#FDOFG2017–Nature Hunt!

During our first days together, we do many things that allow us to work together, get to know each other, learn and practice routines and procedures, and also just have fun.  One thing we did that was a big hit was a nature scavenger hunt!  We are lucky to have an amazing naturescape in our backyard (which was recently made over to allow us even more natural places to play and learn!), and so it was the perfect place to go!

Kiddos were put in small groups of 4, and then we gave them a job to do and a bag in which to collect their finds.

Screenshot 2017-09-07 21.04.48

We were blessed to have 4 adults with us during this time, and so we had lots of eyes on each group as we explored.  It was pretty much up to each team where they went and they could fulfill the categories of the hunt in whatever way they chose.  It was fun to see how many different leaves they found, how many “circles” there were in the woods and also what teams considered “treasures!”

Perhaps the  best part of the hunt, though, was when we found something we weren’t even looking for:

IMG_0675-minCan you see it?  There’s a friend in there….

Here, look again.  With some help from some first grade fingers:

Yes!  We found a turtle!  He was walking right there across the path, and thanks to the eagle eyes of Jeremiah we got to see him!  It was really hard not to touch and prod and want to pick him up (we didn’t–we left him in his home there), but we did the right thing and just watched as he walked and enjoyed the surprise visit! 🙂

What a fantastic morning outside!

ECLIPSE DAY 2017!!

OH my goodness–today was a TOTALITY amazing day.  hee hee  Yes I know, it’s a bit much.  But really, what a once-in-a-lifetime day to enjoy and experience with our Robinson community.  I am sure many other KSD teachers and families have said it, but KUDOS to Joe Bartin for all of his hard work to get us ready for the big day.  There were websites just for the day, y’all, that had videos and info galore!  If you haven’t seen them, check this out:

Screenshot 2017-08-21 20.54.51

We did some preteaching on eclipses so kiddos would know what was going on and what to expect, using videos and books.  On Friday, we got together with Ms. Turken’s Rm. 112 friends to do some work.  First we watched a BrainPop Jr video on eclipses and learned a little from Annie and Moby.

After the video, we read a book together called Eddie’s Eclipse.  It was written by two St. Louis librarians just for this special day!  We enjoyed it and listened for facts/details we had also heard in the video.

While Ms. Turken read and kiddos listened, I kept record of the important facts that students thought we should remember.  We made a chart of what was essential:

Also on this day, we put the finishing touches on the glow-in-the-dark bracelets Ms. Maldonado helped us make for the big event,

IMG_0209

and tried on the new eclipse glasses that were gifted to us by the Kirkwood School District Foundation:

Today, on the actual day of the eclipse, we did some more reading and shared another book, called Eclipse: Darkness in the Daytime together with our Rm. 112 friends again.

fullsizeoutput_1c8e

For the rest of our amazing day, we watched another video, practiced with our glasses, spent the TOTALITY of the eclipse outside with our amazing Robinson friends and family, and commemorated the day with some artwork and an eclipse snack (Capri SUN, SUN chips, STARbursts and MILKY WAYs).  It was pretty intense and fabulous and I can’t really put it into words.  So I’ll just use pictures. 🙂  Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Robinson’s Facebook page, be sure to see it–there are loads of other fun pics to see and even a LIVE video from when we were in TOTALITY.  Cool, right?

Ok, one more thing…if you’re reading this and you were in the path of totality, please comment and let us know what you experienced today!  We’d LOVE to hear from others about how they celebrated the day and what they thought of the experience.  I know for me it’ll be something I will NEVER forget!

The Planetarium Came to US!

I’ve posted before about the amazing things we’re able to do because of the many great people and resources we have in our district, and here’s another example of those resources at work. 🙂

Mr. Bartin brought the KSD Planetarium to our school!  First grade classes each scheduled a time with him to visit and it was set up in our library!  We walked in and really had a hard time containing ourselves (which is a little bad since it was a library. LOL).

We took a minute to chat with us and connect to what we’d already been learning about the sun, moon and stars, and then explained the guidelines for how to act inside the dome.

