Monday, December 10, 2012



If you've walked down the first floor hallway recently, you may have noticed that it is lined with surveys, data sheets, graphs and books--- all evidence of student work surrounding their "Smarts". Multiple Intelligences, or "Smarts" have been the school-wide Think Tank focus for the past few weeks. All students in grades K-5 have completed an age- appropriate "Smarts Survey" to help them accurately analyze their strengths. One way to create an inclusive school, where all children can excel is to understand their different strengths-- and ensure that they are recognized. This unit has done just that!

I encourage families to take a survey to do at home from the folders outside my office or complete this online version. There are three versions, each with deepening levels of analysis. Take a look! Are you surprised by any of the findings? Do you agree with what your child has determined as their best intelligence? Do you see ways to strengthen those areas where your child feels weakest?

Preschool and PreK students created " Our Book of Smarts" as a class. After singing songs about our smarts students drew a picture of themselves using one of their smarts. Their pictures are compiled into class books on display in the main hallway.

Kindergarten students took a survey and then voted on any smart they felt they had. What do you notice about the results? They too are making "Our Book of Smarts", however theirs are not yet completed. Stay tuned!

1st Grade students were given 16 cards each labeled with a career. These included everything from musician to arborist, teacher to doctor. As a group, they had to decide which smart individuals in that career would need most to be successful. They then had to defend their choices to the class. Their choices were fascinating. Stop by and see what you think!
                                                                   2nd Grade
2nd grade students completed smarts surveys and then completed "My Smart Color Maps." These maps use colors to give a visual representation of their smarts ranked in groups of two. Surveys and maps are displayed.


                                                                    3rd GRADE
3rd Grade students completed a complex Multiple Intelligence survey. They then graphed their findings. The contrasting color signifies the students' strongest smart. If there was a tie, students had to ask themselves a series of additional questions to determine which smart was strongest. Look at how wonderfully unique our students are!


 4th Grade
Step one of the 4th grade surveys are displayed in the main hall. These detailed surveys show the variety of strengths the class possesses. Stay tuned this week for graphs that represent student strengths. Graphing skills are aligned to the 4th grade math Common Core standards for mathematics too!

5th Grade
Where is 5th Grade's data?? Well, 5th grade is taking an adult version of a Multiple Intelligence survey! Because of this, it has taken us more than one class period. Their final data will be displayed by the end of the week.

School-Wide Data
Take a look at the class by class "Best Smarts" breakdown! It is really neat to see the ways that classes differ in their makeup. What do YOU notice?

Isn't it amazing how SMART our students are?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Architecture in Schools- Focus on 4th Grade!

Front lobby display of student work
                                 4th GRADE: Architecture in  Schools Program

We have been very lucky to partner with the Washington Architectural Foundation for a two month course with our 4th grade students.Mike Binder and Christina Hayunga are incredible architects who have volunteered their time to make this program possible. They are not only knowledgeable but INCREDIBLY engaging! In addition, Mr. Rogers has joined us to add his expertise regarding acoustics to the mix!

Architecture in the Schools brings students through an architectural journey culminating in a completed physical model they designed. This group is working to design the amphitheater/stage portion of Maury's Schoolyard Improvements Master Plan

Schoolyard Design Plan currently being developed by Maury School Improvements Committee

Site is 50' by 50'
Our 4th Grade students have learned about architectural structures and explored them using their bodies.


They studied ancient Greek and Roman amphitheater design and used what they learned to build their physical models. They have been taking into account the sun's position during various parts of the day and different seasons.  


They are working to address issues surrounding accessibility, lighting, seating and safety. They even are looking into different materials they could use to complete this project.




As you can see, the 4th grade is doing some amazing work! Keep watching the front lobby of the school for design changes! Final designs will be on display November 30th.

Until next time Thinkers!

