Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Biomes, Adaptations, and the Magic School Bus. Oh, my!

I realize I have not posted in a week.  I came down with a cold last Tuesday night, and since then it has taken all my energy to get through a work day and then go home and nap.  I also slept the entire weekend.  Apparently, this cold told me I needed rest.  I am ready to get back into my workout routine and even get back to blogging, etc.

I guess for this week, I am going to say my Tried It Tuesday is a thematic unit. We have been studying biomes in Science and English the last couple weeks, and so far it has been one of my favorite things we have done all year.  We have used lessons from Science, we have done a webquest, we have done projects, and we have done a lot of reading nonfiction.  I have been creating handouts to review all of the nonfiction Common Core Reading Standards while they read their book. We will do a major informational report next week after all of their research and reading for some more writing.  (Hopefully in the next couple days I will have a whole Biome research unit to post in my TpT store.  I am almost done with it.)  After this, we will spend the last couple weeks of school immersed in Westward Expansion.  I found it was too hard to do the Westward Expansion and Biome activities, so I decided to just focus on each for a couple weeks.

This is our last week of studying biomes. It really has been a fun unit.  I have loved watching my students practice their nonfiction reading skills, research skills, and the creativity they have shown.
For their final project on the unit, I gave them a menu of options. Their projects are due next Monday.  One of my students made a commercial for his biome (the temperate Deciduous forest) using iMovie.  You can click here to view the video. One of my goals this summer is to play with iMovie and Garage Band more to think of fun ways to use them next year.

Yesterday, we were talking about adaptations.  They spent some time reading their nonfiction biome books and looking for at least 5 plants with descriptions of the plant and the adaptations.  They had to make a 2 column chart.  You can see a picture of mine below. I usually try and do some of the same assignments they are doing.  I am reading about Grasslands and Prairies.

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Then, we watched the Magic School Bus episode "All Dried Up."  The episode talks about adaptations and conditions in the desert.  In the episode, Arnold who is usually terrified of field trips is prepared for once.  He has created a field trip survival guide and survival kit.  I thought this was an awesome idea and felt totally inspired. Here is a copy of the episode:

My students are still reading and taking notes in their books about adaptations.  Tomorrow they are reading about animal adaptations. They will be creating their own field trip survival guides for their biome (just like Arnold did in the Magic School Bus episode).  I made a little booklet for them to fill out.  You can get a copy here.
Arnold made one for the desert, but each student will make their own guide for the biome they have been studying.

Today the students had to make a habitat for a polar bear that lives in a zoo in Arizona.  They had to create a model of their habitat and write a paragraph about it.  They had the option of drawing it, designing it on the computer, or trying to make it 3D.  Most of them opted to make it out of paper. This is one of my favorite student made polar bear habitats:

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Make sure you check out Holly's 500 Follower Giveaway.  There are so many prizes, I got tired reading them all!  I am contributing $15 to my TpT store.

Like everybody else, my TpT store is on sale for 20% off today and tomorrow.  If you enter the code, TAD13, you can save up to 28% off.  What are your favorite thematic units for upper grades?


  1. Oh so YOU gave me your cold!! ;-) Just kidding. I hope you feel better! I think I'm starting to feel alive again myself!
    ideas by jivey

  2. I teach biomes in the fall - will have to pin all of your great ideas to use next year!!! Glad that you are starting to feel better.

  3. I hope you feel better soon, April! This was an awesome post with so many great ideas. It was worth the wait. Thank you SO much for your help with my giveaway too:)
    Fourth Grade Flipper


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