Dissection

One of my favorite lessons comes right at the start of the school year.  It begins with me casually mentioning to the children that we are going to dissect something a little later.  The excitement quickly spreads throughout the room.

Until the actual dissection, the children continuously speculate about what we will be dissecting.

Finally, the moment arrives.

I begin by holding up a pair of safety goggles.  In a rather boring voice, I explain that we must all wear them.  Then, I put them on.  Suddenly, before the children is Professor Bonnhoffhoff, world famous scientist from Germany.

To the excitement of the children, she explains the lab safety and the importance of wearing goggles (“To prevent juices from squirting into our eyes”  EWWW!!!).  After discussing how to properly use each of the tools in the dissecting kit (aka nail file kit in a typical household), she asked the children what they thought they would be dissecting.

One child thought we would dissect him.

Another said crickets.

Another said frogs.

Another said worms.

Then, there was a dramatic drumroll as the Professor announced “You will be dissecting… FLOWERS!”

Silence.

Crickets chirping.

“Really?”

“Yes, really!  Flowers are fascinating things!” And once the children began dissecting, they too realized how truly fascinating flowers are. The children discovered new things and used their senses to describe what they were observing.

The excitement went back up as they explored, shared, and documented their discoveries.

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The next day, we dissected one more flower as I shared with them the names of the different parts of the flower.  We realized that the sole purpose of a flower is to bear seeds.

Our vision for the school is shown through a plant.  The seed is God’s Word planted in the soil of humility.  The stem then grows through integrity and with that, we leaf relationships with each other.  Then, we bloom flower of knowledge through all that we learn.  And ultimately, that flower turns into a fruit.  And that fruit (thinking about the fruit of the Spirit) is filled with seeds to tell others about Jesus and what He has done for us.

Even with something as simple and as beautiful as a flower, we can continue to see God’s creativity and order as He demonstrates His love to us.

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First Week of School

Looking back on the first week of school, I am always amazed with how much we accomplish in such a short amount of time.  Through this week, we have been building a community of learners and learning how exactly the classroom runs.

Here is a small sample of all that we learned and did this week.

On the first day of school, we began writing workshop and with that, I got to read several books to the children.  One of the books was Officer Buckle and Gloria.  This is playful book about a police officer who gives safety speeches with the help of his buddy, Gloria the dog.  The students who hear him write him notes, and one child sends him a note on a star.

After finishing, we had a discussion of the importance of classroom expectations.  The children received their own set of star sticky notes and used them to answer six questions about how our classroom should run.  Then, we used this as the basis to discuss positive and negative skills for Class Dojo.

On the second day, we started exploring what it means to work with others to accomplish a task.  In fact, we saved Freddy.  Freddy is a worm who went swimming but was not very smart because he did not wear his life preserver.  Sadly, his boat capsizes, and his life preserver is under the boat while he is on top.  So to save Freddy, the children had to put the life preserver squarely in the middle of him (the life preserve is a life saver candy and the worm is a gummy worm).  However, they could not touch the boat (a cup), the worm, or the lifesaver with their hands; they had to use paper clips.

Working together and trying different things, each group was able to complete the task.

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We then talked about how we are very much like Freddy.  But Jesus is our life saver; He saves us from the punishment of all the wrong things that we have done.  And the paperclips show the faith that we must have to accept Jesus.

On Thursday, we got our first taste of history as we explored primary and secondary sources that create history.  Then, each group had six images that they had to look at together to determine what was going on and what they noticed.  One child excitedly realized that these were all images of Pentecost.

Once they studied the images, I handed them the passage from Acts so that they could fill in the holes that the pictures cannot share (like the tongues of fire show the Holy Ghost coming down and that after that, 3000 people came to know Jesus). The children were so excited to explore these images and the passage.

And then it was Friday before we even realized it.  Friday is usually different because we rotate and do art, music, library, and P.E.  This Friday, we even added Engineering for Kids.  CCA had won a grant which allowed us to have a two hour segment where we got to build rockets.  And then we launched them.  It was all very exciting, and it ended the week on a sky-high note.

