Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Visits Us!!

After we read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" today, we had a surprise...out popped the Very Hungry Caterpillar! He entered the classroom moving his arms and growling with hunger. Several students were given food pieces (an apple, pear, plum, strawberry, orange, etc.) to feed our caterpillar. After he had eaten all of the food, he left (with a stomachache). However, he may return someday as a beautiful butterfly.
This turned out to be an enjoyable and effortless "retelling" of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. The story came to life for the children with a costume and some paper food pieces. As the VHC was "eating" his food, the children would shout out, "Now the plums, now the strawberries..." The more the students hear a story, the better they can retell it (orally and in writing). It's always a good idea to retell a story in several different ways such as finger puppets, story boards, or reader's theater. Another benefit of retelling a story is that student's response to literature (in writing) will be clearer due to their understanding of it. We have done several activities with this story this week including having the children sequence the story on a sentence strip, drawing the middle of the story (items of food the VHC ate) and adding a great beginning and ending to the story in Writer's Workshop, and retelling with picture cards but nothing topped the surprise visit from the VHC himself.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Eric Carle Author Study: Making Story Maps

We have been using story maps in our Reader's and Writer's Workshops to help organize the children's thinking and understanding of the Eric Carle books in our author study. These story maps have proven to be a very important tool in the art of retelling. Moreover, these story maps have been a valuable aid in the student's "Response to Literature" during Writer's Workshop. After I read a new book a few times, children are invited to draw an animal from the book to place on the story board on the back of a large index card. As they hear the story again, the children come up to have their cards placed on the poster board in sequential order. The story can be retold the next day by just using this story map. During Writer's Workshop, students can write a response by using this tool as a guide. In Reader's Workshop, it is another choice during "Literacy Centers" as a "Read the Room" activity.
Because so many books are read during this Eric Carle author study, making story maps has proven to help the children organize their thoughts and retelling abilities. It is a simple way to make the story telling organized and understandable during both workshop periods. Today students worked on their own personnal story map for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Those I'll share with you later!!

Real Men Read - BUDs Morning Readers










We have a great program at our school that gets the male members of our school family more involved. It is called BUDs (Brothers, Uncles and Dads). They coordinate Pancake Breakfasts, Movie Nights, and our BUDding Readers Program. This week BUD members were invited to come to school and read to classes before the start of the school day to show students that real men read. Yesterday we had Mr. B. a parent of one of our students read "The Grouchy Ladybug." The students loved hearing the book read and Mr. B. did a marvelous job keeping the children's interest during his stay this morning. Today we had Mr. A. read two books including "The Mixed Up Chameleon." He did an equally great job and now the children are asking when their father can come in to read. The BUDs Club has increased male involvement and visibility at the school which is a very good thing!! Thank you BUD volunteers for caring and making a real difference in our children's lives.!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Shapes of Things - All Around Us

For the past few weeks, our class has been studying the form and function of 2-D and 3-D shapes. Mrs. Johnson has been teaching the children about the shapes that surround our every day life. The children have learned about cylinders, cubes, and spheres as well as hexagons, pentagons, and rhombus'. Much to their amazement, they are now noticing and commenting on all of the shapes that they now see. After reading the book "The Shape of Things" by Dayle Ann Dodds, Mrs. Johnson had the children draw an object that had a certain shape in it. A common refrain in the story was, "A rectangle is just a rectangle until you add wheels and a handle, then it becomes a wagon." For 3-D shapes, the children went on a "shape-hunt" this week and found a cylinder (a spray bottle), a sphere (cotton balls), a rectangular prism ( a box of stickers), and a cone (nose on a doll). Today, the students use Play-doh to make 3-D shapes. The students loved building 3-D pyramids, cones, and spheres with the clay. Another lesson this week was to locate the face of each 3-D shape and find it's congruent match. These words have been added to the math vocabulary word wall. It is amazing to hear the children utilize these terms and have "accountable talk" in math workshop. Mrs. Johnson makes the shape of things fun and exciting in math -- just the way it should be!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Eric Carle - Attribute Chart

Our first three Eric Carle books are completed on our attribute chart. These three books are the springboard into the other Eric Carle classics that we will be reading. An attribute chart is an ongoing classroom chart that helps students organize their thinking while we discuss the books. It charts noticings, wonderings, and questions we have about the books we are reading. The first book was "Do you want to be my friend?" about a lonely mouse looking for a friend. The second book we discussed was "Have you seen my cat?" about a little boy's adventure looking around the world for his cat. On his way, he meets other members of the cat family including lions, tigers and panthers. Our third book was "Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother Too?" This book asks the same question of many animals, for instance, "Does a penguin have a mother too?" "Yes, a penguin has mother, just like me and you." Now that we have talked about these three books, children get to see a similarity about these Eric Carle books. So far they noticed that he likes to write about animals; that the first three books asked questions; and that his books teach us something - valuing friendship, trips around the world, and names of animals and their babies. We can't wait to read the next book in our author study and learn and grow with Eric Carle.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Reader's Workshop - Author Study - Eric Carle

