When in Rome…
Fifth grade Idea students have learned history, geography, language and culture  through their study of ancient Roman civilization. To make the final day’s experience more authentic, they did as the Romans: ate a feast while reclining on pillows and inscribed the words of Roman sages on graffiti paper.IMG_1783 IMG_1784 IMG_1795 IMG_1797

While exploring Rome, 5th grade Idea students imagined what daily life was like as they created ancient Roman apartment buildings, or Insula.  Each Insula had a store on the bottom, followed on top by apartments.  They each were quite historical and creative as they constructed these ancient Roman buildings.

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 Let’s Go a Viking!

Fifth grade Idea classes explored the world of the Vikings. They learned where the Vikings went and what they did by reading first person accounts and sagas, examining artifacts, playing simulation games, and using interactive maps. They created nicknames and wrote messages to each other using Futhark, the Viking alphabet, and learned some Viking words that are still used today. Then each student chose a topic to research. They wrote reports and made models of Viking ships, homes, and weaponry. The Vikings were certainly an interesting people!


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Ancient Egypt

The Egyptian civilization may no longer exist but it is very much alive in Idea classrooms! First and second grade Idea students have learned about the land of Egypt, Egyptian daily life, their buildings, beliefs, rituals, and writing systems. They have taken panoramic virtual tours of the tombs in Valley of the Kings and visited museums online to see firsthand what was designed and written thousands of years ago.

Some students have created canopic jars and made cartouches on papyrus. A lot of learning and a lot of fun!

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And the Winner Is…

Fourth grade Idea students learn the techniques of speech writing and effective public speaking through our Forum simulation. In this unit, each student created a fictitious award for a classmate, wrote and delivered a speech highlighting why that classmate deserved this prestigious award, and then made the official presentation.

Pictured are some of the award winners.

Byzantine Mosaic Makingphoto
In the second Shapers unit, fifth grade Idea students learned about the Byzantine Empire. One of the legacies of the Byzantines was their mosaics, some of which can be found today in churches and cathedrals in Italy and Turkey. They differ substantially from Roman mosaics, which were also examined. After learning how these mosaics were created many centuries ago, students had the opportunity to design and make their own mosaics in cement, which was a lot of fun!
Here are some examples:
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Fifth grade Idea students have been engaged in a new curriculum: Shapers of Western Civilization. They began the year by learning all about the Roman Empire. As a culminating event for this unit, a Roman feast was held during class. Typical Roman foods were sampled while students reclined on pillows, ate with their hands, and discussed statements made by some well-known Roman philosophers. These quotes were also scratched onto small black boards, much like the Romans wrote graffiti on the walls!

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Hibernation Stories

The theme for this year’s first/second grade Idea classes is Patterns. We began the year studying patterns of migration and hibernation in the animal kingdom. Each student then researched a particular hibernating species and wrote an original story based on the characteristics and habits of that animal.  These stories, written by Royle and Holmes students, were shared with first grade classes. We hope you enjoy them!

Hannah Hibernation

Hedgey’s Attack

Hibernating with Beatrice

Stacey’s Scary Hibernation

Teddy the Tiger

On Tuesday, June 5th, Idea Program sixth graders gathered at 7:30 AM to participate in the annual egg drop contest, the culminating activity for the year-long futuristic Civilization Unit. The eggs, dropped from the third floor, were packaged using no more than 3 materials that each began with the same letter. Each egg that survived the drop earned the team 50 points and an egg that landed in the landing zone earned an additional 25 points.  The eggs represented highly sensitive surveillance devices meant to gather intelligence information, prior to the team’s signing a trade treaty with the teacher planet, Nemesis.  Congratulations to all who participated and especially to Venture 1 for their winning year-long cumulative

total of 394 points.

Mayan Mask Making

The Mayan people wore masks regularly: in warfare, in religious ceremonies and during celebrations. They believed the masks gave them power and personality. Most masks were made of jade, a material that was plentiful and yet highly prized in their region. The grade 1/2 class at Holmes studied the Mayan culture, with particular emphasis on how and why they communicated, and made these masks.

In a  recent sixth grade inter-class competition, students applied their creative problem solving skills and used limited materials to create weight bearing cantilevered bridges.    All classes successfully completed the task but kudos go to Mrs. Mattera’s team, Spatio Sedes, for earning the highest score – 51 points!

Idea students in fifth grade have spent this semester studying the roles and responsibilities of U.S. presidents. We then focused our attention on the careers of three notable presidents: James Madison, James Polk and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Each of them faced unique challenges and made significant contributions to our nation.  We have examined primary source materials ( i.e. speeches, news articles, political cartoons, photographs) in order to gain first hand knowledge of what these leaders and the American people thought and did at the time.  The central question that framed our discussions of each president has been, “Did the times make the leader or did the leader make the times?”

