Friday, 11 November 2011

Pumpkins, Owls, and Remembrance Day... Oh My!

Wow, these last few weeks have been kicking my butt! No matter what I do, there's always ten more things on the list to do next.... Between Halloween, being sick (boo!), and report cards due next week... I am thanking my lucky stars it is a long weekend for us! No school today because of Remembrance Day and Monday is an Admin Day in our division, so we can work on report cards. Yay! So, what have we been up to these past few busy weeks? Let's see...

The week before Halloween we started with pumpkins... I didn't take many pictures, but I found so many great activities. We talked about the life cycle of a pumpkin. I read the book "From Seed to Pumpkin" and we used these real life pumpkin picture cards from here and I had the students arrange themselves in the correct order. Then students did this little activity. You can download the pumpkin life cycle sequence from A to Z Teacher Stuff Website.

We did a cute pumpkin art project. Using red, yellow, and orange paint, students painted ta large sheet of white construction paper. When it dried, they cut out a pumpkin shape. Then we used brown, green, black, and white construction paper to add the stem and faces. They all turned out so different!

Finally, we became real scientists one afternoon to observe our class pumpkin. Cara Carroll over at The First Grade Parade, could not have posted her adorable pumpkin journal at a better time!! We used her "Great Pumpkin Investigation" journal to observe our pumpkin. We gathered in a big circle on the carpet and went through the various experiments: counting the lines, measuring the height, weighing it, and seeing if it sinks or floats. Finally, I cut the top off and we estimated and counted our seeds. I couldn't believe this large pumpkin only had 289 seeds in it! I was shocked!

We did a little vote, idea taken from Abby over at The Inspired Apple (although my charts never turn out as cute as hers!), to see how we would carve our pumpkin. I took the pumpkin home over the weekend and brought it back on Halloween for our costume party! The kids loved it!

After Halloween, we started our owl unit. I love love LOVE Deanna Jump's owl unit found here. We started off the unit by brainstorming things we already knew about owls on a bubble map. Then I brought out this chart and introduced them to five different kinds of owls. The first day we just talked about wing span. So I had them guess which owl they thought was the largest, which was the smallest, and then we filled in the rest. We also measure our own "wing span" and compared them to the owls.

While they were waiting to come measure their wings, we started our adorable owl booklets from Deanna Jump's unit. They turned out so cute! Some of my little ones decided to use the scrap brown paper to make wings for their owls. Cute idea! On the first white page we did a title page called "All About Owls".

On the second day, we read a book about Barn Owls and talked about what a habitat was. We guessed where our five different owls might live, then filled in our chart. We completed our first page in the book: Owls live in different habitats.

The third day was inspired by Mrs. Buckley over at Diary of a First Grade Teacher. We read the book "The Little White Owl" and talked about fiction vs. nonfiction. I told them to listen carefully to the story and figure out which things about owls were made up. In the story the little owl slept at night, instead of during the day. So we talked about the word nocturnal and did our next page in our owl book.

We also had a talk about the message of the story: the colourful owls judged the little white owl for being plain and boring, but when they got to know him, they discovered he had beautiful colours inside him! So students coloured their own colourful, unique owls.

(It's looking pretty bare though... might have to do another craft to add to the bulletin board!)

We read a book about the life cycle of an owl. We filled in our owl chart with the average number of eggs each owl has. Then I taught them the word "oviparous" and completed our next page.

Next, we read Gail Gibbons' book on owls. I showed them the cover and asked them if they thought it was a fiction or nonfiction book. Many said fiction, because of the drawings! We talked about how even though her book is full of drawings, it does tell us real facts about owls! I had a drawing of an owl and asked the students to help me label the parts of the owl that make it a good hunter. For their book, we glued in a picture of an owl and will label it.

For our last page, I read the book "Cock-A-Doodle-Hooooo". The kids loved this story! It is about an owl who finds a home in a hen house, but the hens want him to be a rooster, so he tries his best to do rooster things! He eventually saves them by eating a rat that snuck into the hen house. So we talked about how fiction books can sometimes tell us real facts, because owls do eat rats. We also talked about how habitats can affect owls food, then we filled in our last column of the owl chart. We did our last page in our owl books and drew three things that owls eat.

And because today is Remembrance Day, we talked about why we remember and what poppies stand for. We learned this little poem and created poppy wreaths to hang in our room. We also talked about peace. We read "The Peace Book" by Todd Parr, brainstormed what peace means to us, and did a little writing activity.

You can download the peace writing page by clicking here.

Well, I need to stop procrastinating and get some work done. Happy weekend everyone!


  1. So cute!! Thanks for sharing!!
    Jennifer A.

  2. Hi there...I love your ideas! Come on over and check my blog...