Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Old Fashioned School Day

We are holding an Old Fashioned School Day. This holiday season, we have focused on how Christmas was celebrated in the 1800s. We started by watching Little House on the Prairie: Christmas. Our 3rd graders were able to see how the families lived and what were awesome presents to them (an orange and a cup of their own). I think this study has helped our students become more aware of how thankful they need to be for the life they have.

First, we as teachers did a bit of research. Bobbie Kalman has written some AMAZING books about life of yesteryear. We found A One-Room School and Schoolyard Games to be especially helpful. Another book that has helpful information is One-Room School by Raymond Bial.

We prep the students the day before for what to expect and how they need to start their day. We will also encourage students to dress the part. It is getting cold now in Kansas, but the students can still have fun with wearing period costumes. The students will line up outside our classroom door, youngest to oldest with a boy line and a girl line. The day before, we will separate their desks so that there is a boy side of the room and a girl side of the room. There will be blank sheets of paper waiting for the students on their desks. In the 1800s, lined paper was expensive, so the students that had paper had to draw their own lines on it! The students will write their alphabet and digits 0-12 on their paper.

Each teacher will call role, with the students responding with a "Yes, Ma'am". I read that if a student was not present at role call, they had to wait outside until recess to be let it! We aren't going to be that mean. On another of their pieces of paper, the students are going to start a Venn Diagram of how our normal school day differs from our Old Fashioned School Day. They will continue to add to this throughout the day.

Because of the expense of books, many schools did not have a full set for all students. Instead, the students learned to memorize their lessons. That is how they "learned". I found a poem in One-Room School by Raymond Bial. We are going to challenge our students to memorize it. They may write it down on their (now lined) paper and work in partners to memorize the poem.

For a Spelling/Word Work activity, the students are going to be given a topic and are to write as many things down that fit that topic as possible. The topics we are going to use are: animals, foods, type of candy, girls' names, boys' names. Give the students a set amount of time to make their lists, then pencils down. Have one student start reading their list, if anyone else has the same thing(s) on their list, that item must be crossed off both persons' lists. Whoever has the longest list at the end, wins! Another Spelling game is to have a "Spelldown" which is like a Spelling Bee, but in teams. Whoever is the last speller standing, wins the game.

For recess, the students can play old schoolyear games. These include: yarn ball (historically made from old sweaters), leap frog, jump rope, egg & spoon races, hop scotch, tag, and push the potato (can only use their noses to race another student pushing a potato). After recess, we will make butter. To do this, we will put heavy whipping cream into a glass jar and shake it. All the students will have a turn to shake the jar and help make the butter. We will be able to see it turn from the cream to butter as we shake. Then, we'll have it as a snack!

The most fun part of the day, for the teachers (haha), will be discussing how hard it was to be a teacher and a student in the 1800s. We will talk about the rules for teachers (first of all, I'm married, so I would not be allowed to be a teacher anymore!) and the punishment for students. Some of the students will want to practice these punishments, I'm sure. So we will have some materials ready. Other punishments we will only discuss (parent emails about swatting children are not a good thing ;)

We will eat our sack lunches in the classroom/on our deck. We have asked our cafeteria to save their large vegetable cans for us over the last couple of months. We drilled holes in them and attached twine/yarn to make handles. They were sent home with students the night before for them to bring their lunches to school.
 To end the day, we will make handmade Christmas cards for our loved ones. We will make rubbings of stars, hearts, and/or trees for these cards. Then we will decorate lunch sacks to put our handmade ornaments into for their parents. As they are coloring, I will read An Orange For Frankie by Patrica Palacco. This is a story about a boy who lost his Christmas orange and how generous his family was to him.


Here are our pictures from today. One traditional, not smiling picture and one happier picture.

Here are some more links to help with Old Fashioned School Days:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Can You Find Our Lost Snowmen?

I saw this awesome idea on Lauren's blog Just Add Clipart and knew I had to do with with my 3rd grade kiddos!

My students were given a snowman outline and the freedom to decorate them however they would like. I told them they could do a traditional snowman or think outside the box. I LOVE seeing how creative my students can get. They used both markers and construction paper. No two of them look the same!

 After they created their snowman, they were given the "Lost" page, where they gave clues about the snowman they had made. They provided four of these clues. I put them up on our bulletin board after school, I'm excited to see they try to find each others' snowmen based on the clues. Most of them hid their snowmen from one another while they were creating, as to keep them a secret!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reindeer Sandwiches & Direction Reading

Students participated in a delicious, yummy direction reading activity today! We each made Reindeer Sandwiches.

In my class, I used honey instead of peanut butter because I have two peanut-free kiddos this year. The students LOVE making, then eating, these treats. I love making them because it gives my students a {fun} way to practice following directions.

Click here for the activity's plan :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Postcard

After reading our StoryTown story A Pen Pal for Max, our students got the letter writing bug. With a little holiday flourish, we designed and wrote postcards to our families. Each student decorated their own postcard art and wrote a letter to their family. We brainstormed what that letter would look like and what should be included. I will mail these postcards at the beginning of Winter Break. Enjoy our art!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Looking A Lot Like Christmas

Our classroom is holding an Old Fashioned Christmas celebration. We have handmade ornaments (cinnamon-applesauce, folded paper, cut snowflakes, and glitter pine cones) and today we decorated and sewed stockings to our Secret Santa gifts. Each student will bring in a secret gift (an identical set for the entire class) and stuff the stockings in our class. On our Winter Party day, we will empty out our stockings and see all the awesomeness we received.

Can't wait to see the smiles on their faces when they see all their stockings hung up in the morning :)

We also wrote stories about Santa being stuck in our chimney (or door or window...)!