Then we headed inside. 🙂

While inside, Mr. Bartin was able to show us lots of things about sunrise, moonrise and set, how the stars seem to move, what constellations look like–and we even went back in time!! (Ask your kiddo about this one!!).  It was dark in there, and so it was kind of a useless task, but I did try to capture something so you could see what we did.  Here’s a picture and a video (which pretty much just looks like a black screen but you’ll get the idea–you can definitely HEAR the excitement. 🙂 ).

img_5246

Outdoor Adventures: PLTW Design Challenge!

Hopefully you’ve read about how we’re learning about light and sound and how great PLTW is going in our classroom.  (If not, feel free to check it out before you go on with this post–LOL).  On Friday we got to the point where we were ready for the design challenge.

We had learned about the design process earlier on in the unit, and also were then reminded of the problem from the story about Angelina, Mylo and Suzi.

Since we had learned and explored about light and sound already, we were ready to answer that question from the end of our book:

If you were Angelina, Mylo and Suzi, how would you help them communicate over a distance to get help?

Luckily for us, we have a fabulous woods and Naturescape in our backyard in which to actually try out this challenge!  We will do that on Monday, but first we had to figure out how to answer the question.  We got into groups and had a limited list of supplies (which we happened to be carrying in our backpack):

screenshot-2016-10-09-17-55-24

Kiddos had time to design and build their devices and then will test their creations in the woods on Monday.

Callahan and Lucas figured out how to make their device reach higher and shared their thinking:

We also had an unexpected problem-solving situation come up after I talked with my first grade teacher-friend, Ms. Turken.  I asked her how the challenge went with her class, and she told me they had these issues:

  • It was day time, and bright outside, so the light part of the devices didn’t really work
  • It was during recess and so the “outside sounds” made it hard to hear the sound coming from the lost kiddos and their devices.  Also, since our woods are right next to a neighborhood, lawnmowers also made it hard to hear.
  • There were too many groups–her class had 7 groups to “lose” and then “find”
  • Only 2 adults were available during the time of their challenge

We decided to take on this problem and see if we could figure out how to use this knowledge (and their struggles!) to make the challenge work the best for us when we took our turn to try it out.  We headed out to the woods to have a chat, because I figured it might be easier to think about it in the actual setting.

We gathered on the stage (built by the amazing Riggs Construction!) and talked about our options.  I was excited to hear how kiddos were thinking through the problems I presented, thinking about how we could address them with what we know.  We had many great suggestions:

  • Allie thought that we should be sure to focus on the sound part of our devices instead of just the light parts.  She said their group had made sure to put both light and sound on their device. 🙂
  • Many kiddos took the number of groups problem, and thought of ways we could fix it–split our class in half, send one group then another then another to find the “lost” ones, and so one.
  • We noticed that the time of day we were outside (which was later than when Ms. Turken’s class was outside) was not so loud.  There were no kids at recess, no one was mowing and all we heard was the wind in the trees.
  • Aadish suggested that everyone’s groups all go out into the woods to get “lost” at the same time.  We could then try to use our devices to communicate with others, and as we saw each other, groups would join together to look for others.  He suggested that the person who knew the woods the best could be the leader of each group.
  • Keira asked, “But what if everyone wants to be the leader?”
  • Aadish and the class agreed that maybe we could do the challenge more than once, giving more than one kiddo a turn to be in charge.
  • We even thought that we could do our evaluation and redesign right there in the woods before our next try to see if we could make our devices communicate even better.

WHEW!  WOW!  I was tired after all that smart thinking and was super impressed with how they were considering ways to make our experience the best it could be.  I know we’re ALL excited to see how it goes when we’re actually in the woods tomorrow!  Stay tuned and we’ll tell you all about it!

Outdoor Adventures!: Light and Sound

Today was a half-day at our school (because of teacher professional development in the afternoon), and so first grade took advantage of an awkward schedule to have an outdoor adventure!  We have been outside with Rm. 202 friends before, but today were had ALL OF FIRST GRADE outside in the Robinson Naturescape learning and exploring together!

