Bound into learning with a kangaroo theme!
Get your room ready:
- Twisty Noodle has a simple kangaroo outline you can use to create a kangaroo bulletin board from kraft paper. Free Kids’ Crafts has a cool template-based kangaroo craft that would make a good bulletin board, too.
- Sparklebox has a kangaroo theme for environmental print.
- Shapes, Etc. has a PDF with patterns for a kangaroo matching game plus an Australia idea sheet with fun ideas for classroom books and decoratives.
- Teacher’s Friend makes an Outback Adventure Bulletin Board set with kangaroo, crocodile, and other Australian animals, plus a train and some intrepid explorers.
- Make kangaroo paper bag puppets.
Bulletin board slogans for a kangaroo theme:
- Hop into a new year!
- Bound into math!
- Making great leaps!
- Learning by leaps and bounds!
- Pocket full of books!
Add some kangaroo books to your library table:
- Eric Carle’s Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? is just as wonderful as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, and nobody’s tired of it yet.
- What Do You Do With A Kangaroo? by Mercer Meyer is a whimsical adventure.
- K Is for Kissing a Cool Kangaroo is an updated alphabet book — K is the only kangaroo page, but you can never have too many alphabet books for your emergent readers.
- A Kangaroo Joey Grows Up has lots of photos.
- Too Many Kangaroo Things to Do! (MathStart 3) has kangaroo and friends working with multiplication to create a birthday party.
- Jump, Kangaroo, Jump! (MathStart 3) is a bouncy introduction to fractions.
- Katy No-Pocket, illustrated by the author of Curious George, is a book all about problem solving, as a surprisingly non-marsupial kangaroo tries to figure out the best way to carry her baby.
- My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch , by the wonderful Graeme Base, is out of print, but your library may have it or you can find it used. Grandma rides kangaroos in this beautifully illustrated story.
Kangaroos are very interesting creatures. Open the Kangaroo Valley live web cam and see if you can see some kangaroos (if it’s night time or there aren’t any ‘roos around, check out the gallery). Notice the way the animals move, and have your students try to move in the same way. Discuss the fact that kangaroos live only in Australia and New Guinea and find Australia on the map or in Google Earth.
Are your students a little older? Let them explore the Kangaroo Trail map for some good practice with navigating a website. Have each student choose a different species to research, and follow up with oral reports to the class on the special characteristics of each species. Some kangaroos can bound up to 29 feet, 6 feet in the air, at a speed of 30 miles an hour. Have students jump as high and as far as they can, and measure the distances. Create a graph that compares human jumping ability with kangaroo prowess.
For kindergarten, science is about exploration, observation, and wonderful surprises. Get outdoors and try some great summer science experiences with your kids! Many of these will be suited to preK and elementary as well.
- Have each child find a flat object with a clear shape. Lay the objects on black construction paper (poorer quality paper is better in this case — solar paper will make art out of the experience) and set them in the sun. At the same time, set out a piece of white construction paper. Later in the day, go back and see how the sun has faded the area around the object, and left the shape of the object where the paper was protected by the sun.
- You can also put squares of masking tap or yard sale dot stickers onto leaves and see what happens where the sun doesn’t reach them. Don’t have all the students do this to one plant!
- Have each student or group of students line a small box with foil. Inside, put a graham cracker square, a square of milk chocolate (it melts faster than dark chocolate), and a couple of tiny marshmallows. Set the boxes in the sun. After lunch, go out and enjoy the solar s’mores.
- Give kids paint brushes and water and let them make designs on the sidewalk. As the designs fade, discuss how the water they painted with evaporated. Sing “The Eeensy Weensy Spider,” an excellent song about evaporation. (Josepha says, “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” That’s okay, too.)
- Use prisms or color paddles to play with light. Let kids make different colors on the sidewalk or courtyard. Light divides in a prism into the spectrum of colors, but light shining through a color paddle shows only the color of the paddle. Show what happens when you let light shine through more than one panel at a time.
- If you have access to a garden hose with a mister, you can create a rainbow for the kids to admire. Point out that the drops of water do the same thing a prism does.
- Each time you go out for one of these projects, have students stand in the same place and see how tall their shadows are. Have a friend mark the top of each child’s shadow and see how the shadows move as the day goes on.
- When you’ve finished all the solar powered science fun for the day, have children touch the white paper and the black paper and see if one is hotter than the other. Notice that the white paper reflects the light, while the black paper does not. This is why the energy from the sun, in the form of heat, is kept in the paper.
Spiders make a fascinating subject of study for preschool and kindergarten students.
Young students should know some spider rhymes:
The eensy weensy spider went up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Up came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the eensy weency spider climbed up the spout again.
The eensy-weensy spider is also a good introduction to the subject of weather for young children. Add sun and rain stickers to your calendar squares for the duration of the spider unit. If your students are ready for charts, chart the fair and fine days.
Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet
Eating her curds and whey
Along came a spider and sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.
This rhyme gives a great opportunity to think about archaic words. A tuffet is an upholstered footrest which might also be called a hassock or ottoman. These are all pretty cool words.
