Day of Play 2016

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?



Team Baldwin 2016-17



We are Team Baldwin! We are a class of 4-7 year old students who love to build, read, write, draw pictures, sing, and move!

We hope you follow us as we learn this year. This blog is a place for us to share some writing and photos, and we will also be sharing a lot on our class Twitter account,@TeamBaldwin.

Our first day of school this year was Wednesday, August 24, 2016. Hope to connect with you soon!

We Went to Space!

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:

Bodie’s Blog of Wonder

Nathan’s Blog of Wonder

Ryan’s Blog of Wonder

Zach’s Blog of Wonder


Also, we tweeted often about what we were learning. One day, a NASA engineer helped us learn, too! You can read this Storify of all our space tweets –

Curious About Space


We are very excited to present how we “went to space” at the ISTE conference this June. We will be sharing our poster session on Tuesday, June 28. If you’re attending ISTE, we hope you’ll come learn what we did!



Book Review – Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs

Susan Shaefer Bernardo sent us her amazing book, Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs!


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!

Our Trip to the Discovery Center

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!IMG_8113

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.IMG_8120

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!

IMG_8132 IMG_8133 IMG_8137

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:

Zach’s Blog of Wonder

Bodie’s Blog of Wonder

Nathan’s Blog of Wonder

Ryan’s Blog of Wonder


We are very grateful to the people at the Space Foundation Discovery Center. Thank you so much for taking the time to help us learn more about space!

Cultures and STORY

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
  • storytelling
  • paintings/drawings
  • sign-language
  • clothes – what we wear can tell a story about who we are
  • movement/dance
  • music

Class observations:

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

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

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

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!

Grade 1 student blog posts*:

Bodie’s Blog of Wonder

Zach’s Blog of Wonder

Nathan’s Blog of Wonder

Ryan’s Blog of Wonder


*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].


Our Winter Stories

We’ve been working on winter stories for quite a few weeks. We started reading a book called Winter: The Coldest Season of All! from Cantata Learning. We noticed the art work in the illustrations, and how winter scenes use a lot of white and different shades of blue, grey, purple, and even some black.

After we read the story, we created a word bank of winter words:

snow, snowflakes, ice, white, cold, crisp, freezing, snowman, blankets, hot cocoa, sleds, skis, skates, snowboards, ear muffs gloves, coats, hats, mittens, scarf, snow pants, boots, trees, animals, hibernate, migrate.

We started thinking about stories by drawing our own winter pictures. Some of us drew and colored on paper. Some of us started in the app Paper by 53.

Some of our stories will be in video form, exported from Explain Everything. Some will be written on paper and shared with photos of our work.


Zach’s Winter Story

Bodie’s Winter Story

Nathan’s Winter Story

Ryan’s Winter Story

Elle’s Winter Story

Nora’s Winter Story


Cayman Ruth’s winter illustration



Johnny’s winter illustration



Wyatt’s winter illustration



(We’ll continue adding links and photos here as we complete our stories and art!)

Measuring Temperature

We have been talking a lot about how we measure – length, distance, weight, and much more. Two days ago, we we learning about how we measure temperature. We knew that we could use thermometers to see what how cold or how hot it is. Some of us knew that you can measure temperature in Fahrenheit. WG knew that most other countries (outside the US) use Celsius to measure temperature.

We have learned about the Earth’s orbit around the sun, and we also know that the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun. It’s almost winter for people in the northern hemisphere, but almost summer for the people in the southern hemisphere. We wondered what the temperatures were and decided to ask people through Twitter to complete a survey for us.

After two days, we received over 275 responses! We know that means we have a LOT of information to look through. In the meantime, we wanted to share a map of the 202 unique locations from responses. We were VERY excited to see all the different places on the map, especially from other continents!

In the next two weeks, we’ll be looking at this information to see if we can discover some patterns, and we’ll be making some graphs to help us understand the information better. After looking at the temperature data, we definitely noticed that it was a pretty warm day for most people in the United States. That was a surprise for us.

Stay tuned for more information, and we hope you enjoy our map!


View December 2015 Temperature Survey in a full screen map



Thank you to all the wonderful people who helped us!

Day of Dinosaurs!

On Tuesday, November 3, we took a trip to two different places in Colorado to learn about dinosaurs. Our first stop was the Best Western Denver Southwest hotel. That might seem like a very strange place to learn about dinosaurs, but this is no ordinary hotel! Greg and Meredith Tally own this amazing hotel, and they have just completed a $5 million renovation to share their very unique collection with visitors. Their exhibits include interior and exterior murals, dinosaur fossils and casts, sandbox digs, and other curiosities. Our tour guide, Chenoa, shared so much information with us. We even got to touch some of the fossils! We are so grateful to the Tallys for welcoming Anastasis again to tour their hotel and learn more about fossils, dinosaurs, and ancient Colorado!

