Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Support Think Tank with your holiday/birthday/just because purchases!

A few weeks ago I sent home a flier with information on a few companies that make many great, inquiry-based learning toys. Fat Brain toys was one of these. This morning I recieved confirmation that we are now able to recieve 6% commission on any purchases you make when you access Fat Brain Toys through the clickable link on the right side this blog! All  money raised will go to support Think Tank or other inquiry-based initiatives at Maury! Every little bit helps as we work to build this great program at Maury!

Thank you for all of your continued support as we grow our Think Tank!

-Mrs. Ford

Monday, December 5, 2011

Make it MOVE!

Although it has been a few weeks since my last entry, I hope you have heard from your children about the exciting Lego based Think Tanks that have been happening! At this point, all students have had the opportunity to explore the Lego Simple Machines or Early Simple Machines kits, figure out how to use their components and complete a few challenges. The next step in the Lego unit is for them to build specific simple machines and complete a series of tests to determine how and why they work so well!

Lego Education uses a 4C approach: Connect, Construct, Contemplate and Continue

CONNECT: This is a story that places two Lego characters in real-life situations that most students will recognize  ( ie: on a see-saw). I read this aloud to the students. There is also a picture that goes with the story for students to analyze.

CONSTRUCT: Using building diagrams, students build models covering the concepts related to the simple machine focus.

CONTEMPLATE: This stage involves investigating the models they constructed. Through these investigations, students will learn to observe and compare results from tests that they make, and to report on their observations.

CONTINUE:  Students are asked to extend their learning, add and change features and investigate the content further. This phase encourages students to experiment and apply their knowledge creatively.

So far this unit has been a huge success! Students are exploring, being creative, problem solving and using many of their "smarts"! Please take a look at the bulletin boards on the first floor for the your child's work!

And now for more pictures:)

As always if you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to find me!

Until next time....
Mrs. Ford

Sunday, November 13, 2011



Lego Education is coming to Maury Think Tank. The boxes of materials will roll in on the UPS truck tomorrow and by the week of November 21st, students in all grades will be exploring the fascinating world of physical science, specifically simple machines. These lessons are aligned with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) standards which will allow our children to get actively involved in this area of academics. It is likely that this unit will be very popular with students (and families!) and given the multiple ways this can be implemented, this unit will take us into the New Year!

Here is a sneak peak into what you can expect....

PreSchool through 1st grade students will be exploring basic mechanical principles such as gears, levers, pulleys, wheels and axles using the Lego Early Simple Machines Set. This set uses Duplo blocks.

                                        2nd- 5th GRADE SIMPLE MACHINES

 2nd-5th grade students will be using the Elementary Simple Machines Set. Although this set spans a wide age-range, the lessons will vary according to the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards. This set will utilize regular Lego bricks.


5th Grade students will also build and explore machines and mechanisms, investigate motorized machines, calibrate and capture wind, and study gearing mechanisms. 

In addition, 13 2nd graders are participating in the pilot year of the Jr. First Lego League, a club for 6-9 year olds. They are completing the "Snack Attack!" challenge along with thousands of other students their ages around the world. Stay tuned for updates on their work, as well as any fundraisers or events.

How can you help support this Lego -based initiative?

* Find or purchase Lego or Duplo bricks! Although we have the sets coming, we can use many, more Lego or Duplo bricks and people. Feeling generous? You can purchase them in bulk from here!

*Volunteer during Think Tank or lend your STEM expertise to me as I plan upcoming units.

* Use this blog in the coming months to connect physical science concepts to your at-home Lego play.

Ms. Nesper is conducting a very interesting research study that needs YOU! Please take 15 minutes to complete her survey HERE!

Until next time....
-Mrs. Ford

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In Honor of Anthony...

Anthony loved Think Tank. Although I only knew him a few short months, he visited the Learning Lab almost daily after school to connect about the current topic. Origami was one of his favorites. On Friday of last week he came to the Learning Lab and asked for more origami paper to make an Origami frog. This is a model he'd been trying to figure out for a while. He'd mastered so many of the other folds!

If you are looking for a way to talk with your child about this awful loss, or would like a way to share your support with the Vindel family, please consider making an Origami frog, or an Origami crane ( a symbol of peace) and bring them to my office. I will ensure that his family receives them.

Until next time....
-Mrs. Ford

Thursday, October 20, 2011


From the simple

                                                                  all the way
to the extremely complex...

all students are about to embark on a study of this magnificent art!

For the next 4 weeks, all students will be exploring the art of paper folding, learning how to read origami diagrams, creating their own folded masterpieces and connecting the process to math and social studies skills and content. They will be using ALL of their smarts during the study and I encourage you to explore Origami in your own home
Here is a short overview of the unit:

Inquiry Activities:
Accurately and precisely create an origami figure. How many geometric shapes can you create?
Content Understandings:  Geometry, Two and Three Dimensional Shapes
Standard Connections to Math:
PK.G.1. Describe, name, and interpret distance and position in space; understand and use positional words.
PK.G.2. Recognize, name, and describe simple two- and three-dimensional shapes.

