Tuesday, November 24, 2015

All Saint's Day with Some Guatemalan Flair!

One of my favorite Guatemalan holidays is Dia de Todos los Santos!

This translates to the more familiar "All Saint's Day" and takes place every year on November 1st. 

Now, many people when thinking of Latin American on November 1st immediately think of Guatemala's upstairs neighbor, Mexico. Mexico has Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which is celebrated with sugar skulls and parades. 

Guatemala's celebration is a bit different...

In Guatemala, people celebrate by flying KITES!!

Traditionally, families go the town cemeteries to decorate and picnic near loved ones graves. Then they fly kites, called barriletes, as a way to send love and messages to relatives passed away. 

Here a grave has been decorated with the traditional pine needles and a man is burning incense over it.  
This view actually shows the bright colors of the cemetery. The "buildings" are actually mausoleums for the dead. 
My favorite part of Dia de Todos los Santos is wandering among the extremely large kites at the kite festival in Sumpango, Guatemala. Using bamboo poles and tissue paper, teams from all over the country make giant kites, 

some as large as 50 feet tall,

to display. Naturally these kites are very delicate and, as November is windy season, sometimes there are mishaps.

I often run into my students enjoying the kites in Sumpango. At my school students go to Spanish class everyday. It is during this time that the Spanish teachers teach about the celebrations and traditions of Guatemala. This year they did some beautiful kite activities with the students!

While the majority of the talk in on traditions in Guatemala, they also touch on Mexico's Dia de los Muertos as well! Check out the sugar skulls!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wanted Poster Writing Project - How Strong Are Your Ideas??

Movin' on to Ideas! I teach the 6+1 Traits and at the end of each unit we do a writing project to sum up what we learned. I make these as engaging as possible and kids really have a blast with them!! Earlier this year we did a Spy Themed get-to-know-you writing project. Check it out here!

We take this writing project through all the steps of the writing project, I made writing templates for each step to really scaffold the students (my second graders need A LOT of scaffolding at this time of the year) Click below to check it out in my TPT store. :) 

Before beginning, I make sure to explain what a wanted poster is and show them some examples. 

(Be careful with your examples, I've found that students LOVE the phrase "Wanted! Dead or alive!!" and I prefer that we not kill people in second grade, ha) 

Then we get started on the prewrite. My kids LOVE thinking up a bad guy and describing her/him in detail. The picture on the side really helps to make the description concrete. The kids creativity with this really is astounding. 

My favs this year have been: Bracila (possible the result of creativity, or Dracula with a bit of a lisp), Zombie Grandma, and Ms. GrossyWippyLolyPopySoleyEvily (I have no clue where that one came from...). 

Next, we move on to the rough draft. We spent a lot of time on how to write main idea sentences when learning about Ideas, so I have a special section in the rough draft set aside for the main idea sentence. With my kiddos I used the rough draft sheet with the conclusion sentence already written in. We don't talk about conclusion sentences until 6+1 Traits: Organization. 

After the rough draft we do a round of self checks and peer checks. I really have to teach the kids to be conscientious about checking over their work and their friend's work. 

By this point in the year, they know I get suspicious if it only takes them 4 seconds to do a writing check. 

During the peer check, the kids have to read their own story out loud, which means they catch quite a few of their own mistakes; they also love to share their writing. It's a win/win situation for all!

At this point we get to the craftivity! I try to include some kind of art project/craft with each project. It breaks up all the writing and keeps things interesting! For this project, we tea-dye our final draft papers to make them look old, like the real wanted posters. I didn't think this craft was particularly inspired, but my kids ate it up. 

(7 year olds miiiiight be a bit easily impressed..) 

Once the wanted posters have dried, we get on writing (in our NEATEST handwriting) the final copy! I always have the students write first in pencil, then after I've checked it over, write overtop in skinny sharpie. When finished, the kids erase the pencil leaving only the sharpie. 

There's always some half-hearted whining and dramatic handshaking associated with writing EVERYTHING TWICE, but even the kids will admit it looks nicer and gives it a very "final" feel.

(I love how Bracila is thinking about Bob, haha)

Finally, I always set up a photo shoot for our writing projects.

Facial expressions = spot on!