I have a confession to make.
Two days in a row!
Yes, folks, rather than sticking to my assigned programs, I strayed and did activities that I knew the children would enjoy.
Did they still learn? Yes! Honestly, there was more learning going on than the typical textbook learning.
Tuesday was Groundhog Day. I had to change my schedule because of another teacher being absent, so I ran with it!
First, I pulled out these Groundhog information stories and questions from my Science and Social Studies for February set.
I always try to have some comprehension question that can be answered directly from the text, at least one "word work" question, and one or two "beyond the text" questions. (These are my favorite!)
Since this reading was challenging for some, we first read as a group. After a discussion, I broke the children into pairs, and they re-read, then answered the questions. I love to have them work in pairs, since they have valuable conversations, especially on the "beyond the text" questions!
I told them I'd pay particular attention to question #4. (How would you keep a groundhog from eating things in your garden?) This reflects a problem I had as a gardener:
The hungry groundhog actually learned to climb the fence I put up!
Their answers were delightful! Although they weren't all realistic, they showed an understanding of the problem, and creativity in their solution! (Plus, almost all kids solved the problem in a non-violent way!)
Once they learned about groundhogs, I had them make groundhog puppets and settings, and they created their own skits for Groundhog Day.
This guy put a couple of things to frighten the groundhog: the shadow AND a fox!
The kiddos were so clever when creating their burrows! Some even designed the inside of the burrow on the other side! (In their reading, they learned a lot about the design of the burrows!)
As they performed their skits, they showed creativity, a sense of humor, AND knowledge of groundhogs! You can't get this on a computer test!
The next day was Day 100.
I've had a little tradition going on that I started about 20 years ago. We go from classroom to classroom singing Day 100 songs!
We have 4 songs we sing. Here's one of them:
Sorry, the other 3 aren't mine to give you!
They kept them in their book boxes and practiced them during reading time. (It was hard to keep them SILENT during independent reading!)
It was loads of fun going from class to class. They rarely get to go into the other classrooms, and they got to go into almost ALL the classrooms! They saw younger siblings, older siblings, former teachers, neighborhood friends, and loads of other people they know. The teachers, students, and staff were amazing audiences! They welcomed us into their classrooms, listened to the lyrics, and applauded for the children.
My favorite part is seeing the smiles on the faces of my former students as they remember Day 100 caroling in past years!
Later that day, we played a couple of games and activities, including Mental Math 100. Up until now the children had only worked with 2 digit numbers, but I had them adding and subtracting 3 digit numbers, and with this game, they were even dealing with 4 digit numbers! And, of course, they were successful!
It was a huge boost on their mathematics self esteem, and a whole lot of fun!
It's not actually what the manual told me to do, but it was truly a great learning day.
Hopefully, I can sneak in a few more of these!