So, everyone likes spiders, right? What’s not to love? The long, hairy legs, the multiple, beady eyes, or the fangs ready to pierce the skin? Yeah, OK. They are kind of gross. We took a poll in our class and found out that about half of us hate spiders and the others like them, but we all find them very interesting. Mrs. Fraher hates them ever since she got bit by a recluse spider. It was very painful for her.
Our classroom is near a door leading to a playground near a desert wash. This means that we get all kinds of creepy crawlies coming through the cracks in the door. Here are some pictures we took of some of them:
We immediately started to do some research on spiders. Have to know what we are looking at.
Poor scorpion. We found him dead, so don’t think we killed him. Thought we would get some up close viewing of him.
This spider was lurking outside our door. We caught him with the help of Mrs. Goucher’s class. See the balls on the end of his antennae?
A caterpillar looking for a place to make a cocoon. Unfortunately, he escaped and was found a few months later (not so alive).
Scorpion crossing the road…we did a post on scorpions earlier using this guy. Check it out!
We don’t know what this is but it looked interesting. Some kind of grasshopper.
Praying mantis on the hunt for the other insects in our hall.
Geckos loved hiding out under our bean bag chairs.
Kind of a fuzzy picture but it shows a black widow spider.
Not so much a creepy crawly.
A tarantula stopping to smell the flowers outside our class. Did you know tarantulas can live up to 20 years?
Let’s find out more about spiders. Here is what we learned after our research:
Spiders are not insects. They have eight legs and insects have six legs.
Not all spiders spin webs. This is because they can’t make silk.
Most spiders have eight eyes. Ughhh! Some spiders that live in caves and soil have no eyes at all!
There are about 35,000 different species of spiders in the world. There are 3,000 spiders in North America.
Spiders have claws at the end of their legs.
Arizona has two very poisonous spiders: the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. There are three main kids of black widow spiders and about 13 species of recluses. Not all of them live just in Arizona.
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?
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.
We also learned about locations of deserts. A few of the deserts can be found in North America, Turkey, Iran, Africa, and Australia.
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.
Next what we learned about is where the Sonoran Desert is. It is in Mexico, California, and Arizona.
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?
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.
Young plants surround the “parent” plant.
The segments drop easily and “bounce” slightly when they land due to the spines. This is what gives it its nickname-jumping cactus.
Up close and personal with a young cholla cactus.
This cacti is used for natural barriers on large properties in the desert. Can you guess why?
Hikers are warned before they go into the Cholla Gardens in the Joshua Tree Park.
There are many spines on one segment. Each one is filled with a poison that is very painful.
Microscopic view of the spine of a cholla. This shows why it is so difficult to remove one from your skin.
Kyle holds a cholla cactus skeleton. This is what supports the cactus.
Does this look cuddly like a teddy bear?
See the resemblance to the teddy cholla? Not me!
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.
Our class did a mold experiment to practice using the scientific method. Our teacher said to pair up in groups of three for the project collaboration. To go with the project, we made a science journal and we’re going to keep track of the results.
Here we are writing about our observations! We collaborated to get the best detail. We made our journals out of small gift bags.
First, we got a piece of bread. We had to split the bread into three parts. Then, we rubbed one of the pieces on a desk, one on a shoe, and the last on our tongue. Each of us had to hypothesize which piece of bread we thought would have the most mold based off information we researched.
The petri dish with the three parts. Reminds me of a fraction!
After that, we put it in a petri dish. The petri dish was split into three equal parts. It was clear so we could see the mold as it grew. We had to label it afterward so we knew which bread piece was which. We put tape on the sides so it would be extra tight. Once we had mold growing we didn’t want take the chance that it would open! Yuck!
Look at what is happening to our bread!
Last we put it in a big black container under a desk. We would check the mold twice a week. It took a couple of weeks for the mold to become visible. Once it did we were amazed at the different colors we saw!
These are most of the colors we saw: yellow, black and blue-green. We also saw white fluffy looking mold. Some people didn’t have any mold at all…my group! Bummer! We must be too clean.
