Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's A Wrap!

Hello Kinder Friends,
I promised that I would share our experiences as we wrap up our unit study on Black History. There is so much to say and share that I apologize in advance for the length of the post. It's been busy and fun as we prepared for our program and our classroom has been buzzing with visitors.
Although we celebrate Black History in February we actually begin in our classroom in the beginning of the year by reading How Full Is Your Bucket. I use this book to help build a community within the classroom. I have used other books in the past but right now this is a favorite because there are so many activities you can do with it and it really can be used all year long. This book has helped me jump start many discussions about how we get along and treat each other and then we move in to discussions about the similarities and differences that we as a group share.
Before we learn about each other we spend a lot of time learning about ourselves and our feelings. Starting with a deeper understanding of ourselves helps us to be able to understand each other because we discover that we are alike and we are different in many ways. I use the book Grump Groan Growl to start these discussions.
To some people it just looks like we are playing around with art and having fun but to us we understand that we are learning about ourselves. Over the years I have heard a lot of teachers say they do not have time for this kind of "art" but this "art" is just the vehicle to teach essentially the foundation of Social Studies for our Kindergarten year. All in all, this is much more than just simply art. There are a million other books that can be substituted but I happen to love this book because it helps us understand the we all have feelings and we learn that there are ways we can deal with those feelings too. See...not just art.

In case you missed your free copy of the poem above just click on the image above to take you to the download.
A class favorite this year as we learn that it takes all of us to complete the picture.
Throughout the year we do several projects as we learning about "us" and we use these multicultural products. I usually buy these products from Lakeshore Learning. You could save a little money buy mixing your own people colors but in my class I have found that I prefer for the colors to be consistent so I buy instead of mix.
Instead of the people shapes above, you could use the people paper and trace your own people shapes and save a little money. Also people colored crayons are pretty darn good too!
By the time we reach the point of learning about Black History we are all very familiar with the similarities and differences that we as a group share. We discuss, compare and contrast those similarities and differences each time we do a project. These are the real colors of us.
People may call us Black or White but we know that is not a true description of any of us. Our picture shows what we believe and these are the true colors of us. As part of our How Full Is Your Bucket activity early in the year we set goals. We take a picture of our hands showing we are all "in it" together. Later in the year we view the picture and see that these are The Colors of Us.
To extend what we have read on the book we make a predictable chart. Hmm...text to self connections here, imagine that!
As we moved closer into our study of Black History we learned about the many people who contributed to the history of this celebration. My class seemed to be drawn to Martin Luther King Jr, Maya Angelou and Rosa Parks. As part of our contribution to our school wide participation in this event we were asked to enter a coloring contest. I have noticed that over the years the children did not particularly care for this activity because it was simply coloring a picture and competing against each other to see who would win. Some kids would not even try because they could see that so and so colored better than they did and they felt that they had no chance at all to win.
This year I decided on another approach. I allowed the children to pick which person they wanted to focus on. I allowed them to pick from different materials to represent their work. I also allowed them several copies and attempts because sometimes they were not satisfied with their first attempt with new materials. This gave me a chance to tie in some true art objectives as we evaluated our work and the work of others. As we spread out all of our work and viewed it, one of the children noticed that as a collection our work looked better than each one of the works individually. It was in that moment that we all decided to make a mural. Considering I really couldn't disagree I decided to just go with it. I had to explain that the contest was for an individual artwork and we might not be considered if we enter a group project. The kids told me they wanted a mural so a mural it was. We did not win. And when it was all said and done, not one single child even mentioned that.
This was a great new addition this year. We all can say peace but maybe we say it in a different way and then again maybe some of us can say it two ways!

For our participation in the school program we pay tribute to Rosa Parks. We perform a skit together as we continue learning and celebrating Black History.
This is our stage prop that helps us deliver the message and story of Rosa Parks. As we were practicing in class some real leaders were emerging. And as we were nailing down some of the hand motions, my right hand man, Diego suggested that we needed a program "conductor".
Here he is cool as a cucumber right before his debut. Lots of people came and heard our message. Diego was a great program director. Our props looked good and as a whole we looked united. We were proud. We did a good job. Most important... the morning of the program, as we were discussing the day, the children knew WHY we were doing what we were doing.

I have loved participating in the Black History program at my school each and every year. As an annual tradition, I have always brought Banana Pudding. This recipe has taught me that food really can bring people together. I have never made this recipe without thinking of all the wonderful memories I have had in my class as we have learned about diversity and each other. No matter how many times I have explained that this recipe is really not "mine" it is always referred to as my recipe for banana pudding. I pinned it so there is no mistake. It came from Paula Deen. I love Paula and I love her Black History program pudding. I was able to sneak some banana pudding into my class this year so that the kids could get a taste. We had a good time eating pudding and talking about our program. I was so proud. I am still proud. I will always be proud...they remembered why.

Thank you for taking the time to learn... The Colors of Us!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had an amazing impact on your students through these lessons!!

Busy Bees said...

Love all of your ideas. I am the marker queen, so I am going to have to get me some of those markers!!

Lori said...

So many great ideas! Thank you for sharing all of them.
Conversations in Literacy

Sandra Maddox said...

How wonderful! I am inspired! Thank you for sharing!

Jeannie Partin said...

What a fantastic unit! And I love the recipe too - I've made and it is always a hit! Love some Paula Deen :0)

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S. Parker said...

I loved reading this post. I could see the collection of learning that you have shared here. Your students are so lucky to have you help them understand the why's in their learning.

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