Prior to introducing the four selected books, I did a teacher's read aloud of The Grouchy Ladybug, by Eric Carle. During the Self Selected Block, which follows my Math lesson, I read the entire story. We had been learning about time, so this was the lead in. After we read the book, we discussed the ladybug and why she was so grouchy. We talked a bit about the lesson she, and hopefully they, learned. Later in the writing block, the children were given the opportunity to make a book patterned after this story. There are directions in the book Invitations, by Reggie Routman, for folding paper to achieve the same effect as in Carle's book. On each page, I stamped a clock face. They drew the hands and wrote about what happened at that time. These came out real nice.
The next day, during the Guided Reading block, I read aloud the book A Ladybug's Life. Before we read, I started a K-W-L chart and we listed everything we knew about ladybugs. We then listed what we wanted to learn. As we developed the chart, I told the children that they would be making a K-W-L in their groups when they started the research project. I then read the book aloud, and we discussed. After reading, we filled in the facts we learned on our chart.
The next day, during our Guided Reading block, I posted a chart telling the children what insect they would be studying. We reviewed our K-W-L chart from the day before, discussing what each column was for. I then gave the children a large piece of chart paper, one for each group. They were sent off to begin their K-W-L charts. When they had at least 5 good questions, they were allowed to begin reading. I had placed a post it in each book to show them where to stop reading - about 5 pages. After reading, each group presented what they knew about their insect, and what they wanted to learn.
When we next met, we focused on comprehending what was read. Before reading, we played RIVET with words that I had taken out of the books. The children were told to reread the 5 pages they had read and place post-its on any part they thought was interesting. They also could put it on any part they had trouble with. I worked with the group reading Chirping Crickets, as this is the hardest of the selections. The purpose for reading was - ERT find out an interesting fact about your insect. I modeled with a student how they should discuss the illustrations and text to be sure they were understanding. After reading, each group discussed the interesting fact they had learned about their insect.
The next time the groups met, they were given index cards. Before reading, they were told to write the 5 questions they had listed on their K-W-L, one on each card. During reading, I told them to place a post-it on any information that goes with the questions. They reread the first 5 pages, and continued through the next 4 pages. They then went back and wrote any information found on the index card of the question it related to. After reading, each group discussed how they were progressing with their reading.
During the next meeting the children were told to place their index cards in the same order. They then numbered each card ~ 1-5. After making sure that all children had the same number for each question, I gave each group a pack of postits. I told them to place a postit in their books everytime they found information that would answer one of their questions. They were told to write the number of the question on the postit in the book. Therefore, when finished they would have located the answers to each of their questions, and have little trouble relocating that information. When they had finished reading and locating information, the children began writing. They went back into the book and using the numbered postits, began writing the answers to their questions on each index card. They then completed their K-W-L charts.
The final step in this process is the writing of the research paper. The children wrote their report using their index cards. They placed the cards in the order they think would be best, and then write the draft using their cards. Most of the information needed is already on their card. We edit their writing and they publish. Each group makes a poster, on oak tag for their insect. They can include facts written on small index cards and glued on, and pictures. They can draw, or use the computer for the pictures.
The culminating activity for this project was a 4 square quilt. Each group was given a piece of unbleached muslin. We used bug shaped sponges and paint for ours. First, using fabric crayons they drew the background on drawing paper. I then ironed this onto the muslin. The children then used the sponges and stamped the insect onto the cloth. When dry, they used puff paint to write the name of their insects. I then sewed the pieces together. This was a nice connection to our math lessons on fractions, illustrating that each group had made 1/4 of the quilt.
One other thing that we did, which the children loved, was make chocolate insects using a crock pot and bug shapped candy molds. We melted the chocolate pieces in the crock pot and poured into the molds. They brought their chocolate bugs home to share with their families. I have in the past made bug shapped crayons using the same process. You just substitute all those broken crayon pieces instead of the chocolate. Works great, and lots of fun.
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