An American Symbol Soars Into Our Learning

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We are always on the lookout for a good way to collaborate and learn new things.  Just sit back, get comfy, and listen to what we have been experiencing the last few days.  It’ll knock your red, white, and blue socks off!

Our class is very interested in all things involving our country. We are all wearing our patriotic colors to show our pride in the United States.

It all started with an email Miss Hall, our speech teacher, sent us because she knows how much we love technology and birds.  The email contained a site that provides live cameras on different animals.  This happened to contain a link to a live camera on a bald eagle nest in Tennessee!  So, we jumped on right away and were instantly caught up in the life of Franklin, Frank for short, and Indy (Independence).  Frank and Indy are non-release eagles who are currently caring for two baby eagles.  Franklin and Independence are in their 20’s and have been together since 2000.  They have had 29 eaglets together. 

Bet you are wanting to see them, huh?  In a little bit…

No, this isn’t Indy or Frank but it is a bald eagle who loves the USA!

We had so many questions!  Mrs. Fraher noticed a chat going on next to the live feed and she asked if we could jump in and ask questions.  The people in the chat were so nice to let us spend some time asking all about these two eagles.  We had to take turns asking the questions.  They sent us a whole bunch of links and pictures to use.  Here is what we learned:

So, you see how much we learned.  To learn more about the eagles and American Eagle Foundation click on the words.  We think it is so important to be aware that humans are the biggest threat to eagles and many other species.  Our carelessness and lack of information is harmful to the animals in which we share the earth.

After learning about the eagle and keeping it safe, what do you think you could do to help protect these majestic birds?

Why do you think the eagles were named Franklin and Independence?



Something’s Fishy Around Here

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Our class had a wonderful time fishing with Mrs. Goucher’s Class at Water Ranch in Gilbert.  We were lucky to be part of a grant Mrs. Goucher had received through the Arizona Game and Fish Department.  A representative from Arizona Game and Fish came the day before the field trip to teach us about fishing and the fish species found in Arizona lakes and streams.

After some time fishing, we went on a walk around the preserve.  There were many bird species, wildflowers, and all kinds of insects for us to observe.

We would love to hear about some of your fishing experiences.

Do you have a fishing tale about the fish “that got away?”

Take a look at our fishing tale.

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Bird, Bird…Bird is the Word!

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Our class is so excited to start our Project Feeder Watch program this year!  This is the third year in a row that Mrs. Fraher’s class has participated in this project through Cornell University.  Why not start it out with a bang?

Mrs. Goucher’s fourth grade class joined us one sunny Friday morning along with parents from both classes.  There was a great deal of excitement from both rooms.  Students had a great time participating in activities centered on birds.  Owl pellet dissection, making bird feeders, learning bird calls, going on a bird hunt, and creating bird art using different materials were just a few fun projects they were involved with.

Are you interested in seeing what we did?  Well, check this out:


Here some things our class likes about birds:

Trevor:  I like that there are so many different kinds of bird and that they are so colorful.

Avery:  I think it is cool that some birds can talk.

Tyler:  I like birds because they look so cute when they peek into our classroom window.

Brooke:  Birds puff up their feathers and it makes them look like a puffball.

Alexis:  That all species of birds make different sounds and you can tell the different birds by their sounds. 

Check out what these students think about birds.

Garrison:  It is interesting to look at all of the species of birds because they have different beaks, feet and feather colors.

Kyle:  I think it is cool that they can takes a bunch of sticks and with their beak they can make a nest.

Emma:  I like birds because you can have them as pets and feed them.

Trinity:  Some birds are nocturnal, like an owl and that you can’t hear their wings flap because of the special feathers they have.

Tyler:  I like birds because they help spread pollen to make flowers.

Skyler: I like birds because they are so different and some don’t even fly.  

Anne:  I like watching how their patterns change on their feathers and they get more beautiful as they grow.

What do you like about birds?

Oreo Project

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Oreos were the name of the game one week recently.  After getting the idea from Projects by Jen, our class dived in with eagerness.

Take a look at some of the many things we did.

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Here is the important question…

How do you eat your Oreo?

Glowing Predators Invade!

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As the weather changes in our part of the world, we are noticing changes in the variety of species we see. One species that is more noticeable is the scorpion. There are many different types of scorpions living throughout the world. In the Sonoran Desert, we have several different species.

In the past couple of weeks, we have some close calls in our classroom.  We are lucky to have a space outside our classroom to use as some extended learning spots.  Mrs. Fraher has some bean bags and a couple of desks out there for us to use when we collaborate with others.  Unfortunately, scorpions (and other critters like geckos and spiders) love to hide under those bean bags.  Several times we have been buddy reading and find a scorpion sitting next to us.  Hmmm, maybe he was enjoying the story!

Here is a picture of the curious scorpion: (just a little one, but those are the scariest!)

Scorpion that was listening to our reading. He scurried away when he found out we were onto him.

Here is another scorpion that was crossing the road.  Why did the scorpion cross the road?  It was so big that Mrs. Fraher saw it from far away, stopped her car, and took some pictures with her phone.

This scorpion was six inches from stinger to pincher! Don’t you love the shadow it makes?

Some facts about scorpions:

They eat spiders, insects, and small animals.  There venom paralyzes the prey.

A cool fact is that when they are babies they hitch a ride on their mother’s back.

Their enemies are lizards, roadrunners, and hedgehogs.

They reproduce by laying eggs.

There are 45 species of scorpions found in Arizona and more than 2,000 in the world.

