Writing Fairy Tales

Mrs. Garcia’s class has done an in-depth study of Fairy Tales. They have created a latch to keep Goldilocks out of the 3 Bears’ House, written blog posts, compared and contrasted numerous fairy tales, and learned the elements of these fun stories.

Taking what they have learned, the students worked in groups to write and illustrate a spin-off of a well-known fairy tale. To better share these, we decided on using the Book Creator app. The students used paper and crayons for the illustrations, took photos of each, then added them to the app. Because our school year finishes Thursday, instead of typing their stories into the app, the students recorded narration to match the illustrations.

Individual books were combined into one class book. Enjoy their stories!

Sketching in Keynote

Tony Vincent, when he visited our school in April, shared how to sketch over a photo in Keynote. Click here for his directions.

Not knowing at all how this would turn out, I decided to have the 2nd graders try sketching their self-portraits. We did discuss that this was just a time to practice and that it would most likely be rather challenging.

The students started out with taking a selfie. They were encouraged to take a fairly tight shot which would make it easier for the drawing. Then we went through the steps in Tony’s excellent “how-to” sheet. The students did a fantastic job following the instructions and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such concentration!

This was HARD! But, NO ONE complained, which made me super proud of these wonderful second graders. They really stuck with it!

What we discovered:

  • It is SO much easier to use a pointed stylus than one of the cheap ones we have in the lab. I have an Apple Pencil and it was perfect for this activity. Sadly, it’s really too expensive to purchase class sets of good styluses.
  • A selfie is probably NOT the best choice for attempting a sketch for the very first time. Perhaps a cup or an apple . . .

One of the teachers told me later that she sat next to a student who talked herself through the drawing, saying, “Come on. You can do it. Yes, it’s hard, but we’re not giving up. It’s looking good. Keep trying!”

Don’t you love that? What a valuable tool to have!

None of the classes finished the drawings. Surprisingly, no one even complained about that. When asked what they thought of the activity, the students reported that it was fun.

“Even if it was hard?” I asked. A resounding YES was the answer! We’ll be doing more sketching in the days to come.

How Do You Keep Goldilocks out of the Cottage?

To go along with the second grader’s Fairy Tale unit, Mrs. Garcia’s class came to the iLab to design a latch for the three bears. The idea came from a STEM Fairy Tale Unit called, A Latch for the Three Bears, by Sarah Wiggins. Click here to find it on the TeachersPayTeachers site.

The Challenge:

Of course, Goldilocks should NEVER have gone into the Bears’ house without asking. However, shouldn’t the Bears have locked their door?

A latch had to be attached to the cardstock door so that students could demonstrate how it worked.

The Materials:

Cardstock paper folded into 3 sections to create the “door” to the cottage, Bobby pins, straws, q-tips, bottle caps, masking tape, craft sticks, glue

The Process:

The students were introduced to the task as well as the materials available to them.We did have to explain what a latch was – that’s not exactly a common word anymore! Before sending them to their tables, I asked the children to individually think how they might combine the materials to create a latch. The next step was to brainstorm with their partner and start sketching ideas. The students then drew designs on the tables and discussed with their partners which to try.

As the students built, they often revised their plans. A couple groups had enough time to test both designs they had drawn. We did have a few students who focused more on drawing the inside of the bears’ house rather than designing the latch first. Another group felt like the house needed a fence first so they built that which meant that they ran out of time to make the latch.

After completing the task, the students were asked to upload their design to Seesaw where they were to explain how their latch worked.

Here are some samples:

Here’s a look at the students hard at work!

Mrs. Garcia’s Class 

Mrs. Shapard’s Class 

Next time I’ll be sure to tell students the latch is the most important thing to design and build – nothing else! IF there is time, then they can go back to add additional details (drawing the bears inside the house, adding outside elements like fences).

The best part of this (or any) design challenge is listening to the students share ideas as they brainstorm, construct, and make changes to the design. You really learn a LOT! What I’ve found is that the quieter students that might not speak out in a whole-group setting, truly shine with activities like this.

Bridge Building with 2nd Grade

I love literature and am always looking for ways to incorporate it into my lessons. So, when I came across this bridge building activity, I couldn’t wait to give it a try!

