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Students take a walking field trip to view different homes within the community. We look for any kind of animal and discuss what it's home might be made of. Once we return to our classroom, students draw what they saw using vivid details and then write 3-4 sentences about their picture.
Our first graders rotate to each 1st grade room, spending about 45 minutes in each. Each teacher reads a story or two that follows the theme.
The stories in the past have included igloos, log cabins, beehives, bird nests. I read Cactus Hotel. The kids make a page in each room which is later put together to make a book once back in their own classroom. There are a few sentences written about each (sometimes at a later time). For the igloos, the teacher used square face pads to build "blocks of ice", popsicle sticks for log cabins, cut out beehive with bee stickers, string or small sticks for nests, and a cut out cactus with bird and insect stickers for the "residents".
Students make paper lunchbag houses glued onto an 8 X 10 or 9 X 12 piece of green construction paper. The houses are stuffed with paper and stapled shut. They have glued on doors, windows, chimney, flowers, shrubs and trees, and stone walkways or sidewalks to the front door made from white construction paper and colored. They are pretty elaborate! Together, and maybe with a little help from the teacher, they make a neighborhood on a large sheet of black butcher paper (3 X 6' or larger to fit all houses). They have made streets with dotted lines, large neighborhood blocks, a park and pond.
As per GLAD strategy of observations charts...I choose house photos that relate to the unit. I post them on chart paper and students walk around with a partner and write down questions or comments about the photos (Give each set of scholars a different marker than everyone else; that way you can tell who wrote what). This helps them activate their schema.
Throughout the unit, we refer back to the observation charts and discuss how it relates to the story.
At the end of the unit, students process the observation charts by writing what the learned about the photo and how it relates to the unit.
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