Thursday, November 16, 2017


Miniature Tepees

     My 5th graders have been working on a unit of study concerning Native Americans in several different locations of the United States and North America.  The Plains Indians was a favorite of the girls in my class.  Several of my girls decided to construct a miniature tepee or two while out on the playground during recess.  They were very excited to tell me all about the structure that they built.   After lunch, I took my homeroom back out on the playground to see for ourselves.

    The tepees were set up along the exterior of the fence of our play structure.  If you didn't know they were there, you would just walk on by.  

     After a few days, more miniature tepees were constructed.   The girls knew that the early American people made their homes from the resources that were available.  That is exactly what my students had done. 

    We had a tepee in our classroom.  Three students are able to sit in the tepee at one time. 

      I'll keep you posted on any new structures in our tepee village. Hopefully there will be more pictures to come.

    Great job girls! 

    Please leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Felt Nativity with Finger Puppets

Nativity Play Scene

      Since Christmas is coming soon, I decided to make felt Nativity scenes for my granddaughters to play with. They needed something unbreakable and quiet to interact with for a quiet play activity.  The Bible story of Mary and Joseph coming to a simple stable for the birth of Jesus was the perfect setting for this felt play set. Nothing too fancy, just the basics.

      Making the finger puppets a was  the beginning of the project. Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus were the first to be made.  Two of each were stitched from small scraps of felt and embroidery floss. Mary is about 3 1/4 inches tall and Joseph is about 3 3/4 inches. Each is about 1 3/4 inches wide. 

       A small brown manger with hay has a pocket for the Baby Jesus to sleep peacefully. The manger is attached to a pocket in the stable. With this pocket,  Mary and Joseph are able stand in front of or behind the manger to watch over their new born child.

     The Three Kings are different heights in the same range as Mary and Joseph.  They are each carrying a different shiny gift. 

      This Nativity scene would not be complete without a donkey. Mary rode the donkey's back on the long journey to Bethlehem. We all remember the "Little Drummer Boy" song during the Christmas holidays. A little drummer boy finger puppet was added so the girls could sing a song when they play.

       A smiling angel is always around to protect and watch over the Christ Child. You can see the angel standing behind the manger. The angel is able to watch over the Holy Family in a small pocket near the star on the top of the stable. The star will guide the Three Kings or Wise men to see the New Born King.

   The play scene has plastic canvas in between the inside and outside. This plastic sheet gives the felt strength and helps the Nativity play scene to stand up on its own. Felt pockets are secured to the insides of each panel. The pockets are designed to hold the finger puppets in place when the scene is closed after play. 

       As you can see, the " tan colored ground" folds up into the play scene. The two sides fold in and are secured with velcro. A handle made of green grow grain ribbon was stitched on so that this play set can be easily carried by a young child.

      I hope this Nativity Play Scene will give you the incentive to make something like this for a young child that you know and love. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Felt Cupcakes

Felt Cupcakes
I love making things from felt for my granddaughters. So when it was time to have a baby shower for my niece, I decided to make felt cupcakes as a centerpiece for the table.  Her precious little girl will then have her first felt food treats for her play kitchen in a couple of years.

      I used a little paper dixie cup from the bathroom as a pattern. Carefully, the cup was taken apart at the seam and then the bottom was taken off. I decided to cut the side of the cup down  to a little less than 1 1/2 inches. A circle of
 2 1/4 inches was cut for the frosting. The bottom of the cup was a circle of
1 1/2 inches. 

       The side of the cupcake was hand stitched first. Then the frosting was stitched on. Some of the frosting was sewn to the inside of the cupcakes. I stitched other frosting to the outside of the cupcake. You can choose whichever you like best. Then I added the toppings of lace, buttons, and different designs made from felt. 

   Finally, the bottom was stitched on half way around. The cupcake was filled with poly-fill stuffing. I placed a plastic circle, slightly smaller than the bottom circle on top of the stuffing. This add stability and a firm bottom to the cupcake. Last, I stitched the cupcake closed.

     You can see the chocolate cupcakes frosting is stitched to the outside of the cupcake and the pink cupcake the frosting is stitched to the inside.

       Hostess Cupcakes anyone?
           In addition to the cupcakes, a felt chocolate cake was added to the small collection of goodies for the baby shower. From a distance, I hope the guests will think they are having a variety cupcakes or cake  for dessert!

     These are quite easy to make if you have some extra felt around the house.


Please leave a comment if you have a spare moment in your busy day.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Interactive Notebook- Eastern Woodland Indians

     Eastern Woodland Indians
       As we continued our unit on Native Americans, the topic of the Eastern Woodland Indians is always interesting to 5th graders.   I needed to have a way for the students to take notes to learn about the longhouse. I found the first  illustration, the interior of a longhouse and enlarged it to fit on a standard size copy paper. I can not take credit for the art work.

 This is the base page for the longhouse.

     The top sheet or outside of the longhouse was cut out and glued onto to base page.

       My students were encouraged to color their longhouse to enhance the appearance. This also makes them spend more time, thus more learning about the topic.

       We identified the fire (#1), corn drying (#2), smoke hole in the roof (#3), etc., labeled and highlighted the number on the base sheet as a class.  The on the lines below the picture we wrote "fire in the center of the longhouse".   The children were then asked to add two more pieces of information to their sheet on their own.

       The next step was to "talk to your neighbor" and share your information. Now the kids could show their neighbor what they had found and then added it to their list. Finally, we shared the information with the entire class.