Going through Pinterest, I discovered the activity, “Build a Bridge for 21 Elephants” and knew I HAD to try this! The book is a true story about the 14-year construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. When it was finally completed, the people of New York and Brooklyn were worried that this grand feat wouldn’t be strong enough to withstand people traveling across it. To convince the citizens, P.T. Barnum, (creator of “The Greatest Show on Earth), figured out a way to show everyone just how well-built this bridge was. He took his 21 circus elephants all the way across the Brooklyn Bridge and it was still standing when the last one crossed! Click here to see a reading of the book on YouTube.

I purchased the book and the jungle counters (a collection of various animals; couldn’t find just elephants) from Amazon and then used supplies I had on hand. The above post tells about doing the activity with a 4 year old. I decided to try it with 2nd graders even though I was concerned that it might be too easy. It turned out to be a fantastic activity!

Using a design thinking approach, we began with the story. Learning that it was true thrilled the students, especially due to the popularity of The Greatest Showman movie, released in 2017. I gave the task to the students:

Steps followed in the building process

The students returned to the tables where I had them think (no talking) about a bridge design for about 30 seconds. The next step was to sketch their idea. I was amazed at their drawings – lots of detail!

Working in groups, the hardest task was discussing all the designs and deciding on which to build. Of course, students were always free to reassess, alter, and completely change their design (and some did just that).

Materials provided for building:

  • craft sticks
  • about a yard of masking tape
  • plastic cups
  • Crystal Light containers
  • construction paper
  • small tubs (these used to have modeling dough in them)

Then the building began! Walking around to observe and question students provides tremendous insight into the thought processes that occur throughout the activity. Add in the use of Seesaw, where the children took a photo then reflected on the process and a teacher gains a tremendous amount of information of how the groups worked through the challenge.

Listen to this group calmly announce that “First we messed up.” They weren’t bothered one bit that the bridge didn’t work as expected after the first try. I LOVE this!

I am SO glad I came across this challenge! As mentioned at the beginning of the post, I was seriously concerned that this would be much too easy. After listening to the conversations and seeing the intricate designs the students drew, spending time on this was worth every minute!

Will this work with a younger grade? I can’t wait to give it a try!

A New Twist on Biography Projects

Mrs. Garcia, one of our second grade teachers, has her students learn about biographies. The type of project the children create varies each year. With the implementation of Seesaw (digital portfolios) in our Lower School, a new avenue of presentation has opened.

This year, she asked the students to read a biography and then write a bio-poem about that person. The children used Seesaw to take a photo of their subject and then record themselves reading the bio-poem.

 

Here is one of the powerful things about Seesaw – a QR code can be created for any post. Mrs. Garcia printed these out and added them to her bulletin board. What a fantastic way to create an interactive board!

 

If I Only Had a Robot . . .

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a robot at your beck and call? What would you have it do? How would it help you?

This is what the second graders were asked to ponder! Then, to their delight, they were asked to build a robot prototype. After constructing the robot, they were to post a picture or video, along with narration describing their creation, to their journal in Seesaw (digital portfolios).

The idea started with a Christmas gift from by mom! My mother is a fantastic quilter, has an amazing ability to determine just the right fabrics that go together, and is one of the most creative people I know! Recently, she’s been designing small quilts for every month that I hang in the window next to the door to my classroom. This past Christmas she gave me a really cute robot mini quilt. I told her it was perfect; that I’d been thinking of ideas for a robot lesson. Within days, she had created more of these little robot quilts!

Add in two fun robot books, and we were ready to begin!

We started with the question, “Would you like to have a robot to do something for you?” We brainstormed ideas of all kinds of tasks that robots could accomplish to make our lives easier. Then, to lots of “oohs” and “ahhs” the quilts were shown one at a time. You could almost see the wheels turning as students began to get ideas on what they would build!

Each table had a collection of q-tips, fabric, wiggle eyes, reinforcements, muffin cup liners, ribbon, yarn, lids. There were also small containers, boxes, and empty toilet paper rolls available.

Oh, my! I had no idea how exciting this simple creation opportunity would be! I enjoyed watching the students try different materials to create the “perfect” robot. If one item didn’t work, they regrouped and tried something else. For several, the idea they had in their mind at the beginning of the class wasn’t like the final product. That is such a good lesson to learn – not everything works the first time!

The children had the option of taking a picture then recording about the robot, narrating a video of their design, or having someone else video while they explained their robot. Below are some examples:

We had robots that danced, some that tossed baseballs, others that were like pets to be a friend to the owner, and many others. The one common factor is that ALL students were extremely proud of their robots! One confident child stated, “I LOVE my mind!”