- Make a tuffet from recycled cable spools. Finding the cable spools may be the hard part, but the results are very snazzy.
- You can also make a tuffet from big juice cans or food service size cans from the cafeteria. Each student needs four to 6 identical cans, batting, and some fabric scrounged from home. An old quilt is perfect. Roll batting around the cans and form them into a ring. Tape them securely together. Draw around the flower-like shape you’ve created and cut two such shapes from fabric. Wrap fabric around the cans and secure it with stitching if your class is old enough to sew. If not, or if you’re in a hurry, use hot glue. Attach the fabric shapes to the top and bottom so that the cans are completely encased in fabric. You can see illustrated instructions for this traditional craft at Make it Lovely, What I Found, or Sweet Things. While this may seem like an ambitious project, it makes a great lesson on recycling and could teach your students the valuable life skill of sewing or mending.
Curds and whey are what you get as you’re making cheese, and cottage cheese is pretty close. Let your young students try out some cottage cheese as they sit on their tuffets for the full Miss Muffet experience.
This makes another good opportunity for charting, as you count those who like the curds (the whey is sour and usually is removed, though your natural yogurt or sour cream may develop a bit of whey if it sits in the fridge for a while). Compare the number of students who like it with the number who do not.
Make elephant handprints by having kids dip their hands into gray paint and then, with fingers spread, press their hands onto paper. Turn the handprint over when it dries and you’ll see that the fingers are the legs of the elephant and the thumb is its trunk. Cut ears from paper and draw on the details to complete the elephant. Then make a chain of elephants across your bulletin board.
- Free elephant classroom labels from Sparklebox. This is British English (“Maths” instead of “Math) but nice for organizing the classroom or for environmental print.
- Enchanted Learning’s Elephant Page
- Kaboose has an elephant coloring page.
- Ziggity Zoom has a printable elephant mask. So does Animal Jr.
- From GrrlScientist, the Elephant Toothpaste experiment, which is pretty impressive, let me tell you.
- Think about the size of elephants. An elephant can be 11 feet tall. Measure out 11 feet in your classroom or hallway. If possible, get a ladder and measure it on a wall so you can really get the idea of how tall the elephant is.
- Elephants are better at math than most animals. When zookeepers in an experiment counted apples into two buckets, elephants could usually choose the one with more fruit, even if it was a choice between five apples and six apples. Tell your young students about this ability of elephants and try it out in your class. Are your students as good at math as elephants?
- Enjoy “Elephant in the Way.”
- “Infinity Elephants” isn’t especially about elephants, and it’s going to be too old for your young students, but we love it, so here it is:
- Learn “The Elephant Song” for music, beginning counting, and an introduction to the French language:
One elephant went out to play
Upon a spider’s web one day
He had such enormous fun
That he called for another elephant to come.
Deux éléphants allaient jouer
Sur une toile d’araignée
Ils s’amusaient tellement bien
Qu’ils appelaient à un autre, viens!
Three elephants went out to play
Upon a spider’s web one day
They had such enormous fun
That they called for another elephant to come.
Quatre éléphants allaient jouer
Sur une toile d’araignée
Ils s’amusaient tellement bien
Qu’ils appelaient à un autre, viens!
All the elephants were out at play
Upon a spider’s web one day
They had such enormous fun
But, there were no more elephants left to come!
- Try an elephant “fingerplay” that can involve the whole body. Have students make their arms into an elephant’s trunk, bend over, and swing their trunks from side to side as they chant:
The elephant goes like this and that
He’s terribly big and he’s terribly fat
He has no fingers, he has no toes
But goodness gracious what a nose!
- Learn the poem “Eletelephony.” The link will take you to our classroom poster of this fun poem.
- The elephant is the biggest land animal in the world. Take this opportunity to learn about superlatives by finding the biggest, smallest, oldest, youngest, and all the other extremes your class can think of. Create a bulletin board display of sentence strips and student art work.
- Study the story of The Blind Men and the Elephant.
- Read some elephant books:
- Horton Hears a Who! is Dr. Seuss’s classic tale about the value of everyone, “no matter how small.”
- The Saggy Baggy Elephant is a little book about a little elephant dancing through the forest.
- Elmer is an unusual multicolored elephant who feels conspicuous. The point of the story of course is that it’s okay to stand out. Use the Elmer the Patchwork Elephant Bean Bag Toy to bring the story to life. Character Plus has a lesson plan for this series of books with discussion questions and an art project. Virtual Vine has a bunch of fun ideas for Elmer and Elephants.
- The Story of Babar is a beloved classic originally in French but now familiar as a cartoon.
- Uncle Elephant is a fun book for emergent readers.
- Five Minutes’ Peace isn’t so much about elephants as about a mother’s efforts to get just five minutes’ peace — she just happens to b e an elephant.
- The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling is a Just-So Story explaining how the elephant got it’s trunk. You can read it online at Online Literature. The elephant’s child was filled with “‘satiable curiosity” which is of course insatiable curiosity. I like it as an introduction to a lesson on finding out why things are as they are. Encourage your class’s ‘satiable curiosity and brainstorm a list of why questions, then find out the answers.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in your classroom! Hold the margaritas, obviously, but otherwise it’s fiesta time!
