Finishing Ancient Egypt and Entering Ancient India

Woodpeckers (Grades 1-2)

The Woodpeckers began the week continuing their studies in Ancient Egypt by exploring several essential questions in social studies and science, including how beliefs influence society and how the environment affects the formation of a civilization.  Egyptian beliefs were introduced by discussing various Egyptian gods and goddesses.  Each student picked one to draw and then wrote why they believed their god or goddess was important to Egyptian culture.  The class also talked about mummification and Egyptian afterlife, and the students had fun “mummifying” a fellow classmate in toilet paper!

For maththe Woodpeckers used the sundials they created the previous week to practice telling time to the hour and half hour, while also addressing the question, “Is telling time important?”  Additionally, after watching a video on pyramid building, the students applied their math skills to construct their own pyramids with sugar cubes.

In Language Artsthe Woodpeckers reviewed nouns and verbs and began working on “pyramid” sentences using alliteration, the repetition of consonant sounds; each new line adds a new noun or verb to form the shape of a pyramid.  Students were also asked to think about why authors write.  Then, as authors themselves, they completed pre-writing activities, including a sketch, labeling, and adding ideas to their “heart map,” a diagram organizing topics that are important to them.  

At the end of the week, the Woodpeckers began their journey into India. They watched a video on the Indus River Valley civilization, continued to discuss the idea of sustainability with regard to a civilization, and added branches to their “brain map.”  The class also investigated the Indian caste system, exploring the question, “Is it justifiable to control others?”  Indian culture was focused on during creative arts and physical literacytoo, as the students made their own jingle bracelets and learned Indian dances. (They are very excited to perform their dance for the older students!)  The Woodpeckers also studied Indian fabrics and began making their own basket by weaving yarn around a template.  

Wallabies (Grades 3-4)

The Wallabies continued to integrate Ancient Egypt into their studies.  In language arts students read passages on Cleopatra and King Tut and then answered comprehension questions.  A focus in this class has been on identifying and choosing “good words” in order to make writing more interesting.  The Wallabies practiced replacing “boring” words in a sentence on the board with more “interesting” words, using posters as reference, and they loved it!  They also discussed how using these words improve writing, adding them to their descriptive word lists.  Students then employed their newfound diction during their Writer’s Workshop time.

The Wallabies also studied new prefixes and brainstormed other words with the same prefixes to gain a better understanding.  They then practiced utilizing base words, prefixes, and suffixes to collaboratively define new words. The students continue to love practicing their individual spelling lists and work on improving reading comprehension through choral reading with peers, correcting mistakes on questions, and reading and answering questions about each of their in-class novels.

In sciencewhile continuing to discuss the concepts of interdependence, cause, and effect, the Wallabies tackled the essential question, “Can an individual person make a difference?”  Using recycled materials, students worked together with minimal instruction to create solar ovens, brainstorming through problems that arose. They melted broken crayons and made them into new crayons using mini muffin tins, heated up leftover food from lunch for an afternoon snack, and melted chocolate from home. The Wallabies also used thermometers to see differences in temperatures when adding another variable, like black construction paper, to the oven, and recorded and discussed the effects.

The Wallabies checked on their mummified apples from last week, too. They weighed them and found the difference from their original weight, drew pictures, described them, compared their apples with those of their peers, and discussed which combinations of substances (epsom salts, baking soda, table salt) were most effective and why they thought so.  Most Wallabies agreed that their mummified apples were pretty gross!

In maththe Wallabies practiced shortcuts to finding multiples in their head and used tokens to examine what a “remainder” is.  During multiplication card games, the students even taught Mr. Carols a new math game!

Finally, in social studiesthe Wallabies began creating their own “city” after debating its viability based on nearby resources.  During their next Council Meeting, the Wallabies will be introduced to different government functions and will confront many problems that arise.  Is there public funding for the arts?  How much poverty is acceptable?  Is there universal healthcare?  How do we collect enough taxes to cover the costs we're committing to?  This year-long project will certainly allow the Wallabies to expand their understanding of community resources, city formation, and government as they continue with their study of ancient civilizations.

Wolves (Grades 5-6)

In Social Studies, the Wolves continued their analysis of the question, "Are buildings art?," by asking why are pyramids art?  They learned that pyramids are considered art because they are designed for a purpose, meant to outlast the builders, and showcase human creative skill.  This was reinforced by a video on Egyptian temples and how the Pharaoh supported the arts.  The Wolves then watched a film about the Egyptian idea of "natural order" called Ma'at and compared it to Star Wars’ “The Force,” reflecting on the question, "Should laws be based on right and wrong?”  in preparation for the future discussion of the question, “Can right and wrong be determined without religion?"  

Like the Wallabies, the Wolves are beginning their “City” project after discussing the lost, but refound, city of Harappa, which had running water, indoor plumbing, and a city grid.  After mapping out the back area of Walden and creating their own continent on paper in proportion to their measurements, the Wolves began their city of “Zenoot,” and each received their City Project jobs, including Tax Collector, Chief of Engineering, and Chief of Diversity. Each week, the Wolves will complete projects associated with their new city to strengthen their understanding of economics and government.

Science focused upon discussing vocabulary from last week regarding the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a place in the ocean where debris is trapped.  Students then brainstormed about what they think causes ocean currents.  After independent reflection, discussion, and a list created collaboratively on the board, they set out to explore the effects of temperature on the ocean's current. Using vegetable oil (to represent water), dried herbs (to see the movement of the oil more clearly), and small candles, the group watched as the oil swirled and moved (currents) due to the heat being placed in different areas of the oil.  The students also added a small glass to the container, acting as an "island" to see how that would impact the movement of the herbs.  Back inside, the students reflected on what they learned and recorded "temperature" as an additional cause of ocean currents.  They then brainstormed about why some parts of the ocean are warmer and colder than others, identifying the tilt of the earth (equator and poles) and underwater volcanoes as two contributing factors.  Since “volcanoes” was an unanticipated response, the Wolves researched where underwater volcanoes are located in relation to the currents of the ocean, and also where the tectonic plates of earth are located.  The students saw that they were all connected!  After their experiment and discussion, the Wolves watched videos on the causes of ocean currents, labeled the world map with major ocean currents (identifying cold and warm currents), discussed examples of ocean gyres, vortexes, and convergence zones, watched Nasa videos demonstrating surface currents versus thermohaline currents, and compared and constructed surface currents (based mostly on wind) and thermohaline currents (based on mostly on temperature/salinity).  Way to go, Wolves!

In Language Arts, the Wolves read assigned passages based on their science studies, then answered questions and wrote down facts they remembered.  Students corrected independently read leveled passages on King Tut, as well as on the paper industry in Egypt, from last week, discussed questions they had, and then independently read a text of their choice (novels from home, on iPads, from our portable library, and various books about Egypt checked out from the library).  Discussing, reviewing, and practicing using adjective and adverbs in their writing was also done throughout the week.

For Math, the Wolves practiced functions as they move toward fractions, multi-digit multiplication, reducing, and dividing.  And, as always, Mr. Carlos keeps the Wolves on their feet with “Cardio Math,” where every student makes up a dance, stops dancing while they race against the timer to complete math problems...then, it’s back to dancing!

All classes will continue their integrated work on Ancient India this week before bridging to China after Fall Break.