-Mrs. Ford

PS: If you don't have a child in 4th grade and are wondering when your kids will get to do something this cool, don't worry! The A World in Motion Engineering program will start in January for all grade K-5, 3rd grade will participate with Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) this year in the Rice Rangers program, 2nd grade has a special Think Tank Club on Wednesdays at recess and 5th grade completed a pollinator program with AWS. Needless to say, all students are experiences the sciences this year in new and exciting ways!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Think Tank Lending Library is Now OPEN!

After much anticipation, the Think Tank Lending Library is now open for you to come and check-out
amazing games for use at home. All information about the games and check-out process are below. Hope to see you soon!
How does the lending library work?
·         One game may be checked out per family, per week.
·         Each game will have a card showing contents. Check it when you get home, check it before you return, mark any missing pieces.
·         Games can be checked out for 7-day periods. (Ex: Check out on a Monday, return the next Monday.)
·         Games can be checked out by adults during the following times:
o   Mondays and Wednesdays 8:10-8:40 am
o   Mondays and Wednesdays 3:15-3:45 pm
         **  Any changes will be posted on my door. **
If I fall in love with a game and want to keep it, can I?
While I’d love to let you keep the games, I can’t. I think the Think Tank Lending Library would be quickly depleted. All games were purchased with a grant from the Capitol Hill Community Foundation and at cost from Labyrinth Puzzles and Games. (Thank you to the CHCF and Kathleen Donahue, Maury mom and owner of  Labyrinth!) Games can be purchased there.
What games do you have and how do I know what will be best for my child?
I have placed copies of the Think Tank Lending Library game list on my door. Please take one. All of the information can also be found below. 
Are there resources about using games to support a child’s development?
Why yes! There are! Games are excellent for improving reasoning, problem solving, teamwork, rule following and other important skills. In addition, many have direct academic connections enhancing language and math skills. Many games address the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice which can be found at .

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to come by my office or email me at

Maury Game Library Games
Word Games

Word on the Street, Jr.
Ages:  7+
Skills: Vocabulary, Spelling
Description: Exciting letter tug-of-war board game that is very fun played in teams. Each turn, one team flips over a category card and team members quickly brainstorm words that fit the category. The team agrees on a word before the time runs out and then pulls each letter in that word one lane closer to their side of the street. The first team to pull eight letters off the street wins!

Apples to Apples, Jr.
Ages: 6+
Skills: Reading, Grammar, Vocabulary
Description: On their turn, each player draws an adjective card and acts as a judge, while the other players choose noun cards from their hand which they feel match the judge’s card. The judge picks their favorite answer and the player who played that card receives a point. Player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Ages: 4+
Skills: Word, shape and pattern recognition, observation, short term memory skills
Description: Bingo with Zing! Zingo is a fast-paced variation of bingo. Players try to fill their Zingo cards with matching picture/word tiles from the Zingo Zinger. The first player to fill his or her card wins! Two sided Zingo cards allow for more or less competitive game play.

Sequence Letters
Ages: 4 to 7
Skills: Letter recognition, letter sounds
Description: Players sound out the letter on their card, matching it to the beginning sound of the picture on the game board. Each card features a letter of the alphabet in upper and lower case. Colored squares on the cards and game board help with faster recognition. When you have 5 of your chips in a row, you've got a sequence.

Tell Tale
Ages: 4+
Skills: Storytelling, Teamwork
Description: Each side of the card has a simple image, and the players work together to tell a story using the images as inspiration. There are many ways to use these cards to inspire imagination and creativity.

Tell Tale Fairy Tales
Ages: 3+
Skills: Storytelling, Teamwork
Description: Much like Tell Tale, every card in the game features an image on each side. The cards have a fairy tale theme, and players work together to tell a story using the images. This version seems to be easier for younger children as they can relate many of the images to stories that they’ve heard.

Rory’s Story Cubes Nouns
Ages: 4+
Skills: Storytelling, Grammar (parts of speech)
Description: Similar in concept to Tell Tale, but the images are on dice. The images are a bit vaguer too. Players roll the 6 dice, and use the images on the dice as inspiration to tell a story.

