We finished our learning journey in Block 2 right before Thanksgiving. Even though we say “finish,” we’re never really actually finished with discovering new things about learning topics. Sometimes, we find a natural ending point and then move on. That’s what we did with this block.
One of Mrs. Baldwin’s favorite things to do with us is ask us what we learned during each block. We think about the new things we learned, how we connected those things to what we already know, and even what we learned about LEARNING!
In Block 2, we focused on the statement, “The way people live and work change over time.” When we first thought about that sentence, we immediately began discussing technology and all the ways it has made life different. We have grown up with different technologies that Mrs. Baldwin didn’t have when she was a kid, like cell phones, the internet, and even cars with automatic locks and windows! That conversation helped us think about different types of transportation and how they have changed over time.
First, we had to define “transportation.” We know that the word includes cars and trains, but we learned that it is really about some way of moving people, animals, or “goods” from one place to another. We created a list of different types of transportation that we already know, and then we did some research about transportation from the past. We spent a lot of time learning about older transportation that people made with their own hands – canoes and wagons were some of the first kinds!
As we moved forward, we asked why transportation changed. We know that inventions made transportation easier to go farther and farther, and as more people lived in certain areas, there were needs for transportation vehicles that could move more goods and more people. Some of us know that there are trains in Denver called the “Light Rail,” and they were built to help move people around. Buses do that, too. If more people are on trains or buses, then there are fewer cars on the roads. That means less pollution, too.
When we learned about older kinds of transportation, we learned about water power, steam power, gas power, and electric power. We visited the Forney Museum of Transportation (our blog post about that visit here).
We wondered if transportation looks different in different areas? For instance, would a person who lives in a desert need different transportation than someone who lives on snow and ice? Or how about someone who lives in an area that is completely surrounded by water? We decided to do a little research, but then got into teams and built our own ideas. Some were vehicles that could skim the surface of sand. Others were snow vehicles with a “digger” on the front to move quickly through snow. The water vehicles were powered only by water, so that they wouldn’t pollute the air or the water. (photos in the Storify link below)
After we built those vehicles, we also thought about mass transportation for those same areas. You can’t just make the mass transportation vehicles – you also have to create stations for the people to FIND the mass transportation! We knew that because some of us have been to stations for the Denver Light Rail. This created some new questions for us. How could we build a station that floats on water but is always in the same place? That water team thought about using anchors and buoys to build their station. The snow station team designed a base that was like a giant snowshoe. They also thought that maybe they should include heaters, doors, and windows, because they don’t want people who are waiting to be too cold! That helped the desert team think that they should have air conditioning in their station AND inside their mass transportation vehicle.
We had so many questions during this block! As we studied all the different types of powering vehicles, we kept hearing “internal combustion engines.” We wondered what that meant. We found a lot of videos that helped explain the 4 stage process of an internal combustion engine: Intake, Combustion, Power, Exhaust. It was so cool to see how that makes an engine go!
During the block, we tweeted off and on about what we were learning. You can read about it in our Storify about “Transportation:”
As we thought back about our learning, we noticed we had to do a lot of exploration and research. Some of us read books about transportation, and we all watched a lot of videos that helped explain these ideas in ways that we could understand. We also noticed that we learned better when we were able to build our ideas. We used LEGO and Duplo blocks a LOT in this block!
We wonder what YOU think about transportation? Do you like to build to learn? What other types of learning are best for you?
We are currently in Block 2 at school: WHERE WE ARE IN PLACE AND TIME. Our statement right now is “The way people live and work has changed over time,” and we are focusing on how transportation has changed and impacted the way people live, eat, and travel.
On Thursday, November 3, we were very fortunate to visit the Forney Museum of Transportation here in Denver. Our tour guide was Damion Cope, and he explained all of the very interesting types of transportation that are housed at the museum.
As soon as we walked through the doors into the museum, a lot of us were very excited! We kept saying, “Best learning trip ever!”
We learned about so many different types of transportation. Some of our favorites were learning about how transportation has changed over time. We saw examples of some of the very first motor cars – some were called “motor carriages.” They didn’t even have steering wheels! They just had levers to pull or push that would move the front wheels. Some people think that electric cars are new to the 21st century, but we saw an electric car that was built in 1916. That was 100 years ago! It was called the Detroit Electric Opera Coupe. It had 4 big batteries, and it could go forwards or backwards – the seats turned around on the inside.
