Park Specialists' Newsletter

5th Grade Edition - Second Trimester

A Look Back at Second Trimester

All of Park's Specialists have compiled a recap of what students have learned, mastered, and enjoyed in their classes over the course of the second trimester. Please scroll down, read, and watch what Park's students have been up to.

From Park's Art Instructor - Ms. Kirchoff

Fifth graders continued to use the right side of their brain to envision new ideas while being creative. We finished up Navajo weavings in December. All students persisted to get their weavings done! We used vocabulary like warp, weft, and loom. With this time-consuming project, I was very impressed with the dedication the students showed!

In January we traveled far away to Mali, Africa. In Mali we learned about the Dogon Tribe and how the tribe uses masks to celebrate important ancestors. We also looked at the shapes and textures in a mask and the many uses around the World. Have you ever worn a mask for a holiday, parade, or festival? Some of our students have! In class we made fun masks out of paper, learned paper folding techniques , and used fun scissors and other collage materials to decorate our masks. Some masks were cute and some were scary!

Last but not least, we spent the month of February in the fourth largest country in the World – China. We talked about inventions from ancient China that are still used in art today – like paper, printmaking, and porcelain. We looked at important Chinese landscape paintings and discussed foreground and background – or near and far. We used class time to draw a Chinese landscape and add textures using only lines. Then we began to watercolor our landscapes. We learned about two watercolor techniques artists use to create texture in the paint itself! One technique includes putting salt on wet watercolor, and then letting it dry. The salt soaks up some of the color, leaving a grainy-organic texture behind. I can’t wait to see the finished paintings!

From Park's Librarian - Ms. Shadis

Web Evaluation

Did you know that not everything on the world wide web is true? Students worked together to compare trustworthy and false websites and practiced critical evaluation skills. Please discuss with your child how they view media and promote critical evaluation of the thousands of messages that are influencing students every day. To share their learning, students have been using their Google drive accounts.

Maud Hart Lovelace,

Students who have read at least three of the Maud Hart Lovelace titles will be able to vote for their favorite book at the end of March. The votes from Park Elementary will be tallied and sent into the state headquarters for compilation with all of the other student votes around the state. The student choice book award recipient will be announced on April 25. Hear author Mary Amato’s experience from winning the award in the video below.

Have an iPod, iPad, tablet, Kindle or Nook at your house?

Our school recently added another 100 titles, bringing the selection to 250! Visit to select and download e-books and e-audiobooks. To access materials, students’ barcode number is their lunch number. Can’t find the book you’re looking for there? Our local public library uses the same service and has an even greater selection: Through the generosity of the PTO, the school has seven color Nooks students can borrow by completing a permission form.

Coming right up…

In March, Park will celebrate Read Across America with a special parent guest reader during library time, “What’s in the Cat’s Hat” book clues contest, dress-up days and a grand finale of a special lyceum presented by staff of Hooray for Diffendoofer Day preceded by the Cat-in-the-Hat favorite book award winners. For Seuss-fun you can enjoy at home, check out

Thank You for the Maud Hart Lovelace Award

From Park's Technology Integration Instructor - Mr. Durheim

Mr. Durheim decided to forgo writing a summary and instead recorded a video that highlights the content taught in Technology class! Please watch and become informed of the technology skills your student has learned!

From Park's Phy Ed Educators - Mrs. Hahn & Ms. Mueller

Units covered second trimester:

*Basketball skills *Cooperatives- large and small group activities

*Multicultural games * Jumping activities- ropes and Chinese jump ropes

*Table tennis * Juggling

"Walk for Hunger" Update

In December, our students participated in the “Walk for Hunger Food Shelf Drive”. This event combined wellness and community service for our students. We donated 3101 pounds of food to the food shelf. Thanks to all the families that donated and helped make this event a success!

Let's Move!

Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let’s Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years through:

  1. Giving parents helpful information about fostering environments that support healthy choices.
  2. Providing healthier foods in our schools
  3. Ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food
  4. Helping kids become more physically active.

For more information, go to

Park Students in Action

Watch the video clip below of students practicing their juggling skills during one of the last units of the second trimester.
Juggling in Gym

From Park's Music Teachers - Ms. Halter & Mrs. Hoeft

We have continued our recorder work from last trimester and have added new notes and songs to our repertoire. The students’ playing ability continues to improve. The music we use in class has recorded accompaniments and it is fun to be able to play along with these polished sounding recordings. There are extra copies of these accompaniments on CD, which are available for students to buy. During the Winter Olympics, the students also enjoyed learning how to play the Olympic Theme on their recorders. They worked hard and should receive a gold medal!

During February, the students worked on a unit for Black History month, which used the story and authentic song Follow The Drinkin’ Gourd. The story told about the slaves working on the southern plantations before the Civil War, and how they were helped to freedom through the Underground Railroad. The song uses a secret message in which “the drinking gourd” (the Big Dipper) and the north star tell the path to follow to freedom. In addition, students worked on African-American spirituals, including Oh Freedom, Michael Row the Boat Ashore, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, and Down by the Riverside. A fun game from Africa called Obwisanna, which used various patterns to pass rocks or bean bags around a circle while keeping the beat, was a big hit. The students even made up some of the patterns themselves. The students were most excited when we played the big African drums. This drumming unit focuses on Respect and Rhythm and encourages improvisation skills.

From Park's Science Specialists - Mrs. Kucera & Mrs. Mueller

Have you ever wondered how things balance and why? At the beginning of Trimester 2, Science Lab students investigated the science behind balance. They learned new science terms like balance point, center of gravity, and counter weight. They also experimented with balance by balancing a variety of objects. This unit ended with two very fun activities. We played a “Minute to Win It” balance challenge and created some “Balance Magic Head Wear” using corks, toothpicks, skewers, and marshmallows.

Our next unit was all about motion. Students started learning about spinning things by playing with tops, zoomers, and twirlers. We then moved on to the motion of rolling. We experimented by rolling cups, round discs, and a variety of different wheel and axle systems. We then took it a step further and created rollercoaster runways. This unit ended by learning about the three laws of motion and one of our favorite scientists, Sir Isaac Newton.

The next adventure in the Science Lab is learning about the “Simple Six.” The simple six represents the six basic types of simple machines. Our objective for this unit is to discover how each simple machine makes work easier by using less force to complete a job. We measure the force needed to do the work in Newton Units by using a spring scale.

Park Elementary School

Park Elementary School serves 900 students in second through fifth grade. Our purpose is to meet the needs of the whole child with an emphasis on basic academic skills. We are committed to providing as many hands-on learning experiences as possible in all academic areas. We want our students to know, understand, and apply what we teach. We provide instruction and opportunities in all academic areas. As an elementary school, our focus is on language arts and mathematics.