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Welcome to the 2017-2018 School Year

What did Marlin have to go through in order to find his son Nemo?  It took love to do whatever he could to find his son.  It took courage to overcome his fears.  But most importantly it took faithfulness.  It was faithfulness to not abandon his son.  It was faithfulness to never give up on the journey even though it was difficult and often unknown.

Finding nemo“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:14. How truly that embodies Marlin’s mindset as he was searching the ocean for his son!  He pushed for his ultimate goal, but we strive to do what God has called us to do.  It takes faithfulness to continue toward a goal and to seek God’s will.  This verse is not about the easy path; it is about pushing through even through the darkest of times to reach the goal that God has called us to grasp while He walks along side of us.

But how can we know about faithfulness without knowing that God is ever faithful? He never leaves us nor forsakes us.  In fact, He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die for us so that He could restore our broken relationship with Him and not be apart from His love.  That is true faithfulness.

In the 2017-2018 school year, our fourth graders will be like Marlin traversing the ocean blue with a set goal.  Through faithfulness, they will be able to endure the fourth grade journey throughout the world.  This year will have its ups and its downs–its struggles and its easy-cruisings.  But the end will be sweet where we can look back and see all of the memories that we created and all the lessons that we learned this year, lessons that span from across the world.

Before we start this journey, every explorer needs a guide (like Mr. Ray in Finding Nemo).  Here is a little bit about me: your fourth grade guide! (because I know when I was in fourth grade I wanted to learn all about my inspirational fourth grade teacher).

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A few years ago, I graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA where I got both my masters in elementary education and my bachelors in English and history. My personal favorite class was being able to intern within Colonial Williamsburg with the Historic Foodways Department. In short, I cooked food as colonial people would have cooked, wore colonial clothing, and answered visitors’ questions.

For four summers, I was a camp counselor at Triple R Ranch in Chesapeake, Virginia (where I have lived for my entire life).  This was actually the first summer that I did not work there in any way, which certainly took some getting used to.  I loved every minute of working with my campers, sharing who Jesus is and what He has done for me, getting to know my co-workers, and doing fun things like archery, canoeing, and the occasional horse ride.

When I have a free moment, I enjoy reading books and writing. I also enjoy doing photography and exploring all things creative including scrapbooking and card-making. Every moment that I can spend with my family, especially now since we are scattered through the United States, I cherish thoroughly. I have two adorable nephews, 3 years old and 1 year old. We play blocks together, read board books, blow bubbles, and be a little silly together. I love being an auntie!

And as the year progresses, I’m sure you will learn more about me as I will be learning more about you.

I’m so excited to have you all in my class whether as a parent or as a child this year.  See you on Tuesday!

 

 

 

Reflections on the 2016-2017 School Year

As I sit here in my house typing this, it still has not quite hit me that the last day of school has come and gone.  Is it true that the children that I have grown to love will no longer walk into my classroom as my children?  Did they really say good-bye?  Probably when I go to school on Monday, and I see the empty classroom, it will then truly hit me.

For now though, I’m going to share some of my favorite memories from this year.

