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Teacher's Journal - Table of Contents

Korean Thematic Unit

At the beginning of the school year my students were asked what units of study they would like to learn this year . One child suggested that we study South Korea since we have a student in our class who is Korean. Meehyun was very excited to learn about her country and told us that her family could participate in the unit.

I never taught a unit on South Korea before and told the children that I have little background knowlege but I would be happy to learn with them. I ordered a literature based thematic unit from Evan-Moor Corporation.

Our spelling words were the Korean symbols on the South Korean flag. I also researched the web and found some elementary schools in South Korea that had websites. A site was found on tourism in South Korea and I provided URLs for both sites on their spelling contracts.

One school that was e-mailed wrote our class a lovely letter and offered to answer questions about South Korea. I made a copy of this and gave it to my students. We found South Korea on the map and designed a folder with the South Korean flag on it. The children were read Korean folktales and one of their favorites was "The Korean Cinderella" by Shirley Climo. It has some lovely illustrations of danchong (decorative art). We made our own danchongs out of wool and oaktag. My students had the opportunity to write Han-gul ( Korean alphabet) using a calligraphy set that I got in China. They did a good job using brushes and ink even though it was their first attempt.

Our class went to the highschool to visit our website and I showed the class how I navigated through the web to find the site of the South Korean elementary school. We visited the site and my class was so excited to see the school and some children from whom they received e-mail.

The children read a Korean counting book and as a followup they made counting books which were illustrated. Meehyun helped us with the pronunication.

Our music teacher taught the children two Korean songs....Parangsai ( Bluebird ) and HakyoJong (School Bells). I was so proud of how they learned it and were able to pronounce the words!

The class read a wonderful folktale "The Bird with the Broken Leg" retold by Betsy Franco. They worked in cooperative groups to retell the story as a puppetshow. Some groups changed the story ending. They made their own scenery and puppets.

The culmination of this unit as well as the highlight was a visit from Meehyun's mother. The children were so excited when she visited us. Younghee brought us a scrapbook of South Korea that was made especially for us to keep, and showed us beautiful indigenous clothing . The children were very excited to hear that one outfit was worn by Meehyun when she was a baby. After that we had a question and answer period. Younghee also gave us two lovely masks to display in our classroom along with a postage stamp for each child. The children were so excited to receive these laminated stamps that they made special decorative envelopes for their keepsakes.

The most touching part of this afternoon was when Younghee sat next to me and we read the folktale "The Rabbit's Escape" together. She read it in Korean and I read it in English. I wish I could have taped this moment.

Multicultural education doesn't get much better than this! I think that my students will have very fond memories of this wonderful sharing and learning experience.

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Peruvian Thematic Unit

Last April my husband and I visited Peru. We took many slides and brought back crafts to incorporate in this unit. The unit lasted one week and was very successful.


  1. Spelling Assignment....words related to Peru
  3. Volcano study
  4. Craft activity..each student made a quipo out of different pieces of wool and used it to relay a message to a parent ("Mailbox Magazine")
  5. Language Activity.... students made a hanging mobile that displayed their goals. This was a followup after hearing "Moon Rope" by Lois Ehlert (idea from "Mailbox Magazine")
  6. Peruvian folktales
  7. Slide show of Peru
  8. Listened to Peruvian music and learned about the instruments
  9. Designed a travel brochure of Peru
  10. Tasting Experience..sampled a typical Peruvian dish...Papa a la Huarcaina ("Mailbox Magazine")
  11. Learned about the Incas through a slide show and books
  12. Wrote about Peru

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Cooperative Learning Activity

The last day of school before a holiday can be quite hectic. The children are so excited that it is difficult to follow a normal routine. For our winter celebration my students had a wonderful time participating in a cooperative learning activity. Each group was given a variety of edible and craft materials in which to display a theme. The students were actually more interested in this creation than munching on the candy! Each child got to take a piece of their project home after showing it to the rest of the class.

This activity can also be done during a Halloween party or before spring recess.

If you would like to see some photos of their candy projects click on any of the images below.

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E-Mail Internet Ongoing Project

We often get e-mail from people who have visited our site. When we get mail that I think my students will enjoy, each child is given a copy to read. We mark the location on the map with a sticker and add the location to a list on a chart. The children take home their letters to put in their e-mail folder. Sometimes we write back to the person and I e-mail these letters for the students or those with e-mail at home do it on their own. This is a wonderful way to develop both reading and geographical skills.

Story Writing Project

One of my former students wrote the sixth and concluding paragraph of a collaborative story called "The Missing Paycheck." This project was hosted by The Duck Bay School. You can read Nathaniel's conclusion at
Group Z . My students participated in another writing project hosted by The Duck Bay School. They wrote the second paragraph of another story in cooperative groups. This story is posted at The Duck Bay School. You can find the story in Group B Projects from February.

