Fractions, Fractions Everywhere, and Nought a Jot Do We Not Learn

Continuation from Last Week

This week we were able to launch our catapults and complete our project from last week. Not once, not twice but four times!  Let me introduce you to the catapults.

From Table 1, with a high flying fling, please welcome The Catapult!


From Table 2, with a simple but powerful shot, please welcome The Catapult!


And last but not least from Table 3, with the furthest-going projectile, please welcome The Catapult!


These three catapults competed against each other in the initial launch.  The next day their catapulting abilities were put to the test as everyone discovered what happens when the mass of an object increases and the motion that this growing mass creates.  Conclusion:  The greater the mass, the shorter distance it will travel with the same amount of force.  This also means, the greater the mass, the greater the force needed to move it.


Before we did anything with fractions, I asked the students three questions.  What are fractions?  Which cookie would you rather have a half? (giving them the choice between two cookies of varying sizes).  Where can we use fractions in daily life?

After some silent contemplation, we discussed.  We decided that a fraction was ” a whole divided into equal parts.”  Everyone naturally wanted the larger cookie half which led us to talking about different wholes equal a different sized fraction.  Then we started talking about why on earth we study fractions at all.  What’s the point?  When will we ever use fractions again?  The students came up with dividing sections within a group (especially in sports), sharing, baking, and shopping (especially with coupons).  Then I pointed out to them photography is all about fractions.  As you have probably already realized and as I have mentioned earlier, I love to use photography to tell a visual story.  I have noticed that bringing in my excitement for something in the classroom makes the students excited.

We talked about shutter speed that is written as a fraction of a second.   It is the amount of time that the shutter stays open.  A faster shutter speed with a larger denominator (ex 1/1000) can freeze motion like water drops or a speeding car.  A slower shutter speed with a smaller denominator (ex 1/20) would blur motion creating a misty water or a blur of motion as a car zooms by the photographer.

Then we talked about aperture, or how wide the shutter is.  The wider the opening, the smaller the number.  The smaller the opening, the larger the number.  I confessed to the children that this confused me initially until my brother told me to look at it like a fraction. 1/5 is bigger than 1/22 so f/5 is larger than f/22

With that, I allowed the children to practice their new photography skills by taking pictures on my two cameras.  Below is their work as they tested out different settings and discovered more about fractions.

The next day we created fraction strips to help us to understand what a fraction is.  We also used these to understand and discover equivalent fractions.  After only just a few days with fractions, fractions don’t seem as scary anymore.


Catapulting with food


Food glorious food!  What more could you ask for?  And what more could a teacher ask for to get children excited than bringing in food throughout various lessons?

We started off the third quarter with the introduction of several units.  Somehow, this week, many of those introductions involved food in some way.

Food in Math

Soon, very soon, we will jump full force into the beautiful but sometimes treacherous pool of fractions.  This week, we got our toes wet as we discussed least common multiple and greatest common factor.

To begin, I showed the students this video from Father of the Bride. The kids were giggling and begging to watch it again.  Then, I asked them: how many hot dog buns and hot dog packages would he need to purchase in order to not have any leftovers?  After the exploration, the children and I created a meaning of what they had just done and other strategies to solve it (least common multiple).

But that’s not all!  The next day, the children became factory workers in a chocolate shop where their boss had told them she wanted various sized boxes for the same amount of chocolate for Valentine’s Day marketing purposes.  The children created “boxes” of 4 chocolates with 1×4 and 4×1 and 2×2 boxes, “boxes” of 12, 24 and 36 chocolates.  They worked in groups, and then just like the previous day, we worked out the meaning of what we had done (greatest common factor) and talked about other ways to solve it.


Best part?  They took some chocolate home from their hard-work.

Food in Social Studies

This week we continued our study of the medieval period.  We have now jumped several hundred years into the eleventh century.  We learned of Columba, missionary to Scotland. With that, we discussed the book-making process before the printing press, especially the importance of copying the Bible (it would take 3 to 4 years to copy an entire Bible).  We also learned about William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

After we re-enacted the battle (using a folded up rug as the hill that Harold of Wessex positioned his army on and William the Conqueror surrounded), we discussed how the English must have felt for a French guy coming in and declaring himself king.  The anger and upheaval that the English likely would have had was dissipated by William the Conqueror bringing in the feudal system.  To get a better understanding of the feudal system, we used M&Ms to represent the taxes ultimately to the king from each class, and the King was ruler over all renting the land to those below him who rented land to people below them etc.


Food in Science

Overall, the children were most excited about the introduction to our new science unit: force and motion.  Since we are studying the medieval period, we tied that into our science unit as we looked at various weapons of the medieval period.  This week, we focused on creating catapults.

The assignment was simple; the children had to design their own catapult that could launch a marshmallow with the listed supplies (12 popsicle sticks, 4 rubber bands, 1 spoon, and use of hot glue).  That’s it.  I said nothing else and let the children get straight to work brainstorming and creating their catapults.




Because of the snow today, we did not get to complete them and to launch them.  We’ll have to save that for Monday.

Instead though, we did throw snowballs at each other at the end of the day today for all who were left.  Here is just a glimpse of the fun that the children had.


Food for Our Hearts

However, despite the fun things that we did this week, our verse for the week summed up perfectly everything that we do.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

Ultimately, whatever we do, we do it to serve our God; not for the praise of man.  We serve our God so that our faithfulness can spread so that others can know who God is.


