Kindergarten: Starting with Love

I was thrilled to finally have kinder testing complete so that we could start classes.  I will meet with my sweet kindergartners on Friday mornings.  Our first Friday was Valentine’s Day, so we wrapped some GT thinking skills around this special day of love and friendship.

We started with a logic puzzle, a Valentine Soduko.  One of my kindergartners knew the rules for Soduko and was able to teach the rest of his classmates.  The kids used the SmartBoard to drag the letters in LOVE to fill in our Soduko board.  They did a great job working together and explaining why certain letters worked in certain cells.

Photo Feb 14, 2 04 34 PM

After using our Convergent Thinking skills to solve our logic problem it was time to give our Divergent Thinking skills a work out. They started with a fluency activity, brainstorming all the ways we love.  They had some great ideas: HUGS, KISSES, LAUGHING, PLAYING, SHARING, etc.  Many of the kids discussed how hearts showed love, which led nicely into our next activity.  I showed them a cut out of a heart and we discussed what job the heart could have when it wasn’t busy at Valentine’s.  Each child glued a heart to a piece of paper and added details showing what other job it could have. They were quite creative.
Hearts at Work on PhotoPeach

We also read a wonderful poem called Honey, I Love by Eloise Greenfield.  The poem is a list of all the things that she loves, but in a twist at the end she shares something she DOES NOT love.  The kindergarteners made a list of the many things they do love and one thing they do not love.  I enjoyed reading their lists as it gave me some insight into their personalities.  I compiled their lists into a Wordle.  The bigger the word, the more it was used.  You can also see the sentences of the things they do NOT love.  Just like my kids, having to go to sleep is one of their not so favorite things. 🙂

kinder Wordle

And lastly, right before we finished our day we brainstormed many different things we love.  I hope you will add to our Padlet below!

2nd Grade: Polygons, Polygons, Polygons!

For the past two weeks the 2nd graders have been exploring polygons and learning more about types of polygons and where they can be found in our world.  They are visiting a variety of centers that are all centered around polygons.  By the end of this upcoming Monday the 2nd graders should be able to recite the rules for polygons, have some basic understanding of regular and irregular polygons, and where they can be found in the world.  

Riddles About Polygons:


Polygon Lessons:


Kids working and playing with Polygons:

Polygon Centers on PhotoPeach

Next week we will finish up our Polygon centers and explore Platonic Solids. The kids will see the connection and patterns between the two.  This will lay the foundation for our year discovering and learning about natural and man made structures.

4th Grade: Mystery of Me

In fourth grade we are studying Mysteries and what better mystery to start on then the mystery of self! 

Mystery: Something that is difficult or impossible to understand.  A person or thing that is puzzling or unknown.

Last week the 4th graders chose 4 objects in the room and were asked to create similes or metaphors comparing themselves to the objects.  This allowed the kids to start thinking about who they are and to reveal a little of the mystery to the rest of us.  The slideshows below are their finished projects. Enjoy.

This week I had the kids look at a Wordle of a quote by Howard Gardner. They had to unscramble the words to create a sentence that made sense.  I always love the way the kids interpret and organize words of famous quotes.

Kamyryn: It’s NOT how smart you are, it’s how smart you are not.

Carson: It’s not how you are smart, it’s how you are YOU smart.

We had a lively discussion about Kamryn and Carson’s interpretations.  The consensus on Kamryn’s was that you need to focus on always wondering, growing and learning, to not be satisfied with how you are already smart.  Everyone agreed that Carson’s interpretation was about knowing yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and using those things to push you forward.

It’s not how smart you are, it’s how you are smart.

-Howard Gardner

After revealing the actual quote, the kids took a pre-test on Multiple Intelligences to help me understand what they know currently and how we can develop our learning.  The kids then took a survey on Multiple Intelligences. We will look carefully at the results of the survey and what it all means.

To close out our day, the kids created a cover for the Mystery of Me book they will be making throughout the year.  Enjoy their covers.

Mystery of Me Covers on PhotoPeach

Dreaming with Fifth Grade

Hold fast to dreams 

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly

-Langston Hughes

The fifth graders were asked to unscramble the words to this poem and consider what they thought the big idea of the poem was prior to our first class. The students share presented their ideas to the class and participated in a Socratic Dialogue about Hughes’ poem.  Following our discussion, the students paired up and rewrote Langston Hughes’ poem from two different perspective.  They used two apps to create their finished products, PicCollage and Educreations.  Below you can enjoy their finish projects.

