Sentence Strip Timelines

 

Sentence strips have so many good classroom uses that go beyond simply practicing handwriting and beginning sentences. I use sentence strips in my classroom to create timelines. The paper Sentence Strips are a great length and width, and they already have a straight line printed on them.

One type of timeline we complete shows the years the various explorers reached the New World. Our textbook organizes the explorers by country, so students read about Marco Polo (Italy) first. Then, move over to Portugal, followed by lots of Spanish guys, and end with England, France, and the Netherlands. The format of the book makes it seem like Spain did all of this conquering and then other people sailed across the Atlantic and explored the northeast coast of North America and Canada last. I had my students create an explorer timeline, so we could see that after Marco Polo’s great journey, the explorers of the Americas were actually all sailing and conquering at about the same time.

Another type of timeline we made showed the span of events in a story. A few books we read take place over a short amount of time with a lot of action built in. In the sample above, students used clues in the novel, Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, to identify the exact time from the beginning of the story to the great pheasant hunt party at the end. It is nice for the students to visualize how quickly or slowly characters are solving a problem.

Story timelines are also a great tool when a story has a flashback element or the narrative order is different than the time order. The students can see the actual time of events and compare it to their reading. The Odyssey is a great example of a story that is told out of time order (in medias res), and it is easy to confuse the reader. I used the sentence strip timeline with 9th graders to summarize key events in time order of The Odyssey, and it was really helpful.

Building a Timeline

  • Gather your information in notes or a chart like this EXPLORER TIMELINE NOTES PAGE. Identify the first date and the last date that will appear on the timeline. Determine the time span and then add a few years before the first date and after the last date, so there will be space at the beginning and end of the timeline.

  • The sentence strips are 24″ in length. The next step is to determine the increments of time along the strip. This is the part that can confuse kids. Their first reaction is to list each event in order on evenly spaced lines, but the point of a timeline is to show how close or far apart events happened from each other. Your group will need to add, subtract, divide, and measure to determine the spacing and increments of time on your timeline. Creating the spacing on the timeline is great measuring and counting practice.
  • If you note that there is a break in activity for many years, you can jump over years using a dividing line. Create a “broken timeline” by drawing a wavy line indicating a jump over years. In the image below, you can see a break near the beginning and end of the strips where we had a span of years with no events. It allowed more space in the middle years to add information we needed.

The finished timelines give a great overview of a topic in history or key events in a story. It allows students to make generalizations about a topic and synthesize several pieces of information as well as incorporate math skills. Students need more practice reading charts, tables, and graphs, so they can draw conclusions about any data presented. When students are reviewing big chunks of information at the end of a unit of study, have them create a chart or table of some kind to help visualize similarities, differences, and recall big ideas.

 

Simple Teacher Appreciation Gift Idea

Next week is National Teacher Appreciation Week! Mark your calendars and shout out a thank you as you head through carpool line. If you want to do a little more to show some appreciation, you can borrow my idea. I always try to put together a small thank you gift for all of my children’s teachers, so they know that I do recognize the work they do each day. This year’s teacher appreciation sirsee is not too grand but remember that it does not have to be big or showy (or expensive) to be enjoyed. The purpose is to let educators know that their work is noticed.

My kids and I made mini clipboards for Post-it notes and added Papermate Flair Pens in fun colors. Teachers go nuts for the Flair felt tip pens and even if they don’t have a pen preference, all teachers use marking pens and Post-it notes, so I am fairly confident the gift won’t end up in the trash.

Materials

  • 3″ x 3″ Post-it notepads (colors that match your coasters)
  • 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ cardboard drink coasters (see notes below)
  • 1″ binder clips (or one size bigger)
  • Papermate Flair pens, assorted colors

Directions

  • Remove the back paper from a Post-it notepad. Center the Post-it to the top edge of the coaster. Press the Post-it and attach.
  • Add binder clip to the top of the coaster and Post-it notepad to secure. Leave the “handles” folded up.
  • Print a message for the top page. It is possible to print on Post-it notes and attach as the top sheet of your notepad gift. Use THIS TEMPLATE for a Post-it message. For complete directions for printing on Post-it notes, CLICK HERE.
  • Tie curly ribbon around the middle and slide a pen under the curly ribbon to complete the gift set.

Notes

  • You can use coasters with cork backing too. I had a really hard time finding coasters that were not made of stone and super thick. They can be ordered online, or you can visit your local watering hole and ask if they will donate to your teacher appreciation cause. The cardboard coasters are easy to cover with scrapbook paper, and then you can choose your color scheme.
  • While we were on the coaster hunt, Miss Priss found mini clipboards with attached notepads and a magnet back at Michael’s Crafts for $2 a piece. We bought every one they had and supplemented with the few pink cardboard coasters I did find.

For more teacher gift ideas I have used in the past, CLICK HERE.

Orphans in Children’s Literature

Have you noticed how many favorite characters in children’s literature are orphans or have absent parents or missing parents or neglectful parents? What is the draw? If a book character does not have a parent, then he or she does not need to follow certain rules that a parent might put into place. The characters can take off on an adventure at a moment’s notice. They can try something risky without fear of parental punishment. It’s attractive for young readers because they can follow an imaginary character who has total independence and freedom.

