STEAM Rollercoaster Project

We’ve been up to our ears in projects in Room 5! I believe our latest project was the most engaging. It brought on creativity, engineering with geometry, and so much teamwork! 5th and 6th graders spent the last two and a half weeks planning, building, and testing out their very own marble run roller coasters.

Not a day went by without several students begging me to give them extra time to work on these projects. One of the most important parts of this project was fostering and discussing leadership skills. After about a week of working on this project, we had an important class meeting all about the qualities good leaders possess. Members from each group talked about the leadership they saw forming in each group. It turns out that some of our most shy and reserved students have way more leadership skills than they thought! These students were elated to hear that their group members saw them as natural leaders. Overall, we discussed that leaders have good ideas, are able to delegate tasks in a kind way, make sure everyone feels like they are an important part of the group, and make good use of their time.

By the end of the project, groups were able to start testing out their marble runs. That’s when Room 5 got especially noisy with cheers and the competitive nature of some students really came out. On the night of Open House last week, families and students voted for the strength of each rollercoaster. The next day, we had our official “Roller Coaster Challenge” Day where we timed and tested roller coasters and groups received awards. It was another day filled with cheer and excitement.

Ancient Egypt: Canopic Jars & Metal Art

The ancient Egyptian mummification process is a lengthy one! It typically lasted around 70 days and began by first removing all of the organs from the body. The organs were then washed, dried, and placed into containers called canopic jars that were eventually buried with the body. A salt mixture found along the Nile River was used to help the drying and preservation process of both the body and the organs. After, the bodies were wrapped in linen and placed in their coffin.

In Room 5 this month, we didn’t do all that, but we did complete a project which taught us all about this process. After collecting all the Pringles cans we needed, 5th and 6th graders got to work adding paper mache, paint, hieroglyphics, and one of the four Sons of Horus heads on each can. We then did a simple science experiment to see which ingredient preserved apples (our “organs”) the best: baking soda, vinegar, or salt.


Earlier this month, we also had fun with an art project. After learning all about the jobs and roles of Ancient Egyptians, students traced over images showing the specific jobs they learned about. We used thick gauge foil and dull pencils on a thick pad of newspaper to create beautiful relief drawings. Students then used colorful Sharpies to make designs in the background. They turned out beautiful!



Greek Mythology Tile Mural

5th and 6th grade has been working hard over the past month on a ceramics project with Mrs. Becker. Since our class loved learning Greek Myths through read aloud this year, we planned to have students create a mural for a campus beautification project. Students spent a morning after thinking of a design for their tiles that would be simple and representative of the character from a myth of their choosing. They carefully drew their design on a paper and then traced it in washable marker so that it could easily transfer to the tile.

When Mrs. Becker came into class with blank slabs ready for construction, everyone was excited to work! Two weeks ago, she students spent their time adding layers of colored slip. After they were dry, they were ready for Mrs. Becker’s kiln at home! Yesterday she brought in our final pieces and everyone loved seeing the final results. We spent the afternoon reflecting about the ceramics unit and giving students praise for their tiles.



U.C. Merced Visit

5th and 6th graders had a special learning opportunity last Friday at U.C. Merced. Dr. Caroline Frank along with two of her graduate students, Jackie and Paola, planned a 3-part field trip which included many engaging activities.

After being treated to a morning snack at the university cafeteria, the class went on a one-hour campus tour lead by two university students. We toured the dormitories and apartments, cafeteria, gymnasium, and recreation rooms. 5th and 6th graders loved experiencing a day in a life of a college student!

Later, we were were treated to a delicious lunch and enjoyed a picnic in the sunshine. A couple college students joined us for lunch and S.F.C.S. students loved chatting with them about their university experiences, such as studying abroad. Once our bellies were full of turkey sandwiches and apples, we split up into two groups.

One group, led by Dr. Frank, brought us to her research lab where we stopped at nine different areas in the lab. Each location taught us something new about DNA extraction, microbial symbiosis, Dr. Frank’s specific research, and other interesting concepts. At each stop, students answered challenging trivia questions. The three winning groups received a prize.

