Friday, March 16, 2012

Saint Patrick's Day Language Arts

Hi everyone! I just finished my second week of teaching Language Arts! I think it is going really well. I try to help the kids get into the books and really enjoy the lessons. Sometimes it works. My Skippyjon unit is still considered a big success, in their eyes! This week the kids went to the school library, and they all begged the librarian for Skippyjon books! The school library only had two, and Rosella and Kite were the ones to check them out. Kite was also heard asking the music teacher to buy her a Skippyjon book! LOL! I guess that just proves my theory that Skippyjon encourages kids to read! 

This week I did a Saint Patrick's Day unit, for obvious reasons. Here's what we did. 

Day 1... I read them St. Patrick's Day, by Gail Gibbons, and we made a KWL chart on it. The kids were very interested in the KWL chart. They came up with lots of contributions for the K and W sections. For the L section, after reading the story, I usually let them look through the book to help jog their memory. (On the chart, the clover and rainbow are disguising the name of the teacher's aide whose birthday is St. Patrick's Day!) You may notice that someone asked "Why is he green?" in the W section, referring to St. Patrick. Most of the kids had this misconception that St. Patrick is actually a leprechaun. I tried to explain to them that he was actually a person who lived long, long ago. I showed them the illustrations of St. Patrick, and talked about the parts that discussed his life, to make sure they understood. Then at the end, after we completed the chart, I went over what we had learned. I asked, "So, who was St. Patrick?" And about four kids chorused, "A leprechaun!" Sigh. At least I tried! 

Day 2...We read both Jack and the Leprechaun, by Ivan Robertson, and The Leprechaun's Big Pot Of Gold, by Patricia Reeder Pubank. The Leprechaun's Big Pot Of Gold is actually a board book. When I bought it I thought it might be too simple for the kids. However, there aren't that many St. Patrick's Day books in existence, and I needed enough for five days! So I bought this one. And actually, the kids liked it better than the other book! I think because the cover is shiny, and there are a cute dog and cat in the story. We did another Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the two books. I want to do a Venn diagram every few weeks so that it sticks in their head!

Day 3... I read The Last Snake In Ireland, by Sheilla MacGill Callahan. Its basically a retelling of the legend of how Saint Patrick got rid of all the snakes... but there's a twist at the end!  Before reading it, I explained that a legend is a story that is about a real person, but the story itself has been passed down throughout the years and nobody knows for sure if it is true. I asked them again, "Was St. Patrick a real person?" and, thankfully, they replied, "Yes!" My plan was to read the story and then have them all tell whether they felt the story was true or made up, and give a reason. However, towards the end of the story, five of the eight kids got pulled out to go to Social Skills. (Social Skills wasn't scheduled for that time, but the social worker had some spare time and wanted to make up minutes the kids missed during ISAT week.) The kids that were left were Rosella, Starling, Triller and Jay. Rosella, Starling and Triller are the kids with the most cognitive impairments, and Jay has mild autism and was probably busy daydreaming about outers space when I read the story, so the activity sort of fell to pieces. I showed my power of flexibility and dismissed them to free time!

Day 4... We read St. Patrick's Day Alphabet, by Beverly Barras Vidrine. I had printed out a small picture to represent the word for each letter of the alphabet in the book. Each kid got three or four pictures to hang onto. I brought in a poster board. As I read about each letter, the kid holding the matching picture had to come and stick his picture onto the poster board. At the end, I gave them sheets of St. Patrick's Day stickers and let them decorate it. They loved this! The picture of the poster is at an odd angle, because the only place we could find to hang it was up above the bulletin board, and I had to look up with my camera! 

Day 5... We read The Night Before St. Patrick's Day, by Natasha Wing. We did a simple story map on it, which I didn't take a picture of because you probably know what a story map looks like. The kids were pretty good at identifying the characters, setting, beginning, middle and end. They also really liked the story, and Towhee even noticed it's similarity to The Night Before Christmas. After reading it, I made a pie chart with a "slice" for each person in the room. I asked each student if they thought leprechauns were real, or made up. For the students and teachers who thought leprechauns were real, I colored a slice green. For the students and teachers who thought leprechauns were made up, I colored a slice blue. Want to see the results?

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone! Come back next Friday to hear about my Spring unit! 


  1. What a great post! You came up with so many great ways to review the information from the books. Don't you just love KWL charts!? Congrats!

  2. That is awesome that you have the kids so excited about Skippyjon Jones books! Your St Patrick's Day unit sounds fun, too, even if they didn't exactly learn who Saint Patrick was!


Do you have something to share with the class?