Park Specialists' Newsletter

Fourth Grade Edition - First Trimester

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First Trimester Recap

All of Park's certified Teaching Specialists have compiled a summary of what students have learned, enjoyed, and mastered in their respective classes for the past twelve weeks. Please scroll down, read, and watch what students have been up to at Park Elementary.

From Park's Art Instructor - Mrs. Ovadje

“Who is Mrs. Ovadje?” some may wonder. She is in her third year as the Art teacher at Park. Formerly known as Ms. Kirchoff, she changed my name over the summer and is now called Mrs. Ovadje (oh-vaw-jay), or Mrs. O.

Throughout this school year, students are learning about art from “Around the World”. They began the year by creating passports; students will get their passport stamped after they “visit” a country. The first trip was to India, where fourth graders saw pictures of Mandalas and focused on their radial designs and patterns. We also discussed the art of Zentangle and combined Mandalas and Zentangle to create Zen-dalas.

After India, we went on a voyage to Mexico. Fourth graders discovered the history of Mexican bark paper and made Amate Bark Paintings, a type of Mexican Folk Art painting made out of tree bark! Even though we could not make traditional Bark Paintings, we improvised with brown construction paper and bright neon paint colors (see the picture above for a sample).

In November we journeyed up the continent of North America to study Native American Art. Fourth graders learned about the Navajo, a tribe from the Southwest. We read, The Magic of Spider Woman by Lois Duncan. Spider Woman is a Navajo legend, the one who taught the Navajo how to weave. Together, the fourth and fifth graders made a loom and began weaving a bookmark. We will continue to weave through December.

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From Park's Librarian - Ms. Shadis

In the Library
Fourth grade focused on research topics that were connected to fourth grade literacy standards relating to immigration and Native Americans.

Destiny Quest

Check out Destiny Quest, where students can social network by sending book recommendations to friends: Select Park Elementary. Login. Username: first and last name (no space). Password: Tigers(lunch number)

Minnesota Student Book Choice

Students who have read at least three of the Minnesota Student Book Choice 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. Encourage your child to participate.

Considering giving your child a special book for the holidays?

Here are some resources that can help:

Need Anything Further?

Parents and guardians are always welcome to contact our librarian, Ms. Shadis, 234-2616 for personalized recommendations. Thank you for encouraging the children you know and love to read -- it's an important lifelong skill!

From Park's Technology Integration Instructor - Mr. Durheim

Fourth graders received their online Google accounts. They have practiced signing into and out of their accounts. Passwords have been changed to support our learning about online safety. Most recently, students have been using Google Docs (word processor) to practice word processor editing skills and they learned about using copy (Ctrl+C) and paste (Ctrl+V) to transfer text from one document to another. Collaboration continues to be a major theme of TechTime.

Learn more about what we’ve been learning at the TechTime website:!

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

A typical day in the Physical Education class begins with a fitness warm-up activity. These activities vary from cardiovascular, muscular strength/endurance, and/or flexibility. (Please click here to view a video of students using dice to indicate which activity they are to do, from sprints to abs.) The purpose of these activities is to increase the students’ awareness and level of fitness. After the warm-up, students have a lesson that focuses on the skills that will help them to be successful in the games of a unit. From there, students participate in an age–appropriate game using the skill(s) practiced during that lesson.

With the arrival of snow and thus the need for boots, please help your child to remember to bring his/her tennis shoes on days that he/she has Phy Ed.

Units covered during the first trimester:

*Soccer skills

*Football skills

*Fitness tests

*Bowling skill



Students discussed and demonstrated good sportsmanship during Physical Education and evaluated their own sportsmanship. To continue this throughout the year, a traveling sportsmanship trophy will be awarded each month to a class that demonstrates good sportsmanship.

