4th Graders in the Grave Yard

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by MWMnElmed, Oct 13, 2008.

  1. MWMnElmed

    MWMnElmed Companion

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    Oct 13, 2008

    I hope the title of the post draws more viewers for more ideas. I teach 4th grade and we have a cemetery that is a short walking distance from the school. I am going to do a lesson and take a trip to the cemetery for educational purposes. ( I know this sounds morbid, but I have heard of other teachers doing this and the kids love it.) Does anyone have any good lesson plans for cemetery activities. I found a few on google, but am looking for a few others, such as graphing, and making predictions based upon dates and engravings on the stones. Put on your creative thinking caps and help me find some more creative activities to do with these kiddos. I forgot to mention, there is a senior citizens center across from the cemetery (I know that's not real encouraging for them) and we have volunteers from the center that are going to be walking with the kids, so even higher level stuff could be incorporated that the senior citizens can help with. Thanks for your help.
     
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  3. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Oct 13, 2008

    Data analysis- graphing- is what comes to mind. Finding dates that appear the most often. Maybe something with genealogy as well and seeing possible family ties.

    I couldn't ever do this; sounds different, but hopefully interesting.
     
  4. Green_eyed_gal

    Green_eyed_gal Comrade

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    Oct 13, 2008

    Have the kids figure out how old the people were when they passed away by using mental math. :unsure:
     
  5. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Oct 14, 2008

    Why not measure how tall or how wide the tombstones are. Throw a little something different in there.
     
  6. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Oct 14, 2008

    I think this is an excellent idea! My parents' home in Michigan is right down the road from the graveyard-I spend many an afternoon there. Especially in the fall, with all the leaves in the season of Halloween.

    Could you get a map of the nearby roads, and see if they can find any names in the graveyard? Many of our local roads were named after residents, and they were all burried in the graveyard.

    You could also have them collect the years the people passed away with tally marks, and then research to see if there was a mass accident or disease that passed through the community.

    Perhaps see if there are sayings written on any of the gravestones-my aunt and uncle have a romantic poem and a picture of them next to their model T on their gravestone. They could make a book of gravestone 'poems'.

    I'll keep thinking. I would love to do this.
     
  7. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Oct 14, 2008

    I've heard of people doing rubbings of the names and such. Maybe have them draw their favorite tombstone design... you know how unique some can be.
     
  8. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Oct 14, 2008

    Love the idea!! How fun, especially this time of year.

    I'd have them take their writing journals along and have them list senses- sounds, sights, smells, & feelings. When they get back to the classroom these events should spark some interesting writings and drawings for illustration.

    All the above ideas are great too. I observed a teacher who had taken her class to a graveyard and they did the rubbings and did some background checking. They found out that a tornado had come through and wiped out several families, there was a small pox epidemic (very old cemetery), and then a mother & baby died during childbirth.
     
  9. MWMnElmed

    MWMnElmed Companion

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    Oct 14, 2008

    Thank you all for the great ideas, I haven't told my students yet, but I know they will love it. Anymore ideas for lang arts, I love the writing for description idea.
     
  10. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Oct 14, 2008

    Write epitaphs? Or obituaries? Persuade you (or the school) to do the trip again (or not)? Describe the most peaceful spot in the cemetery?
     
  11. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    What if they find a year and do research on things that happened in that year?
     
  12. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Oct 14, 2008

    Your town doesn't have a hall of records or something, where interesting facts couldn't be found and used? Just my opinion, but a classful of kids strolling through a cemetery seems strange. Would you be doing this if Halloween wasn't close?
     
  13. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Oct 16, 2008

    I did this. Each child made rubbings of the four oldest tombstones they could find. They marked them with ribbon so we only got one of each. Then we removed the ribbon. We also marked Service Men and Women with flags donated by our American Legion. When we got back to class we made a timeline with our etchings. Then we researched what was going on during that time period. (It just so happened we got a group that took place during a flu epidemic.)

    One of my mothers researched at the newspaper archives to find obits for some of them. The kids loved it.
     
  14. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    Oct 17, 2008

    Have a "funeral" for the words "good" and "nice" to challenge them to remove them from their writing...I LOVE all the great ideas...now I wish I had a cemetery close to my school!
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Oct 19, 2008

    Why does it seem strange? It's an interesting 'out of the box' way to teach history, math, even art (historic gravemarkers can be VERY decorative)...Victorians used to picnic in graveyards...Here's some info on an old cemetary in Norfolk, VA...(the history of the words 'cemetary' and 'casket' are explained- interesting!)http://www.hunterhousemuseum.org/history/elmwoodCemetary.htm
     
  16. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Oct 19, 2008

    We have a cemetery right across the street, so I know that there's alot to be learned there.. if that's your cup of tea. There are a few grave markers across the street with comical messages on them, and others you can tell were specifically created. Still, it's not something I would do..
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    You don't have to do it... there's lots of things that teachers do to accomodate learners of various modalities, styles and interests. Just as you hook into what works for you and Jeannie as a hs parent, teachers in schools find ways to spark students' interests...I'm sure that if parents objected to their kids going on this lesson they could opt them out-
     
  18. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    Oct 19, 2008

    Our eighth graders do a family history booklet each year. Genealogy starting with the student, parents, grandparents and they are encouraged to go back as far as possible. They include dates (birth, death, wedding) pictures, anything to make their records special. They laminate the covers.