There I am with my moldless bread! I am not looking too happy!
Here are some facts about mold…
There are five basic types of mold that grow on bread. The most common mold is penicillium.
Alexander Fleming discovered this mold.
He found that this mold kills germs. He used this to make a medicine called penicillin which saved millions of lives over the last 80 years.
not a plant.
like mushrooms and toadstools.
one of natures cleaners.
used as flavoring for foods such as blue cheese and soy sauce.
What do you think would happen to our world if we didn’t have mold?
Hi, Gabe and I did some research on the Sonoran Desert. Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you.
Here we are fishing on a field trip. Sorry, didn't catch any fish. This manmade lake is in the Sonoran Desert, too.
We live in the Sonoran Desert. Our school is in the Sonoran Desert. We thought it would be important to know some facts about where we live. In class, we learned about the different types of writing. One that we spend a lot of time on is nonfiction text. Sometimes nonfiction text is called expository or informational text. It all means the same. This kind of writing is about real stuff. There won’t be any speaking kangaroos or flying pigs in this kind of writing. There are just facts about a topic.
What topic would you like to learn more about?
Hi, this is Gabe. Here is the information we found. We put it in a Power Point presentation. Then Mrs. Fraher used Slide Rocket so we could show it on our blog and at our Tech Fest at the end of the year. You will also see Christian’s presentation on what collaboration is and who we worked with while doing Project Feeder Watch. All of the pictures in the presentation are ones that our class and Mrs Fraher took around our school using our class digital cameras and iPads.
A couple months ago we took the AIMS test. This test was supposed to see how we did in third grade.
Were we worried like the iFake Text above said? No way!
Back of Justin's shirt he got from Cactus Canyon Wrestling team.
This saying was perfect to motivate us for testing.
Everyone (ALL STUDENTS) has the desire (WANTS TO) to win (MEETOR EXCEED)! Only champions have desire to prepare (STUDY, USE STRATEGIES, TAKE YOUR TIME, POSITIVE ATTITUDE).
Here are some things that we did to do to become champions on this test:
Cassidy said: “Mrs. Fraher taught us lots of strategies to help us take the test. One of the things she did was to look for words like “always”, “never”, or “not”. These words will help you on choosing a correct answer. I also made sure I took my time. The AIMS isn’t timed so sometimes I took brain rest. I liked reading the cards my mom wrote for me. I would read it right before I took the test and it helped me because she said she loved me.”
Isaiah said: ”One strategy I used to help me on the test was to get rid of the choices that were obviously not right. In our class we called these the “DUH” answers. I think it is important to not get distracted and let people bother you.”
Gabe said: ”Sometimes it is hard to read so much and remember what you read so I underline important stuff with my highlighter. We practiced doing this in the mornings on our morning work. It helped when we had to take the test.”
Faye said: ”When I do the math test I will draw pictures or make a story in my head because it helps me solve the problem. In math, Mrs. Fraher would make us show more than one way to solve a problem. I think it is important to try hard and think that you can do it. I liked my cards my mom and dad wrote to me.”
Zach said: ”A strategy we learned was to read the questions first before reading the story. That way we know what to look for. It helps me find the important parts of the story and answer the questions easier. If you think you can do it, you can.”
Anthony said: ”I didn’t rush just to get done. I underlined important parts. I listened when Mrs. Fraher reviewed for the test. I think I did a good job on it. Mrs. Fraher had the parents write secret cards for us and she passed them out each day of testing. She wrote one for us too. This showed me that my parents wanted me to do a good job. I liked reading them.”
Here we are after a day of testing. See the pink and yellow cards parents wrote for us? They really helped us stay motivated and not give up.
What are some strategies you use to help you on testing?
As summer begins heating up in the Valley of the Sun, we can look back on our Arizona spring with fond memories. This spring was especially beautiful because of the increased rainfall in the winter. Our class even used this time to write some poetry commemorating the event.
Spring is a bright flower blooming Spring is joyful noise Spring is a tree sharing its color Spring is awesome
Spring in Arizona is a wonderful surprise because of the unexpected splashes of color everywhere you look. Here is a video a group of classmates made to show new life coming to the desert in the spring.