Successful Superhero Workouts:

A big thank you for all your help in making the Superhero workouts a big success. Students completed over 2,000 workouts at home! It was great seeing their excitement when they completed a workout. Many students have done or are on their way to completing all ten workouts. Pictured above is a picture of all the exercises and the impressive amount of student participants (click on the image to make it even larger).

Walk for Hunger:

We will once again be doing the "Walk for Hunger" Food shelf drive on December 10-11.
This event combines wellness and community service for our students. All items must be brought to school by the event so that we can deliver to the McLeod County Food Shelf in time for the holidays. Last year, our students collected 2,768 lbs. of food. We will be needing volunteers once again this year. Please contact us if you are able to help at 587-2837 or email us at or

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

This trimester in fourth grade music we have focused on our singing voice and matching pitch. We have also learned about harmony by singing rounds and ostinatos. The Seasons Song (Hey Ho Fall is Here), On Halloween, and To Stop the Train were fun songs to develop our singing skills and practice singing in parts.

America, America, a vocal and instrumental piece, is another round to which we added parts on the Orff instruments. The students learned a new mallet technique called a cross-over to play this piece. We have a full set of Orff instruments, including xylophones, metallophones and glockenspiels, in each room so every child can participate as we play together. In addition to this piece we enjoyed singing the patriotic songs This Land Is Your Land, Fifty Nifty United States, America (My Country Tis of Thee), Star Spangled Banner, and America the Beautiful. Patriotic songs are very important, and it was special to sing some of our favorite patriotic songs as an entire school during the Veterans Day program held in November. View a montage of the Veterans Day Program here.

We have also been working very hard to improve our skills at playing the recorder in class. The students have learned how to name the letter notes on the music staff and are playing the notes B, A, and G, as well as high C. Rhythm work this trimester focused on the rhythms used in the recorder series, including whole note, dotted half note, quarter notes and rests, and eighth notes. Our goal is to have every child learn to read music and be able to play an instrument on their own. Improvising on the recorder has been exciting, especially when using our “Capital Cities” rhythms and working in small groups to create a short composition. Most students can now also play Hot Cross Buns by memory.

Additionally, the students have been working on playing, reading, and writing sixteenth notes (“tika-tika”), which they were introduced to this year. Playing sixteenth notes on the xylophone is challenging but a lot of fun. We had the opportunity to individually create (improvise) our own melodies using quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes in the song You’re So Wise.

Below is a video of students from Mrs. Hartman’s class performing the festive song, Skeleton Stomp.

Mrs. Hartman's Music Class Performing the Skeleton Stomp

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

Science is “Out of This World”! Space has been our focus of study during the first trimester. We specifically concentrated on the sun, Earth, and moon. Rotation (spin) and revolution (orbit) were words that helped us learn why we have night and day and why the moon “appears” to change its shape. One of the most important concepts we discovered was how the tilt of the Earth, along with Earth’s orbit of the sun, is the reason for the four seasons. During all of this important learning, we worked extremely hard to create different models of the solar system to help us understand these concepts. (Click here to view a video of students modeling planetary orbit.) In addition, students learned about two special scientists, Galileo and Buzz Aldrin, who helped to shape what is known about outer space. Buzz Aldrin was the second man to stand on the moon’s surface. We learned about both of their lives and each man’s great contributions to the study of outer space. The highlight of the trimester for the students would certainly have been the special visit from two Space Cadets during Spaceology. During their Spaceology time, students experienced an asteroid storm, as well as, a variety of other challenges that might prepare them someday for outer space.

After learning about the Earth in outer space, we took a closer look at what makes up the Earth. Students learned that the Earth has four layers: crust, mantle, outer core, and inner core. From there we took an even closer look at the earth materials that make up the crust, specifically rocks and minerals. Students had numerous hands-on experiences with this unit, from sorting rocks to testing minerals to doing a Skittles Lab demonstrating weathering and erosion. This unit will continue into the second trimester. Park Elementary Scientists rock!

Park Elementary School

Park Elementary School serves approximately 875 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. It is important that our students 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.