Sunday, April 21, 2013

Earth Day: The Great Kapok Tree

So one fun part of my job is that I sometimes get to pull out kids to do fun stuff instead of test practice. This is what happened last week and the week before. I worked with a group of third graders and a group of fourth graders who had been successful in their test-taking, and we didn't want to waste their time with more of it before the test. So we learned about Earth Day!

I mentioned previously, in my Five for Friday post, that I had started working with this group of kids, and I shared a couple charts we made. That's what we did first, before we read The Great Kapok Tree. We also read this freebie article about Earth Day from Rachel Parlett. You can grab it free at TPT and we charted out some basic points about Earth Day.

Using the structure I posted in my Five for Friday, post, the students wrote brief paragraphs about Earth Day and published them on some cute writing paper.

The next day, we read The Great Kapok Tree. 

My purpose for reading this book was to, of course, introduce students to reasons for conserving our rainforests, but also, to have them take the fictional story and rewrite it as a drama. I wanted them to think about what would be the role of the narrator, which character voices they would need, and what would be included in stage directions.

We started off together, charting the introduction to the drama. After a conversation about how we should differentiate between the narrator and stage directions (the kids decided that they wanted the narrator to tell the actions, and the stage directions to describe. This was with some guidance, of course!), this is what we came up with:

Then, I divided the students up and gave each one a chunk of text that introduced a different animal. I had a small group of students, and there were many animals, so only two students had to buddy up. They wrote their chunk of the story as a drama and published it, using their animal's fur or markings to illustrate the border.
After that, each student got a paper plate and enough construction paper to fill their every heart's desire.

 And this is what they made:


Yanamamo Boy


Jaguar (looks pretty tiger-y to me)


Porcupine - just noticed she made mistakes in her drama. Poop. Gotta go back and have her redo that one!


Toucan (kind of)

Bee.... with a ghostly reflection of myself in the background. 
How funny that, in all the pictures, the only one I came out in is the Bee!

There's also a frog, but he's not done yet.

Stay tuned for my upcoming hallway display debut: It took me two weeks, but it is almost done!
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  1. I LOVE how you adapted this book to a drama! AWESOME IDEA! I'm your newest follower. :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  2. You have done an amazing job with this text! I love that you had the students turn this into a drama. I found a Readers Theater script online, but your way is so much better! Thanks for sharing!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  3. What an awesome idea!! I love this book but always feel that it goes over my kids heads! This is a great way to help them understand the meaning. :)

    Second Grade Math Maniac

  4. What a great lesson! Thank you for sharing. This is a great way to use this text. :)

    Sugar and Spice

  5. Hey Chrissy, I gave you a shout out on my blog today. We used your M&M fraction activity. What a hit that was! Check it out!
    Second In Line

  6. So fun! I bet the students love it and won't forget it. I’m having a giveaway please stop by


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