If you’re interested in learning more about the Tallys and the hotel, you can follow them on Twitter – @BestWestDenver.

The second leg of our trip was a visit to the Morrison Natural History Museum in Morrison, Colorado. We learned about the number of fossils found near Morrison, and we were able to see actual baby Stegosaurus footprints! We even had a chance to work with one of the paleontologists on a large stone with a fossil inside! We learned so much about different dinosaurs, and we can’t thank the staff of the museum enough for all their expertise and willingness to help us learn.

You can follow the museum on Twitter – @MorrisonMuseum

ZR wrote:

I lrnd at the hotel that a brd is a Dinisor. We got Dinisor fossils then we left I had a good time.

NS wrote:

We wnt to the Morison muesam. We so a T Rex hed. People found a Stagusoris Futprint.

BC wrote:

We went to the moreosin museum and we soo a T. rex had and lined about the ice age.

We went to the dinosaur hotel and lined about the ageis of the dinosaur.
This is a photo gallery of our visits to the “Dino Hotel” and the Morrison Natural History Museum:






How Questions Help Us Learn

In Block 1, we asked ourselves, “How do questions help us learn?”

In our reflection time, we thought about this a lot and made some interesting conclusions.


Asking questions:

  • helps us learn new things
  • helps us learn to ask more questions
  • can start conversations
  • helps us know ourselves and others
  • helps us to stay curious

We talked a lot about questions and answers during this block. We wondered about questions that don’t have a right or wrong answer and how we learn to deal with those. We decided that, most of the time, those types of questions lead to a LOT more questions. At first, it was hard for us, because we want all questions to have a right answer. It’s also hard for us when Mrs. Baldwin says, “I don’t know,” because we thought teachers were supposed to have all the answers. (That made Mrs. Baldwin laugh.) In the end, though, we learned that sometimes the answers we think we know as fact can be wrong. If we always remember to ask more questions, we learn that facts can change sometimes.

Very early in the block, we asked questions about WHO WE ARE and how do people get to know us? We played a game where we got to ask each other questions and then had to share with the whole class what we learned about our partner. We also painted pictures of the emotions that live inside our heads. At first, we could only think about a few emotions. But we asked questions: “What other emotions do we have?” When we thought about it, we came up with jealousy, embarrassment, satisfied, and a few others. This really helped us think about how we’re feeling each day, and how we can express ourselves better when we have those feelings.


We also practiced asking questions by having a weekly #whatisit photo. Mrs. Baldwin said we could write/ask as many questions as we wanted, but we could not ask what was in the photo. NS said that is so hard, because our brains just want to know what it is! We got really good at asking questions, especially when we stopped to think about what we could NOT see in the photo. Sometimes, we asked what the item was made of or how the photographer took the photo. We got really good at asking better questions!


During this block, we explored how we know if facts are true or not. One day, we asked a lot of questions about fall: how do the leaves change colors? Why do leaves fall off the trees? Why do some leaves turn red, some orange, and some yellow? Mrs. Baldwin showed us three different videos, and we were able to answer some of those questions. But then Mrs. Baldwin asked us, “How do you know that the information we saw/heard in the videos is TRUE?” At first, we were confused. We thought that Mrs. Baldwin would only show us information that was true. She asked us if we have to trust the person who is giving us the information, and we said yes. After a little more discussion, we were also able to decide that the information was true because we heard the same facts in each video. Today, we reminded ourselves that we have to find a trusted source for information, as well as check with other sources to see if they all agree.

When we were asking questions about the Mars Rover and evidence that water had been on Mars, we took our questions to our Twitter account, @TeamBaldwin to share with others. We were able to get some great answers from Bobak Ferdowsi (@tweetsoutloud) about the Mars Rover. We learned to ask questions of experts, so that we could learn even more than we could discover on our own.


Some thoughts from our class —

BC: When you’re curious and you watch a video or read something, then you get even more curious!

RS: “I wonder… ” is a good way to learn something new.

As a class, we decided that questions lead us to discover new things we like. Also, if we don’t ask questions, we don’t learn new things as well. It’s like building with LEGO. If our teacher does all the building for us, we didn’t really learn how to do it ourselves. If we don’t ask our own questions about what we want to learn, then we’re just doing what our teacher tells us to do.