Monday, March 31, 2014

Celebrating World Water Day

On Friday, March 21st, our class spent most of the day learning more about water -- both locally and globally.  We started the day by thinking about what we already knew about water and recording our ideas in a web.  Next, our teacher challenged us to draw a diagram of where our water comes from and where it goes.  We all had some ideas of what this might look like.  Here are some pictures of what we drew:

For our next activity, our teacher showed us a presentation called Tikho's Story.  It was a young girl showing us how she gets water in her community in Zambia.  It was sure interesting to see how things are very different -- not only how they get water, but also how their sewer and handwashing works.

After viewing Tikho's story, we did a "3 Pile Sort" activity.  We worked with a partner and were given a bunch of pictures related to water in Africa.  We had to decide if each picture was "good", "bad" or "inbetween" and explain to our partner why we thought that way.  Some of the pictures were hard to decide!  We also did a similar activity but using pictures of water in North America instead.  We quickly realized that for many of the pictures, there was no one correct answer and our conversations were very interesting.

Next, we learned about the story of Ryan and Jimmy.  Our teacher showed us the book, but because it was so long, she just summarized it for us.

Ryan and Jimmy
Photo Credit: Kids Can Press
We thought it was awesome that Ryan got to visit his well in Uganda -- what an amazing experience that would be!  We also watched the video trailer for the movie that was made.  You can watch it here:
We also got to take home an article from Owl Kids Magazine that included some information about Ryan. 

For our first activity in the afternoon, we had a guest speaker.  The person responsible for ensuring we have clean water in our town came and talked to us about how we get our water, how it's cleaned and how we get rid of our waste water.  He brought water samples that were collected at different points in the treatment process and showed us pictures of the whole process.  It was interesting to learn more about water right in our own community.

To help us understand what a big job it is to collect water, we got to do a water collection activity.  We were put into 4 teams or "families".  On one end of the room, there was a bucket with 2 liters of water in it -- that was the well we had to collect water from.  On the other end of the room, was our home, with an empty bucket.  We had to take turns in our "family" collecting water from the well using a dixie cup and filling our bucket at home.  Sounds easy, right?  Well, not really.  Eventually, the cups got soggy and didn't hold water very well.  We tried to keep as much of the water in the cup by covering it with our hand.  It was so hard to get all of the water from the well into our house!

We learned that it takes lots of trips to get enough water.  We also learned that you need to be careful not to spill any of the water, because then we would be wasting it and would have to make more trips to the well.  It was a great way to learn this!

Our last activity for the day was the "Jelly Bean Activity".  We started by completing a sheet to identify our priorities for using water.  Almost everyone felt that "drinking" was the most important use of water, but we had some disagreements about what the least important use was -- some thought "washing a car", "watering the lawn" or "flushing the toilet". 
For the next part of the activity, we were divided into groups.  Four of the groups were from Nicaragua and the other four groups were from Canada.  The groups from Nicaragua were given a cup with 12 jelly beans in it and the Canadian groups were given cups with 65 jelly beans in them.  The jelly beans represented the water available to us for one day.  Every cup from both countries had 5 black jelly beans in them -- this represented the polluted water and we were encouraged not to use them.  Next, each group was given 8 cups that were labeled with the different ways to use water and the number of jelly beans (water) it required.  The Nicaragua groups found it very hard to use their water (jelly beans) and do everything they needed to in a day.  Some of the groups even decided to use their polluted water, for things like "washing clothes" or "flushing the toilet".  The Canada groups were able to easily do all of the water activities with the jelly beans and didn't even have to use the polluted water.  It was interesting to hear some of the Canada groups suggest that they could save their left over water for the next day, while others suggested donating their left over water to the Nicaragua groups.

We ended our day by taking some time to think about how each one of us can do small things to take care of water.  We each filled out an action sheet to take home and share with our family.

We were wondering...

How did you celebrate or learn about World Water Day?
What is one thing you can do to take care of our water supply?

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Moose on the Loose!

Our day started with some excitement this morning!  There were 2 moose on the loose on our playground!

Thankfully, we had teachers outside, making sure students safely got into the building.  The moose didn't find our playground as exciting as we do, so eventually they wandered off.

We were wondering...

Have you ever had a wild animal on your school's playground?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Not a Box Genius Hour Finale!

After all of our hard work with our "Not a Box" genius hour, we were so excited to share all that we had learned and accomplished.  We did some reflecting and writing about our project...both on our own and as a group. 

One of the questions we answered as a group was -- "How does your project make the world 'awesomer'?"  Here are some of our answers...
-using our imaginations to help people have fun
-travel to new and unknown lands
-playing with it
-it's cool and fun
-by helping people
-for the world to be funner
-showing the world foster homes
-by letting us play

One of the other questions was about what was hard for us.  Many of us agreed that "collaboration" was so hard!  To fix this, we thought we could make sure we listened, shared ideas and worked together.

During our student led conferences, we shared our projects with our parents.  We also got the chance to share with other students.  Our teacher invited kindergarten to grade 4 classes to come and see our projects last week.  It was very overwhelming to have so many kids to talk to at the same time!  We explained our projects and they asked us some great questions.

Here are some pictures from our "not a box genius hour" showcase with the students...

We were wondering...

How do you share your learning?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kenyan Penpals

Back in December, our teacher told us that she had found a class in Nairobi, Kenya who wanted to be penpals with us.  Our penpals go to Bensesa School and we enjoyed looking at their website to see pictures of them and their school. 

Eagerly, we wrote our first letter to them.  In it, we introduced ourselves, told a little bit about our school and asked some questions.  Here are a couple of letters:

We also included some hand drawn illustrations to go with our letters -- like this:

Our teacher then mailed them off and the wait began...
It took a very long time for us to receive anything in return, but one day in March, an envelope from Kenya arrived...

In it, we found letters for all of us!  They told us more about themselves, their school and what their life is like.  Some of them also included illustrations.  We loved reading their letters!

We were surprised by some of the things about their letters -- the paper was very thin, their printing is a little different than ours, their school is made of iron sheets and their class has 40 students.

Our teacher decided that we weren't going to write a normal letter back to them.  Instead, she taught us about timelines by reading "Timelines, Timelines, Timelines" by Kelly Boswell.
Photo Credit: Amazon
We created a timeline called "A Day in the Life of..." in which we shared what a school day (from the time we get up, to the time we go to bed) is like.  We also didn't write it on a normal piece of paper...instead we used adding machine tape.  Here you can see some of us working on them:

Finally, we illustrated them and will include a photograph of ourselves.  Here are some finished products:
And now, the wait begins again...hopefully it doesn't take them too long to respond!

We were wondering...

Have you ever written to a penpal in another country?
What would you want to tell kids in another country about yourself or where you live?