Westward Expansion Bulletin Board

My fourth grade students do a huge Westward Expansion and Lewis and Clark unit with their general studies teacher. In an effort to support what is happening in the classroom, I created this bulletin board: 

I purchased these awesome Westward Expansion Trading Cards from the Technology Integration Depot on Teachers Pay Teachers. Each card has a graphic and a short blurb of information, I am constantly finding kiddos standing in front of the board soaking up new facts.
The trail routes on the Westward Expansion map were made using yarn (and lots of patience). The mountains are just little construction paper triangles with a dab of white paint to look like snow. Lastly, the rivers were made by twisting strips of blue tissue paper to make a sort of rope, the “rope” was then adhered to the map with glue.
 
The best part of this whole display? I’ve now seen the fourth grade general education teacher bring her students to sit in front of the bulletin board two different times to enhance her lesson. Yaaay for library resources.

Character and Setting Dioramas

I am a huge fan of cross-curricular collaborations to make learning more meaningful. My second graders are reading The One and Only Ivan in class so I recently constructed a bulletin board to feature the book and share with the community what is happening in one of the classrooms. Check out the bulletin board post here. Needless to say, the bulletin board worked. Everyone loved it, faculty, students and visitors asked second graders about the book and were encouraged to read it themselves.

When I found out the second grade kiddos were studying character and setting, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for another collaborative project. I contacted our amazing art teacher and she showed me a 3-D diorama that her daughter created for a book and we knew it was perfect for this project. I created my example using a different book so the students could be free to create without a per-conceived piece of art in their mind:

I wish I could figure out the official name of this process, I know there are other educators out there doing this and I would love to give them credit. If you have seen this process done before, or if you’re doing it yourself, please contact me in the comments section.

The students received three pieces of thick card stock, each piece is slightly smaller than the one behind it. For example, the back piece of paper is 8.5″ x 11″, the middle sheet is 8.5″ x 10″ and the front sheet is 8.5″ x 9.” This makes it so the final product curves inward and makes the diorama stand up on its own.

I cut the papers down to size and cut the window out of the front paper prior to handing them out to students. The kiddos were instructed to thinking about the following:
  • The back page (the largest piece) is to show the setting. Where did Ivan live? What did his cage look like? What was on the walls?
  • The middle page (the medium-sized piece) is to show the character(s). What did Ivan look like? How large was Ivan compared to his cage? Were there other important characters in the story?
  • The front page (the smallest piece, already cut into a frame) is to tell others what book you’re sharing. What is the title of the book? Who is the author? Who created this diorama?
It’s important to note that I cut around the character(s) after the kiddos finished their art. The pieces that turned out the best were those that were connected to the frame on 3-4 sides (the head, the arms, the legs), this made the character stay upright when on display. You can see this in some of the examples below:
The art teacher stopped by to check in and remind students to pay close attention to their craftsmanship. What details can be included to make your art even more interesting? In beautiful paintings are the backgrounds blank or do they include colors and interesting features? These questions really helped students to create some amazing pieces.
These dioramas went on display in the foyer of the school and they were a bit hit. I love successful collaborations that work to serve our students and provide them with a wonderful learning experience!

The One and Only Ivan Bulletin Board

My second graders are currently reading The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate with their classroom teacher and I wanted to amp up excitement about the book.
Initially, I had intended to simply put up the cover of the book and add some interesting facts about the real Ivan. Wait, Ivan was real? He sure was. Check out the Katherine Applegate’s webite, she has a great deal of information about the real Ivan. She also has a new book coming out in October 2014 – Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla.
In true librarian form, the more research I did, the more excited I got about the One and Only Ivan bulletin board. I ended up with a slew of facts about not only the real Ivan, but about the gorilla population, as a whole. I also added an (almost) life-size cut out of a gorilla. The paper gorilla ended up being 5’4″ with an arm span of 8 feet.
I used an overhead projector to trace the gorilla and then free-hand cut his face out of a piece of gray construction paper. 
The board has been up for two days now and people have constantly been coming in to share their excitement! I love watching the kiddos stand there and reading all the interesting facts, it has been far more engaging than I ever anticipated. The facts include:
 
  • The average male gorilla stands between 5 and 7 feet.
  • The arm span of an average male gorilla is almost 9 feet!
  • The average male gorilla eats over 40 pounds of food per day, the average American person eats 5-6 pounds of food per day.
  • Gorillas are herbivores – they eat leaves, shoots, roots, vines and fruits.
  • The lifespan of an average male gorilla is 35 years. Ivan lived to be 50 years old.
  • There are 4 subspecies of gorillas: Eastern lowland, Mountain, Western lowland, Cross River.
  • Gorillas are an endangered species, there are less than 300 Cross River gorillas left in the world.
  • The One and Only Ivan is fictional, but was inspired by a true story.
  • Ivan was a male Western lowland gorilla.
  • Ivan was captured in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Ivan and (what is believed to be) his sister were captured as infants and brought to the United States. Ivan’s sister died shortly after arriving.
  • Ivan was raised in a home until he became too big and unmanageable. He was moved to the B&I Circus Store in Tacoma, Washington.
  • Ivan’s cage in Tacoma was only 40 feet by 40 feet!
  • Ivan spent 27 years alone in his cage without seeing another of his kind.
  • When the mall where Ivan lived went bankrupt (they didn’t have any money), he was moved to the Zoo Atlanta. Before his move to Atlanta, Georgia, Ivan spent a short time at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
I did include a citation sheet on my bulletin board so I could model that behavior for students. I found my information on the following sites:
 

