We go crazy with some sheep

This week, Class 2RB celebrated the end of our investigations into nursery rhymes by collecting white objects, from home and around school, taking photographs in the school library, and brainstorming some rhyming text to create a crazy slideshow on PhotoPeach!


Baa baa white sheep

Meanwhile, Class 2S worked on a different story about a lonely, brown sheep. The students took some inspiration from the picture book, Hunwick’s egg by Mem Fox & Pamela Lofts, and our current Chicks ‘R’ Us program.


Ewe and the egg

Hicketty Picketty: preparing for Chicks R Us

This week, students in Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 will be learning the nursery rhyme Hicketty Picketty. We will also be reading Out of the egg, by Tina Matthews, which is a variation of The little red hen fairy tale.

The inclement weather last Friday gave Class 1HB another chance to brainstorm a digital story. This time they ended up with an Easter theme, which will prove useful with other classes as the term progresses:


An Easter tale

The subsequent week consolidates the learning with this digital quiz on PhotoPeach, which draws upon images and information gathered in 2011 after a unit of work based upon the annual Chicks R Us experience:


What’s in the egg?

Another picture book favourite is Clifford’s happy Easter by Norman Bridwell, which features a North American (spring season!) Easter egg hunt and the dyeing of boiled eggs.

And our PhotoPeach digital story about Clifford the Big Red Dog’s last visit to our school library:


Clifford & Phoebe at Penrith PS

New PhotoPeach celebrations

Here is a new PhotoPeach digital slideshow which archives some of the photos and craftwork of this year’s K-2 Chinese New Year celebrations:


Year of the Horse at Penrith PS

The inclement weather on Friday gave Class 1HB an additional lesson in the school library, so we brought out the collection of puppets and brainstormed a new digital story:


A lemur’s tale

Welcome back, it’s Year of the Horse!


Dragon parade!

The Stage 1 students are already deep into their plans for celebrating Chinese New Year. Above is a PhotoPeach slideshow of our school’s first annual dragon parade, way back in 2005. It’s always a startling start to the concept of K-2 assemblies for the newly-arrived Kindergarten students!

Chinese New Year signage for Year of the Horse
Year of the Horse

UPDATE!

The Great Photo Peach Crash of 2012

Hi all – from Long Service Leave Land,

I’m not sure how many of you are aware that the free online facility for making digital slideshows, Photo Peach, had a massive crash in mid December, when its owners were trying to do a major upgrade. Despite their efforts, two backup servers failed simultaneously and they’ve unfortunately lost about 50% of people’s stored data between two specific dates. Sadly, this has meant numerous pieces of my work with students have lost their images – and sometimes the captions as well. The good news is that I can slowly rebuild the slideshows (which will give each one a new URL, and will require lots of changes to old blog entries and bookmarks) – thank goodness I saved all the students’ paper storyboards for the trickiest ones (ie. the Stage 3 students’ Endangered animals: beyond the rainforest Guided Inquiry material of 2011).

I had only just bought a Photo Peach subscription for my own material, but had not yet downloaded anything to my hard drive (which is the main reason for purchasing a subscription). “Endangered animals” was not included in the subscription, being on a separate, free, user account, so it’s been quite traumatic facing this loss. It seems that viewer comments (and most of our lists of Creative Commons photographers, whose Flickr pics were used) are safely preserved on the now-skeletal slideshows, so I am even able to restore these. Very time consuming, but hopefully worth it, since I use – and revisit with students – this material often, including at professional development presentations with teachers.

With Chinese New Year approaching, I’ve just recreated Dragon parade! and it’s now newly located at:
photopeach.com/album/13c5mli.


Dragon parade!

Penrith PS mural is also restored at:
photopeach.com/album/mcj05a.


Penrith PS mural

I shall keep you posted as other popular slideshows get restored.

Eggsactly!

World's largest Humpty Dumpty
Above: This is supposedly “the world’s largest” Humpty Dumpty, as he sat on his wall in Mildura in January 1986. (Now located in Yackandandah. Thanks Darren Morgan!)

Giant egg

Every few years, our K-2 students get to experience “Chicks R Us“, in which a dozen eggs come to visit for a fortnight, and the eggs are incubated until they hatch.

Egg

One year, I played a practical joke on the staff and students by waiting till most of the chicks had emerged, then placing a mysterious, large egg in a small perspex aquarium, into the room with the chicks. A note read: “Please look after this egg, thank you.” It caused a huge amount of discussion and several students were convinced a dinosaur, an elephant or a fully-grown hen would emerge from the egg. One morning, I snuck in early, upturned the (already-cracked) egg, and placed a plastic, fire-breathing dragon into the empty shell… of the ostrich egg.

Again, a huge amount of discussion took place as each class discovered the mystery hatching. This year, enough of the students have moved on that I could replay my practical joke. To follow it up, next week, we’ll be using this new slideshow on the IWB. I’ve experimented with using the “quiz” facility of Photo Peach and produced a more interactive, online resource!


What’s in the egg?: an interactive quiz

A huge array of possibilities is now presenting itself, as our Stage 2 and Stage 3 begin to grapple with how they will be formalising their Guided Inquiry research into the human body and endangered animals.

