I believe that a huge part of a students learning in school is linked directly to the experiences that they have. Some of the best teachers that I had as a student still stick out in my memory today.
We recently ended a very memorable unit in our class. The students created their very own pet rock. They created a house, a name, a personality, and even a Halloween costume for their lovable friend. Let me tell you.... they had so much fun with it.
Here is a home that one of my students created... completely furnished!
Our pet rocks lived with us in our room for about two weeks. In this time, the students were working on a persuasive writing unit. I asked them to write an essay convincing their audience that a pet rock was the best pet to own. After all, they are quite easy to care for! It was easy of the students to convince others that a pet rock was the best pet because they had become quite connected to them.
We worked as a class to brainstorm ideas, learn the format, and then write our very own essay. At the end of the unit, the students were able to do a photo shoot with their pet rock to add to the published version of their final copy.
Since the rocks lived in our rooms for so long, we were able to do a lot with them. We did journal prompts, and even wrote them letters explaining what was happening in our room. The students loved the experience of having a pet rock. I created a "pet rock daycare" so that our friends could be well cared for while we were busy learning. It was a great way to avoid distraction with the rocks.
It was a wonderful unit and a wonderful experience. I have to admit, I was a bit sad to see them go home this week!