Sunday, January 17, 2010

Epcot Lapbook

In my house, we are a little Mickey crazy!:) I grew up in Florida and although my parents did not have much money, I went to Disney with my summer daycare just about every summer. Of course, I think it was a lot cheaper back in those days. My last summer was the first year that Epcot was open, and I really did not like it. It was too educational for my young tastes!:) I have never been back to Epcot.

Now that I am a parent and we are looking at going to Disney, I really want to see Epcot again. I know that a lot has changed of the last twenty-five years and I want to see it all! Of course, I cannot miss and opportunity to hijack a vacation with a little education!:) I create a very basic lap book to proceed our visit to Epcot.

Since we are focusing on World Geography at our co-op. I decided to focus on that aspect of Epcot. I looked at the Disney web site and read through each country description of the World Showcase. I tried to highlight some of the aspects of each country that I could investigate with the kids before we arrive. My hope is that by familiarizing the kids with these things ahead of time, they will recognize them when we are in Epcot and the experience will be more educationally meaningful for them. If they can see past Mickey's big ears!:)

Here is the original post that I did on my Walt Disney World Lap book that we did last year. It has a lot more of the basics for Disney. I also have a number of great links for information about Disney World. Also, Crayola has a great site for coloring pages. That is where I copied off the country pages for this lapbook.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Aquarium Lapbook

My kids love the Aquarium! They could sit and stare at those fish all day long. I really enjoy watching the fish in the Ocean Explorer exhibit the most. It seems so peaceful to watch those giants swim slowly by you. You see the beauty in their design.

We are going to the Aquarium in a few weeks and traditionally we just go and look at the fish and then go home. This year I really wanted to suck the educational life out of our trip!:) So, I create a lap book to go with the different exhibits at the Aquarium. The Aquarium website was a wealth of information as I set out to design the lap book. I settled on creating a double page spread with the exhibit habitat as the background. Then I created mini books featuring some of the animals that the Aquarium has located in this specific habitat.

As far as information for the filling in of the mini books, I have thought of several options for completing that portion. First, I created inserts that can be cut and pasted into the books for younger children. Secondly, I thought that you could use those same pieces to create a type of matching game after your Aquarium visit. Lastly, I thought that we could bring the unfinished lap book along on the trip and the kids could go on a scavenger hunt for these animals and then when they have found them, fill in the books with their observations of the animals. I believe that any of these options could be fun for them and a learning experience. Perhaps you could chose the option that best fits their ability level.

I feel that to optimize the educational opportunities that a field trip can bring you need to give your students background information that they can use as a "hanger", so to speak, for the new knowledge that they will gain during the trip. It is a thrill to see their little faces light up when they discover something during the trip that they have learned at home. They look at you as if to say "it really is true!" You could use books, movies, or Internet sites to provide this background "hanger" for them.

Here are a few that I suggest:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Vocabulary Mini Office

To be honest, I struggle with the concept of teaching vocabulary. Some teachers feel that teaching traditional vocabulary lessons are the way to improve a child's spoken or reading vocabulary, and others believe that simply reading good books will provide this improvement to the child's word base. I have used both approaches and see the advantages to both. I believe that traditional vocabulary lessons may not provide the crossover knowledge that we desire, but it does provide other areas of learning. These lessons help train the child in alphabetizing, dictionary skills, and discernment. I feel that all of these are important skills for children. After much back and forth, I have decided to create a Vocabulary Mini Office for my children using the Four Fold Vocabulary Method. I found this method and a wealth of others at this site: .

The idea behind the Four Fold Method is that the student folds their papers into rows of four sections each. In the first section, the student writes the word. In the second section, the student writes a definition of the word in their own words. In the third section, the student draws a picture or symbol to represent the word. In the final section, the student writes a sentence with the word based on their definition.

After completing this, I have my kids place the sections into pockets in their mini office. They must review the cards daily as part of their vocabulary study. Eventually, I would like for them to cut apart the sections and play a matching game.

My children actually think this is a fun activity!:) I even let them decorate the outside of their office.

