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From Past to Present: Famous Americans MEGA Unit


You guys, I am so excited to finally share the pride and joy I’ve been working on and cultivating for the better half of a year. I began this product when pregnant and knowing I wanted to create an engaging note taking flip-book I set to work. Then, you know, I had a baby and all and somehow this sat on the back burner. As I got adjusted to being a new mom (and putting in a lot of effort into my lifestyle blog) I rediscovered this project and set to work on it once again.

Today, I am happy to share with all of you everything you’ll need to engage those little learners of yours when introducing them to your unit on Famous Americans!

Due to every state being different in terms of which Americans one studies in grades K-3rd, I’ve decided to include the majority of the ‘famous’ ones:

- George Washington
- Abraham Lincoln
- MLK
- Jackie Robinson
- George Washington Carver
- Susan B. Anthony
- Harriet Tubman (as seen in photos)
- Rosa Parks
- Thomas Jefferson
- Thurgood Marshall
- Betsy Ross
- Benjamin Franklin



There are two types of note workbooks available for you.

First, I have a basic template that is easily put together and enhances any curriculum you already use to instruct. Each slide is a full page perfect for your little learners to fill in the basic information about each historical figure. Simply print copies and teach one figure at a time or opt to print the ones you need and keep them in one handy workbook.



Second, is this flip-book style of note taking which surely to engage your students and keep their minds thinking about the particular person being covered that day. There are 5 slides per figure (cover page, biography, fun facts, contribution, and timeline) and each page requires the student to either complete the information whether it be through research or copying from a provided presentation by you, the teacher. The contribution page will demonstrate that the student understands the figure’s importance to U.S. history and citizenship, and finally, the timeline is an extra skill practice by filling in important events during that persons life. It’s a great culminating activity!

Pick & Choose What To Teach!

Because it’s a flip-book teachers can also choose whether to omit a page. Don’t need to cover timelines or afraid students aren’t ready for that skill yet? Don’t include it! ;)

Assessments or Anecdotals?

This packet is also great for using as anecdotal notes or assessments with having the first two pages be a guided instruction piece, leaving the writing and timelines to be graded. This download really works in any capacity!

TAKE A CLOSER LOOK!

Biography

Each booklet begins with a section for students to copy the name (a bit of handwriting practice) of the historical figure in which they’re learning. Basic facts such as birth and death dates are provided, a state/colony diagram for students to fill in where they were born, and a few biographical facts to fill or color in.


Fun Facts

After the biography section, students will move onto the chunkiest part of information presented. I’ve personally designed this section to be a mixture of skill practice and requires students to answer simple questions or fill-in-the-blank with specific pieces of information about that person. This section can be used along with any unit plan/PowerPoint slides, etc. or can be easily used as a review packet.



Contributions

The biggest part of learning about our Famous Americans are recognizing the contributions they’ve made on our society or country as a whole. Each person is a valued member of our nation’s history and it’s important for students, as citizens of the United States, to be able to understand how they’ve impacted change, civil rights, and progressed our country over time.

This section ties in writing skills by focusing on a paragraph using the guiding phrases. Students simply take the information they filled in on the previous page (along with any other information they learned) and condense it into a paragraph summing up how that figure contributed to our country. I love this section because each student can reflect and use whichever facts they like; making each paragraph unique.

Timeline

A timeline is a skill students are introduced to and use in first grade. However, timelines make appearances in second grade as well when students begin reading nonfiction books and learn to use them as tools to comprehend their reading. Why not tie, yet again, this skill when studying Famous Americans?

This section can differ depending on which grade you teach. 
  • You may provide your own timeline where students simply copy what you’ve already compiled
  • Students can be sent to a nonfiction station that provide a variety of text on that person. While reading, they record what they find as they fill in their own timelines.
  • As a whole group you can project events in that person’s life out of order for students to rearrange based on their knowledge.
See? There’s all kinds of ways to work on chronological order with timelines no matter how facilitated you’d like to be with your students. Either way, they’re engaged in their learning and practicing an important skill all at the same time.


Teacher Answer Keys!

Each packet whether you use the traditional notes or the flip-book comes with a Teacher Answer Sheet. This provides all the answers to the fill-in-the-blanks, which, of course, takes the guesswork out of the equation on your end!

Easy Preparation!

Another reason this packet is an essential product to have for your classroom instruction is because it’s a simple: print, copy, staple and done! You can also print them out and have your students assemble those packets or put your very kind parent volunteers to work on the task! Either way, this download takes all the hard work out of your hands.

GIVEAWAY


In celebration of adding this to my TpT shop, I’m giving THREE READERS a chance to win a copy for free for their classrooms! Be sure to share this giveaway for an extra entry each day! Giveaway runs from Jan 15, 2017 and ends on Jan 22, 2017

Digging Into Ancient China!

