Last modified: September 15, 2020
My Annual Plan
Here is an overview of the units that I teach. A sketchbook and science journal have become an integral part of each unit. Additional information is at the bottom entailing how I use the arts in my classroom on a daily basis.
August/September: Question and Answer Unit, including sketching basics leading to self-portraits, with student questions that tie into heredity. Last year we decorated our own time capsules from cereal boxes, because we were having our new school built, and they included our measurements, our interests, first grade favorites, and an artifact that represents us. This year we made it more of an identity box, decorating it in collage, using pictures, papers, and objects that represent us. Music was integrated by learning call and response songs and then using those songs to teach the difference between questions and answers. Then the children drew ideographs using the songs and sang their own version of the songs combined. All of this prepared the students for using question and answers when it came time to learn the scientific process and the engineering design process. In 2016-17 we asked questions, then observed and researched answers about light and plants. We explored soil and took soil samples last year.
Jeff Cornwall, our BTS Arts Specialist had the children learn about making paint with soil, and the children then used their soil samples to paint. We planted seeds and observed them grow, moving them to where the most sunlight and precipitation would reach them. Our school was given a hydroponic garden that was yet another way to investigate the life cycle of plants. We ended up engineering a “beanstalk” that could hold weight, including using our science/engineering journals to draw, label, and plan, and record our experiences. This year we added the Reader’s Theater, Jack and the Beanstalk. We danced the life cycle of a plant and the elements a plant needs to survive. We drew still life pictures of pumpkins and gourds in preparation for a still life caricature of Jack-O-Lanterns before Halloween.
October/November: There is overlap between the units as we continue into the unit on light and sound. In it, we observe the movement of the sun through the day and note the moon in the night sky, sometimes in the early morning. We observe shadows and create our own images working as teams, investigating the shapes our bodies and other given objects make, when the sun is behind us. We make shadow puppets from found objects, write a story as a team, and then perform the story with a shadow puppet play. The students explore sound using instruments and then using found objects. They use sound chambers, tuning forks, string phone telephones, and finally create their own found sound compositions to make a song. The majority of the investigations are used as a result of a grant I wrote asking for funds from the STEM Action Center. I was awarded the funding for a FOSS Kit on Sound and Light, and an EIE Kit on Designing and Building Walls. One of the reasons my application was chosen, was due to the fact I demonstrated my plans for using it with art to help deepen student understanding of the scientific content. These ideas came in large part because of the wonderful support and creative ideas shared by my colleagues, Emily Sodorborg and Jeff Cornwall. In October we made sugar skulls for El Dia de los Muertos along with a brief study, in support of our unit on heredity and in honor of the children we have from Mexico and South America. In November, we draw and use pastels to create turkey caricatures.
December: We do a caricature of the Grinch and a winter scene using watercolor and salt, that we use to stimulate descriptive writing about snow or what we do in the snow. We begin our study of weather. Then we sing in the Christmas program.
January: We begin our Starry Night using oil pastels. We continue our study of weather. Our force and motion unit involves exploring push and pull, gravity, and friction. We explore through dance, objects, playground equipment, dramatic experiences being “human machines” in teams, and in music using instruments and voice (even tug of war while we sing with our new music teacher, Deanna Lee) all leading up to a culminating engineering design experience. We apply our knowledge of force and motion to creating a car track that uses magnetic cars (after we learn a little about magnets) to maneuver the cars around an obstacle course. The constraints are that the teams must do at least 3 stunts with the magnet controlling the car. Then the children watch old Hot Wheel Car commercials and write their own, trying to persuade people to buy them. They join their team in making a car commercial using their track after the engineering process is over. This year they made up a commercial jingle to go with their commercial. We filmed the commercials.
