Saturday, July 14, 2018

Afternoon Fun! Week Four!

Here we go....week 4 of of Afternoon Fun library building challenges!

The Book: Hansel and Gretel Retold by James Marshall
The Challenge: Create a cylinder containing a message to Hansel and Gretel's Dad letting him know that they are safe. The cylinder had to reach his house 15 feet away.
The Building Supplies: A single piece of paper that can not be cut and 3 inches of tape
Group Members: 2 children per group

When I had decided to focus on fairytales during my library times with K-1 Afternoon Fun, I knew that I had to include Hansel and Gretel. I can't tell you how many times I have referenced it with older kids and they have no clue what story I am talking about. Turns out more than half of the K-1 students didn't know the story either.
Before the class came I had measured out the distance that their cylinder had to fly outside in 3 foot increments so they could easily see how far their cylinders flew on each try. Since the hallway can be a bit of a wind tunnel, I measured the space out in both directions just in case the wind was whipping down the hallway.
The kids immediately got into the groups and spent about 10 seconds making their cylinders, commenting that this was the easiest challenge they had had. 
Once they got outside and started testing their designs out, it was a different story. They saw that it wasn't as easy as they had thought. Many cylinders came right back to the flyer or just a smidge over the starting line. 
They ran back inside and worked on their cylinders some more, making the cylinders wider or smaller, looser or tighter. I loved how they were in and out of the room during our entire period, testing, reworking and talking to their partner to see what they could do to make it better. It was great and with each re-design it went further.
After about 15 minutes of this, I called them all back inside and told them that they had a choice to make. They could stick with making a cylinder to get their message to dad or they could switch it up and make a paper airplane. Many decided to go the paper airplane route and quickly began making a plane. Since they had made them in science they were convinced they had the perfect design and that their message would easily get to dad. 
Crazily enough many of the paper airplanes didn't go as far as the cylinders did and some went back to making cylinders while others stuck it out with the paper airplanes.
What was amazing is that even though the majority of the kids never got their message to dad, they had the best time and were super positive throughout. When I told them it was time for the last test throw, they didn't want to stop and many took their cylinders and planes with them so they could keep trying. I love this!

So What Would I Tweak: 

What's Next? The Three Little Pigs

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Afternoon Fun! Week 3!

Here we go....week 3 of of Afternoon Fun library building challenges!

The Book: Jack and the Beanstalk Retold by Richard Walker
The Challenge: Build a parachute to help Jack escape from the giant
The Building Supplies: Tissue Paper, Coffee Filters (which the kids thought were giant cupcake wrappers), Newspaper, String, Tape (Regular and Masking), Scissors and toy dinosaurs to be our Jacks
Group Members: 2 children per group

Honestly, I didn't know how this challenge was going to go. I worried that many of the incoming kindergartners wouldn't have any background knowledge about parachutes which would lead them to feeling frustrated and defeated even before we began. I was worried that all the groups were all going to build the exact same thing. I was also imposing a building time limit, 20 minutes, to this challenge, something I hadn't done before. Yup, it turns out I worried for nothing. All but 2 kids knew what a parachute was, the designs were incredibly different and they seemed thrive having a time limit. The minute I announced what the challenge was the kids were so excited and immediately got to work.

One thing I did beforehand to make things a bit easier for the kids was to cut the newspaper and tissue paper into manageable sizes. They took it from there and cut them into the sizes and shapes that they wanted.
The kids were building and checking their designs much more than they had during the previous challenges. Some discovered that when they let go of their parachute, Jack landed on his head. Deciding that that would be painful for him and most likely kill them, they worked on ways to have him land on his feet.
 I love how this group cut out the word "Wings" out of the newspaper and stuck it on top of their parachute. 
After 20 minutes we headed out to the playground to test our parachutes. The groups took turns climbing to the highest part of the play structure and letting them go.
Some landed with a thunk, some slowly spun down to ground, others were carried sideways by the wind and on a few poor Jack fell off.
No matter how Jack landed, they all had fun and wanted to send their parachutes down again.

So What Would I Tweak: 
1) The height at which we dropped the parachutes from was lower than I would have liked.  A higher spot would have been better, making the drop more exciting and last longer.

What's Next? Hansel and Gretel

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Afternoon Fun! Week 2!

Here we go....week 2 of of Afternoon Fun building challenges!

The Book: Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jim Aylesworth
The Challenge: Build a chair that will hold Brownielocks upright without having her feet help prop her up.
The Building Supplies: toilet paper rolls, construction paper, cupcake liners, coffee cup sleeves, tape (masking and regular), scissors and Brownielocks (a Marie Osmond Barbie Doll because that's all I had)
As the week went on I added the plastic lids to some of my haircare products.
Group Members: 2 children per group