We also some real trains – INSIDE the museum! One of our favorites was the Big Boy! It’s a huge, black train. We also got to walk inside part of another train and see some of the different types of cars on passenger trains. Did you know that some people actually lived on trains? They traveled all across the country and wanted to have rooms on the train for living space.
One of our favorite parts about the train section was “Aunt Peachey.” It was a train derrick that has a huge crane to help lift train cars, usually after a train went off the tracks.
We also saw a lot of different experimental types of transportation. We really liked the plane that was turned into a boat. There were other airplanes, motorcycles, and bicycles – even an electric bicycle! We saw covered wagons and trolleys – we couldn’t believe how many different types of transportation were in ONE museum!
Mr. Damion helped us sit inside a helicopter – for most of us, this was the highlight of our trip. Almost every single one of us said we wanted our families to bring us back to the Forney Museum to visit again! Did you know that the Forney Museum has an interactive timeline on their website? It helped us to understand when certain inventions were made.
It was fun learning about how transportation has changed over time, and it helped us to think about how we could invent new types of transportation for the future!
Highlights from the class:
HT: I liked the Big Boy the best!
CRC: I liked seeing the covered wagon. They had horses and people with the wagons. The horse looked so cool.
JF: My favorite was Aunt Peachy. If the trains go off the track, it can lift them up. There was a face with eyes painted on the crane.
KC: I liked the big train. It was called a steam engine.
EO: I liked Amelia Earhart’s car. It was yellow, and I drew a picture of it.
NK: It was fun to go inside the helicopter!
CM: I liked sitting in the helicopter, too!
SF: The train was my favorite. Damion showed us everything, and we loved all the stuff.
We journaled a lot about our trip, and then we decided to draw some photos of the vehicles we saw. You can see our drawings and photos of our trip in the photo gallery.
On Friday, October 7, we went to the Denver Botanic Gardens- Chatfield Farms Pumpkin Patch!
Earlier that week, we started thinking about what we already knew about pumpkins:
Most of them are orange, but some can be white or bluish-green.
Pumpkins can grow in many different sizes!
Pumpkins grow on the ground, but we weren’t sure how.
We know that pumpkins have a LOT of seeds inside their “guts.”
We still had some questions – “How do they grow on the ground?” “After you plant a seed, what happens?” So, we watched some videos and did a little research. We discovered that there are 6 stages to a pumpkin:
Orange pumpkin (or “adult” pumpkin)
We like to draw what we learn, so we drew each stage to help us figure this out. Here are some of our drawings:
Finally, it was time to go to the Pumpkin Patch! We got to pick our own pumpkins… and since we learned they grow on a vine, we knew we had to use some force to actually pick our pumpkins. Mrs. B showed us how to twist the pumpkin on the vine and then step on the vine to separate the pumpkin. Some of our pumpkins ended up with long stems, and some were short.
We saw a lot of small pumpkins, medium-sized pumpkins, and some really, REALLY big pumpkins! Some were smooth, some were round, some were oddly shaped, and some even had some cool bumps on them. It was fun seeing all the different types of pumpkins.
Later, we read a book called How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow by Wendell Minor. This book helped us to learn different words for “really, really big:” giant, enormous, gigantic, immense, and colossal. These are fun words to say, and now we don’t have to use “very” or “really” when we want to describe something “humongous!” (This was a fun word that CM shared with us when we read this book. We like it, too!)
After we read this book, JF asked what the biggest pumpkin in the world would be. We all liked that question! We did a little research and found that the 2016 world record for biggest pumpkin in the world is 2,623 pounds. The man who grew that pumpkin is Mathias Willemijns from Belgium. That pumpkin weighs almost as much as Mrs. B’s car!
We learned a lot about pumpkins, and we’re still reading more pumpkin books and singing pumpkin songs. It seems to be the right time of year for that!
Just arrived at Denver Botanic Gardens – Chatfield Farms
“Character, and who I am, is influenced by many factors.”
That’s the statement we started with at the first part of Block 1 – “Who We Are.” Block 1 at our school is always about our identity. We start out getting to know our classmates and other students at Anastasis. For our class, it was learning a lot about what we like to play and how we make friends.
Anastasis also holds an Identity Day in the first few weeks of every school year. We want to know more about the people in our school, and we feel more like family after this day!
Some of the activities we did during this block included drawing self-portraits and thinking about who we want to be when we grow up. One of our favorite activities was drawing ourselves as stick people and then using our 5 senses to share more about who we are NOW. Some of us drew photos of our our feet playing soccer or dancing. Some drew pizza near a mouth and music near ears. Mrs. Baldwin was really happy to see so many people drawing a heart and writing the words “good friend” right next to it.
