Historical Indian Home Project and Freebie!

Well, after 4 "cold" days in a row, we were back at school today! Just in time to present our latest projects: Historical Indian Homes! :)

This is such a fun project because a lot of it is done outside of school, and I LOVE seeing what my kiddos come up with. They are SO creative!

Our 4th grade Social Studies standards include a study of the Historical Indians of Ohio. To wrap up this unit, we always learn about the 3 different types of homes they lived in: Wigwam, teepee, and longhouse. We do an interactive notebook activity:
Then we go over the instructions for the project and I give them their letter home to parents and rubric:

I usually give them about 3 weeks to turn them in. We don't spend any class time, I just remind them of the project occasionally, and provide books in our "theme" bin for them to research and use! 

When they are all brought in, we put them on shelves all around my room and my teaching partners room. We do a 25 minute "Read to Self" time, and release 5 kiddos from each class at a time to "take a tour" of the homes. This way, they can see them up close (without touching!) so they're not all standing up and trying to get close during presentations.

We present them for about an hour each afternoon for 3-4 days. They read their paragraph out loud, then explain to the class how they built it. I usually ask 2-3 questions, and then they can call on 2 students for questions. It is amazing how interested they are and how much they love seeing their classmates work and showing off their own!

Here are some of the amazing projects that were presented today!

I know I'm biased… but I think they are pretty AWESOME! And these are only a sample of the 30+ projects that were brought in! (Students can work with a partner or on their own.)

If you're interested in doing this project with your kiddos, it is a FREEBIE in my store! Click here or on the picture below to head on over and download! :)

Do you do any fun projects with your kiddos? I'd love to hear about them! Comment and tell me about it, please! :)


Using Historical Fiction to Integrate SS and LA

I'm sorry I haven't blogged this past week. We haven't been at school since last Thursday! It has been incredibly cold here (-30s) and we got about 7 inches of snow over the weekend. We've been off for cold days!

I was so excited when I saw Jivey's Workshop Wednesday topic, because it gave me inspiration for a post.. especially when inspiration was lacking since I haven't been doing a ton of teaching lately!

Every year I have students (especially boys) that are incredibly interested in Historical Fiction. I make sure to stock my library with every Titanic, WWI, WWII, Military historical fiction and nonfiction book for kids. I have students who just plow right through those books.

So when it's hard to get students motivated to learn about Social Studies sometimes, I find ways to integrate things they love.

Enter one of my favorite books to teach…

I read this book with my class before Christmas Break, trying out different lessons and ideas to make this pack meaningful and jam packed with resources.

One of my favorite parts of teaching this book is the historical tie-ins. The book is set in Oklahoma during The Great Depression. The main character, Billy, lives on a farm in the Ozarks. His family is a perfect example of what most families went through during this hard time.

Every year my fourthies seem to struggle with setting. They always remember to tell me WHERE the story takes place, but they forget the WHEN. So I make it a HUGE point with this book, since the WHEN is so important to the rest of the story.

I start off by introducing the book and the setting:

After reading chapters 1-2, we stop reading for the week. I have the kiddos hooked now, and I want to keep them interested. I explain to them that in order for us to truly understand Billy's story, we have to be able to understand and connect to what he's going through.

I read these two short Historical Fiction picture books to them:
Description from Amazon: East Texas, the 1930s—the Great Depression. Award-winning author Jonah Winter's father grew up with seven siblings in a tiny house on the edge of town. In this picture book, Winter shares his family history in a lyrical text that is clear, honest, and utterly accessible to young readers, accompanied by Kimberly Bulcken Root's rich, gorgeous illustrations. Here is a celebration of family and of making do with what you have—a wonderful classroom book that's also perfect for children and parents to share.

Description from Amazon: During the Great Depression, a family seeking work finds employment for two weeks digging potatoes in Idaho.

After we read these books, we make a class "web" of all of the things we now know about The Great Depression.

After our discussion, I introduce our research project. I have students think about at least (3) GOOD research questions that they want to use to learn more about The Great Depression.
 I start this research project small on purpose. I don't want them to feel overwhelmed, and I want them to learn about things they are INTERESTED in that relate to the Great Depression. I give them about an hour of class time to research their 3 questions and come up with answers.

The next day, I pass out the project presentation guidelines. I explain that this is a project where they can CHOOSE what to present and how to present it. They LOVE this about it.

I give class time over the rest of the week for students to finish research and work on their project (at home work is done, too.

Every year I have a handful of students who get engrossed in this topic and want to learn more! I always have a "Current Theme" book bin in my classroom where I put books from my library or the public library that relate to what we are discussing in class. So over the time we're reading Where the Red Fern Grows I put in a lot of historical fiction from The Great Depression time period. Some books I include are:

These books are all great literature, and they tie into so many historical events. I love when I can double dip with SS and Reading :) It's amazing the discussions we have as a class when we talk about The Great Depression. I love the empathy my students show, and I'm shocked at how many students can relate all-to-well to the struggles. 

