Medieval Wrap Up

We finally wrapped up our unit on the Middle Ages! The students did a phenomenal job on their unit test. I find that this is always the best test of the year and I truly believe it is because of the lap books that we create. It is constant reinforcement of the material that we learn – we discover information through a PowerPoint, we create a mini book based on that information, and we review the information again when we put our lap book together. They love it and it creates a wonderful keepsake for this fun unit.

Last week a parent came in to help me spray paint the castles the students built. We opened up all of the windows, put tarps under the castles, and draped sheets over the computers to keep them spray paint free. They turned out GREAT! It took us 10 cans – way more than we originally thought – but they look awesome and the class was so excited about them. The next day the students brought in Lego and Playmobile figures to “decorate” their castles with – we have lots of knights, dragons, and kings and queens.

Check them out!

Another exciting activity we did was one that a classroom parent came up with – banana jousting! The class was split into two teams and the current “jouster” on each team was given a poncho as armor, a shield made out of thick foam core, and a banana. The students would take turns making a pass at the other knight, trying to touch their poncho with the banana. One point was awarded for banana being smeared on the poncho and one point was awarded to whichever knight had the longer banana after the round was over. It was an enjoyable activity that the kids had a blast with!!

To close out our unit, we enjoyed a fun medieval party. I set up three stations throughout the room – coloring, computers, and Wii. For the Wii station, I brought in my Wii and borrowed Medieval Games (http://www.amazon.com/Medieval-Games-Nintendo-Wii/dp/B001S86ISG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337188714&sr=8-1_) for the Wii from a parent. This is a fun game, especially with four players, that allows the students to joust, sword fight, compete in archery tournaments, and much more. The kids of course loved it and did really well! For the computer station, I created an internet scavenger hunt based on a website I found with interesting facts about medieval times. The students had to answer questions based on what they found on the website. Finally I copied pictures of religious stained glass windows from a coloring book I have. The students used marker to color the stained glass and we rubbed vegetable oil on the other side to make it transparent – they looked awesome! I also had parents send in some yummy food to enjoy, such as cheese and pepperoni, grapes and watermelons on sword-shaped toothpicks, and pretzels. One parent even made some mead for the kids to try!

Overall, our medieval unit was tons of fun and it’s always sad to see it draw to a close. My goal was for the class to come away with a deeper understanding of this time period, including the role religion played, the importance of feudalism, and how our world has changed since then. I am already looking forward to next year!!

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Our new toy!

Every year, our school holds a Race for Education. This is one of our biggest fundraisers that brings in quite a bit of money to JCS. Both the students and the teachers send out mailers asking for donations to family and friends and pray that others feel compelled to help our school. On a Friday in October, the whole school goes to a nearby track and runs laps for an hour. People can donate by lap or give a flat donation. Any money that is raised by teachers goes specifically to that teacher’s classroom for her to use as desired.

Well, this year, guess how much I raised??

$570!!

I know, right? I couldn’t believe how generous my family and friends were this year. I am so grateful for their willingness to support my classroom.

So after a lot of thought, I decided that I wanted to purchase something really special with our money, something that our school did not already have. Therefore, I went out and bought this beauty:

A brand spankin’ new iPad!

Ohmygoodness, my kiddos were SO super excited when I brought it to school on Monday! They asked a million questions about it and couldn’t wait to get their hands on it. I plan to allow them to start using it next week after purchasing a case for it – right now, it is just not protected well enough. So once I get a case, the class will be allowed to start playing 🙂

Speaking of playing with the iPad, I spent the weekend downloading several free educational apps that I found after a bit of research. Some of them are math games, some are science-related, others are for teacher use. Here are the apps I have downloaded so far:

iBooks: I went through the library and downloaded lots of free picture, classic, and chapter books. The students may read them during silent reading time.

StoryLines: This is actually a game we play in class quite often, so I was excited to see it as a free app too! One student types a sentence which the next student must illustrate. The next student then must write a sentence about that illustration (the original sentence is now hidden). The next student then illustrates that sentence (with the previous illustration hidden), and so on. It is funny to see how much the sentences change throughout the story!

Educreations: This is basically like a white board on the iPad. You can record your lesson as you teach, so it records not only what you are drawing but also what you are saying. This was a great app that I used on Monday during a tutoring lesson after school – the student was much more motivated to work!

CoolFacts: A silly app that simply tells the reader random facts with the swipe of a finger – not much of a point, mostly just for fun 🙂

Dictionary: Obviously an electronic dictionary…I am still making my students use real dictionaries, but this is nice for a quick look-up.

Multiplication: A quick way to practice math facts. I haven’t bought the whole game, so it only goes up to the 5’s, but it’s more exciting then writing them down! It brings up a fact and reveals 4 answers…the student must choose the correct one as quickly as possible.

Spelling Free: This is perfect for my student who is down in the 6th grade room for 7th grade math during our pretest on Mondays and the spelling test on Fridays! I can type the list into the app, record my voice saying the words, and he can listen to the list being read and either type the words into the app or write them on a separate piece of paper. This is also a great tool for the students to practice their spelling words during the week!

Essentials: Every year in March, the entire school studies a country. This year we are learning about China, so this is a way to learn some Chinese words and symbols. Once again, this is the free version so it only comes with about 20 words, but I like how clearly the words are read!

Flashcardlet: A nice way to practice vocab words or a list of words that the students need to memorize.

Sudoku: Obviously a sudoku app!

Crosswords: The NYT crossword puzzle every day will probably be too hard for my students, but my husband and I have enjoyed solving them together 🙂

GoSkyWatch: I was super excited about this app that ties in with our September unit on the universe. If you hold the iPad up to the sky, it shows you where the different constellations and planets can be found in the sky! So cool!

Sliding Tiles: Trying to arrange tiles by sliding one at a time in a certain formation. Good for visual spatial reasoning!

Number Link: This game involves trying to link the matching numbers while not overlapping lines and making sure every box is filled in. Requires a bit of logic reasoning!

Word Boom: This game gives a list of letters that the player must make into multiple words, from 3 letters up to 8 letters.

Class Quiz: I actually just got this one today! It is the only one that has cost money so far (I think it was $2.99), but one of my students actually brought in a $15 iTunes gift card that he wanted to donate to the purchase of more apps. So sweet! Anyways, I used this today for our English review. It creates a Jeopardy-like review game. I actually really like it because the iPad acts like a remote when hooked up to the projector, meaning what is seen on the iPad is different than what is seen by the students on the screen. The teacher can control what appears on the screen! It worked really well for our review today and the students enjoyed it as well. I liked that it kept track of the score for me, which is always an issue when playing on the laptop 🙂 There is also an option for students to play an individual review game.

My plan for the students is to have an “iPad student of the day” who will get to use the iPad during morning work, silent reading, math centers, literature centers, and other free time throughout the day. They cannot wait to start – I think someone has asked me every day when we are going to pick who goes first!!

So that’s what we have so far. Do you have an iPad (or 2, or 3, or more) in your classroom?? How do you use it in your classroom setting?? I would LOVE suggestions on more apps to download, both free and paid! I am excited to have my kiddos start using it!