During this block, we talked about stories we read, and how we see “good guys” and “bad guys”, or HEROES and VILLAINS. We wondered if these stories influence the way we think about ourselves and other people. We thought through stories we already knew and made a list of heroes and villains. We read some new stories and added to our list.
We also made a list of characteristics of heroes and villains, but we noticed that sometimes, heroes might look different than what we expect. A lot of us thought heroes have to big and strong like Superman or have special powers like Elsa. But then we thought about the fable, The Lion and the Mouse. The mouse saves the lion in that fable, and mice are very tiny! We decided that heroes (and villains) can look very different. Their actions are what make them heroes or villains.
After a while, we noticed that some characters start as villains and become heroes later in the story (and vice versa). This was a new discovery for some of us… we thought bad guys are always bad, and good guys are always good. Now we know that people, even in stories, have a little bit of light and a little bit of dark in them.
We thought about what that means for us! If we make a bad choice, does that mean we are a villain? Is it possible to ALWAYS be the hero? We like the idea that we can be forgiven for mistakes, and that we can even LEARN from our mistakes. We all decided we would like to be the kind of people who could forgive others for mistakes, too.
As we move forward into the school year, we want to keep thinking about who we are and how our character is influenced by our friends, our families, the stories we read, and our actions.
Every year, our school participates in the Global Day of Play and the #cardboardchallenge. It’s one of the days we LOVE!
This year, we decided we would all create photo booths out of cardboard. The photo booths would showcase one country, so each class would do some research and learning about those countries. Our class chose to research China.
We started asking ourselves… what would we put into a photo booth to share about that country’s culture? We decided we would look at some of the most famous places in China and choose from there. Mrs. Baldwin helped us look up “famous places and cultural icons in China.” We found:
The Great Wall of China
Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Army
dragons in parades, stories, and decorations
a lot of beautiful temples
lots of photos of pandas
We investigated together to learn more about the Great Wall of China. We asked: How long is it? How did they build it? WHO built it? What is it made of?
We learned that two different dynasties ordered people to build the wall. The first emperor was Emperor Qin. The wall was 3,100 miles and took ten years to build. The Ming Dynasty rebuilt some of the wall and added on to it. The Great Wall is over 5,500 miles! It’s made of granite, brick, and limestone. 5,500 miles is a lot! We used base 10 blocks to try to figure it out. 5,500 miles in base 10 blocks would be more than 5 red cubes and 5 blue squares, if each block equals 1 mile. Wow! For perspective, we learned that most of us live between 5-10 miles from our school. That’s only a few yellow base 10 blocks or 1 green bar.
We were a little worried about how we would build our photo booth AND all of the parts to show what we learned about China. We were very grateful that some students from Mr. Fink’s class helped us build the actual photo booth! Most of our class worked to plan how they would build the Great Wall on our photo booth. Two students worked to research Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Army. Other students studied pandas and dragons, and a few studied all the beautiful temples.
Before we started building, we designed plans for what we were going to make out of cardboard. After we were happy with our plans, we started building! The Great Wall was the hardest to plan, because it had to go all the way across our photo booth. Can you find all the different things we learned about in our photo booth photos?
Showing our photo booth to the rest of Team Anastasis!
Last fall, we watched news about possible evidence of water on Mars, and our curiosity about space began with a lot of questions! In January, we watched a BrainPOP video about space travel. We had a LOT of questions! During that time, we were learning about Culture and Story, but we kept wondering about space. Mrs. B helped us download a NASA app to our iPads. From that app, we could watch videos, look at photos, and read about some of the things NASA was doing. We were already learning a lot about the Mars Rover. It’s called “Curiosity.” Did you know there’s a Mars Rover app, too?
All the while we were interested in space, many really interesting things were happening!
Commander Scott Kelly was on the International Space Station, and he was planning a return trip home after 340 days in space!
The New Horizons space probe took photos of Pluto on its way through the solar system. We loved seeing those photos!
We kept reading about how Curiosity took photos on Mars and about NASA scientists explaining the photos showing evidence of water that could have been on Mars.
Some people at CalTech believe there is another really large planet at the edge of our solar system. They call it Planet Nine.
When we started Block 4 (How the World Works), we started thinking about space even more. We started with this statement:
Earth is a unique planet and part of the solar system.