Imagine Harry Potter hunting down Voldemort had James and Lily Potter been alive. Without a parent imposing rules, the book character is free to take risks, and readers can join the adventure from the safety of their homes. Even though the stories may be sad or scary (or both), young readers love to read about a character who is close to their age and triumphs over adversity.

There are so many great children’s books with protagonists who are true orphans or close to it. In addition to Harry Potter, here are a few more orphans-in-literature suggestions.

  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards
  • Molly Moon series by Georgia Byng
  • The BFG by Roald Dahl (and many other books by Dahl)
  • Loot by Jude Watson
  • The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket
  • The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John A. Flanagan
  • The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • Ballet Shoes series by Noel Streatfeild
  • Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
  • Ms. Rapscott’s Girls series by Elise Primavera
  • Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M. M. Blume
  • Shades of Gray by Carolyn Reeder
  • Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
  • The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  • Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart

Mini Cakes and Breads

mini-pound-cake-gifts

We have science fair and Valentine’s Day on the calendar this month. A trip to Michael’s Crafts was inevitable. We hit the store yesterday, and after we completed our lap through all of the craft and school supply aisles, a small end cap display with Valentine baking supplies happened to catch my eye. Mini paper loaf pans– with hearts! Does it get any better? Mini + baking + holiday craft all in one.

mini-loaf-pans-package

I bought the last two bags of mini loaf pans and immediately came home to make small breads and cakes. I baked this Savory Rosemary and Pine Nut Bread in 12 of the pans and a “faux” chocolate chip pound cake in the other 12 pans I had (recipe below).

mini-bread-and-cake-gifts

We wrapped the mini loaves in 3″ x 4″ clear plastic treat bags and used a twist tie to close. I printed labels for the bags with a small heart motif, and we will be delivering these little treats to my children’s teachers for Valentine’s Day. They make a great teacher gift because they are a single serving and are easy for little people to carry to school and deliver.

mini-cake-size

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 small box instant chocolate pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips

mini-cakes-ingredients

Directions

  • Stir cake mix and pudding mixes together in a large bowl.
  • Add eggs, oil, and water. Beat by hand until smooth.
  • Stir in chocolate chips. You can coat the chocolate chips with about 1/2 T. flour before adding to the batter to keep them from sinking to the bottom during baking. If you are making mini sized cakes, use mini chocolate chips.
  • Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. If you are using the mini paper loaf pans, you do not need to grease or flour the pans. You will fill the mini pans about halfway.
  • Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. If baking the mini size, reduce baking time to ~30 minutes.
  • Cool 20 minutes and remove from pan. If using the mini pans, leave in the paper pans.

mini-cakes-filling-loaf-pans

Notes

  • The mini paper loaf pans can bake in a temperature up to 400 degrees. They do not need to be greased. To get your bread or cake out of the little pan, you unstick the corners and pull the sides away when serving.

mini-cake-side-view

If Montezuma had an Instagram Account

instagram-historical-figures-4

If Montezuma had an Instagram account, what would he say when Cortez arrived in 1519? My fourth graders have some ideas. We are finishing our study of the conquests of the Inca and Aztec empires and have been reading about Cortez, Pizarro and the events that took place in the 1500s when the Spanish arrived in Mexico and Peru. Students took the information they had about Cortez’s encounter with the Aztecs and Pizarro’s contact with the Incas and created Instagram posts from the point of view of the leader, the conquistador, and a common citizen or soldier. The students wrote comments that shared knowledge of the time period as well as demonstrated point of view and perspective.

instagram-historical-figures-5

In order to create the Instagram posts, I shared a template with the students in PowerPoint. It had a permanent background with text boxes layered on top. The students clicked in the text boxes to create the usernames and three comments. The first comment was from the Inca or Aztec leader. The second comment was from the conqueror, and the last comment was from a person who would have been at the scene. The students were also allowed to create related hashtags.

instagram-point-of-view-activity

After students typed their comments, they printed the Instagram post. I set up the template, so the Instagram post filled the left side of the paper only.

instagram-template

Using a paper cutter, I cut the paper into a strip about 4 1/4 inches wide. I also trimmed about 1/2 inch off the top. I cut colorful construction paper into strips that were 4 3/4 x 11 inches. With scissors, the students rounded the corners of the construction paper. They also had the option of rounding the corners of the printed Instagram post. They glued the Instagram post to the construction paper centering the white strip closer to the top of the paper. With a Sharpie, the students drew a circle for a home button at the bottom of the construction paper to complete the effect of an iPhone.

instagram-historical-figures-close

Students colored a profile picture and drew a scene that matched the comments. The details in the drawing were based on information from the readings and unit of study.

img_2983

The finished Instagram posts have been so much fun to read and have made the material much more personal for the students. The activity idea is great because it can be adapted for almost any historical figure or time period you may be studying. CLICK HERE to make a copy of the electronic template via Google Docs. If you would like a PDF version of the template and have students handwrite their Instagram posts, CLICK HERE.