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Slowing It Down

It’s never too late to slow down. You’ll be surprised what else you see when you just pause. Believe us…we tried it!

As summer approaches, we feel warmth and excitement in the air. Lately, the energy in Brie’s room has matched the squawking of the parakeets in the trees. Students are growing so rapidly as communicators, problem-solvers, and friends that it’s time they put everything in slow motion to take a long, deep breath. This week, while listening to peaceful music, the energy softened and they were able to see details, hear each other more clearly, and enjoy the process of solving a BIG problem. Though the end of the school is near, they learned this week that it is really never too late to do their best.

Brie’s students designed this number representation jigsaw puzzle, making decisions along the way as a group. They learned that there are many creative ways to represent numbers, such as numerals, written words, arrays, ten-frames, and more. While sharing their puzzle with A.J. and Tedd, on separate occasions, students listened as they talked through their puzzle-solving process. Brie’s students plan to share their puzzle over the coming days with the rest of the school. They are eager to watch their peers as they figure it all out. It’s never too late to share your good ideas.

To prepare for a game called “Order Up,” students worked together to arrange a set of numbers in order from least to greatest, left to right. Fascinating and friendly debates occurred. Looking at the tens place first when putting two-digit numbers in order was new learning for some. Reading numbers accurately was new learning for others. To prove their number order was correct, students made a decision to each take a number, in the order of where they were sitting, and to pop up when they counted collectively up to that number. It’s never too late to challenge yourself and to learn new things.

While playing together, a group of friends built a panda village. The next day, they asked if they could see the photo on the computer, so that they could recreate their village. Whether or not their village matched the first day’s, they were happy. Their play was memorable and everyone contributed thoughtful ideas. It’s never too late to be a friend.

Brie’s group has been reading folktales from around the world about how the sun came to be in the sky. They listened to a Chumash folktale, about a rainbow bridge between Santa Cruz and Carpenteria and they made illustrations to show the beginning, middle, and end. It’s never too late to enjoy a good story.

While studying how light bends and scatters, students have been exploring the many ways they can make a rainbow. This week, they played with prisms and water to make rainbows. By positioning their flashlight steadily, they were able to bend light through a glass container filled with water and document the beautiful rainbow. It’s never too late to look for details.

The BIG problem turned itself into a notable problem-solving success. The squawking parakeets had some competition from the noise in our room this week. And it was not harmonious. Here’s the truth. Students competed over Lego pieces, accused each other of stealing, hid pieces in secret places, and argued over "team" membership. They all needed to slow down and figure it all out. Play is not fun when you feel tense!

Rather than exploring prisms one day, they tackled a much trickier problem: How to 'own' Lego pieces for their ships and still share? Students participated in a process where they mapped out the problems in the Lego room and began to identify possible solutions. They all rose to the occasion to listen to each other, to share their feelings and concerns, to ask questions. At the end of the discussion, they agreed that they would each like a little box where they could organize the pieces they are using for their ship. Then, every once in a while, they could set up a Piece Swap where everyone brings their pieces and they can talk with each other and make a plan to share.

The next day, they consolidated their thoughts in the Lego Room and organized their pieces into little boxes. Not only did the tidied-up Lego Room feel pleasing, but the competitive energy was gone!

By slowing down and thinking critically about this problem, students were able to make a plan to take action. When asked, how it felt when they had finished sorting and playing that day, students said it felt “different” and “good!” Learning to share is hard work. The whole process deserves attention and respect. It’s not over. This is just the beginning of many experiences where students will revisit the same problem. It’s never too late to check in with yourself about how you’re feeling when you play!

Teachers need to slow down too…even ones who are in the process of writing about slowing down themselves. While reading our novel aloud, one student offered this friendly reminder. “Brie, slow down…you’re reading too fast!” Got it.

It’s a rosy world! It’s never too late to slow down.


Our Week at a Glance

Communication Literacy

Reading -

  • continuing to read folktales

  • discussion about story parts

  • retelling stories

  • independent reading and read aloud

Word study -

  • adding new ending sounds to short vowel words

  • studying digraphs and blends

Writing -

  • journal writing

  • non-fiction writing about light experiments

  • writing stories about how the sun came to be in the sky

  • writing letters and creating video clips to share with pen pal friends in Sierra Leone

Patterns and Modeling

  • Exploring number representation, creating a jigsaw puzzle, and sharing it with educators

  • Ordering bigger numbers - discussion of place value and number recognition

  • Playing Order Up

  • Playing mystery number and learning about helpful questions to eliminate the largest number of possibilities.


  • Refraction experiments

  • Playing with prisms and water to bend and scatter light into a rainbow

  • Making predictions, observations, and sharing conclusions about rainbows

  • Using tools to change the direction of light - periscope, kaleidoscope, spectroscope

  • Mixing primary colors and painting!

  • Playing with colored, transparent sheets to see the world colors (and to blend colors)

  • Noticing rainbows in soapy bubbles

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