Cup Stacking Challenge

You may have seen a post floating around Facebook and Pinterest about a STEM Cup Stacking Challenge:

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It’s similar to the Marshmallow Challenge that I’ve done several years with my 5th graders: build something really tall with your supplies and your team, using cooperation and problem-solving.  Great idea for any group of kiddos, but I especially love it for littler ones who are just beginning to learn about what it takes to work together, try something and have it fail, then rework the plan to try again.  This activity fits the focus we have on being gritty, as well as having a growth mindset and trying even when things are hard.  And yes, the first time we did it, it was hard. 🙂

Cup Challenge Take 1:

The first time we did this challenge, kiddos had 30 cups, their small group and 12 minutes.  Most thought they were done in about 2 minutes, and most used the same strategy.  Do you see how all the towers look the same?  One thing that also happened during this is talking.  Loud talking.  And much arguing about what to do next.  So when we were finished with this first try, we sat together to talk about it.  We talked about plusses (things that went well) and deltas (things we could change next time):

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They noticed that our list of things to change was REALLY LONG and go busy thinking of ways to do things differently when we tried it again. (When I mentioned that we could do it again, by the way, there were many cheers from the rug!) Working on the floor instead of tables was suggested, as well as not being able to leave your own team’s spot.  We also agreed that they would get one warning about their voices and then any teams that were still loud would have to work the rest of the time in silence.  Oh, and one more change was more time–they got 18 minutes instead of 12 (which was really the original plan anyway, we just ran out of time).

Cup Challenge Take 2:

Check out our chart the second time around.  They were SO EXCITED about how the columns had changed!

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What a change that happened when kiddos reflected on what worked–and what didn’t–and then planned how to redo the challenge in a different way.  I’m excited to see all of the many things they learned here, and how those lessons touched so many subjects at one time! Way to go, Rm. 202 kids! 🙂

Marshall the Miracle Dog

Wow–at Robinson we cram lots of fabulous things into short periods of time.  I already told you about how our first 1/2 day was Read With Your Roadruner, and our Olweus Kick-Off Day.  Well…it started with a great visit from Marshall the Miracle Dog!

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Cindy, Marshall’s mom, came to read the book she wrote about his story:

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We learned about how Marshall’s story included people (and dogs) who mistreated him–he even lost a leg because of how neglected he was–but he overcame and learned to love again because of special people like Cindy in his life who showed him love.   We talked about how we can do the same thing!  Cindy took questions from the audience, and then everybody got to give Marshall a quick pet on the way out.  They were moving so fast, though, that it was hard to catch….

I think one of the best parts of Marshall’s story is how far it has spread.  They even made a movie about his life!  To learn more about Marshall, check out his website here.

What an inspiring story that none of us will soon forget!


It Just Takes One!

We have a very special community of learners in our school–both children and adults. 🙂  Last year I highlighted the fun and learning we experienced on our Olweus Bully Prevention Program Kick-Off Day (wow…that’s a mouthful for sure!).  Olweus is the program that we use with grades 3-5 to help prevent kiddos from developing bully-like behavior.  The focus is on turning bystanders into defenders.

In grades k-2, we start with a series of lessons from a program called Second Steps.  It is teaching kiddos about learning behaviors, as well as how to be assertive, ask for help and also help others.  That, in tandem with our work around our Robinson Road Rules, will set a strong foundation for the work that they will then do in 3rd grade and beyond (Olweus is also a priority in our middle schools!).

So, this year on our first half-day (when we also had our first Read with Your Roadrunner), we again had our Olweus Kick-Off Day.  It was a little different doing this with first graders, but no less magical as we had great conversations and talked about what it mean to stand up for ourselves and help our friends, too.

We focused the morning around this great book by Kathryn Otoshi:


In the story, Blue is a great color, but he is pushed around by Red, and all of the others colors are too scared to stand up to Red and help Blue.  And then 1 moves into town.  1 is different, and decides to stand up to Red, saying NO! when he is pushed around and then encouraging all the others to do the same.  Eventually, 1 helps his friends become stronger, but also finds a way to be kind to Red and include him, too.  And yes–there is a happy ending!

We read the story and had a super conversation about what it feels like to be Blue, as well as Red, and how one of the reasons Red probably acts that way is because he is lonely.  We shared times when we’d felt like each of the characters and focused on the importance of being strong and standing up like 1 did in the story.

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After that, we illustrated our own version of the story:

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We also decorated 1’s that will become part of a poster to remind us how IT JUST TAKES ONE to make a difference!  What’s been the most exciting about this day is listening to them use the language from the story in our everyday lives.  I’m hearing them talk about being 1 and standing up when they hear their friends being treated in a way that isn’t ok.  And when they don’t remember to be 1, we are having great conversations about what to do next time.  This is the important work of first grade right here, as we mold friends, citizens and leaders for today and tomorrow!