Faithfulnness Stretched

Faithfulness stretched.  A few weeks ago we talked about what this, our theme for the quarter, meant.  We decided that stretching our faith means that sometimes we have to go through more difficult times or experience something that is hard.  This week, we looked more at this in every subject.

Faithfulness Stretched in Social Studies

As we have progressed from 33 AD with Pentecost, we are now learning about the time period around 600s.  According to the time period, we studied the start of Islam and what Muslims believe.  As we discussed the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity, we talked about how our faith was stretched.  Several students expressed they felt a bit nervous about studying other religions because they were concerned about being influenced.  We then turned it around and talked about how our faith was stretched in studying about this.  It was not easy.  However, together we talked how our faith was strengthened.  We serve a God who came to earth to sacrifice Himself because He loves us so much; we cannot do anything to earn His favor like other religions teach.

Faithfulness Stretched in Sign of the Beaver

As we were stretched in our own faith, Matt, our main character in our book also experienced stretching faith.  He began telling Attean, the Native American who has been helping him survive, Bible stories, and Matt begins with Noah’s flood.  Attean then shares his own culture’s tale of the flood.  This of course leaves Matt with questions about what Attean believes.  The author purposefully never answers the questions.  During our discussion, we again related this to our own faith being stretched.  The children had some excellent thoughts to share about the book.

Faithfulness Stretched in Math

Ah division!  People look back fondly on their elementary years and think fondly (or likely) cringe when they think about long division.  Our faith was stretched as we began division.  I did not simply teach them the way to do long division; we explored what division was.  For some, the children had to backtrack to not divide and instead show the meaning of division.

After the first day where we explored the meaning of division using smaller numbers, the next day, we worked with dividing larger numbers.  As a class, the students put over 300 coins in a pile for 9 people.  Some just wanted to solve the algorithm, but I would not let them. After putting the coins into the groups, we did it on paper by repeatedly subtracting 9 until they got to 0.  It was hard; many made mistakes and had to go and re-check. After showing understanding of what division is, I finally showed them the easier way.  I wanted fourth grade’s faithfulness in math to be stretched.


Faithfulness Stretched in Science

This week, we finished up Part 1 of our animal unit.  To showcase their knowledge, we had a quiz.  Though the children may not realize it, their faithfulness was being stretched as they thought and answered their quiz.  This wasn’t a normal quiz.  In fact, it was one of the quizzes that I have most enjoyed creating.  As the children took their quiz, I heard excitement around the room and whispers of “This is the best quiz ever!”  Why was this quiz so special?  It was not simply a recall quiz.  It was an application and creative quiz.  The children had to use their imagination to create an animal.  Then using their drawing and their animal they shared about the animal’s habitat, structural adaptation, behavioral adaptations, prey and predators.  As I walked around, their creativity just jumped off the paper.  I was so proud of them as I watched their thinking and faithfulness being stretched.




“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices in it.”  1 Corinthians 12:26

This was one of the verses that we looked at this week as we discussed the body of Christ as found in the Church.  To illustrate that we are all connected within the Body of Christ united by Jesus, we created a yarn web where we wrapped our fingers around our part of the web.  One of us tugged a finger, and we all felt it.  We are all connected.

Throughout the week, this example kept coming back.  It came back in science when we studied ecosystems.  If an animal is reintroduced after being wiped out of an ecosystem as the wolves were in Yellowstone, the entire ecosystem is affected positively.  The wolves were able to control the deer population which led to more vegetation which led to more animals making their home there which impacted how the rivers ran.

To illustrate how predators and prey affect each other especially in their behavioral adaptations, we did a simulation.  We went to the gym.  Two students were predators trying to tag the prey; the rest were the prey running to a specific area to get at least three food cards.  Each child had a chance to be both.  Later, we discussed behaviors of both prey and predators in dealing with the other.  It is all connected.

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The next day, we did another simulation to discuss food webs to further discuss the relationship between prey and predators.  Each child received an envelope with their salt-marsh animal and how they were to act. Some students were the prey who ate detritus (or decaying plant matter) and the rest were predators collecting food tokens from a prey.  Later, we came up with webs to show that each predator chooses to eat a variety of things within their environment.  All animals are connected to each other in some way.