Updated! Shark Week Storytime

Updated! Shark Week Storytime

A few weeks back I planned to do an ocean-themed storytime to go with my Reader’s Reef genre bulletin board. What started as ocean-themed quickly turned into something attuned to Shark Week in the library. There are just too many adorable shark projects and ideas on Pinterest. I couldn’t help myself!

My book selections were good, but I will definitely make some changes for next time around. I absolutely love Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen, it is a new favorite! The kids loved, loved, loved it!
I think I’m a Shark by Bob Shea is an adorable book for students to read and check out, but it wasn’t great for reading aloud. I think next year I’ll display it, but not use it in the storytime.
Last came Wave by Suzy Lee. This. Book. Is. Wonderful. I actually really enjoy using wordless books for storytime, the kids always impress me with their level of engagement and focus. The pictures are amazing and the “story” is so sweet. Love this one!
 
Between books we sang “Five Little Fishies” and used the shark and fish felts (my husband’s favorite). All credit for this goes to Jane from Piper Loves the Library! I fell in love with her shark so much, that I had to make one of my own. I love his big-toothed smile and semi-grimacing eyebrow furrow. Like Jane, I mounted him on black felt so that his tail and fins wouldn’t be so fragile.
 
“Five Little Fishies”
(Sung to the tune of Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree)
 
Five little fishes, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
 
Four little fishes, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
 
Three little fishes, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
 
Two little fishes, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
 
One little fishie, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
 
Burp … I’m full.
 

Thank you, Jane, this was a wonderful success!!!Update: Thanks to Shark Week on Discovery Channel, there are a gazillion shark-themed ideas on Pinterest. These are just a few I tried (and loved!):

 Shark Fin Hats, aren’t they fun! Pinned by Raquel Hernandez, I was unable to locate the original source. I simply cut strips of blue construction paper, stapled them together and added a fin (with some CHOMP marks). So easy and so fun!

The idea for this darling clothespin shark comes from Estefi Machado. The blog is in Portuguese and while I was able to translate the post through Google, it was still a challenge to understand. So, I took my best guess.

 I did a sketch on white card stock, outlined it with black marker and added some color.

 The fishy is attached with a small section of wooden toothpick, glued to the back of the clothespin.

 Cute and fun!

 Another fast and fun shark craft? The shark clothespin for developing fine motor skills, from Make, Do and Friend. Just paint, glue and play!

 I painted my sharky with blue acrylic paint, added a construction paper fin, and squiggly eyes.

The white paint was tough… I had to clamp the clothespin open in order for it to dry and even then, the teeth stuck together. Still cute.

 
Up next… I’m debating creating a storytime entirely dedicated to peas. Hmmm, what do you think? You might be asking yourself, “Why peas?” Well, they’re healthy, they’re green (I’m a fan of doing color-themed storytimes) and peas in a pod are absolutely adorable. Think of the craft possibilities! Pinterest, here I come!

Under the Ocean Genre Bulletin Board

 I meant to put my Reader’s Reef board together a month ago, but then the Seahawks went and got into the Super Bowl (yaaaay!) and I put up a football bulletin board. This meant a change in my bulletin board schedule. Yep, that’s right, I schedule my bulletin boards in advance, sometimes as much as two months. It’s because of Pinterest, really. There are just too many amazing inspirations, I have to devise a plan to bring all of those pins to fruition.

My latest library bulletin board was inspired by Courtney and her stunning Teaching in Paradise blog. When I was looking for genre posters on TPT (and desperately wishing I could do graphic design), I came across this set from Ginger Snaps Treats (you can also find her on Teachers Notebook). I loved the poster set so much that I bought my own home laminator and now they are shiny and eternally beautiful.

I found a fun ocean-themed clip art set from MyClipArtStore on Etsy and the color scheme just popped! I made some coral using construction paper, tempera paint and a crumpled paper towel and voilĂ !

I only wish my camera could do it justice…
 

Just a Little More Tu B’Shevat

Okay, I promise this is the last Tu B’Shevat-insipred post, but I just couldn’t resist sharing the piece de resistance! And I won’t say much, because I think it speaks for itself…
The tree is made of recycled brown paper bags, the leaves are pages from an old book (cut into heart shapes and painted with green tempera paint), the wording is made from twigs picked up off of the school playground, and the moss is from Hobby Lobby (it would have taken waaaaay too long to dry moss from outside–this is Seattle, after all).
 
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