Summer Must Reads – The Noisy Paint Box

The Noisy Paint Box tells the story of Vasily Kandinsky, The father of abstract painting.   This inspiring and enriching tale was written by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Mary Grandpre’.  My 2nd graders love this book.  The text is as vibrant as Kandisky’s art, “The swirling colors trilled like an orchestra tuning up for a magical symphony.”  “The canary-colored mailbox whistling as he rode to work.”  “The scarlet sunset haze ringing above the ancient Kremlin walls.”

This story allows the reader to paint vivid pictures in the mind.  The words enhance the story and as you talk about what each eloquent description means and in turn enhance the vocabulary of your children.

We always enjoy some abstract painting after reading this lovely book.  I put out several different colors of water based paint and let the kids create.  They become engrossed as they try to capture the ideas now flowing through their own thoughts and imaginations.

Cultivate the mind and heart of a child by reading this classic work about a classic artist.

 

Summer Must Reads: Esperanza Rising

 

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan is one of the most touching books I’ve ever read.  This tome about a young girl who goes from privilege to migrant worker after the death of her beloved father is a must read for all ages.

This is the perfect read-aloud for parents and teachers.  The author imparts a host of life lessons that can be used to start meaningful discussions with children.  The dialogue will have adults digging deep within their own hearts to take stock of personal beliefs.

Esperanza means to hope in Spanish.  The title character finds her hope as she triumphs over trials and difficulties.

If you’ve never read this book, pick it up this summer.  It is truly one of the best books in which I have ever gotten lost!

 

Sensational Summer Science: DIY: Wagon Garden

This summer take some time to explore science with your kids.  We are learning about the sun at my house.  We are experimenting with heat and light.  There are many ways to do this.  Here is just one idea.

Plant a garden.  Watch the video below to see how to plant a wagon garden.  This video was filmed with the time lapse effect and placed into iMovie.

 

 

Variations:  Use the wagon to hold pots of flowers or herbs.  Move the wagon into sunlight as needed.  Water each individual pot as needed.  Plant a fairy garden or a rock garden in a wagon.  Keep your gardening tools and supplies in the wagon as you head off to work in your flower beds or vegetable patch.

Hint:  Snapdragon flowers grow very well in a wagon garden.

Share your summer fun ideas in the comments.

Sensational Summer Science – Backyard Discovery Zone

Magnifying glasses are a fascinating scientific tool at my house.  This summer we are using playtime to learn more about the world around us.  We used magnifying glasses to explore some treasures we found around the house.  We went into the backyard to scout for new mysteries.

 

We also decided to melt candy with a magnifying glass.  We used a plastic tray and a metal tray.  We had a marshmallow, some skittles, a peppermint, and a chocolate covered almond.  The Texas sun was hot and the items on the metal tray melted faster than the items on the plastic tray with the magnifying glass.

Another engrossing activity is finding, observing, and even catching bugs.  We never get tired of the various bugs to be found in the backyard.

I have a Backyard Discovery Kit that makes playing outdoors a world of fun.

I have a Bug Catcher with a small net.

And of course Magnifying glasses.

A plastic bucket and shovel and some gardening tools.

I try to throw in new items that we can enjoy every once in awhile, hence the Sweet Basil growing kit.  I also have a new Solar Kit that will be a fun surprise.

You can make your own Backyard Discovery Kit.  Just fill it up with fun items your kids will enjoy using to ferret out all the wonders in the world around them.

Summer Must Reads

Are you looking for some great literature to read this summer.  I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite books.  The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry is one of my all time favorite books.  I read this book to my class every April around Earth Day.

There are many activities you can do with this book.  After reading the story, have your kids research one of the animals in the story on a tablet.  National Geographic Kids is a great place to start.  Check out San Diego Zoo for kids for some fascinating and easy to read information about jaguars.  For a higher reading level try Animal Fact Guide.  Go to Ranger Rick and find out how to make rain music.  Go to YouTube and search for RAINFOREST sounds for kids.  Your kids can hear what the rain forest must have sounded like when the story begins.

You can let your kids make animal masks or puppets.  They can act out the story.  You can research what is happening in rain forests around the world.  You can take a walk around your neighborhood and pick up trash.  There are endless activities you can do with this book.

I hope you love The Great Kapok Tree as much as I do.

Blasting Into Summer

Welcome to Summer!  That time of year when teachers can rejoice, recharge, rejuvenate, and renew for the upcoming school year.

I spent my first official week of summer at Camp Invention.  We built castles with flags on a pulley.  We had a joust.  We built snowball launchers (AKA slingshots).  We created targets and launched rockets.  We put together Bubble Blasters.  We truly had a blast this week!

The kids enjoyed creating and building with recyclable materials.  They thoroughly enjoyed designing and bringing their ideas to life.  Most of them didn’t seem to care when their Snowball Launchers failed.  (We didn’t have quite the right materials.)They had a blast just using their creative talents.  They couldn’t have been happier getting soaked when we launched their Bottle Rockets.  They may not remember the complete definitions of lift and trajectory, but they will always remember how far their rocket flew and how wet they were afterward.

