Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Fun

Leprechaun Trap with pulley system
This week was a whirlwind of activities in my second grade classroom. With a writer's celebration, St. Patrick's Day and science activities, I was about crafted out by Friday. But alas, we had one grand finale to tend to... Leprechaun Traps.

Indeed, I am a little wacky but this takes the cake as being the wackiest of ideas when it comes to trying to keep your sanity when teaching. I can't take all the credit for the idea of Leprechaun traps since they are all over the Internet and Pinterest. But I do however, take a fair amount of pride in the amount of family involvement that I require for this project. I require this project in place of the normal, weekly homework assignment. Information is sent home weeks in advance and we talk about it quite a bit leading up to the big day. Many may ask, why should a second grader have to make a Leprechaun Trap as a homework assignment? Well, let me tell you why.

When creating their Leprechaun Trap students have to become scientists, in a sense, because they have to figure out the mechanics of simple machines.  They have to make decisions about what type of trap they will be making. Will it be the old box with a stick and string trick?  Could it have a trap door?  Could it be much more complex and have a system of pulleys and trip lines?  I have seen them all.  I have seen the more elaborate trip lines and pulleys and the simplest box with a stick.  But the bottom line is, they had to think about it.  They had to use logic and reasoning to construct something that would trap a wee, magical creature that is sneakier than a sly fox.  They had to try out ideas that didn't work and reevaluate the system.  They had to use trial and error to find the right combination that works. 
A large trap with lots of shiny things. 
Leprechauns are drawn to shiny things!

Additionally, they probably needed help.  This is were I get a bit tricky myself.  I'll just be really honest when I say that chances are some of my students don't spend much quality time with an adult at home.  Chances are that they spend most of their time in front of a TV or video game.  In creating teh trap, they are forced to seek out help.  The Leprechaun Trap becomes a source of common ground for parents and students alike.  The parents rave about this project and admit how much fun it was making the trap.  Sometimes, I think the parents are more excited about it than the kids!  It provides a family project that adults and children can work on together. 

So, Friday was the day that we decided we would celebrate St. Patrick's Day, since it was technically on Sunday.  Friday came and I was elated to see that ALL the students brought a trap!  They were so pleased with their creations and couldn't wait to try them out.

When they arrived in the classroom, I had a message waiting on the Smartboard for them from my new favorite website www.voki.comThis was the message and they were thrilled! We did our normal Reader's Workshop time and then it was time for the traps!  They each came up with their trap and demonstrated how they work, what they used to make it, and who helped them make it.  I was totally suprised at how many had a full team of family members helping them make them!  The audience of students was able to ask questions about the trap and I was amazed at their thought processes involved in creating the traps.
After they all got a chance to present their trap, we put them on the desks and they were able to go around and look at all the traps up close.  But NO TOUCHING!!

One student shows another student how his trap works.

This trap has batteries added to the top for weight.

Notice the sign: Leprechaun's will do exactly the OPPOSITE of
what you want them to do!

This is a trap door trap in which the leprechaun can get in
but can't get back out.
This is a Pinterest favorite.  It's a trap door trap with a false top.  The leprechaun is enticed
to the top by a shiny coin and falls into the hole.

This is a very glittery and shiny trap.  Definitely will attract a leprechaun.
A standard Hot N Ready trap.  The old box with a stick (or marker) trick!  That is glue with sprinkles on the inside.

 We set the traps before lunch in anticipation that the Leprechaun would visit our classroom during recess and lunch. The students spent a lot of time and energy making sure that their trap was set and baited with shiny coins.
A grouping of traps, set and ready to go.

At last, the Leprechaun came to our room and made a giant mess!  He flipped over chairs, threw papers all over and left us a few messages.  The "emailed" this message for us to hear.  (The kids went wild!)  

The leprechaun visited our class during lunch and left chocolate coins and a glitter trail everywhere!
Glitter everywhere!
He made a total mess too!

We had a great time and the kids learned some very important lessons in mechanics. Hopefully they will remember their crazy teacher that made them make a Leprechaun Trap and how she trashed her own room to prove that leprechauns are real!

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