Rory’s Story Cubes Verbs
Ages: 4+
Skills: Storytelling, Grammar (parts of speech)
Description: Same as Rory’s Story Cubes Nouns, but the images represent “action” words. Players roll the 6 dice, and use the images on the dice as inspiration to tell a story.

Scrabble Slam
Ages: 6+
Skills:  Vocabulary, Spelling
Description: A fast-paced word game for 2-4 players, Scrabble Slam helps with vocabulary and spelling. After creating a random 4-letter word using cards from the deck, players receive the remaining cards, and take turns using those cards to change the word. For example, “LOSS” might become “MOSS”, which might become “MOST”, etc.  The first player to use all their cards wins. 

Ages: 7+
Skills: Vocabulary, Spelling, Grammar
Description: Upwords is a variation on Scrabble. Players take turns laying tiles on the grid, or using their tiles to alter existing words. Points are awarded based on the difficulty of the word.

Ages: 6+
Skills: Grammar, Spatial Relationships, Vocabulary
Description: “Speed Scrabble” - Each player draws tiles from the center, and then uses those tiles to build an overlapping grid of words. Once completed, the player yells “peel”, each player draws a tile, and play continues until all tiles are gone. More advanced players can be easily “handicapped” by giving them more tiles while less experienced spellers are given fewer tiles.

Pattern Recognition/Spatial Reasoning Games

Spot It
Ages: 4+
Skills: Pattern Recognition, Matching
Description: Each card in the Spot It family is covered in symbols. For any 2 cards, there is one and only one symbol in common. A large variety of both cooperative and competitive games can be played, depending on the child’s abilities. Examples include “Go Fish”, memory games, matching games, and others.

Spot It, Jr.
Ages: 3+
Skills: Pattern Recognition, Matching
Description: Each card in the Spot It family is covered in symbols. For any 2 cards, there is one and only one symbol in common. A large variety of both cooperative and competitive games can be played, depending on the child’s abilities. Examples include “Go Fish”, memory games, matching games, and others. Spot It, Jr. features fewer images per card, larger images, and brighter colors to make it easier for younger children to recognize.   

Day & Night
Ages: 3+
Skills: Spatial Reasoning, Pattern Recognition, Reasoning
Description: Day & Night is a solitaire puzzle game. Players create different formations based on the included cards. Using the “Day” cards allows players to see the shapes and colors of the pieces, while the “Night” side shows the outlines and encourages players to experiment in order to match the pattern.

Trucky 3
Ages: 3+
Skills:  Spatial Reasoning, Pattern Recognition, Logic
Description: Trucky 3 is a solitaire puzzle including a set of 3 trucks along with 10 colorful blocks. Using any number of the assorted colorful shapes your child is presented with a logic puzzle where they have to find the right pieces to complete the challenge. Preschoolers can start with some basic puzzles; while children 5 and older can focus on the later puzzles, which are more complicated tests of logic and spatial reasoning.

Smart Car
Ages: 4+
Skills:  Spatial Reasoning, Pattern Recognition, Logic
Description: SmartCar is a solitaire logic puzzle. Children can use the included pieces to make cars of different layouts using the included cards as clues. Each level of card includes different types of information, forcing the players to think about the blocks in different ways and how they relate to each other.

Color Code
Ages: 5+
Skills: Spatial Reasoning, Pattern Recognition, Colors
Description: Color Code is a solitaire pattern making game which includes multiple color block tiles which can be stacked on top of each other to create color patterns. A book of puzzles is included which ranges from easy to very difficult patterns.

Ages: 5+
Skills: Spatial Reasoning, Logic
Description: Baffle is a logic game similar to Sudoku but with colors and shapes instead of numbers. There are multiple games of varying difficulty, including a two-player strategy game. The main objective is to place all 25 pieces on the game board with every vertical column, horizontal row, and corner-to-corner diagonal containing one piece of every shape and one piece of every color.

