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Content Week: One Subject, One Day at a Time


Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28428069@N07/

Next week is our last full week at school, and I am really looking forward to it. Why? The last week is going to be devoted to going in depth with each core subject. Have I gone mad? You be the judge based on our upcoming plans I am about to share. But as one student dubbed it, we are going to have a "funcational week." If you are interested in some MacGyver-like activities or an excuse to fling workbooks around with a catapult, or even a reason to go build and fly a tetrahedron kite, look no further...

I almost reserved this for the next week's post so I could show photos and share how we made it work in our classroom. However, I am assuming other teachers are looking for last week lesson plan ideas now and would appreciate this possibility upfront. With this in mind, I am going to take photos throughout the week and post those next weekend. I am also focusing on just a few activities, instead of writing out an entire week of lesson plans. By the way, feel sorry for me. We still have to turn in lesson plans next week. Bummer.

Monday: Reading

Mondays can be hard. Especially when it is your last Monday. When you add in some pajamas, sleeping bags, and a day of reading, you have a great day ahead of you. Although this is a rough idea of how we balance out an entire day of reading, in general, this is what we do:

15 minute reading activity (including read-alouds)

30 minutes of reading

5 minute break to socialize

Repeat until the day is complete

I have tried this with several classes, and I have always been pleasantly surprised to see how much students enjoy a day of reading. Added to the mix, we will spend some time in the computer lab for some reading fun.

Tuesday: Math

Tetrahedron Kites

My teaching partner and I talked about making tetrahedron kites last year, but we just never found the time. A large box of straws sat in the closet, along with some tissue paper. Now the plans are back on to make these beautiful kites, while learning about the history behind the geometric design. The time to complete these kites ranges between 1.5- 3 hours. We will work on these kites throughout the day while completing our other plans in-between.


Density Testing

Working with density really blends science and math together. As my teaching friend says, "Math is the language of science." Our school has a set of balance scales, so rather than use the sink and float testing you might find in the lower grades, we will use our algebraic knowledge to calculate density. Students would be required to determine mass and volume to complete this activity, which is not only a great review, but a real-life application that shows how these skills can be used outside of the classroom. Of course, we will check our work through the simple water experiment. Of importance, you must measure volume using centimeters and cubic items.


My son brought these large beautiful origami pieces home from school. I believe his book buddy made it for him. Using left-over construction paper and an origami expert in my room, we learned how to make these larger pieces by taking it apart. Add in some origami given to me from children in Japan, we have an interesting way to review geometry and angles. I'll add photos later. I had never seen anything like it before.

Catapult Measurement Competition

We started building protege catapults last Friday using Popsicle sticks, drinking straws, rubber bands, and electrical tape, but on this day we will have a competition to see which catapult can fling an eraser the farthest. During this time we will also measure distance using metric and customary standards. The winning design will be built to a larger scale for a Friday culminating event.


Wednesday: Social Studies

We have three larger projects planned for this day. Time in the computer lab and trade level books that address social studies balance out our day.

Create a Latitude and Longitude Map

Using a set of GPS navigators, our class plans on taking an extensive campus tour. This will include recording the full latitude/longitude markings of the corner of the school and specific landmarks. Upon returning with this written information, students will create large scale maps of our school with labels of latitude and longitude (including minutes and seconds) around the school. Maps will be created on larger roles of butcher paper. I wrote a post on using GPS devices in the classroom. You can learn about it here.

Salt Dough Maps

I am assuming most teachers are familiar with salt dough maps. If not, a quick search will give you what you need to know. Our plan is to create individual salt dough maps of Tennessee before labeling them with a key, scale, and landmarks. You can use chocolate chips for mountains and blue icing for rivers.


State A-Z Book

My niece still has her Tennessee A to Z booklet made a few years back. It took several days for her to complete it, but we will attempt to complete it in one. With the use of the Internet extra support is available for students. I have a personal binding machine, so using some small combs will make this a nice item to take home.

Thursday: Science

I reserved our science day until later in the week to allow time for some supplies to come in. I requested several items the week before, so I am crossing my fingers for some help. Here are a few of our plans:

Water Rockets

Students simply need to bring a two liter bottle with them to school for this to work. From here, we will talk about rocket design and scientific principles (hello Newton). Add in some cardstock for fins and an option to add a parachute, and students are ready to create a water rocket design. Once the rocket is completed, students will determine how much water they would like to place in the rocket. Using a bicycle pump and a borrowed launcher pad, we will determine which rocket stayed in the air the longest.


CD Hovercraft

This idea comes from The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science by Sean Connolly. You can find directions on making this here.


Matchbox Microphone

Again using the book mentioned above, our class will do some real MacGyver work by utilizing small objects such as lead from a mechanical pencil, old earphones, and a 4.5-volt battery to create a working mic. All this in the name of science and sound travel. Here is the link to view some of the pages in the book.

We will wrap the day up by making some film canister rockets and a density sandwich in a jar.

