Signs for the Polar Express decorated the halls of Loveland Early Childhood Center (LECC) the days leading up to the Winter Break – as Kindergarten Teacher Lisa Schmidt joined creative forces with LECC teachers Jessica Ritz and Rebecca Eldred to turn holiday fun into important lessons. The teachers collaborated to plan activities that allowed students to learn about math and reading while visiting stations set up inside different classrooms on a “Polar Express” tour.
“In my room we discussed how to make hot chocolate, then developed that discussion into a writing project,” explained Schmidt. “We all sipped on the hot chocolate we made and enjoyed it to a reading of the book the Polar Express.”
Upstairs from Mrs. Schmidt’s room, LECC Teacher Shari Rush navigated a miniature construction project – the assembly of gingerbread houses – a two-week project that helped students understand important elements of reading and writing.
“First, we read many different versions of the story about the gingerbread man, and then we compared and contrasted story elements – characters, setting, plot, ending,” said Rush. “We also have been writing class letters and receiving letters from the gingerbread man who ran away from our room. He has been sending us "selfies" and clues from all over the building.
“In addition, to designing our gingerbread houses, we made blueprints of the structures we were going to make, and the students had to label their blueprints with the names of all the candies they wanted to use. Once the houses were finished we did some gingerbread house math and we counted and graphed the different types of candies we used comparing our results.”
“Learning is fun – it is a creative process,” said Schmidt. “And, ultimately that is what we want our students to experience.”