This week my kindergarten and first graders had a lot of fun creating traps for Santa. We started by reading How To Catch a Santa by Jean Reagan last week (a personal favorite because the story has such great voice!). Students talked about what they would ask, tell, and give Santa just like in the book. Then this week students got busy making their own creations.
Students had some choices:
- work with a partner or alone
- what supplies to use (among those provided)
- What the trap would look like
Some things students did not have choice on. All students were given the same set of supplies- mostly donated recyclable items and leftover craft supplies. A quick trip to the dollar store yielded the cute Santa paper cups and more chenille stems.
- 1 tube
- 1 paper cup
- 1 egg carton
- 18 inches of aluminum foil
- 1 yard of curling ribbon
- 3 sheets of construction paper
- 5 pipe chenille stems
- 3 yards of masking tape
Students could trade me for additional supplies needed. A frequent request was more masking tape. Some would give up a chenille stem, others a curling ribbon for more tape. Students were also given only 15 minutes and most students finished before that time.
Then came the sharing, and that was the most enjoyable part for me. Listening to these young children talk about how they would catch Santa was so fun. Many ideas involved catching Santa’s hand or foot in a trap that includes a pipe cleaner. And, of course, cookies figured into a lot of traps!
Students learned how to barter or trade when they wanted additional supplies. They collaborated with others while sharing supplies. They created their own idea and had a great time. Students were so proud of their Santa traps.
I am not sure why, but for me, spring is a time for research. Perhaps it is because I have introduced the skills students need to be ready to research, or perhaps it is the season of awakening that inspires curiosity. Whatever the reason, most of my students have begun or will soon start a research project.
First graders started their research last week. They are investigating hedgehogs: what they are, where they live, their babies, and even some cool and unusual facts. This is a whole class project and we started by introducing hedgehogs with a fiction book, Hedgie’s Surprise by Jan Brett. Let me just say how amazed I was at the students’ behavior. They cannot usually sit still for an entire story, but this time they all did! It is true that the story is quite suspenseful, drawing listeners in to discover how the hedgehog tricks the Tomten into leaving the hen’s eggs alone after trying several different decoys.
This week we are exploring PebbleGo’s database on hedgehogs. Each student will take notes on what we learned about the body, food, habitat and life cycle. We will also watch a few videos; there is nothing quite as fascinating as a hedgehog in action! Plus watching animals in action is a great way to learn about them. Video also encourages students to put what they see into their own words and not copy text word for word from a written source. As we work on our research we are adding questions we have about hedgehogs. Finally, we will explore any new questions we have as we read from selected nonfiction texts on hedgehogs.
I teach students that part of finding out new information is sharing that new knowledge with others. After we finish our research, we will create a book about hedgehogs. The students looked at the book last year’s first grade class created on sloths, and they were excited to become authors themselves. Stay tuned for the upcoming books from the three first grade classes in a future post. Our other grades are starting their research projects very soon, so check back to see what they are learning and creating.