Sunday, April 17, 2011

Planning Dilemma… HELP!

Hey bloggie friends!

I am writing this post because I am absolutely STUMPED! I plan social studies for my team, and we have to teach what we call “Notable Figures” next. Essentially, these are good citizens that we have to talk about with our first graders.

Here are the people that the state of Texas requires we talk about with our kiddos:
  • Francis Scott Key
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Sam Houston

The other people we have already covered with our inventors unit, President’s Day or Martin Luther King Jr, Day.

Here is where you come in… I need your help to give me some ideas of how to make learning about these people engaging and interesting to my First Graders. Usually I am pretty good about thinking outside of the box or pulling in different structures to spice up the learning, but I really am stumped this time! Please leave me a comment with any idea you have no matter how small you think it might be!

But, wait… there’s more! (Can you tell I’ve seen a couple of infomercials lately? Hehe!) If you leave a comment about what I could do for these lessons, I will send you any one thing from my TpT store for FREE! All you need to do is leave your comment, leave your email, and tell me your choice of a FREE item. If you wouldn’t mind waiting a few weeks for your FREE item, you could chose my inventors unit or addition/subtraction game pack that I will be working on. I just can’t promise that you will get those very soon… I haven’t been finding much extra time lately!

Please leave me a comment, I’d really appreciate it!


Christine said...

My firsties love doing inquiry-based activities. I print out a bunch of pictures and "artifacts" the are associated with a person (or topic) and add some books to create an inquiry station in a basket. I usually search for the person/topic on the internet and find images that I can print. I have a sheet that has an "I notice" box and an "I wonder" box for them to record their findings. Sometimes I make a notice/wonder chart for the whole class and have the kid add a sticky note to each section with their favorite notice/wonder. I am always amazed at the insightful observations they make!

You could also use Google Earth to "travel" to the fort where Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner and to the site of the Alamo. We used Google Earth on the interactive whiteboard last week and the kids had a blast! They made a list of all places they want to go to!

Hope some of these ideas help!

Amanda said...

Colleen, you are too cute! I would love your cooperative learning pack, but that's just an extra. I was going to leave a comment anyway, so you really didn't have to bribe me! :) Anyway, I am working on a wax museum unit with my kiddos. They are all studying historical figures for their research project, and then they are going to dress up like that person and prepare a quick little blurb about them. You could also do a talk show format, where the kids are interviewed and answer questions from the audience. This seems to work better when you are working with several different people, so if you can integrate other Texans, that might work. If you're interested, I'd be happy to send you my Wax Museum packet, since you're generous enough to give away one of your products! Other than that, you could have the students create "snapshots" on index cards that capture moments in a historical figures life. You could use them to make a class scrapbook. You could have the students transform a cereal box into a suitcase... and then fill it with artifacts (even if they're made of construction paper) that would represent a famous person. You could have them use poster-board to make a replica of a person and put their heads through it to do a presentation about someone. If I think of something else, I'll let you know!


newmanm said...

I was perusing the internet and found some really cute ideas to use in a unit studying Davy Crockett. Here is the link that I found to be especially helpful: I really thought that the crafts were super fun for 1st grade!

*I am really interested in your cooperative learning materials:) Your info-mercial won me over!

Mrs. Cruz said...

Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner. It would interesting to learn about the reason he wrote the song and then have each class make a flag to display. You could make a flag with tracing red, white and blue hand prints. I have also used muslin, tape stripes, and sponge painted stars.
The other are more political. Share information about both of them where the students can identify several key points about both of them. End your unit with a parade. Posters about who you all learned about and of course flags waving too! Good luck!

First Grade Best said...

Hi! I will send you some files for Eleanor Roosevelt to the email listed here on your blog. I also had my kids work in groups of four to create posters focusing on four areas of Eleanor's life: at home, at a school, in the community, and around the world. The kids received a fourth a sheet of paper numbered to match the four areas I listed and they worked to together to write and illustrate the facts and then each group assembled their posters and shared. It was a great activity and the posters were adorable. Not sure if I remembered to take a picture or not! I also had the kiddos complete a short independent report using a form from a Mailbox book - I won't have access to that file until next week due to break if it would be of interest to you.
I'll email the files to you and I also have a SMART notebook file of images if you can use it. I hope you find something helpful!

Mrs. Randall said...

Hi Colleen, I do a big notables project where our focus in on the biography genre. I did a short post about it where I included some pics if you want to check it out. The students research their own notable, write a report and then present it to families at a big celebration called Night of the Notables. Each student has to come in costume as their notable and answer questions (a predetermined set of questions) about their notable as if they were them. They love it! It is a highlight of their year. This year I plan to include a glog, a web poster they make about their notables that they can showcase to their parents via our class site. Also, check out You can upload pictures of your notables and then have kids write a list of characteristics or info. about the person and then it will put the info. in the shape of the notables head. They are really great! It is a lot like wordle with a shape to it.

