Thursday, October 15, 2015

Mayflower Voyage

Last week my class set sail on the Mayflower! We had a blast. While they were at specials, I assembled our "Mayflower." It was nothing fancy, but I still think it was memorable!

I bought plastic tablecloths for $1 at Walmart, some candle night lights from the Dollar Tree, and used tape to tape up the sides of the "ship." Once again, nothing fancy, but with the lights out, it was pretty convincing.

I did a search on You Tube for creaking ship sounds and found some great ones! With the lights out, candles on, and the ship sounds in the background, it was very realistic I think. I had the class cram into the small space so they could feel how they would have been very close on such a small ship with 102 passengers! I read them some of the conditions and scenarios that occurred on the Mayflower. We stayed "onboard" for about 15 minutes to talk about conditions and such. I have made them hardtack when I have done this in the past, but forgot this year!

When we disembarked from the ship, we conducted a detective mystery case that I got from a teaching book. The case was a clue left on the Mayflower, which was a note about the Mayflower Compact and how not everyone wanted to sign it. We then discussed the Mayflower Compact and did a Reader's Theater together. The kids loved it and I think it was a memorable lesson!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Jamestown Lesson: Fear Factor

I am wrapping up my teaching of Jamestown this week. It is always one of my students' favorite topics! There is just so many interesting parts to it! We are almost finished reading "Blood on the River." If you haven't read this book, you should! It is awesome! My class gets so into it and it is very close to actuality (based on primary sources.) 

I am always looking for ways to hook my students into history! I will do anything to get them to buy into my lesson.

Yesterday we did a fun lesson that I call Fear Factor: Jamestown Style! Have you seen the show "Fear Factor"? The idea is that contestants have to face their fears to win big money! I think Jamestown would be like that in that the colonists were all facing very real fears, but instead of a monetary reward, they were trying to save their own lives! 

I start the lesson with looking at some primary sources and having students analyze them together with their table groups. Students present their findings and earn points for their groups.

Then, I have a food portion of the game! I go to the store and buy the most disgusting foods that I can find... like baby food, canned meat, sardines, picked pigs feet, etc. (YUCK)
The students eat it up! (literally) The student to eat the food the fastest and show me that there isn't any left in their mouth, gets a point for their team.

I didn't get any pictures of the food part because I was so involved in watching them compete for their teams by taking down the gross food! Needless to say, there are plenty of kids willing to eat some gross stuff for the sake of points for their team. 

I always make sure that the students don't have any food allergies before I buy anything and it is always optional to compete in the food portion.

Finally, we tally up all the team points and then I give some kind of reward for the winning team (like candy or Dojo Points.) 

I think next time I will pick up some mints for everyone to enjoy afterwards to get the nasty taste out of their mouth from whatever they had to eat in the challenge.

This is a lesson that students keep talking about for days afterwards! If you want to see more and get the whole lesson, here is a link.

What do you do to hook your students in?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Jamestown Ship Building Project

Yesterday was out annual ship building project! As a fifth grade, we recreate the 2 ships that came from England to start Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America. It is truly one of my favorite projects all year. My students look forward to it for weeks. I have been asking for streamers and masking tape donation for weeks too. Here are some pictures of the fun we had!

Once "built" we sit in the grass inside to do a reader's theater and journal from the perspective of an actual passenger aboard one of the ships.

For more information on this lesson, see this blog post about it a couple years ago.