My 4th grade GT students study masterpieces each year. The story of the Faberge Eggs, annually created for the last Russian czar’s mother and wife, fascinates all of us – especially when considered in the context of the tragedy that later befell the family. I use this piece of history to discuss empathy – how Faberge displayed it with every detail of his intricate creations, and how the Romanovs’ lack of this important trait resulted in their demise.
Usually, my students create their own Faberge Eggs, and then design “surprises” to go inside a partner’s egg. They interview their partners and play different games with them to learn more about them. Then they have a week to make a design that will be particularly meaningful for the other person.
I have cried over some of the incredibly creative ideas that some students come up with for this project. One year, a student created a military medal for a student who had a soldier parent fighting overseas. There have been poems, clay objects, a message in a bottle, flags, snowglobes, and so many other little presents. The students scored each other on how meaningful the gifts were – and many of them made up for themselves in thought what they might have lacked in skill.
This year, egg designing season rolled around a bit later than usual. Since Mothers Day is just around the corner, I decided to have the students decorate their papier mache eggs for their mothers rather than their peers. They also created 3d printed surprises to put in each egg.
As generally happens when I try something new, there were some successes and some failures. Without the interviews and other activities we did in previous years, some of the “surprises” seemed to be less deep than in the past. (This could also be because of the 3d printing limitation.) Next year, I think we will need to do a few activities to help the students understand their mothers as people rather than just parents, and I will open the project back up to any hand-made surprise instead of only 3d printed ones.
I know that the readers of this blog live in many countries, so I try to write posts that might be applicable no matter where you are. I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, to learn that many nations celebrate Mother’s Day in May, as does the United States. Here are some lesson ideas to consider that will simultaneously honor mothers as students learn something new.
Mother’s Day Trip (I am considering doing this with my 1st graders, who just researched different countries. It would be funny to make the video sound like the mom just won a roundtrip vacation to the country on a game show or in a sweepstakes!)
Mother’s Day Shopping Spree – Speaking of winning things, a fun math/writing lesson could be to have students “shop” for their mothers online with a budget. They would have to make sure they stay within budget as well as justify each gift they would purchase. I would use one store site (such as Target.com) that offers many types of items, or curate some ahead of time for younger students. Mothers may enjoy seeing what their children would buy for them if money were no (or, almost no) object!
We were a week late finishing our 2nd grade GT Mother’s Day project due to a few scheduling conflicts. However, we did get done with our “She Wears Many Hats” booklets, and I wanted to share some of the completed pages by my students. We worked hard on brainstorming different types of hats and then trying to bridge from concrete to abstract thinking. For example, for the construction worker hat, students were tempted to say, “because she helps me build with Legos.” I gave them examples of how people can build, or make things stronger, in other ways, and they ran with it. I almost forgot to take pictures, so I only have a few different student works that I caught before they took them home!
“An Open Letter to Moms” is a Kid President video that would be perfect to show your students right before they work on their Mother’s Day gifts. In fact, you could even have your students make a video themselves 🙂
Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and I have been looking for some writing activities to do with my gifted Kinders and Firsts. I found several great ideas, and thought I should share them with you in case you are looking, too!
Two of the lessons are from one of my favorite gifted teacher bloggers, Joelle Trayers. She teaches gifted Kinders this year, and always has incredible examples of ways to draw out the creativity of her students. One of her past Mother’s Day projects was to have the students do GT Frames about their moms. Using 4 of the icons from Kaplan’s Depth and Complexity, Joelle has her students write about their moms using: Unanswered Questions, Rules, Multiple Perspectives, and Big Idea. You can see some great student products here. For a second (and just as adorable) project suggestion, check out the Top 10 Lists Joelle’s students made about their moms. Construction paper mother portraits make this completely frame-able!
A brief Google search turned up April Walker’s Mother’s Day lesson based on the book, I Love You the Purplest. After reading the book, where a mom uses colors to describe her children when they demand to know who she loves best, students write color poems about their moms. You can see some student examples here. I’m thinking it would be fun to have the students use some unusual color words like “chartreuse” or “vermilion” just to add a bit of extra challenge.
While searching my own blog I found an activity I recommended to myself to do – 4 years ago. Apparently, I found a cute printable celebrating how moms “wear many hats,” and suggested it would be fun to have students think of how their moms do many different jobs. Their mom could wear a fireman’s hat, a chef’s hat, an artist’s hat, etc… This is one reason I blog, so I can record ideas for the following year. Of course, it would probably help if I actually looked at my previous posts a little bit more frequently than every four years.
Now I have a plethora of ideas for Mother’s Day. It’s good that I teach more than one grade level because I’m inspired to try out each one!
Here is a cute printable from Fuel the Brain just in time for Mother’s Day. I love the thought of brainstorming all different types of hats with my younger kids, and then guiding them to think about how their mother “wears” them. “In what ways is your mother like a police officer?” I might ask – and I might just be surprised by some of their answers! Fuel the Brain, by the way, has lots of games and interactives that you might want to check out in addition to the printables!