The kids were thrilled to have a variety of building supplies to create their chairs out of, especially the tape since the only thing they could use last week to connect the straws together with was pipe cleaners. Because we were having so much fun with the tape, we had to discuss waste as many were taking way more than they needed and throwing the extra away. A demonstration on how to cut tape also had to be added since it was getting all twisted and tangled.
Some kids chose to use only one building material while others wanted to use all of them and to be honest, this didn't affect their level of success at all. After shopping for supplies, the building began.
They did such a great job this week working as partners. They were really listening to each others ideas and working as a team.
The kids were encouraged to test out their designs throughout the build. While very few chose to do so, those who did were able to see if they were headed in the right direction. It's unfortunate that more didn't do so as some would have seen that Brownielocks couldn't fit in the chair they were making or she leaned over and fell off.
The variety of chair designs was insane! There were chairs, couches and loungers.  Some chairs were designed with seatbelts to help keep Brownielocks in. 
She had chairs that would hold her upright.
Some kids created a brace out of paper to help her sit upright in the chair.
 This group wanted her to lounge like she was at the beach.
I was blown away by the creativity that they showed and by what they were able to make with just an handful of supplies.
Not pictured: A chair made out of one cupcake liner that actually held her upright!
After we were done testing, the kids disassembled their chairs so certain supplies could used by the next groups.

So What Would I Tweak: 
1) I would have this be the first challenge that we did since there was such a variety of building supplies to choose from. Plus all the kids have experience with chairs that they can draw from vs. the rafts we made last week.
2) I would change the doll that we used. I would choose a doll that wasn't so rigid and that couldn't sit up on their own as easily as this one could.

What's Next: Jack and the Beanstalk

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

First Grade Experience Meets Author Karlin Gray (In Person That Is!)

How lucky are we to have an author visit during summer school? Author Karlin Gray popped in and shared her new book, An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth with us. The timing was perfect because just the week before we had talked about how authors get their ideas and she started off by telling us that the idea for this book came from something her son had said. He had told her that his favorite bug was a moth to which she didn't have a very positive comment. Feeling badly about that, she did some research and learned that moths are extraordinary! Here she is reading a bit of her book to us.
She shared that she doesn't have an idea book or an idea jar but rather an idea Pinterest board. When she gets an idea she writes it down as fast as she can and then she'll see what there is on the internet on that topic and pin websites that she likes so that she can go back to them later. She found some really neat facts about moths when she was researching for An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth and shares ten of them in the back of the book.
You're not going to believe this but when she was looking over the proofs of An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth there was a moth on her ceiling! She thought it was good luck and let it stay there while she was going over the proofs.  When she was done, she ushered it outside. We also found out that the publisher thought the original title was boring, it was going to be called The Ordinary Moth. They suggested adding the word "Extraordinary" and that one word helped make it the perfect title. What's next for Karlin Gray? Next summer she has a book coming out called, Serena the Littlest Sister about Serena Williams. We are looking forward to it being published. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Afternoon Fun! Week One!

Summer School is here! I am super excited about this summer because I am getting to spend it with the kindergarteners and first graders, which is an absolute blast!  In the morning, we talk about books and all things book related. In the afternoon the classes are being given design challenges based on a fairytale. I can not taking credit for any of the idea, as I got them from various  blogs and websites.
Since I see the kids twice a week in the afternoon we spend our 30 minute period reading the book and checking out books. I also give them a sneak peek as to what materials they will be using and they like to guess what they will be making with them. During our 45 minute period the kids are given a challenge and create.

Book: The Three Billy Goats Gruff  by Jerry Pinkney. 
The Challenge: Build a raft that will get the goats from one side of the river bank to the other to get the tasty grass they so desperately wanted. The raft has to hold 5 pennies on it for 10 seconds.
The Building Supplies: straws and pipe cleaners
Group Members: 2-4 members

The kids had a lot of questions as to what a raft was. This surprised me because we are surrounded by water and seeing blow-up rafts at the beach is not uncommon. I kept the definition simple as to not limit their designs, "Something that floats on water and keeps you dry." After the kids broke into groups, they were to come up with a building plan and shop for supplies. The minute they got outside they began to work.
Several groups decided to insert the pipe cleaners into the straws and then connect bunches of the straws together with the part of the pipe cleaners that was sticking out. Some tried to lay the straws flat and tie them with the pipe cleaners and soon learned that they wouldn't stay flat that way. Some were convinced that all they only needed one straw and one pipe cleaner.
 No matter what method they chose they were encouraged to test their designs out throughout their building. Those who tested their designs out often were much more successful than those who opted out of doing so.
They also discovered that having one person place the pennies on was a safer way to get them on rather than 2-4 hands touching the raft at once.
 Here are just two of the designs that were able to hold the five pennies. Some of them created a design that could hold one or two pennies and some designs sank.
So What Would I Tweak?
1) This activity was challenging for the incoming kindergarteners for a few reasons. While they were super excited about it, a design challenge was new to them, some hadn't worked with these materials (pipe cleaners seemed pretty new to some of them) before or with such limited supplies. The group aspect was also hard for some, while they were sitting next to others, they weren't interacting or building together, they were making their own rafts. Because of this, I would move this challenge to the end of summer session, giving them more materials that they were familiar with to start and then limiting the number of supplies as time went on.  I'd also give them time to play with the pipe cleaners before using them.This would also allow me time to define working as a group and build group dynamics.

2) Straw size. This didn't hit me until the last day of the challenge as I was drinking a bubble tea. It would have been great to offer the kids various widths of straws to build with, from the traditional straw width to the bubble tea thick ones. I am going to start saving my bubble tea straws from now on.

What's next? Goldilocks and the Three Bears