Showing posts with label math. Show all posts
Showing posts with label math. Show all posts


Lunar New Year

Happy Lunar New Year!  Today's celebration creates a perfect opportunity for a multidisciplinary story time.  Since many children are only familiar with the Western / Gregorian calendar, begin by introducing the lunar calendar, which is based on moon cycles rather than Earth's movement around the sun.

Then read aloud a story to introduce symbols and traditions of the holiday.  Students will love the alphabet-book presentation and detailed illustrations in D Is for Dragon Dance by Ying Compestine.  Get more ideas for using this book and celebrating the new year from this earlier article.  After the story, students can listen to a clip of Compestine discussing New Year traditions on NPR's Morning Edition episode from this morning.

Students also enjoy the brief introduction to the holiday presented in Grace Lin's Bringing in the New Year.
Older students will finish this short picture book ready to dive into Lin's longer fiction like The Year of the Dog and the rest of the Pacy Lin series or Lin's Newbery Honor book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

After the stories, encourage students to make text-to-self connections regarding the traditions mentioned in the books.  Students will discover that many cultures share similar traditions.  Then demonstrate how students can count backward to their birth year and learn about the Chinese zodiac. The zodiac chart is printed in the back of D Is for Dragon Dance, for the letter Z, and you can download and print a beautiful version created and shared by Jan Brett.  I've written about this printable before, but kids seriously love it and will practice patterns and arithmetic with this image for as long as you will let them.

Finally, let students practice creating similes by comparing the upcoming year to a horse, since 2014 is the year of the horse.  Kids can browse non-fiction books about horses to get ideas for adjectives to use in their similes.


Football Fanfare

Football is such a big part of fall culture in the U.S.  In the library during this time of year, little football fans need no prompting to check-out and read books about their favorite teams.  But all the excitement is a great excuse to push readers into other genres and subjects through the football theme.
Encourage students to read player and coach biographies as well as football history books, picture books, and novels by displaying some of these less-often noticed titles in a high-traffic area.  The football vocabulary circles in this window display are from a free printable set (of coasters) at Design Sponge.

After spending some time reading, ride the football-season wave into other subjects.  For handwriting practice, check out this football printable from Paging Supermom.

Students can also practice music and math skills with Katie Robertson's Rhythm Football game for the interactive white board.

Older students can write predictions about how the season will go for their favorite teams.  Then they can keep track of statistics throughout the season and finally write evaluations of their initial hypotheses.

Taking advantage of students' intrinsic motivation regarding football can lead to an easy-to-promote interdisciplinary, higher-order thinking extravaganza.


Math Night

By hosting a learning night in the early fall, schools can get a jump start on developing good relationships with families while easing students' tension about challenging subject areas.  If you are helping to plan a learning night, check out my article for eHow-Tips on Having a Successful Middle School Math Night.  Once you have the event mapped out, find bunches of activity ideas and materials provided by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Find even more entertaining math ideas in Librarianism Chronicles-Math.


Rodeo Reading, Writing, and Crafts

It's rodeo season in my area.  It's the time of year when even urban Texans break out boots and bolos to celebrate our cowboy roots (or pretend we have any).  It's also a great time to explore western fiction and cowboy culture with students.

Get started by reading a few stories aloud.  With my little listeners, I began with The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires.  This story adds a cowboy twist to a familiar tale.  Students love being able to predict what will happen next in a book they've never read.  Then we read Jan Brett's Armadillo Rodeo in which a curious little armadillo wanders away from his mother into a rodeo full of exciting new sights and adventures.

After the read-aloud, let students brainstorm and recall what cowboys and cowgirls wear and do.
Then challenge students to explore their inner-mavericks by writing about what they would do or how they would dress if they were cowboys and cowgirls.

Make a math connection by showing students how cowboy outfits include symmetry.
Get this fantastic cowboy symmetry printable courtesy of author Loreen Leedy.  The download comes with a blackline activity as well as tips for teaching students about symmetry.

Our rodeo season begins just as Texas' state wildflower is beginning to bloom.  Students can practice fine motor skills by making paper bluebonnets.
For each flower, students need one wooden skewer, 2 green die cuts of the letter "O", 6-8 blue die cut "O"s, and a couple of Styrofoam packing peanuts.  I didn't have to ask many people before I found someone willing to donate packing peanuts they had lying around at home.
  1. Poke the skewer through one of the green "O"s on its long side.  Then poke through the other long side.  Now you have an "O" folded in half without being creased in the middle.
  2. Add the second green "O".  Then add all of the blue "O"s in the same manner.
  3. Poke the skewer through one packing peanut and into another.
  4. Spread the blue and green ovals out as necessary to make the flower look fluffy and full.
Older students can make these on their own, but remind them to be very careful with the pointed ends of the skewers.  With young children, you may want to include a piece of craft foam in your supplies.  Lay the foam on the table, so little hands can poke the skewer down through the paper toward the tabletop without scratching the table.
 When everyone is finished, you can group the flowers together to make a beautiful display.


Thanksgiving Day Parade

Felix the Cat was one of the parade's first balloons in 1927 (Forbes)
 One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  This annual festivity makes an excellent theme for learning as Thanksgiving (and Thanksgiving break) draw near.

For starters, there are several great books about the parade that are fun to share with students.
Milly and the Macy's Parade is a picture book by Shana Corey and Brett Helquist about the origins of Macy's annual parade.  The story isn't exactly true to history, but the book conveys that Macy's began the parade to cheer up the New York department store's many immigrant employees and shoppers who often felt homesick for Old World traditions (like parades and caroling) during the holiday season.  This heartwarming book makes a great introduction to conversations about immigration and cultural diffusion.