This week started our very first author study-- Eric Carle. After surveying the children to see if they were familiar with Eric Carle, many of them chanted, "He is my favorite author!" At first I was slightly disappointed when so many children knew of his books, but then I thought, what a great opportunity to take this author study deeper. The books that most children have at home are "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," "The Very Busy Spider," and "The Grouchy Ladybug." The book that we started with this week, however, was not one that they heard before. The first book was "Do You Want To Be My Friend?" It is about a mouse who is looking for a friend. He visits a horse, alligator, seal, lion, hippo, monkey, and giraffe until he finally meets another mouse who says, "Yes" to being his friend. An attribute chart was started listing the title, connections, questions, and what we discovered/learned about this book. After having a book talk about the mouse's adventures, we discussed how it would be hard for those animals to be his friend. For instance, the seal lives in the water and the hippo might step on him. The students noticed how a green snake was drawn throughout the book until the last page where we found it's head. That was very dangerous for the mouse. The children made text-to-self connections. Emir said, "It reminded me of PreK when I was looking for a friend." They had questions about how Eric Carle thought of this book - maybe he was lonely and looked for a friend when he was in school. The next day, children were given large index cards and they drew their favorite animal from the book and we put together a story board. This visual has not only helped in the student's retelling of the story, but it is being utilized in Writer's Workshop for their Response to Literature writing.
For the next five weeks, we will be working on our author study of Eric Carle. Our activities will include making class books, using dramatic play to enhance understanding, and drawing/writing in a Reader's Notebook each day to log thoughts/questions/wonderings about the author's work.
This will allow students the opportunity to look deeply into the wonderful world of Eric Carle.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Valentine's Day Memories

Do you remember getting Valentine's Day cards in your classroom "mailbox"? I sure do. I remember decorating a big brown manila envelope with hearts and flowers and having it taped to my desk. The teacher would call on several students at a time to deliver their mail and I would get so excited when another card, pencil, or conversation heart candy packet would go in my envelope. Well the tradition continues in our classroom. For homework last week, children were given the assignment of addressing their Valentine cards with classmate's first and last names using a class list to complete the activity. Within few short days, cards were coming in with pencils, candy, and tattoos, and boxes of conversation hearts taped to them. "When am I going to give my cards out?" was a daily refrain throughout the week. However, the cards needed a mailbox to place them in. Parents sent in empty cereal boxes and when we had enough, Mrs. Ellis cut them in half and painted them. The children decorated bear faces with hearts and these were then attached to the box with their names on them. Throughout the afternoon, children delivered their cards to the designated mail boxes. Now the boxes are bursting with goodies and the children can't wait until Thursday to read their cards, check out their little gifts, and trade those ever famous conversation hearts!!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Around the World in One Week!!!

International Week - Day 5 - Mexico and Costa Rica

Today was the last stop on our tour around the world. We went to Costa Rica and Mexico. Ms. Ana shared artifacts from Costa Rica and showed the children where on the map it is located. Although Costa Rica is a small country, there are an endless number of places to see. You can bask in the sun because they have over 50 beaches, visit some of the more than 160 parks, reserves, and conservation areas, or visit one of the most active volcanoes in the world. There are butterfly gardens and frog museums. The brilliantly colored red-eyed tree frog is a very popular sighting. The children made tree frog puppets, butterflies, and finished their pinatas. The enjoyed guava juice, tortillas, and desserts native to Costa Rica.

Ms. Karen from Mexico shared pictures of their lovely beaches. Mexico is part of Latin America. It is the southern neighbor of the United States. It is four times larger than Texas. Mexico is home to two differerent types of land. Two mountain ranges cut through Mexico. Some parts are covered by deserts. Tropical jungles cover the other areas. People around the world enjoy Mexican food. Mexico introduced corn, chocolate, and chilies to the world. The children made their own tortillas by balling up the flour mixure and pressing down on the tortilla press. Cheese was added and a quesadilla was made for them (while they waited).

As the week ends and we remember the countries that we visited: Turkey, Venezuala, Vietnam, China, Costa Rica, and Mexico, we can celebrate a social studies journey that the children will always remember. Mrs. Johnson and I would like to thank the parents of our class that made this week possible and for all of the hard work you put into it to make it such a success. I can't wait to experience "International Week" part 2 next year...I can only imagine!!! Adiós!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

International Week - Day Four - China

Kung-Hsi Fa-ts' Ai! (Happy New Year) ! Today we had a fantastic day celebrating some of the traditions of the Chinese New Year. The children were warmly welcomed into the class under a Chinese banner and dragon. Mrs. C. read two books, "The Dancing Dragon," by Marcia Vaughan and "This Next New Year," by Janet S. Wong which explained the holiday and traditions. Mrs. C. prepared five centers for the children. The craft stations were: making dragons, lanterns, and counting books (in English and Chinese.) There were two food stations: one was pork/fried rice (harmony and plenty) and the other was Hapins (shrimp chips).

