Talk Derby To Me!

For those of you who don't live in Louisville or the surrounding areas, you don't understand what a huge deal the Kentucky Derby is.  I lived in Northern Kentucky (basically south of Cincinnati for those of you not in the know) from the time I was 9 until I went to college, and it meant absolutely nothing to me or anybody I knew.  When I moved to Louisville, I didn't get it.  Why do the kids have Oaks Day off?  Why does everybody behave as if Derby is some massively huge undertaking, with events happening pretty much daily for the 2 weeks before the actual race?  A race that is only 2 minutes long?

Basically, Derby is a pretty big, important holiday around here.  The people around here make a HUGE DEAL about Derby.  I get it now, and I take the time to make it a HUGE DEAL in my classroom.  So for the 4 school days before the Kentucky Derby (and Oaks Day, which is the Friday before), we celebrate the Derby with all kinds of fun activities.  This year, though, I went all out, more than I have in the last 4 years.

I used the activities from my Kentucky Derby unit, "Talk Derby to Me!"  The kids and I had an absolute ton of fun, and I can't wait to do it all again next year!

I am going to apologize ahead of time:  this post is very image heavy!  Beware!

I even dressed up my sock monkey, Max, for the occasion.  He is wearing a jockey hat.  Next year, maybe I'll make him a silk!

I hung up 10 horses of different sizes all around the room.  We used them in math to measure.  Guess what non-standard unit of measurement we used to measure our horses?  Our hands!  Does anybody know why we used our hands?  We talked about how each kid would get a different answer because our hands are all different sizes.

The kids loved this activity!  They all wanted to do it!

Here are a few of them playing "The Great Balloon Race".  Two of the Derby Festival events are the Balloon Glow and the Balloon Race. 

Two students are playing "Post Time", also from my Derby packet. 

And these students are playing Run for the Roses.

Here, the students are wearing their Derby hats and working on naming their Derby horses!

We also followed the recipe to make a "Fancy Derby Drink"- aka, my version of a kid-friendly mint julep.  It was SO GOOD.  Only one little girl didn't like it- the rest wanted more!  I actually had to make more.  Then I came home and made some for myself.  Seriously, it is that good.

I served the "Fancy Derby Drinks" in silver cups, so they would be more like the silver Derby cups that mint juleps are sometimes served in.  I couldn't afford the real cups! :-)  Even plastic versions!

Each student also got to make a Derby hat.  I let the kids have more control over their hats this year, with some boundaries of course, but they all turned out really cute!

All this hat making is a huge process!  The hats sitting on the table belong to 4 students who didn't quite finish on Wednesday, so we finished them as soon as we came in Thursday and wore them all day.  My poor table was unrecognizable!  It was covered in plastic horses, buttons, feathers, stickers, and fake flowers.  I asked parents for donations, and I had a few parents send in some red roses (which I specifically requested) and some horse stickers and stuff.  Thanks to all my awesome parents! 

The (almost) very last activity of the week was our Derby parade!  The kids were all asked to create a Derby float for our parade.  Each year, there is a parade as a part of the Derby Festival.  Every single kid in my class did their float, and they were all AWESOME.  Seriously, some of these kids and parents went all out!  I was the only class where every single kid turned in a float.  Then we invited the parents to come and watch as we paraded them around the school.  The other teachers also let their kids come out in the hallway and watch our kids parade around with their floats.

My book nook was completely taken over by floats the week of Derby!  They were everywhere!

Here we are, parading around the school!  We had UofL Cardinal floats, wrestling floats... 
 stuffed animal floats...
Derby floats, Thunder over Louisville floats, horse floats...  
"Run for the Roses" floats... 
and even floats with balloons!

The kids loved parading around the school with their floats!  It was so much fun!
Here are a few more of our floats.  We had one student who passed out candy, a student who used the balloon from his mother's 1st grade Derby float, and 2 who had awesome Thunder Over Louisville floats complete with fake fireworks!

Check this one out!  For the record, this was meant to be a Family project, not just a student project, so of course some of these look like the kids didn't do them on their own, and that is ok!

And for the record, my school is a Title 1 school with a high free/reduced lunch percentage and low parent involvement.  However, this just proves that, if you ask them to, the parents can and will step up and do whatever their kids need!  The Principal, the Reading Coach, and I discussed this, and I told them that all of my students did their projects.  They were impressed.  I am so thankful I had such a great class!

Of course, I had to get a picture of each of them in their beautiful Derby hats!  I gave them their photo on the last day of school, because I forgot to use them for Mothers Day!

A class photo!   

Of course, it isn't Derby without placing a "bet" on your favorite Derby horse!  I actually had a student who won this year for the first time, so I brought her a special prize for choosing the winning Derby horse!  Go Orb!

Overall, this was a GREAT week!  We had an absolute blast!  Thanks for joining us for our Derby fun!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Erica! This looks great! What a fun way to incorporate our city Holiday into your classroom. :)