25 March 2014

Second Grade Poetry Unit

Second grade students have been learning about poetry for the past few weeks. We explored haikus and acrostic poems in particular, but we also read and tried writing other types of poetry as well, including shape poems and poems in which there are two voices.

Some of the books we read from are:

If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries by Judith Viorst
Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme by Jack Prelutsky
Weird Pet Poems by Dilys Evans
Honey I Love by Eloise Greenfield
Once I Ate a Pie by Patricia MacLachlan
Toasting Marshmallows by Kristine O'Connell George
Dogku by Andrew Clements

After reading and writing poetry, all the students chose one of the poems they'd written to share. We published using Flipgrid on the iPads. Flipgrid allows students to record 90 second videos. You can see some of the students' videos below. It was hard to select just a few, so if you have time, click the link at the bottom of this post to see all the videos. Most of them are only about 30 seconds long.

You can view all the published videos at http://flipgrid.com/#fd50db4c.

11 March 2014

Do It Yourself Pete the Cat Costume

I recently made a Pete the Cat costume for a storybook character parade. It was a big hit with the students and it was a lot of fun to make. It was my first time making a mask like this and I learned a lot. Whether you're looking for a Halloween costume or making a costume for a storybook character parade like me, I hope I can save you some heartache by sharing the process I went through in creating this costume.

The instructions for making the mask can really be used for other characters other than Pete the Cat. As long as the character has a roundish head, the steps for making the mask will be the same. Charlie Brown comes to mind as another possibility for a mask like this. David from No David would work, too.

I had lots of ideas for how to get started, some that I found online and others I came up with. I read about someone who made a mask using a big bouncy ball and a lot of paper mache. That particular mask looked pretty cool, but I decided it'd take too much time. Little did I know that our reading celebration day would get delayed by a week due to wintry weather. In addition to a bouncy ball, I thought about using a helmet of some sort and even a paper lantern as the starting point. I wasn't really thrilled with any of those ideas, so I headed out to a few stores to just walk around and see if anything jumped out at me.  

At the craft store I bought three styrofoam wreaths, a styrofoam square, long toothpicks, duct tape, and wire.

At the party supply store I bought a plastic helmet, a pair of blue gloves, and two huge white shoes.

At the fabric store I bought blue fleece, yellow tulle, and squares of felt (black, white, and yellow).

You'll also need blue sweat pants and a blue sweat shirt.

Step 1. 

I bent the wire over the helmet and wrapped it around one of the wreaths, creating a halo around the helmet. 

I used duct tape to connect the wire to the helmet and to wrap around the areas where the wire was connected to the wreath.

I used a second piece of wire to connect the wreath to the helmet, perpendicular to the first wire (not shown in this picture). My biggest recommendation in making the helmet is to be generous with the duct tape.

Step 2. 

I cut the other wreath in half. I connected one of the halves to the first wreath using long toothpicks (and lots of duct tape). 

I cut a chunk out of the middle of the remaining half (the chunk I cut out was the width of the wreath).

Then, I connected these two pieces to the first wreath (the halo) and the half going over the helmet (the mohawk).

The result was the beginning of a half sphere shape.

Step 3. 

I had the forehead constructed. Now I needed the face. 

I attached a third wreath, a bit smaller than the first two wreaths. This wreath rested against the original wreath in the back of the mask, but hung down in the front. I used duct tape to connect the wreaths in the back and two long toothpicks for support on the sides.

I also cut ears out of the styrofoam square and connected them to the wreaths using duct tape. It looks a little like the green wreath is the bottom of the mouth, but that's not the case. All of Pete's face is between the two wreaths. It'll make more sense once the fabric covers the mask.

Step 4. 

The shell was nearly complete at this point. I cut out two triangles from the styrofoam square to use as support between the original wreath and the bottom wreath. I used a lot of duct tape to secure them.

In the image, these triangles look like jaw pieces. Everyone thought there was a big mouth there when I was making the shell and I see what they mean. But that's actually where the face goes. 

Finally, I added lots and lots more duct tape. Seriously. Lots.

Step 5. 

You'll need some sewing skills for the next few steps. This is where my mom was a huge help. 

She created the fleece mask that fit over the shell, leaving a lot of fabric left to hang from the bottom of the mask. We made sure it fit fairly snug over the shell. 

Then, she folded the remaining fabric around the bottom wreath and sewed it to itself. This connected the fabric to the mask and helped it stay taut. There was still about 10 inches of fabric hanging down. We made a loop at the bottom of the fabric and put an elastic band through the loop. This helped make sure no one could see up into the mask from below. You can see what I mean in the photo of the finished product.

Step 6.

I cut out the pieces for the eyes and used rubber cement to attach them to the mask. 

The final step in creating the mask was to find a way for me to see out of it. Originally, I thought I might look through the eyes. I bought yellow tulle first, but realized I wouldn't be able to look through the eyes based on where they needed to go on the mask. 

The only option left was his nose. So, I used some white paper to cut out the right shape and position it on the mask. Then, I cut a hole in the fleece matching the paper nose. I had to go back to the fabric store to buy white tulle. Next, I cut a piece of white tulle and attached it from the inside of the mask. 

Finally, I cut a triangle border out of the white felt and attached it to the outside of the mask around the nose hole.

Step 7. 

I used blue felt and stuffing to create Pete's tail. I just pinned it to my blue sweat pants.

And that's it! If you have tons of free time, you can make your own Pete the Cat costume. Groovy, right?

All done! This was taken the day of the parade. I was already learning how hot it was inside the mask.