We started asking questions about that statement and some of the things we already knew:
What’s a solar system?
What makes Earth unique from the other planets?
What are the other planets in our solar system?
How do the planets move?
Why is Pluto not a planet anymore?
What are asteroids? How are they together in a belt?
What is the Kuiper Belt?
Where does the ISS orbit?
We started investigating by watching videos, visiting the Space Foundation Discovery Center, using our NASA app, reading books about space, and searching on different websites to find some answers. These investigations helped us answer some questions, but mostly it helped us to ask even more questions!
Sometimes, we investigated together as a class. Sometimes, we investigated in small groups. When we follow our curiosity, we notice that we aren’t always interested in learning the same things that our classmates want to know. Every once in a while, we got to investigate on our own! Some of the things we investigated:
What are the differences in asteroids, meteors, meteorites, and meteroids?
What do satellites do?
Why does the moon look like a circle sometimes, and other times it looks like a banana?
Why do some asteroids move and some stay in the asteroid belt?
Why did Scott Kelly grow two inches in space?
What are different kinds of spacecraft?
How many rovers have been on Mars? What are they supposed to do?
How did scientists “discover” Planet Nine if they have never seen it?
What is gravitational mass?
To help us learn more about what we learned, we did a lot of different activities! We chose to make models of planets. We built space station modules in Minecraft. Some of us built in a space mod called Galacticraft in Minecraft. We really liked being challenged to find the materials to go to the moon and Mars! We used chart paper and sticky notes to write some of the things we’ve learned in our investigations. We drew illustrations about what we learned and recorded voice narrations to explain what we created (some of these were on paper, and some were in our Seesaw app).
It was really great to be able to spend a lot of time on these investigations! We focused on space for about 14 weeks! Mrs. B wondered if we were getting bored with learning about space, but we weren’t! Every day, we came to school excited to talk about a PBS show we watched about Scott Kelly or to talk about how we watched the ISS fly over our homes when the sky was dark.
Some of the older kids in our class wrote blogs posts to share some of the things they learned:
If you’ve read this book before, we’d love to hear what you think about it! This is what our class wrote about this book:
This story reminds us of the times when we are far away from the people we care about. When you miss someone and can’t see them, you might wonder what they are doing. If you think about the sun shining, it is probably shining on the person you are missing, too. You can send them a “sun kiss.” If it’s nighttime and you’re seeing the moon, you can think about sending a “moon hug.” We love the idea of knowing the sun, the moon, the stars, and even rain on a cloudy day can remind us of the people we love.
The illustrator of this book is Courtenay Fletcher. We really loved the illustrations! Everyone wanted to hold the book so we could each see a closer view of all the pages. There are beautiful colors that make us feel really happy when we look at this book.
Some of us wanted to share more about what we think about Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs:
RS- [This book is about] loving other people when you really don’t see them – even when you can’t see them and they can’t see you.
NK- Love doesn’t stop when you’re apart.
BC/NS/ZR: We can look at the moon and remember that we all care for each other.
Our class gives this book two big thumbs WAY up! We hope you will want to read it, too!
Thank you very much to Susan Schaefer Bernardo for sending this amazing book to us. We are so grateful!
On Thursday, February 4, we traveled to Colorado Springs to visit the Space Foundation Discovery Center. We had such a great time learning about space! We are very grateful to the staff of the Discovery Center for helping us learn more about our solar system.
When we first arrived, we walked into a very dark room. There was a giant sphere with some very tiny wires holding it from the ceiling to the middle of the room. We also noticed four projectors in the room in four different corners. Our guide told us that those four projectors would project images on the sphere, so that the entire sphere would be covered. It was a 360º image! This is called “Science on a Sphere.” Our guide showed us all the planets on the sphere. We thought it was so cool!
As we looked at all the planets, we learned something unique about each one. When we started to look at Saturn, our guide was able to rotate the planet on the sphere so that we could see the top of Saturn. Did you know Saturn has a storm on its top? We noticed that the storm is 6-sided, and that is called a hexagon.
After we finished in the Science on a Sphere room, we walked around the Discovery Center gallery. We noticed a lot of space suits, examples of food that astronauts eat, and some scale models of rockets, rovers, and other spacecraft.
After our tour, we spent time in a classroom at the Discovery Center learning about scale and planets. We got to use some modeling clay – 3 pounds! – to create scale models of the planets in our solar system. When we finished, we noticed how huge Jupiter and Saturn are. We added Pluto, even though it got kicked out of the “planet club.” When we finished with our scale model of the solar system, Pluto was a tiny little crumb!
