Sunday, January 4, 2009

We're Off to See the Wizard...

We are launching our Wizard of Oz unit this week. It should be loads of fun. I'm basing the unit on the wonderful work of Pete Wells and taking liberal advantage of his fantastic illustrations. Hopefully he'll give me permission to share these activities. If so, I'll post them to Adaptive Learning since what I've done is in Boardmaker.

We're going to take it a bit slow this week, getting back into the swing of things after over two weeks off. We're going to do a bunch of background work to prepare for really jumping into the story.

First, we'll work with the kids to make story props so they each have their own set. We'll make tactile/sensory representations for the characters and some of the major settings as well as gather the materials for Pete's sensory stories.

  • Auntie Em: an apron

  • Uncle Henry: ??

  • Dorothy: yarn braids with a bow

  • Toto: piece of fur or a small dog collar, for some kids a small dog doll

  • Witch: ?? I have a witch's hat, but it's a bit big; maybe make tiny brooms?

  • Scarecrow: straw; I also have a cool art project that we'll do during Week 2

  • Tin Man: silver card stock OR an aluminum or tin can (no sharp edges)

  • Lion: ?? I have an art project for this one too and a couple of lion dolls

  • Wizard: ??

  • Munchkins: I think we'll use some Little People or Weebles for these

  • Glinda: magic wand with a star and curly ribbon

  • Flying monkeys: ??

  • Ruby slippers: we'll make our own from cheep baby shoes or slippers and red glitter or sequins

  • Yellow brick road: we'll paint small blocks or bricks with yellow paint and glitter

  • Emerald City: ?? maybe some small boxes painted green with glitter
We'll also play some of the awesome switch games available from Pete's Oztastic activities

I'll do some of the activities from my Kansas unit including reading our All About Kansas adapted book, making sunflowers, and singing Home on the Range (for more fun switch activities from the Intellitools Activity Exchange, search on Bongo Barry's name; a very talented fellow Kansan)

We'll do some work with tornados by making a tornado in a bottle (see the Oztastic activities again or do a google search for lots of ideas) and doing some fun wind experiments with a blowdryer. I think I'm most excited about these experiments because we don't do nearly enough science. Being in Kansas, we have wind nearly all the time and several of my students have "wind issues" so this is a great topic for us.

Wind experiments: Concepts of heavy and light; prediction (check Adaptive Learning to see if I've had time to upload the activity)
  • Materials: objects with various weights such as feather, rock, book, paper, toy; a blow dryer; a powerlink and switch

  • Procedure: List the experiment items on paper (or use PCS symbols); allow the students to explore the air moving from the hair dryer and to "play" with the hair dryer using a switch; have students explore one of the items (or incorporate choice by letting the student choose which item he/she wishes to experiment with); ask him/her to predict if he/she thinks the item will move when the "wind" blows on it (yes or no in column 1); have the student perform the experiment by blowing air on the object with the hair dryer (could place item on table or in student's hand, depending upon sensory needs); have the student indicate what he/she observed (did the item move in the "wind"? yes or no) and record the response in column 3

We'll also work a lot on the basic vocabulary in the story using the flash card activities Pete includes in his unit as well as just letting the kids explore the character cards and props.

I was able to pick up some cute props from The Kansas Store including a head band and wand for Glinda, Tin Man's axe, a miniature Toto with a basket, etc. In addition, the older sister of one my students is absolutely obsessed with the Wizard of Oz (she prefers to be called Dorothy, thank you) so we may be able to (secretly) borrow some things from her. I downloaded the soundtrack to the movie from itunes as well as two really well-done audiobooks performed dramatically (one by The St. Charles Players, based more on the movie, and the other by The Colonial Radio Players, which stays true to the book).

I created a board game with two different sets of cards. One set has comprehension questions about the story. The other focuses on the concepts of "real" and "pretend." Both use the same game board. Of course, we won't be able to play them until a bit later in the unit.

So stay tuned for our journey down the Yellow Brick Road. I'll share more as we come to it. The original goal was to finish on Jan. 29, Kansas Day, with a Wizard of Oz party, but I'm not sure we'll make it. Between a couple of short weeks and the need to talk about current events such as the upcoming Presidential Inauguration, I'm sure we'll encounter some delays.

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