K.G.1. Name shapes of pattern blocks (e.g., triangle, square, circle).
K.G.2. Describe attributes of two-dimensional shapes (e.g., number of sides, number of corners, size, roundness); sort these shapes.

1.G.1. Describe attributes and parts of two- and three-dimensional shapes (e.g., length of sides and number ofcorners, edges, faces, and sides).
1.G.3. Identify symmetry in two-dimensional shapes.

2.G.2. Classify familiar two- and three-dimensional shapes by common attributes such as shape of curved and straight lines, number and shape of faces, edges, and vertices.
2.G.3. Match and construct congruent and symmetric shapes.

3.G.1. Compare and analyze attributes and other features (e.g., number and shape of sides, faces, corners, rightangles) of two-dimensional geometric shapes, especially the attributes of triangles (isosceles, equilateral, right) and quadrilaterals (rectangle, square).
3.G.3. Identify angles as right, acute (less than a right angle), or obtuse (greater than a right angle).

4.G.1. Compare and analyze attributes and other features (e.g., number of sides, faces, corners, right angles, diagonals,and symmetry) of two- and three-dimensional geometric shapes.

5.G.4. Identify and describe types of symmetry, including line and rotational.

What is Origami?
Origami, the Japanese name for the art of paper folding, compes from the Japanese verb oru  (to fold) and the noun kami  ( paper). A finished origami figure is called a model and instructions for a model are called a diagram.. The art is over 1000 years old and while it originally was used in traditional Japanese ceremonies, overtime it became a family pasttime passed down from one generation to the next.

Did you know?
An origami artist is usally called a paper folder. Leonardo da Vinci , renaissance painter, also studied the art when exploring the velocity of paper! Friedrich Frobel, the educator who founded the kindergarten system, used origami to introduce geometric shapes to children. Lewis Carroll, a mathematician and author of Alice in Wonderlan entertained children of royalty with origami. Harry Houdini, most famous for his work as an illussionist, wrote one of the very first English origami books in 1922!
Ready to try some with your family?
Don't hesitate to explore this art at home. Check out the links under "Think Tank at Home" and have a great time exploring! All you need is a piece of SQUARE paper. Only have rectangular paper such as magazine pages, construction or printing paper? NO PROBLEM! Simply fold and cut your rectangluar piece of paper.
( Of course, in an effort to be truly inquiry based, have your child figure out how to get a square from a rectangle!)

Finally, check-out origami books from the library, visit the sites listed on this page, pick up a packet of diagrams from the "TAKE HOME" folder on the Think Tank Bulliten Board or just make your own. Please send pictures of your beatiful work to me so I can display it here.
In the meantime, stay tuned to this blog for pictures of your children's accurate and precise work!

Until next time...
Mrs. Ford

Monday, October 17, 2011


Please ignore the spelling error in the signature. This letter was not proofread :)

Our beautiful friends were sent on their way to Mexico on October 12, 2011. In a wonderful send-off ceremony on a dreary day, each Monarch flew off to make it's way on the long journey south. It will take our  Monarchs almost TWO MONTHS to get there, but when they arrive they will be with millions of their friends. Beleive it or not, one tagged Monarch as flew 265 miles in one day!

Thank you to a wonderful Hill mom for coming to Maury on send-off day even though her children are not yet Maury students! The pictures below document our day so well!

It has been such a wonderful experience and we look forward to raising the GREAT-GREAT grandchildren of this year's batch next fall.

Until next time!

-Mrs. Ford

Monday, October 10, 2011


Our beautiful Monarchs have started emerge. It has been spectacular to watch the entire process and the fact that the students are witnessing each step live makes it truly special.
5th graders watching as their Monarch is minutes away from emerging.
5th graders watching as their Monarch is minutes away from emerging.
The 4th grade chrysalis in the forefront, the almost emerged 5th grade in the back.

So far, 9 Monarchs have emerged, and we expect the rest by Wednesday of this week. Until then, they reside in our main lobby in a beautiful butterfly tent where they can dine on the nectar of sweet flowers and prepare to fly to Mexico.

                                     Ms. Scott's class waves bye as their Monarch joins its "friends" in the lobby tent.
We will be having a big sendoff on Thursday. Please stay tuned for the time and location. In the meantime, please take a moment to watch these clips about the Monarch migration with your child. Students ( and to be honest, some teachers!) are getting a bit sad as their class "pet" is getting ready to fly south.

Thanks to Maury grandparent, Francis Royce for these pictures of what the migration looks like on the other end. When she visited Monterey Mexico, one of the mountain regions where the Monarchs winter, she took these pictures. They are AMAZING!

What an amazing experience this has been!!!!


Until next time....

-Mrs. Ford aka "The Butterfly Lady"