Kites, Kites and more Kites!!!

Kite building with found material (plastic table cloths, newspaper, string, yarn ect….)

Innovation Challenge

Mrs. Eads presented the entire school with the challenge of innovating a lunch box and the first graders took to the challenge with great excitement. By pure coincidence, one of our students had a problem with her lunch box just days prior.  An item in her lunch box had leaked all over the contents of her lunch and ruined all of her food.  That day our heroines in the cafeteria came to her rescue and provided her with a delicious hot lunch, but the first graders wondered: how could we innovate the lunch box so that this problem could be avoided in the future?  As the light bulbs started to turn on, I started drawing what they were describing on the board.  Their ideas were so amazing at times it was hard for me to keep up, but here’s what they came together to create.

First, the lunch box would have two sections where wet and dry items would be held. Then, the wet storage area would be divided into two more compartments where hot and cold items would be separated.  The cold would be kept cold by a cooling pack that would slide down into a side and the hot would be kept warm by a heating pack that could be warmed in a microwave and slid down into the opposite side.  The students were inspired by warming packs that are heated in this way to sooth aches and pains.  One of the students then thought of the huge mess that was created when this occurred and suggested that each of the wet storage areas be lined with a removable, washable, seal-able liner. Lastly, another student thought of how lunch boxes are also hard to store at home, especially when you have multiple.  This brought about the idea that our innovated lunch box would then be able to fold down flat when carried back home or stored when not in use.

Now, please pause for a moment and try to picture me (not an artist) feverishly drawing and trying to keep up with all of these great ideas!  Mrs. Tran and I were so impressed that we then sent the students’ idea on to a Design Engineer who rendered these drawings.

Lunch Box

If you ever wondered what we do on the Flex day, this is it. Simply put, we are inspiring each student to reach for their maximum potential because when we do…this is what they do!

Germs, Germs Everywhere

What a busy day we had exploring the world around us and how germs attack it. The first graders began by looking at different types of germs like viruses and bacteria and how they affect our bodies.  We took a trip inside Ralphie’s body with “The Magic School Bus” where students could see what germs do inside us and how our bodies fight back.  Then students took the sneeze challenge, where we measured how far germs could fly when we sneeze or cough.  Some students germs carried up to 8 ft. but we researched this question and found that germs from a sneeze can travel at 100 mph. and up to 200 ft. Yikes! Cover that sneeze, please!

First graders then learned that most germs enter our bodies through the T-zone.  This area refers to the eyes, nose, and mouth.  Dr. Marshal of Dr. Mark Marshall D.D.S.,Inc., graced us with his presence to teach the children about oral health and how this affects our entire body. Each student was given a new toothbrush and toothpaste to fight back against those nasty germs.

Then we gave each student some secret gel to rub on their hands and sent to play at recess.  This gel would help us to see where germs were spread in our own room throughout the day during normal activities.  After we returned to the classroom, we shut off the lights and turned on a black light. If you think the dark is scary, just flick on a black light in an elementary classroom! The students were able to really see where they carried the germs.

We then put on a second dose of the special gel, as we had washed it off before lunch, and looked at our own hands.  Students were asked what they thought was the most effective way to remove these germs from their hands, hand wipes, sanitizer, or old fashioned good hand washing practices. The class was divided into thirds to discover the answer.  They found that washing with soap and warm water was the clear winner, but why?

Next, I put some water in a shallow cake pan and added glitter to act as germs.  With the students all gathered around, we added a few drops of soap and “germs” immediately scattered away from the soap.  What a cool visual for the students to embrace the power of good hand washing practices!

Finally, students replicated different germs we had seen at the beginning of our day with modeling clay and q-tips.  It’s safe to say that the students will not soon forget this lesson on healthy habits, and all this was possible through our amazing Flex Day learning!