By Tanner and Liam

By Alondra and Sofia

By Josie

By Miguel, Adrian, and Sydney

By Nic and Christian

By Spencer and Nick H.

By Preston and Luke

Here is an image of Tanner’s Interactive Journal in response to his work on the Hughes’ rewrite above.  Before the kids dove into the rewrite they did research on the mind behind this great poem.

 This week we continued to dig into the idea of dreams and how it connects to our essential question, What is My Responsibility to the World Around Me?  We read and participated in a Socratic Dialogue on another of Hughes’ poems, What Happens to a Dream Deferred?  We compared and contrasted the poem to Hughes’ other poem.  Following our Socratic Dialogue, students created an origami dream star to hold all of their dreams.  When they were done with their star they created a PicCollage to share their star.  They also created two similes about dreams living and dying.  Enjoy the work below.

If Dreams… on PhotoPeach

Below are pictures from Liam and Preston’s Interactive Journal.

Bridges: Part 1

In 3rd grade we have entered the exciting and fascinating world of bridges. 2 weeks ago the kids took a pre-test to showcase their current knowledge and we have been filling the gaps ever since.

Last week the kids were introduced to the three main types of bridges: Beam, Arch, and Suspension.  Through some video clips and the Building Big website they were able to get some rudimentary information on each main category of bridge.  The kids then set off to use K’Nex to build bridges.  Each group was given a different type of bridge to focus on.  Over the next few weeks we will learn more about each type of bridge and why one is chosen over another.  They will learn about forces and how that impacts bridge building as well.  Below you can enjoy pictures of the kids in action.

Building Bridges on PhotoPeach

Punished:  We just finished our novel, Punished last week.  The kids and I have had a terrific time playing with words.  Puns, oxymorons, anagrams, and palindromes have been great fun.  This week I had the kids create a poem, story, rap, or song using at least 5 palindromes.  They all did a great job.  Here is a small taste of what they created:

Palindrome Poem

By Rylee Davis

I was walking outside in the dark, stormy sun.

I said to my mom, “Is supper almost done?”

Then mama said to me, “Yes, Hannah, darling dear.”

Then I heard a quick step right down at our pier.

I peep open the door in a subtle, quiet way.

Then I look who’s out there, it’s my dad, John Ray.

Then I gave him a big hug and mama did too.

THen we lived happily after with my brand new shoes.


When I put the work ANTHROPOMORPHISM up on the board the first graders looked at the word in awe.  “It is so big,” one said.  “I can’t read that,” another exclaimed.  As soon as I started writing the word they were intrigued.  By the time I was finished they were amazed to think they were going to learn the meaning of such an enormous word.  When I explained that they actually already knew the meaning of the word and saw examples of it throughout the books, movies, and television shows they watched they were certain I was wrong.  It was great fun to see.

After reading the word to them, I pulled them over to read chapter 1 of our novel, Abel’s Island by William Steig.  I told them to pay close attention to the strange things they hear in relationship to Abel and his wife Amanda.  Those clues were going to help us understand the meaning of anthropomorphism.  As we read chapter 1, the kids kept track of the strange things they heard about our characters on their post it notes.  We then shared.  The kids learned that Abel and Amanda are both mice.  They are mice that are married, wear clothes, play croquet, enjoy picnics, give each other gifts, read books, etc.  The observations the kids made allowed them to construct their own idea of what the word anthropomorphism meant before I gave a more structured definition.  The kids said things like, “They are acting like people.” or “Only humans get married.”  The children were delighted to realize that they had come very close to the definition all on their own.  Anthropomorphism: giving human qualities to a non human being or object.

Watch and see how many examples you see of anthropomorphism being used in the books, movies, commercials, etc.  I think you will be surprised.

Last Week the kids started writing poems called When I Was Little…  They are about the discoveries the kids have made about themselves in their short lives and a discovery they hope to make.  Enjoy….

When I Was Little… on PhotoPeach

Magnificent Monday…

Monday was a great day with my enthusiastic first and second graders.  Below is a quick look into my time with each group.

