Having a party day mid week sure throws off the concentration. There was a level of energy that was hard to contain. It made for a long week with a lot of interruptions.
This month the 4th grade students studied different types of machines. The final task was making machines that would deliver valentines to their valentine boxes. The styrofoam cup activity that is in the pragmatics section is a good example of a tool/machine operation. I decided to bring it out again to reinforce what was happening in the classroom and add my language component. I used it previous years with larger social pragmatic groups so some of you may already have found it and used it. I thought it was worth mentioning again. I would love to hear how it worked for you if you tried it. Please go to the pragmatic section to download more specific directions.
This time I adapted the activity for my smaller therapy groups of 2 to 3 students. We used 6 to 8 strings on a rubber band and each student pulled 2 of them. I added myself to the mix. Basically the tool is a rubber band with 2 feet lengths of yarn tied to it. Students take a yarn in each hand and pull to open it enough to fit around the end of a styrofoam cup placed bottoms up on a table. They were instructed not to use their hands when moving the cups. When they released the tension the rubber band grabbed the cup and they then lifted the cup with the yarn pieces and moved it into position to form a pyramid. 15 cups make a nice size pyramid. Students took turns being the leader to give directions.
I found adding myself allowed for some sabotage. I just didn’t move unless specific directions were given. One person not moving can make a big difference in the operation of the rubber band which is the beauty of this activity. They learned quickly to use positional words and to work cooperatively. I pointed out that “Whole Body Listening” is important here. One person can ruin the whole operation if they are not focused on the group and cups. That rubber band can assume a rather flat appearance and not be functional if someone isn’t pulling right. Also they can’t make assumptions that people will know where to move.
This was a difficult week to get through, mainly because the cold that has been running rampant through the school population finally got me. Even after taking a day off, I haven’t had as much energy. Our neck of the country was also settling in for a cold spell when the boiler gave out in the main building. It made the classrooms quite cold. You just never know what teaching environment you will have in these older buildings. I am looking forward to the three day weekend.
The title of my post this week refers to a video I put in the video section. Look for Gopher Broke. I used it this week to talk about prediction, developing conflict and story plot. It is a 4 minute animated video that does not have words and is great for interpreting what will happen next. I stopped it along the way and asked students what clues they noticed and what predictions they could make from them. We also talked about what details in the story made it interesting.
I used the video to lead up to my instruction on story telling. I have used a free app called “Toontastic” in the past that the students have really liked. Unfortunately some of my students are obsessed with fighting scenarios and can’t get past these to develop other forms of conflict or plot. They need help in getting their creative juices flowing. I came across Story Sticks on Sarcasm 101. I decided to try something similar and made my own story craft sticks. I color coded for characters, conflict, setting and miscellaneous like she did. However, I printed them out on paper and used a glued stick to glue them on the sticks. I then just color coded the tips and edges with a color crayon. I find writing on craft sticks is a bit difficult and hard to read so I opted for the paper. Click here to see what I wrote on the sticks. Story Sticks. You may want to make some changes to the list so I kept it in Word format.
I have been getting a lot of mileage out of match box cars. (pun intended) The enthusiasm still seems strong and with limited materials for my concrete thinkers, I go as long as possible. I blogged a long time ago about a cars and maps activity I used in my Kindergarten Concept Groups. If you want to look it up it was written in Sept 2009 for concept group #2. I have updated this map over the last few years so that it now looks like this.
I have students select match box cars. We run through the course a couple of times using prepositions; start, across the tracks, turn the corner, over the bridge, through the tunnel, between the grass and at the finish. I then bring out a spinner that doesn’t go above the number 4. We work on turn taking, number concepts, and telling where their car is using a preposition. Depending on the positions of the cars you may also elicit 1st, beside, before, after and behind. For some reason, they always want to run the track backwards so they get a 2nd repetition on the return.
I have continued to make some updates and add resources when I found them. There are free animal alphabet cards on TPT from Jason’s Online Classroom. (Update: sorry they are no longer free but they are still there) In my concept activity number 12 you needed alphabet cards to cut in half. I think these would work great. Look in the Vocabulary section of this site under Half/Whole for the direct link.