January 7, 2014

New Year, New Me, New Ideas About Complexity!

            I have to admit, I miss fun crafts from my primary days.  Especially when we return from a break.  I also have to admit, I did the bare minimum for Christmas.  It was really upsetting to me, honestly.  I don’t ever just ignore holidays.  It’s half the fun of school-creating those crafts and hanging them up in your house.  My kids are in middle school and our fridge still reflects this theme.  If they do anything fun, it still goes up there.  So, I’ve been feeling a little bit lonely when it comes to crafts and fun. We did do our Charlie Summary, and, that was fun, but I wanted something to start our year off better, to remind me to remember that students need these memories. 

            I started with Pintrest.  There are some fun things.  I really liked this idea of “Toasting the New Year”, but I just couldn’t come up with the complexity that I needed.  I know that I will eventually come back to this idea and try the complexity bump, but I couldn’t find it this year.  Then I found this-New Year’s Resolutions and Good Fortunes. 

I didn’t think it was primary, because it had the looks of a more intermediate type of activity, and it is actually listed for 2nd-5th.  When I looked at it closer, it was definitely a stretch for 4th grade.  I decided though, that it could be tweaked a little.  My thought was to play off the balloon idea.  Originally, I was going to cut the fortunes and place them in balloons for every kid, but the idea of a.) filling balloons at a store was too pricey, and b.) blowing up those balloons would have made me winded and dizzy, I decided on a different route.  I took balloons and put enough fortunes into them to meet the needs of the table group.  I had 5 balloons, 4 with 4 fortunes and 1 with 3.  Perfect! 

            Here’s how it worked.  Besides the fortune balloons, I copied the balloons on 6 different colors.  I did not copy the white writing page.  I wanted to save the paper and, as it came out, they looked fine with just the writing on them.  Once I had everything copied and blown up, I passed out the balloons to each group.  I made them stop and come up with a plan of how they were going to pop the balloon without sitting on it.  I allowed them to talk about it. This simple act of stopping and thinking saved a lot of hardship.  It made them cooperatively decide who was doing what and come up with a safe plan (no scissors!)  Amazingly, pens and pencils did a great job of bursting those balloons! 

            Once the balloons were broken, the kids each picked a fortune.  

This is when the magic happened!  It wasn’t long before someone said, “I don’t understand what this means.” And out of my mouth came, “These are metaphors for life.  You make them what you want them to be.  It is comparing two things, you have to fill in the connection!”  Holy cow!  We finished figurative language before break.  I could make this connection for them.  They began to roll with it!  They were able to go with it and complete some pretty amazing things.  

This got me thinking-Why, oh why, haven’t I hit the idea that some of these primary “fun” stuff have much deeper meaning.  The complexity is there; we just have to see it!  I’ve got to start taking my own advice (Shades of Meaning) and start calling these things what they are!  It’s given me a different perspective on how to put the complexity back into things and make them count for more!  We finished up the balloons by cutting them out and adding some ribbon I have been hoarding in my closet for making jellyfish for an ocean unit I never got to!  So, not only did I use complexity, I used hoarded supplies! 

            Now, you will notice, I didn’t include the resolution in my work with the balloons.  Last year I stumbled upon the 2013 (updated for 2014) New Year, New Me activity. 

I loved it so much, we are doing it again this year!  Tomorrow we will work on filling out the written parts of the mobile.  Today, we colored!  It was actually nice.  They were able to communicate to one another their holiday fun stuff.  I heard about presents, trips, family events, and an impromptu lesson on who Ben Franklin was!  If there’s one other thing I’ve learned about doing these projects now, it is that sometimes you have to stop and  take time to be together as a class.  That’s what has been missing, that’s what racing to get curriculum covered and worrying about every assessment under the sun has done.  It has robbed us of the opportunity to just breathe and be.  And it’s robbed us of the chance to see fun activities as the complex being that they can be! 

            Now, for a freebie!  Like I said, we were working on figurative language.  We made this great foldable that I saw on Pintrest one time. (Here is the link: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/111604896985892846/_ ) 
It is an all about me project.  But I like that it had figurative language in it, and thought I could adapt the layout to fit figurative language only.  So, as a freebie, I will include all of the insides for the foldbable. 


Figurative language:   Page 1
                                    Page 2
                                    Page 3

Feel free to think about how you might change this and make it more complex for your class!  Then let us know how you might do that in the comment section below!


Betsy Mork said...

Great ideas! Thanks for sharing and for linking up on Spark Creativity.

Julie from The Best Days said...

Thanks Betsy! I enjoyed your link up!