January 21, 2016
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

#ThrowbackThursday: Mission US

Mission US is always a favorite activity in fifth grade. Students in Mrs. Hamman’s class first wrote about the game way back in August of 2011! Since this year’s class started playing the game today, we are republishing an excerpt of that older post.

Exploring the the American Revolution

In fifth grade, we study the geography and history of the United States in social studies. We’ve been learning about life in the colonies just before the American Revolution. We found a great way to experience what life was life back then through Mission US, an interactive, multimedia adventure.

Mrs. Hamman taught us some background information to explain the first mission of the game, which is called “For Crown or Colony?” After that we all got on our netbooks to explore the game. In the simulation, you play the part of Nathaniel Wheeler, a printer’s apprentice in Boston in 1770. Through the tasks Nathaniel has to perform, you get to meet real people who lived in Boston. You learn about the Loyalists and the Patriots and get to make decisions about who to trust and which side to support. The game introduced us to many primary sources, or actual documents and objects that were created during the time period. We’ve learned that when studying history looking for primary sources is important, so that you know the information you get is reliable.

We recorded our comments after playing the game:

What is one new piece of information you learned from playing Mission US?

January 19, 2016
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Before the American Revolution

In Social Studies we’ve been learning about the events that led to the American Revolution. We’ve learned that the Revolution was not caused by just one thing, but by a series of events. We’ve studied the French and Indian War and the various conflicts between the colonists and the British. Here are three activities we did to help us understand these events.

Taxation Without Representation Role Play

Members of the class were given “money” (a small cup of candies). Three students were chosen to serve as the King and his two Tax Collectors. The King started passing “taxes” that affected some class members, but not others; for example, if you had laces on your shoes, the tax collectors took three of your candies, or if you were wearing glasses, they took two. After a few turns we could see how unfair it must have seemed to the colonists when they had to pay taxes whenever the King asked, especially since they had no representatives who could speak for them in Parliament!

Sons of Liberty

We read that the Sons of Liberty had to do a lot of communicating in secret. When they scheduled a meeting, they would fly a red flag from the liberty pole in town. We practiced being Sons of Liberty by getting into groups and building liberty poles with the supplies we were given. The catch was that we had to do all the building in complete silence! It was hard, but it helped us see how the Sons of Liberty had to be careful not to give away their plans.

Boston Massacre

We learned that there was a trial after the Boston Massacre, and there were lots of conflicting opinions about what really happened that night. We went through a series of clues from the scene and read actual witness statements from the trial to compare them. We also studied the famous engraving made by Paul Revere. After we looked at everything, we had to form an opinion about who was most at fault, the colonists or the British soldiers, and write up a report about it.

Here is a Flipagram showing pictures of these activities.

Attribution: Here are links to the original sources on which these three activities were based: Taxation Without Representation Role Play by Kristine Nannini, Sons of Liberty by Mind Missions, Boston Massacre by To Engage Them All.

Next week, we’ll start Mission 1: For Crown or Colony, from Mission US!


January 11, 2016
by Mrs. Hamman

Going on a Google Expedition!

Last week we explored three national parks, the edge of a volcano, the bottom of the ocean, and the surface of the moon…all without leaving our school library! We were able to do this thanks to the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program.


Expeditions is a new educational program developed by Google. Expeditions are guided virtual reality tours that let students explore locations all over the world. Teachers guide the tour using a tablet, while students look through a special cardboard viewer loaded with a cell phone. While looking through the viewer you can look around and explore every inch of each scene, from every angle. It really feels like you are standing right there!

The Google Expeditions Pioneer Program comes to schools and allows teachers and their classes to experience this new program. We were very fortunate that they chose our school to be one of the first in Arizona to try it out. During our Expedition session, one group “visited” Mount Rushmore, Yosemite, and Yellowstone Park. Another group looked inside the Tolbachik Vocano in Russia. We all got a preview of our upcoming space unit as we explored the Moon and the spacecraft which took astronauts there.



The Google Expedition guide who came to our school asked for our input about what places we’d like to explore next. What Expedition would you suggest?

December 14, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Week of Code 2015

Computer Science Education Week is one of our favorite weeks of the year! It’s the week when students all over the world are encouraged to spend one hour learning about computer science and coding. We have participated in the Hour of Code at our school for the past few years, so this year our class decided to dig a little deeper and do a whole Week of Code!

We started with Code.org’s Hour of Code tutorials. It was fun to practice with games based on Minecraft, Star Wars and Disney characters. Then we moved on to the more in-depth Course 2, to learn more about things like sequences, loops, conditionals, relay programming, and debugging. After we finish this course, those who choose to will move on to learning the programming language Python.

While we learned about programming, we also explored our little Ozobot robots to learn more about what makes them work. They react in different ways to different colors and symbols, and we are still figuring out how to program them.  It’s been fun creating new courses for them to navigate.

A highlight of our week was when we got to work on coding with the first graders in Mrs. Reinholz’s class. We were amazed at how quickly the younger students learned!

Here’s a quick video showing some of the things we worked on this week.

Week of Code from S Hamman on Vimeo.

One of the great things about Code.org is the collection of inspiring videos and advice from real people who work in the field of computer science. Read this quote from Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube:


Do you agree with this quote? Why or why not?

December 5, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Global Cardboard Challenge 2015

Our class has participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge, sponsored by the Imagination Foundation, every year since 2012. You can read about our first challenge here.

This year, our challenge was even more exciting than usual. This year we were chosen by the Imagination Foundation as one of their Imagination Chapters (see this link for more information about the Imagination Chapters program). This means that our creative activities will get to extend throughout the school year!

We received some gifts from gracious donors as part of our membership in the Imagination Chapters program. First, we received cardboard construction toolkits from Makedo, which enabled us to put our cardboard creations together in creative ways, without just relying on tape. These tools will also really come in handy when we create geodesic structures later in the year! We also received five Ozobots. Ozobots are tiny robots which can be programmed to move in different ways. We’ve had a great time exploring the Ozobots to see how they worked; some have even gone home with our classmates for weekend visits! We’ll be demonstrating them for some other classes during Hour of Code week.

Here is a video showing some of the creations we made during our two-day Global Cardboard Challenge this year. Thank you to Mrs. Moore’s class and Ms. Myers’s class for joining us!

What else could we make with the Makedo construction kit?

What else could we do with the Ozobots?

Skip to toolbar