Thursday, August 13, 2009

Using "Blue" in the Classroom

As a way to get my Kindergarten students making "oral presentations," I came up with this idea (a "few" years ago) based on my brief moments flipping through the kids TV program, Blue's Clues. I made up 3 bags (3 students from the class took a bag home each night) similar to that shown in the picture below. Inside each bag were instructions and three recipe cards. Basically what the students were supposed to do (along with the help of their parents, of course!) was to find a special item in their house and write down three clues (one on each recipe card) to "read" to the class so that the class could guess what the items might be. The item would remain in the bag during this time. I say "read" because some of the students needed picture clues in their hints, just as in the show. This was an excellent way to make sure all students has an opportunity to speak in front of their classmates, and gave them a chance to do it with confidence using an item they were an expert on. And it was fun for the listeners to guess what might be inside. It was also great for me as a teacher to see which kids were listening to what was read and using that information to form answers. :) Another great benefit is the opportunity to practice writing in a safe context, but also a unique way. It's not your everyday journals or reading response. The writing part can be read by others only if the teacher chooses to display the entire sharing, otherwise the spelling can be inventive or read-able to the writer only.
In the above photo, the bag I made is using a colouring page found here.
Also shown is a "treat bag" (the small one) found at a website called the FamilyShoppingBag. (If you want each student to do a small item, these are easy enough to print off and put together in an evening). This website is great if you are throwing a themed birthday party, as it has many printable items to use (ie: stickers (shown above), bookmarks, invites, note cards, etc). It also has a link where you can print off Blue's Clues themed recipe cards, which would have been great to use in this Kindergarten project to write down the three hints.
This idea is easily transferable to other grade levels, although you might want to change the icon used. I'm not sure Blue would be the appropriate token character at the intermediate grades! But, for example, you might want to use Sherlock Holmes and have students write clues to . . . just about anything (favourite items, book response, math shapes, events in history, Bible stories, etc)! One idea for students at the intermediate grade levels might be writing descriptive paragraphs without actually saying what the topic is--that would be a great challenge! Some books to inspire this thinking at various grade levels might be the Cam Jansen series or Encyclopedia Brown.
What would you do using an idea like this?

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