  • At the start of the year, we did a simple baking soda and vinegar experiment with a balloon.  The children were so excited and squealing in delight.  I was thrilled with their excitement for learning.
  • The children did the research and figured out exactly what we needed to have crickets survive.  We even had a parent come in and share her own knowledge about crickets.  We went to Pets Mart, picked up our crickets, and built little habitats.  Most of the crickets actually survived (unlike in previous years) so that we could donate the crickets to the nature program at Triple R Ranch.
  • A child, one day, told me that reading was boring.  I gave some encouraging words and suggested some books, which he did not show interest in.  Later, I began a whole group lesson, and this child was reading.  I jokingly said, “Wow!  If you think reading is boring and you prefer reading to listening to me, I must be super boring!”  The child smiled and said this was not the case.  Meanwhile, the rest of the class assured me through words and hugs that I was not boring.
  • A child told me she wanted to be a fourth grade teacher
  • On my birthday, the children created a giant card for me without me knowing (or at least I pretended I didn’t know what they were making) and took it around to the whole school to get everyone to sign it.  They even made me a crown as they presented the card to me.
  • When learning about geometry, the children asked if they could create a dance to help them remember.  They came up with some very creative dances.
  • The children drew me so many wonderful and beautiful pictures that I will keep.
  • On ugly Christmas sweater day, every single child came to school decked out in their ugly Christmas sweater; some had even made their own ugly sweater with random Christmas decorations.
  • The first time that we launched the trebuchets, they were rather unimpressive.  I tweaked them, and then the next day, I shocked the children when the trebuchet launched across the room.
  • The children’s creativity constantly surprised me whether their movie project, their problem solving, or their artistic abilities.
  • We had a medieval feast for our movie.  The children were so excited, and they loved that the feast included a boar’s head and other authentic medieval food.
  • Our field trip to Colonial Williamsburg was a lot of fun.  Throughout the rest of the school year, the children kept referring back to what they had learned there, especially the printing press that they saw in action.
  • Each of the children met the requirements to become knights.  I watched so proudly as our principal dubbed them into knighthood.
  • Then, there was the day that we studied the Black Death. I had told the kids that I was not feeling well and so would likely not be with them after lunch.  Mrs. Stephens came in and reviewed what we had talked about the previous day.  Then, she revealed that her hand was starting to turn black.  The children started rustling in horror.  Mrs. Stephens then said that they should call the doctor.  One child ran out of the room to get the nurse.  He then saw me dressed as the Black Death doctor.  He walked back in and said, “Uh…there’s a creepy man outside.”  I then walked in, and the children started screaming.  Some even went and locked themselves in the closet.  Mrs. Stephens gently explained that the doctor was here to help her with the Black Death (which the children later figured out was black paint).  Later, the children told me that they figured out it was me.  They claimed it was my shoes even though I went out of my way to make sure I wore completely different shoes.
  • At their final event, they mingled with the parents and shared their wealth of knowledge as the parents had to create a newscast.  I was so proud as I watched them get excited about all they had learned.  Thank you to all the family members who helped us out and made this little video below possible!
  • A child started asking more questions about God.
  • After studying the Roman Road, a child asked to accept Jesus as his Savior.
  • A child announced to the class in a very excited way that his brother had gotten saved over the weekend.  The rest of the class cheered.
  • During morning meeting, a child announced that she had gotten saved over the weekend and was going to be baptized.
  • A child shared her journal about God to the class.
  • While studying about trusting God, one child shared something very personal that allowed her to trust God more.  This encouraged others to share about how they had seen God work in their own lives.
  • Everyday, a different child would ask to pray.  Their prayers were so genuine as they brought the sometimes simple sometimes deeper prayer requests to God.
  • While studying Hebrews, I told the children that no one knew who had written this book of the Bible.  One child eagerly requested that they do research to try and figure it out.  The rest of the class eagerly agreed.  Without me guiding them, they used deductive reasoning to rule out various people because that person had died before the book was supposedly written. They also read portions of the book to determine themes.
  • The children shared with each other how to become a Christian.  They asked each other questions about their spiritual growth.

It has been a great year, and I am so amazed at the social, academic and more importantly the spiritual growth of the children. Thank you to each and every one of you for making this year so memorable.  I could not have done it without your constant support and dedication.  Words truly cannot express how thankful I am that God allowed us to spend this year together.  I will miss you all!  Please come back and visit!

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Who wrote Hebrews?

Before spring break, we studied the book of Hebrews in the Bible.  As I was introducing the book, I mentioned that no one knows who wrote Hebrews, and I continued explaining the various themes.  The children though became focused on the author; they eagerly asked who wrote the book and asked for any information I could give them.  I explained that people had theories but that no one really knew.

“Can we try to figure it out?”  they asked with anticipation.

I paused for a second before I nodded.  The class went up in cheers.  That day, they finished their assignments quickly so they could rush to the computer lab and begin researching who may have written Hebrews.

Completely on their own, they thought about when the book was written and when many of the potential authors died.  They concluded that Paul could not have been the writer because he had died the same year that it was written.

They read through Hebrews to find clues–the ending is like Paul’s but not the beginning. The writer mentions that the Christians in Italy send greeting.  Why Italy?

Soon, we had a list of all the potential people that it could possibly be.  Each person researched one person and wrote down his or her discoveries.  At the end of the second week, we presented our findings to the rest of the class.

