From Problem, to Plan, to Prototype

IMG_3500First/second graders just completed an exciting, hands-on science unit about animal biodiversity!  In their final animal biodiversity science mystery, the students investigated which kinds of birds are most likely to visit a bird feeder, based on what they eat.  In the activity, students designed and created prototypes of their own bird feeders.  Before they begin working on their prototype, each student had to complete the following problem statement: I want (kind of bird) to come to my yard.  I need a bird feeder with (kind of food) and (place to stand).  I will make my bird feeder safe from cats by ________________.  You can check you child’s SeeSaw account to learn more about their individual plans and bird feeder prototypes.  Click here to see photos of the students with their prototype feeders.

Posted in Science

Seeing the World Through Poet Glasses

IMG_3463Students in first/second grade are practicing putting on their poet glasses and viewing everyday objects and moments in their worlds through the eyes of a poet.  So far students have read poems about a pencil sharpener described as a hive of buzzing bees and written poems about scissors as crocodiles and sharks.  As a class we’ve discussed some of the ways to read and write like a poet.  We’ve made a chart that says…

  • As I read this writing can I make a picture in my mind?
  • Does this writing help me look at something in the world in new ways?
  • Does this writing give me a certain feeling or make me think or question?
  • Does this poetry have “music?”
Posted in English Language Arts

Animal Biodiversity

4280973677_07888f244e_oFirst/second grade students have begun an exciting new science mini-unit!  This unit helps students develop a sense of wonder for biodiversity: the sheer range and variety of animals found on earth.  In their first science Mystery, students thought deeper about the question “How many different kinds of animals are there?”  With a partner, the students discovered how scientists simplify the vastness of biodiversity by organizing animals into groups based on their shared characteristics. In the activity, students sorted animal cards into four groups, then honed their classification skills with three challenge animals.

In the second animal biodiversity Mystery, students worked with a team to answer the question, “Why do frogs say ribbit?”  In this Mystery, which was a case study in biodiversity using the frogs of North America, students learned to identify frogs by their unique calls and investigate which of two locations had a greater variety of frogs.  Later this week during our final Mystery, students will work with partners to engineer a prototype of a superior bird feeder by investigating which kinds of birds are most likely to visit a bird feeder based on what they eat.

Posted in Science

AM and PM

In math class today we talked about the difference between AM and PM when we are telling time.  Together, we started an hour-by-hour checklist to record what we do each hour, on the hour, on a typical Tuesday.  Students brought the checklists home this afternoon and are very excited to record and report back how their unique evenings go.IMG_3409

Posted in Math


The first/second grade class has completed their biography research and their amazing BioBuddy projects are hanging on the front bulletin boards in our classroom.  We shared many biographies as a class and talked a lot about both the elements of a typical biography (including a linear story line, table of contents, timeline, photographs and captions) and what characteristics make a person brave and capable of creating change for good in our world.  To complete their BioBuddy projects each student picked a person to learn more about and then read at least two sources of information about them.  Their BioBuddies include a timeline of important events and a symbol that represents their person’s life.

Posted in English Language Arts, Social Studies

Inches or Centimeters?

thWe recently started a new math unit in first/second grade called How Far Can You Jump?  Students are measuring lengths and distances and solving measurement story problems.  We have work with a variety of measurement units, including nonstandard ones like shoe-length, craft sticks, paper clips, and cubes, as well as standard ones like inches, feet, yards, centimeters and meters.

Posted in Math

How can you stop a landslide?

IMG_3367This week in science, first/second grade students are applying what they have learned about landforms, erosion, and wildfires to engineer a device to stop a landslide.  To begin, the students worked with a partner to compare multiple solutions for preventing erosion.  They planned, predicted, tested, and then documented several designs developed to keep water from washing away a hill modeled out of cornmeal.  The students used different combinations of toothpicks, cotton balls, paper towels, and foil to keep “rain” from eroding their landforms.  Here’s a quick clip from Bill Nye the Science Guy that we watched after creating our erosion prevention contraptions and this is a clip of a dry riverbed flooding that we found pretty compelling.

Posted in Science