Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mexico (North America Unit)

Most of this unit focused on Mexico.

General Mexico

  • We colored our map from this book noting landforms as specified in the Core Knowledge Sequence/Baltimore Lesson Plans for First Grade May. Note: there are tons of free maps available online so this coloring book wasn’t a must but it’s cheap enough that I felt when I factored in the computer printing costs (each map includes information, map, and a flag of the country) I was better off purchasing.

  • We reviewed and elaborated on the history including the Aztecs/conquistadors/Spanish rule and how that blend of cultures influences the people even today. We talked about the eventual war for independence from Spain. I could not find "my kid appropriate" videos for this area so as I did the first time through I told them in story form myself.

  • Activity: We made a flag using construction paper and a coloring page image (free online) for the center part.

People and Culture

We looked at the entry in our Children Just Like Me for Mexico.

We covered topics specified in the Core Knowledge Sequence and the Baltimore lesson plans-specifically Cinco de Mayo, traditional clothing, piñatas, and siesta. I covered Cinco de Mayo because it is in the Core Knowledge sequence and celebrated in the United States even though in most areas of Mexico it is not widely celebrated. We did talk about the Mexican Independence Day being more significant in Mexico itself. If I were planning this unit all again I might just tie the fiesta concepts and celebrations of Independence Day in Mexico in with the literature I selected for this unit.

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo video

Sesame Street video with film of celebration and we get to see traditional clothing in this video as well.

That video led us into discussing traditional clothing (I made a coloring page using an image I “grabbed” from google image searches. The book Uncle Nachos Hat is suggested in these plans for exploring the traditional clothing and I’m suspecting it’s good if your library has it. He suggests other books as well including Hill of Fire that I used later in my plans. These plans would make a nice unit actually. I just didn’t find them in time!

We also talked about fiestas and the piñata. My kids are familiar with those from birthday parties and the like but I still showed a picture.
note: Diego Rivera has artwork of children with a piñata that might work nicely here though I decided to keep it with our art appreciation day instead.

Activity for today:
We made miniature piñatas and hung them up as decorations.

Art: Diego Rivera and Murals

I showed his piñata picture and showed and discussed this section of one of his murals.
This is a video of the mural in Mexico City that shows the, well, impressive size of it. I muted as it’s better without the environmental sounds.
This is a video about architecture in Mexico City but includes a lot about Rivera specifically and his murals which is a Core Sequence curriculum art objective. I stopped at his house in the last bit of this video as beyond wasn’t considered appropriate content for me but that was very little of the video. I still showed most as it gave a nice view of Mexico City and the value of murals in that city and culture.

Art Activity:
Make a mural in his style--the art lesson in these lesson plans is good. We will use magazine and clipart pictures for our murals along with their additions.

We read the Legend of the Poinsettia from Mexico which we have in a book by Tomie de Paola but there are many variations available online and, of course, many other stories if this one won’t work for a family. Here are a couple of free online versions and there are more.

We completed a Poinsettia fan craft.

We talked about and "experienced" the Christmas La Posada celebration as outlined in this lesson.

We hung our poinsettia decorations on our ceiling with the piñatas and crafts we’ve done in our bible this week.

Alternative Literature Idea without Christmas themes
I planned this and then decided to save it for a science unit we’ll be completing later in the year. I’m including it here though as it also works in a Mexico unit covering the Paricutin Volcano. I intended to use this video of the Hill of Fire book that includes footage of an active volcano and volcano information that is very good.
This website has information about the Paricutin volcano

And, of course, we’ll make a volcano!

Music Lesson

First we made maracas (well, maraca like things anyway with cups and beans-there are lots of easy to make plans for various types of maracas online) to use while dancing and listening to the music.

Music covered was that listed in the Core Knowledge Baltimore lesson Plans. I used the following videos for the music:
La Cucha Racha
The Mexican Hat Dance

Before playing the Mexican Hat Dance we learned the steps as outlined here and in the Baltimore Lesson Plans for May Music (or at least we tried to!) and made a sombrero .
The Baltimore plans have a nice craft idea in the May first grade lesson plans for making tissue paper flowers and there are lots of instructions online too. If I had girls I would have likely done that instead of the sombrero. They look pretty. I might have done it anyway but I was overloaded with crafts this unit as it was.

Mexico games and crafts

Here is a list of some games played in Mexico.

  • I introduced our poetry of the week this day which was the Rope Rhyme by Eloise Greenfield (jump rope games in Mexico tied it into this lesson). That site has a lot of nice poems to use for poetry studies.
  • We clapped to the rhythm of the rhyme to simulate the sound of the rope hitting the ground while one child jumped on our mini trampoline and then switched guys as jumping rope wouldn’t work well with my two.

  • We talked about crafts in Mexico (a google image search will usually bring up pictures of the ones mentioned in the curriculum) and made some pretty crafts called papel picado per the instructions in the Baltimore Core Knowledge Lesson Plans.
  • We made palm trees as well because one of my two has been wanting to make them since we started Mexico. At any rate, we have been hanging all the crafts we’ve made with this unit to the ceiling and when we added today’s crafts it looks really festive! The boys are thrilled to see “their decorations” hanging.
  • I mentioned in another post that we use the Day by Day Devotions by Karyn Henley as our bible during the week. Since the first week is available online as a sample I will mention that Thursday’s Elijah lesson with the hide and seek activity worked really well with this lesson. It also gives me a chance to say again how much I love and appreciate her materials!
Eating authentic Mexican food "out" would be such a nice way to end the unit. We have a significant Hispanic population here so that would be easy to do if it weren’t for food allergies. We had to make due with what could be made here free of my son's allergies. It was still fun.

Final note: I had to cut out so much in planning this unit to fit it into the time I felt we could spend. I understand how and why people spend an entire year studying countries!

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