Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Underground Lives of Ants by 2nd grade

This blogging community is full of super cool people with amazing ideas and lesson plans. Often times, I'll find an idea that is interesting and change it or add to it to suit my student population. It is beyond rare that I find a lesson that I duplicate outright. I've done just that with this project. 

I take absolutely no credit for this lesson. All the props go to Mrs. Knight at Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists. This post popped up in my Pinterest feed and I immediately repined it to use this year.  

The project is all about the secret underground lives of ants. What goes on in their maze of subterranean tunnels? What if ants were more like us? My students immediately latched on to this project. We initially got all up in the science and talked about ant body parts and habitats. Next, we discussed personification in the illustrations of Beatrix Potter and others. Next, we got to the art. 

My students and I had a blast brainstorming about all of the incredible things that could be happening underground. In the end, my second graders produced some highly creative artwork that we were all proud of. 

Download my version of the lesson plan!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Break Fun & Food

Last week was spring break. Huzzah! It was nice to not only have a short break from school, but to get out of the crazy Ohio weather. My wife, daughter, and I flew to Atlanta, Georgia and then drove to Macon in order to visit family. The weather was in the low 80's and absolutely wonderful. We visited the Georgia Aquarium and I got to view an animal that I've always wanted to see first hand- the whale shark! They actually have four whale sharks in an absolutely massive tank that also holds manta rays and countless other examples of marine life. 

It's hard to get sense of how large the whale shark in this picture is. This one was approximately 30' long!
 After getting back from Georgia, I had some time to relax, read, and have fun with my daughter. I also spent some time in the kitchen. One of my secret "real person" talents is cooking. I absolutely love to cook and would consider going to culinary school if I weren't teaching. I've been on a fresh pasta kick lately, so I decided to include a couple of my creations for you to enjoy. 
Scratch made linguini with spring vegetables.

Scratch made short rib and wild mushroom ravioli served with sautéed brussels sprouts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mac Barnett Author Visit Today!

Huzzah! The day has arrived. Mac Barnett, author extraordinaire, is at Thomas today to talk to students about his life as an author. Mac is the author of many picture books including Guess Again, Chloe and the Lion, and Caldecott Award winning Extra Yarn. He also writes the Brixton Brothers series among other chapter books. 

When I first learned that Mac Barnett was coming, I was super excited. My two year old daughter absolutely adores his books. I absolutely adore reading them to her. During the course of a typical day, I sometimes read 40 books to her. I tire of some, but Mac's books are so fun that I can read them over and over.

Mac's presentations to students have been incredibly engaging and entertaining. He has a great energy that the kids here absolutely gravitate toward. If you ever get a chance to see him at a book signing or school event, I highly recommend it. If you haven't ever read any of his books, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? I mean, I highly encourage you to check them out. 

Bonus compliment time. Mac told me that the artwork hanging in the halls here is some of the best he has seen during any of his school visits. Score!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

1st Grade Cave Art

Cave art projects are simply made for first grade. What better way to show the simplistic drawing style of Paleolithic people? First graders naturally have a simple feel to their artwork and that style translates perfectly to this project.

Though examples of cave art have been found all around, the most famous is the work in Lascaux, France. There is even a virtual tour of that cave complex that students love to see. Most of the site is in French, but the pictures, of course, work for any language. 

Another cool thing that I like to do during this project is to set the cave art mood. That's a thing, right? I turn off the lights in my classroom and project a campfire on the big screen in my room. One year, a student teacher had the kids draw with all of the tables on their sides. It was really cool, but my tables are incredibly heavy. It definitely took two of us to get everything moved. 

What I like about this project is that it can be as complicated or simple as is needed. This year, it was a two class project because I had a student teacher starting who would be beginning his own lessons. No matter how long it takes, students are always very successful with it. 

Click here to download the full lesson plan!