Hi everyone! Its been a while since I posted! I've done two units that I haven't written about at all... Since I'm graduating a week from today (!!!) I've been spending all of my time trying to get everything tied up and ready. Anyways I'll share my plant unit today, and then later I'll write about my fun egg unit! And next week you should be getting the chance to hear about our CHICKS! If they hurry up and hatch before we have to send them back to the farm, that is.
Okay. Plant unit. Lets see here.
The first day, we just concentrated on learning about what is a plant and what is not a plant. This is actually something the kids struggle with. They think rocks are plants, and school buses are alive because they move, and plants are not alive because they're not moving. We talked about what constitutes a plant, and the kids then got into partners and sorted pictures of plants vs. nonplants.
We also read the book From Seed To Plant, by Gail Gibbons. (Who, by the way, has written a nonfiction book on just about every topic, and her books are amazing! Even teachers will learn a ton from these books, but they're written in a way that is friendly and easy for kids to understand.) We made a KWL chart, one of my favorite activities to do with kids when reading nonfiction books. Check out this KWL chart!
(Note that Jay insisted that I add that vampires hate sun, as a footnote to the part about sun helping plants make food. Vampires are one of his newest topics of interest!)
The next day, we learned about the things plants need to survive... air, water, soil, and sun. To drive this concept home, we planted our own plants... which, by the way, are still not growing. I'm actually going to try to grow some quickly at home using the plastic bag method, and then replant them in the kids' pots before they get to school one day. Shhhh... Don't tell them! Anyway, the kids had to put dirt into the pots, add seeds, water them, and figure out the best place in the room to put them. I didn't take pics because right now they're just pots of dirt.
We also read the book Growing Vegetable Soup, by Lois Ehlert. Then, as a group, we made up our own recipe for vegetable soup! The kids did pretty good at coming up with a realistic recipe. I had them think of all the steps. Here's what they came up with.
The third day, we learned about the parts of the plants. This was a little nerve wracking to me, because this was the day that I had to videotape a lesson for my professor to watch. I wish I could show you the video! It was pretty funny! Anyway we talked about the parts of plants and their jobs, and then they took turns shining a flashlight at specific parts of some large posters of plants. They were the most stumped by the fact that carrots actually are the roots of the plant, and that the stems of trees are actually their trunks. Finally, we made pictures of flowers on our lapbooks, added string for roots, and labeled the parts. I don't have a pic of that either. I actually have an example lapbook that I made, but my professor took it. I'll show you next week when I get it back!
We also write an acrostic poem, which I typed up and added to their lapbooks. Here's their poem:
Pine trees are a type of plant.
Leaves on trees are pretty.
Ants on some plants sting.
Needles on cactuses poke.
Taste a vegetable that grows on a plant.
Sunshine help plants grow.
The fourth day, we learned about the plant growth cycle. The kids went through learning centers. In one center, they made a growth cycle wheel for their lapbooks. In the next center, they did a puzzle that illustrated the growth cycle. In the third center, they put the growth cycle in the correct order in a file folder game. This was the kids' first time doing learning centers, so they were sort of baffled by the concept at first, but they really liked doing it!
We also read the book, The Tiny Seed, by Eric Carle. I told them that it was a circular story, and they had to figure out why. We did a sequencing activity, on a story board I made that looked like this:
When it was finished, they managed to figure out why the book was a circular story! The circular thing also went nicely with the growth cycle lesson we did that day.
The fifth day was our review day! We played an awesome team game. I made a giant game board that I posted up on the board. Each space had a piece of Velcro on it, and the pawns had Velcro on them too, so we wouldn't have to try to deal with gathering around a table. I also brought my homemade giant dice for the students to role. The game board looked like this.
The students were in teams of three. If they landed on a pink space, I handed them a picture of an item and they had to decide if it was a plant or not a plant. If they landed on purple, they had to name something plants need. If they landed on green, they had to point to a specific part on a poster of a plant. Landing on blue meant telling me the next stage of the growth cycle, using a poster. Landing on red meant a Bonus question, worth two points instead of one, that had a multiple choice question that was a little trickier. A silver space meant they could choose any color. The kids really liked playing... they had big smiles on their faces!
So that was my plant unit. They all did really well on the post test. Rosella actually raised her score from a 65 on the pretest to a 95 on the post test! I was so proud of her!
In other news, I have exactly four more days of student teaching. Monday and Tuesday I will spend the mornings observing in some of the other special ed classes. On Wednesday I'm planning on bringing treats and small gifts to say goodbye. (I got them each a Skippyjon book, since they all still talk about Skippyjon all the time and always check out Skippyjon books from the school library!) On Thursday, I'm going with the fifth graders on a field trip to the zoo. Hopefully Starling won't flip out this time. And on Friday, I graduate. I cannot believe it! Can you? Its gone so fast!