What’s the Weather?

In fifth grade we are learning about weather, seasons, and climate through online research and hands-on investigation. Pictured here are students trying to figure out what time and season it would be in Texas, based on the tilt of the Earth’s axis, its orbital position around the sun, and its rotation upon its own axis.


Students will also participate in a weather forecasting contest with KTAL Chief Meteorologist, Todd Warren.


In our study of the thirteen colonies, 5th graders are learning about the colonists’ growing dissatisfaction with Britain. Most especially, students are connecting the dots between Britain’s desire for land, the French and Indian War, and the costly effects of that war on the colonists-- taxes on paper, glass, and tea, among other things, and quartering British soldiers in colonists’ homes. To sympathize with colonists’ feelings, we played a game about taxation without representation. Students were allotted a small cup of candy, as I chose students to play King George III, a member of Parliament, and a tax collector. The tax collector announced random taxes, such as one Skittle to be paid by all colonists with blond hair, or three Smarties to be paid by all colonists wearing a red shirt. He then split the “taxes” among King George, Parliament, and himself. As the photos demonstrate, the tax collector was not a popular person. Thankfully, our students did not tar and feather him!

Katelyn Gunter


It’s time for our annual Colonial Living History project. This is one of my personal favorite projects, as it enables 5th graders to truly envision the lives of colonists in the three regions as well as engage in true project-based learning. This year, our students chose to live in Maine (a part of Massachusetts Colony) in New England, New Jersey in the Middle colonies, and Maryland in the Southern colonies. Each colony researched their daily life, as well as their geography, natural resources, and economy, in order to design a business and room appropriate to their colony. Students also chose names, wrote journal entries about a day in their lives, and prepared bibliographies of their research sources. They also created “fraction” quilt pieces in math to include in their displays, and made butter the “colonial way” in science. Now, the fun begins-- transforming the middle school commons into a colonial village. Students have begun building the rooms to house their businesses and their daily lives. With the help of the invaluable Ms. Denise, 5th graders do most of the work themselves. On Friday, students will present their rooms and themselves in costumes to their parents and the rest of the campus. We cannot wait!



Colonial Investigations in Math and Science

In conjunction with their studies of Colonial America, fifth grade students created and analyzed fraction quilts in math. We studied the craft of quiltmaking and learned how quilts would often tell a story. Students then chose a design for their own section of a quilt and colored their patterns on graph paper. They calculated the fraction, decimal, and percent of each colored section.


We also grew plants and made butter in science to experience these elements of colonial living. Students planned a small-scale garden of peas, barley, and corn, and it was exciting when the seeds finally began to sprout. They researched how these plants would interact with other living organisms in an ecosystem and created a food web to map out the flow of energy.


To make butter, we found through experimentation that it takes approximately ten minutes of vigorous shaking to turn heavy cream from a liquid into solid butter. We also debated whether the change was physical or chemical and found that solid (pun intended) arguments could be made for both cases. Sampling the freshly made butter on bread was perhaps the most delightful part of our lesson.


“This week was super fun. The reason why is because I learned about plants. I also learned about the ecosystem.” ~Zachary

“My favorite activity was working on the colonies project . It was fun planting seeds and making a quilt. We get to build our house with Ms. Denise. It was fun combining math and science for the colonial fair.” ~Staten

“This week I learned about colonies. It was fun. I loved it. I love school.” ~Ayres

“I enjoyed every thing about this week. When you said we were going to do quilts I was so excited. Thank you for an awesome week.” ~Brayden

“My most memorable learning experience this week was growing the plants in science. At first I didn't know what barley was, but when I researched it I found it was used for several purposes.” ~Morgan

Katelyn Gunter


Fifth graders have learned a new irregular verb in Latin, “ire,” which means “to go”. This verb is important because just as in English, we use the word “go” often in Latin and especially when explaining movement. Students must apply the verbs to three different verb tenses and begin using them with the prepositions that they have already learned. It takes reinforcement to learn new verb tenses, so students have been practicing in multiple ways-- through whiteboards, flyswatter vocabulary review, and kinesthetic role play. Reviewing through a variety of differentiated methods helps all learners. This way, fifth graders “ibunt” (will go) the distance in Latin!



Escape with Decimals

Fifth grade has been studying decimal operations in math. They used their knowledge of adding and subtracting decimals to complete a BreakoutEDU escape game. They had to add menu prices, read latitude and longitude from a map, and solve many other multilayer clues to open a series of locks. It took a tremendous amount of teamwork and focus, but they successfully completed the challenge with one minute to spare!


Katelyn Gunter



We have been building “boomilevers” in science with the help of Mrs. Denise. A boomilever is an architectural structure that is supported on one side only, a combination of a boom and a cantilever. We applied our knowledge of force and leverage in attempts to create the strongest, lightest, most efficient structure. Next we will complete the engineering design process by returning to the drawing board to see how we can improve what we made.


“My favorite thing this week was making the boomilevers. I really liked doing this because it was a really great learning experience for me to learn. I also really liked it because I have never done something like this before and it was really fun and exciting.” ~Morgan


Fifth graders are learning the value of close reading. We have initiated the practice of reading a passage multiple times over the course of a few days in an effort to deepen comprehension. The students are engaging with the text well--interesting fiction and non-fiction passages make the reading more pleasurable. Working as a whole class and in small groups, students must think not only about characters, theme, and point of view, but they must also determine word meanings in context and cite evidence directly from the text. This process not only requires more analysis, but it also helps students to practice paraphrasing for writing essays.  I am seeing the benefits of close reading in the students’ enthusiasm and their well-constructed responses.

Next week, we will apply this skill to our thirteen colonies unit in history. I look forward to witnessing how much students absorb in these future readings because the information and knowledge they will learn is essential to our Colonial Living History project in December.


Katelyn Gunter


Fifth grade has just landed in America as English colonists!  We are imagining ourselves in the shoes of those brave people who founded the first successful English settlement. So far, we “gentlemen” have voyaged from England to the shores of Virginia and met the Powhatan Indians. We wrote day-in-the-life journal entries from the point of view of a Woodland Indian. Now we are wondering whether we can survive without much training in agriculture or experience in manual labor. Will Chief Powhatan and his tribe help us?  

When we are not exploring the New World, we are drafting essays about women’s suffrage for the annual Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest in our Language Arts class. This year’s topic focuses on the 19th Amendment and its impact on America. For some students, like H.W., this is the best part of Language Arts-- imagining that we get to live in 1919! What excitement 5th grade is experiencing as we time travel between 1607, 1919, and 2018!  




Will it sink or will it float? Why? Fifth grade students investigated the physical property of density in a collaborative research assignment with Grade Six. Topics included mass, volume, density, and concentration, as well as more complex concepts such as ideal gas laws and Archimedes principle.  Students shared their findings with one another and then applied their knowledge and skills in hands-on lab practical. In the laboratory, students calculated the density of air and compared it to a known standard and found the “number density” of Skittles. They formed and tested hypotheses regarding which brand of soap would float, and why. They also formed and tested hypotheses about the densities of various liquids. We had a great time getting our hands wet and the tables sticky!

“My favorite learning experiment was this week was in science. I got to learn about volume and density. I also got to learn about why a certain soap floated and the other two sunk to the bottom.” ~Addison

“I really enjoyed the density lab in science. One of the things I really liked about it was that there was a lot of teamwork involved. Also it was very fun and exciting to be in the lab with my friends having fun.” ~Morgan

Katelyn Gunter