1/2 Days Are the Longest Days…

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I struggle with planning my November lessons. I mean, between Veterans day, Thanksgiving break, a Superintendent’s day and, Parent/Teacher conference days, I think we’re in session for 15 whole days the entire month! And that’s if we don’t end up with any snow days, 2 hour delays or early dismissals…

I think the half days are the hardest to plan around. We seem to have quite a few kids who don’t come to school on half days and the kids who are here tend to be a little off the wall with the completely different schedule on those days. It’s a delicate balance finding lessons that will be fun, engaging, and educational but not so important to the curriculum that kids who aren’t in school come back behind everyone else and needing to be caught up.

In the past, I’ve done basic review type activities but tried to make them as fun and game like as possible but this year, while scrolling through Instagram (my PD activity of choice), I spotted The. Most. Amazing. Idea. Ever. It was posted by librarian Chrystal Burkes (Instagram handle chryschool) and you should totally stop reading and just go check out her feed-it’s chock full of good ideas-and come back when you’re done.

Back? Good. Just in case you couldn’t find the idea I borrowed from her (and I can totally see you missing it in the sea of amazing stuff she posts), I’ll share what I did based on the post she shared back on November 13th. It caught my eye because she mentioned using the book Balloons Over Broadway in the lesson. I bought this book at our spring Scholastic Book Fair last year and while I was just in love with the illustrations, it didn’t seem to be getting much circulation time with the kiddos. So, I was eager to see what this creative and inspiring librarian had found to do with it-and I was not disappointed! Per her Instagram caption, “We read the book #balloonsoverbroadway and then went on a @macy’s #thanksgivingdayparade #virtualfieldtrip using #ipads and #youtube 360!” So fun, right?!?! In the comments she gave the link for the video but I found it easier to just search on YouTube for “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2017 360”. And really, that’s the whole lesson right there in her caption. Read the book, hook them up with the iPads, watch joy and magic happen. It does require a wee bit of prep though so I’ll walk you through what I did to make the lesson go as smooth as possible:

  1. Several days before the lesson: Check that all the iPads you’ll be using have the YouTube app. The 360 videos only work on the YouTube app so you can’t use the web version for this activity, you’ll have to have the app installed. Some of my iPads had the app but some of them had “lost” it somehow so I needed to put in a help desk ticket with our IT department to get them all hooked up with the app.
  2. Morning of the lesson: I went through all the iPads I’d be using and opened the YouTube app, searched for the video, opened it, put the video in full screen mode and then paused it. I then closed the cover and put it back on a book cart until we needed it for the lesson. That way, when it was time, I could just pick up an iPad, hit play and the kiddos could just be handed an iPad that was ready to roll.
  3. Lesson itself: I read the book, we discussed parades and parade balloons, then I told them we were going on a field trip to NYC to see the parade ourselves, without having to leave the library! When my clerk wheeled the cart of iPads into the story area I explained that the iPads were their tickets to NYC. Then, I showed them how the video worked with the iPads and finally, we talked about being a safe tourist (ie how to walk with the iPads, looking out for other tourists, making sure we didn’t stop or sit down in front of people, etc).

In the end, I only was able to do the lesson with my classes the day before we went on break. However, I will absolutely be doing this one with all my classes leading up to the Thanksgiving break next year! My students LOVED this lesson and activity. Throughout the course of the day I received: spontaneous applause, cheers, hugs and, one little guy even yelled, “this is the greatest thing I’ve ever done!”. It definitely made that last hectic day before break sail right by-something for which I can be truly thankful!

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