The districts in my county spent the last year determining which new English Language Arts curriculum they wish to adopt. Ultimately, the districts split between two different curricula, each with their own pros and cons. It was exciting to me to witness this process. As a teacher, I’ve always assumed that such adoptions were done with little teacher input and/or little examination. I think that speaks to the not-so-unusual teacher frustration with district-level-decisions. In this process, however, so many factors were examined and each district picked the curriculum they feel best suits the students and learning goals in their district.
Another thrilling aspect of this curriculum adoption is two part: 1) the readings are aligned to other subject standards, and 2) at least half of the readings come from popular picture-books and chapter books. When I was in grade school, it seemed each subject was its own stand-alone entity. What we read during ELA time didn’t seem to have a lot of connection to what we were doing in Science etc. Now, what students read during ELA time is reflective of what they are learning across the curriculum. This type of thoughtful integration, coming all the way from a curriculum publishing company to the teacher, is so important. It lends deeper relevance and meaning to what students do.
Furthermore, incorporating popular children’s books is so ah-mazing. I know you remember how dull those text-book readings could be when you were an elementary student. I swear, back in the day, it was like textbooks found the most sub-par, yet vocabulary inclusive readings (ugh. boring!!)! I frequently use the new ELA curriculum texts as inspiration for my next Visual Art lesson plan. And, it is so much fun to see authors like Eric Carle, Roald Dahl, Mark Twain, Jean Craighead George (to name a few), and stories like The Princess and the Pea, The Three Little Pigs, and Jack and the Beanstalk represented.
Some of the books are new to me (I don’t have children of my own and am sometimes out of the loop when it comes to picture books), and I get to “discover” amazing new texts! A few exceptional Kindergarten teachers turned me on to the book The Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson last year, and I am delighted to see it included in one of the newly adopted curricula.
I set about designing a visual-art integrated lesson for general education teachers inspired by hibernation and The Bear Snores On. This project is designed for pre-Kindergarten – 2nd grade students, and includes connections to Science, Math, and Visual Arts.
Generalized Visual Arts Standards
– Identify the elements of art in objects in nature, in the environment, and in works of art, emphasizing line, color, shape/form, and texture
– Name and describe objects by color and relative size
– Use elements and principles to create artworks
– Make a collage using cut or torn paper shapes/forms
– Use geometric shapes/forms in a work of art
– Plan and use variations in line, shape/form, color, and texture to communicate ideas or feelings in an artwork
– Describe how and why they made a selected artwork, focusing on the media and technique
California Common Core Reading Literature Standards
– Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate
understanding of their central message or lesson
– Describe the story with prompts of who, what, when, where, why, and how
– Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its
characters, setting, events
Next Generation Science Standards
– K-LS1-1 Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals need to survive
– K-ESS3-1 Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals and the places they live
– Identify and describe shapes
– Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes
– Reason with shapes and their attributes
Please enjoy the free share. Do not re-create this project for sale or for publication. An honest attempt was made to credit sources used to design this project; if you believe a source is missing, please let me know.