The following activities are suggested for inclusion with ongoing related monthly classroom themes. It is assumed that themes and objectives noted are somewhat generic for Grades K through 1.
Unit 1: Getting to Know Ourselves and Others
Duration: September-Mid October
During the first weeks of school, children begin to learn about themselves and others. Through shared reading, interactive dialogue, role play, and journal writing, students will be able to
* understand their place in the home and school family
* highlight and recognize their responsibilities as students and family members
* have faith in themselves and to give their best
* make full use of logical thinking and language arts skills
Suggested Readings:Section 1—Relationship Titles
Tape Recorder or Video Camera
Paper Supplies, pencils, markers, and crayons
Composition notebooks for journal writing
As an ice-breaker, bring your students to group to discuss a bit about themselves and their families. Use a cam corder or tape recorder during the talks. Children usually have a lot to share about their family units. Through open discussion—and seeing and hearing themselves—young children exchange ideas and recognize that they have something in common. They also discover that the term family can encompass a broad range of people.
Encourage children to discuss how they feel about being part of the classroom family unit. Talk about the responsibilities they must carry out at school and at home, whether they enjoy carrying out those responsibilities and why? Discuss interactive relationships with family members, and where they think they fit in. Shared readings and group discussions can be followed by independent journal writing. Depending upon the ability of each child, encourage students to use inventive spelling and/or illustrations to highlight their responsibilities at home and in school.
Unit 2: Holidays! Holidays!
Several major holidays occur during this time of year. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and those celebrated in December. The objectives herein are to
* empower children to take pride in who they are, have faith in themselves, and strive to give their best
* help children recognize that people celebrate holidays in many different ways
* develop each student's creative know-how and language arts skills through hands-on Art and Language Arts activities
is readily associated with Halloween, witches, goblins, and black cats. Over the years, I have found that many parents shy away from the Halloween celebration primarily because of its negative connotation. Being sensitive to this view, I have attempted to offer a new twist for this month-end holiday.
The Magic Guinea Pig
The "I Can" Collage
9 x 12 sheets of construction paper
Construction paper and/or wall paper remnants cut into assorted geometric shapes, widths and lengths (preferably triangles, squares, rectangles, trapezoids, parallelogramsshapes that the children will have already covered in class [for body parts, cut out dark and light brown, tan, off white, biege . . . strips in circles, ovals, rectangles and squares])
Magic markers, crayons, colored pencils
Glue sticks and Scissors
The Magic Guinea Pig should be read as a prelude to this activity. Before sharing this hilariously empowering story, have your children talk about something they have tried to accomplish but may or may not have achieved. Despite the outcome, how did they feel? Immediately following the shared reading, ask your children to think of ONE THING they can do all by themselves. Have your children use the geometric cuttings to create a piece of art—a collage, depicting themselves and that one thing at which they have been successful. (When this project begins, I first show an example of a previously finished work, then demonstrate how to create the picture—encouraging students to lay their pieces out before gluing, and to make use of the entire page: I strategically place the geometric shapes on the 9 x 12 sheet to form the body and clothing. Background scenes [e.g., a playground, houses, trees..] can be created in collage form and/or drawn and colored in. Students are encouraged to let their imaginations soar.) After the collage has been completed, introduce a sentence using the words "
" as the opener. Have each child complete the sentence. (If computers are available in your classroom, have your student type out his/her sentence. Typing in bold typeface using an 18-point font adds an impressive touch.) Affix the child's sentence to the finished masterpieces, and put them on display!
The Talking Eggs
What's in the What Bag?
a 12 x 14 lined writing pad (for interactive writing)
a dark magic marker
a medium-sized brown paper bag colorfully and mysteriously decorated with the words "What's In Here?" (The bag is hereinafter known as THE WHAT BAG.)
a mysterious item (a stuffed rabbit, an egg, a huge rubber or paper mache bone; these items are contained in The Talking Eggs)
Before reading the story, get your materials strategically in place. Place your mystery item selection in the bag, and make sure none of the children see it. (I made a 12-inch bone using aluminum foil molded into the shape of a femur wrapped entirely with moistened plaster gauze. After drying, I painted it lightly, using brown and beige tempera paints to make it look realistic.) Call the children to group, and begin setting the tone.
"I've something in this bag. It may be alive—I don't know. For certain I know that it won't hurt you. It may, however, move. One thing! Don't look in the bag as you put your hand in to feel it. I don't know what might happen if you do. Who wants to go first . . ."
