Celebrating Us

By the end of September, students should know their classmates. But do they know the other important people in your school community?

I loved using Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelusky, & Lane Smith to help reinforce the idea of community and its importance in our learning.

This story emphasizes that learning can be fun and reminds us that there are many people (like custodians, nurses, and librarians) who help make our schools run. (ha ha… guess I’ve read a little too much Dr. Seuss lately)

After reading this book to my 3rd graders, I would provide them with opportunities to interview some of these key people and then share with the class so that all of us could get to know the members of our school community.

This activity sheet provides some questions to guide the interview and a space to draw a portrait of their chosen community member.

Tips:

  • Prearrange times (10 minutes or so) and meeting places for the interviews.
  • Send students out in pairs or groups of three – or invite the interviewees to your classroom.  The interviews will be more successful if students do not feel alone or intimidated by new surroundings.
  • If your students need practice, use this activity first. They can interview a friend to become more familiar with this process.
  • If your students do not know who each group interviewed, hang the unlabeled portraits first for a fun guessing game. Identities can be revealed during your interview sharing time.

 

Additional Activities:

Diffendoofer Day game

printables, games, and teaching ideas

an elementary school’s Diffendoofer Day celebration

video of story

Grandparents’ Day

I was so blessed to grow up around my grandparents. They all played important roles in my life, and I would not be who I am today without their love and encouragement and the many lessons they shared along the way.

Needless to say, I’ve always been delighted when Grandparent’s Day rolls around each year. It gives me another opportunity to let my grandparents know just how much I appreciate having them in my life.

At the school where I used to teach, we had a “Grandparent’s Day” of our own a little later in the fall. It was a day for students to invite their grandparents (biological or “adopted”) to school for the morning to share what we’d been up to in the classroom and have some special one-on-one time as they engaged together in a learning activity and ate lunch. Each year I also worked in some type of discussion about the differences between the experiences of the students and their grandparents in areas like education, communication, transportation, or technology. My students were fascinated by the changes that had occurred over the past few decades… and sometimes the grandparents made amazing discoveries of their own when they saw what and how their grandchildren were learning.

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The following books are ones I have enjoyed reading with my students as we shared about our own experiences with our grandparents. These stories provide opportunities for meaningful class discussions about how grandparents influence our lives, what we can learn from them, how their lives differ from ours, the types of challenges they face, and the importance of having and sharing memories.

Tom by Tomie dePaola

 

Big Mama’s by Donald Crews

 

dear juno by Soyung Pak

 

Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman

 

When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

 

Lighthouse: A Story of Remembrance by Robert Munsch

 

“I Remember!” Cried Grandma Pinky by Jan Wahl

 

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

 

Grandpa’s Teeth by Rod Clement

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Looking for some ways for your students to learn more about how things have changed during their grandparents’ life times? Visit the following sites to learn more about the inventions, discoveries, and advances over the years:

National Museum of American History interactive timeline – view iconic artifacts that illustrate key events in our country’s history

Key Moments in Consumer Electronics: A Timeline – from Pong in 1972 to the iPad in 2010

NASA’s Apollo Program vs. The Future of American Human Spaceflight

American History Timeline

 

Activity Ideas:

Working with their grandparents or researching on their own, students can

  • Compare and contrast two time periods and complete a graphic organizer like this.
  • Create a timeline to show some significant historical and personal events from their grandparent’s childhood to today.
  • Write a narrative to share a family story.
  • Put together a memory box of items that bring family events to mind.
  • Write a letter to a grandparent.

It’s a Great Big Universe… and we’re all really puny

All the talk lately about Mars and Neil Armstrong and the “blue moon” has got me peering up at the night sky just a little more often… which leaves me in awe of this space “above” us.

For some interesting virtual views, visit The Scale of the Universe (to compare the size of things from a planck length to the distance from Earth to the Hubble Deep Field)

and An Atlas of the Universe (a “web page is designed to give everyone an idea of what our universe actually looks like”).

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* And if this blog entry title has gotten a tune stuck in your head, sing along here. 🙂