I love Camp Invention.  There are no guided reading levels to attain.  There are no assessments to prepare for.  There are no RTI groups to facilitate.  We just had fun!  We had fun learning.  We had fun creating.  We had fun challenging ourselves to new heights.

If you, your child, your grandchild, or someone you know and love, gets a chance to participate in Camp Invention, don’t pass it up.  You will revel in an experience that makes learning and having fun synonymous in way that was always meant to be.

Each group added to the original castle constructed. The kids were all excited the next day to see how their castles had changed.
These castles formed an alliance and a treaty. These words weren’t part of our content, but we learned them anyway.

 

 

 

 

Snowball Launcher (AKA Slingshot)
Target practice!

Why Technology?

The purpose of technology in the classroom is to enhance instruction.  Simple explanation, but what does it mean?  The word enhance means to magnify, intensify, raise to a higher degree.  That is the purpose of technology in today’s classrooms, to raise instruction to a higher degree.

A prime example of raising instruction to a higher degree can be found in a recent Reading and Social Studies unit 2nd graders at my school completed.  We combined Reading and Social Studies TEKS in a biography unit on famous Americans.  Our students checked out library books on the famous American of their choice.  Our 2nd graders love to go to the library and get new books.  They enjoy reading a variety of genres, including biographies.  We read lots of fun stories about famous Americans to our students.  We also use technology to raise our instruction to a higher degree.

We created YouTube playlists of famous Americans to supplement the reading material our students found in the library.  We visited websites to discover more about our famous Americans.

A study of George Washington included a virtual tour of Mt. Vernon.  NASA was a great place to discover photos and information about John Glenn.   Some of our friends discovered a new passion for all things Laura Ingalls Wilder.

How did watching videos on YouTube and visiting websites magnify our instruction?  Seeing the places we were reading and learning about and how they look in real life enhanced (raised to a higher level) our students interest in all that we were learning.

The payoff?  Our students are still searching and exploring people they find fascinating.  Jean Michel Basquiat, the subject of the 2017 Caldecott Medal winner, just a few pages in and my kiddos were chomping at the bit to go find his artwork.

The bigger payoff?  These 2nd graders have unlocked a whole new world of learning and discovery.  They know that NASA is a great place to find all sorts of information about space.  National Geographic Kids is a favorite site to learn about the animal kingdom.  DOGO News is the place to go for news lovers.  Science Bob is captivating for my scientists.

Learning to use technology in the classroom is teaching our students how to be in charge of their own learning.  Learning to use technology in the classroom teaches our 2nd graders how to delve into new worlds in a safe and responsible way.

We owe our students an education that opens new horizons in this global world.  We can provide our students with an education that enables them to navigate this global world to raise their learning and awareness to the highest degree imaginable.

YouTube Playlists and Canvas LMS

Last week’s blog post showed how to create a YouTube playlist and load it into Google Classroom.  This week shows how to load a YouTube playlist into Canvas Learning Management System.  I hope you find it helpful.

 

How To Create a YouTube Playlist

Do you use YouTube in your classroom?  Do you use Google Classroom?  Here is a quick tutorial on how to create a YouTube playlist and upload the playlist to your Google Classroom.  I’ve been doing this for quite some time.

One word of caution though, I alway preview the videos I add to the playlist.  I don’t always remember to view old playlists before allowing students to view them.  I recently got a surprise when something inappropriate showed up on a playlist I made last year.  Always remember to view before your students view.

Math Makers: Fraction Flags

A few weeks ago we were learning about fractions in my 2nd grade classroom.  We don’t do worksheets or workbook pages very often, but this unit offered a worksheet that allowed my students to create a flag.  They were offered various boxes divided into halves, thirds, and fourths.  I knew my little artists would enjoy creating flags so I gave them the worksheets and let them design colorful flags.  I was right.  My 2nd graders thoroughly enjoyed this activity!  They enjoyed it so much that they requested (over and over again) to make the flags they designed.

Fridays at my school are devoted to enrichment.  We have Genius Hour.  We don’t do RTI on Friday.  We try to allow our students to chase their passions and discover new talents.  On a recent Friday, I handed back their flag designs and provided various types of colorful paper for my 2nd graders to create their Fraction Flags.

After they were finished creating their Fraction Flags, we headed for the iPads.  We used Educreations to take photos of our flags.  They used the pen tool to write the fractions portrayed on each flag.  My students were then able to record themselves explaining the fractions they created in their flags.  Explaining their reasoning addresses 2nd Grade Texas Math TEK 1.D.  We do this often in a variety of ways.  Second graders love to use the iPad and record themselves explaining their math thinking and reasoning.  They solidify their own learning and help others learn at the same time.

Some of my friends chose to use Seesaw and our class blog to showcase their Fraction Flag.  Others chose to use Shadow Puppets Edu.

Check out our Fraction Flags.  They are as diverse as the learners in my classroom.  That’s what makes being a teacher fresh and exciting every day.

Scan the QR Code to view some of our finished products on Padlet.

Are your students Makers?  Share your ideas in the comments section.