My Thanksgiving

Those of you who know me are probably aware that I am going to the U.S. this week. Funny story: in 2010, a case of mistaken identity ended up with my husband Matt being invited to Thanksgiving by a family we didn't know. A quirky reply email actually got a response - a real invite! Apparently the family who invited us appreciated Matt's sense of humour and thought he was worth inviting to the annual family gathering.

We couldn't actually go in 2010 and regretfully declined. For various reasons, we were also unable to attend Thanksgiving in 2011 and 2012. So we decided that 2013 was the year we made it to the U.S. for Thanksgiving. There are only 4 days now before we leave, and we are both in the midst of preparations.

Thanksgiving with an Australian class

As it is only Week 6 of Term 4 in Canberra, I will be taking Long Service Leave to attend Thanksgiving. I thought it might be nice for my class (who will be having a relief teacher for the time I am away) to learn more about the traditions of Thanksgiving. As it is something we don't celebrate in Australia, I was looking for activities they could do to learn more about it. My first place to look was Pinterest, but it didn't really hit the spot for me. So I looked next at TpT. 

Here's what I found:

Story of Thanksgiving Bracelet

This cute activity involves the teacher reading a poem, and the students making a bracelet using different coloured pony beads to represent the different parts of the story. After reading this, I had a better understanding of the Thanksgiving story. Plus it's a kinetic way of remembering the story of the first Thanksgiving. It's a lovely activity and I recommend you download it (plus give feedback).

The next thing I found was a mini unit:

Thanksgiving Mini Unit {freebie}

This has some cute cut and paste activities, plus initial sounds activities. My Year 2s will get a kick out of the cut and paste labelling activities. It has really cute graphics.

Finally, here's a PowerPoint presentation that I found that goes through some of the traditions of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Traditions -  A Fun PowerPoint Presentation

All of these amazing (and FREE) activities will be given to my relief teacher and my teaching partner to implement on Thursday 28th November, while I am enjoying a fabulous Thanksgiving meal prepared by our generous American 'family'. We are both looking forward to our trip and can't wait to meet our new friends.

I am feeling so lucky and thankful that I have amazing colleagues who put up with my crazy antics, and wonderful people over in the U.S who are as excited as we are to have our first Thanksgiving together.

Arts Festival

Yesterday was our school's first Arts Festival. Although I am really tired, I wanted to share some of the creations we made to display in this showcase of visual art, music, drama and dance!
There was so much going on yesterday it's hard to do it all justice. I'm going to concentrate on my little piece of the Arts Festival, and try to get some pictures of the rest of the celebrations for another post.

Each student needed to be involved in a performance of some kind (we did a dance video and a musical performance using percussion instruments and singing), display an artwork in the Art Gallery and have a lantern to hang from the rafters of our outdoor seating areas.

Artworks - Bug's Eye View

I took on the challenge of leading the art component, including the lanterns for both my class and my teaching partner's class. That meant I had 50 artworks and 50 lanterns to help students create... it was a close call, but with a lot of assistance, we made it in the end!

As it's Spring in Australia at the moment, I chose an artwork that I had copied from an art book while I was a prac student. It's called 'Insect's View of a Flower' and I can't for the life of me remember which art book it's from. I'm hoping I can figure that out to give the appropriate credit because it looked fantastic!

Here's a couple of the artworks hanging in the Art Gallery.

Bug's Eye View in pink and green
Bug's Eye View in yellow and purple
Bug's Eye View in green and red

To create this artwork, we first did a bit of observation of a flower. I had some fake gerberas that the students could have a really close look at. Then we decided where the middle of our flower would be. Imagining that we were insects or bugs zooming in to land on the flower helped us to make sure our flowers were really big. We drew petals, both large and small, then decided on our colours.

Starting with the middle of the flower, we tore coloured paper and glued it on collage style. Then we moved on to the background colour. Some parts were really tricky, but we managed it in the end. The petals were the last part to be collaged, then we outlined the petals with a permanent marker. As a finishing touch, I gave them a little sprinkle of silver spray paint to make them glimmer like they had dew on them. Finally they were trimmed, mounted and labelled (all 50 finished the day before the Arts Festival!) At the end of this post are some easier to follow instructions with some photos of the process.

Lanterns - Hot Air Balloons

My next project was the lanterns. I did a quick Pinterest search for ideas, but ended up falling back on a favourite show from my childhood years - Art Attack!

Ages ago, I printed instructions on how to make a hot air balloon model from the Art Attack website. It's undergone a substantial change since then, and I can't find the link to the original project.

Here's a photo of how they turned out.

2H & 2L hot air balloon lanterns

Inside the 'baskets' (which are just fancy baking cases from a $2 store) there are LED candles. The hot air balloons just looked gorgeous when it went dark! 

2H & 2L lanterns at night

These were quite tricky to make, and thanks to a wonderful parent helper, were all made in time!

We needed card, split pins, wool and baking cases to create these hot air balloons. I made a template and photocopied it onto coloured card. The students needed to choose three colours and cut out their shapes. Then we used a pencil or pen to punch a hole in the top to put our split pins through. That was very tricky, and I ended up doing quite a lot of them for the students. Once the split pin was in, we started on the basket. Thanks to my aforementioned parent helper (who is super amazing) we came up with a great way to attach the baskets. The Art Attack instructions mentioned using sticky tape to attach the bottom of the balloon together, but we found that using a hole punch to make a hole, then threading the wool through worked much better! The excess wool could then be used to attach the basket. A piece of wire went at the top, and hey presto! Hot air balloon lanterns!

It was an amazing event to be a part of, and I was so proud of my Year 2s and their creative endeavours. The festival has been received well by the parent community, with many complimentary emails coming through via the principal and the deputy principal. It was great to see all the children with their families, eating nachos from the Kitchen Garden or enjoying a sausage sizzle, exploring the fort that the Year 5 students created out of old polling booth boxes, drawing on the netball courts with chalk, sharing their art in the gallery or sculpture garden, showing off their singing, dancing, drama or musical prowess on the main stage, or enjoying the multimedia presentation that included claymation, dance videos and a rendition of "I like to Move It" featuring the staff.

I hope you have enjoyed my little slice of a much larger pie!

Edited to add: 

Instructions for making "Bug's Eye View Art"

  1. Observe a flower. We used fake gerberas.
  2. Sketch your flower onto A4 paper.
  3. Tear brown or black paper to collage the centre of the flower.
  4. Once the middle is done, tear your chosen colour for the background. I've got orange for the background and blue for the petals.
  5. Glue on your background.
  6. Glue on your petals.
  7. Once your paper is completely covered, use a permanent marker to draw the petals.
  8. Lightly spray paint with silver (optional)
  9. Trim the art. I took 1.5cm off each side to mount it on A4 black card.
  10. Display!