If you have time, I love your cooperative learning materials as well. Thanks for sharing with us all! Love your blog!

Mrs. Randall’s Learning Library

Mrs. Randall said...

I forgot to add that I also I do a lot with vocabulary such as the difference between being famous and notable. We talk about what characteristics we admire in our notables and what their legacy was.
Mrs. Randall’s Learning Library

Unknown said...

You don't need to bribe me, either (but I'd love your Inventors Unit!).
I recently posted about my Famous Americans Unit(
We filled out cards & then made pocket people (too too cute!). I have all the printables on my blog.
Next year, however, I am going to use Blabberize. You can upload a pic of your notable person & a recording.....then the notable person can "talk" to your class! Check out Blabberize online.
Primary Inspired

Unknown said...

I do several different notable figure type units with my firsties at different times throughout the year. In Florida, we have some that we also need to talk about, but there are so many others. I love doing a Florida unit where we learn about all the notable figures who contributed to the start of anything in our state (who came up with the state flag, bird, song, flower, etc.). I also like to teach about notable authors who have their roots in Florida, you are never too young to learn about Hemingway! I am sure there are so many notable Texans that your firsties might never get the chance to learn about (the not so famous ones, but the ones who definitely made a difference). I know this isn't much, but it could be the start of something grand.

I too would love your cooperative learning materials, whenever you get a chance. I love the bribe, but I would have given you an idea anyway, who could resist, lol.

csturch said...

We always read a few picture books about Eleanor Roosevelt & Olivia Saves the Circus (as a tie-in), we use the advanced search feature on Google to find more articles written on our reading level and then because my students learn that people used to write to Eleanor for help solving problems, we do a creative writing project where we write letters to one another.

I set up a small mailbox where the children place their "Letter to Eleanor" and then we mix them up, pass them out, and write helpful answers. Don't know if that helps you or not! Hope it does!

Technology in High Heels

Jackie Abeyta said...

There is a cute book called "Amelia and Eleanor go for a ride" you could use.

You could talk about what a leader is and discuss why they were good leaders.

Sorry, I those are the only ideas I have. If I think of anything else I'll let you know!

Oh, and no bribe is necessary, but since you are offering and I'm in LOVE with all of your ideas, I'll take you up on it :) I'd LOVE to get a copy of your cooperative learning materials!


Colleen said...

I found some links that might be helpful for Francis Scott Key. I would definitely stress the National Anthem and the American Flag. Here are the links

Gladys said...

When I do my notables unit...I usually have the children research the person and create a suitcase with different artifacts associated with that person. They usually do this in cooperative groups...then they get to present their findings and artifacts to the group. We recently studied about Harriet Tubman and Amelia Earhart in firsties LOVED it...they really understood each of these important women.

You didn't have to bribe me! But I've been eyeing your Cooperative Learning Pack. Thanks so much...oh and all of the ideas you have received are great...thanks ladies!

Once Upon a Time in First Grade

Busy Bee said...

Break down the Star Spangled Banner and discuss what each part means in easier terms. Have small groups illustrate each part and make a book out of it.

Ms.M said...

Off the top of my head...

Obviously, Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to the anthem. Have students listen to the lyrics, then learn the song if they don't already know it. Once that is done break students into groups & have them study a different part of his life. Here is the fun part. They get to make up lyrics about his life to the song. Once they have done that they can perform them together to make up a new song all about Key. A bonus could be to record the song and share it with the rest of the school.

If I think of anything else I'll come back :)

Thank you for being so generous. If you like my idea, I'd love your Higher Level Thinking - Category Words. I'm at msk1ell(at)gmail(dot)com.

Ms. M
Ms.M's Blog
A Teacher's Plan

Ms.M said...

I'm back, you could do this for any of the people you study but I was thinking about Eleanor Roosevelt.

Have students study Eleanor Roosevelt in groups, then they write & illustrate parts of her life. Put them together & make a digital story of her life. Then the kids can watch the movie & eat popcorn.

Or you can make a big White House bulletin board then split it up in sections. Students would attach pictures & facts of her life to the section of the White House they pertain to. Does that make sense?

Ms. M
Ms.M's Blog
A Teacher's Plan

Ms.M said...

I like the Google Earth idea to learn about Sam Houston's places of note.

Ms. M
Ms.M's Blog
A Teacher's Plan

Anonymous said...

I found this activity that I used with my Kindergarten class. It uses an "Olivia" book to introduce the students to Eleanor roosevelt....maybe you can find some ideas here

thank you for all your great ideas you have shared in the past.

Ms. Zamorano said...

Do you have a smart board? I have one that I use for Sam Houston. I usually use it as an introduction and then we create a large graphic organizer with information about Sam Houston. We compare him to other leaders. If you would like the smart board I can email it to you. If you like it or want it I would love the addition/subtraction packet. Good luck!

Katia Zamorano

Amy C said...

This is a kindergarten appropriate lesson plan about the flag, the Star Spangled Banner, and Francis Scott Key. It is from Scholastic.
I would love your Category Words packet. Thank you!