Ages: 8+
Skills: Spatial Reasoning
Description: Swish is a spatial card game that challenges you to be the first to make matches, or “Swishes.” Swishes are made by stacking as few as two or as many as 12 cards so that every ball swishes into a hoop of the same color. The player with the most matches at the end of the game wins. Various levels of play make this card game addictively fun for all ages!

Ages:  4+
Skills: Spatial Reasoning
Description:  Players try to fit wooden pentominoes (blocks with 5 units) into a predetermined space and can increase the difficulty by adding blocks and increasing space. Blocks with fewer units are included for easier puzzles for younger children.  The book comes with hundreds of puzzles. There is also a two-player speed game included.

Ages: 4+
Skills:  Logic, Color and Shape Matching, Strategic Thinking
Description: One of the most award winning games ever. Qwirkle can be as simple as matching colors and shapes, but this game can also require tactical maneuvers and well-planned strategy. Earn points by building rows and columns of blocks that share a common shape or color. Look for opportunities to score big by placing a tile that touches multiple pieces with matching attributes.

Q-Ba-Maze (Big)
Ages: 5+
Skills: Spatial
Description: Q-ba-maze is a construction toy in which you can build wonderfully fun marble mazes.

Cooperative Games

Hoot Owl Hoot
Ages: 4+
Skills: Cooperation, Communication, Strategic Thinking, Color Recognition
Description: The object of the game is to move all the owls from start to the nest before the sun rises. Players take turns, but work together as they strategize how to move. Different difficulty levels may be accomplished by using more or less owls.

Willy’s Wiggly Web
Ages: 3-6
Skills: Cutting with scissors, recognizing left & right, hand-eye coordination, counting, taking turns, working cooperatively
Description: Can you cut all the little bugs free before Willy the Spider falls from the top of the web? Watch out- it's wiggly! Set up the web and place Willy and the 10 bugs all around the web. Pick a card, follow the instructions to cut the web, and then pass the scissors either left or right. Work together to cut all the bugs free and you all win!

Race for the Treasure
Ages: 5+
Skills: Strategy, Math grid concepts, Shared decision making, Cooperation
Description: Players try to beat the Ogre to the treasure by creating a path from START to END. Along the way they need to collect 3 keys to open the treasure. Players strategize, cooperate and build the path together. If they do it before the Ogre gets there, they win!

Count Your Chickens
Ages: 3+
Skills:  Taking Turns, Following Directions, Counting, Social Development, Cooperation
Description:  The baby chicks have flown the coop! All players work together to help Mother Hen collect her chicks and bring them back to the coop. Players take turns, but work together – players count aloud together, collect the number chicks together and, if they collect them all, players win together!

Math Games

Shut the Box (1 to 12)
Ages: 6+
Skills: Math (addition, simple multiplication)  
Description: A 14th century classic dice game. Rolling two dice, you use the results to “close” one or more of the numbers lining the top of the box. How close can you get to shutting the box? Using addition skills, you can try to “close” all of the numbers from 1 to 9. Using addition and multiplication skills, you try to “close” all of the numbers from 1 to 12. There are many variations of rules for this game, and the children will frequently invent their own.

Ages: 6+
Skills: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication & Division
Description: The equation-making game for math-a-magicians. Using the magic magnetic wand, each player draws numbers from the cauldron to create a math equation in 30 seconds. Earn 1 point for each number chip and 2 points for each jewel chip used correctly in an equation. If you drop a chip, you lose your turn. Play can be adjusted to include addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. The magician with most points at the end of the game wins.

Loose Change
Ages: 6+
Skills: Counting Money
Description: The buck stops here in this game of counting and coin recognition. Each player is dealt a hand of cards that includes nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars. The object? Be the first to have a pile of cards that add up to exactly one dollar. Be careful, though. If the coin card you play breaks the bank and exceeds the value of one dollar, you go bust.

Sleeping Queens
Ages: 6+
Skills: Memory, Strategy, and Math (Addition)
Description:  Big favorite with the kids, both girls and boys! Players are on a quest to wake all the sleeping queens. Each queen is worth a certain number of points. Kings, knights, potions, and jesters all play their part to help you win! If you can make equations or match numbers, you have a better chance of winning.

