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posted: Fri, Mar 17th, 2017
David Koptyra, Michael Gecek, and Saaket Kulkarni work on a color experiment

Celebrating Read Across America 

You're never too old, too wacky, too wild,

to pick up a book and read to a child.

– Dr. Seuss

Reading and all things Seuss were recently celebrated at Sandshore in recognition of Read Across America – a nationwide campaign designed to motivate kids to read. Sponsored by the National Education Association, Read Across America is held annually on the birthday of the legendary children's author.

Reading specialist Anemarie Hall coordinated Sandshore's activities. While the Cat in the Hat and the Lorax played roles, Ms. Hall highlighted some of Dr. Seuss' lesser-known books with the goal to inspire kids to investigate them further. 

Every grade level participated in a different activity that took place in the library. Ms. Hall, for example, read the students Seuss' "My Many Colored Day" – a book that describes each day as a color and is associated with an emotion. The kids then wrote down how colors make them feel.

Second-graders learned to count their blessings and considered all the things that are important to them. Ms. Hall read to them the Seuss book, "Have I Told You How Lucky You Are?" then made ducks that said "I am a lucky duck because..." 

Fifth-graders rotated among three centers and participated in three different Seuss-themed activities. There was a stacking challenge that asked students to build the tallest towers they could using paper and Cat in the Hat cups. Some towers actually did tower, standing upwards of 6-feet high. 

Two other activities were tied in with popular Seuss book "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish." Working in teams of four, the students completed a rainbow milk experiment. They dropped various food colorings into pans of whole milk. Then, they added dish detergent which reacted with the milk and mixed the colors together.

The third activity showed off the power of water. The fifth-graders used washable markers to color inside coffee filters between the center and the perimeter. They then folded the filters, dipped the centers into water, and watched how the filters absorbed the water and spread the colors.

After each grade level completed its activities in the library, the students went into the gym for more Seuss. They participated in events such as the green egg on a spoon race and pin the heart on the Grinch.

"The day really gets kids excited about reading and writing," Ms. Hall said. "And that gets me excited. Early reading skills are just so important to learning. If we can motivate them to pick up a book and read for fun, we've done our job for the day."

A number of visitors also came in to read to students. Guest readers included officers from the Mount Olive Police Department, Liz Ouimet, board of education president, Dr. Larrie Reynolds, superintendent of schools, and Sharon Staszak, supervisor of special services. 

The illustrator of many "Goosebumps" books, Tim Jacobus, visited the school the day prior to Read Across America day to talk with students.

"Goosebumps" illustrator Tim Jacobus, center, is greeted by students, instructional supervisor Margaret Hipwell, left, and principal Nicole Mussara, right.

Oh, the places you came from

Dr. Seuss' most inspirational and resonant book is "Oh, The Place You'll Go," a favorite of kids and the kids in all of us. The day after the birthday of the beloved children's author, fifth-graders did the opposite and looked back at the places they came from. The students celebrated an international day that was the culmination of a research project about the countries of their ancestry. 

Each student researched one of the countries that is part of his or her heritage. They examined things such as weather and climate, geographic features and prominent landmarks, characteristics of the people, traditions, religions, and the economy.

The students turned not only to the internet but also to their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. It was an opportunity to connect with relatives in a way many kids had never done before. Some students even audio recorded their relatives discussing their countries and embedded the audio files in digital presentations that they completed. This made the presentations that much more personal and unique.

Each fifth-grader also developed a presentation board summing up what was learned and displaying photos and artifacts of the country. 

On the international day, all the presentation boards the students had created were setup in the cafeteria. The display was a powerful examination of just how diverse the community really is. Countries that were represented included the Czech Republic, India, Ivory Coast, Turkey, Portugal, Syria, and Cuba.

"This project was a way for students to discover their past but also to become more culturally aware," said teacher Tricia Mitchell. "It allowed them to see the customs and traditions of so many different people, and really appreciate how unique and special they all are."

Parents were invited in to celebrate the completion of the project and contribute to an international feast. They brought with them traditional foods of their ancestry. This was a lesson all on its own because so much can be gleaned about a people, culture, and climate from native food.

The types of food ranged from the familiar and Americanized (baked ziti and lasagna) to less-known fare such as fried plantains. Then there were foods that are virtually unknown to most of us. Amira Batekh's parents prepared sesame cookies and basbusa – a dessert popular in Syria and much of the Middle East. Basbusa is cake made from semolina, coconut, and hazelnuts. Aditya Patnaik’s parents prepared the Indian dessert gulab jamun (large donut balls drizzled with simple syrup).

The ingredients of all foods were listed as a precaution for students with allergies.

Isabella Pepe works on the nose cone of a rocket

Building air rockets

Students in the gifted and talented program at Sandshore recently constructed their own rockets to test what they had learned about the forces of flight and aerospace engineering.

The fourth- and fifth-graders worked in teams of three and used construction paper, straws, and masking tape to build their rockets. The rockets were propelled by air from squeeze bottles. After testing, students had opportunities to rework and improve their designs.

"The students did an amazing job," said teacher Sandy Andrews. "In every project that we do, I remind them never to fear failure. It's key to the learning process. Engineering doesn't often work perfectly the first time so revisions are important. And that requires teamwork, communication, and good analytical skills."

Before the hands-on portion of the lesson, students learned about the various parts of a rocket as well as the forces of gravity, lift, and drag. They also watched videos on rocketry which touched on concepts such as escape velocity. 

The gifted and talented program is devoted to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). Students meet for 45 minutes one morning per week before the start of the school day. There are currently 22 students in the program.

Past projects have included designing and building a roller coaster, working with optical illusions, and constructing a tower to understand the methods that engineers and architects use to keep skyscrapers stable. Students also completed an engineering challenge at the makerspace at the high school.

Amblin Cabsaba works on a rocket fuselage

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Sandshore School
498 Sandshore Rd Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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