Check out this site for more information:  Scorpions 


Think about the scorpion that was crossing the road.  

Come up with a good joke and share it with us.



Deserts! Not Desserts!

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The Blog Post Authors

Who would have thought that one little “s” would make such a big difference to the meaning of a word!  By taking out an “s” in dessert, you go from sweet, fluffy goodnessOur research is about the desert.  One of the deserts are named Death Valley because this desert is so dry.

Creosote Bush

We also learned about locations of deserts.  A few of the deserts can be found in North America, Turkey, Iran, Africa, and Australia.

Cholla Cactus

A desert is a piece of land that receives a low amount of rain.  Less enough to help support most plants.

Prickly Pear Cactus

We learned that there are many different kinds of deserts.  There are Sand Deserts, Stony Deserts, Rock Deserts, Plateau Deserts, Mountain Deserts, and Trade Wind Deserts.

Saguaro Cactus

Next what we learned about is where the Sonoran Desert is.  It is in Mexico, California, and Arizona.

Palo Verde Tree

Finally we learned about the plants in the Sonoran desert.  Some of them are Barrel Cactus, Brittlebush, Desert Ironwood, and a Chain Fruit Cholla.

By the way…we took all of these pictures in the desert wash behind our class.  Cool, huh?

Mesquite Tree

Jump, Jump Jump Around

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What plant jumps more than a basketball player and is more painful than a shot?

Arizona, more specifically the Sonoran Desert, is home to a special plant nicknamed the “jumping cactus” and is feared by Arizona dwellers for a very good reason.  Its real name is the Cholla Cactus and it comes in many varieties.  

Ever seen a teddy bear?  Well, believe it or not, one of the more common cholla cactus species is called the Teddy Bear Cholla.  Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure of this cactus and a teddy bear for your comparison.

Hmmm, doesn’t connect with me… What about you?

Why do you think this cactus would be called a Teddy Bear Cactus?  Support your answer using the pictures provided and what you have learned about this cactus.

So, the Cactus isn’t all bad.  How is that, you say?  It’s full of poisonous barbs that are painful!   Here are a couple of stories about our classes run-in with a cholla cactus:

“My friends and I were playing in a desert wash by my house.  I went down to the bottom of the wash and landed in a pile of cholla cactus segments.  They were stuck all over my hand and forearm.  It was very painful.  My dad was trying to get them out but it was hard.  I was screaming and crying because they stung.  Finally, we got them out using a comb.”  by Kyle

“I was at my cousin’s baby shower and my grandma asked me if I could help her pulled down some tablecloths.  Near the tablecloth were some cholla cactus needles.  They stuck into the back of my arm.  They felt very bad and because it was just a few of them I was able to grab the needle and pull it out.” by Brooke

How can it not be all that bad?!

Well, the Cactus Wren, Desert Pack Rat, and various other species of desert animals use this cactus for their homes.  It provides a natural barrier for the javelina from predators.  People use it as a barrier so trespassers won’t go onto their property, and the skeleton of the cholla cactus is used for lamps, jewelry, and other household decorative items.

Cholla Cactus Video

What have you learned about the cholla cactus that you didn’t know before?


Galapagos Island: Mysteries in the Ocean

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Our class is reading a story called “Wild Shots, They’re My Life” in reading this week.  

To help us build background we are watching these videos in class.

The story is about a woman who grew up on the Galapagos Island and became a photographer.  Through her pictures, we learn about some of the many species of animals found on the island.  Since she grew up on the island, it was easy for her to blend in and get good pictures because she was so familiar with the locations.

To extend our learning, we will also become photographers using the digital cameras in our class.  We won’t be taking photos of the Galapagos Islands, but we will take photos of the Sonoran Desert.  Since we are living in the Sonoran Desert, it will be a great opportunity to connect with the author, as well as learning more about the plant and animal species around us.  Stay tuned to see what we took photos of!

Predict what pictures we will be taking.

Do you think we will take photos of elephants?  

How about coyotes or bobcats?

Think about what lives in the Sonoran Desert and that will help you make your prediction.

Desert Teachers!

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We are so excited to become desert teachers for Mrs. Spasic’s class in Indiana.  You might be thinking how are we going to teach a class in Indiana if we are in Arizona?  Well, we are going to Skype with each other.

Like any good teacher we will have to learn about our topic.  Some of us will be teaching about a certain desert animal and the others will teach about a type of desert plant.

Doing a little bit of research using our Netbooks.

As you know research can be kind of tricky when you are a kid.  Some of the sites are too hard to read for eight year olds and the others may not have safe content.  So, Mrs. Fraher uses Symbaloo to help us target our research to sites that are appropriate for us to learn.  

Have you ever used Symbaloo?

Here is the link she put together for us to use to gather our research.  We will read through the information and fill out a graphic organizer.  




Plant Project Makes Our School Beautiful

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Flowers, friends, and families were as abundant as the flowers we planted at school recently.  Our class has been studying plants, their parts, and their lifecycle.

There was a very plain, somewhat ugly, planter in the middle of our school courtyard.  It was crying out for some life!  Since we were studying plants and flowers and there was a need for some beautification, why not “meet two goals with one strategy” and plant some flowers!

Our classroom families came through with flowers and gardening tools so we would all have practice exploring the flowers and their parts as we planted them.  Take a look at the process:

 This project not only helped make our school a better place, but also taught us about plants and using diagrams to gain information when reading  informational text.  These skills are important for us to become critical readers.

Tell us about your garden or your favorite type of flower.