Rosie’s Runtime: A Homerun for 2nd Graders!

Last December, I came across Rosie’s Runtime, an unplugged coding activity created by Project Lead the Way. I was finally able to give it a try last week and, WOW! Was it a hit!? The students absolutely LOVED it!

In Rosie’s Runtime, a large grid is set up on the floor. The teacher starts out as the robotic dog who is trying to get from a fire hydrant back to the doghouse. To make it more of a challenge, there are mud puddle cards that must be avoided and there are bones that need to be collected.

There are two versions:

  • K-2nd Grades   Basic movements such as move forward, turn right/left, pick up bone are in this level’s commands.
  • 3rd – 5th Grades  More involved commands have been added to this level. In addition to the above, jump, repeat, and conditional commands are part of this more difficult level.

I worked with 2nd grade, using this as a refresher activity before students moved to code.org. Students were divided into 5 groups, each receiving a set of cards. For this level, the cards were move forward, turn right, turn left, pick up bone, and make a u-turn.

Correct or not, each time I, as Rosie the Robotic Dog, was given a command, I moved. They students were quick to make corrections! Of course, there were cheers when they guided me to the doghouse!

The students absolutely did NOT want to quit! Well, maybe I was a bit excited, too. We debriefed by discussing different routes the students could have had me travel and talking about how we had to debug a few times to get back on track.

We’ll definitely be doing this with other grades. And, I’m eager to try the harder level. I think this would be a good small group activity that students could do on their own once they’ve been introduced to it.

FYI:  I thought about using felt squares for the game board but was concerned those might stretch after being stepped on several times. I ended up buying a fabric (don’t remember what kind) that won’t fray (yea! no hemming). The fabric is the same type as what is often used in the recyclable grocery bags you can buy. I cut them into 12″ squares which turned out to be a perfect size!

Hour of Code: Ozobots!

What a hit! The students absolutely LOVE programming the tiny Ozobots! These are small robots that are programmable using color codes, the Ozobot app or the online Ozoblockly block-based program. What I love about these is that they can be adapted to several ages.

One first grade class entered the room, immediately noticed the Ozobots on each table, and suddenly I heard, “Oh, Oh, Oh, we get to do Ozobots!” This little boy was practically dancing with excitement; even rushing over to give me a hug.

Some of the second, third, and fourth grade classes were asked to video their paths and codes to upload to Seesaw journals while explaining what Ozobots are and what they do.

Here’s an example:

These fourth grade students did a fantastic job with their explanations. I see a future in sales! 

Ozobots are a fun and easy way to introduce computational thinking to children. It’s easy to adapt these robots to any age.

 

“What is Under the Bed?” Can You Predict?

I love incorporating literacy skills into lab activities and bringing in technology is a fun and effective way to make predictions.

This year, I discovered the book, What’s Under the Bedby Joe Fenton. It’s a quick, rhyming book about a boy named Fred who is trying to go to sleep but hears noises under his bed. He finally decides to check it out:  “One, Two, Three, Four . .  . It’s time to look on the floor!” And, that’s where I stopped!

Before class, I created a template and air dropped it to our shared iPads. When the students arrived, we worked together to add a name to their page and set up the drawing feature. After doing some predicting by discussing the title, I told the children they could illustrate as I read. We read till we reached the page where Fred was about to look under his bed. At that point, the directions were to:

  1. finish illustrating your prediction,
  2. write your prediction, and
  3. record your prediction.

Instead of giving all the instructions at once, the students drew for about ten minutes. As they began to wrap up the drawings, I showed how to record. Soon all were off to various corners of the room, using our “telephone’ mics or the recording cubes.

When everyone had completed their one-page book and air-dropped it to me, we finished reading. What is great about this book is that there are visual clues to what is under the bed. It’s several pages back and you have to watch to catch it. This was a great way to discuss how important it is to look at ALL clues – in the text as well as in the illustrations!

Making Predictions with Second Graders from Trinity Valley School on Vimeo.

The class ebooks can be read on an iOS device (iPad or iPhone) by following the directions below. This eBook will NOT work properly on any other device (i.e. Kindle, Android tablet or phone).  However, the books have also been saved as a video that can be seen on any computer or mobile device.

Instructions for Viewing Books and Videos:

If you are downloading the ePub books, remember that you need to click on the book link while on an iPad or iPhone that has the iBooks app. Choose download and open in iBooks.

Click on the word “book” or “video” to view the projects.