If you're considering teaching Where the Red Fern Grows, I highly suggest it! Although it is a very sad ending, it is such a powerful piece of literature. My entire class is engrossed in the book as we read it together. When we finished it this year, with many teary-eyed students (and teacher.. haha) one of my boys raised his hand and said, 

"That's how we know it's a good book, Mrs. Cap! If it wasn't SO good, we wouldn't all care so much!"

I thought that was pretty deep and powerful for a fourth grader! :)

My 200 page pack will guide you through everything you need to teach this book. I put it 50% off for the first 24 hours, so you have a few hours left to pick it up at it's discounted price. Click here to download.

Make sure you head on over to Jivey's page and link up :)

I'm going to climb back under a mound of blankets and get some hot chocolate to warm up! 


Our Crazy Week in Pictures and Captions!

First five day week since break makes for one tired teacher!! Here's a glimpse back at our week with LOTS of pictures! :)

{Students are LOVING Figurative Language! Especially with Erin Cobb's Interactive Notebook! Next week we will be wrapping up with my FL unit with LOTS of listening to music and color coding! They are pumped!}
{They love her writing notebook, too!! We had a blast burying our "dead" words!}

{As you can tell, we love color coding and interactive notebooks. So of course I make them for Social Studies, too! We are wrapping up our Historical Americans unit with these fun activities!}
{Love when I find them doing cute things like this during D5! They look comfy :)}
{We LOVE print tracking with these cuties! Check out my Tried it Tuesday.}

{This group worked independently at their guided reading with poetry and figurative language because I was dealing with technology issues. I came back with a happy heart after seeing them at work like this and their end result look like this! Proud teacher moment for sure!}

{Crazy fourth grade teachers braving the cold and snow to let our kiddos have outdoor recess! Love my teaching partnaaaa!}

So there ya have it... our fun week! I hope you had a great one, too. Enjoy the well-deserved long weekend, everyone!

 And don't forget to check out yesterday's post to read about all the different daily schedules of teachers around the country, and link up yours, too! :)


A Day Our Way- A schedule linky!

A day in the life of a teacher is definitely a crazy one, and I know you all can relate! This eCard totally cracks me up and is so true!

Due to all of our crazy schedules, the demands of standards, data tracking, and constantly trying to make fun and innovative lessons, it can be hard to make a daily schedule that works. 

So I want to share with all of you what works for me, and learn what works for you, too! I invite you all to link up and share with us what A Day in Your Way is for your classroom. We can all share and learn from each other!

Feel free to use these images to link up!

Here's a glimpse at my daily schedule:

I teach ELA and Social Studies to (2) groups of kiddos. Each group is around 30 students, so I see 60 students each day. We have a "homeroom" class in the morning, and then our two groups are similar ability levels.

Morning Work:
Each morning our students come in and start on their morning work. We give them a packet each Monday morning with a paper for each day that has combined Math and ELA skills. I purchased this at pack from Tick Tock Curriculum a few months ago and I absolutely LOVE it! Even though we are departmentalized, it is so nice to have my students do Reading AND Math in the morning. The pack is aligned to CCS for Reading Literature, Informational Text, Writing, Foundational Skills, Language, and all of the Math Standards. Simply put, it is PERFECT for morning work! They turn this in at the end of the week. When they are done with morning work, announcements come over the loud speaker (so jealous of all of you with Smartboard video announcements!)

Then, we do 10 minutes of "movement" each day. We like to get our kiddos up out of their seats and moving every morning for a little bit of fitness time! Sometimes this is corny workout videos like Paul Eugene, and a lot of times it is dancing along to songs like the Sid Shuffle, or the Cha Cha Slide, Koo Koo Kangaroo, or Just Dance songs. It is a great start to our day!

Spelling and Word Building:
We spend about 20 minutes each day on these skills. Every Monday I introduce our 10 root words for the week, and our 20 spelling words that go with them (2 for each root.) If you've read in my previous posts, I use Reading Olympians for our root words. My students LOVE this program. We record them in our planners, practice saying them, and discuss their meanings. Throughout the week we go over word boxes (define the root, give examples of words with that root, use it in a sentence, and draw a picture), play SPARKLE, play Smartboard review games, and go over vocabulary activities.

