I've Got the Blues: An interdisciplinary unit for second graders dealing with "blue themes" in literature

By: Nancy Bradshaw, Nashville, TN

Subject: language arts, math, science, social studies, art
Duration: 1- 2 weeks

This lesson plan was one of the winners in a lesson plan contest sponsored by TeachersFirst in 2002. TeachersFirst editors have added technology options where appropriate.

Books used Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Ol' Blue by Mark Taylor
The Blue Whale by Donna Grosvenor
Water's Way by Lisa Peters
Jamberry by Bruce Degen
Blue Lobster by Carol Carrick
Rationale This unit offers an interdisciplinary collection of activities for students who are hearing and reading a series of books which involve "blue themes."
Objectives A. Students will read Blueberries for Sal and develop a story map listing main characters, setting, problem, solution, beginning, middle and end.
B. After hearing the story Jamberry, students will identify and list suffixes from root words ending with s, es, ing, and ed.
C. Students will write sentences using the homophones bear, bare, blue and blew correctly in sentences.
D. Students will state the main idea of Blueberries for Sal, Blue Whale, and Old Blue.
E. Students will locate the state of Maine on a US map and state the region in which it is found.
F. Students will estimate the number of blueberries in a jar and some will participate in counting them, using groups of ten.
G. Students will write one to three paragraphs retelling the story Old Blue.
H. Students will make a flip book describing and illustrating the water cycle after hearing the book Water's Way.
I. Students will bring to school a song title, poem title, nursery rhyme title or saying which includes the word blue to promote creative thinking with parents.
J. Students will tell at least three characteristics of the blue whale and the blue lobster after hearing books by the same title and will create a book about one of them.
K. Students will state the definition of fiction and non-fiction.
Materials Paper for flip books and four page books
A can of blueberries
A glass jar
Blueberry cupcakes or muffins – courtesy of the parents (?)
US map and globe
Construction paper, glue, scissors, markers, crayons, scrap paper for bulletin board project
Chart paper for lists
Copies of story maps to be filled in by students (electronic or paper), this could be done on the interactive whiteboard or as a drag and drop activity on a PowerPoint slide. Teacher may need to prepare the electronic activity in advance.
Procedure Have each student Read Blueberries for Sal with a partner and complete a story map handout as described in Objective A.

Compile a list from the entire group, naming words with suffixes and categorizing them to be displayed in the classroom. Add to the list as you read other books and locate suffixes fitting the objectives. This could be done as an interactive whiteboard file (flipchart or SMART notebook) that is saved and reopened as needed.

Conduct a lesson on homophones. Make a list of the homophones and display it in the classroom naming words in Objective C and including other homophones. This could also be done on interactive whiteboard or in a word processing program.

Pour a can of blueberries into a jar. Ask students how many ways they can estimate the number of blueberries contained in the jar. Then let them count the berries in different ways. For example, A low ability math group may count them by grouping them in tens and recording the number. Another group of high ability math students may want to put them into groups of three and try counting them this way. This group could then produce a multiplication statement showing the total.

As a group, have the students compile lists of words with suffixes for posting and words which are homophones for posting. This could be done on interactive whiteboard and printed out too.

Have the students create a bulletin board which is a guessing game. Have each student make an illustration which shows the nursery rhyme, poem, or song which includes the word blue and post the illustration on the board. Provide an answer list for those wishing to guess the title and check their guess.

Ask some parents to bake healthy blueberry muffins for the students (and teacher) to enjoy while listening to Blueberries for Sal.

Read several different books which incorporate the blue theme to the students. After each reading, discuss fiction and non-fiction genres, main ideas, facts learned, ideas, ideals or lessons taught, and an appreciation of literature developed.

Using a map of the US, have the students locate Maine, the setting of Blueberries for Sal. Explain the climate and why blueberries grow there. Identify this region as part of the northeastern region of the US. You may want to incorporate dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases and internet sites to illustrate these concepts. If you have it, use Google Earth " - reviewed here - to visit Maine and see many photos via the Panoramio ayer, as well as many landforms there.

After hearing and discussing concepts presented in Water's Way, have each student write and design a flip book illustrating the water cycle. Or design a class interactive book using an online tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here. Be sure to share the URL for the finished "book" with parents so students can read it to them online at home.

Have students select either a blue whale or a blue lobster and make a four-page (or more) illustrated book describing its characteristics, and habitat. Use PowerPoint slides as the book pages for an easy way to add photos, clip art, and more. Then print out the pages in landscape mode. Combine the entire class's pages in a bound, laminated book. Allow students to sign the book out to share with their parents overnight. Email the file to parents who have PowerPoint, as well.

Have students write a one to three paragraph retelling of Ol' Blue.
Evaluation Evaluation will be through the following:
  1. teacher observation of responses and participation in group activities
  2. books written and illustrated
  3. story map
  4. one-three paragraph retelling of Ol' Blue
  5. a spelling test and sentence dictation using the homophones listed in Objective C.

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