The fourth graders took a nice little stroll to White Oak Savanna this morning. We were met there by Roberta Schwarz, the woman who has taken care of the park for the past fourteen years by raising millions of dollars and coordinating volunteers to help restore the park. One way that Willamette students have helped restore the park is by planting native plants in the park. Today, fourth grade graders planted sword ferns in the riparian area of the park. Then they walked into the park and planted milkweed in hopes of attracting butterflies. It was a beautiful morning spent doing something positive for our community.
Three students led the entire school in a Core Practice, which is a mindful breathing exercise that we do in our classroom three times per day to help calm our brains and prepare for learning. Over 500 students took a moment to sit quietly and take deep breaths. It was a perfect way to start our day.
After meeting our first grade buddies and playing outside with them last week, we spent some time reading with them today. It was a mutually beneficial situation as we both practiced our reading skills while having a great time together.
We are in the beginning stages of a challenging art project. Students had a great time creating colorful paper to be used as part of a collage. Stay tuned for updates in the coming weeks.
Don't be surprised if your child's bedroom turns into a chain reaction science lab this summer. After learning about Rube Goldberg and how energy is stored and transferred, we set off on making our very own chain reaction machines. After doing some basic two-step chain reactions, students were set free to experiment and create the most elaborate multi-step chain reactions they could.
Fourth graders spent time in recent days trying to answer questions like how long does it take to hop on one foot from home plate to first base? Or how long does it take to type a sentence? Or how far can you broad jump? After students came up with these questions they determined the tools they would need to collect this information and figured out what units of measurement would make the most sense. Then they went out and collected the information from one another. But that wasn't all. They then did these same experiments with another class (mostly our first grade buddies) to have a second set of data to compare their original data to. After collecting all of their information, they organized their data into line plots and analyzed the results, looking for things like outliers, the mode, the range, and any concentrations in the data. All of this information allowed them to make basic conclusions such as "first graders were much slower at typing a sentence than fourth graders, most likely because fourth graders have so much more experience with computers." Please ask your child about their analysis of the data collection and what they learned from this experience.
As we continue our study of energy, we began learning about chain reactions. To get us started I shared this great video of a Rube Goldberg machine called "The Cake Server". Enjoy the video and try to make your own Rube Goldberg machine at home.
Students spent the past two days at Camp Kuratli, learning about the Oregon Trail and early pioneer life in the northwest. We had a blast building log cabins, making candles, sawing logs, mapping out an acre, churning butter, panning for gold, and learning about the plants and animals in the area. We also spent plenty of time playing pioneer games, dancing the Virginia Reel, having a cookout, and singing at the campfire. Be sure to ask your child about the things they learned on this wonderful experience.
This week we were lucky enough to have author Deborah Hopkinson join us. She spent an hour with the fourth graders in the library telling us about her writing process. We learned about how she researches her historical fiction books and what her illustrators do to bring her words to life. It was a fantastic experience and we are thankful the PTA brought her to Willamette.