Saturday, June 8, 2013

Trying out some continent research - and a giveaway

So first off- there is a giveaway going on at A Tale of Two K Teachers.  They are celebrating 200 TpT followers, but their blog is new new new!  So plenty of fun to be had.  They have three different rafflecopters going with 48 total prizes.  And The Meek Moose is in there too- winner's choice! Head on over there and try your luck!

A Tale of Two K Teachers

I haven't really decided yet how to handle combining the products my sister and I have been making for TpT and how I blog about what's happening in my classroom.  Personally, I do not like reading people's blogs that are only about their products.  I'm reading blogs to get teaching ideas, not really for shopping.  But I don't mind the occasional mention of a product and how that teacher used it.  So I'm going to attempt to balance the two.  I'm sure someone will tell me if I don't.

In second grade the kids have to learn the seven continents and the five big oceans.  Locations only really.  They attempt to link it to also having to know which continents Egypt and China and the United States are on in relation to the ancient cultures we also teach- but I would have to say that connection is a tad flimsy.  I was looking for a way to make this more meaty. 

End of the year.  I know.  But it's a great opportunity to use my little kittens as guinea pigs.  So I made up this booklet using clipart my sister made of an Armadillo traveling the world.  And of course, I couldn't decide how I wanted the booklet to look.  So I ended up making two versions.  And then I started thinking about my kids handwriting - whether it be beautiful or hideous not yet matured.  So then I made the two booklets with two different types of lines.

In the booklets are the two songs we sing to teach continents and oceans.  The continent song, I do not know who to give credit to, as it's a song I heard a third grade teacher sing six or seven years ago at my old school, and she'd been singing it for awhile, so I don't know if she made it up or not.  But just in case, her name was Allyson Willis, and it's my understanding that she is now a fantastic principal in the nether parts of great VA.
So the kids learn the location of the continents by touching each one in order as they sing.  there are also body movements: You lift your left arm up as you look at North America, do a soccer ball head butt for Europe, lift your right arm up for Asia, put your hands on your hips and shake for Africa, kick out your left leg for South America, kick out your right leg for Australia, and then waddle like a penguin for Antarctica.  The kids sing this song all year long.  INGRAINED IN MEMORY.  Do they know what continent they live on though?  *sigh* No, kittens.  No.

The song for the five big oceans is from Flamingo Fabulous herself. Ok, the verse.  She apparently had a song for the continents to this tune, and then added on the verse for the oceans.  GENIUS.  She even sent herself singing the song to me in a voice memo text message which I had no idea was even possible, so now she's even smarter.  But I am not allowed to post that.  So here's just the words.

What is the deal with the Southern Ocean anyway?  I mean seriously?  Let's just decide this part of the ocean that's always been part of every other ocean is a brand new ocean and make all the kids learn it?  And make all the teachers learn it for that matter?  It's like how they messed with Pluto.  And now, come to think of it- whatever happened to "the seven seas"?  Isn't that a thing?  Or is that just all those Sinbad movies I watched as a kid?

And there I am again, tangent.  Back on track, back on track, chug-a-chug-chug.

Basically, these two songs cover what my second graders really need to grasp.  But, I mean, why stop there?  I'm at an IBPYP school- we need to get global with this baby!  Enter booklet.

I tried this out Friday afternoon.  We'd had a crazy whirl-wind like afternoon with our animal measurement fair, and I decided to do something more...sitty and on the quiet-mchush-hush side.
Huge bonus- I discovered that our library actually has some seriously really cool books on all the continents.  Not so much of a bonus- I always seem to wait until the end of the year to find out these sorts of things and the librarians had already inventoried that section- but the let me check them out anyway.  Bless them.

Some of the booklets I gave out on purpose to certain kids- like the ones who really need those handwriting guides.  I did let them choose between the folded booklet and the landscape version though.  And then let the rest have the same decision.  Turns out- they were evenly split on preference.  I thought one would win over the other, but nope- some kids like small booklets, and some kids prefer the booklet to cover their whole desk.

We ended up handling this a little like scoot- but it was only the books that scooted.  Partners had one book about a specific continent, had to turn to the page in the booklet related to that continent and look for a fact to write down.  The first time I just said "find any interesting fact".  Some kids just turned to the first page and wrote the first thing down- others didn't do well with the freedom and just couldn't find anything in the entire book worth writing.

On the second go, I gave them a specific item to hunt for.  "Find me a fact about a river.  Any river at all on your continent."  This was interesting because I was able to see them choose to use what they knew about text features.  Some flipped for photos, others went to the Table of Contents, and then still some attempted the Index.  Third round "Find me a fact about a mountain.  Any mountain at all on your continent."  And the final round was "Find me a fact about an animal on your continent."

This quick test-run was just forty minutes.

Two different booklet formats being used side by side.

 close-up of the handwriting guide lines

 some Table of Contents use

use of Labeled Photos to find information
What I got out of this as a teacher:
1) They still don't know where they live.  It was a huge mess sorting out their town from their state from their country from their continent.  I've really got to do something about that next year.
2) This sort of research would work really well as a center.  I would only have to put out the books, or even select one particular continent per week, and have task cards for what sort of information they should look for.
3) The work I had done with teaching text features had worked well.  They were still trying to use what they had learned.  I think I should do that lesson earlier in the year in the future and build on it all year long.
4) Next steps would definitely be on paraphrasing information, rather than copying straight from the book.
Interested in trying the booklet out for yourself?  I'll happily give out three to the first commenters that leave an email address.
Otherwise, you may check it out by clicking the picture below and getting re-routed to my TpT store. That's a booklet in two formats, with two types of writing lines, and 52 task cards with general continent questions kids can search for.  The booklets are in black and white and designed to be run front to back to save paper, and the task cards are in color.  The fonts in the package were made by This Little Piggy Reads.

Just interested in the awesome armadillo clipart?  We've got that at the store too! Click the picture to go straight to the first installment of his worldly travels.



  1. Love this activity! PLEASE (yes, I'm begging) tell me if you figure out a way to help them learn where they live! I started that concept in the second week of school and my Peanuts still mixed the state with the city and reverted to the blank stare or pretending-I'm-thinking-really-hard-but-I'm-just-stalling look when asked about their continent. :)

  2. Hey Sarah! Tried to email you, not sure that it is going through. Your address seems to be a no-reply blogger.

  3. Sorry! My email is! My fault! LOVE your blog!