Zeus on the Loose
Ages: 7+
Skills:  Math (Addition, Subtraction, Place Value), Strategic Thinking
Description: The discard pile is Mount Olympus and you win if the discard pile sums to 100 or more while you control a Zeus statue. Each time you play a number card on the discard pile you must call out the new sum. Cards that feature various Greek Gods will affect the pile in some way and may let you steal the Zeus statue. You can also steal Zeus by getting Mount Olympus to sum to a multiple of 10. Fantastic “math in your head” game!

Zingo 1-2-3
Ages: 4+
Skills:  Counting, Addition, Pattern Recognition
Description: With Zingo! 1-2-3, players must match their numbered tiles to their corresponding challenge card. The first player with a full card wins the game by yelling “Zingo!” Two levels of play focus on counting and addition.

Dominoes – Double 9 Colored
Ages: 3+
Skills: Numbers, Counting, Pattern Recognition, Strategic Thinking
Description: Many different games can be played with these colorful dominoes which go up to tiles with 9 dots on each side.

Ages: 5+
Skills: Number recognition, Strategic Thinking
Description: Three-sided, triangular dominoes adds a bit of complexity and thoughtfulness to the classic game of dominoes.

Ages:  4+
Skills: Balance, Planning, Cooperation
Description: The chickens are hanging out on their colorful perch, but if one decides to move, everything starts to wobble! Get the chickens, wagon wheels and hay bales off the rocking roost before it’s too late.

Other (memory, dexterity, etc.) Games

Ages: 3+
Skills:  Dexterity
Description: Try to remove and replace blocks from a tower without knocking it down.

Ages: 6+
Skills:  Short Term Memory, Number recognition
Description: Players take turns revealing numbered cards, and then reciting the list of previously shown cards. Watch out for the distractions! When drawn, you have to quickly answer questions like “If you had a pet elephant, what would you name it?” then recite the list of numbers again.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


2012 Maury Monarch Habitat!
Maury is in full Monarch Madness Mode! With new monarchs emerging daily, the excitement in the building in palpable. Some monarchs are in the front tent, some  are in their classroom "homes" and a few sneaky ones have made their escape and found windowsills and ledges! Can you find where Ms. Bomba's chrysalis is hanging?

Hint: Do you see a little dot hanging between the clothespins?
We also still have many who have yet to emerge as students ( and teachers!) anxiously watch their class Chrysalises.

It has been quite the journey for Maury Monarchs. Take a look....

                        The Story of our Maury Monarchs

It was almost exactly one month ago that our monarch larvae arrived. They were so small! ( For a video of students marveling at their size, see this post!)

Where are they? Three of them are there!

Do you see the trail left behind by our very hungry caterpillar on the swamp milkweed?

Soon they were much bigger! 

Ms. Sweeney's class pets.
They ate and ate and ate.... and ate! Soon they formed beautiful chrysalises. Can you believe that a few classes actually got to watch that happen? 

One week old chrysalis. Can you see the wing inside?
 Students, staff and families anxiously watched their pupas, waiting to see their monarchs emerge. We thought most would emerge over the long Columbus Day weekend, but luckily, few did! When we arrived back on Tuesday, October 9th, most were a dark, black, signifying that our monarchs would soon be "born".
Students and teachers alike were mesmerized by the final stage of the monarch in its chrysalis. In the hours before it emerges, you can see the entire wing through the transparent chrysalis. Beautiful!

In a moment that many classes have witnessed, the monarch butterfly emerged, leaving its chrysalis behind...

And spreading its wings for the very first time.

While some classes are still waiting for this magical moment, many others are are getting ready to say goodbye and send their beloved monarchs on their long migration to Mexico.

Good luck Maury Monarchs! We love you!

3rd Grade Send-Off ( photo: Elizabeth Nelson)