2nd Grade: Structures

In 2nd Grade our Universal Theme is STRUCTURES.  We will look at how the big ideas of Structure connects to our life.  There is a structure to the houses we live in, the trees we climb on, the water we drink.  There is also a structure to how our school runs, the laws of our land, and our number system. Structure is everywhere.

The kids learned about the Big Ideas of Structure and drew images that connected to each idea.

We also jumped into learning details about the square and how it connects to our Big Ideas of structure.

In learning about squares we wondered which number of tiles could build a square.  The 2nd graders would choose a number and attempt to build it in the shape of a square using color tiles.  This launched us into learning about Square Numbers and multiplication.

From squares we launched into a natural structure, crystals.  We watched a Brainpop on crystals and the children took notes using our Depth and Complexity icons.

We followed our Brainpop video up with a chance to grow crystal snowflakes.  We used Borax, pipe cleaners, and boiling water.  The 2nd graders learned a new language of the discipline: Saturation Point as we grew our crystals.

After growing our crystals we explored how different crystals have different structures. The second graders studied three substances using our Jewlers’ Loupes and recorded what they observed.  They learned the 3 crystals they studied were actually ones we eat: Table Salt, Sugar, and Kosher Salt.  After their observations they used our Zome kit to build the crystal lattice of a salt crystal.

The second graders were interested in what made salt different from sugar, so we talked about how all things are made up of a combination of elements.  I showed the periodic table and we talked about which elements made salt and sugar.  One of our classmates shared that they knew what elements made water, so we added that to our learning as well.  Next week we will explore the water molecule in more detail.


2nd Grade: Spectacular Squares

This week we spent time really investigating the square.  We went beyond the typical understanding that it has 4 equal sides.  

The kids started by sharing what they already know about squares and we listed their ideas on the board.  The understanding was fairly basic, it is a shape with 4 sides and those sides are equal.

I then gave each student a square piece of paper and we looked at how we could split our square into 7 additional shapes, building our own set of Tangrams.  The students had to watch and listen carefully as we folded our paper to create a square, 2 large right triangles, 1 medium right triangle, 2 small right triangle, a smaller square, and a parallelogram. 


right triangles, congruent, perpendicular, quadrilateral, parallelogram, trapezoid, rhombus, right angles, 90 degrees, and diagonal

Photo Sep 29, 2 34 20 PMAfter folding and labeling our square with our new vocabulary words, we did it one more time, but this time we actually cut the pieces apart.  The kids loved to see how a square could be transformed.  They had fun putting their pieced together to rebuild the square and then to deconstruct the square.  Next week we will play with their new Tangram pieces.

Next the kids were given a logic puzzle: How Many Squares Do You See?  This was actually the second time they had seen the puzzle.  We put on our BLUE THINKING HATS so that we could think about our thinking, make a plan.  The kids then counted the squares and shared how many they found.  We had anything from 16 to 32 squares found.  We discussed whether we should have different answers.  Most of the kids agreed that we shouldn’t since we all had the same paper. 🙂 This week we looked at them again.  I told the kids that there were more than 32 squares and challenged them to find more than they found last week.  Everyone found more then their first time, and some even found the full 40 squares.

Photo Oct 03, 10 50 31 AMAt the end of the day the 2nd graders shared some rules to being square and a new word that they learned.

Photo Oct 03, 10 52 59 AMBe on the look out for more fun with squares next week.

2nd Grade: First Day Fun!

A long overdue post about my super second graders!  This group of kids are amazing.  I know that we have a wonderful year in front of us.  They have come curious and ready to learn the last two weeks.  I am thrilled to be done with testing so that I can have the pleasure of actually working with kids!

Our first week, the second graders each had a chance to share their homework.  I loved the creative ideas shared…and only wish we could make some of their modifications to the human head reality.  Enjoy the video below to here their presentations.

In addition to sharing presentations our first week, the kids set up their GT notebooks and folders.  We brainstormed what a GT classroom would look and sound like on the first page of their notebooks.

Photo Oct 03, 9 59 58 AM

The second graders also took a pre-test to share what comes to mind when they think of the word STRUCTURES, as that will be our main focus throughout the year. We will learn about natural and man-made structures, as well as some engineering concepts.

Photo Oct 03, 10 14 52 AM

2nd Grade: Biomimicry

The second graders were introduced to a new term two weeks ago, Biomimicry.  We looked carefully at the word and the kids noticed that the word mimic was in the Biomimicry.  We discussed that bios means life and the 2nd graders made some predictions as to what the term biomimicry stood for; “the study and imitation of nature’s remarkably efficient designs [encouraging] scientists, engineers, architects and innovators of all ages who can use those models to create sustainable technologies.”  So essentially, looking to nature to find ways to invent, solve problems, and create.  We watched a video clip that showed some examples of Biomimicry in action.  One that really got my attention was fabric designed based on a leaf that repels liquids and stays dry.  With 3 kids and 2 dogs I would appreciate all of my fabric being treated in this manner.

