Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Five Boroughs: Manhattan

The five boroughs of New York City - Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn and The Bronx.
My kindergarten students continue to enchant and delight me with their tenacity and joy.  They greet each challenge, which we present daily, with eagerness, determination and pride.  Each child puts forth his or her best effort to complete the task before them.

For the past month we have been engaged in a social studies unit focusing on the following areas; geography, maps and map reading skills and time, continuity and change.  We combined this with the Common Core writing objective requiring each child to "use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic they are writing about and state an opinion".  In kindergarten the children are not required to provide a reason for their opinion (to state one is enough) but almost all of our students have successfully risen above this expectation.  Truly incredible.

We decided to approach the standards by examining the five boroughs of New York City.  This started with a look at the map and identifying which borough each student lives in.  Since we are not a neighborhood school we have students from each borough attending our school.  Although, oddly enough, our class does not have anyone from Queens.  We added this information to a large map and then began exploring New York City though children's literature.

We found several books that worked well as an introduction but I am particularly smitten with Larry Gets Lost in New York City by Michael Mullin and John Skewes.  This book is both fiction and nonfiction and chock full of New York City landmarks.

The first borough we decided to focus on was Manhattan because it has a plethora of attractions and because our school is located in Manhattan.  We are not far from the Empire State Building so we read Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building by Deborah Hopkinson and James E. Ransome.

We also read the delicious visual treat Ankle Soup by Maureen Sullivan and Alison Josephs. In this book another dog, Carlos, explores popular NYC sites like Grand Central Station.

The books helped us create a semantic map of important Manhattan landmarks from which the students chose one to write about using opinion words such as "like" and "think".  They wrote about Central Park, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the United Nations, Madison Square Garden, The Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, The Metropolitan Museum and The Museum of Natural History.

I think Museum of Natural History (is the best) because you could look at the stars.
We have started a binder filled with a collection of their opinion writing pieces and plan a big party when the unit is completed.

The children certainly give us so much to celebrate!


Betsy Brock said...

How great to read about your classroom doing so well and rising above expectations! This sounds like a really fun project for them, too! I love seeing their hand writing on the lined sweet!

Gary said...

Betsy - We have an incredible group of children. I am so honored to spent time teaching them every day. Thanks for your support!

Barbara said...

I was drawn to the story of "cupcake", a child wise beyond her years. I hope you keep up with her as she makes her way in the world. It will be interesting to see where that mix of talent and compassion takes her!

It is such a joy to come here and know what's right in the world of education!

Gary said...

Barbara - Darling Cupcake continues to shine her grace on those at our school. I sit with her everyday during bus dismissal and her insights are always thought provoking. I do find it funny though that she does not like small children because I will probably always think of her as one herself. Or at least remember her that way.


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