Mrs. Sisul Brought Us a Snowman Challenge!

Remember when I wrote about Catch of the Days?  I should have updated you LONG ago, but our class is ROCKING AND ROLLING with these and already have almost 50!  Along the way, there have been rewards (for example, at 10 is an extra recess, 20 was pajama day and 30 was game board day) and we’ve enjoyed every one of them.  Once we hit 40 it was an even BIGGER deal because the prize was “admin’s choice!”

We emailed Mrs. Sisul and Dr. Wilson and asked them to come visit us.  Today was the day, and Mrs. Sisul came with two of our favorite things: a book and a design challenge!

We read lots of snow/snowflake books on Friday (which was early dismissal day for weather!), but she picked one we hadn’t read yet (and yes, that is a feat in itself–GREAT job, Mrs. Sisul!).

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She read the book to us (which we enjoyed!) and then she gave us our challenge: just like the mice the story, build the TALLEST snowman you can….with one piece of paper. 🙂

We went back and forth on how much info we’d give them about how to do this challenge, but eventually decided we would give them idea that they could make paper chains (which reminds me of the comment Kate left the other day about how creativity abounds within parameters–thanks for that reminder, friend!).  Otherwise, they may have spent all of their time just figuring out what to do and not actually building anything.

As we set off to work, I could tell kiddos were thinking about our last challenge (when we read the book Going Places last week), and they quickly began to find groups to work with, both so they could share their resources and so they could share ideas.

At the 10 minute mark, we had kiddos stop and do a gallery walk to look for ideas being done by other engineers that might help them in their own work.

Kiddos got back to work and we noticed that instead of several groups of 3, we now only had 3 groups altogether!  I decided to see what they were all up to…

Interesting, right?  This was the part that really reminded me of the work that happened with our other challenge–kiddos making decisions that they thought would help them, even though they weren’t explicitly stated in the directions.  “They didn’t say we couldn’t….” was their rationale. 🙂

We finished our work (about another 5 minutes or so, and then work time was up.  We laid our snowmen out on the rug to see who had made the tallest snowman.

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Now…of course when you do a design challenge, the process is as important as the final product, so Mrs. Sisul then led us in a reflection conversation.

I loved watching their faces as they thought about what had happened and worked to decide what they would take away for next time.

I also really liked their answers to the questions and also how honest they were when they thought things weren’t fair or didn’t make sense.  We just might try this same challenge again soon and see what happens differently!

And lastly, just for the record, Elena wins for cutest snowman. 🙂  She’s very proud!

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THANKS FOR COMING, MRS. SISUL!!  We love how much you love books, learning and coming to work with us!  🙂

Do you have any stories about design challenges you’d like to share?  We’d love to hear them!

Following Directions Can Be Fun!

The last–or first–few days of the semester can be times when you slow down a bit, and try things that will be both fun and productive.  (I know, I think everything I do is fun, but who knows, right? see hee)

A teammate shared an idea for a snowman picture to do for “fun,” and I decided that since everyone else was probably doing it I should take a look; even though I don’t typically jump on board just because everyone else is doing it.  The big idea was that you lead kiddos in a drawing lesson to show them how to draw the snowman, and then also give directions for how they are to paint it–but they have choice in the colors they use and the patterns they add.

I agree, it was cute.  And yes, it’s winter themed, and yes, it would look great hanging in the hallway.  But I still had to ask the question about “why?”  Why wouldn’t I just let them draw their own snowman?  Why couldn’t we just paint whatever we want? Why wouldn’t I do any entirely different activity during that time? (I know, my teammates love it when I ask questions. LOL  At least they understand that’s how I process and always assume positive intent in my inquiries. 🙂 )

Because I work with amazing people, they simply answered my questions.  Well, you could let them just make their own snowman.  You could absolutely paint whatever you want.  And of course, you could do something entirely different during that time, but we’re doing it because it’s good practice in following directions (which of course my kids could benefit from, too!), and also there is lots of choice within the directions.  It is cool to see how differently kiddos can interpret the directions and how even when we do the same kind of thing, they all turn out looking completely unique!

Ok, that was what I needed. We were in. 🙂

And just as I thought, kiddos did a SUPER job of following the directions, even though some of them were tricky, and kiddos had to try again or erase some lines as they drew.  I didn’t have anyone who quit, or cry or tear up their paper (yeah, sometimes in first grade that still happens…), but instead everyone worked really hard to do their best and were ok when things went differently than they’d hoped. 🙂

And yes–it was fun!

As I drew my snowman on my big paper up on the board, kiddos followed along with their paper and their pencils.

 

The “plain” version ended up looking something like this:

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And then, artists were invited to paint their snowmen, using whatever colors and patterns they wanted.  Really the only guidelines here were that the snowman should be left white, and the background had to be painted with a bright color.  Otherwise, it was up to them.

And you know what?  All of our snowmen we drew with the same directions looked so completely unique and different and BEAUTIFUL!  Kids were so proud and I’m so glad we did it. 🙂

Check out our final snow-people! 🙂

And of course I need to say thanks to Proud to Be Primary for the idea, and also for the post (that I still need to read) that gives reasons why I should do more of these directed drawings.  I’m excited to read!

Spring Break?

Missouri is one of those places where the weather NEVER makes sense.  It’s so true how the saying goes: If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes.

And so, I am completely surprised to be showing you these pictures from outside my windows today.  Reminder:  today is March 24.  Yes, it’s SPRING.

View from the front porch

View from the front porch

Backyard  Can you see the poor little CONFUSED birdies hopping around out there?  :(

Backyard Can you see the poor little CONFUSED birdies hopping around out there? 😦

Big, fat, heavy snow hanging on the trees

Big, fat, heavy snow hanging on the trees

And so the questions have begun in earnest: will we have a snow day?  I’m not entirely sure what I want the answer to be.  Personally, I want a SPRING day!