Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back to School FUN with Chrysanthemum!

I have to say, I LOVE my class! Such a bunch of cuties!

The first week is always such jumble of excitement, nerves and anticipation -- and that's just for me! I can only imagine how my kiddos and their parents feel knowing that they are headed off to start a new year.

I like to open the year with a few activities to get us focused on learning about each other. Here are some of the things we did on the first day of school!

If you haven't read this picture book, find a copy!  It has a great message about learning to embrace our individuality. Love it!

I read it to my kids on the first day of school, and talk about how Chrysanthemum felt when she was teased for having a unique name. Of course, that leads to all sorts of discussions about bullying, being kind, etc.

I found a great suggestion a few years ago for a lesson that incorporates retelling the events of the story and brings in the theme of treating each other with kindness.

  • Prior to the lesson, I draw a poster size version of the main character. 
  • After reading the story, I have the kids retell it to me. 
  • As they retell, I crumple the poster (the kids are horrified) each time they mention teasing. 
  • When they get to the part about the kids saying nice things to her, I try to smooth it out -- of course that doesn't work, and I'm left with with a wrinkled, torn mess. 
  • That leads to a discussion about how cruel words don't just go away with "I'm sorry." They leave a lasting mark. 
  • I post the wrinkled picture in my classroom as a reminder to be kind.

I follow up this lesson with name games. So much fun, and it sure helps this teacher to learn names!

  • Matching names to photos. We add these to the word wall.
  • Name puzzles 
    • I scramble the letters of their names. They cut out the letters and put them in order.
    • Using the same letters, they make new words out of their name letters.
  • Decorating name tags (written on large pieces of tag board) with beads, sequins, etc. Later in the week, they make face plates (with yarn for the hair, scraps of material for the lips, etc.). We match the name tags and face plates.
  • Name Graphs - the kids participate in answering questions such as, 
    • How many letters are in your name?
    • How many syllables are in your name?
    • How many vowels are in your name?
Finally, one of my favorite activities of the week is learning the Name Stories of my kids.

  • I send home a letter to parents asking them to share the story of their children's name (how did they choose the name, why is it perfect for the child). 
  • We spend the week reading their name stories -- the kids just beam when they hear their name story.  

There are some great resources to go along with Chrysanthemum.

  • There's a great story mapping sheet from "travel teach and love" on Teachers Pay Teachers. 
  • Amanda Peavy offers Chrysanthemum Name Activities, also on Teachers Pay Teachers. 
  • Kelly Hallahan has Name Activity to download.  
  • Of course, I love Kevin Henkes' website.  He offers a host of connected activities to go along with many of his his books.
Have fun and Happy Teaching!

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