Stone Soup!

“Take what you got, put it in the pot… We’re making STONE SOUP!”

 During this short week of school before our Fall break we were focused on kindness, savoring the moment, and gratitude in the Otter’s classroom.  One of the many celebrations we look forward to every year, that encompasses all those things we were focusing on this week, is Stone Soup day! The Otters did such a great job cutting all our vegetables and we are so grateful we were surrounded by so many friends and family while we did it! The soup was so tasty and we had so much fun during our lunch time feast!  

We also were so proud of the expressive arts project we completed this week, just in time for Thanksgiving! Every Otter made a gratitude tree to take home for their families for Fall break. This was a project that started weeks ago when we went on a nature walk with Ms. Julie and collected hundreds of colorful leaves on campus! We then spent a lot of time talking about being thankful and grateful for the people and things we have in our lives. Using paint pens, we then wrote those things on each of the leaves we collected on our walk. As a finishing touch, each Otter decorated a beautiful vase to display their leaves. Not only did their trees turn out beautifully, but seeing how proud each Otter was of their artwork and their excitement to give them to their families was so wonderful!

Salmon Stories

This week we continued our study of the salmon life cycle, but we also explored some of the cultural influences salmon have in Native American traditions. We listened and read folktales as well as learned more about what a Salmon Ceremony is, and it’s importance, in Native American culture. One really important tradition in Native American culture and history is storytelling and we have found that salmon have played a huge role in many of their stories. In honor of that tradition, we too started to write our own Salmon stories over the last few days.

By the end of the week we also noticed a BIG change in our fish tank: Some of our salmon eggs have started to HATCH!!! As we have learned over the last 2 weeks, the next step in their life cycle is the ALEVIN stage. Like we did with our salmon eggs and embryos, we also have begun making scientific observations and illustrations of our newly hatched alevin and will add to our mural artwork in the next couple weeks!

Salmon Life Cycle: Egg Stage

As we begin our exploration of salmon this week, we started by looking at the stages of the Salmon life cycle. We centered our focus on the egg stage since that’s what we currently have in our classroom. To do this, we watched videos of salmon embryos under a microscope and practiced making scientific observations in our notes and drawing scientific illustrations of what we saw.

We then built on this activity by actually looking at one of our own embryos under the proscope on the Smartboard. It was AMAZING! We even got to see the salmon embryo’s heartbeat and it’s body moving inside it’s egg sack! Afterwards, we used watercolors to really bring our scientific drawings to life and we will add them to our own class underwater mural, which we will add to as we study the stages of the life cycle our own classroom salmon go through.

Given our current unit of study, this week we also learned a new numeracy game that not only involved the stages of the salmon life cycle, but also data collection and analysis, addition and subtraction, and the mathematic symbols: <, >, and =

And Ms. Julie tested our “salmon” agility during wiggle time this week during a series of relays and obstacle courses. Otters attempted to brave the perils of an imaginary salmon migration – Dodging hungry bears and jumping over powerful waterfalls on their journey home! There was a lot of fun and laughter involved!


The salmon have FINALLY arrived! We have long awaited their arrival since the fish spawned nearly 3 weeks late this year. We were so excited to have the Steelheaders come and deliver our eggs to us. Our classroom is now home to 250 future salmon! We have so many fun things planned in the next few weeks and we already can’t wait for them to hatch!

Other exciting things that happened this week included the Halloween parade! We had so much fun dressing up and sharing our costumes with our friends, family, and the Berglund Hall staff and students. 

Ms. Julie also took us on our first meditative nature walk. We loved walking on campus while we got to appreciate all the beauty around us. Not only did we enjoy being outside on such a beautiful Fall day, but we also got to collect our favorite leaves on campus, which we will eventually use for a special Thanksgiving expressive arts project. It was a great week!

Cedar Classroom Exploration

began a project that we will continue to work on throughout the school year. We toured the outdoor classroom with Mr. Mark and also got to use a variety of technological tools to investigate what living things share the Cedar Classroom with us.

A huge highlight for all the Otters was the exploration of the pond and bioswale. These are spaces that we don’t get to experience as regularly and it was so fun seeing what kinds of plants, animals, and insects call these spaces home. During our exploration, we not only took notes and drew scientific illustrations of our observations, but we also got to use digital cameras, proscopes on the ipads, and macro lenses to get a view of our outdoor classroom like we’ve never seen it before!

We also collected the artifacts that we found most interesting and brought them inside to investigate them more closely. One of our class favorites was looking at the bees we found outside under a microscope! We even got to see their stingers!

Otter Engineers!