First Grade:

In first grade we are going to focus on Discoveries.  On Monday we started by brainstorming anything that comes to mind when we think about the word Discoveries.  The kids started brainstorming independently as a pre-assessment.  This allowed me to see each student’s starting point.  We then shared our thinking and I added their ideas to a large chart.  I was quite impressed with their thinking.  I think the kids were surprised with all of the different ideas that were shared.  After we discussed their understanding of Discoveries.  We talked about how we can discover new things about ourselves all the time.  The kids drew a picture of themselves and shared different discoveries they have made over their last six or seven years.  Enjoy their work below.

Discoveries on PhotoPeach

**Coming Next Week: The kids started writing Discovery Poems.  We will finish them and share Monday.

Second Grade:

In second grade we have been building our understanding of the word STRUCTURE.  This week the kids began to research their first structure: Tunnels.  They were broken into groups and each group was to research one section on tunnels, using a wonderful website called Building Big.  The kids will share their learning next week and we will dive a little deeper into the world of tunnels.  This will lead to our study on Biomimicry as we think about where humans looked to learn about tunnel building: nature.   Below are some pictures of the kids doing their research and creating their posters.

Polygon Fun

This week the second graders were given a bag with various shapes it.  They were told to examine the shapes and sort them into at least 2 groups.  The kids were in charge of determining the categories after evaluating the various shapes.  There were many debates on the “right” way to sort the cards and many kids asking me to referee.  They are used to parameters…sort by biggest and smallest, curved lines and straight, etc.  It took compromise, patience, and risk-taking for the kids to create their own groups.  They did a fantastic job.  Below you will see pictures of the kids categories.  Once the tables were done we took a gallery walk to appreciate the many perspectives.  We came back together and discussed patterns we noticed: sides, vertices, open, closed, etc.  I then introduced them to the term POLYGONS.  We watched a Brainpop video on polygons.  The students brainstormed the rules for Polygons based on the video.  They then reorganized their shape cards into two categories: Polygons and NOT Polygons.  Next week the children will use polygons to create an art piece.  They will also use Depth and Complexity to reflect on the details and rules of polygons.

 Getting to Know Polygons on PhotoPeach

Taking Risks

“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”

-Henry Ford

These are important words to live by and ones that we will hold close as the third graders navigate their way through the 3-5 GT program.  To get the students to truly understand the meaning of these words, we started with Henry Ford himself.  The kids looked at a picture that included Ford and attempted to find the genius.  It was neat to hear their reasoning as they attempted to pinpoint Henry Ford.  We watched a brief video clip and read a short biography about him.  The kids brainstormed characteristics that might describe Ford.  They came up with: creative thinker, risk taker, problem solver, brave, persistent, etc.  The kids had not yet been introduced to Ford’s quote, so it was exciting to see them come up with risk-taker.

After we spent some time learning and discovering about Ford, I posed a problem to the kids.  I gave them a 3×5 notecard.  They were to cut the card in a way that would allow it to slide over their head.  They could only use one card and a pair of scissors.  As you can imagine I heard many, “That is impossibles.”  The kids made many attempts.  They looked around at their peers for ideas.  They begged for glue, tape, and extra cards.  We discussed what would have happened if great inventors said “it’s not possible” when they were struggling with a problem.  Finally, I revealed that it was in fact possible to cut a 3×5 card in such a way that it could slide over my head and even my shoulders.  They were in awe…and busily trying to see if they could do it too.

We ended with Ford’s quote and the kids created similes for about taking risks.  Enjoy their work below.   

Taking Risks on PhotoPeach

We’re Brainy!

The 3rd graders had a great time exploring many different aspects of the brain through some brain centers. They were learning about the functions of the small parts of our brain, like the amygdala and hippocampus, by solving a cryptogram.  They worked on writing a script for a radio station sharing their understanding of the large parts of the brain.  The kids used 2 great sites to learn about the neuron and brain related issues.  They also had the opportunity to create their own neurons using pipe cleaners.  It was neat to see them working away.  The brain is a fascinating topic.  Enjoy the video below showcasing the kids at work.

Brain Centers on PhotoPeach

What do you wonder about the brain?  What questions do you have? 

Leave them in the comments.