    Some of the students go to the cemetary to get data and rubbings for their booklets. They interview family members in person, by e mail and phone.
     
  19. MizDubya

    MizDubya Rookie

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    Oct 19, 2008

     
  20. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    I don't know. This is her fifth year to do this project and she hasn't had an adopted child. There are two foster children in the sixth grade this year. I'll wait and see.
     
  21. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    What would be wrong with an adopted child using her adopted family's info? The family's heritage and traditions are bound to affect the child's experiences in life, why not research them and include a sentence or two about adoption in his/her project...
     
  22. MizDubya

    MizDubya Rookie

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    Oct 19, 2008

    Nothing necessarily, except that in my experience as a student, I just felt excluded from the general project. Part of that may have been in how teachers framed the projects.

    I would imagine, however, that there is an increase in awareness and sensitivity to different family constructions than there was when I was an elementary/middle school student some 20 or so years ago, and when I was the only adopted kid in the grade.
     
  23. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    I know she had students with divorced parents. Some completed only their mom and dad, some included step parent or step parents. She let them complete the project as they wanted.
     
  24. Mr. K

    Mr. K Rookie

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    Oct 19, 2008

    At my former building we had a small cemetery nearby. It was a historical lot that our town sort of cared for. There was no relatives of the deceased around or they just didn't ever show up. I went ahead of time and gathered some names and some data. I gave the kids a scavenger hunt. they had to find specific stones and gather information from them. We also did tombstone rubbings. We planted flowers at Memorial Day and helped a local Veterans organizaton place flags for Veterans Day. (We went 3-4 times during the year.) On our first visit we discussed proper respect for using this cemetery, looked for the Civil War Vets buried there, and in general set a tone of respect for our upcoming visits.
     
  25. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    It's okay, I also would not do it. There is one five minutes from our school, the oldest in the entire city. I am sure it is filled with history of the earliest inhabitants of Brooksville. This class is my most mature class and they would respect the cemetery, yet I don't know if I could do it.

    My mom is a genealogist, but... I'd rather take field trips to other historical places in town (and especially the state).

    You (as a whole) have certainly opened my eyes to new ideas/thoughts, though.
     
  26. MWMnElmed

    MWMnElmed Companion

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    Oct 19, 2008

    First I want to appreciate all of you for your help and suggestions in making this an even more enriching learning experience for my students. I take a little offense to those that are questioning my motives in this activity. This is an opportunity for my students to see how the classes that I teach them each day intersect with some elements of life. I want them to know that math, literature, poetry, science and social studies take place outside of the confines of the class room. They need to experience the world around them more. I have one computer for every two students in my classroom, and we could browse our way through the web to try and experience some of these aspects, but I think they live to much in the virtual world as it is. Will some of the students have an inclination to act immature in the setting of a grave yard? Possibly so. Rest assured I will be there to guide them and help them learn proper and respectful behavior in less traditional educational settings. We are doing this trip in conjunction with the senior citizens in our community and they are thrilled to share in their knowledge of the history of our community. Thank you again for all of your help. If you have any more suggestions keep them coming we will be doing the trip in the next week.
     
  27. mommaruthie

    mommaruthie Aficionado

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    Oct 21, 2008

    Hope this sheds some new ideas..
    Have the students start at one moseleum and follow directions cards. Example. Walk north and turn right heading east... what is the name of the grave you ended at?
    go to row 115, what is the FIFTH grave?

    If each head stone is 5 pts, skip count the value of row ___.
     
  28. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    This was an activity that I did with my Gifted Class. They loved it. They came up with different ways to group the stones. They asked to return again to make rubbings of more stones. They even asked later in the year to place flowers on some and clean some up (which we did). We never connected it to Halloween. In fact we didn't go in October. It never accured to me. This was all about history that kids could touch.
     
  29. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    As a continuation of this idea, it would be really neat, I think, to find the major events that happened between their birth and death. Sort of chart the course of major changes that had occurred during the person's life. A complaint I've heard from history teachers is that students often have no sense of the flow of history when they learn in isolated blocks -- they have no idea how long it was from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, or when things were invented.

    If the students got someone who lived from 1850 to 1910, for example, they would have the Civil War, abolition of slavery, the invention of cars and airplanes, westward expansion, the purchase of Alaska, etc.
     
  30. MWMnElmed

    MWMnElmed Companion

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    Oct 21, 2008

    I love the last few suggestions. Thank you again so much. I have just about finished putting this all together. Is there a way to add an attachment to this discussion from Word, or how could I put out there so you guys could share in all the work you helped me with?
     

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