Monday, May 27, 2013

Camp Munchkin & Virtual Field Trips! :)

This time of year can really test the patience of a teacher.  Not only are we feeling the summer fever, but so are the kiddos!  It is more important than ever that we have planned engaging lessons, and have lots for those munchkins to do.  Our last day is June 5th, so I need at least 6 days worth of engaging activities to keep us happy and busy.
Enter Camp Munchkin & Virtual Field Trips!  Click on this link to visit my TPT store & download the free sample.  There's a free postcard printable tucked inside! :)
I can hardly wait!!

So, the idea behind this unit is that each day, kiddos will have 2 activities that they must complete (1 math, 1 literacy) in order to receive a Merit Badge (icon sticker) for that day.  It is totally customizable, and I have attached all kinds of things to earning those Merit Badges! 

These are their camp badges.  And you know, campers must always wear their badges!
Participant Name Badges Included in Pack

I printed their camp badges (front to back with the page of circles that is included in the pack, where the Merit Badge stickers will go) and stuffed them into those plastic name badges from the local teacher store.  They are so cute walking around school in their very official badges!  Now that they've earned a few stickers on the back, they are even cuter!


 To the left is a picture of the Merit Badges (to be printed on a sticker sheet so the kiddos can cut them out and stick them on the back of their Participant Camp Badges). 

To the right is a chart that will help each little pumpkin track their progress & decide whether or not they have earned their Merit Badges for that day.  Each day coincides with an icon.  For me, Tuesday will be represented by the camper icon.

You can see that I have 6 boxes in that tracker page.  That's because along with their work requirements, they must also manage their behavior, cooperate with others, and work independently in learning stations.  You can see these expectations listed on the "Merit Badge Requirements" page inside the packet.  Feel free to tailor them to your specific needs.  There is a blank page included!

(Sample pages of math activities pictured above.)
Each morning of the Camping Week, our team will get together and sing camp songs outside.  One of the Merit requirements is that they participate well in this group activity.  See how I'm planning to really monitor their behavior?  That's because we've been a little crazy the past few weeks and my patience is thin.  This will make it so much easier and it'll keep them excited!

*Update: My team members ROCK at the Camp Songs!  Me... well, not so much.  And thanks to YouTube, I ROCK too!!!!  :)
The other part of this packet that I am terribly excited about, is the Virtual Field Trip component! 
(Insert crowds cheering & children jumping up and down here.) 
Kids LOVE virtual trips!  You don't even have to leave the room to make it crazy exciting.
Each afternoon after lunch (actually around 11:15 am for my munchkins) students will come back to the room and I will "check their badges" to make sure they are permitted to travel.  They must come prepared with their journals (literacy journals from classroom-not included in pack) and destination pages (included in the pack).

All of the information on these 2 pages are found in the National Geographic: National Parks app.  You cannot beat it!! 

Then, we will hop in our pretty little pink & purple VW Beetle Bus with a colorful camper attached (because campers don't fly, silly head) and head off to a different destination each day.
Using a few wonderful (FREE) apps pictured below, we will explore different locations and make notes on our Destination Pages (included).  We will then document the pictures we took, the souvenirs we picked up, and write about the reasons why would recommend this trip to a friend.  We will even write and illustrate a postcard to send home about our travels. 
The National Geographic:  National Parks app is the one app I expect to use the most.  We will explore national parks like The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Denali while researching details about each location like weather, main attractions, what fees we may need to pay to the enter the parks, and more!  It's a whole unit of literacy, math, science, and social studies all mixed up into one fabulous virtual trip!

*So far, we have visited Yellowstone National Park & Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  If you team up the National Geographic app with a video streaming site like Discovery, or even the websites of each park, you can likely find some great videos that really make the trip come alive.  We are learning so much & having such a great time doing it. 
My hope is that this will make the last few days of school exciting for both me and the Munchkins.  I want to end this incredible year (2 years with my k-1 loopers) on a really high note and I think this will do the trick!
Some exciting things we've added to our Camper Week is "Letters from Home."  This was not my original idea, but I sure wish it was!  One of our team members told us about this and I thought it was the greatest idea EVER!   Parents write letters to their kiddos as if they were away and camp and missed them very much.  Today, 4 campers received AMAZING letters from home.  They were so excited to read them out loud in front of fellow campers.  I must say, these parents took it really seriously. 

Following our letter reading, the kiddos wrote back to their parents telling about Camp.  Those who didn't receive letters, wrote to parents asking for letters.  It was the cutest activity of the day!!  Below are a few samples.  You'll melt reading them.  ♥

Below are a few sample pictures from our work so far this week.
Successes from our Camp Munchkin Week: Virtual field trips rock, letters from home make us all feel so loved, and everything is better when the munchkins "meet me at the campfire" (the whole group rug). Turning over tables to create our own "tents" is fun!  Covering tables with picnic table cloths and saying "go to your picnic tables" instead of "go to your tables."

Epic Failures from Camp Munchkin Week:  Tent.  I have never ever put up a tent in my entire life and I just can't do it.  So there.  I fought the tent.  The tent won. 

If you're interested in purchasing this pack, please head on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and grab one.  It's 26 49 pages of interactive fun & printables suitable for 1st & 2nd Grade.

*It has been updated (July 1, 2013) to include "Minute to Win It" type games called "Minute Madness" for each day of camp, materials are now organized by day for easy preparation, and finally a lesson plan is now included so that your administrators will know your game plan & you can keep your eye on the prize. 

