Wednesday, December 30, 2009


We had so much fun doing a mini literature unit based on Little House on the Prairie from the October Unique unit that I decided we should do another one. Our librarian recommended Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and I think it's a good choice. Short chapters, lots of action, and age-appropriate (for the most part). And everyone should enjoy having a boy as the protagonist as the last couple of lit studies we've done have starred girls. This is also one of the audio books we purchased last spring that we haven't listened to yet. That will be a nice support piece.

This will be an ongoing post as I develop the unit. Feel free to add ideas and/or join in the adventure.

So for the chapter reading I'm going to do like I did with Little House and provide a 1-2 simple sentence synopsis of the chapter ("Laura was scared of the wolves." "The family was sick.") that we will use for context reading (I identify 1-2 key sight words per sentence and put the sentence onto communication devices; students read the sentence using communication device while following along on the sentence strip). Our sight words and phonics words (ALL curriculum) will be pulled from the chapter with an emphasis on simpler CVC words and high use words. These are matched with picture symbols and/or photos to enhance understanding and build vocabularies. As needed key concepts are also represented through multi-sensory modes (tactile, olfactory, gustatory, auditory). A list of props we used will be added as we develop them.

A few support activities I'm toying with:

Nature Guide: picture and brief description of animals and plants Brian encounters and/or uses for survival

Survival kit: what are the most important things you need to survive? What would be good to have? What are luxuries/not needed? Emphasis on basics as well as how our disabilities change those essentials (someone who uses a g-tube for instance vs. someone who eats by mouth).

Paper airplanes: choice of pattern to follow; give directions via communication device; decorate; have races; make predictions about how far plan will fly

First/then and cause/effect activities

Water play: (based on the episode where Brian learns to fish with his hands) Reach in and pick up objects placed in water; observe how water distorts vision

Exploration bin: various nature items like stones, sticks, leaves, dirt, pine cones, pine needles, etc.

Write-Your-Own Adventure story: I did this with Wizard of Oz using WoOz characters, simple choices, etc. The kids did a great job last year making choices to write their stories so I think we might try it again this year (where were you going? how were you getting there? what happened? where did you end up? what tools did you have? where did you live? what did you eat? etc.)

One class did a project they called a "jackdaw" where they collected/created artifacts from the story as the story progressed and created a final class project at the end. Something like that could be interesting.

We probably won't have time but mini studies on topics like: heart, airplanes/flight, turtles, shelters/houses, radio communication/telecommunication/forms of communication via technology, morse code/smoke signals/etc., Canada

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