Did you know that E.B. White got the idea for the children’s classic, Charlotte’s Web while lying on a hay bale in his barn watching a spider spin her web? It is in these very small moments that many fiction stories begin. This week, fourth graders have been on the lookout for the seeds of possible stories in small moments such as this. As we wrote small moments in our writers’ notebooks, one student remembered a time when they were walking on a beach watching the sea gulls while another student took notes on seeing a younger child afraid to leave their parent on the first days of school. From these seeds, possible stories began to emerge. Students partnered up to rehearse stories ideas with fellow writers. Together, our fourth grade writers shared ideas, some were discarded while others blossomed into an exciting story frame. Now that we have several great ideas in place, we are on to develop interesting and thought-provoking characters…
Our third and fourth graders were recently delighted by a visit from the author of the Last But Not Least Lola book series, Christine Pakkala. Ms. Pakkala arrived with her colleague, Kelly Reznikoff, a psychologist specializing in positive psychology and mindfulness. The visit began with Ms. Pakkala reading chapter one of Last But Not Least Lola and the Wild Chicken. Our students chuckled and giggled at Lola’s experiences with friends and riding the school bus. Following the reading, Ms. Reznikoff led the students in mindfulness activities, something our students are already familiar with from their practices at Unquowa. She taught us the acronym GREAT DREAM which stands for; gratitude, relationships, exercise, awareness, trying out-direction, resilience, emotions, acceptance, meaning. Ms. Reznikoff took us through each stage as we talked about being grateful and happy in our daily lives. Students were each given a jar to keep filled with water and glitter. Ms. Reznikoff explained how we each hold as many as sixty thousand thoughts in our minds every day and they all swirl around, much like the glitter. As the glitter fell to the bottom of the jar, she explained how important it is to take some time each day to allow our thoughts to just settle, breathe and be present. Finally, we closed with Ms. Pakkala giving each student a signed copy of Last But Not Least Lola and the Wild Chicken so the children could continue to read the story on their own. We are so grateful to Ms. Pakkala and Ms. Reznikoff for their visit, entertainment and wisdom. Our third and fourth graders loved it!
Have you ever heard of Breen lettuce? It is a compact, mini romaine that has a beautiful bronze red color. This is just one of the many varieties of lettuce that fourth graders started from seed in early March. A second variety, Grandpa Admire’s, has been a staple in the Unquowa garden for several years. This popular heirloom has deep crinkled leaves splashed with color and was named after Civil War veteran, Grandpa George Admire. Students have been busy this spring harvesting lettuce for Chef David and Chef Jessica. Thank you fourth graders for growing these delicious lettuces for the Unquowa community to enjoy at lunch!
Angles are EVERYWHERE! After learning to use a protractor and identifying angles as either right, acute, obtuse or straight, our students headed outdoors on a beautiful spring day to find, measure and draw as many angles as they could. We discovered angles on tables, benches, the swing set, playscape and fences. Fourth grade mathematicians went right to work to identify a vertex anchor and baseline of the angle so that they could measure it accurately. Students drew each angle and were careful to label the appropriate angle using an arc. Now that’s applying skills learned in the classroom to the world around us!
For the past month the fourth graders have been researching a famous historical figure of their choosing. The only parameters were that their figure must be deceased or at the end of his or her career. Last week, the fourth graders presented to their peers and parents as if they were that figure. From infamous gangsters, like John Dillinger, to Ancient queens of Egypt, history came to life in the fourth grade classroom!