The teachers planned a STEM day focused on our current PLTW unit on Light and Sound, adding in the component of the AMAZING outdoor spaces we have in the back of our school.  We took out a tub with a variety of tools, like binoculars, magnifying glasses, color tiles, flashlights, mirrors and spectroscopes.  Kiddos had the job of exploring outside and discovering something new about light.  Eventually we will have to represent that learning (using iPads, drawing or building tools), but for now we were just out and about and having fun with wondering!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As you watch the slideshow with your kiddo (if you’re a parent!), ask them these things:

  1. What was your favorite part of being outside today?
  2. What was your favorite tool to use as a scientist?  How did you use it?
  3. What did you find outside while you were exploring?
  4. What did you learn about light?
  5. What do you still wonder?

We came in and as a quick way to debrief, I had kiddos share what they were thinking about after their adventure.  While you can tell that they were thinking of many things other than light (like dead animals–we found a DEAD RACCOON back there today!!), it was obvious that kiddos were thinking and having fun, and that they  LOVE BEING OUTSIDE!  I think at least half of my kiddos asked me when we’re going out again. 🙂  I’m excited to see how we can use this chart of great ideas in other parts of our learning soon, like for reading and writing ideas, topics for math and even further thingsto study for STEM or Genius Hour (which we’ll get to later on this year!).

fullsizerender-minWhat a great day we had! 🙂

PLTW: Light and Sound

We are super lucky to have loads of new resources for science this year from Project Lead the Way, courtesy of a grant from the Kirkwood School District Foundation.   It means we are able to add in so much more hands-on learning, and focus more deeply on engineering, design and coding in STEM this year, which is GREAT!!

Our first STEM unit this year is light and sound and we have been doing some really fun things already.

Before we even got into the unit, we did some things to expose kiddos to the big ideas, and to get them interested.  One of those was to invite a Kirkwood Scientist, Mr. Bartin, to our classroom. Ok, well really Ms. Turken invited him to Rm. 203 and we tagged along, but he was here to share some interesting ideas about sounds with first grade.

Then we had some time to explore in non-fiction books from the library that we explored with a partner.  Kiddos were responsible to read a light book and a sound book (or one that had both topics together) and then create a representation of something they learned or something that was important from their reading out of play-doh (and somehow I don’t any pictures of their creations!  Boo.  Believe me–they were great. 🙂 ).

Then once the unit started, it was with a story to help set the stage.  This one is about three friends who have a problem: they get lost in the woods while on a walk with their class. 😦

screenshot-2016-09-21-11-31-35

As we work through the rest of the unit, we will learn and explore with light and sound and eventually be presented with a design challenge much like our friends in the story.

We began with some exploring with some everyday objects (that someone might have in their backpack on a hike!):

We are keeping track of our learning in a Launch Log and will be able to go back and review it throughout the unit.  We’ve just begun light explorations and will even spend the whole morning tomorrow outside as scientists with common objects like flashlights, magnifying glasses, and more!  Can’t wait to share what we learn!

Design Challenge: Earthquake Proof Buildings

A week or so ago I saw this tweet:

Since we had been studying slow changes and fast changes in Science for a while anyway, it made perfect sense to try it out!  And unfortunately, there had also just been some major earthquakes in both Japan and Ecuador that same weekend, so the idea of creating earthquake proof buildings was a real life one to solve.  And yeah, it would be fun. 🙂

We began by reading a pretty great Seymour Simon book on earthquakes to gain more information, and answer any questions that might come up about how they work.  Knowing exactly what happens helps us build stronger buildings that would withstand the tremors.

Screenshot 2016-05-01 21.37.27

We talked and discussed and made predictions and inferences.  Then we got with our partners and planned–most on paper and some with some help from their iPad.

Then we got busy building.  The 1st building part was actually spread over two days (an afternoon and then the next morning) because we ran out of time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We used this design cycle protocol to help us know what to do, and wrote down the timing so we could keep on track.

IMG_5810-min

Some even tried out their prototype on the earthquake machine before the “real” deal.  They got some ideas about redesign or shoring up their foundations.

Caught some groups in their planning stages:

We took videos of our trials, and many kiddos voiced their ideas for redesign in their recordings.  We all did some writing/thinking about it, but I’ll share those in another post, since after I add our videos, this piece will already take you 7 hours to read it!  Thanks for hanging in there–it’s worth it, I promise!!

Charlie, Evan and Joshua


Ella Marie and Emily


Millie, Amelia, Ja’Mia and Tyrin


Makayla and Ava


Amber, Sara and Thomas


Peyton, Baron and Landen