Sunday, October 19, 2014

Leaf Man

Fall is in full swing here in Virginia. The air in the mornings and nights are cooler, with a crispness to them, while the afternoons are still reasonably warm and comfortable. Leaves are beginning to turn color and some have even begun falling off the trees, creating a beautiful blanket under the trees. For most people, high school football is the main event every Friday night. I myself am very into pumpkins and pumpkin-flavored anything. Who isn't this time of year? I may even bake some pumpkin bread later this afternoon.

With all of these signs of fall, my first graders have been getting into the spirit, too. We talked and made charts about the different signs of fall. We wrote in our interactive journals and learned all about the life cycle of apples. We even visited an orchard and learned more about apples and pumpkins. Fall is everywhere!

This has gotten the kiddos super hyped about fall. During recess they (and by they, I mean mostly the girls) have been collecting leaves and acorns they find on the ground. "Nice! Beautiful! There sure are so many signs of fall around!" I have been running out of positive sayings to reply with, as my hands are filling up with the abundance of leaves being handed to me. It has gotten to be that even on the walk to the buses, my class is stopping along the way, backing up the other classes, while they are collecting nature from the ground and yelling to me about their awesome findings.

I needed an idea and something to do with all of these leaves. My students obviously like collecting things. After a lot of thinking, I remembered a kindergarten teacher I worked with a few years back. Each year she would read the story Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert and then take her students onto the playground to collect leaves. They then created "leaf men" just like the story and dictated sentences to her about where the leaf men were flying. I could do that! It was brilliant!

I adjusted the idea just a little, my students are first graders after all. First, we read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. If you don't have it already, you can find it on Amazon. It was a very cute read and my students loved it.

Leaf Man
Then, we brainstormed sentence starters for how our leaf men stories could go. We just finished a unit on maps so we know all about the cardinal directions and that definitely needed to be included. We also decided that, just like the story, our leaf men needed to fly over something. That got us started and off we went to story writing. Our brainstormed sentence starters looked like this:
Writers were able to choose if they wanted to use the word flew or blew, that's why both are there. Some wanted to write both words and it was a great teaching opportunity for how to connect them with the word and. Some of my more excited writers wanted to add on to their stories.  Our sentence starters turned into this:

I was even able to convince some of my writers to add adjectives. Learning was taking place and it was exciting. While this was happening, some of my students were struggling with copying their sentence starters from the board and with coming up with ideas of what their leaf men could fly over. I was able to step in and have them dictate to me what they wanted to write. This girly was one who was having trouble. We chatted together about what she wanted to say while I wrote it out for her. She was then able to copy from her paper at a closer view.
After the stories were written, kiddos were able to finally use their leaf collections to make a leaf man.
Once the leaf man was dry, they glued it onto a large piece of colored construction paper and added their story to the bottom. Since we are also learning about story elements, and how pictures can help us understand stories better, they added a setting to their leaf man picture. I was really proud.
 These guys are now hanging in the hallway for all to see. We've  had many compliments already.
What do you do with the things your class collects from the playground?

All the best!

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