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!
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.
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.