Birthday Bonanza

August ended with a bang as we celebrated not one, but TWO birthdays today.

Daniel and Jao both brought in a bunch of birthday bounty, allowing us to celebrate each one with some delicious treats.

Cake and candy were enjoyed by all, and kindness and consideration filled up everyone’s buckets as we burst our way in to the weekend filled with sugar and smiles.

Daniel’s Birthday


Jao’s Birthday


Do you have a favorite birthday cake recipe you are willing to share? If your tasty treats are not top secret, please share your recipes using the form below. We will assemble all contributions into a book of birthday bounty. Mmmm…

Birthday Bounty

Place Value – Pursuing Purpose Beyond Practice

In our pursuit to solve problems with place value, today we played a game with a partner that prompted us to think about place and value and their purposes. In addition, we were presented with some problems related to the procedure of the game that each pair resolved reflectively. After playing the game, we took time to think about the problems we faced and the process we went through to solve them.


Challenge: Consider how our understanding of place value is important as we interact with information outside of the classroom.

  • How can we connect our problem solving power with place value and our study of China?
  • How can place value impact our understanding of landforms in China and problems they might cause?
  • What kinds of problems in this place might be related to and resolved by our understanding of place value?

Here are  a few resources that might get you thinking.

Kids World Travel Guide

National Geographic Kids


Mr. Donn: China

The World Factbook

China Facts for Kids


Plotting a Problem, A Powerful Process

Today, as we continued to inquire about the power, process, and perspective of problems solvers, we took a look at the process authors use to plan with power, incorporating problems that propel their plots.

One tool that helps both plan and analyze development and resolution of problems is a plot diagram.

We then examined one illustration and caption from Chris Van Allsburg’s book, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

Archie Smith, Boy Wonder 

A tiny voice asked, “Is he the one?”

Having previously determined that problem solvers observe, we took some time to examine the illustration and record our observations. From the details in this simple scene, we then allowed our imaginations to wander and wonder. In addition to our noticings, we also collected some questions sparked by our curiosity and that of our prospective readers.

  • What are the balls of light?
  • Who is the tiny voice?
  • Is the voice related to the balls of light?
  • Why is Archie Smith a “boy wonder?”
  • Why is he sleeping? Is he tired because of something he has done?
  • Is Archie hiding something under the covers?
  • Is the window open? Why? How?
  • Why is there a boat in the scene?
  • Is the boat like Cinderella’s slippers? Does it cause the boy to change? Does it give him special powers?
  • Why is there a bat? How does Archie use it?
  • What is on the window sill? How does that affect Archie?
  • What makes Archie a “boy wonder”?

After taking a few minutes to start a story, we stopped to hear our hooks. Having saved ideas from Ms. Kraft’s first library lesson, we knew the first line of our story was critical if we wanted to capture our readers’ attention.

Will we be able to answer all these questions? How will our stories develop from this one mysterious image? What kinds of problems will our characters face? What will be their process and perspective?

Chris Van Allsburg

Who is Harris Burdick?



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