Sunday, April 26, 2015

Wax Museum: Can I Have Your Autograph?!

Before spring break, my room was brimming with famous Americans for a star-studded event: our Wax Museum Biographies! Regrettably, it's taken me FOREVER to blog about it, but I suppose this is one of those times where I have to shrug my shoulders and say, "It's better late than never, right?"  Pregnancy has been the ultimate game-changer for me this year.  I have learned that I can only do so much, and all in all, that hasn't necessarily been a bad thing.  It's just made it a little more difficult to keep up with my online world... this blog and TpT.  As my due date approaches next Sunday (what?!) I am super excited to settle into my new "normal" and HOPEFULLY settle back into a more regular blogging routine this summer.  Fingers crossed! 

At any rate, here are some snapshots from our big event!  As you can see, my kiddos got really into character again this year.  I LOVE seeing what they come up with, and I absolutely LOVE reading their reports!  This is always one of those projects that makes me realize how far my students have grown, and this year, since I had this group last year as third graders and again this year as fourth graders, the growth is even more obvious and glorious.  I could brag on them forever, but I will spare you, and I will shower you with photos instead!

In addition to their costumes, my students bring props to help bring their person to "life".  Some of them even go the extra mile to create trifold or poster displays to support their speeches.

Have YOU ever had a wax museum with your kiddos?!  I am telling you, it is one of the most engaging ways to hook your students and help them realize just how rewarding research can be.  Plus, it's such a great way to invite other students into your classroom to give your students a real audience!

Plus, when their writing matches the attention to detail that they put into their costumes, you know you've struck a nerve with them.  :)  Here's just one example to give you an idea of what I mean:

As you can see, this is the kind of project that teacher dreams are made of. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Critters on the Loose: Our Animal Wax Museum!

As many of you know, I teach dual grade levels.  I have a group of 29 third graders, and a group of 30 fourth graders.  I LOVE teaching both age groups, and I even LOVE the challenge it presents.  Seriously though, it IS a challenge sometimes when you are trying to pull of two different projects at the same time, and that can induce lots of nail biting.  (It's a good thing my nails are growing so quickly thanks to those prenatal vitamins!  Ha!)  Anywho-- I always try to set the same time-table for both groups, and I try to unite the project by some common thread.  In this case, the third graders just wrapped up their Wild Ones Wax Museum, and the fourth graders just finished their Wax Museum Biographies.  I'll be back in a day or two to update everyone on how my American heroes did with their projects, but for now, let's take a look at the critters, shall we?

This is an echidna.  I love the use of zip ties for her quills.  So creative!
This is a coyote and a bottle-nose dolphin.
A lion and a wombat!
A tiger and a giraffe!
An alligator and an octopus!
A cobra and a white-tailed deer!
An owl and an elephant!
A red panda and a monkey!
A possum and a koala!
A jaguar and a giant panda!
A toucan and a zebra!
A polar bear and a shark!
A finch and an action shot of our scorpion!
 I really enjoy watching my kiddos give their speeches for visiting classes.  I love seeing them stand, sit, or crouch as still as statues and take on the characteristics of their animals.  I used to have my students memorize their speeches, and many of them still speak from memory, but truthfully, I let them have their papers, as you can see.  I want them to practice speaking and listening skills through this, and I want them to gain confidence when they speak to other students and adults.  If the paper gives them more confidence to speak loudly and with more authority, I really don't mind.  They are 8 and 9 year old kiddos after all. You can tell they definitely had a lot of heart! 

Strike a pose!
A crouching lion!
More action shots!

Each year, I require that my students conduct research, record their references, and write a research paper that is read aloud as a speech.  Each year, they continue to amaze me with the EXTRA touches they come prepared with.  This year, in addition to their research papers and props, kids came with tri-fold boards, habitat displays for little kids to interact with, plastic snakes to give away, photos of their animals to pass out, fact sheets to distribute, coloring sheets to send away with the little ones, and stickers with information about how to adopt dolphins to adhere to each visitor. 

So, there's that!  I am SO happy I was able to fit our Wild Ones Wax Museum in a little bit earlier this year.  It's always a HUGE hit!  Once again, just like years past, I was blown away by my students' creativity!  We spend a lot of time talking about catering to the audience we are speaking to, and I can attest to the fact that there were a TON of very happy visitors that day!  As I wind down the year before my maternity leave starts, I can definitely say we have had some major successes, and this is just one!  I am one proud teacher.  They make my heart full.