Category Archives: G.S.S.T.A.

G.S.S.T.A.- Colonial America

Grade School the Second Time Around– This series of posts begs to answer the question, “Did I actually learn all this stuff when I was in grade school and then just forgot it, or am I learning it all  fresh now, the second time around? ”  

Our final unit in fourth grade social studies is devoted to the American Colonies and the Revolutionary War. Personally, I find this topic fascinating. Too bad most of our students have checked out mentally, already dreaming of summer vacation. It’s a bit hard to absorb anything, especially a lot of American history that way.

I’ve learned a lot, though! Here are some of the more interesting tidbits…

  • Colonial housewives used live chickens as chimney sweeps. Apparently, they dropped the bird down the chimney and as it fell the flapping and flailing of it’s wings would knock the dust and suet off the walls. (guess the Founding Fathers weren’t real big on animal rights.)
  • Young boys and girls would both attend beginning school, called “Dame School” to learn basic letters and facts. After that, however only the boys were permitted to go on to grammar school. The girls returned home to learn “domestic sciences” from their mothers. (apparently, they didn’t care much about women’s rights either…)
  • “Dame School” by Thomas Webster

    In the winter months, student were required to bring their own wood from home to fuel the school house stove. (And my students complain about the weight of their backpacks!)

  • Some Colonial homes had beds that folded up into the wall to allow extra living space during the day, like our more modern Murphy beds.

  • The size of the wig you wore (a very popular accessory for men and women during this time) reflected directly on your wealth. The bigger the wig, the richer the wearer.
  • George Washington (when he wasn’t wearing his wig), was a brunette.
  • Even though, historically, King George usually get the blame as being the “bad guy” during the revolution, he was only 22 years old at the time and was probably leaning heavily on the advice of his Prime Minister George Grenville.

Are you feeling any smarter? Bet I remember more about this chapter in American history than any of our fourth grade students will! Maybe I’ll quiz them in the fall…😊

G.S.S.T.A.- The State Where We Live.

The second marking period of fourth grade social studies is dedicated to learning about our home state of New Jersey. The first task our students had was to complete an informational packet. This included things like the State capital, the governor, the land masses and economy. I’m always surprised at how little some of the children seem to know about the place where they live but then I guess that’s the point in studying it!

After they slogged through the tediousness of the packet, the teacher offered them a more enjoyable project.  Each student was to research some fun facts or trivia regarding our fine Garden State and put together a power point presentation to share with the class. They really rose to the challenge and came up with all kinds of interesting (and sometimes weird) tidbits. A few were even new to me! Here are some of the highlights.

  • New Jersey was home to the first known competitive baseball game played at Elysian Fields in Hoboken on June 19, 1846. (The New York Base Ball Club defeated the Knickerbockers 23-1.)
  • Our coast is home to the longest Boardwalk (Atlantic City) the first sea shore resort town (Cape May) and the world’s largest elephant, Lucy in Margate (You know how I feel about Her!)   

  • We have more diners than any other state and are often refered to as the “Diner Capital of the World!” (Apparently, we also have the most shopping malls!)
  • New Jersey has a Spoon Museum, (over 5400) It is housed in the Lambert Castle Museum, in Paterson. (Who knew, right? 😳)
  • The first ever drive in movie theater opened in Camden Nj on June 6, 1933 (wonder what was playing?)

  • The light bulb, the phonograph and the telephone all had their start in New Jersey thanks to Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. (And the first motion picture projector too)
  • Modern paleontology began in 1858 with the discovery of the first nearly complete skeleton of a dinosaur (the Hadrosaursus) in Haddonfield NJ.

I can’t swear to the authenticity of all of these claims but as a New Jersey native, I’m pretty sure we have bragging rights to most of them (especially the weirder ones!) I’m also pretty sure that long after our fourth graders have forgotten the major economic sources in the State, they’ll still remember that we gave the world Salt Water Taffy and the Hersey Kiss.

How about your State, or Province, or Village? Do you have some fun facts you can you brag about?

http://www.njeha.org/njfacts.html

http://www.50states.com/facts/new-jersey.htm

Grade School the Second Time Around-The Atom

image

http://www.clker.com/clipart-atom-nucleus-electrons.html

This semester in fourth grade science we are discussing renewable and non renewable energy sources. Because nuclear power falls under this topic, we have also been discussing atoms and their place in the universe. Last week, in order to provide the students with an idea of how really, really, really tiny an atom is, the teacher showed them a video that explained it like this…

Picture a grapefruit. Now let’s consider the nitrogen atoms in that grapefruit (there are lots of other types of atoms but for now we will just focus on that one.) Lets pretend that we can take those nitrogen atoms and blow each one up to the size of a blueberry. In order to accommodate those blueberry sized atoms the grapefruit would now become roughly the size of the planet Earth. 😳

But wait! There’s more!