Go to my TPT store & download the free sample to see what a day of camp might look like.  Then look at the end of that sample packet for a free postcard to use as you wish! 

Below is a list of all the materials included:

Literacy Activities Included (all 1/2 page)
"Before I leave..." Writing Activity
Camp Fire Graphic Organizer
Tents/Teepees Venn Diagram
"The Campsite" Short Passage & Sound/Critter Illustration
Camping Vocabulary ABC Order
Word Bank Sentence Writing
Math Activities Included
Story Problems (1/2 page)
Greater Than/Less Than  (1/2 page)
Find the Missing Addends  (1/2 page)
Fact Families  (1/2 page)
Simple Fractions  (1/2 page)
Mixed Money (full page)
Other Resources Included
Camper Badges (copy& cut out to insert into purchased badge holders)
Badge Backs (print on back of camper badges to hold merit stickers)
Merit Badge Icons (formatted to fit Avery Sticker Address Labels for easy printing & sticking by Campers)
Activities List:  How to earn a merit badge. (sample & blank pages included)
Tracking Sheet for Each Camper
Virtual Field Trip Information Included
Recommended Free iPad Apps for Integrated Technology
Destination Information Page (copy front & back)
Postcards to Illustrate & Write Home from Destinations (copy front & back)

"Minute Madness" Games for each day of Camp

Suggested Lesson Plan & Customizable Lesson Plan to Make Life Easier
I'd love to hear about your last weeks of school!  How do you manage behavior?  Do you enlist the kiddos to help clean and organize? 


Monday, May 20, 2013

Another rainforest app you can't resist! :)

Well, I am obviously a little nerdy and I get really excited to share techno-gadgets with the Munchkins.  Today, we used another rainforest app on the iPad called "Wilder Quest."  I'm pretty sure that it was free, but don't quote me on that.  I am not beyond spending a few bucks on apps for the classroom.
Anywho.... this app allows you to explore the rainforest from a whole new perspective:  as if you were standing there on the forest floor looking up and around! 
The Munchkins were amazed!!
You hold the iPad like a viewfinder and what you see on the screen is what you would see in the forest surrounding you.  There are animals to discover, photos to peruse, videos to offer more information, facts & tidbits about each critter, and so much more.  It is fascinating and exciting and (I'm pretty sure) FREE! 
Screen shot from WilderQuest on iTunes.  See how it's set up like a camera viewfinder?  The kiddos take "pictures" as they research the rainforest and the animals they find there.  I'm telling you, it is fantastic!!  :)
 Check it out and then let the Munchkins run wild.  They won't hurt anything and they'll learn so much all on they're own!
On a more serious note, my prayers go out to all those in Oklahoma tonight.  Especially those students & teachers who had to bear such an event as they did today.  My heart is with them.
This picture of the incredible sky was taken from my backyard in North Central Texas. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Take a virtual field trip to the rainforest! :)

This is my first year to ever really get deep into a unit about the rainforest.  I have loved every minute of it!!  We borrowed a lot of books from the library, used Google Images to look at some wonderful photos of the rainforests.  We've learned where they're located and what types of animals they hold.  Did you know that rainforests cover 6% of the earth's land but hold more than 50% of world's plants and animals?  I'm not sure the kids really understood that staggering statistic, but it's fascinating! 
Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia

Our favorite activity thus far has been going on a virtual field trip to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia.  Click the picture above to visit their website.  If you have an iPad, download the app (Taronga Zoo, Rainforest Heroes) from iTunes and give you & your kiddos about an hour to spend on your virtual trip.  The app is intended to be a companion to an actual visit to the zoo, but a virtual visit is the next best thing.  If you think your kiddos won't sit that long, trust me!   Mine were actively engaged the entire time and couldn't wait to go on their own self-guided trip during learning stations.

You start out with a quick introduction from the zoo keeper and then you get to enter the name of your team.  You even get to take a picture of your team which is then included in your final "report" (a PDF file you can email to yourself at the end of the trip).  If you're a lucky soul who happens to actually BE at the Taronga Zoo, this is where you'll say, "Yes, I'm at the zoo!" 
After you get set up, you'll spend a few minutes learning about how it works.  You're on a timed mission, following a map, watching wonderful videos of each animal at the exhibit, you get to choose photos to include in your final report, there's a puzzle to solve, a report to fill out, you earn points, and at the end there's a little surprise game.
I'm telling you, the Munchkins LOVED this completely FREE virtual field trip and we learned so much about how to protect the rainforest creatures, how deforestation has eliminated their homes, how poaching has impacted this incredible habitat, and so much more.
You really have to check it out if you're doing a rainforest unit with your kiddos.  If you're in the neighborhood of the Sydney Zoo, I'm completely jealous and want to live vicariously through you.
Map from the Rainforest Heroes iPad app once we'd finished visiting all the animals. (This information, including text and photographs, is ©NSW Department of Education and Communities.)
This is a sample from the 12 page PDF file that was available at the end of the mission.  The conservation information is what the kdidos were able to add themselves after reading all about the Langur.  I copied this file and sent it home with each child after our trip.  They were terribly excited and eager to see their input in print.  (This information, including text and photographs, is ©NSW Department of Education and Communities.)
Thanks for the visit!