The Chinese New Year is determined by the Chinese lunar calendar. The new year begins with the new moon. The Chinese New Year falls during China's springtime. The new year celebrates the season for planting, as well as all new beginnings. Part of getting ready for the new year is making sure your home is neat and clean before the new year arrives. Tidy up your house -- sweep out the old and bring in the New Year. Firecrackers and lanterns are an important part of the New Year celebration because the evil spirits are scared away from the bright lights of the firecrackers and lanterns.

At the end of the day, the children were gifted with "lucky money" in red envelopes called "lai-see." The envelopes had designs in gold and holiday wishes written on it. The children were delighted to receive such a nice gift. We had a wonderful day learning about the Chinese New Year!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

International Week - Day Three - Vietnam

Chào (Hi) and welcome to our third day of International Week - the country we visited today was Vietnam. Our parent Mrs. D. showed the children were on the map Vietnam is and how it is shaped like an "S." She brought in several posters with pictures and told the children about Vietnamese occupations, transportation, markets, and celebrations. She even brought in her wedding picture to show her traditional wedding dress. Transportation is mainly done via bikes and scooters. Gas is very expensive. The people of Vietnam are generally fishermen or work in the rice fields. The main celebrations are Tet, Mid Autumn Festival and weddings (the bride wears red.) They have many outside markets were people can buy fresh fruits and vegetables everyday. Mrs. D. brought in eggrolls, dried fruits, rice (com) cakes and soy milk for the children to taste. The students loved hearing about how other countries live and work. Tam biet (Good bye) for now!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

International Week - Day Two - Venezuela


Bienvenidos (Welcome) to our second day of International Week in our classroom. Today was Venezuela, a tropical country located in northern South America. Isabela's mother is from Venezuela and she shared lots of interesting facts about her country. She said it has beautiful beaches and high mountains. It has large rivers and tropical rain forests. Most of all, it has the highest waterfall on the planet, "Angel Falls." Mrs. B. brought in plantain chips and chocolates called, "Torontos" to share with the class. She also gave each child a Venezuelian coin to keep as a gift.

Then it was time for our art activity. The children were thrilled when they saw what were going to make -- a pinata. They were given balloons and given directions on how to apply newpaper strips and paste to cover the balloons. Now the covered balloons are drying so that we can affix colorful tissue paper to the outside of them on Friday and fill them with candy. This was about the messiest classroom project ever - but it was a lot of fun. ¡Nos vemos! (Be seeing you.)

Monday, February 4, 2008

International Week - Day One - Turkey

Today was the first day of what we are calling "International Week" in our classroom. We are very fortunate to have parents volunteer to come in everyday this week and share their traditions, customs, culture, and foods with our class. Today was the country Turkey. Mrs. B. brought in books, clothing, pictures and other artifacts native to her homeland. The children were listening attentively as she explained that it takes 24 hours to get there from here. And how they barter for goods they may want. It is customary to have tea at 5:00 p.m. and to have lots of food for company when they visit. Mrs. B. made baklava, rice wrapped with grape leaves, and Turkish coffee. She brought in a special treat called "Turkish Delight" (a candy) which is always served to company. Mrs. B. shared the popular children's authors and books with the class and gifted our class a book and puppets. Below is a summary that she would also like to share. We also learned a new phrase Assalamu Alaikum- (Peace be upon you) . Thank you for making the first day of our International Week one for the children to remember.

Turkey has very rich folkloric traditions which have been kept alive for centuries due to the characteristics of the Turkish people. Storytelling brings many different things to each one of us, but growing up in the rural parts of Turkey you are bound to see plays performed by puppets that tell the stories of Turkeys historical past. Puppetry is a life-long tradition in Turkey .Very important figures in Turkish folklore are Karagoz and his friend Hacivat, who depict events from the daily lives of the Turkish people in the form of the "Traditional Turkish Shadow Theater". In the early parts of the 17th century "shadow puppets" lead to the development of oral folk literature throughout the Turkey in which professional storyteller's recounted popular tales using puppets. Some story-tellers would even accompany themselves on musical instruments or make dramatic gestures at appropriate points in the tale.

Another popular figure in Turkish folklore is Nasreddin Hoca who reflects the peculiarities of the Turkish people. Nasreddin Hoca is the best-known figure who has many legendary encounters with kings and common people. While seeming to act the fool, Nasreddin Hoca actually displays the folly of the other. His stories all hold a moral or lesson.

Saturday, February 2, 2008