Happy Patriot Day! I'm stretching out my lessons for a week. I'm unsure how most instruct on this week but here is my stance... 9/11 is a historic event in American history. I feel my first graders are too young to know specifics but they're not too young to understand that bad things can happen and how we must persevere.
I started my week with community helpers and had a discussion on heroics. We defined heroes and heroines. As the week progressed, we learned there are many misconceptions about what a hero might look like.
By Tuesday, I introduced the Twin Towers and shared facts. Some facts included...
It's on this day that we celebrated the towers with the story: The Man That Walked Between the Towers. This is a favorite book of mine.
Each year, both boys and girls are captivated by French aerialist, Philippe Petit. It was the year of 1974 when Philippe decided to disguise himself as construction worker and climbed to the top of the Twin Towers. Philippe set up a tightrope and prepared for his quest to walk between the North and South Towers at 1300 feet in the air.
After reading, we discussed center of gravity and how Philippe Petit could remain on the tightrope without falling. My kids were amazed with his ability to do tricks on the rope. To incorporate STEM into our day, we built two towers. In the story, Phillipe rode the elevator to the tenth floor of the towers. From this point, he was to climb the final 180 stairs to the top. We counted out and divided 180 cups between two groups. Lots of math happening by this point of the day. Between the towers, I set out a long string and had the kids walk across. For each toe or heel that hung off the string, the kids would make a cartoonish noise, as if the road runner came crashing down from a cliff, signifying that a students' step would have prevented them from successfully crossing the tightrope. Quickly, my darlings realized balance included the use of their arms to ensure their body remained steady.
The follow up readers response/writing activity was created by The Best Chilren's Book. I loved the simplicity of the activity. I had kids with a variety of personal goal; a few include being able to touch their head with their toes, wanting to be a policeman, selling their artwork, cleaning peoples teeth, and riding bikes without training wheels.
The following day, we studied the illustration on the cover of the book. Distance perspective became a hit. Learning to draw objects that looked far off in the distance and well below captivated my youngsters. It took a minute for my kids to understand that Phillipe wasn't a giant as they first predicted. The renderings became a quick favorite.
Patriotic pride was at it's height on Thursday. All students wore red, white, and blue. We made flags, ribbons, and sang patriotic songs! On this day, my kids were exposed to the statement: Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover. I shared a few great examples from the library. Some of the most used books look old and uninviting but they're truly treasured. Their continued use explains why they're showing their age!
It's at this time that I introduced Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of John J. Harvey. This book is filled with teachable moments. I fell in love with this little boat and its heroics on Sept. 11th! When broken pipes prevented first responders from fighting the fires in NYC, the John J. Harvey Fireboat came out of retirement to help its great city. Our discussion of heroics continued. We also dove into judgments, comparisons, and historic events. You can find a remarkable CBS news video featuring the John J Harvey and crew member Jessica DuLong online.
As a follow up to the story and our comparisons, my kids wrote letters to the local firehouse thanking our first responders for their daily heroic actions! Our day wouldn't be complete without a little poem for our poetry notebooks. You won't want to miss the fantastic freebie Caitlin from Kindergarten Smiles prepared for poetry notebooks. Link here.
Today, we had a remarkable lesson that revolved around overcoming loss using the story: September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right. No real specifics, just how to go about life when bad things happen.
I began the lesson asking students to discuss things they do daily. I guided the discussion with thoughts on how they started today. As they chimed in with an answer, I charted their responses.
During the reading, I asked the kids to listen to things described in the story. With a T-Chart on hand, we determined if things described would happen on a normal day or if they were specific to September 11th, following sad events.
Once the story was over, I shared my feelings on loss, acceptance, understanding, and moving on. The kids were able to add to the list created before reading. Each child created a response. I order their writing to align with our normal day and read to the class. Oh, they are so very excited about publishing our first class book.
If you are interested in creating your own class book, I've prepared an editable freebie file for you. Click the image to download.