Thanksgiving Detectives

This was a wonderful collaborative research project hosted by the teachers of the Kyrene de la Paloma School in Chandler, Arizona.

The idea of this project was to gather data about the cost of traditional Thanksgiving foods and ways that people throughout the country celebrate Thanksgiving. My students went to the market and priced various items. We wrote the prices on a chart and averaged them. We also listed the 4 things that we like to do most during Thanksgiving. This information was sent to Arizona via e-mail. A few weeks later we received the results of over fifty schools involved in this project.

The children were delighted to find out that children all over the country enjoy the same things that they do during Thanksgiving. Everybody chose the parade and football game! The prices of foods weren't much different either.

Each cooperative learning group in my class was given a school to read about. They shared their information with the rest of the class. As a culminating math activity the children had to compare the prices of foods of our class and another class of their choice. They wrote inequality signs on a chart to show their comparisons.

Postcard Geography

This delightful project is led by Leni Donlan. It is part of ESH Project Leader's Consortium.You can get all the information for this project at PostCard Geography . The children are designing postcards that show Long Island. Many children made beautiful illustrations of Long Island beaches, winter on Long Island, and spring on Long Island. Each of these postcards will be sent to a school that has joined the project. My students are so excited to do this and always check on the map where their postcard is being sent. We are waiting to get postcards and when we do their's will be displayed on a bulletin board. What a wonderful way to learn about our community, and other communities! I learned about this activity at Tammy Payton's excellent website


Petrus will be spending a week with our class from May 25 until May 31, 1997. Now you may wonder who is Petrus?

Petrus is a stuffed animal that comes from South Africa and will be visiting different schools for a week. He will have with him an information pack for every class involved in the project along with materials from his community. The host class will exchange the info-pack for similiar things in their home town. The classes involved will be asking questions to the host about their community. They will get answers via e-mail. Petrus will return home to South Africa on June 14,1998. He will have so many stories to tell his family about his travels throughout the world. Petrus will have a homepage that will record his experiences. As soon as this page is up I will provide the URL so that you can keep up with his journeys and learn about different communities.

This coordinater of this project is
Rolien Nunn
P.O.Box 4292
South Africa

Thomas' Snowsuit

The children in Mrs. Quirk's First Grade Class at Van Buren Elementary Shool, Baldwinsville, New York enjoyed the story "Thomas'Snowsuit" by Robert Munsch. Mrs.Quirk is leading an Internet project called Thomas' Snowsuit which our class is participating it. The idea of this project is to record the temperature and weather conditions for one week and report them back to Mrs.Quirk via e-mail. There are 40 schools involved in this project and we located some of them on the map and predicted whether their temperatures would be higher, lower, or the same as ours. We received a picture of Thomas which is attached to our weather chart. Mrs. Quirk will send us all the temperature recordings so we will know if our predictions were correct. We will also be doing other measuring activities as math lessons throughout the week. This is a wonderful way of combining literature, science, math, and geography.

International Peace Museum

The objective of this project is to think about peace and the importance of it. This project is being hosted by This project fits in perfectly with our unit on Martin Luther King. After reading books about Dr. King the children will decide what peace means to them and write a simple statement or poem and illustrate it. One entry from each class will be put on a Peace web site. Visit the Kids' Peace Museum.The Clinton Avenue Elementary School can be found in the North Wing. Dana's work is in this museum along with students in other classes in our school and The Boyle Road School. It is nice to see Comsewogue School represented in such a wonderful museum!

Travel Buddies

February 1997

We are travel buddies with Ms. Bartkowski's Second grade class at the St. Eugene School in Wisconsin. Since we cannot go to Wisconsin we sent Fuzzy the bear for a visit. Fuzzy will be their guest until May when he returns back to us along with a journal.

In return we received an elephant named Peanuts. Peanuts is a beautiful blue stuffed animal. He will be visiting every student in our class for a few days and will learn all about our community. Each student will write about Peanuts' experiences in a scrapbook and will add materials such as photos, postcards, and illustrations. Today Peanuts came with us to see "Charlotte's Web" at the Staller Center in Stony Brook.

We will be sending Peanuts back to his home in May along with our scrapbook.

In addition to this, once a week we will exchange e-mail with our travel buddies to share some of Peanuts' adventures.

