Winter Storm Jonas left us here in NYC huddled up for the weekend, baking cookies, snuggling on the couch, and watching Alan Rickman movies in memoriam. But schools were back in session again on Monday, despite sometimes impassible sidewalks and questionably plowed roads in some of the outer-lying neighborhoods. So since the snow is everywhere, … More Bring the Snow Inside – 7 Ways to Incorporate the Blizzard Into Your Classroom
Last week I wrote about using food to build vocabulary, especially descriptive language. Another good way to get your kids talking in more than monosyllabic grunts is to make use of a mystery box. I’m pretty sure I first found this idea in Fountas and Pinnell as a possible literacy center. It works excellently … More 5 Literacy Uses for a Mystery Box
For 13 years, I taught in the “hard-to-staff” neighborhoods of the Bronx. My students were hungry, traumatized, and VERY under-exposed to language and language-building experiences. How do you have a conversation about adjectives with students whose only real exposure to them is “bad” and “good,” and maybe “hot” and “cold”? But even if your kids … More 5 Ways to Integrate Food In the Classroom.
To finish off our time traveling unit, my second graders had to travel to modern Japan. I wanted to approach it in a way that would link to their world, so we focused on technology. I couldn’t find a good read-aloud about modern Japan, so instead I opened by sharing my single experience of flying … More Modern Japan – Everywhere You Look, Technology
Hey ho, hey ho, ’tis the season for generosity and sharing, so here’s a bonus blog post to help you get through those last couple weeks of the holiday season before break. A word of caution: holidays deal inherently with peoples’ religious and family beliefs and traditions, and thus need some sensitive handling. For this … More 21 Great Picture Books to Get You Through the Holidays – With Bulletin Board Ideas!
Returning to our unit on time travel, we moved on from Ancient India to Ancient China, where we spent two one-hour sessions. The focus for the first lesson lesson was Chinese painting: 1.Chinese painting uses “echo lines” (my term) to reinforce visual flow, especially in landscapes. 2. The Chinese consider the empty space to be … More Time Travel, Cont’d: Chinese Painting and Proverbs.
Last week I explained how our Rivers game worked for exploring the impact of rivers on a developing civilization. The next thing we tackled in that unit was to introduce the kids to Hinduism, yoga, and meditation, all indigenous to Ancient India. We started with meditation. This was the first year I’d tried meditation in … More Time Traveling through Ancient India
Moving on in our time-traveling-in-ancient-civilizations unit, we made a stop at some major rivers in Asia. Never was a subject invented for second graders drier than the identification of rivers. Yawn. But the Core Curriculum encourages a look at some of the more major rivers in history, specifically for our purposes the Indus, Ganges, Yellow, … More Rivers and Catan
So last week, I wrote about how my second graders made passports to keep track of their time-traveling through ancient cultures. This week, I’d like to talk about how we tackled Ancient Greece. On the first day, after making the passports, we still had about 20 minutes, so we flew very briefly to Ancient Greece, read … More Ancient Greece 3 Ways – for Second Graders
I’m a lover of history. I love it so much I have a degree in it. But it can be hard to bring it down to a kid’s level without losing a lot, including the kid’s interest. This is a problem compounded by sometimes apparently arbitrary decisions by policy makers about what is grade-appropriate. Two … More Passports to History – Time Traveling in Second Grade