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!


April 22, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman
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Earth Day Resources

Today is Earth Day! We’ll be exploring resources about ecology throughout the day today. Later this week we’ll post presentations showcasing what we learned.

Here are some articles, videos and games about Earth Day.

April 16, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman

Moon Phases

In fifth grade science, one of the things we study is the movement of different objects in our solar system. Earlier in the year we learned about how the moon’s gravity affects the Earth’s tides. Now we are learning why the moon appears to look different in the sky at different times of the month.

We have been learning about the movement of the moon by using different models. For one, we put a styrofoam ball on a pencil. We used a bright lamp to represent the sun, and our own bodies represented the Earth. As we moved the Moon in a revolution around the Earth, we could see how the Moon was illuminated differently depending on its position in the sky. Here’s a slideshow showing this:

Phases of the Moon from S Hamman on Vimeo.

We also created moon phase models using Oreo cookies! In partners, we drew pictures of the eight phases of the moon, then we made models from the cookies. The frosting represents the illuminated part of the moon.

IMG_0981 (1)


IMG_0973 (1)


Do you think planets have phases, too? 

(We’re going to find out the answer to this question after a video conference in a few weeks, and we’ll post the answer after we find out!)

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