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The activities, lessons and resources below are meant to extend student learning during this project. Please note that several of the activities may overlap subject areas.
Students can create a journal highlight their “real” summer vacation.
Students write about their best summer vacation ever. Remind them to include as many details as possible – the location, what they did, who was with them – they need to “show” not “tell” why it was their best vacation ever.
Consider having students publish their work at KidPub. http://www.kidpub.com/
Graphic Organizers – Use in a variety of ways before, during, after reading.
Students learn how to or practice writing a business letter. (See activity in Social Studies section)
Just like Wallace did in the story, create a postcard. Students can pick a location they traveled to during their vacation. There are several different options you can use to create the postcards :
1. Use an index card.
2. Visit Postcard Creator – allows you to create postcard and then print to add picture.
3. Send an E-Postcard form PBS for Kids (doesn’t allow for as much personalization.)
Students use a shape book for writing – shapes related to the book: Child, Circle, Train Car, Train Engine
The story contains a large number of words that have suffixes. Use these worksheets that include words directly from the story with your students. Download the suffix worksheet.
Read other picture books by Mark Teague and compare/contrast the style, structure and characters.
If you teach with the 6 + 1 Traits of writing, this book works great for the trait of Ideas. One activity is to have children focus on which ideas are the bigger ideas and which ones are more of the details.
Story Souvenir – If you are a teacher that uses souvenirs to help your students remember key components of the story, use a plastic cowboy for this story.
Focus on the skill of sequencing. Download these sequencing cards to print on cardstock and use with students in a pocket chart.
After reading the book, have students write summer poems. (These could be displayed on a bulletin board.)
With older students you could use this as a launching point for tall tales.
Spelling words - here are several activities that we have created with the same word lists, words from the text of the story, one for younger students and one for older students.
-Letter/word shapes younger students and older students
-Word scramble younger students and older students
-Word searches younger students and older students
-Word searches here are two additional word searches that contain all of the words used in both searches above. One is in the shape of a train and the other is the standard rectangle.
-Crossword puzzle containing words from the story.
Vocabulary development - below are several activities that we have created with words from the text.
-Vocabulary Cards: includes definitions and words. You can print these colorful cards on cardstock and laminate them for durability.
-One idea to extend the vocabulary activities would be to ask students to find either a paper or electronic picture or photo that represents the meaning of the word. This is a great nonlinguistic representation activity.
REMEMBER: You may also want to visit our Printable Worksheet page and create your own puzzles.
Create a graph of your class’ individual student mileage.
Students take their own mileage total to calculate the following: How long would it take you to travel that distance? How much would gas cost for the trip? What is the distance around the Earth with that amount of miles?
Students take their class mileage total to calculate the following: How long would it take you to travel that distance? How much would gas cost for the trip? What is the distance around the Earth with that amount of miles?
Take the totals that were reported by the entire group – calculate the following: How long would it take you to travel that distance? How much would gas cost for the trip? What is the distance around the Earth with that amount of miles? (Do this activity after the project is done.)
Students can create a survey to learn about the favorite summer activities of their classmates.
Have students convert measurements between the standard system and the metric system.
Research and compare the price of gas around the country.
Students use a map of the region they traveled to during their break and actually draw the route(s) they took while traveling.
Using travel literature, reference books, the Internet, and/or magazines, students plan their own “ideal” summer vacation. Students select the location(s) they want to visit and use their various resources to learn about the language, culture, tourist attractions, history, famous citizens, etc. You can take this activity and differentiate based on your students. You can add the following components: calculate mileage, calculate cost of: food, lodging, entry fees, etc.
Students can research the various regions of your country and determine what the most popular vacation spots are in each respective region.
Use various print and electronic resources to locate pictures of cowboys and the wild west. These photos can be used in a number of ways. One way would be to set them out, or display on computer screen, some of the photos and have students write about what they think may be going on in the photos, what they think it may have been like to live during that time, or another topic of your choice.
Use Eyewitness: Cowboy (Eyewitness Books) by David S. Murdoch in conjunction with this project. It provides great information about cowboys around the world. Direct link to purchase the book from Amazon: Eyewitness: Cowboy (Eyewitness Books)
Students create a timeline of their own summer vacation or the book. (Software notes below.)
Sunburn Experiment - Place classroom items on black paper and leave in strong sunlight. After a few hours, remove items. Discuss why paper faded.
Learn about the weather and climate in the regions mentioned in the book. Students can also learn about the weather and climate in the areas they would like to travel.
Students use Timeliner software to create a timeline of their own summer vacation, or even a timeline of the book.
Internet Workshop (Powered by Scott Foresman)
This site gives students an opportunity to preview locations for vacations across America. Be sure to read through the “Teacher Notes” prior to getting started.
Students complete a Wacky Web Tale online (like a MadLib) that is related to summer:
Summer Camp: http://www.eduplace.com/tales/content/wwt_069.html
Summer Fun: http://www.eduplace.com/tales/content/wwt_092.html
Summer Reading Report: http://www.eduplace.com/tales/content/wwt_026.html
Plans for a Great Summer: http://www.eduplace.com/tales/content/wwt_022.html
Road Trip!: http://www.eduplace.com/tales/content/wwt_023.html
Main Wacky Web Tales page: http://www.eduplace.com/tales/
Visit The Buffalo Bill Historical Center to learn about the artists who have captured the true life of cowboys and the American West. Click on the Whitney Gallery of Western link and view the following artists: Charles M. Russell, Frederic S. Remington, Charles J. Belden, and Edgar S. Paxson. http://www.bbhc.org/home/index.cfm?CFID=16154141&CFTOKEN=44048425
While viewing artwork or working on an assignment, students can listen to “Buckaroo Holiday,” from Aaron Copland’s Rodeo. Performed in 1960 by the New York
Philharmonic under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. Produced by Sony Music
Entertainment, Inc, USA. (1992) - You can find this song on iTunes.
Students may want to organize a theatrical production of the book. They can create the various sets and even have tryouts for the parts.
Photography – Ask students, as well as staff, to bring in a photo from their summer vacation. Display them on a bulletin board for everyone to see. Depending on what other activities you decide to do, you may also want to include student poetry or short stories on the board as well.
Display the postcards from the activity mentioned above in the Language Arts section.
ADDITIONAL LINKS & RESOURCES
The History of the Cowboy
Read about the history of the cowboy.
Watch movies and listen to recordings about buckaroos.
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Experience the west.
AAA – Can contact the local office and see if they will donate resources to your classroom.
Write to the tourism board of various states/countries asking for resources. (This is a great opportunity to teach students about business letters. – Here’s an online resource: http://www.readwritethink.org/materials/letter_generator/ )
A Complete Cowboy Unit
What Does a Cowboy Do?
Complete unit for Kindergarten
This lesson is based on another book, but How I Spent My Summer Vacation is an extension of the lesson.
Yes, this may be a birthday party, but there are some very creative ideas that you may want to use with your students. This may be a great way to celebrate the conclusion of the project.
About the Author
Houghton Mifflin Reading: Meet Mark Teague