Here are some things we thought about our learning on this trip:
JF: I learned that Jupiter has a big red spot. It’s a storm.
WG: Saturn has a storm that’s shaped like an eye. I liked that we were making a model of the solar system, because it helped me learn what the sizes of the planets are actually like.
CRC: I liked seeing the planets (on the sphere), because I’ve never seen the planets before.
EO: I liked Neptune (on the sphere), because it’s all blue. I like blue!
NK: I learned that Saturn has a storm, because I didn’t know that.
Some of us wrote blog posts and drew illustrations of what we saw at the Discovery Center:
For Block 3, we learned a lot about how we express ourselves through STORY.
When we first began our inquiry unit, we talked about the different ways people can tell stories. Our class came up with the following:
people can write books
clothes – what we wear can tell a story about who we are
We looked at several works from many artists. We listened to a lot of stories. We listened to many different types of music. We watched the Nutcracker Ballet. We even made our own stories through music, dance, and drawings.
After a while, we explored our inquiry statement: Cultures express themselves through story.
We thought about how we could learn about different cultures through their art, music, dance, etc.
Mrs. Baldwin showed us some art work by a man named John Nieto. We loved all the bright colors in his paintings and noticed that much of his work was of animals. After reading about the artist, we learned that John Nieto was born in Denver (!) and raised in New Mexico. His Native American and Hispanic heritage inspires his work. As we studied his paintings, we thought about the stories they told. We created some of our own Nieto-inspired art work.
Inspired by John Nieto
We started asking a lot of questions about the history of Native Americans and wanted to learn more. We asked questions about the importance of animals – many of the works of art we saw from different Native American artists included animals. A lot of the stories we read also included animals.
At the Denver Art Museum
We know that asking questions and investigating those questions leads us to even more questions! Sometimes, we take learning trips to help us investigate more. We toured the Denver Art Museum to visit the American Indian Art Collection. We loved looking at the decorations on clothing and drawings on tipis, and our tour guide, Ruth, helped explain the stories in all the art work.
While we were at the museum, we learned that some of the exhibit came from Plains Indian tribes. We started to look at videos of ceremonial dances from Plains and Southwest tribes. Then we found photos and videos of longhouses and learned a little about the Iroquois tribes.
As we continued learning more and more, we stopped to think about the differences in these cultures. Also, we knew that we don’t see people living in tipis and longhouses now. What we had been learning was the historical culture of these tribes.
One of the things we learned was that the Native peoples lived in North America long before the Europeans came to this land. We were very sad when we learned how their land was taken from them, and we tried to understand what it would be like if strangers came and just took our homes away. It’s difficult to understand something that has never happened to us, and we wanted to be able to meet someone who could share more about Native American culture.
We were very fortunate to have a visit from Rose Red Elk, also known as Red Feather Woman. During her visit, she shared stories with us, talked to us about her regalia, taught us a song that she wrote, and helped us learn a round dance. Rose Red Elk answered a lot of questions, and we loved having her visit. She helped us to understand a lot about how STORY plays a part in her life. Rose Red Elk shares her stories to honor her culture and heritage.
With Red Feather Woman
Some of the stories we read or heard through storytelling were called legends. As we thought through these stories, we noticed that most of them either taught lessons or explained how something began. We loved the story that Red Feather Woman told us about Wind Eagle! We also heard a story called “The Little Boy And Girl In The Clouds.” It was a great story, and the hero is an inchworm. We noticed that it had a similar lesson to some other stories we know: “The Lion and the Mouse” and “David and Goliath.”
We love music, so Mrs. Baldwin brought out some instruments and taught us a song called “Ho Ho Watanay.” We practiced keeping a steady beat with the drums, and used rattles to emphasize the rhythm of “wa-ta-nay.” After we finished learning and performing the song, Mrs. B asked us if it sounded like a song that would be sung at a war ceremony. We didn’t think so! BC said it sounded like a song that helps you go to sleep and then remembered that those songs are called “lullabies.” That’s exactly what the song is! It’s an Iroquois lullaby.
This is a video of us practicing the song:
This was a really great block of learning for us! We made so many connections to things we already know and have experienced. We also really loved learning about Native cultures, and we are grateful to those who helped teach us this block!
*Note from Mrs. Baldwin: I do not edit the students’ blogs for content or conventions. This helps us see students’ writing progress through the rest of the school year. Any notes from me will be included in [brackets].