Teamwork was a key focus in the Otter classroom this week. We started the week off  by learning more about the engineering design process and put that into practice when we all participated in the Otter team bridge building challenge. Each table group was tasked with designing a bridge using a limited amount of supplies made up of straws and tape. After designing and building our bridges, each group then tested their design by assessing how much weight they could hold, using a Dixie cup and pennies. Not only did the Otters have a lot of fun during this challenge, but they also were really successful in designing bridges that were unique and functional!

Later in the week, the Otters were challenged in engineering once again when they were given a variety of random items and tasked with building something creative in a small group. Each group navigated introducing ideas and collectively came up with a design they all agreed on. They then built their creations and proudly presented them to the class in our Otter Engineers Share-Out!

Monarch Symbolic Migration & Engineering

This week we wrapped up the end of our study of Monarchs by participating in our own symbolic Monarch migration to “Mexico” (also known as Rogers Park). Each student made their own Monarch butterfly out of construction paper and then attached it to a pencil, which they used to help their butterfly fly from our classroom to the park and back. This was also the class’ first trip off campus and we had so much fun walking through the Forest Grove community on such a warm sunny day!  

We also started to talk about teamwork and engineering, which included talking about the steps of the engineering design process and working together to build things in the Cedar Classroom. Mr. Mark added some new creative building materials in the outdoor classroom and we had fun working together to build various structures during our outdoor learning time. Next week will continue to build on these concepts and practice using the engineering design process in other ways as well!


This week was all about collaboration, creativity, and having fun! We started the week out by participating in an Author Share-Out with the Whales. We had so much fun collaborating, sharing ideas and inspiration between writers, and reading our own stories with friends.

The end of our week was all about TIE-DYE! The Otters were so excited to patriciate in this year’s annual tie-dye day! We prepped earlier in the week by looking at different tie-dye designs and practicing how to fold and wrap our items. We had a wide variety of clothing items being tie-dyed this year: Shirts, dresses, pillow cases and even socks! And on Monday morning the following week, we had so much fun unveiling our COLORFUL tie-dye items to each other and wore them proudly all day long!

Monarch Butterflies & Morning Work

This week we started our exploration and study of the Monarch Butterfly. We did this by immersing ourselves in a variety of creative expression activities that were Monarch-inspired as well as learned about the butterfly’s anatomy, life cycle, food source, and habitat. We had a lot of fun creating our own Monarchs using oil pastels earlier in the week and then channeled our inner-scientist when we practiced scientifically drawing and labeling the parts of a butterfly on cardstock.

We also had fun during our morning work throughout the week where we tackled Lego challenges like building your names out of Legos, building items we could use in the classroom, flexing our creative muscles while making cards, and playing problem-solving board games like Chess.

As always, the Otters continue to LOVE the Cedar Classroom, with the highlight of the week being the sandbox and water pump!

Otter Author Share-Out, Number Representation & Meditation Surprises

One of the highlights of this week was our Otter Author Share-Out! Writers’ Workshop has been one of the class’ most loved activities since the start of the school year. This week each person in class chose a personal writing piece they wanted to share with their friends. Otters took turns presenting and answering questions about their writing and many of them added new books to our classroom library!

In numeracy, we continued our work by discussing and showing different ways to represent a number.  Students worked together to create visual resources to post near their table groups to show the ways they best like to represent numbers.  The 5 most used ways included: written form, expanded form, tally marks, number line, and drawing base 10 blocks.  When surveyed, tally marks was by far the class favorite. 

Ms. Julie also surprised the class with a new moon lantern during meditation. All the students really enjoy this time for mindful reflection, now even more so by the glow of our very own “moon” in class!

We Are All an Important Piece of the Puzzle!

During week 2 we continued to build classroom community and get to know our friends in class. We had fun working on collaborative artwork, playing team games, as well as participating in small group work during various classroom activities.  

As we focused on building community, we also explored our own individual creativity and bringing out the inner artist in each of us. We made dot art in honor of the annual Dot Day and shared our dots with different friends in class. We also created self-portraits that celebrated the things that make us uniquely who we are. We read A Bad Case of Stripes, by David Shannon, and talked about the importance of being true to ourselves.

We also got to buddy read, where we got to read our favorite stories with a friend. This was by far one of the highlights of the week! We were also really excited to finally use our personal writing folders during writer’s workshop and we started writing thank you letters to Mr. Herb, who oversaw the building of the Cedar Classroom. We had a GREAT second week!

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to another exciting school year! This week we spent time getting to know our classroom and reconnecting with friends old and new!  We started this year off by focusing on building classroom community. We did this by creating a collaborative art project, as well as playing fun team games like musical chairs. We also established our own set of classroom expectations and Busy Otter jobs and responsibilities for the year. Our favorite class activities this week included treasured reading and writer’s workshop. Outdoors we enjoyed exploring the new Cedar Classroom. Our favorite outdoor activities included climbing the cedar logs, playing freeze tag on the grass, and using the new water pump in the sandbox!