The second grade recently completed a writing unit on Fractured Fairy Tales, traditional fairy tales which have been slightly altered to create a new twist. Traditional stories like The Three Little Pigs may be altered and rewritten to become The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. We read a number of fractured fairy tales, many of which are quite inventive. We then discussed the many features of these altered tales and took a stab at writing one of our own. We went through the whole writing process before arriving at our finished piece. We shared our inventive tales with first grade and third grade in order to give our work the credit it deserved. Fractured fairy tales such as The Broccoli Man, The Three Little Owls, The Three Big Bad Wolves, and The Three Little Purple Hippos to name a few, were well received and enjoyed by all.
As part of our unit on natural resources, 2nd grade worked with Mr. Ross-MacCormack in the makerspace to build shelters. We spent some time in the classroom identifying the natural resources found in our furniture and homes. We then went to the makerspace where we built bricks out of quick drying clay. Once we made a large bounty of bricks we got to work on building some kind of shelter or community building. We created mortar out of glue and sand and used bark, straw and sticks for roofing. Some of us chose to made a school, museum or cafe. It involved lots of creativity and teamwork from all parties involved.
The second grade class was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit with a published author. Catherine Pakkala, who writes a juvenile fiction chapter book series called Lola, came to talk to us about her writing process. Ms. Pakkala’s visit was perfectly timed as the students were in the process of exploring narrative writing and small moment stories. Ms. Pakkala shared with the students her small moment which led to the creation of the character of Lola and eventually an entire series. She then led us in a creative writing process which guided us in the creation of a group story.
As a Mandarin teacher I am always amazed with my students’ enthusiasm for immersing themselves into culture differences while also appreciating their own culture. This year in class students did an experiment using the style of Chinese culture used to celebrate a traditional American holiday — Thanksgiving.
As the above photos have demonstrated, kindergarteners used the traditional Chinese fan to draw pictures and color the characters for Happy Thanksgiving. For the same purpose, grade 1 made their own Chinese lanterns. To my surprise during the school Thanksgiving feast, grade 1 students volunteered to bring their own lanterns to the feast to show their work to the community. With the beautiful drawing and character handwriting, grade 2 students made their holiday cards look quite unique and impressive.
Even with the traditional concept of expressing the gratitude with the heart shape, the character handwriting, craft materials and the drawing about the holiday revealed seamlessly the combination of American culture and Chinese culture in third and fourth grade student work. Grade 5 and 6 student work led the culmination of the combination of two cultures with their impressive handwriting and drawing on the small gourds.
This experiment turned out to be a quite pleasant experience for students to celebrate their traditional holiday. It has also boosted student interest and curiosity to explore more. Two weeks later, I received the request from most of my classes, “ Zhang Laoshi, can we do something for Christmas like we did for Thanksgiving? Please. Please.” Happily enough we all realized next December in class we will be busy with another holiday 圣诞节 (sheng dan jie, Christmas). Merry Christmas, everybody!
Students in second grade are quickly learning the basics in creating and composing their own short melodies. Students have been studying note values and what those values mean in a time signature of 4/4. Using our white boards students took their knowledge and ran with it. Making sure to only have four beats in each measure, creating clear measure lines, and a clear ending to their melodies students were quickly composing. The most exciting part was when I took these short melodies and played them for the class. Each student had a great sense of pride listening to something they wrote!
The second grade class went on a field experience to the Audubon society for a workshop on Fall Ponding. Together with our guide we brainstormed what life in the pond could look like in the fall. We spoke about the time of year and it’s effect on pond life. We then went down to the pond where our guide lifted samples of plant life and water for us to investigate. We came up close and personal with many creatures and insects. Our guide captured several bull frogs and taught us the difference between the males and females.