Reading Focus Mini-Lesson:
Most of our mini-lessons consist of an activity out of Erin Cobb's Interactive Notebooks. We work on a foldable for whatever our skill focus is (theme, characterization, plot, etc), then throughout the week we add onto this and reference it for reinforcement. It is a great time to introduce new concepts, or review and practice previous ones. *Our district does have a adopted reading program, Rigby. They decided to go with this program about 8 years ago. I do use it for lessons, ideas, pacing, and some stories, but I supplement A LOT. Mainly through Erin's Interactive Notebooks! My mini lessons usually look like this:

  • Whole group introduction and definition of the concept with modeled examples in a Smartboard lesson or Powerpoint.
  • Students cut and glue an interactive foldable into their Interactive Notebooks and we color code it, and watch Youtube videos or listen to songs with examples in it. Students then have to identify those examples independently and share them out.
  • I usually wrap it up with a pair share or a quick review by students using their mini whiteboard circles!

Social Studies AND/OR Writer's Workshop:
I alternate Social Studies and Writer's Workshop each day. During Social Studies, we usually complete an Interactive Notebook activity, and color coded notes. We also read from our weekly newspapers from the Social Studies Weekly program for our state, which is AMAZING! I also use this time to integrate it with Language Arts by reading books on our topics.

Our Writer's Workshop usually consists of a quick mini-lesson on a skill. These mini-lessons are standards based, and come from a variety of sources. Lately, I am loving Erin's mini writing lessons in her new Writing Interactive Notebook, and my students love them, too! Then, we spend 15 minutes of workshop time actually writing and applying the skill in our legal pads. So many of my students love this time to just write! This focus board keeps them remembering what they are supposed to be doing, and helps them keep track of time.

Daily 5 Rotations:
If you've followed me for a while, you know that I don't do a true Daily 5 rotation. My students rotate through 3 stations on a given day.

  • 1 Station is always doing something technology related. This is usually Study Island, working through the 4th grade ELA standards. Sometimes it is RAZ kids, BookFlix or TruFlix, or a mini-project they are working on. 

  • The second station varies with the day. Most of the time, it is an activity out of my monthly centers, (Jump Start January for this month) or it is a grammar review sheet.

  • The 3rd station is always meeting in their group, usually with me. We usually are reinforcing our Reading skill for the week, having a literature circle, close reading, or working on basic fluency or comprehension skills. I love this time because I really get to interact with my students and get to know their reading abilities. I love being able to work with groups on their level! :) Wearing my crown is my favorite part of D5 time. My students know not to interrupt when I'm wearing that crown, and it truly gives me meaningful time with my small groups without interruptions!

Grammar Mini Lesson:
My grammar lessons align perfectly with Jivey's Mentor Texts! I usually make a grammar foldable to match whatever our focus for the week is in our Mentor Text. Once we've learned about this skill (verbs, adjectives, nouns, types of sentences, etc.), we complete the daily task for the Mentor Text. This is my first year using Mentor Texts, and my students LOVE it and are learning so much. In fact, today, they were able to label and tell me the part of speech of EVERY single word in our mentor sentence!! I even had one student who flipped to the beginning of our notebook to find our first week and tell me how shocked she was because she could only tell me the nouns the first week! Such a proud teacher moment :)

We also work in Read Aloud time, and DEAR time with extra time left over. We usually have about 10 minutes of this each day! 

After doing this all in the morning, we head to lunch and recess. This is a duty free time (I can't believe some of you have to eat with your kiddos every day!) I can honestly say I work with an entire staff that is AMAZING. We really have no "bad eggs" that are negative and not here for the right reasons. I always go down to the lounge to each with my teachy friends and we have a blast during this time! It is such a great "break" and refresher during the day! (Previously, in different schools I taught at I did not go to the lounge because of the negativity. I LOVE not having that now!)

It begins again!:
After lunch and recess I start my morning schedule all over again with a different group of 30 kiddos! We alternate which group we have in the morning, and which we have in the afternoon every day. We've found that sometimes we just get better at teaching it the second time around, so it's nice for each group to have that time. 

Our specials rotate between Red, White, Grizzly, and Bear days. Which basically means we have a rotation of Library, Gym, Music, and Art. So they have 3 specials once a week, and 1 twice a week. No computers yet :( We don't even have 4 working computers in our classroom, let alone a computer lab :( hopefully soon!

Our bussers pack up about 10 mins before everyone else so this makes dismissal time hard. Usually I read aloud to the whole group for a few minutes (right now we're reading The Lightning Thief) but I stop reading when bussers leave so they don't miss any of the book. Then we play "24" a math game (I know, I don't teach math but my partner and I both integrate each other's subjects as much as possible; she reads aloud to her kiddos, too!) Then the rest of us pack up and walk down to their parents. Teachers are contracted until 3:40 and our day is over (of course I'm usually there until 5.)

Although some days can still be crazy, I am loving my schedule right now.

But, I am always looking for ways to make it better! Link up and share what your day looks like! I can't wait to read and learn from all of you! :)