A dragon hatches!

Preparing to celebrate

Happy Chinese New Year!

Our K-2 students are about to start investigating Chinese New Year, as a part of a HSIE unit, “Celebrations”. Libby Gleeson & Armin Greder’s “Big dog” will be a feature picture book, as will Di Wu & Kathy Huang’s “Are you a dragon?”

Year of the Rabbit
Rabbit float on display near Central Station, 2011.

2011 Chinese New Year flagwhite2011 Chinese New Year flag
Rabbit pennants in George St, Sydney, 2011.

Chinese dragon and lanterns
Chinese dragon and lanterns, SCHM.

Zodiac animals
Chinese Zodiac animals, SCHM.

lanterns
Chinese lanterns, SCHM.

Emperor Robbie
Emperor Robbie Rules in 1/2S.

lanterns
Chinese lantern in 1/2S.

2011 Chinese New Year flag
2011 Chinese New Year pennant, George St, Sydney – notice
the numerals 2, 0, 1, 1, making the shape of a rabbit.

My photo (above) inspired a quick and easy craft activity for the students in our 2-6 hearing support unit yesterday:

2011 rabbit

2011 rabbitwhite2011 rabbit
2011 Chinese New Year rabbits by SCHM students.

Relive The Year of the Tiger (2010).

Relive The Year of the Rat (2008).

Relive The Year of the Rooster dragon parade (2005) on Photo Peach.

#203
Images of Dragons! on Flickr.


Dragon parade!

A basketful of solutions

In the madness that is Term Four stocktake, I had several brainwaves and lucky coincidences that enabled me to complete several new shoestring elements to my school library makeover.

Those tiny books that some young borrowers covet like long-lost treasures! They slip inside other books, fall under shelving, cause whole rows of neatly shelved books to go wonky. How to store them efficiently?

In one of my previous schools, we had a spinner rack that accommodated all small junior fiction books. I hated that spinner, but those books were always hot picks! At least the spinner made them easy to identify, easier to shelve, and put them all on front-on display, in a place where the students were motivated to go.

At the course last term, Kevin Hennah challenged us to investigate ways to make more of our library collections face “front cover out”, rather than “spine out”. One day, I was wandering through a local Asian “two dollar” shop and found a vibrant pink plastic set of tiered baskets. At $16, it was certainly more than other items in the store, but the pink was the same colour the previous teacher-librarian had assigned to shelf signage in the “Easy Fiction” section. Now, I’d been contemplating changing “Easy” to “Junior”, although I wasn’t sure how to tell my clerical assistant that we’d eventually be changing a lot of call number stickers, but the students are very familiar with the pink designation for this section.

hot pink basket

It was a tight fit between two shelving units, but no one’s likely to move the tiers, and what a great way to maximise some dead space, put all the tiny books in one convenient location – front on – and add a splash of day-glo colour!

Coincidentally, another colour the shop had in stock was green, the colour of our “Fiction” section. The next day, I raced back to get the last green set left in stock:

hot green basket

This time, the shelving units I’d planned to wedge the baskets between were too close together and unable to me moved apart. So, I dragged a different set out from a wall, wedged the backets beside it, and slide the shelves snugly against the baskets. Charged with success, I went back for an orange set to put in the “Non Fiction” section:

reno dragon and hot orange basket

To the left is a papier-mache Chinese dragon from my classroom teacher days, and he’s become a bit of a mascot in the library in recent years. Kevin Henneah would probably say that his time as come; I had to bring him down from his usual high corner, to make room for the wall-preparation renovations anticipating the arrival of our new interactive whiteboard (IWB). We had a stack of unused shelving packed tightly against a wall and, until the dragon gets a better location, he seems quite at home next to the baskets of small books of myths and legends in “Non Fiction”.

Finally, note the “Hot” signs above each basket, which came from a different Asian “two dollar” shop, this time in the Sydney CBD. The packet of ten cardboard showcards was just $4. Also available was a set with “It’s New!” Thanks Hot Dollar – both of your stores! My shoestring is stretched but still intact!

Enter the dragon!

Ah wonderful serendipity!

Yesterday, my last group of Olympic Games rappers had to miss their scheduled rapping session in the library and I had to play catch-up with them today. They were supposed to name the last of our animal mascot “reporters”: a large, cardboard, papier mache, crepe paper and fabric Chinese dragon, who has been a decorative fixture in the library since early 2007, and a frequent participant in our school’s annual Chinese New Year Parade.

This morning, one of the teachers of another Stage 2 class – having no idea of my plans to use the dragon during the rap – asked if she could borrow my dragon for her class item at Assembly next Friday. I told her that, by the end of the day, he’d even have a name (choosing a name was to have been a Circle Time activity for the rappers) but she said that the story being told in their item involved a Chinese dragon called Nian.

So Nian it is! Now one class is ecstatic that Nian is performing in another group’s item, and the budding actors are impressed that Nian will also be reporting on Olympic events for the rappers… between play rehearsals, of course. Anticipation for the rap events (and the Games) is at fever pitch!

I wish I could say I’d planned it that way. A typical week in the library.