figure out how to do it, and I'm not sure that I really know HOW I did it.
Anyway it includes three Bump games:  Fall, Winter, and Easter.  Each of them have two different games, basic Additions to 12, and either Addition Plus One or Addition Plus Ten.  You can get a copy here.
I hope you and your class enjoy them!
Please leave me a comment if you download them so that I know I'm on the right track.

Debbie K.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Listen to Reading (with a freebie)

I have jumped into The Daily 5 this year and after working intensively with my class in the fall, teaching, modeling, practicing, practicing, practicing, they really came on board.  It has been wonderful.  When other people come into my room they marvel at how quiet it is (and I have a very rambunctious group this year with boys outnumbering girls almost 2:1) and how engaged they all are.

I marvel that we finally pulled it together and how it has freed me up to meet with small groups.  I have done Guided Reading for the past 15 years and introduced a Language Arts centers format early on, and have been quite pleased with the way they worked, but The Daily 5 is something else again!

I have acquired quite a wide range of books on tape over the years from Scholastic which have been the foundation for my Listening Centers.  Yes, I still have an antique tape recorder that has jacks for four sets of headphones, and the kids love listening to them. 

Robert Munch's website by far the favourite listening site for my class. He reads over 50 of his books and the iPod is in constant demand. I bought a splitter for the headphone jack so that two kids can listen at once and I put a link for the website on the home screen of the iPod so it is easy to access. Listening to Robert Munch read is so popular in my class that is rare if a day goes by without at least one student visiting it. Luckily our school library has a great collection of Munsch books because they love reading along and looking at the pictures as they listen. 

There are also lots of apps that offer excellent listening experiences. The one that is getting a lot of playtime in my room are Storyline Online. 

This site is free and is sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild. There is a small, but increasing number, of excellent books on the site, narrated by actors. The favourite selection in my class at the moment is A Bad Case of Stripes, read by Sean Astin. Camryn Manheim's rendition of Enemy Pie is a close second.  

I like to have some accountability built into their sessions so I made a couple of forms that they can choose to take with them to the listening device that they choose.  You can see this first one which is about making connections to the text in the picture above.  Many of my second graders are loving the idea of making connections to the world around them or to other things they've read.  Some are still enjoying relating what they read to their own experiences.

 I made the second sheet after our wonderful librarian read this terrific book to my class.  It is about a child who doesn't think she can draw and her teacher who encourages her to try.  After hearing the story the kids entered into a lively discussion and we talked about how a book can change the way we think about things.   


To help give them some ideas when they are filling out their book recommendations sheet we made up this chart.  I went over it with them for several days so they were pretty familiar with some of the things that they could include in their recommendation.

 If you would like to use these sheets in your classroom just click here.

And now I'm off to see the Muppet Movie followed by sushi.
Hope you have had a great weekend!



Tuesday, 1 April 2014

April Fool's Day is for the Birds

We have been studying birds for the last week so it was fun to use this idea that I saw late last night as I was catching up on my blog reading. It was from a post last year by one of my favourite bloggers, Denise, of  Sunny Days in Second Grade.
We started by reading Have You Seen Birds? by Joanne Oppenheim. I absolutely love Barbara Reid's illustrations and my class was suitably impressed too.  I'm sure you've read it, but if not it's worth checking out.
 I sent them off to work on Daily 5 while I met with my small groups to read this article which you can get from Denise here

The kids were SO excited that they would be getting the chance to spot a rare and ELUSIVE bird. They really do love picking up new vocabulary. 
There were three questions to do following the reading.  Before we started reading I took a moment to remind each group that if they are asked to read a passage and there are follow up activities they should take the time to see what they will be expected to do after reading so they can be on the lookout for the information as they read.  This is especially helpful to the less confident readers who struggle with going back through a passage to find information. 

After we finished doing the 3 questions we grabbed our carrots, put on our jackets and headed outside on our hunt.

They were so cute, holding up their carrots and softly singing, "Lirpaloof, Lirpaloof".  I almost felt guilty.

At first we weren't too successful but when we went around the front of the school to the huge blue spruce tree that"s growing there we could tell that there were birds way up in the boughs.  The great thing was that we couldn't really see them well because the tree is so dense.
When we returned to our room they were very motivated to write about their possible sighting, and equally pleased to be able to munch down their carrots!

The final question was whether to tell them or not.  I decided that I would let them in on it (only one even suspected that it was a trick).  We all had a good laugh.

I hope your April Fool's was fun and successful, too.