Wolf in the Snow Puppets and Storytelling

In just 2 weeks, we will welcome author/illustrator Matthew Cordell to our school. Small groups of our Kindergarten students have been coming to the library to work on a special project. This project came about because our Kindergarten classes are unable to attend our regularly scheduled makerspace times. I wanted to offer them some special opportunities throughout the year because of this. Thankfully, I now have a high school intern, Andrea Arumburo, who is collaborating with me in the library most afternoons. Her focus is art, so I knew she would align perfectly with Kindergarten makerspace opportunities.

For this first round of classes, groups of 5 students from each Kindergarten class came to the library to create puppets based on Matthew Cordell’s Wolf in the Snow.  We began by refreshing students’ memories on what happened in the story with a quick flip through the book. Then, Andrea talked with the students about creating characters on paper plate circles. She offered that they could replicate the characters in the story, or they could design a character that looked more like themselves.  She had several examples to show them.

Next, students moved to tables and sketched out their characters on paper plate circles and colored them. We placed examples on each table as well as a copy of the book. As students finished a puppet, they glued a tongue depressor stick onto the circle to create the puppet. Most students chose to make a 2nd character so that they had one human and one wolf.

Once students finished, we sent them to spots around the library to practice retelling the story. Kindergarten talks a lot about 3 ways to read a book: read the words, read the pictures, retell the story. This was a great opportunity to practice retelling.  Some students referred back to the book. Others remembered every detail. Others used their artistic license to completely change the story and make it their own.

After practicing, they found a partner and shared their puppet show story with a partner.  For many, this was the stopping point in our time limit of 40 minutes.  However, a few students were able to come over to the green screen and practice retelling their story in front of the camera.

In one session, we decided we didn’t have enough time to film anyone so instead, we all sat on the carpet with our puppets and we walked back through the pages of the book together. I told the story and students used their puppets to act out the story.  I loved watching them hide puppets behind their backs when that character wasn’t in a scene.  This unexpected closing was actually something I wish I had done with the other groups because it made a connection between the puppets and the story.  I think it would have helped students in making their own puppet shows.

Our hope is that Andrea and I can continue to offer these opportunities throughout the year. Some will be low-tech, high-tech, or a mix of it all.

Tweeting with 1st Graders

IMG_0047Can 1st graders tweet?  Sure they can.  Since our district opened up Twitter for teachers to use, I’ve been incorporating it into lessons.  It allows kids to put their thoughts into a succinct statement, and it also connects kids with the world.  We can send tweets out to Web 2.0 tools, organizations, or just a general tweet to get some help with a project.

Today, 1st grade came to the library to work on the conventions of writing and opinion/persuasive writing.  I thought Twitter would be great for this because it would require the students to write 1 short sentence that used capital letters, punctuation, and persuasion.  To start, we looked at my Twitter page to see what a tweet looked like and how tweets create conversations with people around the world.  We talked about the 140 character limit, too.

Next, we read the books hello! hello! by Matthew Cordell and On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole.  I chose these books because both have a hint of persuasion in them.  The teacher and I had a conversation about how we wanted students to think beyond just “what can I get people to give me?”.  We wanted their persuasive writing to be more about taking action or creating change.  In hello! hello! , there is a theme of connecting with nature, spending quality time with family, and disconnecting from technology.  In On Meadowview Street, there is a theme of caring for nature rather than destroying it and how small steps can inspire a community.  As we read these stories, we talked about those themes to spark ideas for tweets.

IMG_0046Students then talked with a partner to put their idea for a tweet together.  The tweet needed to be an opinion or persuasive thought connected to or inspired by the books.  It needed to have capital letters and correct punctuation.  Once they had their ideas, they moved to tables and wrote their tweet on a small sheet.  The substitute teacher and two student teachers conferenced with students and then sent them to me when their tweet was ready.  I gave it a final read, and if it needed some addition I sent them back to the tables.  If it was ready, I tweeted it from my account @plemmonsa and tagged the library @barrowmc.  I also added the hashtag #comments4kids so that the kids would hopefully get some feedback or responses on their tweets.

Within just a few minutes, we started getting some responses some fantastic friends around the country.  Kim Keith @capecodlibrary and Sue Kowalski @spkowalski were the first to respond with some comments, questions, and even pictures to respond to the students’ tweets.  They were so excited to see that their thoughts were being read by people around the world.twitter convo 1

twitter convo 3 twitter convo 2

I plan to do this with the other three 1st grade classes soon.