Friday, January 31, 2014

Changing Family and Community Traditions

My grade 2 social studies curriculum is somewhat "tricky".  We are supposed to examine families and learn about traditions and celebrations.  Easy enough?  Not really considering our classrooms are made up of a variety of family dynamics.  So a racked my brain trying to figure out how to cover the curriculum, allow each of my children to feel that their family is special and unique and not add more to their stress level because they have step-parents and step-siblings.  Then it hit me like a strike of lightning!  Patricia Polacco!!!  Her books are fantastic and they are full of traditions and celebrations.  Finally I had a springboard for my unit!  Yippee!!

First and foremost I do NOT claim to be an expert on families. While we all have them – they are complex at best. In many of our classrooms, discussions about family have to be done “carefully.” It is often no longer just about having a mom and a dad. Celebrations, such as Christmas can be stressful for our students has they struggle with spending some time with mom and some time with dad. Step-siblings are a reality for many and this can get very confusing as you talk about family trees. I have attempted to create images of families that capture those similar to our students. I have chosen Patricia Polacco books as mentor texts because I feel her stories can enable us to have many rich conversations about family.

This is a list of the books I used:
*When Lightning Comes In A Jar
*Thunder Cake
*In Our Mothers' House
*Some Birthday
*An Orange For Frankie
*Trees of the Dancing Goats
*Rechenka's Eggs
*The Keeping Quilt

Other Books: (not by Patricia Polacco) ~ These three books are fantastic!!
*The Matchbox Diary
*The Family Book
*Throw Your Tooth on the Roof

In the unit I have included a booklet/project for students to complete at home with their family.

I have included many "interactive notebook" style pages, covering topics, such as different families, traditions and heritage, origins of traditions, and celebrations past and present.

We are not finished the unit yet but I wanted to share so pictures with you:)  The kids have learned so much about how traditions and celebrations are passed down to future generations.

We started out by looking at lots of pictures of different types of families, including same sex families.  This sparked a lot of discussion about their own families, too:)  Then we did a little follow-up about how their family is similar and different.  At the bottom of the page they wrote what they thought was the most important thing about a family.

The next day I read the book "In Our Mothers' House".  The book is about a female couple that adopt three children so it was a great story to help the children to see that families are not always made up of a mom and a dad.  But the story focuses on how they are just like every other family - full of love!  The kids completed a Venn diagram flapbook that focused on how their family and the family in the book were different and similar. 

I read the book "The Keeping Quilt" because it is a wonderful story about how a family quilt is passed down through the generations.  It also talks about how celebrations change over time.  It's like it was written for my curriculum.  After we did a little sorting activity I had the kids colour code each generation.

"Thunder Cake" is another wonderful story about how Patricia's Babushka helps her to overcome her fear of thunderstorm.  We talked about how our families make us feel safe and secure and we recorded our stories in this little flapbook activity.

We also did a timeline activity as a group.

The next book up was "Lightning Comes In A Jar".  This story was about a wonderful tradition in Patricia's family ~ a family reunion!  After the story we made a chart of all the traditions that were talked about in the book.  Each child picked two to record under the firefly flaps and then they wrote about two of their own family traditions under the other two flaps. 

"Some Birthday" is a funny story about one of Patricia's unforgettable birthdays!  They kids loved this book!  Then we made a flap book to record two of our favourite birthday traditions.

I needed to talk about how traditions and celebrations change over time so I thought that Thanksgiving Past and Present would be a good activity to cover that expectation.

That's as far as we've gotten so far.  We still have two activities about Christmas (traditions in our own family and what countries some of our traditions come from), and we will finish with a fun activity about tooth traditions around the world.

Okay I'm done!

If you stuck with me to the end ~bravo to you!  If you are interested in taking a closer peek at this unit you can click HERE and it's still 20% off until tonight at midnight!

Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Five For Saturday! {Better Late Than Never!}

Okay so I finally got my computer back from Staples and it turns out I didn't have a virus.  Thank the lord ~ since I hadn't backed anything up since October!  The guy said there wasn't a virus, however I had 130 Micosoft updates!  I guess that explains why my computer simply stopped working!!

So I am back and am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

We have been digging into my "Incredible Polar Bears" unit and learning all about nonfiction text features. Penguins will always have my heart but I did penguins last year and a bunch of my kiddos looped up with me.  My kids are loving every second of this unit and are learning a ton!  Every page in the booklet uses a different nonfiction text feature.  My kids are absolutely LOVING this unit!  Here are some pics:
I have also included 5 literacy centers, 5 word work activities, an emergent reader, and a craftivity in this unit so it covers it all!

In math we have been working on graphing.  This is probably one of my favourite units to teach:)  I have four different graphing units in my store I change up the ones I use each year.  This year we are using "Graphs Galore" and "Arctic Antics".  "Arctic Antics" ties in perfectly with our polar bear unit.  Most kids pick up the graphing part quite quickly, however, explaining their thinking using mathematical language is a bit trickier.

I love Kimberly Geswein fonts!  They are cute and creative!  I wanted to use them in my products but I couldn't afford to buy her lifetime font license.  So as a solution Kimberly will let you buy 50 single font licenses a bit at a time.  Once I bought my 50 single font licenses I emailed Kimberly and she gave me a lifetime font license!  I am so glad I did it this way!

I finished up my Valentine's Day unit a bit early this year so I wasn't having to worry about getting it prepped right in the middle of writing report cards!
Guess who's coming to Toronto!   My daughter is a HUGE One Direction fan and so we will be seeing her boyfriends in concert (for the third time) on August 1st.  We have great seats and we always have soooo much fun!

So there's a look at my week!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend ~ it is freezing here!