Last week the kids read an article about how the bur, the shark, and the gecko inspired innovation.  The bur is what led us to Velcro.  Who knew that such a nasty seed to lead us to such a useful invention.  I love to tell of all the diapers I wasted in my babysitting years because they didn’t have Velcro tabs. The shark led Speedo to improve its design of the swimsuit for Olympians.  Every millisecond counts! The small hairs on the bottom of a geckos feet, called setae, led to the creation of some very strong glue.

This week we continued our study of biomimicry by looking closely at the adaptations of a giraffe.  We found that a giraffe has a heart that is 2.5 times bigger than you would expect, which allows a giraffe to stand without fainting.  The skin around the legs and the neck of a giraffe is extremely tight, much like a G-Suit, to allow the blood to move around the body more efficiently.  This research led into a discussion of some possible inventions based on the giraffe’s adaptations.

Next week the second graders will choose an animal to research and the students will brainstorm inventions based on what they learned about their animal.  You might start talking about a plant or animal, their adaptations, and how this can lead to a new invention or fix to a current problem.

TESSELLATIONS: Many weeks ago, after studying polygons in nature the 2nd graders learned what it means to tessellate and had a chance to create their own tessellations.  Here are a few of the finished pieces.

Photo Feb 14, 3 06 17 PM Photo Feb 14, 3 06 45 PM Photo Feb 14, 3 10 52 PM Photo Feb 14, 3 12 16 PM

2nd Grade: Platonic Solids and Crystals

This week we worked on finishing up our work with Polygons and Platonic Solids.  The kids worked on finishing up some of their polygon centers.  We then created our own hexahedron, a 3-D shape with 6 faces.  It is a special type of polyhedron and is one of the 5 Platonic Solids.  The kids recorded rules of a Platonic solid, their favorite polyhedron, what one of the polyhedrons reminded them of, the names of the 5 Platonic solids, and their own name on each of the 6 faces of their hexahedron.  Below you will see a video of the kids with their hexahedrons.  They did a terrific job making them.

At the end of the day, I had the kids put on their scientist caps and their observations skills to examine three different substances.  They used pictures and words to record what they observed. This will lead us into the world of crystals and hopefully the kids will see how crystals connect to polygons, polyhedrons, and structures.  Here are some images of the little scientists at work.

2nd Grade Fun!

Well, we hit the ground running our first week in GT and this week was no different.  This year we are diving into the world of Structures, both man-made and natural, and even the more abstract concepts of structure(s).

I started by giving each table a bag of cards to sort.  I didn’t give them any parameters, just told them to look at the cards and think about how they should be sorted.  They were unaware that all of these cards held examples of structure(s).  After they sorted they took a picture of their sort and we shared the various categories whole class.  I then told the kids that I wanted them to sort the cards again, but that they could only use two categories.  Again they took a picture of their completed sort and we discussed the categories.  The kids noticed that our categories were more closely aligned when I put the 2 category rule in place. Below are the Educreations the kids created to share their sorts.

This week I introduced the word Structures.  I had the kids brainstorm everything they thought they knew about structures.  I had some kids with one thing on their paper and others with a 10-15 things written down.  It really helped me to see where all of my student were coming from. I gave the kids the same bag of cards. This time I told them that ALL of the items fit the definition of structure.  I once again had them sort into two categories.  This time all of the tables realized that they could sort them into man-made and natural structures.  Below you will find a Padlet. Please help us by double clicking on the wall and adding examples of man-made and natural structures.  We want help from parents, grandparents. etc.

After our pre-test, sort, and discussion, the kids created a DETAILS flower to share the facts and features related to their understanding of STRUCTURE so far.  Here are some of their images.

In addition to structures, we have been doing an activity called X Tiles We use clues and math to figure our mystery number.  The kids are getting better at reading and understanding the clues every day.

The second graders were introduced to a new way of thinking called Six Hats thinking.  We will learn to use these hats as we encounter various problems in our learning.  Next week you should see our first finished project related to the hats.

This week the kids were given some new vocabulary words to add to their vernacular.  We talked about ways to use the word so that it became a part of our day to day conversations and writing.  The kids were encouraged to get their siblings and friends to use the words as well.  I hope you will help encourage their vocabulary development.  Each week they should have new words that are tied to our novel, Walls Within Walls.

THIS WEEKS WORDS: grumbled, anxious, deferential  modernize, chivalry

Wow, that was a long post.  That reminds me of why I like to do them each week.  🙂