As a culmination of this unit,  each student complete an independent project.  The project incorporated primary source materials and addressed the central question.

One important aspect of the fourth grade Idea program is learning various forms and techniques of speech writing and public speaking.   Here are three examples of informative speeches about famous people.
The sixth graders have just finished their first competition as they work to build a new civilization in the future.  Each team was responsible for designing a space settlement where 10,000 people would live and work.  Topics considered included transportation, communication, basic needs and energy.  Teams earned points for original and futuristic designs, as well as detailed descriptions of how the different areas of the settlements would function.  Please click on the link below to see the scores.
Settlement score tally sheet

Children in second grade learned about hibernation and migration.  As a culminating activity, students wrote original stories incorporating facts about their animal. Please click on the link to see second grade hibernation/ migration stories.

Swallow Tale

Molly’s Hibernation

Brian, The Little Brown Bat

Sammy the Fire Salamander’s Adventures

Philosophy in Daily Living

Within Idea’s 8th grade study of philosophy, students are encouraged to relate beliefs of the past philosophers to their present day experiences. Below is a sample of a recent writing assignment, wherein WordMasters’ words were used to support a student’s personal viewpoint.

Taking a Stand


“Much learning does not teach understanding.” Herodotus

This quote is true in my opinion. My first example is that a person may know something but not understand it entirely. For instance you could know that the American colonists won the American Revolution but you might not understand why. In every subject, every fact or piece of information has a patina which hides the explanation underneath. Again connecting to Social Studies, when you are studying, you could memorize dates and facts, the perfunctory material but not understand why or how something happened. Often you may say you understand something but you really only understand the superficial meaning.

Another way of looking at this is that a lot of people are school smart and know their textbooks or whatever but they do not understand people. Many people in today’s world flaunt their intelligence and knowledge but they do not understand how to work with others, how to be caring, how to help those less fortunate. The mien of some people is educated yet not insightful. They may be smart but they might not have the skills to survive well in society. They may flout others not on purpose but because they don’t know how to be kind, they don’t understand how it feels to be scorned. They are totally reprehensible because they may say and do things that make others unhappy even though they should know better.

This quote says a lot about people in general. You can be smart and understanding but many are “all brains and no heart” type of people.

5th Grade Students recently participated in The Presidential Exhibition at Middlesex Middle School. Students answered the essential question  “Did the time make the leader or did the leaders make the times?”  Each student researched a former President and an event that occurred during the President’s time of leadership.

Ethan, a second grader, wrote the following poem using his WM vocabulary from list # 3.
The sow sunbathed in the pasture

The farmer’s wife stirred the batter and put the dough out to rise

Sweat trickled down the farmer’s face

He doused himself with water

And paused before he scattered the seeds.

Since the beginning of the school year sixth grade idea students have lived in the future. Each class, representing a scientific exploration team, set out on a space Settlement to explore and hopefully settle, on a planet in a recently discovered galaxy. As each Settlement arrived at the once distant solar system, Settlement explorers set out to study the planet’s flora and fauna. Below are excerpts from Stelhestian explorers’ journals.

Flales are creatures that resemble flying whales.  They are herbiovores whose diets are primarily trees. While flales can grow up to twenty feet in length the most interesting thing about them is their way of moving. Throughout the flale’s body are air sacs.  When the flale wants to move, he inflates the air sac with helium that is produced inside itself, and then floats away.

After I explored the outer island, I heard a rustle in the brush. Out popped a silly looking thing.  It had large floppy ears three times its body size! I quietly followed it as it made its way down the PATH. It led me to its home. A giant group of them had dug a burrow into an even bigger rock. The strange creatures had reminded me of rabbits! I decided then and there to dub the island Rabbit rock and named the creatures, babbets (female) and bubbets (males).

Forming natural rope bridges between the trees are the Bulbakoot plants, stringing together the wonders of the forest. These purple tubes seem to wrap around their host tree two or three times, and then they somehow stretch rigidly across the divide to another tree.  I think this happens because two of these plants meet each other in the space between trees, then forge together. I wonder the reason for this curious practice. What draws the two vines together? That along with many other questions that I have in mind, are things I want to investigate as I continue to explore.

When I first landed on this strange, small island, the first thing I noticed was a peculiar crustacean that resembled a starfish.  When I attempted to grab one my hands were pelted with a storm of spikes, causing a searing pain. I watched the creature scuttle away onto land.  Curious, I followed, clutching my hand. I walked up the silky sand into a forest area, where I was baffled with what appeared to be thousands of colonies of these peculiar creatures.  After closer examination, I realized these creatures that resembled a starfish weren’t crustaceans at all, but strange reptiles with four legs and a long neck.  At that moment I know I would deem this place Starfish Island for these unusual creatures.