Groundhog Day

First graders learned all about the groundhog and its habitat, hibernation, chambers of a burrow, and budgeting with our Groundhog’s Day STEM challenge.  We even learned that groundhog hibernation habits are the focus of several types of studies that are trying to find ways of improving people’s health.  We discovered that the groundhog’s brain doesn’t need as much oxygen when it is hibernating and therefore, only breathes about once every 4 minutes. Scientists are using this information to try to apply a “hibernation” principal to the human brain to help alleviate stroke damage. They are also studying the hormone that helps the animal to deeply relax for hibernation to help transplant and heart attack patients.

Students began with the problem: Construction workers accidentally destroyed the groundhog’s burrow and with winter just around the corner, he needs a new place to hibernate. They then took on the challenge: Build a new burrow for the groundhog that has a sleeping chamber, a main entrance, and a secret escape route. You only have $20.00 to spend on supplies so plan wisely and stick to your budget.  It was amazing to see all of the different ideas that the students came up with but then had to revamp to fit there budget. Then once the students had a successful structure they were challenged to go back and improve it with their leftover budget. Some added extra chambers or a false tunnel to trick predators and in the end all of our groundhogs had a safe and cozy place to hibernate for the winter.

Celebrating our Veterans during Catholic Schools Week

The first and fifth graders teamed up to create an extra special gift for the veterans. The first grade began this project by listing words they thought would describe a veteran such as loyal, brave, hero, courageous and fearless.  The fifth graders then shared their knowledge of Word Art, a website where you can create a word collage.  These were then framed and given to the veterans in attendance as a token of our appreciation for all of their service. The students of SJS also prayed for and sang patriotic songs from the heart to honor them.


The Dot

SJS has been studying the Engineering Habits of Mind. To practice our newest focus on open-mindedness we read the story, The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds.  Then the first graders were given one black dot and one sheet of plain white paper. They were challenged to imagine what the dot could possibly be and illustrate their idea. The students had to keep an open-mind and visualize what their classmates saw the do as being, learning that everyone can look at things differently and that sometimes there is more than one right answer .

End of Quarter News

We will be MAP testing this week and next, so if you have any tricks up your sleeve for keeping kids healthy now is the time to give them a try. The end of the quarter is also growing near so any absent work needs to be completed and turned in to me promptly. The quarter will conclude on January 24 and Report Cards will be sent home on January 31.


Energy Exploration

After researching the types of energy that are available, the first graders took a tour of SJS to see what kinds our school uses. They worked in pairs to write about what they found. The students then recorded a video to share with grades 2 and 5 to give them some background knowledge to help them answer their parts of our whole school carbon footprint PBL. The students worked very hard on this project and I could not have been more proud of their final product!

Thanksgiving with Amherst Public Library

Our trip to the Amherst Public Library was a huge success! Students from the First grade and Kindergarten walked to the library to enjoy a day filled with Thanksgiving fun all provided by our amazing public library. We read stories about Thanksgiving, created a Thanksgiving centerpiece, and made a Thanksgiving Card for a loved one. The students enjoyed every minute of our adventure, including the walk. We are very thankful to have a public library with so much to offer!







Shelter From The Cold

After studying the Pilgrims’ first winter in America, we learned that they were not able to build enough shelter to house all of their families by the time winter began.  Many Pilgrims did not survive the first winter here because of this. The First graders were then challenged to build shelter for the new settlers. Each structure had to keep out the cold winds, fit at least 4 family members, allow for a fire to be built inside, a way for the smoke from the fire to exit, and a way for the family to enter and exit to gather food and supplies. Many designs took shape but when tested with cold wind and figures to represent each family member, they began to see some flaws. This sent many of our students back to the drawing board in search of a better solution but they did not give up. Even with as many as four failed attempts, students continued to improve their design and by the end of our challenge all students found success.We then walked all around the classroom to see each and every great design. This was one of my proudest moments as a teacher, when I overheard them encouraging and complimenting their peers on their unique ideas and collaborating on what ideas worked best. The first graders learned that the Pilgrims must have worked very hard to meet all of the challenges in real life. They also learned that in their lives failure is only a small stop on their road to success!