Fruits of my Labour
Posted by mrsmelva on 02/01/2012
I have been so busy trying to wrap my head around the new grade 1 curricula and the chopped up scheduling that accompanies it that although I think about posting here, most nights I collapse in the recliner with the t.v. remote in my hand. On weekends I am busy at school trying to make sense of it all, keep my head above water and my students meaningfully engaged. In science we have a new unit to teach entitled using objects and materials. Because it is a new unit, we have an empty resource tub. None of the other grade one teachers wanted to tackle it so I volunteered.The unit is called Using Objects and Materials and is very open ended. I have a decorative snowman that lights up that was given to me by a friend last year. It was sitting on a shelf (not on display, just sitting waiting to be properly positioned) when a student asked if they could make a snowman like that. She got my wheels turning and a project was born.
I gave each child a balloon and we stretched them and then blew them up. These balloons had been in storage for a while, so some of them tore before filling with air. Eventually everyone blew up his/her balloon and most managed to tie the knots themselves, and I helped a few with tying. After tying the balloons the students stapled a strip of cardstock to make a ring to stand the balloons on and then began to cover them with yarn dipped in glue. On our first try we diluted the glue with water, but it didn’t work so I added straight glue after school without disturbing the students’ work, and told them about it the next day. After that we used straight glue.
The students worked very carefully and with great concentration. Surprisingly, there really wasn’t much mess. They selected and cut their own yarn, and poured their first lot of glue. While they worked I came by and refilled the glue as needed in order to allow them to work without having to get up.
When I discovered that the diluted glue was not holding, I considered just leaving the mess until the next day for the students to discover and discuss the problem, but since we had spent an entire afternoon on the project and would not have much time the next day due to an assembly, I decided to add the straight glue, but to explain what I had done to the children. I also considered the fact that they would be covering a second balloon when making this decision.On the first day, I assisted the students with making the stands and operating the stapler. For the second day, I basically just set out the stuff and let them go to it! They did me proud.
The second day was interesting because the students were so independent and we had a few who were starting at the beginning because they had missed the first day. The others were quick to explain to them what to do.
After both balloon sections were dried we popped and removed the balloons and took the hardened yarn balls off the cardboard stands. We discussed how to put the two balls together and decided on hot glue. The tutor assisted the children with using the hot glue gun.
We kept a bowl of cold water next to the glue gun in case of accidents. Yes, there were a few, but not many and not serious. Having the cold water handy helped prevent injury. When it was time to decorate the snowmen, I put out a wide selection of objects and materials, staplers, tape, white glue, hot glue gun and glue sticks. The students were free to choose decoration materials and to experiement with the best ways to attach the materials. For decoration put out yarn, a variety of fabrics, sequins and spangles, googly eyes, coloured paper, craft foam, pipe cleaners, pom poms, buttons and small pieces of wood. The children had great ideas and willingly shared their ideas and sticking techniques with each other.
We put battery operated tea lights in the snowmen and used them to decorate the tables for our Christmas dinner. Unfortunately I didn’t get any useable pictures of them on the tables. Each one was unique and the students learned a lot while doing the project. For assessment I used my observations while they worked, a video tape interview with each child and a simple written test. For one part of the test they had to choose and glue on items to match vocabulary words from the unit, and I provided items that could fit more than one category. They did very well on that part of the test although a few were confused between soft and shiny, when I talked to them about their answers. If they were not clearly correct I asked them about their choices to try and understand what they were thinking. The project took a long time, but it was very worthwhile. The students learned a lot, and handled themselves, the materials and the tools very well.