Monday, 22 October 2012

Here comes Halloween!

Well I have had Halloween on the brain since September but now I suddenly feel that it is coming on too fast and it will be over before I know it. I think I am finally ready though.

I have my Halloween unit ready to go:

Plus two Halloween word problem units (one for primary, one for intermediate):

And I just got this new (though I fully realize it is far from new, it is still new to me) book (+ CD) in the mail:
via Amazon
I also have an Art project to share, though I don't have pictures from when I did it (though I probably do on some camera somewhere . . .):
Photo via A Faithful Attempt
All students have to draw is trace a picture in pencil on black construction paper. Go over pencil line with white glue and let dry overnight. Students can then use pastels to colour between the glue lines. These look best when completely coloured in pastel, with only the glue lines showing.

I have seen so much pumpkin art lately and it just seems to be getting cuter and cuter!

Hope everyone had a great Monday!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Just Journal Writing

I don't know how well this post is going to go (though it does have a point) because I am exhausted (tomorrow is Friday, right?) and have a million things running through my brain.

The topic I had planned to write about today is Journal Writing. I have two reasons for this.
1. I have a new unit that I want to share
2. I am really curious how other teachers handle journals in their class.

I am a big fan of a once a week (usually Monday morning-ish) journal writing. I like Mondays because hopefully the students have done something over the weekend that they can discuss. What I don't like is when I hear "I did nothing." or "I have nothing to write about." Usually I'll say something like, "Then tell me what you ate for dinner, tell me what TV show you watched." etc. because I really want the students to just start writing. I fully realize that writing can be hard and writing with no inspiration can be extremely difficult, but I also think that it gets easier if you just START WRITING!

To help with students who have no idea where to begin (especially in younger grades), I like to provide prompts or sentence starters. So this is where my new unit came in. I created 40+ Journal Prompts for beginning writers (1st & 2nd Grade). I created both general and seasonal/holiday prompts with writing paper in the hopes that it would help beginning writers get the grasp of writing by providing them with a starting off point. Click the picture if you'd like to check out the unit:

So how to you incorporate journals in the classroom? Would love to hear any ideas or suggestions.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Art is Important (and a Haunted House)

I had an epiphany today. Art IS important. I have never been an artsy, creative type and in all honesty I probably dreaded Art in school. This attitude has slightly inserted itself into my teaching attitude, though I don't let it show (I hope!) to students. I've realized though, that my attitude probably stems from my lack of artistic skills. You see, I really, really, really want to be a good artist, but I just can't seem to get it together. Whenever I have to draw in front of the class, my doodles always turn out as stick people or stick animals and I have to explain what I am drawing. For some reason though, today everything clicked and I realized that Art is important. And I don't mean cookie cutter, boring art. I mean really teaching students about different art styles, techniques, and materials. Kids need to grow as artists, otherwise they are going to be adults doing the same doodles that I try to pass of as people and animals.

A second thought - I also LOVE it when an idea or project ties together multiple subjects (hello cross-curricular!). Since it's October - and I have Halloween on the brain - I am reminded of a lesson I reviewed for my Art course in university, but have not yet had the option to try. I would love to credit the idea but I have no idea which Art journal I got it from. The lesson ties together art, language arts, and today I thought of a way to incorporate math.

Photo via Creative Juices

The project would work best for older elementary school and lasts about a week or two. At the beginning of each Art period, teachers begin by turning off the lights and reading scary stories about haunted houses (I would have loved this as a student!). The students then use pieces of cardboard to construct their own haunted houses. As the days progress, students add details (shutters, doors, fence, ghosts, pumpkins, whatever) and on the final day, the houses get spray painted black or gray to complete the haunted house formation. Just stopping here, I think the houses would make a fantastic hallway display. Students can then write stories about their haunted house, and post those alongside their haunted house display. To incorporate math, I would have students measure the height, square footage, etc. of their house and find out who constructed the tallest house, the biggest house, etc. Not only do I think this lesson sounds fun (AND gets me excited about Art) but it incorporates 3 different subjects and great skills.

So this may be the direction I need to go in the future. More Art projects that incorporate other subjects and get ME excited about the Art, so I can pass that onto the students. After all, Art is Important.