By this time, the children are wide-eyed and curious. A few courageous hands will go up, and the description/language arts/discovery activity begins. I do not force anyone to put their hands in the bag if they do not want to: for those who do, I encourage them to describe how the "mystery item" feels, what it is doing, and what they think it might be. Record their responses on the lined pad. At the end of this segment, guide your students in reading the observations aloud. Watch the fun begin as you finally open the bag and reveal what's inside. At this point, introduce
The Talking Eggs
, and highlight the fact that just like our language arts activity, sometimes, things in life are not always what they seem. (Note that The What Bag is a terrific way of teaching parts of speech [since statements made by children concerning the mystery object are recorded and read aloud] and grammar [because words used by children to describe the unidentified object are classified and recorded as adjectives and adverbs, and actual guesses about the object itself are categorized and noted as nouns]. The What Bag activity can be implemented in isolation any time throughout the school year.)
: Being thankful for family, friends and the things we have is a common theme shared during November and to be embraced throughout our lives.
Honey, I Love
What Kind of Baby Sitter Is This
The Old, Old Man and The Very, Very Little Boy
She Come Bringing Me That Little Baby Girl
Daddy Is A Monster Sometimes
Just Us Women
Have A Heart Thanksgiving Day Messages
*Pre-folded 9 x 12 Construction Paper in assorted colors stenciled with semi-heart shape along the fold
*Pre-folded ll x 8 1/2 Lined Writing
Paper with semi-heart shape along the fold
*Magic markers, pencils, crayons
*Elmer's glue and glue sticks
*Gold and Silver Glitter
Any of the titles noted above can be used as a prelude to creating beautiful Thanksgiving Day keepsakes. Who has made a difference in your life, and why are you thankful for that person is the theme of this Language Arts/Craft making. Keeping the theme in mind, have your children write about that special someone and why they are thankful for the individual in their journal. (Although inventive spelling is encouraged, for this activity, you will help them rewrite their sentences accurately spelled.) Next, have them make their construction paper hearts, cutting the paper carefully along the guide lines. Have pre-cut heart shaped writing paper on hand. Your children will carefully rewrite their messages hereon. Children will use Glue sticks to adhere the final messages onto the construction paper hearts. They will decorate their hearts with hand drawn pictures, and put on the finishing touches with a thin line of Elmer's glue tracing the border of the heart, sprinkled with glitter.
: Chanukkah and Christmas are readily associated with the month of December. Kwanzaa too is celebrated during December, from 12/26 to 1/1. Incorporate this holiday into your December classroom celebrations.
The Black Snowman
She Come Bringing Me That Little Baby Girl
Imani's Gift at Kwanzaa
Zawadi Wall Hangings
During Kwanzaa, children are the recipient of presents for having fulfilled goals set during the course of the preceding year. Zawadi (gifts) are not provided for the sake of gift giving, but for a purpose. Guns or toys with negative images are a no-no during the Kwanzaa celebration. Zawadi can, however, include hand-made crafts and clothing, black dolls, erector sets, microscopes, other educational-type toys, and Afro-centric literature or clothing.
Your students will use Kuumba (creativity) to create zawadi for their family: African Print Wall Hangings. (Note: This activity not only promotes the joy of giving; it serves as a reinforcement exercise for students who have learned about geometric shapes.)
a 12" straw
red, black, green or yellow yarn, cut into 20" pieces
two rolls of white Bounty towels, one sheet per student
red, black, green, yellow, and brown tempera paints
25 7-ounce paper cups
Cover each table completely with newspaper. Five paper cups will be needed per table grouping of four. Half fill each cup with tempera paints; add 1/4 to 1/3 of water to dilute paintto a consistency of melted ice-cream blended slightly with milk. Set the paint cups strategically in the middle of the grouped desk, so they are easily reached by each child.
Give each child a Bounty Towel sheet. Demonstrate folding the sheet in half so that it looks like a rectangle. Fold it over again so that it looks like a square. Fold it repeatedly in this manner until it looks like a 2-inch square. (Before reaching this point, you can have your students fold the paper towel over into the shape of a triangle instead of another square.) Demonstrate clasping the folded paper towel firmly in its center. Then, dip one corner about an inch deep into a paint cup. Allow the color to be absorbed quickly, but not oversaturated. Immediately remove the towel, turn it around to another corner. Repeat the dipping process, allowing students to use the colors of their choice. Remove the paper towel. Again, make sure it is not oversaturated, or the "cloth" will be damaged. Slowly and carefully open the paper towel, using the reverse folding process with which you started. Voila! A wonderful African-print pattern appears.
Lay the work on the newspaper, and print the child's name beneath the work. Set it to the side (near a radiator) and allow it to dry for approximately an hour. After the towel has dried, mount it onto the straw. This is achieved by completely rubbing the straw with a glue stick, then laying the straw along the upper edge of the sheet. Roll the straw so that the paper towel edge is completely affixed thereto. Run an 20-inch piece of yarn through the straw, tie it in a bow. The zawadi is ready for gift-giving.