One of the major units we would cover beginning in January is our Ancient China unit. This was a pretty lengthy unit in that I find teaching cultures to be a lot of fun but it can be a lot of material to cover in just a few weeks. In my history with teaching Ancient China I’ve found that my kids LOVED it - from learning about their history and traditions to how we celebrate Chinese American culture here in the U.S. It’s just a lot of fun!

Happy New Year everyone!

One of the major units we would cover beginning in January is our Ancient China unit. This was a pretty lengthy unit in that I find teaching cultures to be a lot of fun but it can be a lot of material to cover in just a few weeks. In my history with teaching Ancient China I’ve found that my kids LOVED it - from learning about their history and traditions to how we celebrate Chinese American culture here in the U.S. It’s just a lot of fun!

A packet that I’ve created has been the proven way to keep all of our learning in one place. It also begins early note-taking skills, which I think are extremely important! I’m surprised at how well they learn to take notes and locate information for themselves. And who says we can’t mix some language arts skills into our social studies units?? :)

My student workbook consists of the major topics we cover during the unit:
  1. Geography (Where In the World? and The Land)
  2. Climate
  3. Written Language (Calligraphy)
  4. Inventions
  5. Contributions (The Great Wall)
Plus some fun topics that adds to the engagement of learning about the Ancient Chinese culture:
  1. Silk
  2. Chinese New Year
  3. The Zodiac
  4. Clothing and Hair
The best part about this updated workbook is that it now includes a teacher copy with all the answers! My first edition didn’t include that and it was my top feedback so I listened! I hope you enjoy!

One of the major units we would cover beginning in January is our Ancient China unit. This was a pretty lengthy unit in that I find teaching cultures to be a lot of fun but it can be a lot of material to cover in just a few weeks. In my history with teaching Ancient China I’ve found that my kids LOVED it - from learning about their history and traditions to how we celebrate Chinese American culture here in the U.S. It’s just a lot of fun!

One thing I added to this revamped version of my packet is an optional student brochure project. I found my first year teaching 2nd grade I had some pretty high students in that they loved being challenged and grasped the content pretty quickly. So, I created a project that can either be done with the whole class or as extra credit for those thirsty for more.

One of the major units we would cover beginning in January is our Ancient China unit. This was a pretty lengthy unit in that I find teaching cultures to be a lot of fun but it can be a lot of material to cover in just a few weeks. In my history with teaching Ancient China I’ve found that my kids LOVED it - from learning about their history and traditions to how we celebrate Chinese American culture here in the U.S. It’s just a lot of fun!

I’ve included a parent letter explaining the purpose of the project, an info page for students explaining what’s expected, and a rubric. I’ve also added blank templates of these forms so you can edit them to fit your classroom’s needs!

This download also includes fun videos and other resources you can use throughout the unit in addition to the workbook.

I’ve loved this unit since I first began teaching it and I hope you find this resource helpful in tackling the content!

Engaging Those Reluctant & Excelling Writers

How exactly do I manage to grab the attention and excitement for writing from both groups of kids? Well, ever since I began Discovery Journals with my class it has been proven to show an increase in student involvement both in school and at home.

We all have those students who are reluctant writers. They are the quiet ones and are those students who don’t actively ask for help. They hope they can be unseen and overshadowed by the more advanced writers in the class - and will even find ways to become distracted so they don’t have to put pencil to paper. I’ve had my fair share and I can’t blame them for not enjoying writing. It can be a difficult subject for some and depending on their experiences before stepping into my classroom they may already be frustrated or unconfident in their abilities before they even start.

We also know those students who lie on the opposite spectrum - these are the advanced writers. They love to write and often grasp writing skills quickly and are amongst the first to finish. These students enjoy writing and are eager for a challenge just to keep their minds busy. Teachers often times miss these students too because their focus are on those middle-of-the-road students and assign mundane review tasks just so the excelling students stay busy.

How exactly do I manage to grab the attention and excitement for writing from both groups of kids? Well, ever since I began Discovery Journals with my class it has been proven to show an increase in student involvement both in school and at home. 

Discovery Journals is an at-home research/informative writing project that spans the entire school year. It is optional and is not graded, however I do look over each journal and make little notes to the student as guidance for their following entry. I typically begin this activity a few months after school has started - just so kids aren’t overwhelmed and gives them time to get settled in academically.

I always share with students this new opportunity and how it will give them extra practice with their writing skills. What’s the hook? They get to choose the topic of their writing each and every week (student choice is everything!). Beginning with the letter A and moving through the alphabet, they are to pick a topic, research it at home either using books or supervised online resources, then use the provided brainstorming sheets to record their facts and write a short paragraph or two as an informative writing piece. Students are then to present their writing in a oral presentation to the class on a day designated by the teacher (I typically pick Friday). 

How exactly do I manage to grab the attention and excitement for writing from both groups of kids? Well, ever since I began Discovery Journals with my class it has been proven to show an increase in student involvement both in school and at home.

