While I only see my students once a week for 25 minutes, my preferred way of teaching is through projects. Therefore, for my second grade classes this month, I planned a small project to tie into their classroom study of different cultures. I knew I had to make the project manageable in a short period of time, but still meaningful.
The project was to create a scrapbook about your visit to another country. To get them in the mindset of traveling someplace and what it involves, we began this project by creating a timeline of what they would need to do to plan a trip. We discussed modes of transportation, what to pack for different climates, and what they might need to plan ahead of time. The following week, we took a "trip" to the school library to look at books about different countries. Each student picked a country and found a book or two about it.
Since the reading level of second graders varies, and the books were not all geared to their level, I chose to instead focus on the pictures in the books. Their instructions were to find pictures of things that are different from what we would see here in our community. This higher order thinking skill has them evaluate what they are looking at, instead of just looking for random pictures. Once they found a picture, they wrote down a title for the picture, and then described it: How is it different than our community? I created a worksheet for this that you can find here. With a little guidance, this was something they could successfully do.
The next week, we returned to the computer lab to create our scrapbook. We used Power Point as the students were familiar with it and it has a large volume of clip art. I instructed the students to first type the name of their country into the clip art gallery search box, and then look for pictures that were similar to what they found last week. We discussed that they will probably not find the exact same picture, but there could be something close. They could also search for something in the picture, like chopsticks if they had written about a family eating dinner in Japan.
Each page of their scrapbook had to have a title, bullet point descriptions of the picture (they could look at their worksheet) and the picture. If they ran out of pictures that they had already found, they could use the clip art gallery just like they did the book. Look for pictures from their country, find one that shows something different than here, and then describe it. Those who finished the required amount of slides, could add background colors and colored text, just like a scrapbook. This part was especially exciting for them.
Each second grade classroom is doing some type of country study on their own. This activity was an excellent introduction and the teachers can have the students show their favorite page to the class.