Friday, January 16, 2015

WHY did People Explore?

I have done a lot of different activities to introduce the motives for early exploration, however, this year I really wanted to incorporate some Close reading, note taking, and summary. My theory is that if I sneak reading and writing skills into social studies I can get away with teaching it more ;0) 
 I always try to have some sort of hands-on, tangible item for the kiddos to feel, smell, use, etc. to help them stimulate their thinking. I kept those items the same which included a flag, a Bible, spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, cumin), gold pieces, and a question mark.
This time though, I added different informational paragraphs that I found here and there that share the reasons for exploration. With a partner, the kids shared the packet of articles and used the clue item at their table to figure out which motive it matched. For example: the flag represented lands to conquer. Spices represented their desire to acquire spices and other trade items from Asia. A Bible represented the push to spread Christianity. The gold pieces represented the quest for gold and riches. Finally, I couldn't really think of an object for "adventure" so I just had a question mark - it worked :) 
Once partners had identified their object and its importance to the reason for Exploration, they then had to work on highlighting key words that answered summary questions including who, what, where, when, why, and how. These five words also were to show their evidence on why they matched their item to that reason. 
I was so impressed with how engaged and focused they all were! It definitely helped instill the 5 reasons as well as give great practice at summary, note taking, partner agreement, and reading fluency/comprehension of more challenging text. 

Here are more Explorer Activities: 

Monday, January 12, 2015

WHO were the Explorers?

We have jumped into the Age of Exploration with both feet! In the three days we have been in school thus far since Christmas break, yes, you read that right - we have had THREE snow days since getting back on the 5th!  we have gone back in time to Europe during the time of the Renaissance! 
We review that at this time in history, Native Americans are continuing to live their unique lifestyles as previously studied having no idea of what is to come. However, before discussing this eventual collision between the Old World and the New, it is important for students to understand what life in Renaissance Europe was like at this time. WHO were these men that came to the New World? This will help us understand (NOT EXCUSE!) their motives, their beliefs, and regretfully, their actions toward many Native American cultures.
I give the kids a Renaissance name and character bio card which are available on my TPT HERE. Students then study their character and practice name pronunciations ;0) before sharing the bios with the class. 
Characters include Soldiers, Noblemen and women, peasant workers, tradesmen, merchants, traders, cartographers, craftsmen, sailors, captains, wives, mothers, youngest and oldest sons, Bishops, monks, nuns, Christians, Muslims, and more! 

Very quickly, we notice a pattern among our characters. Life was NOT the same as it is today! Plague and diseases ran rampant due to lack of hygiene and knowledge of germs. Women lived with fear of childbirth and men and children often lost wives and mothers. Noblemen owned and inherited lands (well, oldest sons that is) which poor peasant families worked. The majority of the population was uneducated, there were no hospitals or homeless shelters. Practicing other religions was punishable by death - even reading the Bible was illegal in many parts of Europe. Women had little to say about their lives and were often used through marriage to increase their family's wealth and influence. Many people were burned for their beliefs and hundreds of Muslim and Jewish people were persecuted and kicked out of Spain and other European countries. If you somehow managed to make it through all of this, warring between European countries to acquire more land affected almost every group of people.  
All of this we experienced through our characters and charted on our graphs. Our discovery is that most people experienced death in a very personal way, some died, and a few were extremely against groups of people they did not like or felt were not as good.
What does this mean for the Native Americans? These were HARD men, accustomed to poverty, death, war, prejudices, and persecution. Their number one goal = survival. and nothing is going to stand in the way of what they want...

Here are more Explorer Activities: 

Cultural Heritage Project

Before Thanksgiving every year, I explain our big Christmas Heritage Project to the kiddos. I introduce the project and encourage them to talk to their parents/grandparents over break to find out about their family's heritage and roots. 

The Project: 
After break, students share their family roots and we begin our research at school on how their ancestral country/culture celebrates "Christmas" or a winter holiday around the same time (ex. Diwali, Chinese New Year, etc.) . Students then do a web quest that has different Christmas Around the World websites to help guide their research. 
Some of my favorites include:
Santa Net 
Why Christmas
The North Pole
Christmas Around the World
Kids Travel
They use an I-chart to record their findings. After they have discovered a lot about their country and their celebrations, we use our information to write a short paragraph about the holiday, type them up the computer, and add a caption.
Researching how our countries celebrate Christmas or a winter holiday
 Reading LOTS of books on our countries 
The "at home" part of the project is the creation of an  Ornament that illustrates a tradition from the way their culture celebrates Christmas/Winter Holiday.

I use a rubric to grade their presentation of the ornament - it reflects: effort, whether it matches a tradition or just of the country, an in depth explanation of the tradition, and if the project was turned in on time.

 Presenting our Ornaments
In writing, students wrote an informational compare and contrast  essay

Incorporating geography, we also researched where our cultural country was located using maps, globes, and atlases. It was very interesting listening to the kids as they discover the SIZE comparison of other countries to our own. Many of them were shocked by how small their country was and at how BIG others were. Geography can be very eye opening for one's world view in many ways. 
Do you do anything to celebrate holidays around the world or family heritage? 
Happy Holidays!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...