Sunday, April 12, 2015

Potter Fans: Harry Potter Book Club Activities

Harry Potter Fan Club!
Is that not the best reason to go to work? Every Wednesday, from 3:00 to 4:00, an adorable group of students arrives at my room to read Harry Potter. They are the cutest, because they are staying after school, by choice, to read! 
I started out by inviting any interested Potter Fans:

After we started reading, one of the early activities we did was making bookmarks to mark our books!

  After Harry got his wand at Ollivander's, we logged on to to see what wand we  would receive!

When we read about Harry and Ron on the Hogwarts Express, we made these chocolate frog boxes using this template I found at The Leaky Cauldron.

I had students choose their most interesting character and we started these character maps, using evidence from the text that shows us what the character is like!


We started a couple handy charts based on the kids' observations after reading a few chapters.
We hunted for characteristics of each Hogwarts house.

 After they noticed the connections between Harry and Voldemort, we started a Venn diagram.

We used an online quiz to figure out which house each student is in (BTW, I'm totally down with Hufflepuff).

 And then we worked on creating our house crests!

We took pictures and put it all together for a nice little display outside my classroom door! The Potter Fans are in!

We made some fun golden snitches using these materials: styrofoam balls, spray glue (which I managed to spray pretty much all over my table, and papers stuck there for weeks), glitter, sparkly pipe cleaners, and sparkly gold foam fun felt.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Rainforest Museum for Earth Day!

I've been teaching for twelve years. Unfortunately, I really didn't start documenting and photographing my teaching  until about four years ago. That means there are about eight undocumented years of teaching. And that really stinks, because during that time I remember doing some very awesome stuff with my kids. 

There was the year we collected funds for the World Wildlife Fund, made informative presentations about endangered species, and invited classes from around the school to learn about why we should protect the environment.
A jaguar in its rainforest habitat.
There was the year we made books based on "When I Was Young in the Mountains." Each student wrote a memoir and created a bare book to read to their little first grade buddies.
I don't have one single picture of these events. So please, take pictures of your teaching. You'll wish you had them.
Today, I came across a set of pictures about six years ago that I didn't know I had. They were from our fourth grade museum.

For several years in a row, the fourth grade hosted "Fourth Grade Science Museums" at the end of the school year. We chose a science topic that we had to teach at that time and each section took a different part of it. For example, one year, we divided up the Earth and Space standards among six sections and I got the objects in the sky part. Another year, we divided up the Changes to Earth standards, and I took fast changes - volcanoes and earthquakes.
A lemur, lollygagging in a rainforest tree.

This was the year of the biomes. Each teacher took one biome, and I had the rainforest. We. Had. A. Blast. I took black butcher paper and covered the entire back wall of our room. Each student received colored chalk to create a mural of the rainforest. It was beautiful! Of course, I don't have pictures of that.
Each student chose an animal to research. We used Zoobooks from the classroom, library books, and a multitude of resources online. I provided a list of some great places to get rainforest research below.
The golden lion tamarind, resting against a tree.

After gathering their information, students created a short presentation about their animal. At home, they built a model of the animal including important details about their habitats. 

They each created a book about their animal. I provided each student with a small bare book and we discussed how to create a nonfiction book - we planned out the pages: life cycle, food chain, a description of the animal's habitat and more. Then we added glossaries in the back. I love having students create books! Bare books are the best investment!

The last piece was a powerpoint presentation - each student added one slide about their animals to a class presentation. We projected it and left it on a loop. Classes from across the grade and a few from around the school were invited to come and visit our presentation. We set up a schedule to visit each others' classes. The students were so proud to share their learning! And I truly believe it helped increase their environmental consciousness. 
Students teaching each other about their animals.
Teaching about the rainforest? Check out these resources:


I love these Magic Tree House guides - 
full of great information and very readable!


And here's a handy product to use with The Greak Kapok Tree. It integrates the story, reading about rainforest animals, and ideas for extensions! Grab it on TPT!

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