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Then, each child wrote a paragraph explaining who they thought had written Hebrews.

One child in particular was convinced he knew who had written Hebrews.  He researched Pricilla, and he discovered that her husband had moved to Corinth from Italy, which would explain why the people in Italy send greetings.  They knew Paul, which would explain why it sounds similar Paul’s other letters.  And Pricilla had the perfect excuse for why it would be anonymous:  she was a woman.

I took the side of Paul.  I explained that tradition has Paul writing Hebrews, so why should we go against it.  People believe that he died in June, which would have given him six months to write this letter.  The book has some of the same themes that Paul promotes even though it is written in better Greek than his usual letters.  And if he did not write it, it is possible that this was one of his sermons that was written down by Luke.

Even within our class, there was no definitive winner.  Some said Paul wrote it, some Pricilla, some Barnabas, some Luke, which truly shows that no one knows exactly who wrote Hebrews.  As we discussed, we will never know the real answer until we get to Heaven.  However, we can continue to study to teachings of faith to learn how we can sustain our own faith through our lives.

Faithfulness Spreads

At the start of the third quarter, I announced to the children that we would be creating a movie about the medieval times.  As the excitement buzzed, I asked the children what we needed to do to understand medieval life better.  We came up with areas like clothing, buildings, classes in society, etc.

The children spent the next several weeks researching different parts of the medieval period and creating pieces to fit into our medieval movie.

Below is the end product.

Since our theme was faithfulness spreads, we wanted a way to spread what we believe about the God that we serve.  What better way to spread our movie than through the internet! Please enjoy our rendition of the medieval period as we share what Jesus means to us.

Special Week

This week was filled with things that were different than our normal routine, and yet the children handled each day with grace, kindness, and faithfulness.

On Monday, Mrs. Griffin came in and did a fraction presentation with circles pieces.  After exploring the circles, the children created fractions (example a half) with different pieces.  Then, they played a game to get a whole circle with whatever fraction they got creating it as creatively as possible.

On Tuesday, we had another special guest.  Mr. Finch came and taught us about electricity. He showed us his circuit board that he had created as a way to understand different types of circuits.  As the children asked him questions, he got their curiosity piqued about their everyday household items that use electricity.  They determined in the end that electricity produces heat energy, light energy, and mechanical energy.

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Then on Thursday, we trekked off to Colonial Williamsburg.  We did not go there because we learn about the colonial period; we went there because many of the trades have prior roots in medieval times.  At each trade shop, the children were to ask how this trade related to the medieval period.  Throughout the entire trip, the children were on their best behavior, and they were asking very intelligent questions at each stop.

We first went to the Governor’s Palace where the children saw things they recognized from the medieval period like swords and coat of arms among other things.

Our next stop was the Palace Kitchen.  Here we got to see how the Governor in colonial Virginia would have eaten.  With things like a brick oven and a stovetop, this is the same kind of kitchen that would have been seen in the castles of medieval period that cooked feasts and banquets for lords and ladies.  As I told the children, this is also a very special spot for me because I used to work in that kitchen as an intern while at college (and for the children’s enjoyment, I have included a picture of me working there).

As we continued exploring Colonial Williamsburg, we then went across town to the Post Office and the Printing Press.  Third grade went shopping first; while we went went down to the printing press.  As the interpreter explained the process, he was inking and stamping a newspaper.  The children shared how they too had been creating stamps in class to be able to reproduce the same image multiple times.  What is really neat is that the printing press that the children saw was made in the style of Johann Gutenberg’s printing press during the 1400s (a person that we will study next quarter).

Then we switched with third grade, and we had the opportunity to go upstairs and buy some souvenirs.

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The final stop that we went to before lunch was the tin smith and the black smith (both trades which have history from the medieval period).  And finally, what trip to Colonial Williamsburg would be complete without a picnic on the Palace Green?

And of course, I would be doing the children a giant disservice if I did not mention one more thing that we did this week.  We spent a good portion of this week filming for our movie.  Below is a preview.  The premier will be at our fruitful event on March 23 at 10:30 am in our classroom.  We look forward to showing you all of our hard work this quarter.