We were grateful to finally return to Mitchell Elementary — and to be back in the gorgeous library which gave us more room to work with than the creativity-inspiring art room — in the third week of November. We had scheduled four weeks to work with the students with a break for Thanksgiving, but we ended up getting the first snow day of the year on our final gift-giving blowout meeting! Read up a little below on what we did and learned throughout the three fall sessions…
Diverging from our typical route of having (too?) many stations, we decided to try to have one large-group activity. The first week we went with our tried-and-true favorite: toy takeapart. The main reason we love this activity so much is it engages the most reluctant third grade students. Over the semesters, we’ve been adjusting simple things here and there about how we present the activity and how we monitor the students learning. We are also always searching for the perfect toy. This particular iteration featured a few too many smaller toys with specialty screws. Our librarian host and some parents who came early even stepped in during the waning minutes trying to help the students with pesky screws — we eventually discovered some of the thread on the plastic part had been eroded!
The second week we had plans to have the students make felt finger puppets using hand-sewing techniques and then design a short play that could be performed for the other students. We added the decoration of the stage as an extendable way for the students to further realize their designs. Our trustworthy junk box became the primary fodder for students to enhance their stage sets (made out of cardboard boxes). Students also created different mechanical set-ups attached to the stage to create both a stand for a soccer goal to sit on, and a way to have curtains be raised at the beginning of the play.
During the third week, we finished up puppets, stages, and plays, and finally had multiple groups show off their plays as their classmates looked on.