The first thing is to be sure not to call May 5 “Mexican Independence Day.” Mexico has an Independence Day in September. Cinco de Mayo is a day to celebrate the victory of a poorly-equipped and badly-outnumbered Mexican battalion over French troops at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is a great day to celebrate personal victories, a day to remember that it is not only the biggest historical events that are important, and a day to celebrate Mexican heritage. Any of these topics could be a good writing assignment.
With a theme in place, you can quickly get your classroom ready for the celebration.
Carson Dellosa has a snappy mini-bulletin board for Cinco de Mayo . It gives you just enough to get in the mood, for a small investment. There is a matching border, if you want to do a quick bulletin board.
- Play some mariachi music, dance the Mexican Hat Dance (click the link for music and directions), and try out a few of the activities below.
- Enchanted Learning’s map of Mexico, with links to lots more printable pages, including many different maps and flags.
- Directions for making Mexican paper flowers. These will help establish that fiesta air in your classroom, while also giving practice at following directions. Send them home with the kids for Mother’s Day.
- Directions for making a traditional pinata. Mexconnect has further information about the custom.
- Printable Cinco de Mayo bingo cards. These are ordinary number bingo cards with “cinco” instead of “bingo” across the top, and I’m not going to tell you that using them will teach you anything new. However, if you were going to play bingo anyway, if your students need to work on number identification, or if you just want something kind of quick and festive to print out for today, this could be just the thing.
Ready to get serious? Here are three fresh new lesson plans for Cinco de Mayo which you can use with little preparation:
History and Stories
Miss Margaret of Fayetteville’s New School told me the story of Cinco de Mayo as she likes to tell it to her kindergartners: Mexico owed money to the French, but Mexico’s President Benito Juarez told the French that he couldn’t pay it back right now because he needed the money to feed his people. The French invaded, and a small band of stalwart Mexican peasants armed only with farm tools and stampeding cattle defeated them.
It’s a good story. In fact, there were about 6,000 French troops and the home team had a well-equipped regular army of 4,500 plus the volunteers with their machetes. The cattle’s role in the battle is not substantiated. However, three days later, Puebla was taken by the French and Napoleon soon put Emperor Maximilian into power as the ruler in Mexico.
The reason for the conflict is also not completely clear. Emperor Napoleon III might have been concerned about the future of the New World as the Americans spread across the country, and the Civil War kept the United States out of the fight when Mexico might otherwise have been able to count on Texas for support — or the Battle of Puebla might have kept the French out of the Civil War when they otherwise might have supported Louisiana.
It’s natural for history, which is untidy and often lacks a good plot, to be remembered in the form of a good story instead. Novelist Josephine Tey calls it “Tonypandy.” High school students can work in small groups to determine how much of the popular story of Cinco de Mayo is accurate and how much is Tonypandy.
Have students cite sources and evidence on both sides and create a bulletin board display, a PowerPoint presentation, or a video presenting their conclusions.
Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday in Mexico, but it is a national holiday, a holiday celebrating historical events or characteristics of a nation. National holidays in the United States include Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, and Presidents Day.
Give students our simple Holiday Traditions Worksheet and have them identify and research other national holidays from any country or specifically from Mexico or other nations you’ve been studying. Work with Cinco de Mayo as a class to hone research skills, and then have students complete their worksheets individually.
Once the worksheets have been completed and students have their holidays clearly in mind, create graphic organizers to sort, compare, and group the other holidays with Cinco de Mayo. There will probably be many ways to group the holidays: some will have connections with war, some will be connected with specific places or individuals and others will not, some will commemorate a specific event, the holidays will be at different times of year, and so forth. Let students explore the possibilities till they come up with the organization that best captures the information they’ve found — great practice for future writing assignments!
The graphic organizer students settle on can be created as a bulletin board or wall display.
Mexican History Timeline
We hope you have a classroom timeline already. If not, this is a great time to make one. You can use string and index cards, adding machine paper rolls, or the Trend Make-Your-Own Timeline Bulletin Board Set. Decide what time period to cover and how large the dividisons should be (years? decades? centuries?). Calculate the number of points you’ll need. Measure the space available for your timeline and divide that space by the number of points. Then measure and add the points with the correct spacing. You can see that this will involve good amounts of practical math.
With the timeline in place and some events in your local or state history added to help students anchor the ideas in their minds, add the Battle of Puebla (May 5, 1862). Then do some research on Mexican history to provide an outline of Mexican history. Add the most important or interesting events to the class timeline and see how the history of Mexico and that of your region line up.
Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico with parades honoring the heroes of all wars, so this could be a good time for a Heroes Unit, too.
Any of these lessons will give context to your fiesta!
Just for fun (and early math practice), a spaceship counting worksheet for your class. We have different numbers of items, some all alike and some mixtures, and different arrangements, so there’s a little bit of challenge even though the numbers are small. Click to download the pdf file.