Side Note about Food:

Since we’re talking about food, I cannot help but mention our Open House event.  Next week, January 29 from 6-8 pm, Central Christian Academy will be hosting our “Fee-Esta” to showcase our school with an open house, nachos, and opportunities to get free enrollment for 2016-2017.  All are welcome!  I hope to see you all there!



Faithfulness Stretched Fruitful Event

We are officially half way through the school year (or half-way to summer, depending on how you want to look at it).  I suppose that the old saying is true: time flies when you are having fun!

This week we spent it in preparation for our fruitful event on Thursday.  Last week, we sat down as a class and discussed what we wanted our fruitful event to look like.  After tossing around ideas, the children finally settled on the idea of reenacting the scene from The Sign of the Beaver where Attean’s Native American tribe celebrates Attean and Matt killing the bear.  During this, Attean dramatically retells how the bear was killed.  Instead, we chose to tell stories about what we had learned this quarter.

This week the children wrote the stories and built the decorations for the event.


All right!  I think we’re ready!  Time for some group pictures.  The teepee in the background was created and designed by the students.  It stood up for most of the morning.  At 11:10 (20 minutes before we began), it fell.  Instead of trying to put it back up, we simply propped it against the board.  So if you were wondering why there was a bunch of newspaper simply chilling near our “fire” that is why.  Before we began, we had a few minutes of prayer as a class praying that we would do our best and praying to keep our focus on God throughout the entire fruitful event.  After all, all of the hard work is ultimately for Him.


And then our fruitful event began as people started trickling in to see our learning.  Thank you to everyone who came out!


Sharing a story about Attean.
Continuing the story with animal fact details.
A poem about math and science.
Sharing a story of math and social studies.
Sharing a story of confusion about writing and long division.
Using the smart board makes them smarter.
After the stories, we all feasted on “bear” stew (it was actually venison).
Sharing binders with family.

Another important setting in The Sign of the Beaver was Matt’s cabin.  Some of the children helped me create with bulletin paper an area in the room that was set aside as Matt’s cabin.  Inside, we were inspired by our field trip to Triple R Ranch with their nature hut.  Within the hut, there are animals; here inside Matt’s cabin, we put our animal habitats for our zookeeping research project.  Here are the close up examples of the children’s hard work.

Inside Matt’s Cabin
King Cobra
Wolf Spider
Bald Eagle
Grizzly bear
View of visitors for the tiger
Visitors’ view of the crocodile

The children put in a lot of hard work this quarter as their faithfulness was stretched.  I cannot express how proud I am of them and all the hard work that they put forth.

Chivalry is not dead


Chivalry is not dead.  By no means.  In fact, you need not look further than the fourth grade at Central Christian Academy.

What, pray tell, art thou speaking of?  What is this chivalry and how art these youngsters demonstrating it? 

Chivalry is the code of conduct that knights in the medieval period used as they fought to defend their kingdom from invaders.  First and foremost they promised to uphold their Savior putting God first.  These knights promised to value others above themselves by serving without being asked and without reward.  They valued humility, honor, perseverance, and faithfulness.

In order to achieve the honor of serving one’s nation, knights had to go through a process.  When they were young, around 7 years old, they began by being pages.   Around the age of 14 or slightly older, the pages advanced to squires.  These young men were like an apprentice to a knight to learn what it took to become a knight including wielding the various weapons.  Finally, when they were ready, the great honor would be given to them by being dubbed a knight.

This week, the children learned how they could achieve knighthood in the Kingdom of Savidias.  Over the next few weeks, from now until the end of the third quarter, the children will be working toward the various levels by upholding the Code of Chivalry.  As I or other teachers within the school see them serving others or showing faithfulness, we can give out chivalry points.  To become a page, the children need 20 chivalry points; to become a squire, the children need 60 chivalry points, and finally, to become a knight, they would need 100 chivalry points and four hours of community service serving in a selfless way.

The following are excerpts from what the children described chivalry and what it looks like.

“Chivalry is when you respect people and you honor people and stuff like that.  The knights used it to become a knight and to be humble.”

“Chivalry was when you could have done something well or never give up….You could do the chivalry code today by helping someone with something or not give up.”

“Chivalry looks like being honest, keeping promises, never lying.”

“Males hold the door for females just like knights respect the princess or queen.  And we still show the amount of respect to one another.  Chivalry is a promise that shouldn’t be broken.”

“If a king was talked about like Hey I don’t like this king or something, you would get in big trouble because you talked [badly] about your king.”

“Chivalry in modern times is about caring about others and loving people.  It was about putting others first, helping others, and straight respecting them.  It was about being humble and true to the end.”

“It’s basically humility.”

Chances are that you have already heard about this endeavor.  The children are so excited and have already multiple times shown acts of chivalry from holding doors, to helping a classmate, to carrying heavy items, to cleaning classrooms.  We have talked about why it is so important and various examples of what it looks like today.  We have discussed what chivalry is not.  I am so proud of the children and their multiple chivalrous acts.

To further prepare for knighthood, we have created coat of arms to represent their families and themselves as they are defending their kingdom.  During the medieval period, these were used as identifiers for which knight was who since their armor covered their entire face and body.  These were also representative of what the family believed and the ethics that they strived to achieve.  Here are some examples of the children’s shields.  Sadly I couldn’t get everyone.

Believe and Achieve
Whatever it takes
In God we trust
Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
You try or you try
Have no mercy

Over the next few weeks, we will dive full into the medieval period understanding who these people were and how they lived and interacted with each other.  Stay tuned for lots more tales of chivalry and bravery.

By the way, here is what chivalry looks like at Central Christian Academy.