Monday, December 12, 2011

Modern Trains

We began our Monday by reviewing what we hard learned about trains last week.  There was great interest in drawing more trains, so we continued our art work by drawing a modern train.  We read more nonfiction books about trains and discussed how the steam engine train was different than a modern train.  Here are some samples of their work.

Building Our Learning Wall
How To Draw a Modern Train Instructions

Have you ever listened to the hum of excitement as the children work at their tables? Teachers can learn so much about which direction to take if we are great "Kid Watchers" and listen to their conversations.  I planned to do a contrast and compare activity when we finished our drawings this morning, but they began to discuss what goes in the "box cars."  

These are what I call "great teachable moments."  Yes, I still plan to do a compare/contrast activity between steam engines and modern trains, but that can wait until tomorrow.  I brought the children back to the floor for group time and modeled how readers find out new information or answers to their questions by reading nonfiction books.  I had several nonfiction books that I had checked out from the library.  I modeled how to preview a book by looking at the pictures.  We chose a book with many pictures of the different "cargo"  that trains carry.  This book happened to have a Table of Contents (funny joke and some confusion that there wasn't a table involved), vocabulary terms, and a picture glossary.  BINGO!  We had our next lesson.  They were fascinated with the different parts of the book and the picture glossary.  We started our brainstorming list of the vocabulary my students felt was important to know about trains.  Here is an important strategy for young learners. Break your brainstorming sessions into small segments.  Know your students and their attention spans.  If you write 4-6 words on your list at a time, you keep their interest.  More to come on that strategy tomorrow along with a picture of our Brainstorming List.  For now, enjoy their "cargo" trains or box cars.  I think they are partial to the word "cargo" now.

The children wanted to put all of our "cargo" together like a real train.

Check back in tomorrow.  We will continue our brainstorming list and start planning our class nonfiction collaborative book about trains.  Wondering how I am fitting it all in?  The children are finding "word work" and "phonics" everywhere within our project on trains.  More samples to follow.

Here are more posts about the Polar Express and Trains:

Polar Express KWHL Chart Trains

Polar Express Researching Trains

Polar Express Drawing Trains

Polar Express Train Completed Project

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