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!
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!
Students in fourth grade learned the basics of script writing in performing arts. They then completed a class project where they had to work as a team to create a comedic short play loosely based on an existing fairytale. Not only were students learning how to write and perform a short story, they were also learning how to work together as a team – one of the most important lessons in performing arts! The end result was amazing and students had a blast showing their classmates their work!
Leprechauns are greedy and sneaky and love shenanigans! So how do you trap one? Fourth graders know, you employ math and engineering skills!
After reading about a mischievous leprechaun in the book Leprechaun Trap by Adam Wallace grade four students went to work to create an efficient but also cost-effective trap. Students discovered that to be successful, they had to think like a leprechaun. Character traits from the story were identified as the students designed and redesigned. We discussed the field of engineering materials and items were carefully chosen not only for their utility, but also with a eye on the cost effectiveness. Each material they chose to use in their design had a price attached. Once completed, students added to find the cost and worked with decimals (our next unit in math!) to give a final cost analysis. In the end, our students presented and demonstrated their projects and the thinking that brought them to their final design. Even Mr. R-M couldn’t resist getting in on the fun!
Working together in teams, students in grades three through six have all been part of a project to design and build a walk-in camera obscura in the Makerspace.
Children have been exposed to screens throughout their lives and this opportunity to step back in time and reflect on the projected image has been an interesting challenge. Students are so used to seeing images projected that it seems almost obvious to them that light through a hole would produce one. It turns out it is rare to have a projected image occur by simply focusing light through an aperture. The students have eagerly explored the mechanics of how this seemingly magical and simultaneously obvious phenomenon works.
Using their formidable skills with hammers, nails, saws, screws and power drills they designed and built this masterpiece. As always, duct tape, drop clothes, trash bags, paint and staple guns also played a role.
This photo sequence is of 1) the kindergarten class being shown the camera and its aperture, 2) gathering inside for a demonstration and 3) Riley jumping outside in front of the aperture so that his image could be projected on the (then closed) back flap. His classmates were delighted and amazed to see him projected on the back flap!
Their functioning prototype has taught them about light, vision, projections, cameras, and more. We all love this project and look forward to seeing where it goes next … perhaps a larger permanent installation!