May, 1997

Peanuts was sent back to his home in Wisconsin along with a canvas bag filled with presents from my students. One child's aunt made two new outfits for him. Along with him went the journal that children wrote in when he visited their home. My students added photos, stickers, and toys. The children grew very attached to Peanuts but realized that the children were waiting for him back in Wisconsin. Two days later Fuzzy arrived in a large box. Fuzzy was accompanied with a journal very similar to the one we sent. There were photos, postcards, and souvenirs from Wisconsin. It was amazing to see how the journal that Mrs. Bartkowski's students wrote was so similiar to that of my class. My students e-mailed thank you notes to the class in Wisconsin for all the lovely gifts. I am certain that the children will have fond memories of this travel buddy experience and have learned a great deal in the process.

The Great American Egg Hunt

I am proud to say that my class hosted an egg for the Great American Egg Hunt. This activity was an Internet egg hunt aimed at K-3 students. Students from Marshall Elementary School designed eggs that have been hidden at twenty school sites around the World Wide Web. Participants visited the school sites to hunt for the egg and then followed the link to answer the questions. It gave these young students practice navigating the web for a purpose. Participants received a certificate when they have found all the eggs and answered all the questions. My students enjoyed hunting with their classmates in school as well as with their parents at home. This is a project that will certainly be repeated next year!

Kids Care About Whales

As part of our whale unit we visited many Internet sites. We learned a great deal about whales and were able to send some of our art work to a lovely site in Australia. You can see some of our art work along with the work of other young artists at Kids Care About Whales

An Electronic Dictionary of Animal Art

My students participated in the creation of an online electric dictionary. This project was led by Michelle Childress, a second grade teacher at the Valley Institute Elementary School in Virginia. We were given the letters F, P, and T and were asked to illustrate an animal that begins with these letters and provide information. Since we were studying the rainforest my students worked on rainforest animals. Some of their work is in our website. My students were very excited about being a part of this project. This project was for students in grades K-3. Amazing to Zany

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Mexican Thematic Unit

I have had the opportunity to visit different parts of Mexico several times. This unit on Mexico was absolutely wonderful. The children told me that this was their favorite but they say that all the time! It was so exciting to see the children participate in creating this unit. Without even asking they brought in Mexican crafts and sombreros. Our music teachers, as always, enriched this theme with wonderful songs and knowledge of musical instruments used in Mexico. Below are some of the activities we did.


  1. Spelling Assignment....words related to Mexico...An Internet site address to view at home, and were later given a printed copy of this URL Art of Mexican Native Children
  3. Filmstrip on Mexico
  4. Craft activity..each student made a piñata for our fiesta. While they made their piñata we listened to fiesta music to get us in the mood!
  5. Language Activity.... The students were read books on the history, culture, and customs of Mexico
  6. As a reading lesson they read some folktales and wrote their own
  7. Video of Mexico...actually this was for older students but my second graders loved it since they had a background
  8. Maya Weaving Designs....idea from "Mexico A Literature-Based Multicultural Unit" Evan-Moor
  9. Learned some Spanish words and counted from one to ten in Spanish
  10. Mexican Fiesta....had a tasting party of Mexican foods, designed placemats, and listened to Mexican Music
  11. Saw my gray whale slides from Baja
Click here to see a picture of our fiesta.

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Thematic Unit on China

A few summers ago I had the opportunity to visit China. It was a wonderful experience which enriched my thematic unit on China. Since there was so much material to cover we spent two weeks studying China.


  1. Spelling Assignment....words related to China
  2. Geography...famous rivers and mountains in China
  3. Panda Study..we read about Pandas and saw the movie The Amazing Panda Adventure
  4. Craft activity..designed Chinese New Year horoscopes
  5. Language Activity.... students were read many Chinese folktales and did various writing activities. They especially enjoyed "Lon Po Po" by Ed Young ( A Red-Riding Hood story from China) Various creative writing followup activies were found in "Multicultural Legends and Tales" by Vowery Dodd Carlile
  6. Wrote poems and stories about China
  7. Listened to an informative tape on China which had songs and stories. This tape was part of a "Culture Kit on China" by Linda Scher and Mary Oates Johnson
  8. Listened to Chinese music and learned about the instruments
  9. Wrote Chinese characters with a calligraphy set from China
  10. Were taught about the Chinese New Year with books and objects that I brought back from London's Chinatown
  11. Made Lucky Money Envelopes with secret messages for their classmates to guess
  12. Math activities that involved Chinese New Years dates
  13. Were given the URL of web sites on China and the Chinese New Year
  14. Saw the video "BigBird in China"
  15. Worked with tanagram puzzles
  16. Saw photos that I took in China and heard about my experience teaching a class of children in China
  17. Saw the creative writing stories and illustrations that my students in China did
  18. Saw photos of Chinese Buddest temples and burned incense during our luncheon in class
  19. Learned how to eat with chopsticks at our luncheon

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