All students experienced an engaging hands-on activity in the other group. In a science experiment prepared by Jackie and Paola, students paired up with a partner to extract DNA from either a banana, strawberry, or blueberries. Not only did we learn about DNA extraction, we also learned about the importance of always questioning the world around us.

A huge thank you to Dr. Frank for making this rare and exciting field trip possible!


We’re All Wonders!

As Spring Break approaches, sometimes 5th and 6th graders are in need of some reminders as to what kindness means. Our read-aloud the past two months has been “Wonder” by RJ Palacio, so this theme of kindness fits right into our room.  A new picture book, “We’re All Wonders,” also by RJ Palacio (intended for younger readers to access the story) came out recently and the kids were excited to be finished with the novel so we could read the picture book.

Once we read the picture book together, we started discussing kindness. We began by  brainstorming a list of ideas and created an anchor chart for kindness.  Then, I asked the kids to think of all the ways that people were not very kind to Auggie (the main character).  The kids were able to fill our entire circle map in no time; it was easy to recall how people would scream in his face, recoiling at the way he looked. They remembered the names Auggie was called and the no-touching game that was played.

Next, I asked the students to think about how they personally treat others and how they could make better choices when speaking to others and show kindness to our classmates.  The kids were excited for our next step- incorporating an art project into our theme of kindness.

Students created “rays of kindness” around their face, got to choose neon and metallic color acrylic paint, and write acts of kindness they’d like to focus on with classmates. Their self portraits in the middle were supposed to resemble the cover of the book.
We created our own “precepts” this week as well. In the book, Auggie’s teacher frequently mentioned words to live by called “precepts.” His teacher, Mr. Brown, requested that over the summer, his students mailed him postcards from wherever they vacationed and included their own personal precept in the card. So, we tried doing our own version of personal precept postcards. The kids enjoyed this activity, too.



Clay Class Lately

Mrs. Becker’s second visit to Room 5 was packed full of fun tasks with clay. Students added colored slip to their very fragile greenware (unfired clay) pinch pot animals. On her next visit, Mrs. Becker gave a great demo on making slabs from a ball of clay. Soon after, students got to work creating their own functional or aesthetic slab piece. They had fun using textured bits that were found in nature at their recess to create impressions on their slabs. That same day, students added colored slip to their slabs and we sent both the pinch pot animals and the colored slip home with Mrs. Becker to fire in her kiln.

Her fourth time to our classroom our most simple day with clay yet; we added clear glaze to our bisqueware (clay that’s been fired once) and sent our pieces home with Mrs. Becker for its second and final time in the kiln. She delivered them to Room 5 last week and everyone was overjoyed to see the final results. We spent time on a “gallery walk” around the classroom, looking at everyone’s work and then discussed and gave shout outs to students whose art stood out.


Informational GoogleDoc Presentations

The months of January and February were spent practicing our informative writing skills. Each student got to pick the subject he or she wanted to research, and spent time collecting and organizing information from credible sources. Once students were finished planning, drafting, revising and editing, and “publishing” their informational essay, they got to work creating Google Doc presentations to share what they learned with the class. It has been so nice to see everyone’s artistic slideshows over the past week. IMG_8023IMG_8015IMG_8017IMG_8020IMG_8022IMG_8007IMG_8008IMG_8016IMG_8138IMG_8139

Art Restoration

Over the past few weeks, several 5th and 6th graders have been helping Ms. Korn restore the Catheys Valley mural that everyone enjoys while walking into the multipurpose room. Sun damage has caused color fading and, little by little, these talented artists are reviving its original brilliance! It’s been a nice for the students to learn to restore art while providing a service to our school community.

Ceramics, Day 1

Our visiting artist from the Mariposa Art Council’s Artist in the School Program, Phyllis Becker, lead her first successful class in Room 5 today. Our classroom turned into a ceramic studio as she gave a slideshow of ancient pottery and gave a pinch-pot demo. Everyone had so much fun once they all got to work creating a pinch-pot turned animal! We also learned some basic ceramic terminology such as: bisqueware, greenware, glazeware, slipping, and scoring. The seven visits we have left with Ms. Becker will fly by!