Students in 3rd grade are VERY excited to be writing their own short plays! In our acting lessons students have been learning about what makes a play interesting for an audience. After a class discussion, we came to the conclusion that a play should have some sort of conflict and resolution. Students then began brainstorming a short story they could act out. After using some improv to act out their ideas, students began to write! It has been so awesome to see these young actors turn into script writers and co-directors for their short plays!
In November, third graders traveled to the CT Audubon for an inquiry based program on geology. They learned that igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic are three types of rocks, and that metamorphic is the most common type of rock found in CT. Third graders worked in collaborative groups and used their investigative skills to gather data about various rocks and minerals. Students observed color and luster, performed tests on hardness and streak and used field guides to identify the type of rock or mineral. Our program continued outside with a hike in the Larsen Sanctuary. Various rocks and minerals were observed along the way, and students used outdoor kits to determine their hardness and streak color. Thank you to the CT Audubon for providing third graders with an engaging introduction to geology and a full morning of hands-on activities.
Third graders have been examining the structures and processes of roots, stems, leaves, flowers and seeds. As part of their plant study, students learned the importance of flowers and their role in reproduction and attracting pollinators. The young botanists investigated a nasturtium flower from the Unquowa garden and carefully documented their observations. They recorded the number of petals and stamens and were challenged to identify the pistil. Many students even located the nectar at the base of the flower with a toothpick and were excited by its exceptionally sweet taste!
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!
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!