February/March: The children design and build a dixie cup robot using a battery pack. Then they’ll use it as an Art Bot to draw. We begin Reader’s Theater practice about The Three Little Pigs and will perform it for parents. It supports our new study/unit on rocks and soil. We will study rocks and uses of rocks, including rock walls, look at cave art and various artforms with rocks, and then produce our own “cave art” on crumpled paper bags. We team up to design our own walls using the engineering design process. Then we use a demolition ball to see how strong the walls are, and if we may improve them to withstand the pressure. Children use ipads to film each other as they try the wrecking ball. Specialists (a construction foreman, and a mason) came in last year to talk to the students about the process of building walls. The children asked many, many questions because of the background knowledge we had from our unit. In music, the children use large duplo blocks to “build” their own song using “ti ti ta” and counting music, while keeping to the constraints the music teacher gives them of keeping it to 4/4 time, or ¾ time. The blocks represent different note values depending on their size.
April: The study of life cycles makes sense this time of year. We talk about plant and insect life cycles as we research, observe and record our observations and learning. We have a butterfly habitat and we record it visually and in writing in the science journal. We do a butterfly life cycle dance, as well as dance like bees pollinating flowers when we extend our study to their life cycle. We paint butterflies as we tie it in with symmetry. Another way we have designed butterflies was by using toilet paper rolls, covered with tissue paper, as the chrysalis. Then we create clothespin butterflies of tissue paper, that next inside until it’s time to “emerge” and spread their wings to fly. Last year we drew our own version of one of Van Gogh’s Sunflower pictures, using pastels again as we spiraled learning about plants and offspring of plants.
May: We explore states of matter and the water cycle. We have a unit on sink or float in which we design a boat from objects that needs to stay afloat.
Returning to our learning on sound, we design and decorate our own drums, and have African drummers and dancers come so that we can “jam” with them on our drums. Last year we made maracas for Cinco De Mayo as well.
Additional Ways in Which I Integrate the arts:
Dance: Brain dance I’ve done since 2011-12. I incorporate dance with science in additional ways, such as to show the habits of penguins and birds (swimming, feeding, keeping warm, guarding the eggs). Math: we use dance/movement to demonstrate addition and subtraction, to show equal (using shapes with our bodies) and unequal groups. We use our bodies to make 2-D shapes on the floor and around the room-solo and working with a partner to create the shapes. Literacy: I have used dance to help students retell stories based descriptive literature by Cynthia Rylant, as well as other literature-based works with vivid descriptions.
Visual Arts: For years I have used collage, watercolor and watercolor techniques to inspire more descriptive, creative story writing/or non-fiction writing. The students have drawn blind contours for years– integrated with found objects during a recycling unit. I have used mind-mapping for 5 years now. I am still refining the process with every year. Installation art was a great way to teach prepositions with the art specialist after we discussed the possibilities.
Media arts: Last year the students filmed each other as they tested the walls they engineered and tried using a demolition ball to determine the level of force at which it would break. * (see bottom)
Music: I have integrated for years with the music teachers to support my students’ units in the basal program and in our literature (read-alouds) that are thematic. I have used vocal play to help my students warm up, listen for details (improve auditory learning) and to observe written line that follows the sound and direction of the music on the scale. It also helps with drawing–we’ve done it together. I have used music to explore emotions while painting, using warm/cool colors and varies melodies that vary in tempo and dynamic, while they express what they’re hearing in the music.
The kids use instruments when we read phonics poetry and they do something on the beat with the instrument, or use them to follow the rhythm of the poem and to find the “sneaky sound” or phonic sound of the week. We dance and sing to phonics songs that help us learn the rules for each sound. We use our bodies to move to music making letters and and writing words to the music as we “paint the words” with a part of our body (this is dance/movement as well) We love using instruments for sound effects in stories, Reader’s Theater, etc. We use our body as instruments (slapping, clapping, tapping for weather, making sounds of rain with fingertips on palms of hands, etc.) We have used tactile representations of letters to remediate, along with songs and movement (pathways on the floor making the letters).
Drama: we use a tableau to show details from stories, we have done human machines with our STEAM unit on force and motion, we have summarized doing the “Fairytale Minute”. I have also had my students do mirroring and flocking quite a bit through the years.