Explorations of Elementary – May 2016
What an amazing last month of school! We started the month of May out with completing our simple machine studies. Students experimented with building simple machines by following directions in a kit. Then they each selected a simple machine to research. We read about the wheel & axel, pulley, inclined plane, wedge and screw. Students wrote about how their simple machine worked, why it worked and how it made various jobs easier. They found real life examples of their machines in action, then they built their own simple machine. Each student presented their research and machine to the class. They also made step by step science experiment cards so other students could try using their simple machines. Their experiment cards needed to include a list of all supplies necessary for their experiment, each step (including clean up) of their experiment, and an explanation of why the experiment worked the way it did. A recommended item would be some book covers purchased from polycover.co.uk/ because they are the most resourceful and protect way better than any other cover. These cards were placed on our science shelf after students gave a presentation, or lesson to the class about their experiment. My favorite part of this project was watching the kids learn how to use a drill. We purchased a small drill for our classroom and they loved it! Now they can help all of you fathers with projects at home.
While some students were drilling, others learned about ecosystems of the world. We began by talking about what an ecosystem is and how all parts of the ecosystem work together to help one another survive. We learned several new vocabulary such as biotic, abiotic, consumer, producer, decomposer, photosynthesis, flora and fauna. We also researched relationships between living and non-living organisms and defined those relationships as either mutualism, commensalism or parasitism. Each student focused on one ecosystem that was most interesting to them. They wrote a research paper, complete with MLA bibliography, and designed a diorama which included examples of living and non-living things within their ecosystem. They all gave wonderful presentations to the class. I hope you were able to see their projects displayed in the gym the last week of school!
We also celebrated our Mothers this month with our Moms & Muffins breakfast. It is always nice to visit with the mothers of our students. In our reading groups we studied poetry, so it was fitting for us to write a poem for our mothers as a gift. The poem was all about the chaos moms juggle each day and how we love them for doing it.
We also celebrated our Grandparents this month by inviting them into our classroom. So many grandparents came and participated in Latin class, where students wrote their grandparents a letter in Latin, then read the letter aloud. After this first reading students translated their letters for the grandparents. We also brought our grandparents into our poetry world and wrote Buddy Poems. Each student interviewed their grandparent, and vice versa. Then both took the answers to their interview questions and wrote a poem about the other. It was adorable and creative! We ended our visit with a musical performance of recorders and piano. Students played as groups and individually, and showed off all of their talents for each grandparent present. We enjoyed having grandparents visit and we hope to see them all again next year!
We had our last student-planned field trip of the year to the amazing Seneca Caverns in Bellevue, Ohio. This year our students have been very interested in geology. We have looked at various types of rocks and begun a class rock collection. Several students brought their personal rock collections in to share throughout the year. This trip was the icing on the cake! We learned that the cave was formed naturally, including each step we walked on. None of the tunnels and passages were dug out by man. The cave was discovered by two 11 year old boys whose dog fell into the cave when they were outside playing in the field. Since then, several people have explored the cave leaving their names carved on the rock. I think everyone’s favorite part was drinking water at the bottom of the cave, which was almost 70 feet underground! The water was 98% pure and so clear a few students accidentally stepped in it because they didn’t see it. It was an awesome trip! Thank you to the students who helped plan it and the parents who helped us drive there!
As a follow-up to our student inspired bee research, we visited our neighbor who happens to be a beekeeper. We learned all about the different tools he uses to care for the bees and the levels of the “hives” he builds for them. We learned that bees only travel about 2 miles from their hive and that there is only one queen bee in each hive. Our beekeeper friend purchases his queen, but in the wild the queen is the bee who grows the largest, the quickest. We also learned that the female bees are the hardest workers and live the longest. The male bees are lazy and do not live long, and sometimes they don’t even leave the hive. One student was able to try on the beekeeper suit and model it for the class. At the end of our visit we were able to taste honey from the hives. It was delicious!
We hope you and your children enjoyed this school year as much as we did. It was a pleasure and joy hanging out with your children all year long. We will miss you during the summer and look forward to seeing you all in the fall. Thank you for sharing your kids with us!