November 19, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman

The Mayflower Voyage

This week we read Across the Wide Dark Sea by Jean Van Leeuwen a historical fiction account of the Mayflower voyage. Then we did some online research about the Pilgrims and their journey. We tried to imagine what being onboard the Mayflower would have been like.

We learned that the 102 passengers on the Mayflower mostly lived on the ‘tween deck, in an area with estimated dimensions of 58 by 24 feet. To get an idea of that size, we measured out an area outside with those dimensions, and all the fifth graders at our school (a few more than 102 kids) stood together in it. It felt pretty crowded, even without any adults! Can you imagine what it would have been like to live so close to other people for a 66-day trip at sea? To make it more challenging, even after they arrived in the New World, many of them had to remain on the ship for months!


Every day this week during reading time, we dimmed the lights and read by (electric) candlelight, to simulate the darkness of the ship. We listened to sound effects that sounded like being in a wooden ship. On Wednesday, while we read we ate a meal like one the Pilgrims would have had on board: beans and dry bread. Goody M and Goody H were kind enough to serve us!





By Mayflower pilgrims (as signed) (Unknown) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, we did a close reading of an important primary source document, the Mayflower Compact. Although the original signed document has been lost, we read a version that was copied down by William Bradford, one of the signers.  After reading it a few times and discussing the unfamiliar words, it was a lot easier to understand than it was at first! We were working on summarizing this week, so we were asked to come up for a sentence of 12 words or less to summarize the Mayflower Compact. Here are a few of our answers.

We will have our own government in this new land.

For our religion, we agree to make laws and follow them.

We’ll follow our own rules and our own religion in this colony.

What else can you teach us about the Pilgrims and the Mayflower?


November 9, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman

Learning About Veterans Day

In the United States, November 11 is Veterans Day. In some other countries, this day is known as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day. On this day, we honor those who are serving or who have served in the armed forces. We spent the last week learning more about veterans and Veterans Day.

We read a story in Scholastic News about a wounded veteran named Colton Carlson, who climbed the tallest mountain in South America after he was injured in the war in Afghanistan. This week we’ll be writing letters to Mr. Carlson.

We’ve been working on research skills, so we went on an internet scavenger hunt to look up facts about Veterans Day. We learned all about the origins of Veterans Day and how it is commemorated. Did you know that World War I ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918? That’s why Veterans Day is on November 11!



The answer to the question above is 21.8 million, as of 2014.

At the end of the week we had the honor of learning from primary sources about being a veteran. Through HEC-TV, we participated in a live video conference from Missouri where we got to learn from two Vietnam War veterans, Colonel Jack Jackson and Commander Thomas Mundell. Their stories about serving in wartime were fascinating. During the conference students were able to ask questions, and the veterans answered one of hours. We asked what kids like us should do to commemorate Veterans Day. Commander Mundell said he thought the best thing we could do would be to say “thank you for your service” to any veteran we meet, not just on Veterans Day but any day. Colonel Jackson added that we could also listen to veterans who want to tell their stories. He reminded us to also thank veterans’ families for the sacrifices they make.


We learned a lot about Veterans Day this year. To all of our veterans and their families, we say: THANK YOU!


October 5, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Bean Boozled: A Writing Game


This quarter we have been working on writing both fictional and personal narratives. We’ve read lots of examples of great narrative writing and have practiced writing narratives ourselves, starting with one paragraph, then building up to full-length stories.

One thing we’ve noticed is that good writers “show, don’t tell”. That means they include sensory details to make their readers feel like they are part of the story. We also noticed that the best personal narratives come from experiences that cause strong emotions.

Today we practiced using sensory details to describe an experience with strong emotions: playing the Bean Boozled Game! Bean Boozled candies look like regular jelly beans, but some in each box are actually terrible flavors like rotten egg, moldy cheese, and skunk spray! You can’t tell which candies are the good ones and which are bad just by looking.

You play the game by spinning a spinner wheel. The pointer lands on a color, and you have to pick a candy that color and taste it. If you’re lucky you won’t get one of the Bean Boozled beans! It was hysterical to watch our classmates’ faces while they chewed. It definitely brought out some strong feelings! We wrote sentences describing the experience of eating the candies, then turned them into descriptive paragraphs. Here are some of our sentences:

Tooty fruity tastes like bubble gum that has started to fade.

The lawn clippings bean was grassy and earthy.

I put it in my mouth and I got barf. It burned my mouth and it tasted like teriyaki chicken that was left out for a couple of weeks.

_______ got licorice and he said it tasted like his mom’s cooking (he meant that as a bad thing).

My whole body was shaking like a bomb about to explode. My stomach felt as if a million butterflies just hatched inside me.

That was the worst thing I had ever tasted. It tasted like crickets on moldy pizza.

The baby wipes ones are not as bad as you would think. They just taste soapy and flowery.

I waited until the flavor came to me. It started coming up to me, it was like this spiky kind of flavor, but also dull and sweet. It tasted like it was a normal, fresh pear.

Lawn clippings felt like someone pushed you into the ground and you have dirt in your mouth.

The canned dog food tasted salty, like 16-year-old beef jerky.

The toothpaste tasted like I just brushed my teeth then drank orange juice.

The rotten egg jelly bean tasted like a dead chicken that lived on the sun.

When they ate the skunk beans their faces wrinkled up like a old man in a hot bath.

They have an aftertaste that feels like guns in my mouth that are shooting me.

Here is an entire descriptive paragraph, by Diana:

I got to the front and spun the pointer it glided which was very annoying. Eventually it landed on booger or juicy pear. I grabbed the jelly bean out of the container studying, it was light green it dark green specks, before putting it in my mouth. I chewed, at first it was the taste of nothing then it got sour, I thought I had gotten booger. Then sweetness and tartness filled my mouth. I kept chewing and announced it was juicy pear. I went back to my seat still chewing. A after taste filled my mouth, this was much more different and interesting than the first flavor. It was sour and tasted more like a mix of lemon and mango. My chewing became slow as I studied the favor, swishing the bean around in my mouth to help describe it. Soon the flavor disappeared leaving me the still sour taste in the back of my throat.   One after another people came up and took one getting stinky socks or fruity tuity, biting their fingers as the pointer spun. Then the small game was finished and everyone got on task leaving things to go back to normal.

If you could invent any jelly bean flavor, what would it be?

How would you describe the taste?

Attribution: the original idea for this writing game came from Hope King (@hopekingteach on Twitter and Periscope).

May 20, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

The End of Another Great Year!

Believe it or not, tomorrow is our last day of fifth grade! We’ve had a great year and learned a ton of new things. Our blog is a record of a lot of the things we’ve done in class, but we don’t blog about everything. Here’s a slideshow showing some of the things we haven’t talked about on the blog this year.

Fifth Grade 2014-15 from S Hamman on Vimeo.

Yesterday we were asked to choose one word to describe our fifth grade year. The most popular word was: awesome! Here’s a Tagxedo showing all the words we chose.


The end of the school year is a good time to reflect on the goals we set for ourselves throughout the year. We’ve been doing that in our morning meetings and in our end of the year Memory Book. Take a look at our Classroom Vision video from the beginning of the year. How well do you think we met our goals as a class?