I found a few good sites while on my quest for direction in the realm of vocabulary and I hope they prove helpful: id=12912&external= of the Day /

Monday, January 4, 2010

World Geography

Our co-op has decided to do a World Geography class this semester. Personally, I love learning about new places and am very excited about this class. It is my hope that the kids will find it interesting and fun. Here is a sample of the lessons that we will be doing:

Central and South America
1. Welcome to Central and South America! How long do you think it would take to get to one of these countries by plane? By car? By foot?
2. What do we already know about this area of the world? Teacher should list students’ comments on the board as they offer them.
a. Language
b. Religion
c. Politics
d. Food
e. Education
f. Traditions
3. Let’s see if we can learn new things about our neighbors! Pass out the outline map of Central and South America. Have students fill in the country names and color each country a different color. Point out interesting countries and facts about them as you discuss. For example: Panama/Panama Canal, Ecuador/Galapagos Island, and Brazil/Amazon River.
-Have the students make a special color for these areas on their map.
4. Are there any interesting land forms in this area of our world that make it interesting? South America has some of the highest mountains (outside of Asia) in the world: Consult It also has some of the longest rivers in the world: Consult . They also are home to some of the rain forests of the world: Consult .
Central (Mesoamerica) and South America
1. Angel Falls- highest free flowing waterfalls in the world
2. Atacama Desert- one of the driest deserts on Earth
3. Amazon River Delta- largest Aquifer in the world
4. Amazon Rain Forest- provides largest amount of timber and medicinal plants
5. Chile- largest producer of fruits and vegetables to North, South and Mesoamerica
6. Tierra del Fuego- most southern tip of South America in Argentina, closest land to Antarctica
7. Patagonia- sparsely vegetated plains in southern portion of South America in Chile and Argentina
8. Andes Mountains- highest mountain range in western hemisphere, site of the 1972 plane crash with Rugby team, longest exposed mountain range in world.
9. Panama Canal- Completed by United States and Panamanian Government in 1914, it saves over 18,000 miles by water to go from New York to California.
10. Called Latin America because all of the non-native, spoken languages are derived from Latin. Calling someone Hispanic is actually not appropriate because to be Hispanic you must come from the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic). There are several different dialects of Spanish spoken in Central and South America and a Spanish speaker from Chile or Argentina would have a very difficult time communicating with a Spanish speaker from Cuba.

5. Have the students create a map key with distinctions for each of these and illustrate them on their map as well.
6. Let’s take a look at another important part of Geography- “Human Movement” (Natural Resources). Where do the products we use originate? Invite students to collect labels from foods, clothing, toys, and other products they use. Where do those products come from? What percentages of those products are made in your state? Your country? Other continents? Are we dependent on products from all around the world? Talk about how products made outside your community might get there. Now that we have an idea of what Central and South America looks like, let’s see what natural resources they have to offer.
a. Central America has natural resources of copper, gold, silver, and zinc.
b. South America has natural resources of coffee beans, cocoa beans, bananas, timber, rubber, gold, bauxite, spices, and salt.
7. Have students incorporate their maps and a list of natural resources into their travel guide for Central and South America.

After this introduction to the Continent, we will then discuss the culture of the region and focus on a holiday from this area while comparing it to the US. For example, while we are studying Central and South America we will look at the Carnival celebration in Brazil and how does that compare to the US celebration of Lent. As a follow up to the culture discussion, we will have the students create a craft from this area of the world. For Central and South America we will create maracas!

As a culmination of the area study of Central and South America, we will ask each student to bring in a dish native to this area and the class will participate in a International Food Court. I think that the kids will love this! After the kids dig in, we will have a guest speaker from this region discuss their culture and homeland with the kids. I am blessed to have great friends from the three regions that we will be learning about (Africa, Central and South America, and Asia) that will be our speakers! I am very excited to hear what they have to share.

I always want my children to have something tangible to bring home from their classes and this is no different. I have created a Travel Guide for the students to create in conjunction with what they are learning in class. I have uploaded the file to HS Launch for others to download. I am hoping that the kids will enjoy choosing pictures from the region to included in their guide and sharing them with their class.

While doing my research for this curriculum, I have come across a few great geography sites that might be helpful if you are studying this subject.

Okay- so it is a lot of web sites!:0) I do not know when to stop!

I hope that you enjoy your study!