Thursday, March 28, 2013

a mexican fiesta!

Caps for Sale!  Poor me, this is how I had to carry all the first graders' sombreros.Thank goodness it is finally Easter break.  As I mentioned before, during the entire month of March, our entire school was studying Mexico.  Our month was NUTS!  Each teacher took a turn teaching the entire school about a different aspect of the country--geography, history, government, animals, plants, religion, economy, art, and the culture itself.  Of course, it being my first year here--first time doing All School Unit, first time teaching the entire school, first time this, first time that--I was super nervous about the entire month.  It is such huge relief to have gotten through the entire month mostly in one piece.

We started the month with the All School Unit opening earlier in the month--the parents brought Mexican history to life through a tour starting with the students meeting a pirate who was searching for treasure in Mexico and invited them to join him.  They got to visit with a Mayan woman, an Aztec ruler, a Spanish conquistador and Pancho Villa in a very elaborate set up, complete with painted backdrops, gold and trees filled with handmade Monarch butterflies.  I wish I had pictures to share--but I was so excited/anxious/nervous about Opening Day, I left my camera behind!

Throughout the month, each teacher took an afternoon and taught everyone.  I taught the whole school about the history and government of Mexico.  Not an easy topic to make appropriate for K-2 and make teachable in 45 minutes.  I ended up really focusing on the ancient cultures of Mexico--the Olmecs, the Maya and the Aztecs--and quickly going over the Spanish takeover and modern Mexico (the teacher who covered religion went more in depth about when the Spanish came and the teacher who taught about the Mexican economy was able to focus more on modern Mexico as well).

A not-so-good quality picture of my minibookAlong with each teacher's lesson, each of us was responsible for making a minibook to showcase what the students learned in our lesson.  At the end of the month, we put all of the minibooks together and each student had a lapbook to showcase everything they learned all month.  A lot of us took the concept of a minibook very loosely--we had pockets with review cards, maps, and little books.  My minibook ended up involving much more work than I had originally envisioned, but it still turned out really great.  I created 5 tiny tiny books (about two inch square books) with a bit of information inside, and then the kiddos glued those on a strip of paper and accordion folded it to create a timeline.

My first graders never fail to amaze me in their creativity and abilities as the year goes on.  I had them decorate the covers of their lapbooks on Monday.  Over the weekend, I cut out the letters to spell out "Mexico" with my Cricut and gave the first graders the option of using those letters.  Some of them chose to use them, and others chose not to.  I also had a selection of small coloring pages for them to color and cut out if they wanted.  Some used them, others did not, and many of them used the Flag of Mexico coloring page. 

The kindergarten teacher and I went back and forth on whether we would have our kiddos do this or if we would do it for them--she ended up doing  it for her kids, and I ended up letting mine do it themselves.  I am so glad I decided that!  We glued all their minibooks inside on Tuesday.  Before they went to work, we talked about how this was going to be like a giant puzzle, that we needed to fit all eight things inside, and not to glue anything until you were sure where you wanted everything to go.

Tuesday night was the closing ceremony, and the whole school was again involved.  The sixth graders performed a skit, the younger kiddos sang a song and the bigger kiddos did a dance.  Almost all of the parents were there to see this--including my mom and mother-in-law.  The kids brought their parents down to their classrooms afterwards and showed them everything they had made during the month.  When my kids came to our room, their lapbooks were on their desks to show off, along with the Ojo de Dios they made hanging on the wall and their Flat Friend (like Flat Stanley) hanging on the bulletin board with a speech bubble telling what they had learned in Mexico.
Add in the crazy fun of Food Day, Fun Day (piñatas!  games!  more food!), and the luncheon, our month was nuts.  Today is my first day of break--and I have so far enjoyed sleeping in, going for a run, playing with the furbabies, a nice looooooong shower and debating what to spring clean first.

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