Fifth grade students were asked to write news articles using at least 10 words from the current WordMasters vocabulary list. Here is a sample whose topic is very timely.

Christmas Bomber Causes Major Security Breach

By Porter Bowman

It was a mundane Christmas morning, and the airports were as busy as can be on a Christmas Day.  No one paid any attention to the future “Christmas Bomber”, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, as he entered the threshold of security.  The TSA officers must have been dreaming of their Christmas breaks, since they were very lax at the time when the sneering, attempted bomber walked through the metal detector in the security lines.  The officials’ faux pas showed that while shirking their responsibilities, they were letting a man through security, who was trying to make a very sketchy attempt at blowing up a plane. Luckily, this attempt failed to have rigor and Abdulmutallab was arrested on board.  His established court date was January 8th and his final disposition will be jail.

This year, second grade Idea students are learning a great deal about the development of language in a variety of ancient cultures. Our second unit focused on life in Sumer and the sounds and symbols of cuneiform. As a culminating activity, the children wrote simple stories using Sumerian vocabulary and then inscribed them into clay tablets in our edubba (school). It was a wonderful experience!

The perception of time, relative to one’s age, was recently examined by 7th grade Idea students. Following class discussions and readings, they were  challenged to consider differing perspectives and create riddles describing  the “life cycle” of an inanimate objects.  Can you identify the objects?

What am I? by A.H.

I start out as nothing more than a few pieces of rubber and cloth.

Quickly my pieces come together. I am shoved into a small cardboard cube, right next to my brother.

After, we are wrapped in a thin sheet of paper, shoved into darkness, and bumped around for months.

Then, after almost all hope is lost, I see the light.

A giant takes my brother and me away.

The thing wiggles and we are jostled up and down, over and over again – sometimes it is me, sometimes my brother, sometimes both of us at once.

I go up and down many times. When I am old, dirty, and broken down I am tossed into the darkness again.  Do you know who I am?

The******n by P and C

At birth I start as the tear drop of a mournful angel.  My transition into the lower blankets of earth is marked by the time I become one of a kind.  My arms and legs sprout out on all sides as I gracefully drift down.  I hit the floor running as I see my brothers and sisters around me, and it feels like I am on a rollercoaster called wind.  I hear a boy inside the dwelling wake up and he looks through the portal into my life.  He sees the snow and is delighted with the aspect that he might miss school.

My life continues and soon the boy beams in joy as he pats his big gloves together.  In one pocket he is equipped with an orange dagger, and from his other pocket I hear the ringing of bells.  Soon I am caught in a bigger roller coaster and I get dizzy rolling and rolling.  Soon I become closer with the friends I have made on my journey.  Soon I am mounted on a man high in the sky.  Bells jingle as he perfects his new winter beast.  His friend comes and he also partakes in the rounding of my body.  Soon the two lose interest and night comes and the morning brings another day.  It is sunny and my life takes its infant form into the sky…who am I?

Who am I?

By R and C

A miracle to my parents,

A mini them created perfect

As I grow, so does my liveliness

Enjoying this time of my life most

As I mature the flame in me dies out

And the eagerness is no longer about

Although I am old and wise now

I still wish to be foolish and young

Now my mind must toil day and night

I can no longer partake in life’s little delights

My urge to play and laugh is gone

For part of me has died

Who am I?

By Jand M

I begin my life as a small piece of many

I slowly grow as I am conformed

With the things that surround me

Due to my convenience, I become one with another

I benefit even the crabbiest of beings

People use my voice to hear the Sound

I wash up on what I’m made of

My life will end as I am stolen from my homeland

Or smashed by the giants who roam near my nature

However if I’m lucky, Ill be worn down

Until I experience a new life

Who am I?

Answers: Old Sneaker, Snowman, A Young Child, A Seashell

Data Collectors

As part of our sixth grade, futuristic scenario, students were recently introduced to the work done by NASA in the creation of robotic rovers. They were then challenged to design a robotic data collector that could be used to explore the planet they hope to colonize.

8th Grade

Grade 6

Garde 8

Grade 6

Grade 8-

Grade 6

Think Outside The Box Power Point

5Th Grade Rally-Winning Power Point.
5Th Grade students from across the district held a mock election in January.  Teams from across the district gathered at MMS to present their candidate.  Student groups created campaign posters, bumper stickers, banners and Power Points to outline their candidates vision for Central City.

3 responses to “Sparks

  1. Paige Adams, age 10

    Wow! I wish that I could have done that in third grade!!!

  2. Carson :o)

    That looks so fun. I also wish I did that!

  3. Liam

    I wanted to do that specifically in grade 5!!!!!!!!!!

    Liam wilson age 9

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