Continuing along that line… if we wanted to see just how small the nucleus inside each atom is we would have to blow that blueberry up to be the size of a football stadium. Even then, the nuclei would only be the size of a small marble!

POW!!! Mind blown!

I can tell you the students were certainly impressed. It was a learning experience for me as too!

Interested in seeing the video we watched in class? Follow this link: https://youtu.be/yQP4UJhNn0I

Grade School the Second Time Around (part 7)

Here we are at the end of the school year so this will be the last installment until September (unless I learn something really exciting over the summer)!

  • Some salt marsh birds build their nest out of  straw that grows in the marsh. Because the straw is hollow, the nests float and move up and down with the tide water. The birds “anchor” the nests with seaweed tied to mussel shells buried in the sand. This keep the nest from floating away.
  • The male fiddler crab has one large claw and one small. He waves this large claw in the air to attract female fiddler crabs.
  • Mudskippers are fish that can live on land as well as in the water. They use their fins to drag themselves along on the sand and they breath through their gills by storing water in pockets on their sides that keep their skin moist.

And with that bit of water related trivia I’m off to the beach!!

Grade School the Second Time Around (part 6)

We have moved on to our next science topic “Oceans”! Here is what I rediscovered this week…

  • The Pacific Ocean has more salt than the Atlantic Ocean. Not sure what other differences this makes but one neat fact is that it is easier to float in the Pacific.
  • Fish, such as sharks, tuna and salmon move their tails side to side when they swim but sea mammals such as dolphins and whales move their tails up and down.
  • A shark’s skeleton is made entirely of carterige. That is why it can almost bend in half when it thrashes around.
  • This one is very depressing: Due to the way the currents move, there is an “island” of trash and garbage about the size of The state of Texas floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii. 😞

Something to think about, huh?

Grade School the Second Time Around (part 5).

Stuff that made me go “Hmmmm?!”…

  • Bamboo is an incredibly useful and versatile plant. It can be harvested to build furniture, buildings and even cloth! It is also great for the environment because it can replenish itself in only 3 to 5 years as opposed to trees, which take 50 years to mature.
  • Baby elephants suck on the ends of their trunks for comfort in the same way human babies suck their thumbs.
  • Elephants throw dirt and dust on themselves to ward off insects and to protect their skin from the sun.
  • Horseshoe crabs have been around since prehistoric times.

🙂

Grade School the Second Time Around (Part 4)

It’s that time again! Here are a few interesting little tidbits I learned (or relearned) this week:

  • All meat eating dinosaurs had three front facing toes on their feet with a shorter fourth toe in the rear, just like birds.
  • Uranus is the only planet that spins on its side. Scientist believe that it may have been hit by a meteor the size of Earth causing it to tip onto its side.
  • Pluto (the former planet) was named by an 11 year old English girl named Venetia Burney. She suggested the name Pluto to her grandfather, in honor of the Roman god of the underworld. Her grandfather forwarded the name to the observatory where Pluto was discovered in 1930.

I guess I either slept through this stuff the first time around or my brain just pushed it out in order to make room for other stuff like recipes and song lyrics? No matter. I got it this time!

Grade School the Second Time Around (part 3)

Hear is what I learned this week….

  • Cumulus clouds (the big fluffy kind) are made up of water molecules while cirrus clouds (the wispy kind) which are higher in the atmosphere, are made of ice molecules.
  • All meat eating dinosaurs walked on two legs.
  • Venus is the only planet in our solar system that spins clockwise. Earth and all the others spin counterclockwise.

I don’t know about you guys but I’m feeling smarter everyday! 😊

Grade School The Second Time Around (Part 2)

My latest plethora of interesting tidbits:

  • The legendary Pony Express was actually only in business for 18 months! They were able to deliver mail from Missouri to California in 10 days. The Pony Express operated from April 1860 to October 1861 when the invention of the telegraph rendered it obsolete.
  • The term “Manifest Destiny”‘ (Wikipedia definition: In the 19th century, a widely held belief in the United States that American settlers were destined to expand throughout the continent.) Simply put, some early Americans felt it was their right or duty to expand and explore the continent from one coast to the other. This concept, endorsed by Democratics, was nonetheless unpopular with many powerful men, including Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.
  • You can jump 6 times higher on the moon than you can on Earth!

There, doesn’t everyone feel a little smarter?!? 😊

Grade School the Second Time Around

I make a living as a teacher’s aide. It’s a great job, very fulfilling and a lot of fun. However, I have come to realize that there are many things that I have either forgotten or never learned during my first tenure in elementary school. Everyday I find myself saying “Really? I never knew that!” Now, maybe these little gems of knowledge are not going to be a surprise to some of you but, hey, they made my day more interesting! So here is the first installment of GSTSTA (see title). I will continue to enlighten you periodically! 😊

  • Sound does not travel in space.
  • There are more craters on the near side of the moon than on the far side.
  • There are 17 varieties of penguins 
  • All penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere and some live in very warm climates like Africa and Chile.