Friday, January 3, 2014

Measureing Time in a Brand New Year!

Welcome!   Welcome to a new year!  Are you ready?  I am!

I am so excited for this new year.  It's a blank slate, a chance to write a new story or finish an old one.

But for our littles is it really anything new?  Do they really get it?  For us oldsters time is a way of life.  It is concrete, solid, set in stone.  It may not be easy to control, but it is easy to grasp and understand.  Not so much for our young friends. 
How often do we ask for the name of the month and our students respond with the day of the week?  I don't think it is because they don't know the right names, but they really don't get the difference.  Are they really going to know what it means to say it is now 2014?  Did they ever know what 2013 was?  How can we make time concrete for our little ones.  I have a few ideas.

First, I like to talk about how time happens.  We talk about daytime and nighttime (they get is light during the day and dark at night).  Then we talk about how that happens.  I pick a student to be the sun.  A flashlight, lantern, or a bright yellow shirt helps them to visualize the sun.  That student stands in the middle of our circle.  Next I use a globe (every classroom should have one, if not check your library or storage space of things nobody uses any more).  First we spin the globe to show how it is daytime in some places while it is nighttime in others.  We are still good and most students get this.  Now I move on to the confusing part....the year.  I usually walk around the sun myself, with the globe, talking and explaining the whole time.  I talk about each season and when we get back to the beginning we start over.  Now we go around and add in the months.  Around and around we go.  Students have a chance to go around too.

Early in the year I talk about seasons.  It always surprised me how many of my third graders were still unsure of which months go with each season and even could not put the seasons in the correct order.  I just always think everybody knows that.  Anyway...I digress.  Seasons.  In Kindergarten we talk about them all the time. We discuss what we wear in each season, what we do, what it looks like, what the weather is like, what is happening.  I like to reinforce the idea of the earth going around the sun, and the seasons happening in a circle. To do that, we make these season spinners.

You need 4 cheap white paper plates, 4 trees (I freehand drew one, then traced and cut them out for my students.  I wanted each set of 4 trees to be the same), tissue paper, glue, fishing lures, and fishing line (I prefer fishing line when hanging things up because it is clear).

I did one tree each day as we talked about that season.  On the last day we labeled them and stapled them together.  Be careful, it is actually easy to get the seasons out of order if you are not paying attention.

Finally, I punched holes in the top and strung the fishing line through the holes and up through the spinner.  Now the seasons can go around and around...just like my globe goes around the sun.

Their understanding is increasing, but they just haven't been alive long enough to have enough experience to make it concrete.  I have an idea for that too.  Here is a way for students to make their own personal timeline.  You will need 2 - 12"x18" pieces of white construction paper cut into 3"x18" strips (that should give you 8 strips, so you will have some spares for mistakes).  I am using die cut numbers because I have them.  You can have your students write the numbers on the strips if you do not have access to fancy numbers. Glue one number to each strip.

Still trying to decide which size I like better.

Have your students draw or write something they did when they were that many years old.  Don't worry they can skip some years.  I have them start with one...they were a baby.  Do they know their birthday?  Then, how old were they when they started school.  Ask questions to jog their memory.  What did they do last year?  Did they go to preschool? on a vacation with their family?  Do they have younger siblings, how old were they when brother or sister was born?  More than one thing on an age strip is good.  They could even fill both sides.

Now to put it all together.  You have two basic choices.  First you could just line them all up in order.  That would make a nice linear line.
 Or you can make each one into a circle and line up the numbers. Connect them with a ribbon or sentence strip. Then as you stack them you have a great tower or a hanging windsock.  I like things that hang, so we are making windsocks.

Stop by my blog, KinderKapers, next week to see our finished projects.  I don't think I am ready for break to be over...but I am excited to share this project with my students.

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