What We Did Last Week.... Cheetahs and Morning Kittens

Cheetahs are our Five Day/Full Day group and Morning Kittens are our Five Day/Half Day group.

The Kittens and Cheetahs spent a lot of time at school working on the Kindness Cards this week.  At one point we even had an assembly line of kindness going!! Each student got to write in their classmates' cards; some wrote their own messages, some dictated to a teacher, and some simply chose to sign their name.

We continued learning about inventors this week by reading segments of  "What Color Is My World?" by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  We learned about different innovations from some lesser known African American inventors. Our first scientist we learned about was Granville T. Woods. We were excited to learned that he was born and raised in right here in Columbus. We learned about how the induction telegraph helped improve the communication and safety of our railway system. The class investigated the engineering design process with our own communication investigation by constructing string telephones.  We tried different improving the design by trying out cups made out of different materials, different kinds of string and holding the cups in different ways. We made predictions before each trial and then recorded how well each design worked. We found that shorter string and plastic cups seemed to work the best overall.

Since we had been studying the telegraph the Cheetahs also learned about the Morse code and sent messages to each other using the dots and dashes.  We used both flashlights and our snap circuit kit and created a buzzer to send the information.

The next inventor the Cheetahs explored was Valerie Thomas who designed the illusion transmitter, where she used concave mirrors to create the illusion of 3-D objects. We made thaumatropes which was an early optical toy that was used to create animation.  We had a butterfly on one side of a piece of paper and a jar on the other. When we spun them quickly in appeared as if the butterfly was flying inside the jar! Some of the Cheetahs even created some 3-Dimensional art using paper and tape.

One of our favorite inventors this week was Alfred Cralle who responsible for the ice cream scoop.  We set up our own classroom ice cream shop where the class decided on the menu and the prices of the items. We used our ice cream play dough to create our sundaes.  The kids took turns being both the consumers and producers.  Each student was given $3.00 to spend and made decisions on how they wanted to spend it.

We also enjoyed learning about Lonnie Johnson who created the Super Soaker. I read the book "WHOOSH" which told the story of Lonnie's journey to success. We then were able to use the invention outside and see how air pressure was used to squirt the water far into the distance.

Our final inventor on the week was Joseph Lee who invented the bread machine. The Cheetahs made their own bread that we were able to sample in the afternoon. While we were waiting on our bread to rise we discovered how that process worked with investigating yeast. We put some yeast in a petri dish with some warm water and sugar and watched it multiple before our eyes using our magnifying glasses. We also put some of the mixture into test tubes and beakers and placed balloons over the opening to capture the carbon dioxide. It was a lot of fun to observe our balloons get bigger throughout the day.

This week in "Material World" we traveled to Central America and learned about Guatemala.  There was a huge different in the wants and needs of the American family compared to the one from Guatemala. Cheetahs and Kittens had the opportunity to also learn about El Salvador, a country the borders Guatemala with a presentation from a student's father. The class especially liked learning about the geography of the area since it involved volcanoes!

Our books for the week included The Boy Who Changed the World and Because Amelia Smiled.  Both books explore how individuals' actions can have a profound impact around the world.  The first one is a story that spans multiple generations while the second story covers just about a week's worth of time.  We discussed how each person has the potential to impact so many others, and we talked about ways to have a positive impact at home and at school.  There were lots of book to world and book to self connections going on!

We continued our study of civil rights by reading We March and Sit-In:  How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down (www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgIMTkmzBck).  These books were about the March on Washington and the Greensboro sit-ins, which we had read about before.  We had so many great book to book connections, and one amazing "notice" from a student: "All the people in the books about Dr. King had hope even when things were bad."

We also listened to an audio recording of Dr. King's I Have a Dream speech while looking at Kadir Nelson's book.  I explained that while the recording quality is different than what we're used to and the speech can be a bit difficult to follow, I wanted the students to hear Dr. King's words in his own voice.  Next week we will be working on pieces of writing about our own dreams to change the world.

In math we continued our work on other way to organize numerals, tally marks, and number sentences.  We also began our study of time as it relates to telling time with clocks and timelines of events. 

In the hallway you can see our gigantic peace parade.  Each student in the school was given the same picture to color.  We talked about ways that we could take what was the same and make it our own, and how many different people's interpretation of a single thing could be so varied. 

Our outside time was a muddy as ever!  Many of the students participated in bridge-building to solve the problem of how to get from one side of the mud-pond to the other.  Red Oak students continue to amaze me with their willingness to get dirty while playing-- and learning!-- and it is truly inspiring to see how happy and engaged they are after an hour in the mud!  We also erupted a mudcano that the students built.  We tried making the lava red, but it turned out pink.  There was a great deal of delight at the eruptions nevertheless!