KinderGals: Building Brain Power through Drawing and Artwork

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Building Brain Power through Drawing and Artwork

“When children play-draw, dance, and sing—they engage every sense and help wire the neurons for learning successfully.” (Sousa, 2006) Wow! Now that makes me stop and think….. What has happened to play, art, blocks, and even recess in many classrooms? As I travel around the country training teachers, it is always a little sad to hear them say, “My principal says we don’t have time for art.” We don’t have time to NOT have art! We have to teach with urgency. We have to do more authentic teaching. We have to see the value in what has been perceived as “wasting time.”
Reading this chapter made me thing of a few activities that we are doing that are “spot on” with this chapter.
Academic Vocabulary
We use the Marzano framework for academic vocabulary. In his thinking, children should show a linguistic and non-linguistic representation of the word. This means they should draw a picture to show their understanding of the word. This is not done with every vocabulary word…just the ones that the children need to take to a deeper level of understanding. Here’s how we do it. 1. Define the academic vocabulary words. The words in your standards that the children need to know.
2. Make word wall cards for each of these words.
3. Identify the most important words. These are the words that you will conduct a lesson for. These are the ones that the children MUST know to be successful in the content area. Have the children draw a picture to show their understanding. Work together as a class to determine a definition for the word.
4. Children make an academic vocabulary journal. Here they practice the word independently.
Another way to use this strategy is to engage in “craft” type activities. In reading we are working on “What do you do when you come to a word you don’t know?” Since I really want to turn my boys into book lovers, we decided to take a “tools” approach. Here’s what we did.
1.First, we thought about the reading strategies and picked a tool to represent each of them.
2. After teaching a lesson on each strategy, we made a tool box as a reminder of what we know. Cut and fold a paper bag like the one in the picture.
3 We made a little book with the tools and each strategy.
4. Then, we made the tools. 
5. Now, as the children get ready to read a book, invite them to look in their tool box and pull out a tool that they want to remember to try. Have them lay it by their book while they are reading. This will remind them to use the tool like a good reader does!
We use artwork as a way to demonstrate comprehension of the stories we read. Here’s how we do it.
1. After reading the story, we say “Authors help us in special ways when they write their stories. One thing they do is they let us know where the character goes in a story—what the settings are. If we can remember the settings the character travels to, we can use that to help us retell the story.”
So now we make a list of all of the places that the character went.
Now we say, “Good readers know to go back to the text to help them recall what happened in the story. Let’s go back and look to see where Rosie went. Let’s get them in the right order so we can retell the story.”
2. Invite each child to make one of the “settings” that Rosie travels to. We used the scrap box of paper, but children could draw, paint, etc!
3. After the pieces have all been made, invite the children to sit around the paper. Using the book, like good readers, have the children sequence the settings.
4. Now using the paper Rosie and the fox made by a few of the children, invite the children to tell the story by passing the characters around the circle. As they get the character, they tell what happened in their part of the story.
You can also do this as an independent activity like we did here in the Gingerbread Boy:
or here for The Three Pigs
Loved this idea: Have children draw a class mural to show what they remembered from yesterday’s class. I think this is a great way to check for understanding and to be sure they are grasping the ideas. I’m thinking this would be a great way to do a formative assessment!
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