We were lucky to see all of this evidence near our school. We watched the baby hummingbirds and squirrels grow right before I eyes as we went about our busy school days. To our class, that was a celebration. It made us think about the book “I’m in Charge of Celebrations” by Byrd Baylor. She writes her books in free verse poetry.
Sometimes when people think about cacti, they only think of the painful spines cacti grow…and they are painful! In the spring, though, they create colorful blooms reminding us of a colorful sunset.
What do you like best about spring?
Do you prefer a different season over spring? Why?
Mrs. Fraher gives our class a lot of chances to collaborate with other students. We collaborate with different students within our class. It is fun to learn from others because everyone thinks differently. Collaborating makes learning fun! We have learned how to write better, explain ourselves better, and comprehend what we learn better. A lot of what we have learned can’t be tested using a multiple choice test.
Global collaboration teaches us about cultures and the importance of relationships.
We learned that collaboration relationships require give and take, learning doesn’t just come from books, and there are no boundaries when it comes to collaborating.
The cool thing about collaborating and the technology we have is that we can also collaborate with students from other countries. We were email buddies with a class in Port Lincoln, Australia and collaborated with Mrs. W and Mr. Davo Devil from Tasmania.
We also get to collaborate with other kids at other schools in Apache Junction and around the United States. We are going to meet Mrs. Moore’s class and Mrs. Hamman’s class at Four Peaks Elementary, and we are writing to a class in New York- Mrs. Delace’s Class.For the whole year, we have been buddies with Bensesa School in Nairobi, Kenya. We have learned about different cultures and have found out that we are a lot alike, too. We are starting a new collaboration with Mrs. Murphy’s class. We will be blogging buddies with them and also participate in a Flat Stanley project.
Reading with each other is a great way to collaborate!
Did you now that you can collaborate with people from all ages? Mrs. Fraher likes to invite community members and experts to collaborate with us. This shows us that we can learn from any age and that people in our community care about our learning.
Do you collaborate with other kids at your school or around the country?
I will be teaching you how you can be a bird detective! You just have to follow the clues to identify any bird species you want. There is more ways than you think and here they are!
What I think is the easiest feature to use is finding males and females. In almost all of the bird species the male looks different then the female. You can also tell by the bird’s size, the largest bird on the earth is the Whooping Crane. The smallest bird is five centimeters tall. This bird lives in Cuba and is a Bee Hummingbird. Here is a picture of a hummingbird that lives in our area.
Can you see the long, thin beak?
What other clues could you use to identify a bird species?
You can also tell the bird species by the beak. A bird that eats nectar has a loooooong beak. It uses its long tongue to slurp nectar up like its tongue is a straw. A meat eater usually a sharp beak with a hook on the end. This is used for ripping the meat apart. An insect eater has a thin beak for pecking insects in small cracks and trees. A bird that eats seeds has a sharp point at the end and strong edges to crack the seed open.
This Red-tailed Hawk on a Saguaro Cactus outside our room has a beak that helps tear meat.
There are also a lot of different feet for birds. Here is one. Songbirds have four thin toes one, pointing diagonally left and another pointing diagonally right. The other toe is pointing straight. The last one is pointing backwards!
Lesser Finch using its toes to grasp the finch sock at our classroom window.
Some birds like the Titmouse have “mohawks”, or as the Quail has a topnotch. A topnotch is a little feather on the top of quail’s head.
Many male and female Gambel's Quail feeding at our window. See the top knotch?
You can tell by the patterns and colors of the feathers. For example, the female House Finch looks almost exactly like the Song Sparrow, but the Song Sparrow has darker brown spots. The Song Sparrow only has the brown specs on the top of his stomach, it has a thin pointed beak, and it has a dark spot next to it’s eye. A female House Finch has light brown spots all over it’s stomach and it has a curved beak, but doesn’t have the dark spot.
This House Finch at our window is similar to the House Sparrow. Its pattern and color set it apart.
This is how you would be able to tell the difference between bird species.