Thursday, February 9, 2012

George Washington Project

This week my students have been learning a lot about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. We are focusing more on George Washington this week and will be focusing more on Abraham Lincoln next week. Over the years, I have found that as I introduce Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in January and follow him up shortly thereafter with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in February, my students would mix concepts about the leaders up during assessments. I have found that as soon as I began introducing hands-on projects that featured a likeness of the leaders, students stopped confusing the leaders during assessments. Here is what we do as we study George Washington.



I have a manila folder cut out of George Washington's profile. I trace it onto black paper and cut out the middle. This leaves a black frame with George Washington's profile missing from the center. 


Next, I give each student a 12 x 18 piece of paper that has slits cut an inch apart across it. To make this sheet, you fold the blue paper in half and cut until you get to about 2 inches from the end of the paper and stop. Then, I place 1/2 inch strips of white and red paper at each table and the students begin to weave them through the slits on the blue paper. I model how to do this first from the board, showing them how to push the papers as far down to the bottom so that the weave forms tightly. I show them that if you use one color and begin at the edge and go over then under, you have to use the other color and begin by going the opposite, under then over. I also show them what it looks like if they do it wrong. I leave an example of one done correctly and one done incorrectly up at the board for them to refer to.

You can see from the picture that some students get the concept of how to keep the weave tight while others don't. Even if a student doesn't, it is easy enough to help them move the weave down to the bottom of the paper. I often have those who finish early go around to help show the others how to push it down and make a tighter finished product. That way, everyone stays on the same task until the next step of the project.


 
 The students then completely cover the backside of the black cut out with glue and paste it onto their red, white, and blue mat, making sure that no corner or inside piece sticks up. It must be pasted firmly in place.


 
The project is then trimmed around the black frame by an adult. A child can do it, but often woven pieces come loose a bit and the student pulls on them instead of cutting the hanging off pieces away. You can either leave it like this or glue a backing to the project to keep the woven pieces from coming apart. In past years, we have also laminated them and this will also take care of keeping the project from coming apart.

Students will be adding a writing aspect to this by writing two facts they know about George Washington and placing that under each of their projects.

Using the red, white, and blue pieces is a great way to tie in a discussion and sharing of how the flag of the United States of America has changed over the years. Another benefit of the project is that as students learn to recognize the profile of George Washington, they tend to not forget who is on the face of a quarter when asked.
If you like this project or have any great ideas for changes I can make to it, feel free to let me know.






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