Monday, December 22, 2014

Project Christmas

Vocabulary Word of the Day = Blessing 
For the past few years, every Christmas, our two fifth grade classes choose a community service project to support. This year, we decided to help Toys for Tots. We spend two weeks selling Candy Canes at school. The kiddos sell candy canes at 25 cents specialty canes at 50 cents for ten minutes before school starts in the morning with a partner and tally the amount. 
 During morning work they sold to fifth graders and counted up money. Then, during math class, we looked at how many candy canes we sold, how much money we made, what the total was, and what our current profit was. Slowly, our chart grew and grew ...
This year, we profited $524!!! 
What an incredible experience we had this year for our project!  
This last Thursday, our entire fifth grade team - 46 students, 6 chaperons, and 2 teachers traveled to Walmart with a budget and a plan. When we arrived, we were greeted by Walmart employees who presented us with an additional $100 to spend! The students shopped with their chaperons, picking out toys to donate. While shopping, a Hershey Chocolate representative decided to support our project by presenting us with an additional $100 cash on the spot! Walmart also provided us with cookies, punch, and a mini stocking for each kid to enjoy during their shopping trip. We were all blessed by the experience and the support we received from our community in helping with this great project! We dropped off the toys at our Lions Club to be distributed though the Toys for Tots program.  

Does your class do any community service activities during the year, I would love to hear about them! 

Project: Annual Native American Dioramas

It is project time again in our classroom! Students did an absolutely FAB job this year taking their learning and applying it to our region project - I just had to share! Students worked with their original regional group to design a diorama of their cultures environment, shelter, natural resources, and any other details they could. 
Students reread their information on their region. Loved seeing them reviewing their unit notes about their region to help them plan their diorama. 

They did an absolutely amazing job and really showcased their knowledge of each region! I really could not get over the incredible amount of DETAIL they put into them! It was so exciting listening to them share what they wanted to add based off of their knowledge. So. Cool. 
Painted sticks for "Sugar Cane" 
yes, that is a brave going through the "Sun Dance" 
Removable roof to see inside the "Kiva" 
This Eastern Woodland long house has an "open top" to see inside - love. it.! 
Love this depiction of a whale hunt! 
 Ice Fishing
 Inuksuk formation 
 Please note this adorable bundle of wood - it is even tied together with a string :p 
We were also able to get our dioramas on display at our public library in town - this was really neat because it gave the kids an authentic outside of school audience to showcase their knowledge and work. 

Here are more activities for Native Americans: 

Native Americans Linky

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

An Integrated Approach

When I approach unit planning, I place everything under the umbrella of social studies. Not only is this the way my brain is wired (thanks to my mother and my homeschooling days) but it is also the ONLY way I could possibly get any social studies standards accomplished!  I teach reading, writing, and social studies, that means that these subjects are connected on a daily basis. Sometimes my partner teacher and I are able to even get some great theme connections in math and science as well! 

We are just wrapping up one of my favorite units - Native American Indians. During each unit, our room reflects our unit and student learning. 
In READING, we have been using Native American Legends during our "Story Element" unit as we study Character, Setting, Conflict, Resolution, and events that help create the plot and build toward the Climax. 
After studying, how characters change throughout a story, we discovered that many Native American Indians had multiple names based off their actions throughout their lives. We then created our own Native American Names and symbols.
The Northwest American Indian tribes created totem poles to share their family heritage and to tell their stories. Using creative WRITING, along with our READING lesson on "Character Traits," we created short paragraphs that described each of our family members on our totem poles. We assigned an animal to each member of our families according to the character traits applied to what the Natives applied to that animal.
As with each unit, students are required to read at least one NON-FICTION text on our social studies unit. They fill out a sheet highlighting the who, what, when, where, why, how as well as find one FUN FACT to add to our Wall of Facts for the unit. They are also encouraged to test on the 
book to get a running record of non-fiction comprehension and practice. 
In WRITING, we have been working on creating strong expository (informational) paragraphs. After creating dream catchers with our grandparents, we went on to research them more and write about them.
In both SCIENCE and SOCIAL STUDIES the kids are researching how plants, animals, and Native American groups ADAPTED to their environments. 

In MATH, students worked with fractions to create "maize" or corn {bread} which was a dietary staple for many Native American groups. It is one of the newly discovered products from the New World, brought back to Europe, Africa, and Asia by early explorers. 
For our Thanksgiving Celebration, we enjoyed eating our corn bread muffins, created by the students during math class using fractions. We also made homemade butter using an old fashioned technique of "Churning" much like the Europeans would have used during the time of early exploration. Dairy Animals, such as goats and cows, were old world products brought to the Americans by explorers.
For our party craft, students also created Navajo "Sand Paintings".
Do any of you teach thematically? 
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