My grade partner and I have been working on completing a new framework for planning inquiry units that integrate technology. Technology integration has always been fairly easy for me, but with the extra responsibility of teaching French immersion, the lead up activities are the most important in order for students to be successful in using technology meaningfully. I will have more posts later on how I used technology and how we planned our unit out, but this post is dedicated to some of those lead up activities.
The “big idea” we came up with for our unit is called “The Colours God Creates”. The first thought that went through my head was that the students need to know their colours in French. We created “The Week of Colours” (“La semaine des couleurs”) for the students that involved wearing a specific colour each day, experiencing some type of sensory activity involved with that colour, and having the sensory table changed to represent that specific colour as well.
On Monday, the students used white cardstock, white glue, red Kool-Aid, and various red Dollar Store gems to create a free piece of art. When you sprinkle the Kool-Aid on the white glue, it turns red and smells delicious. This lead to great discussion (as much as they can understand in French while I stand on my head jumping up and down trying to help them understand!) about how white glue contains water and allows the crystals to dissolve, change to a deeper colour, and smell.
The sensory table had red water with various red items inside. Since the students haven’t really had so many various items in the sensory table ever, and it was clear I just took items from around the classroom, I made sure to ask them not to take anything out or put anything extra in. I really dislike when I take so much time to put together a sensory table and then the students just end up mixing it all up and transporting other items to other areas of the classroom.
On Tuesday, the students used another piece of white cardstock, real oranges, and red and yellow paint to create another piece of free art. This lead to more great discussion about how we don’t always have to use paintbrushes to paint. The students knew we could use sponges, our fingers, and our whole hand to paint and were delighted at the idea to use real friggin oranges. We talked about the texture if the orange and saw how the same texture appeared in the paint.
The sensory table had orange water with orange bath toys and orange buttons. Sweet tip: hot glue the hole at the bottom of the bath toys so you don’t spend your precious after school time squeezing the living day lights out of them to get the water out. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
On Wednesday, the students used another piece of white cardstock, yellow paint, sand, and lemonade, to create another piece of free art. We mixed the items together in the bowl. It smelled great and looked weird. The students loved the sound of the sand scraping against the hard cardstock, and most of them spent time listening to the sound rather than worrying about how their paper looked in the end.
The sensory table had yellow ice cubes with imitation banana extract. These smelled DISGUSTING by the end of the day after 40 little hands had touched them all. But, it was worth it.
On Thursday, I only have my morning class come, so we used Rachael Ray magazines to cut out 4 green items to paste onto cardstock. Awesome fine motor practice, and watching little ones try to rip a page out of a magazine is pretty cute. We all know that was a whole lesson in itself. We talked lots about how to do a “rough cut” (basically cutting a circle around the item you want) rather than cutting in the outline of the item which would take forever.
The sensory bin had green water and green stuff, and I don’t have a photo.
On Friday, the students enjoyed making letters with blue spaghetti. It was simple and successful. Cooked spaghetti mixed with food colouring in a bowl, transport to school, and let the fun begin. I even used real plates from the staff room so it had the “dining room table” feeling, minus the eating of anything. Some students actually really didn’t like the smell or the feeling of the spaghetti. I’m a girl who lives on noodles and carbs in general, so this was difficult for me to understand. 😉
The sensory table had blue water beads inside, which also smell disgusting after only a small amount of use, and make them great for a short term thing.
The students wore the specific colour each day, and I snapped a photo of them before they went home. At the end of the week, I took the photos to get printed, and selected the 2×3 photos so I could get two students on one 4×6 print. This automatically cut the cost in half. Together,we painted a rainbow and after it had dried, the students practiced their rough cuts again to paste themselves onto the correct area of the rainbow. My AM class painted half and my PM class painted the other half. This is a beautiful addition to our classroom.
What did we do with all those free art cardstock creations you ask? We made a little book! I printed out colour labels so everyone had one of each. I made a visual on the smart board so they would be able to “read” which colour was which. Since they didn’t make a piece of art for each colour, the students added two blank cardstock sheets at the end so they could finish them at home if they liked. “Violet” was a trick label, since we didn’t have a purple day. We punched a hole in the corner, bent a paper clip to make a “ring” and they had created their own vocabulary book that meant something to them.
At the beginning, this “week of colours” reminded me of “letter of the week” which I am not a fan of, but in the end I am pleased with how it went and I feel almost all of my students are able to name their colours in French. The students got to experience lots of sensory activities, had family members involved in their learning (through wearing the colours and finishing their book), and collaboratively completed a beautiful piece of art work for our classroom. It was a great start to our unit.