World Geography and Cultures Celebration

Once again our World Geography and Cultures Food Festivities to wrap up our Immigration and World Geography unit was a smash hit!  Parents came in to celebrate, and the kids brought in foods from either their own cultural background or one that they admire.  After all their hard work learning to read maps, reading and writing about historical waves of immigration, and finishing their tests, it was a perfect way to wrap up.

Highlights from our World Geography and Cultures Food Festivities

Some of the foods we enjoyed include:
  • Chicken curry and naan from India
  • Hummus and pita from Egypt
  • Kielbasa and Latkes from Poland
  • Lemon soup from Greece
  • Salsa and corn chips from Mexico
  • Scallion pancakes from China
  • Soup and cake from Albania
  • Sushi and seaweed from Japan
  • Tea from England
  • Ziti, meatballs, lasagna, cookies, gnocchi and cannolis from Italy
We didn't just eat; we also played games that went along with the world geography theme.  Prior to the celebration, the kids each drew at least one country's flag.  Then today, kids formed teams to enter our "Name that Flag" competition.  Parents joined in to help out, and had the opportunity to ask their children which flag(s) they drew.

World Geography and Cultures Celebration World Geography and Cultures Name that Flag Competition

And what is a party without music?  For our entertainment we used our new computer speakers to enjoy this amazing video to get kids excited about world maps! 

We replayed both of these videos of the countries at our World Geography Cultural Party:

Even though when I was a kid, I loved watching Yakko of Animaniacs fame sing the countries., the above countries video from Marbles the Brain Store sounds a lot more current than the Animaniacs version and the kids were memorized the first time they saw it (and had fun trying to sing along when we replayed it). you have any countries videos you use with your class (either YouTube or DVDs)?  I'm linking up with a bunch of my other teacher blogging buddies through Educents.  

 If you'd like to link up your own teaching movie post, head over to Primary Inspired. and check out my immigration unit on Teachers Pay Teachers.  It includes materials for the flag activity, invitations to your own World Geography and Cultures Celebration, and worksheets including maps of travel routes.
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Preparing for Our U.S. Geography Unit

With our previous Social Studies unit winding down, it's time to start looking ahead to our next unit on the Northeast Region.  They're already had a taste of U.S. Geography back in November, when Neil Nichols of the Geography Game Show came in to wow them with his talk/mural drawing:

Yes, he drew the whole United States from memory while giving us tricks to remember dates and landmarks!

And to keep their interest piqued I showed them this amazing video from Marbles the Brain Store:

When I was a kid, I thought the Animaniacs singing the states and capitals was the BEST.  This one is like that, just a little bit more "current." And the kids beg me to play it every week during our computer lab time.  Just today when they were getting ratty with each other (they need to get back to outdoor recess FAST) I interrupted another one of their hissy fits arguments with, "Hey, want to hear a song from our blog?  We can use those new speakers."  They dropped everything and asked, "Can we do the states and capitals?" 

Before I knew it they were happy, dancing, and singing along.  Woo!

In order to prepare myself for the kickoff to our unit, I'll be updating my old concept maps.  I love them for organizing information for a big content area concept.  I also hope to show you our first project by then.  It's a fairly quick pre-reading activity, but it makes a big impact because we leave it up and build on in for the rest of the year.

If you'd like a preview of the activities I'll be writing about, check out my bundle of all 5 regions units.  It's full of activities and research tools.  Enjoy! 
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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  I want to share how I rang in the new year with my fourth graders because this was a new activity for me!

Aren't they cute?  And the content is even better.  This product was created by one of my teacher-blogger buddies over at All Things Upper Elementary, Mr. Hughes.  I saw it just a little too late for January 2013, but it struck such a chord with me that I went back to look for it this past December because I knew this was the New Year's project I wanted to try. 

I've always done goal setting with my fourth graders (and before that, my third graders).  I know resolutions don't usually carry on past January, but I think it is SO important to get kids even as young as upper elementary to be thinking about what they want and setting goals to achieve it.  The fact that this project has a big visual impact as an end result, and has what I consider to be a good balance between writing and art is what made me choose it over other formats I've done in the past. 

The panels behind each of the digits in the year have students:
  • Reflect on 2 great things that happened last year.  I've neglected to do this with my students in the past; I loved this part of the project as a warm up to the goal setting.  I had a student write "I got my kitten in 2013," and another write, "My uncle came home from Afghanistan."  Sweet memories to share in class!
  • Choose one thing you will STOP doing.  I thought this was a clever twist on the goal setting.  Although as teachers we try to form our rules as positive and replace bad behaviors with good ones, this doesn't always come naturally.  For a 10 year old, deciding to end a bad habit will often come more naturally and feel easier to work on.  I had one student write, "Stop talking back."  I am on board with that one!
  • Think of one thing you wish for 2013.  I joked with them, "Don't write a greedy wish!"  They laughed and got the picture.  One student wished for world peace.
  • Write 3 goals.  If you want a laugh, here's a link to one of my former fourth grader's goals a couple years ago!
The kids were excited about this project the minute they walked in on Monday and saw the sample I made hanging above the Morning Work board.  I have a very driven class this year so they took it seriously, both in content and decor!    

You can see Mr. Hughes write about his mobile here and you can even download it free on TPT.  He updated it for 2014 and hinted at plans for next year as well!  So if you like it, go grab it.

In other news: more on this past month.  If you've been following my blog over the past year, you'll know I had two blogging goals for the year. 
  • My first goal was to blog every Wednesday.  I didn't meet my goal every single Wednesday, but I could probably count on one hand the number of Wednesdays I missed up until December.  So not too bad!
  • My second goal was to write quality posts.  I find that the teacher blogs I love reading are the ones that get me thinking about positive changes I can make in my own classroom.  And over this holiday break, I needed to recharge my batteries and shift my priorities a bit.  I think by doing so I maintained the integrity of this blog, so I don't regret pursuing goal #1 up there.
That being said, I do feel that those two goals are worth maintaining for 2014.  I feel like blogging once per week is a comfortable pace when balancing family, full time teaching, my classroom blog, my product creation process, and a few TV shows per week, haha.  Yet having a consistent schedule is hopefully helpful for all of you who follow my posts here.  So Wednesdays it is!

So besides family time, what exactly was I up to over the past month?  I'm glad you asked!
  • I read for pleasure.  Not for teaching, just for me.  After enjoying Hunger Games a lot more than I thought I would I went with the next book on all the "if you like" lists...the Divergent series.  And I have to say, those reading lists were SPOT ON.  Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant blew my mind.  It moved so fast, it was action packed, but it also made me think in terms of sociology, psychology, and genetics.  Loved it.
  • I completed 12 new packets for Mentor Sentences.  That's right, 112 pages of CCSS aligned practice for my fourth graders.  :D  I started working on it since the summer, however it underwent several incarnations:*First, I needed a separate version for my team, because the order Journeys covers grammar is a spiral, as opposed to distinct units.  In order to make it useful to anyone not using the Journeys program I reorganized it by categories for my TPT store. 
*The other reason it took so long is I wanted to make sure it was something that could be used not just as practice for students, but also as a reference guide.  I don't know about other series, but we don't have grammar books anymore.  That's why I added an element that students could glue into a notebook to refer back to all year. 
The Mentor Sentences range in price from $1 to $3 depending on the number of pages devoted to each topic including:
There are a few freebies in the mix as well!  The three thumbnails pictures will bring you to those freebies.  Enjoy! 

So although I have neglected this blog, I've been very busy working on some original teaching materials!  I have a few other surprises in store as well, so I hope you'll stop back on Wednesday as I get back to my regular posting schedule.  

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