       I really like to use the "" talk to your neighbor" technique with my 5th graders.  Then when I call on a student, they have some information to tell the class instead of saying, "I  don't know."  It takes the pressure off of children that aren't sure of their abilities and makes them more confident.     

     Interactive note taking has been very successful with my fifth graders.  I hope you will be able to give it a try. Please send me a note if you get the chance.  I'd love to hear how lit works in other classes.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Interactive notebook Indians of Desert Southwest

        Desert Southwest

       This post is related to a previous post concerning the Native American Indians of the Desert Southwest of the United States. Here is the link. 

     As my students learn about more Indian tribal regions, I have them work on their interactive notebook pages.  Today's topic was Indian tribes of the Desert Southwest.  The kids learned about the Hopi, Zuni, Anasazi, Taos, and the Apache tribes.  Our discussion included climate, location, food, beliefs,  clothing, and shelter. 

     We glued together the base page and the top to illustrate the outside and inside of an adobe pueblo.
Base page

Top flap

     After the page was glued together, the students added information to describe the illustrations. The students could choose to write numbers or letters on the top and/or bottom sheet. Next, under the illustrations, a numerical or alphabetical list was made to label the activities or locations pointed out in the illustrations.

Climate Regions
       Another activity concerned the climate regions. These are illustrated by the students.  This shows the climate region of the Desert Southwest.  The names of tribes are written in the space under the region. I always encourage my 5th graders to add color to their illustrations. This helps the students to spend more time looking at the information which will help them hopefully retain the information. During a test, you can look back into your "mind's eye" and see and remember  an image or color to help bring back the related information.

      My 5th grade students like to work on this type note taking in addition to traditional note taking.

I would love to read your comments on this activity.  Would you use something like this in your class? 


Friday, October 20, 2017

Interactive Student Interest Board

        Our 5th graders switch classes.  I teach Religion and Social Studies. My partners, Suzanne and Kathy, teach the Math and Science classes and the Language  Arts ( Vocab, Grammar, and Reading classes) respectively. The students, 30 in each homeroom, line up at the end of each class to move to another room every 45 minutes. This area gives the kiddos something to do when they are standing in line.
        I have an interactive board for the students to work on cooperatively during their free time.  I remind them that working cooperatively does not mean you tell your friends the answers. That will not help your friends. Cooperatively means to help others understand how to solve the problem.

          This is my board that is located to the right of the door leading out into the hall.  The blue background paper is laminated.  I have found it lasts the entire year.  The papers are attached with sticky tack so items can be changed quickly by myself or a student. The kids like to go to the drawer and pick the next game or activity to be placed on the board.

     I change the Boggle game sheet weekly.  This keeps the kids practicing their spelling. Sometimes I give a "prize" to the students who has found the most words.

             Jumble For Kids was in the newspaper years ago.  The date on this one is 2004. You can tell that I have been teaching for a while.  The words are usually easy, but answer at the bottom has an interesting twist.  It has to do with the clue in the picture.  This can be  a pun or a play on words. 

        Hocus Pocus  also was featured in newspapers.  The directions are to "Find at least six differences in details between panels."  This is great for examining details and going back and check again.  Many kids want to be finished and do assignments very quickly.  This gives a chance to practice the skill of carefully looking for details.

           SUDOKU is a favorite for some children while others dislike it.  My students teach each other how to play Sudoku every year.  Sudoku is a great thinking game for all ages.


              The CROSSWORD PUZZLE  is also popular with some students. Students often work together on the crossword puzzle.  Collaborative work is so important for children. They learn how to learn from each other and teach each other. They also learn that everyone has different strengths.

      I have a variety of different activities because my students have a variety of interests, skills, and skill levels. Teach each child.

 Enjoy teaching your students every day.  
Make it the best year ever!

Please feel free to leave a comment.  I enjoy reading your thoughts and suggestions.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Desert Southwest Pueblo

         While working on the unit on Native Americans, I always have my students build their own pueblo in class.  This is a cooperative project for my students. The native people had to work together in order to survive in the hot dry desert region.  So we work together to construct ours. 

      The students decide if they want to make a ladder, a room, or a kiva.  All the parts are made at home and then brought to school. You can see the variety of student work. I try to emphasize that this  is a student, not a parent, project.


    The pieces are  hot glued to the base and background. We try to alternate the size, shape and orientation of the boxes to achieve a more realistic appearance.

 This is a picture taken at Casa Grande located south of Phoenix, Arizona. It is an amazing Southwestern Native American ruin.  A canopy was built over the structure to protect it from the elements of nature that were eroding the walls. You can see on the left side of the picture, a pole to reinforce the side wall. So if you have the chance to visit the amazing state of Arizona, try to take a side trip to experience the magnificence of Casa Grande.

We are trying to represent the different levels of the pueblo.

 Ladders were added after all the boxes were glued together.  Pebbles were also glued on to add detail.

 Then my students attached very small people to the pueblo.

       You can even see some dried grass "plants" growing on the top.

     My 5th graders were very proud of the pueblo diorama they had built cooperatively in school.

       Three classes worked together, during their own class period.  They realized that no one person in a desert southwest Indian tribe could have constructed the massive structure by themselves. 

    I know I could have assigned this as a at home project.  The children would have brought in magnificent, elaborate projects, many of which were made by well meaning parents.  I like to have my kids realize that they, 5th graders,  can do wonderful things by themselves. 

    I hope this project gives  other teachers an incentive to try a pueblo project.

 Check all the ideas at 4th Grade Frolics link up-
              Monday Made It. 

Please leave a comment or suggestion if you have the time.  I really enjoy hearing from other teachers.

Enjoy your day!