Friday, September 23, 2011

Salt Maps!

We were learning about sequencing this week in Reading, and as our grade level was planning, we decided there's no easier way to assess students' ability to follow a sequence than simple direction-following! We were talking about different things we could have them create (pizza, sock puppets, etc...) and decided we could get more bang for our buck by actually making it something meaningful to our curriculum. We remembered that some of us had made salt maps with the kids a few years ago, and thought that would be a cheap and easy project.... or at least cheap. The project incorporates Math (making dough), Social Studies (regions of Virginia) and Reading (Sequencing!), so definitely a winner!

To give you all some sequencing practice of your own, here are some main events:
- Monday night, a letter to the parents/guardians and the dough recipe were sent home with every 4th grader explaining the project and giving them a heads up the dough was needed in class on Wednesday.
- Tuesday morning/afternoon, students wrote that their only homework was to make the dough and bring it in the next day and then were reminded of that fact right before dismissal.
- Wednesday morning - 9:10 am - 6 students show up with no dough. Ms. Wacek goes on a rampage about responsibility and gives her "you're going to get fired from your job if you don't bring in your work" schpiel.
- 9:20 am - Ms. Wacek finishes her speech with 25 mortified/confused/intrigued faces staring at her.
- 9:21 am - One brave student (one of the ones who 'forgot' to bring his dough) reaches into his backpack and pulls out a canister of salt and a roll of Pillsbury Grands Biscuit Dough and says, "My mom didn't have any flour, but she said I could use this."
- 9:22 am - Ms. Wacek smiles and is reminded why she loves her job. Then, she announces that LUCKILY she came prepared for those irresponsible students, but they wouldn't be so lucky next time! Six sighs of relief.
- 9:23 - 9:33 am - "You need 1 cup of salt, 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of water and knead." Repeat with next student.
- 9:25 am - Ms. Wacek smiles again when her favorite, chubby little Hispanic boy puts his hands in the dough for the first time and says, "Wow. This is really smooooooooshy."
- 9:35 - 9:55 am - Read and sequence a cute story. Pretend like the kids are paying attention to anything but the glob of messy, smooooshy dough sitting on the corner of their desks.
- 9:56 am - Classroom full of cheers when I say it's time to make our maps!
- 9:57 - 11:15 am Holy cow. What just happened? Why are you throwing dough? Why do you have dough on your nose? Why does your Virginia look like a peacock instead of a slice of pizza? Are those mountains or boobs? If I see one more person eat the dough, we're stopping this project!
- 11:16 am All maps are set to dry on the counter. "Take out your math books and don't speak... or move... or breathe."

There you have it! Looking back, it actually was a fun project and I'm guessing (hoping/praying) they learned SOMETHING from it. Social Studies test is on Monday, so I'll keep you posted! :)

**P.S. To share in my misery, one of the other 4th grade teachers found out the next day that one of her students had used pizza dough instead of salt map dough. Hello, smelly, rotten yeast and ant infestation! Oh, just another day in the life!! :)


  1. Haha! Unfortunately, I got rid of his dough, but can't seem to get rid of the ants :(

  2. LOVE it! You're the BEST, Steph! (Love, Mom...still can't figure out how to get these posts up as other than anonymous. Oh well..lots more important things in life to figure I'll just be anonymous!)

  3. (@Mom: I don't know if anybody is as expressive in comments as you are...I think that is your "signature")

    Gus--hilarious post. Also, hilarious project. And, can we talk about how you have a "schpiel" for every situation your students encounter?! It is funny to me that you equate not remembering dough for a salt map project with you WILL be fired from your job. Molding young minds!

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  5. hahahahaha My favorite part is "We don't have flour but my mom said I could use this"