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And what would a food web be without discussing what food humans eat and how in ancient China they had created tea as an art form?  As we watched a Chinese tea ceremony, we had our own tea ceremony sitting cross-legged on the floor and sipping tea (granted it was more like luke-warm tea).  Then we learned about how it connected to the Golden Age in China.


And if we we’re going to talk about China, well, we might as well connect that with art and create a piece of art reminiscent of ancient Chinese watercolor.  For our nature watercolor paintings, I chose to show the Chinese symbols for love and peace.  As I told the children, the reason that I take pictures of nature is to show God’s creativity in His beautiful creation.  And God is love and gives us peace which we can show to others through our artwork.  So as you see, it all fits together.

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So let’s review.  1 Corinthians 12 is  connected to ecosystems which is connected to food webs which is connected to tea which is connected to History which is connected to art (not mentioning that math connected with food chains and that reading connected with history).  See…it’s all interconnected.

It’s All Greek to Me

This week, so many wonderful things happened.  I felt that the children were extremely focused so that at the end of the day today, almost everyone was able to spend a little time working on their genius hour projects.


This week, we continued learning about animals, following up from our trip to Triple R.  On Monday, we discussed characteristics of animals.  To begin, each of the students had an animal on his or her back.  They went around to their classmates receiving clues about their animals that were scientifically based whether observations or type of animal.  Then each child had to take a guess as to the animal that they had based on their clues.  We then created a chart all together of what made each animal that type of animal.  The animals represented were wide in range from a platypus to a clown fish to a praying mantis.

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Later in the week, we discussed populations of animals especially thinking about their habitats and the resources that they need.  To illustrate the size of populations throughout the years, we played “Oh Deer!”  One fourth of the class began as deer and the rest were part of the habitat.  Each group began with their backs to each other.  When I said go, they had to immediately choose the sign for food, water or shelter.  The “deer” had to find what they were looking for by matching the sign they held with the signs the habitat children held and to bring that person back to become a deer the next year (or round).  After 15 “years” as deer, we looked at the population pattern.  From this activity, the students were able to create their own definition for a habitat’s carrying capacity and limiting factors.  IMG_5776 IMG_5779

Byzantine Empire

This week, we also spent some time looking at the Byzantine Empire.  During morning meeting, we greeted each other with Günaydin or good morning in Turkish, the modern day location of the Byzantine Empire.  We learned of Justinian and Thoedora, the iconoclast controversy, and Methodius and Cyrill (Greek missionaries to the area that became Russia).  We watched videos to better understand the history.  We had discussions of what an idol is and whether a cross on a camera is an idol or not; this segued perfectly into discussing the Iconoclast Controversy where people destroyed Christian images because they believed they were idols.  Yes, the students got into the discussion; no it was not their favorite part.

Their favorite part came with the Greek missionaries.  Since the Slavic people the missionaries were trying to tell the Gospel had no written language , Methodius and Cyrill chose to use the alphabet that they knew, the Greek alphabet, to create a new alphabet, the Cyrillic alphabet which is what ultimately led to the Russian written language, for the people to read the Gospels.

Of course, in class I simply had to teach them the Greek alphabet.  The children loved practicing the names of the letters.  We then wrote our names in English, in Greek, and in the Cyrillic alphabet. The children were thrilled to see their names written in other languages and quickly realized that not all English sounds are represented just as in the other languages there are sounds that we do not have.


In Other News

While we studied the Byzantine Empire and animals, in math we began more deeply understanding what multiplication is and what it does.  We started working with bigger numbers, and we used base ten blocks in order to create an array to understand how to do box multiplication.

We have also been planning out our narratives whether it is a personal narrative or it is a fictional narrative.  We have been thinking about our protagonists and how they will change through the story to fulfill their hidden and obvious needs.  As we begin to draft, I am excited to see what the children will produce.

We also finished looking at Romans by discussing that absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love.  We also discussed how God gives us various gifts to use within the church to make His Word more evident.

The next few weeks will bring excitement in both the content and the anticipation of the holidays; I look forward to many more great weeks.