Wooldridge Elementary School
Last spring, I told my 4th grade colleagues, if I could create the perfect school, I would base the curriculum completely on the Magic Tree House series. (I had affection towards the books because my daughter and I had made it our joint 2013 resolution to read the entire series!) Until that point, I had operated in Mrs. Krohn’s Work Zone, a construction-themed classroom with my Kids-At-Work! Then, an unexpected opportunity presented itself at the end of the year, a change to teach 2nd grade, and I jumped.
Since then, my world has “started to spin” and has become everything but “absolutely still.” I immediately started building Mrs. Krohn’s Magic Tree House website, allowing the adrenaline and possibility to drive me. Everything in my classroom from the bulletin boards, door, reading nook, fabric reflects the theme. My teaching philosophy focuses on cooperative learning, so the group tables take on the book names for example: Dino, Knight, Mummy, Pirate, Ninja, etc.
Every day at 10:30, the lights go off, and I read two chapters from a Magic Tree House book by the glow of our lamp. During this special time, it is just my students, the book, and me. The children are captivated. I use this time to introduce/build on reading strategies such as predicting, making connections, inferencing, clarifying, decoding, fluency, retelling, grammar, and vocabulary growth. At the conclusion, the students complete a story map where each practices the exercise of writing a summary to help prepare for the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) required by Virginia. Students also capture their mental image by drawing a personal illustration that they visualized to show a picture walk of the book.
Our 2nd graders study Ancient Egypt in alignment with the Virginia Standards of Learning. Unbeknownst to the students, we have already covered all of the major components that they will need to master just by reading, discussing, and making an anchor chart of Mummies in the Morning. The children soaked up this book, so much so, that we dedicated our “Fall Festival” class display to making Mrs. Krohn’s “Mummies in the Morning” come alive! I will conduct the same activity with Day of the Dragon King as we study China.
When I consider many of our Social Studies Essential Questions and content, Magic Tree House has an answer. It is my personal goal to work thought the entire series before June. After each novel, the students race to the computer to earn the stamp on the Passport on MagicTreeHouse.com by answering the comprehension questions. What a helpful way for me to incorporate blended learning and 21st century digital learning skills. It is my hope that the students will compose, set, and perform a play for their parents that celebrates and showcases the enchanting essence of the Magic Tree House books.
A new grade, excitable children, and a master set of books equal the perfect combination, and invites adventure, every day!