Monday, February 11, 2013

Mardi Gras Madness!

Ok, ok...I have a confession to make. Before I begin my post on Mardi Gras and all the fun ways I have worked the celebration into my classroom this past week, I need to come clean. Let me preface this confession by saying that I do LOVE Mardi Gras.  You could even say I ADORE it. I shamefully admit; however, that I completely skipped all Mardi Gras celebrations and traditions this year, except those that took place in my own classroom. Not a single parade attended nor king cake eaten (does watching my students eat them count?) . Why?, you may ask. How could you?, you might say. Well....I promise you I have a great explanation.

That's right, I traded the biggest celebration of southern culture for a much more northern and colder environment. And I have another confession...I could TOTALLY get used to this. I have spent the past four days falling gliding gracefully down ski slopes and enjoying wine by the fire. And most importantly, I have not given schoolwork one single, solitary second of my thoughts. Needless to say, it's been great! :) Tomorrow is back to reality for me and back to preparations for our return to school on Valentine's Day! And, as promised, I wanted to take this opportunity to share the fun my class and I had having our very own Mardi Gras celebration last week.

We began our fun unit by reading a few precious texts written by local Louisiana authors. These books were such a fun way to talk about the reason for Mardi Gras traditions. I even learned a few new things myself! Here is one of our favorites:

We then continued our study of Cajun culture by reading a few traditional fairytales and their Cajun counterparts to practice our ability to compare and contrast the stories and their characters. It was such a great way to get my students drawing connections.
 Our favorite? Petite Rouge. Oh. My. Word. Please tell me you have read it with your class! It is possibly the best book we have read all year. I know I sounded ridiculous making a Cajun accent throughout the reading, but my kiddos ate it up!! They were begging for me to re-read the story all week, and I gladly obliged.

In math, we started out our little unit on perimeter by creating our very own definition. First I showed my kiddos the perimeter of various shapes as well as pictures of what was NOT the perimeter of those shapes. Then, using the pictures, I had the kids develop their own definition. It was so awesome to see them create their own knowledge! That was definitely one of my most favorite teaching moments. 
We then talked about how non-standard units could be used when measuring perimeter just like they can be used when measuring length. Next, I divided the class into groups and gave each their very own "king cake". The kids then used Mardi Gras doubloons to measure the perimeter, after making their own estimates first, of course. When they finished, they passed their cake on to the next group and continued the activity until all the cakes were measured. I made the "king cakes" using poster board and good old fashioned crayons.

We used the following recording sheet to keep track of our work. Click the picture below to get your own copy!

We finished our unit with possibly the most FUN activity to date...a King Cake taste test! I found mini-cakes on sale at Target for $5 a pop, so I snagged one in each of the following flavors: cinnamon, strawberry, and cream cheese. I brought them to school the day before our holiday for the kids to about positive behavior incentive! My littles worked so hard all day so they could earn their beloved treat. Of course, it isn't all play and no work in Ms. Johnson's class, so we followed up our taste test with a graphing and data analyzation activity. Click the picture below to get your very own copy!

It was a close call, but cinnamon took first place! I made a giant king cake bulletin board to display our data, but after looking at it, I realized it looked nothing at all like king cake and a whole lot like a picture frame. :( I'll have to brainstorm improvements to share next year!

If you're in need of more Mardi Gras themed activities, you can check out my unit on TPT
I hope your Monday was extra special! Happy Mardi Gras to all, and to all a good night!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

It's Carnival Time!

Happy Sunday, sweet friends!!

After much inner-conflict, I decided to throw together a little Mardi Gras unit for my dear kiddos. We can't possibly celebrate Valentine's Day while COMPLETELY ignoring the fabulous holiday that is the entire reason for our (much needed) three day vacation next week, now can we?! I didn't think so either! 
So, a few iced coffees and some great Pandora stations later and.... VOILA! 
I present my newest TPT unit...

This unit does not even begin to cover the fun we have planned for next week!! Our agenda includes just a few of the following activities:

King Cake taste-testing and graphing
Reading and connecting to a variety of Cajun-themed books
Mardi Gras float design
and SO much more!!

I will be sure to post all of these activities as the week progresses! If you're in need of some center activities to celebrate this great holiday, please check out my newest unit by clicking on the picture above!

Stay tuned for a look at all of our V-Day and Mardi Gras activities! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!