What’s Cookin’ in Class?

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

I’ve noticed over time that my blog post on November 8, 2010 – Cornucopia of Attention-Getters – has gotten a lot of “hits.” So I got to thinking about the appeal of cornucopias in the United States and Canada. I challenged myself to “cook up” some new ways for you to use this icon of Thanksgiving to catch and keep students’ attention.  Step into my classroom kitchen…

As Thanksgiving, 2011 draws near, you may want to slip on an apron 

Dressed for “cookin’ up” learning and fun

like the teacher in my blog pic here, when you first introduce students to your cornucopia and announce your “cooking” plans with it.

This teacher noted that her aprons (she has different ones for each holiday and season of the school year, lovingly made for her by her mother) attract a lot of attention when she first wears them each school year, and the aprons offer practical protection for her clothes. We agreed that this trick is most appropriate for early grades.

Check out more Cornucopia “Recipes” for teaching…

Stuff a cornucopia with story-starters in envelopes like you see in my blog pic below.  You can vary your approach to this teaching trick. For example, you can create story writing ideas

A cornucopia stuffed with story-starters

around a Thanksgiving theme to challenge your students. Type and print them, then cut the story-starters into strips to place inside envelopes in your cornucopia.

You may prefer to ask your class to generate story-starters, write a working title and opening sentence on pieces of notebook paper, stuffing them into the class cornucopia. The attention-getting trick…SURPRISE! Everyone gets to write a story that someone else started! Invite each student to reach into the cornucopia and pick a piece of paper, then write the rest of the story. Display finished, illustrated stories on a bulletin board with a heading like the one in my blog pic below. 

Bulletin board of cornucopia stories

What else can you “cook up” with a cornucopia in class? How about food for thought. Pass out colored construction paper and ask your students to draw, color and cut out a picture of their favorite food. Once again, you can set a theme for this activity such as Thanksgiving dinner.

If artistic talent is not your class’ strong suit, make pre-printed images of foods available for kids to pick from, cut out and glue to construction paper. Instruct them to write questions and comments about their food choices on the back sides of the images. Place the cut outs inside your cornucopia. The next day, pick out some of the food items and lead a class discussion based on the questions and comments the student artist/writer noted. This activity can tie in nicely with social studies – where was this food first eaten, etc., and with other subjects including nutrition education.

Hungry for news? Show your cornucopia to your fourth or fifth grade class at the beginning of the week and ask students to clip news stories from media sources that interest them, bring them to school and place them inside the cornucopia. At the end of the week, ask volunteer students to pick out items to share with the class, recapping current events.

If you give thanks for a harvest other than the kind celebrated on the last Thursday of November in the US, think about food-related icons that suit the traditions of your homeland. You can easily substitute another decorative piece that holds special meaning in your culture and use my attention-getting tools and tricks to cook up learning and fun in your elementary school.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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