Thursday, March 27, 2014

Black Death Investigation

Each year I've taught 6th grade, I have done a fun simulation activity for the Black Death that I just LOVE.  You can see my previous post about that by clicking HERE.  I fully planned on doing that this year, but because our curriculum maps for Social Studies and Language Arts have a lot in common, the LA teacher beat me to it.  Needless to say, I was very disappointed because this activity is what gets me through the year.  I seriously love doing it with my students so much that I maybe cried just a little when I found out they had already done it in another class.  Don't judge me.

So, I had to come up with something else to do that would get me excited to teach the late middle ages.  I found a free product online from Mr. Roughton's website.  If you haven't been to his website, he has a lot of amazing resources that he shares with teachers on tons of world and US history topics.  The product is called 'History Mystery: Black Death' and the students were playing the role of FBI investigators trying to determine whether or not the Black Death was really caused by the Bubonic Plague like many people believe.  I liked how much inquiry was involved and since we're an AVID school, we focus on using WICOR with every lesson: Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Rigor.

I, of course, had to add my own flair to the mix.  I put all the exhibits into file folders with labels as if they were really FBI documents.  I burned a few of the documents to make them look old before laminating.

Oh yeah, and I made myself a cape and plague-doctor inspired mask.  It was awesomely creepy.  If you'd like to make your own, I modeled mine after this tutorial online.  The instructions weren't very detailed so I felt like I was winging it most of the time, but I think it turned out really well!

Overall, my kids really enjoyed it.  I still think I like the other simulation better, but it's nice to have back-up activities in case of emergencies.  If you haven't seen this activity before, be sure to check it out on Mr. Roughton's website. Hope everyone is hanging in there.  Only 2 more weeks until Spring Break for us and then it's the final stretch.  Can't believe this year is almost finished already!

Monday, March 10, 2014

'Pin the Armor on the Knight' Activity

It's been awhile since I've posted.  My husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis around the new year and we've both been going through a lot of things, especially emotionally.  I haven't felt up to doing much blogging, but today I had the kids do an activity that I thought would be fun to share.

We're on our Middle Ages unit right now and the students LOVE learning anything they can about castles, knights, etc.  We've spent a few days learning about a knight's job and training.  Today we focused on his armor and weapons.  We read a short reading passage followed by a matching worksheet to get down the names of the different pieces of armor.  Then, we played "Pin the Armor on the Knight," which is just like "Pin the Tail on the Donkey."  A very simple concept, but the students loved it.

This is one of those activities that I'll look forward to each time I teach this unit, especially now that I have all the materials made up.  If you had asked me last week how I felt while I was tracing, gluing, coloring, laminating, and cutting, I would have told you I was an idiot for coming up with this idea.  Has that ever happened to you?  All the work paid off though today because my students had a lot of fun and it got me excited about teaching even on the Monday after Daylight Savings Time.  (Trust me, my body KNEW it was 5:30 instead of 6:30 when I was driving to work today.  No amount of caffeine could fool it.)

You could use this simple party game for a variety of topics.  A few that come to my mind for Social Studies are the different states in the U.S. or different countries on a continent.  Science could do the planets in the solar system or the parts of an apple, pumpkin, etc.  Here's the process I used to create this game:
  1. Project a picture of a knight onto a large piece of butcher paper.  Use a black permanent marker to trace and make all the kids think you're an amazing artist. :)
  2. On another piece of equal-sized butcher paper, trace just the outline of the knight's body.
  3. Color the knight.  Apparently the cheap boxes of crayons I have for my room do not include gray, so I had to use some extra chalk the art teacher had.
  4. Because butcher paper is so flimsy and I wanted this to last, I glued the knight onto gray pieces of construction paper.  I probably used about 10 pieces total to cover the entire picture.  If you plan on using the pieces more than once, I highly recommend making the paper more sturdy so it'll hold up longer.
  5. Cut the knight into pre-determined pieces.
  6. Laminate and cut out again.
If you do something like this in your classroom and blog about it, leave the link in the comments section.  I'd love to see what you did and how it turned out.