May 26, 2013

It Is {Literally} a Zoo In Kindergarten!

I've seen the phrase "It's a Zoo In Kindergarten" many places in my time teaching this very special age of children.  The past two weeks have literally been a zoo in my classroom.

Let me backpedal for a minute...

This past winter, my school purchased 7 iPads for each K classroom.  Our district has an awesome technology integration vision, and by the 2014-2015 school year, each child in grades K-12 will have some sort of device at a 1:1 ratio.  To say I am grateful and excited would be the understatement of the year.

As soon as those fancy little devices entered the doors of room 100, I knew I wanted to do something BIG with them.  Sure, using them as a supplement for literacy, math, and science is engaging and cool as all get out, but I am a firm believer that effective technology integration is more about output than input {fancy for creation versus just using it for fun and games}.

My wheels began spinning.  I knew our theme list for the remainder of the year, and the lightbulb went off when I started thinking of our zoo animal unit.  This unit falls right after Mother's Day, and we typically study a variety of animals.  Every unit we do throughout the year integrates science and/or social studies with teacher-directed research.  We do bubble charts, flow maps, Venn diagrams, can/have/are charts, etc., etc., etc.  By the middle of May, my kids are experts on how to organize research.

So, we began our zoo animal unit by talking about zoo animals in general.  Our first activity was to identify common zoo animals with a labeling activity from DeeDee Wills' Writing Station Activities for May.  (Off topic--but these packets are worth EVERY PENNY!  I have all of them, and the activities have brought new life to my writing station!)

{I like to draw a larger version on chart paper and hang it in the writing work station area for my kids to use for support if they want to do this activity later during independent station time.}

On Tuesday, we made a list of our favorite animals.  The list included.... Drum roll.... Lions, zebra, alligators, monkeys, giraffes, and elephants.  I allowed each child to pick their favorite from this list, grouped them by their choice, and let the research begin.  The first order of business was to create a visual representation of each animal.  Groups got together all over the room to create these cute little boogers from Deanna Jump's Zoo Animals Literacy and Math Fun pack.  

 {Aren't these the CUTEST?!?!  I didn't get a zebra or alligator in the picture, but rest assured, they are just as cute!}

We did lots of graphic organizers from Deanna's unit, as well as some I created for them to use to guide their research.  We used the phenomenal San Diego Zoo for Kids site to find most of our information, as well as BrainPop videos, books, and videos from My Big Campus {separate post on that in the future}.

{This sweetie is researching her zoo animal on the San Diego Zoo website in computer lab.}

After a week of group work and researching, the real fun began.  Our district has a New Tech High School, which is basically a PBL high school.  The kids are required to complete community service hours, so what better way for them to earn those hours than to spend time helping my kiddos create iMovies?!?! :)

{This is the giraffe group working with their high school buddy.  They were recording voice overs here.}

I'll admit it... I was a nervous wreck tad nervous for my kids to create iMovies.  I had visions of them being totally clueless on how to work the program, and the high school students running out on Monday and never returning.  

How wrong was I?!?!  My kiddos were done with their movies by Tuesday!  We spent Wednesday tweaking the voiceovers, but other than that, they were finished!  I was amazed to say the least.  In my experience with using iMovie, the app is so kid-friendly!  If you have iPads in your classroom, get that app!

Our presentations were Friday.  Again, my kids amazed me.  They were so professional and PROUD of their work.  We had parents, administrators, other classrooms, and our high school buddies come to watch our videos.  It was most definitely a proud teacher moment.

{The zebra group ROCKED their presentation!  One little sweetie even dressed the part. :)}

{This is my class with their high school buddies.  Yes, they were being silly.  This teacher was breathing so many sighs of relief over our huge project being done that I was totally fine with that.}

So, there you have it.  Our huge end of the year project is in the books!  I am already excited to do this next year with my next group of kids!

This week will definitely be bittersweet.  I cannot believe it's almost over.  Graduation is next Monday, and there is so much to do!  Check back next week for Lego Robotics presentations {We will be guinea pigs for a group of 4th and 5th graders presenting at the State Fair this summer!}, Field Day Fun, Walk-a-Thon, and Fun in the Sun party!

My new social media obsession is Instagram!  Follow me @iheartkindergarten for the latest on what's going on in Room 100!

You can also find me on Facebook:  Mrs. Banister's Kindergarten Kids, and Twitter @kindergartenvf.

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