Thursday, May 29, 2014

Curious Kids: What Are Jellyfish?

 It's Throwback Thursday!  Here's a favorite post of mine from last year about all the fun we had learning about jellyfish.   Enjoy!

Although my first love is teaching literature, since beginning to sell my educational printables on Teachers Pay Teachers a year ago, I have found my niche in creating informational text/nonfiction literacy packets for elementary students.  W-A-Y back in high school, I found that I enjoyed writing research papers and had even considered majoring in journalism and P.R. to become a technical writer. Alas, my stint as a P.R. major lasted only a semester, as my love for English and teaching trumped my previous plans.

Over this last year, I have written original informational texts for my own children and for my students, basically out of necessity.  With the CCSS emphasis on informational text, I needed appropriate texts and activities for my kids, but was on a very tight budget. Albert Einstein is famous for saying (and my mother for quoting) ~


"Necessity is the mother of all invention"


And, thus my "Curious Kids" series was born!  Look for this cute button created by Miss A's Kindergarten on my nonfiction packets.

This series features nonfiction literacy packets for elementary students with an original text that includes text features, Tier III vocabulary, integration of science or social studies content, before, during, and after reading activities, alignment to CCSS, and a writing component.  Each packet is a little different, depending on my kids' needs and interests.

My newest nonfiction packet is all about jellyfish!

  We are doing summer homeschool at my house, and my boys, ages 6 and 7, decided on a beach theme!  Because they are so intrigued and fearful of jellyfish, I chose these fascinating creatures as our first "unit" of study.  As most kids are, mine are naturally inquisitive.  I took some of their questions about jellyfish and used them to guide my creation of my nonfiction packet.

To start, we did things a little backwards.  I found this neat paper bowl jellyfish craft here. To create motivation and sneak in a little background knowledge, I decided to do the craft first.  Now, I did not make a big announcement that we were officially starting summer homeschool. I just said, "It's craft time, gathered the supplies, and headed outside (our favorite classroom!) to the picnic table. It's summer, after all, and as is my style, I want things to be fun, creative, and allow for hands-on, casual learning (the kind where the kids don't even know they are learning!).  We followed the simple directions for the paper bowl jellyfish by painting the bowls first.  We used Tempera paints to get started. The boys wanted to know what color to paint their bowl.  I responded with, "Any color!  Jellyfish come in many bright colors!"

 We let the bowls dry completely in the sun, and then added the tentacles.  We used crepe paper streamers and pipe cleaners, following the directions on the website cited above.

Notice my sweet Doxie pups in the background!

As we worked, the kids were using vocabulary like "tentacles" and "venom".  They asked questions that naturally sprang from our craft time, like:  "Can we die from a jellyfish sting?"; "Are jellyfish in lakes?"  ;"How many tentacles does a jellyfish have?"  I responded with, "We are going to get answers to all your fabulous questions tomorrow when we become jellyfish investigators!".  That was my springboard into the informational reading part.  By doing the craft first, I created an authentic, student-driven purpose for reading.  They really, really wanted answers to their questions.

The informational packet I created contains a printable book that is all about jellyfish!

The cover page is done in color, but the book pages are in black and white for kids to color after reading.

Together, the boys and I did a Shared Reading of the book.  It is quite rigorous for kindergarten and first grade readers, but was just perfect to read together!  As we read, we paused to think about what we had learned and whether they had gotten answers to the questions they had as they were working on their craft.  The book has (6) pages, so I spread out the reading over the course of three days.

Afterwards, we took a look at the jellyfish diagram and the boys then identified the parts on their paper bowl jellyfish.

 I created a sentence scramble activity for my kindergarten son. We worked together, as some of the words were a bit tricky.  I made (6) sentences with each one having a different animal on the card.  After he placed the sentence cards in order to make a sentence, then he wrote the sentences on the recording sheet. The sentences actually include key details from the reading, so as he worked, he was getting a little reinforcement to aid his comprehension.



This activity was a little too easy for my first grade son, but he enjoyed helping his little brother! I included stationery sheets in this literacy packet for the boys to write a description of their jellyfish craft, but you can use it for any writing activity.

There's a lot more that I crammed into this (23) page packet that makes it perfect to use in the classroom:  Can, Have, Are charts, writing prompts, a key details and main topic graphic organizer and more! And, it is aligned to Common Core State Standards for informational reading. We did not do all the activities, as I have to keep it light and fun in the summer time!

And, that my dear readers, is a little glimpse into how this teacher mom spends her days!  As time permits, we will be exploring other ocean animals, but for now, we are loving our jellyfish!

  Just click the picture below to check out the listing and the preview.

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  1. Lauren,
    I too am a reading specialist, and Andrea Crawford and I are friends. I saw your guest blogger post, and I've been trying to locate reading specialist blogs now that I'm getting into it too. I'll add my blog link below in case you're interested too. I'll add yours to my list. Nice to meet you, and I love this unit!
    Comprehension Connection

  2. Hi Carla, I'm so glad you stopped by and thank you for your kind words. I just love Andrea and enjoying collaborating with her. I, too, am always looking for reading specialists to network with and will definitely check out your blog. :-) Lauren

  3. Love your blog and great about your love for teaching kids to write.


    Owner at Resources 4 Teaching Inc. Created by Teachers, Exclusively for Teachers


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