Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eating Virginia

We've officially finished learning all the new material in the 4th Grade Social Studies curriculum, which means one thing.. REVIEW TIME! It's always an exciting and nerve-wracking time of year when we start to review for the SOL tests. Exciting because it means the year is almost over, tests and summer are right around the corner, and we get to do more 'fun' stuff because the information should be the second time around and not in as much detail. It's nerve-wracking for those same reasons... the tests are RIGHT around the corner and the information is not as well remembered as we would hope! So, stress-mode has begun! I'm sure the little whipper-snappers will impress us with their scores, but until they sit down to take it, it's all we can do to keep from freaking out when they 'forget' how to do a long division problem! Review time has hit full force!

To try and bring some of the said excitement and energy to the review, Danielle and I decided to make egg-free-sugar-cookie-dough maps with our kids to review the first unit of Virginia Studies. It turned out to be an INCREDIBLE, very comprehensive project as we were able to tie in rivers, cities, bordering states, products and industries, and landforms. Since we're in the midst of our Measurement unit in Math, we were able to tie that in to make it cross-curricular!

I started the day with this on the tables. They were confused. They were excited.
Students were broken into groups and each group was given the recipe and directions. I called them over to the table one at a time to mix up their dough. It was such a neat experience to mix the dough with the kids because it was so clear that most of them had spent minimal time doing these sort of things at home with parents. They had such joy just measuring a packing down a cup of brown sugar, smelling the Vanilla extract, seeing the melted butter, etc. It was a very hands-on learning activity for math. We talked briefly about how 2 cups of flour is the same as 1 pint of flour (who knew, right?) and the differences between a Tablespoon and a teaspoon.

After they mixed up their dough, the group had to take it back to their table and shape it into Virginia (following a map underneath the wax paper!). Then they had to add M&Ms to symbolize the rolling hills of the Piedmont and chocolate chips for the Blue Ridge Mountains. They used blue frosting to draw the 4 major rivers of Virginia and Skittles to represent the 5 major cities. Each group made toothpick flags with the different products and industries of each region listed. I was VERY relieved to see how accurately they placed everything. With Sharpie markers they labeled the 5 bordering states.
They say teaching teamwork, problem-solving, and cooperative skills are the best ways we can prepare these students for the unknowns of the future. I LOVE watching them work nicely in groups... it doesn't happen often or naturally!
While they worked on the other parts of the project, I was left cleaning up the aftermath. This is after I'd already wiped down all the stray flour and sugar. They're lucky I love them. :)
 When they were all together and checked for accuracy and after another whole class review, they were given the opportunities to eat the maps. I handed out Ziploc bags beforehand and told them they were to divide up their map into equal parts for the members of their group. Then, each student needed to put his or her portion in the bag and only eat a LITTLE of it because we were headed to lunch and I didn't need any bellyaches or ruined appetites. They listened surprisingly well and I only had 2 kids come up to me in the lunch line complaining of a sore stomach. I warned you! :)

We made sure to rearrange our schedule so recess was right after lunch because taking 26 sugar-filled students back into a room to attempt a math lesson sounded like torture to me. It was definitely a good choice as what we saw on the playground was pure sugar-rush. Kids running every which way with no direction or reason and lots of loud, loud voices.

My favorite line of the day came when we were lined up to head back in for recess. One of my boys came up to me and said, "Mrs. Bozung's student went crazy with sugar. He was just running around in circles. HE ATE THE WHOLE PIEDMONT!"
They turned out SO fantastic!
According to this group, Virginia is an island.... after a little clarifying, they remembered that West Virginia and North Carolina are not bodies of water, but rather bordering states.

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