Thursday, January 5, 2012

Let's Go to Disneyland!

As my first grade students left for their holiday break, I told one of the children to have a wonderful vacation. He sadly looked at me and said, "I'm not going on vacation. I am just staying home." I explained to him that by vacation I meant not coming to school. His reaction made me think about how many students never get to travel and experience the joy of visiting popular vacation destinations. It seems, however, that the answer to that problem was sitting in my room waiting to be unwrapped!

I had recently been given a copy of Kinect Disneyland Adventure. I took it home for my grandchildren to play while visiting for Christmas. The game is an authentic trip to the Magic Kingdom. Players enter Main Street USA, collect autographs from Disney characters in an autograph book, and use a map to select the lands to visit in the park. Pirates of the Caribbean, It's A Small World, and all of the other favorite rides from the actual park are part of the game. It is as close as you can come to an actual visit without traveling there.

My teacher mind kicked into high gear and I am planning a unit around the game for my students! As I looked through the common core standards, I found that there are plenty of language arts, math, and geography skills we can work on as the class takes on the task of vacation planning! Working in small groups, the students will use the internet, brochures, and local travel agents to research the many aspects of going on a vacation to Disneyland:
  • which park to visit
  • transportation options and costs
  • time of year considerations
  • lodging options and costs
  • food expenses
  • admissions
  • what to pack
  • how long to stay
  • what to do while they are there
The students will have the opportunity to research, develop a plan, and collaborate with their peers as they learn to read informational text, evaluate information, and make informed decisions.

Geography and map reading skills will grow as they discover that Disney has parks around the world to chose from. In addition, they will need to read the park map as they plan their days and select attractions to experience.

Math and personal financial literacy skills will grow as the kids learn to use calculators to work with large numbers and realize that vacations require long term goal setting and saving.

When all the plans have been made we will take a field trip to the local airport to check out one transportation option first hand. Then our vacation will be underway as we travel virtually, thanks to Kinect, to Disneyland. Of course, there will be time spent waiting for a turn, not unlike the lines at the actual park! The game will give the kids a chance to experience the joy of a vacation as they move their bodies through the engaging activities and attractions. Of course, the learning will continue as they each keep a diary describing the people, places, and events with relevant details, expressing their ideas and feelings clearly :) Using technology they will create postcards to mail to friends at home.

There are many possibilities for learning from such a project. The Kinect game will be the amazing reward for all of the required hard work for which I will be asking. I have no doubt that the students will be motivated, engaged, and learning! I can't wait to get started!

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