The main structure of this project is for students to properly plan their writing so they have material to which to write with. The planning sheets include A-Z and once students complete Z they can pick their own topics. These blacklines allow students to:

- draw a picture of their topic (example: alligators (sketch a picture))
- come up with a topic sentence that hooks the reader
- three facts to use within their writing
- find one new vocabulary word to use in their writing and define it for their readers
- a concluding sentence

Afterwards, students are equipped with enough material to begin their writing, which they will complete within their Discovery Journals (aka composition notebook). 

How exactly do I manage to grab the attention and excitement for writing from both groups of kids? Well, ever since I began Discovery Journals with my class it has been proven to show an increase in student involvement both in school and at home.

I always try to give my parents as much information up front as possible. I never try to assume that they know how each little assignment or project is supposed to be completed - even if I feel like I do a great job at explaining it. Since composition notebooks are the only material that parents need to provide, it is important that students find the ‘just right’ notebook for their abilities. So, I provided this (above) optional handout for teachers to send home with the parent letter so they know what kind of writing tablet they should be looking for for their child.

How exactly do I manage to grab the attention and excitement for writing from both groups of kids? Well, ever since I began Discovery Journals with my class it has been proven to show an increase in student involvement both in school and at home.

This is a sign-up sheet that is again optional for your class. I often have a lot of students showing interest every year and it makes it easy for me to keep a log as to who is participating. This sheet can be laminated for use every year or simply printed out and kept in your teacher binder for reference.

I am always so excited to share this with my kiddos and hope you can engage your students too with this fun at-home project!


Styling With Stitch Fix | December


My girl Whitney has done it again this month and I couldn’t be more excited to share with all of you the pieces I received in my December fix! This is the first time in a very long time that I actually purchased all 5 items, but it was also a very easy choice to make. This month I knew I would be doing a little traveling for Christmas with my little family and the temperatures are beginning to drop here in Ventura, so I was in need for some sweaters and an update to my outerwear selection that I could wear all season long and are easy to pack.
When it comes to winter-wear for me it needs to be lightweight considering our winter is a brisk 65-70 degrees with a chance of wind. Living by the water causes things to be extra chilly these next couple months. I am always looking for layerable pieces too since temperatures can change throughout the day and depending where we are. Whitney heard my call loud and clear and shipped me some pretty amazing pieces that were flattering, in beautiful winter colors, and most importantly, lightweight and practical for my beach living lifestyle.
To see my entire post and what I received in my December fix head on over to my lifestyle blog!

Ringing In 2017 | A NYE Craftivity + Writing Prompts

Ringing In 2017 | A NYE Craftivity + Writing Prompts

Getting Crafty

Craftivities really help engage our little learners because it requires them to interact with the lesson in a tangible way. It keeps them working and their brains thinking all the while taking in new skills. This NYE writing unit combines reflective writing prompts with a fun craft for students to create! 

Students will create a self-portrait of sorts using any coloring materials you’d like. I personally love using glitter on the 2017 glasses because it really adds a pop of detail and brightens up the bulletin board, hallway, or wherever you’d like to display them. The kiddos design their own party hats (can even be used in math with some kind of glyph!) and attach their writing so that the final product looks like their person is holding their new years resolutions writing. I love this activity every year because it’s a great introduction to writing after a long winter break.
Ringing In 2017 | A NYE Craftivity + Writing Prompts

 Prompt Variety

This unit also includes a variety of writing prompts that will be sure to get your kiddos thinking about the year ahead. There’s always so much talk about setting resolutions, or goals, and this is the perfect time to introduce, or re-introduce, goal setting. Resolutions don’t have to be cumbersome goals, but rather little goals here and there that are attainable within a reasonable amount of time. Have students think about the areas (both in school and out) where they would like to improve and the ways in which they can take steps towards achieving that goal.

NYE celebrations also look different for each family or culture so why not showcase this classroom diversity? Having your students share how they celebrated will be sure to be a fun discussion and sharing time upon returning to school.

These prompts don’t all have to be used as a whole group writing activity either. Simply place them into a reading center or use as morning work on those first few days back from winter break!
Ringing In 2017 | A NYE Craftivity + Writing Prompts
Sometimes students need a little prompting to get their creative minds working! I love this Counting Down To A New Year handout because it gets my kids thinking about specific details they can add to their writing about their new years goals. 

Ringing In 2017 | A NYE Craftivity + Writing Prompts
Lastly, reflection on our growth is important regardless if you’re a student or an adult. This worksheet has students reflect on the past, present, and future and how they can improve over time. It’s also a great way to show them that although they may not realize it at the time, growth does occur and one should be proud of those achievements. Have students think about where they started, how they’re doing on that goal now, and how they can stretch themselves in the future. Such a great conclusion to this lesson!

How do you celebrate NYE or goal setting in your classroom? Link up your blog post in the comments below!