Abigail said...

I googled famous Texans, and came up with this idea- I hope you can run with it and put it to good use! :)

Robert Rauschen was a famous painter. He made art out of materials he found around New York City. A cool project that would celebrate Earth Day would be to have your kiddos bring in labels from objects from home. They could create a collage of some sort and then use color words or adjectives to write about their artwork.

I would love your Skittles Probability Packet! Thanks for your generosity! :)

Abigail said...

Raschenberg :)

Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas said...

I'm not here for a freebie, 'cause I have no ideas....I just wanted to say what a wonderful what to use a blog to get your students some amazing lessons! I'm excited about this way of using a blog in the future!
Have a great week,

Brandy said...

It's nice to have a time line going in your classroom throughout the whole year. Every time you learn about someone new, add it to the time line so they can see when these people lived in relation to one another. It's not too late to start one with this unit, but go ahead and add the people you've already studied as a review and to make the time line even more meaningful. Hope this helps.


Unknown said...

Hi! I posted up above about my Famous American Research Project & using Blabberize....just wanted to let everyone know I now have it up in my TpT store as a free download. (Please rate it if you like it!)
Primary Inspired

Anonymous said...

When I taught kindergarten we made a flag from a white 12 x 18 piece of a construction paper, 2 x 18 strips of red paper, and a 4 x 6 rectangle of blue paper. The kids glued the flag together and add star stickers. We then learned the Star Spangled Banner and glued a printed-out version on the back of the flag. The kids loved the activity and always remembered the song afterward!

My email is and I am interested in your upcoming addition/subtraction game pack. Thanks!

Family said...

Biography Project 5 Pocket People (If you go to you can see how cute these turn out!) I tried to cut and paste here but it's been 50 minutes and I can't figure it out.:( sorry Directions for making the 5 Pocket People
• Use poster board for the body
• The person’s body must be decorated with at least 5 different kinds of material, such as: felt, fabric, buttons, burlap, leather, plastic, yarn for hair, ribbons, straw, old pieces of jewelry, beads etc…. NO FOOD ITEMS. • The face must be drawn on with crayon, colored pencils, markers, paint, made from felt, or colored construction paper.
• Your figure must have 5 pockets on the costume. They may be on the hat, legs, arms or body. You may cut slits into the cardboard to use as pockets.
In each Pocket there must be different kinds of information:
1. The name of the person, date and place of birth. Also include the reason for choosing this person.
2. Tell about the person’s family and childhood. For example, give information about the person’s parents, brother/sisters, his/her education etc…
3. Why is he/she important or famous? What did they do that made the world take notice?
4. Tell about special interests or hobbies of your person. If none are mentioned you may write about a fact that was of interest to you.
5. What difficulty or challenges did your person face in life? If none are mentioned, when did your person die? If the person is alive, how old is he/she? I realize these questions should be a little easier for 1st grade.
My email is and I would LOVE your cooperative learning job assignments pack. Thanks for your awesome ideas. :)

Anonymous said...

You are too cute! I just love all your work. You could do Amelia Erhart, then have the students write a diary of 2-3 entries. With one being one if she did return to the US. Hope that this helps.

I would love your your Inventors Unit. Thanks for sharing!

deboraha.burns [at] yahoo [dot] com

Unknown said...

I LOVE inventing curriculum. I'd punch out some of those girl/boy figures that look kinda like gingerbread men. I'd send home the assignment to dress the boy/girl up like a famous American. Give them the 3 as ideas but add another 3 more. Then have them give the class a little 2 sentence report on the person. For the Pledge I'd do whole class flags. Use white whole sheet of construction paper. Paper cut red 1 inch strips. Give out however many make up the 13 total (can't picture it in my head here...hehe) Then a blue square and pass out star punch outs. Put a typed up copy of the pledge on back. Have the kids write underneath what it means to them to be an American. Then put all the "people" and flags out on the bulletin board with a catchy caption. Social Studies done PATRIOTIC! I'd love any math packs. I'm lame on math.

Unknown said...

Oops, I mean the Star Spangled Banner, not the pledge on the back of the flags. Sorry!

Beautiful.Crazy.Life said...

It's a small idea, but when talking about Sam Houston it's fun to show the kids a picture of the statue (ie powerpoint or live) and talk about how tall it is in relation to other things. For example, using non standard measurements like it's as tall as 2 football fields, 5 school buses, etc. Then using measurements if ya'll have done that. Just something different...

Also, I'd love to your inventors packet. You have so many great ones, but that one sounds original and different.

Thanks again for sure a great blog!

Kim Fromberg

Leslie said...

We haven't gotten to Eleanor Roosevelt yet..But for Frances Scott Key I had my students listen to the words and draw what they thought he might have seen. They enjoyed it and I could double it for an art grade! Hope this helps and that I am not too late!!
I would love the Writing Workshop Interactive Notebook Pack :)