31 March 2017

We're All Wonders: Teaching Companion

I was so excited when the book, We're All Wonders showed up at my doorstep a few days ago.  Yes, I preordered my copied early, because I knew it would be a good book and I couldn't wait to share with my class. After reading R.J. Palacio first number one seller, Wonder,  with the beloved character Auggie I was hooked.  (Wonder is geared for fourth grade and up).  So, naturally as a second grade teacher I was so excited when she was coming out with picture book version for young children.

If you are a kindergarten through third grade teacher, then this is a must for your classroom library.   There are so many lessons you can teach with this book and the beloved character Auggie.  Auggie is an ordinary boy who likes to do ordinary things, but the one thing that make him different is he was born with facial deformities.  So, sometimes kids can be mean to Auggie.  They forget just because someone may look different or act different that they still have feelings too.  My favorite quote in the book is, "We are all wonders".

R.J Palacio started the trend #choosekind with her first book, Wonder.  This trend can be continued with this picture book.   How do you teach kindness in your classroom?

I knew as soon as this book arrived I wanted to use it as a center piece for talking about kindness and how we should treat others.  I created a book companion resource to use with this book.  It includes comprehension response questions,  book club for the classroom questions, writing prompts, kindness poetry writing, bookmarks, vocabulary match up, word search, and brag tags!

We're All Wonders:  Book Companion

The writing prompt is my absolute favorite.  In the book Auggie says that everyone is a Wonder. What he means by this is know matter what you look like we are all unique in our on way.   In the writing prompt, I have my students explore why they are "Wonders" ... What makes each one of them unique.  Plus I love the fact I have something awesome to display in the hallway.

We're All Wonders - Book Companion Resource (Writing Prompt)

I wanted to end my lesson with this book with a reminder the students could keep.  I want to encouarage my students to treat ALL people with kindness on daily basis.  I made them bookmarks. I printed the bookmarks on cardstock and tied with cute ribbon.  The resource pack does include brag tags too if this is something you use in your classroom.

We're All Wonders - Book Companion Bookmarks and Brag Tags

If you are looking for a way to teach kindness in your classroom I would highly recommend this book.  Students not only explore what it feels like to be on the outside but on the inside too.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.  Remember to #choosekind!

16 January 2017

Teaching Chinese New Year vs. New Year in America

Teaching Chinese New Year vs. New Year in America

This past week we headed back to school for our first full week after Christmas break.  I had a dilemma, we came back to a full week of Benchmark Testing and I was not 100% prepared for what to do after testing was completed each day.  Benchmark Testing can be long and painful on many levels.  First, we only test for the first half of the day.  Second, my team and I need things to keep the students busy and engaged the rest of the day.  We follow a pacing guide in our parish, so we do not move ahead with our usual teaching.  So, basically during a benchmark week my day starts off with math, then benchmark testing, and then .....  Well you get the idea.  This was the big dilemma.   So, this year I decided to teach my kids a mini unit on New Years in America vs. Chinese New Year.  I know technically it is not Chinese New Year yet, but I knew this was the perfect week to dive into the topic and really teach all about it!  Let me tell you, it was a HIT!

We started off talking about New Years in America and all the traditions we celebrate.  We made resolutions and discussed what the top resolutions in America were.  Did you know the #1 New Year resolution in America is to lose weight?  My students thought this was hilarious.  I told them this is why they will see so many cars in the gym parking lot on their way home. ;))  Then we discussed why so many people (myself included) seem to not be able to keep their resolutions, but how we could really try to work on doing better this year.

Next, I introduced Chinese New Year!  We looked at our maps and located China.  We talked about where it was in the world and compared it to our continent and country (bringing in our map skills). Also, we discussed how New York City and San Francisco  both have big communities called Little China Town were these cultures can be celebrated.  We found these two areas on the map and looked at pictures on Google.  The kids were very intrigued by this point. We googled pictures of people celebrating Chinese New Year in China and the compared it to people who celebrate Chinese New Year in America.  Kids are always fascinated to learn that many traditions and celebrations we have in America are brought to us from other cultures.

After we looked at our maps and pictures we read a closed nonfiction reading passage about Chinese New Year (the passage can be found here).   Next, the students were placed into groups and we used our iPads to look up 4 interesting facts about New Years in America and Chinese New Year.  They wrote these facts in their writing notebooks.  There was not a cute graphic organizer for this, just plain writing notebook paper - remember this unit was done on the fly!  We came back together and we compared and contrast the two cultures and how they celebrate the holidays.  We made a Venn diagram in our notebook comparing and contrasting.   Next, they wrote a two paragraphs about this topic.   I was so impressed with their writings.   They must have really been paying attention, because they had some really great details in their writings.

Teaching Chinese New Year vs. New Year Paragraphs or Writings

By the end of the week we had learned so much.  I had brought in map skills, group work, technology, compare and contrasting, and writing.  We needed something fun to end this mini unit. We learned about the Zodiac Calendar and we made a rooster for, "The Year of the Rooster" (craft can be found here).  The roosters turned out so cute!   My students loved, loved them.   Also, we made Chinese New Year hats that turned out super cute (hats can be found here).

Chinese New Year Rooster Craft

Chinese New Year

Lesson learned for me - Sometimes pulling something together very quickly, but  putting just as much energy and enthusiasm into it can still lead to a great lesson.  I will definitely be teaching this again next year!  Will you be teaching Chinese New Year in your classroom?  I would love to hear what ideas or lessons you will teach.  Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.

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