And this is what I came up with!
1) Get the kids in seven teams of three
2) Give them a piece of butcher paper for a play backdrop
3) Give them a set on continent books on ONE particular continent
4) Tell them their assignment:
Recreate The Three Little Pigs based on your assigned continent.
-Your backdrop must reflect your understanding of habitats common to that continent.
-Your "pigs" must be animals native to that continent.
-You "big bad" must be a predator native to that continent.
-You must mention the name of the highest mountain, the longest river, the largest city or country, three animal facts about your "pig" character and one animal fact about your predator.
Shazam! Kept them busy over the last two days. Maaaaagical!
I took video, but my computer is refusing to allow me to edit it. Boo hiss. Luckily I also took pictures.
North America : The Three Little Caribou and the Big Bad Cougar
Mount McKinley, The Mississippi, and Greenland is the world's largest island
Europe: The Three Mice and the Big Bad Wolf
Mount Elbrus, The Volga River, and Moscow, Russia
Asia: The Three Little Pandas and the Big Bad Komodo Dragon
Mount Everest, The Yangtze River, and Tokyo, Japan
(looooved the blood coming from the Komodo Dragon, and they put bamboo all at the bottom of their poster, but you can't see it)
Africa: The Three Little Giraffes and the Big Bad Elephant
(they went with the bully angle instead of a predator)
Mount Kilimanjaro, The Nile river, Sudan
South America: The Three Little Parrots and the Big Bad Jaguar
Aconcagua, the Amazon River, Brazil
( poor B, he's ticked that the girls wouldn't read his script as he had "envisioned", and sweet L is ticked because B rewrote her script. Snarf)
Australia: The Three Little Koalas and the Big Bad Kangaroo
( bully vs predator decision again)
Mount Kosciuszko, The Darling River, Sydney
Antarctica: The Three Little Penguins and the Big Bad Seal
Vinson Massif, there are NO rivers in Antarctica!, McMurdo Station
What did I learn from this?
1) My kids did a pretty good job finding the information in the books using text features we had learned previously in the year. They rocked that index I tell ya!
2) They all only seem to know the version of the Three Pigs where the wolf climbs down the chimney and falls into boiling water and runs away. (Personally, I seem to enjoy the one more where somebody gets eaten. Is that bad?)
3) The Australia group had the least difficult time saying their lines, because they cut them out and pasted them to the back of their masks. Smart cookies!
4) The Africa and Australia group did a better job of putting their information into their play as they had each "pig" make a house at one of the locations they had to research. The other groups tried this technique, but it wasn't as flawless. But you know, they're newbies, so good job everybody!
5) I should do these sorts of exercises throughout the year at the end of major units of study. One, it seemed like a nice way to synthesize our information. For example, what if I did this sort of exercise at the end of our weather unit, but the three pigs had to encounter a different type of severe weather at each home, until they finally made it to the shelter and related storm safety tips? Oooo, exciting ideas here. There are three Native American groups they could encounter. There are three major inventions for both Ancient Egypt and Ancient China. Matter - solid, liquids, and gases. Economics - natural, capital and human resources. Famous American could be split into the presidents, the chicks, and the activists. Three main habitats- forest, river, and grasslands. yes! Yes! YES! I'm on to something now!
6) By doing this throughout the year, I'd have opportunities to teach small snippets of fun stuff like puppet construction, or focusing the background on a main idea, or script writing techniques. So by the end of the year, with one big culminating activity, they could put all they knew together.
7) Why the Three Pigs? Because they know it. Because it has a clear sequence of events that makes it easy to separate other bits of information into. Because it creates better group dynamics (for realz, yo!)
Ah, the wheels are turning again my friends. Why does this always happen to me at the end of a year?