Friday: Language Arts

We will follow a similar pattern from Monday, without the pajamas or sleeping bags. One of our writing assignments will include creating a memory book of our year. We will also attempt to have our last writing unit pieces completed and ready to share for an informal author's celebration.

The culminating activity for the day will be building a large scale catapult and flinging some items around for pure fun. High on everyone's list are some workbooks. One really wants a watermelon. We'll see. At the moment, some of the prototypes fling items vertical or backwards. That might be a little dangerous.

It's Just a Plan. Have Any Ideas You'd Like to Share?

If you have tried this before OR have a great idea that could fit into my plans, please share! I'd love to try it out.


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Angela Bunyi


What comes to mind is a link I had on my personal page, where I had a list of my favorite professional books (with my photos with them as well). That is temporarily down as I make the switch over to a new school. To answer your question, my recommendation for starting off include: Reading Connections by Tanny McGregor (quick easy read), The Daily Five is great, The Art of Teaching Reading by Lucy Calkins, and maybe even Guided Reading by Fountas and Pinnell (LARGE book, but helpful). Regarding a book that made a large impact on me- On Solid Ground by Sharon Taberski. I learned a lot from her. :)

And here is a link I found on salt dough maps for the other poster:

Best wishes,

Angela Bunyi



I have really enjoyed looking at your classroom pictures and reading your suggestions. You are a wealth of knowledge. I think I remember at one time reading something you posted on Scholastic.com. At that time, you listed several professional books you had read and taken ideas from. I can't find that post anymore, and I was wondering if you could post some good reading material (such as Daily Five, etc.) for a new teacher. If you had to pick your top favorites to get me started (reading/lang arts only), what would they be? I'm really interested in information on making connections, literature circles, reading and writing workshop, etc.

Thank you!

no name

i am not familiar with the salt douh maps . please share steps on how to create a salt map. thanks



All great ideas. Too bad I just had my last full day of school. Woo-hoo!

And thank you for the wonderful compliments. It has been a blast this year, and I have really enjoyed hearing and learning from all the teachers that followed the blog. How lucky was I to have this great opportunity. That was the real blessing to me.

Much respect,


Diann Baer

Hey Angela, I haven't written to you since way back in Sept, or Oct., but I have followed your site all year with your wonderful ideas. Is there any ways that you can keep your site going??? I just wanted to share a few things I do in the last few weeks. One, I have the kids do is How to.... speeches. This is part of their language arts standard. They have lots of fun designing their speeches, complete with dressing the part, making something, showing off their talents, and someone always makes something good to eat. It fills up the day and the students love it! Another thing we do is a Marketplace which is one of the end parts of our study of Economics. The students set up their own business. After discussing all of the Econ Voc., and discussing the different types of businesses, students are allowed to set up their business. It is always an interesting time. They may only spend $5.00, but some students have had businesses donate materials. They set up shop, make their own advertisement, poster, business cards, whatever they think will attract their customers.Then on Market day, they display their business, and we invite the third grade students to visit our classroom . These third graders purchase various goods and services with "Dawg Dollars." Money earned from market place goes into the student's bank account, and they spend their hard earned money on an end of year auction items on the last day of school.
Thanks again for sharing this year. It has been great getting to know you and your classroom. Hope we can keep in touch. I wrote to you about Coco and the Flip Video. I have both and hope to use them again next year. You have been a blessing and I consider you a wonderful comrade. Have a fun summer with your family. Diann



Yes, let's do the happy dance together. I was questioning its authenticity more than anything when I first saw it (that would be a mean joke, right?). However, I looked up the stat. info. (ex-IP address) and believe it to be real. Very exciting! Ttwo other writers that have written on the blog include- Debra Frasier and Sara Bennett. I'm a pretty lucky girl!

Note- Yesterday's plans went beautifully. Looking forward to today...


I was just looking back at some of your notes from the Lucy Calkins day, and I saw where she commented on your blog! WOW! How exciting! Just thought I would celebrate with you because that would be a really big deal for me...

Hope your last week of school goes well. It sounds like a blast!



I like the camping idea...and I am bringing in two tents tomorrow due to our reading day. So that would be an easy addition to our schedule. Thanks! I knew other teachers would have more to share and add to our plans.

Also, thanks for the additional email of the Mentos and Coke idea. My kids have asked me if they could do this several times this year. Even the kids under my Science Olympiad team asked me if we could do this. I guess it is a go now. :)



Victoria Jasztal

I was thinking something similar, but my last full week is one week after yours and I am still thinking! I may try your idea, though.

I already know Thursday the 29th will be dedicated to Language Arts because we have our Book Publishing celebration.

This coming Friday, the 22nd, will be dedicated to camping. We are going to complete outdoor activities all day long, some academic and some not necessarily academic. I know we'll have a huge focus on science that day.

Comments are closed. Please see Classroom Solutions, our new blog for the 2009-2010 school year. And stay tuned for Teaching Matters with Angela Bunyi and Beth Newingham.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Inside Angela's 4th Grade Classroom are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.