Students can visit the official Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade website to view real photos and facts from the parade's past, which they can use to create a timeline.

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade, by Melissa Sweet, is another story about the parade's history.  This book focuses on puppeteer Tony Sarg without whom the parade would not be the fantastical tradition it has become.  This Caldecott honor recipient was just named as one of the titles on the 2013-14 Texas Bluebonnet Reading List.

Macy's on Parade is a non-fiction book in pop-up format that includes interactive features like a pull-out parade map and confetti for the reader to throw.  This book is a fun way to bring a little of the parade experience to far-flung revelers.

After reading these stories, students can dream up balloons and floats for their favorite book characters.  Miniature 3D parade floats can be made using shoe boxes.  Another idea is to create Christmas ornaments inspired by parade floats.  Author Melissa Sweet demonstrated how to make parade ornaments using Styrofoam balls.
 Visit Martha Stewart's site to see the tutorial video.  Meanwhile, teachers can use the theme to create a book display like this one from Andrea Elson.

For a little math practice, students can analyze this parade graphic from Nielsen, which shows viewership trends over the past couple of decades.

Students will also enjoy watching the History Channel's behind-the-scenes look at how the floats are made, which could springboard a science discussion about why helium makes balloons float.


Pi Day

Tomorrow, March 14th, will be Pi Day, a day for celebrating the number 3.14.  The number called Pi has been used for thousands of years in order to measure circles.  Read Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi to help students get acquainted with the number.

Learn more about the history of Pi from Exploratorium.  Also check out their page of hands-on activities to help students understand the value of Pi.

Have fun with language connections by making pies and discussing homophones and how they can sometimes cause confusion.  Decorate your pies with these clever printable tags from Don't Eat the Paste.

*Edited to add, we decided to celebrate Pi Day with a Soda Cracker Pie, which is a surprisingly yummy treat made of saltines, egg whites, and nuts.
 It's a weird combination that turns out delicious.  Since the ingredients are so cheap, my husband called it Poverty Pie.  For at least a hundred years, in times when resources or money have been scarce, crackers have been a secret ingredient in pies.  Settlers of the American West, who wished for apple pie but had no apples, made Mock Apple Pie with crackers and lemon juice.  During the Depression, a handful of nuts became an entire pecan pie when supplemented with soda crackers.  You can make your own Poverty Pie and then discuss how necessity is the mother of invention.


Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was one of my earliest heroes.  His catchy rhymes and colorful, creative illustrations are captivating for early readers (and experienced ones too).  His birthday was March 2nd, and in celebration, kids across the U.S. will celebrate Read Across America Day.  At my school, and those of many other Seuss-loving librarians, we will take a whole week to enjoy Dr. Seuss' contributions to children's literature.  Let your students in on the fun with these Seuss-sational resources.

The best way to get to know Dr. Seuss is to dive right into one of his well-loved books like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

Right away, students become engaged by and pleased with the funny, rhyming text.  This book lends itself well to many fun math connections.
Coffee Cups and Crayons
 Using a package of multicolored fish crackers, which resemble this title's namesake characters, students can practice estimating, sorting, pattern-making, graphing, and calculating fractions and percents.  That range of objectives makes this math connection easy to adapt for different ages.

Or, read Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?, which little listeners can't get enough of.
 This fun story is jammed full of onomatopoeia that younger students can't resist emulating.  After reading, let students practice making the sounds themselves, then matching the sounds with the words or matching sounds with the animal or item that makes it.

In keeping with the birthday theme, share Happy Birthday to You!, which describes an elaborately imaginative birthday celebration.
After the story, students can act out a Seuss Birthday readers' theatre.  This script for three readers is free from School Library Media Activities.
Once your students are invested in Dr. Seuss' books, introduce them to the man behind the stories through Scholastic's short biographical video.

Then let students take a virtual trip to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial in Springfield, Massachusetts where they can see bronze sculptures of Geisel and many of his famous characters.

For even more fun, dress up like Dr. Seuss' characters.  We are dressing up all week long, with a book theme for every day.  Today our theme was The Cat in the Hat, in which the trouble-making cat is accompanied by blue-haired twin accomplices, Thing One and Thing Two.

The Lorax, which has a movie adaptation debuting later this week, is the perfect inspiration for an eye-catching display.
 In the story, the Lorax tries to protect the beloved truffula trees, which can easily be recreated using tissue-paper pom-poms.  This version is made with paper, but you can also make them with three-dimensional stems, like Mrs. Lodge's Library, using foam tubing from the hardware store.

The pom poms can also be used to make a Thing One and Thing Two display.  These guys greeted our students as they came into school this morning.


Chinese New Year

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year.  If you're hoping to explore the lunar calendar beginning with students, read on for links and ideas to make the day a success.

Start by learning about Chinese New Year traditions through a holiday read-aloud of D Is for Dragon Dance by Ying Chang Compestine.  This story follows a boy and girl as they prepare for Chinese New Year, introducing symbols and traditions in an alphabetical list.

Introduce the Chinese Zodiac with a beautiful printable from Jan Brett.
Let students use the chart to figure out which animal will be associated with this year.  Then let them find which animal is associated with their birth years.  Challenge students to find patterns in the chart, such as how many years will pass before one of the animals is repeated.

Finally, allow students to make their own paper dragons using a template from Kaboose and a piece of crepe paper streamer.  Just decorate the dragon face,
cut out the masterpiece,
and attach the tail.
We used a stapler, so there was no waiting for the glue to dry.

Find out more about Chinese New Year history and traditions at A China Family Adventure.