Thursday, February 3, 2011

Penguins on Parade

Again...another week interrupted by snow.  This week we only made it one day before the blizzard of 2011 hit and boy, was it a doozie!  I have drifts in my yard that are over 4 feet tall.  The official record is 19 inches.  Yikes!  Last week we were lucky to have one solid week and we got a chance to study penguins.  The students were so excited and really soaked up the information.
We always make a schema chart whenever we begin a new unit.  This time we made a tree map, but unfortunately I didn't get a picture.  The students gave me what they knew based on 3 verbs...can, have and are.   I liked this because it made the students really think about their knowledge and categorize it.
We've also been working on identifying ending sounds.  I made up this little activity for the students.  They each had a fish with a picture on it and had to decide the ending sound of that picture.  If they were able to do so correctly, they got to "feed" the penguin.

After reading Plenty of Penguins by Sonja Black, the students were amazed to learn that the Emperor penguin is the same size as an average Kindergartener.  As one of our Math activities, we measured ourselves in comparison to a 4 foot penguin, then recorded our data.

I thought that most of our class would be the same size as or taller than the penguin, but our results showed most of us are shorter!

 I also got to read one of my all-time favorites, Tacky the Penguin.  I am of the "if you can't sing good, sing loud" mentality, so this book is perfect for my vocal stylings.  It is physically impossible for me to read this book and not sing as loudly and dreadfully as possible.  This, of course, is hilarious to my kiddos.  I usually end up reading this book several times.
After reading the story, we worked on comparing and contrasting Tacky and his companions using this Venn diagram.  As I have said before, a Venn diagram is only effective if the concepts being used to contrast the two objects are applied to both.  For example, a student gave the example that Tacky wore weird clothing.  After we recorded that on the "Tacky" side, I asked the students to tell me about the companion's clothing.  Similarities were listed in the middle.

Another way I encourage retelling and increased comprehension is story treasures.  I try to do these at least twice a month, although it's been hard the past couple of months.  For Tacky, students received 2 lima bean penguins, one with a bow tie, one without to help them remember some of the concepts we recorded.  A note is attached telling the parents how to utilize these at home.
During Writing Workshop, we have been working on writing good sentences and learning our sentence rules.  I've noticed, however, we've had a lot of the I like/I love my mom/dad/dog/cat/pizza kinda thing going on.  Tacky's colorful nature was perfect for a lesson on using describing words.  I displayed a picture of  Tacky and asked students to describe what they see. 
Afterward, we shared the pen to write a descriptive sentence about him.  We discussed how by using descriptive words, we make a better picture for our readers.  Students then had the opportunity to use descriptive words in their own sentences.