Thursday, March 14, 2013

St. Patrick's Day and Habitats with Switch Zoo

PreK 3 and 4: Guiding Question - How do people celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Gail Gibbons is a good author to choose for introducing a new idea with little ones. In this concept book, we highlighted the key points: shamrocks, leprechauns, rainbows with pots of gold, and of course, St. Patrick who brought the teachings of God to Ireland in 400 C.E.

Afterward, students drew pictures of what they remembered from the story. These will be added to their pictures from last week to create a "story time" journal.

Kindergarten: Guiding Question - How can we identify the problem in a story?

We talked about problems in stories we know and agreed that it's easier to retell a story if we can state the problem. We practiced with some stories we've read so far (The Carrot Seed, for example). 

Then we read some Kevin Henkes books. As we read, I kept asking, "Is there a problem yet?

Once the problem came up, it was CLEAR:

The other kids don't think Chrysanthemum's name is absolutely perfect. 

Mr. Slinger is upset with Lily and she's upset with him.

Grade 1: Guiding Question - Who was St. Patrick?

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland, by Tomie dePoala 

Patrick (not his original name) was kidnapped by the Irish from his home in Britain. Life as a slave sheep-herder caused him to turn to God and he prayed incessantly. He heard voices in dreams telling him to escape, then to return to Ireland and bring God's wisdom to the people there. The Irish loved him so much; he was made a saint after his death on March 17. 

This is a good version for youngsters: just the right amount of detail and it includes some of the legends about St. Patrick at the end which gives us a chance to talk about facts versus stories that have become exaggerated over time. (As we did with Johnny Appleseed).

Grade 2: Guiding Question - What's a folk tale? 

The Irish folk tale about the giant Finn MacCoul and his nemesis, Culcullin makes a great read-aloud. We read the version retold and illustrated by Roberty Byrd, but there is also a great one by Tomie dePoala.

Finn MacCoul is a giant in Ireland, but he fears an even bigger giant, Culcullin, will be able to beat him in a duel.  Finn tells his wife about the threat, and his wife uses her cunning to trick Culcullin into running away from Finn!

It's that time in the year when grade 2 students are ready for longer stories. As the trick on Culcullin unfolds, it's fun to see students light up as they realize how he's been duped.

Grade 3: Guiding Question - How can we find a location on a map using clues from different thematic maps?

This was a fun and challenging lesson. Each student created an imaginary animal using SwitchZoo. They chose a habitat for the animal, and then created clues to see if a partner could guess its coordinates. 

After printing the animal, students glued a clue card onto their paper to help them construct their clues. The clue card is at the end of this document. The clues were information from different thematic map keys. 

For example, my animal lives in a grassland habitat. It lives in Australia in an area with fewer than 2 people per kilometer, and in an area that has stock raising, and a climate of dry summer. The elevation near its home is 200-500 meters above sea level.

Grade 4: Guiding Question - What poetry terms do we know?

This is the same poetry "flip book" lesson with a different class. See the full lesson here.

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