Here’s to The Crew!


Today is the day to honor you: The Crew 2016. You are moving up to third grade! You have done great things this year. I knew you would. You have incredible potential, and I look forward to watching you grow and learn in the coming years here at Stafford. We have learned so much together.

This is a video made in honor of you: You’ll Be In My Heart on PhotoPeach

We could not have done it without each other. We learned and practiced very important 21st century skills: creativity and innovation, collaboration and communication, critical thinking, digital literacy and global awareness. We could count on each other as learning partners and as friends for support and inspiration. That includes me, of course. You have inspired me each and every day this year. What a gift!  Thank you.

Once a Crew member, always a Crew member.

You can count on me, because I can count on you.

What do you think about our Crew?

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Gratitude: An Unexpected Gift

IMG_3011This last Friday we celebrated the end of our Africa Bridge Reading Challenge. Second graders raised over $3, 400 so far with their efforts. That is an amazing achievement.  These donations will do so much to help the students in Tanzania.  We are helping to complete a desk project so every school in the Mpombo Region has the desks they need. Our sister school, Ipyana Primary, is part of this region. We are so proud to be a part of this project.


We also got to meet Okaidja Afroso this week. He is a wonderfully talented musician who comes from the east African country of Ghana. He taught us the art of drumming, dancing, singing and storytelling.


How much fun it has been! Okaidja is a great storyteller, and we found out the Anansi the Spider stories actually originated in Ghana. As a part of our artist in residence program we got to practice drumming and dancing together for one hour each day and then perform for our families on Friday as a part of our Africa Bridge Celebration.


We have learned so much about children in Tanzania, and African culture over the past month. We are happy to see how our efforts are making a difference in the lives of children less fortunate. We received a beautiful cloth and woven basket along with thank you letters as a gift of thanks from our sister school and from Africa Bridge. We are so grateful for our relationship with them. Our experiences and our learning has helped us to be more grateful for the things and the people we have in our lives. These are no small lessons to learn.  What an unexpected gift!

What are you most proud of after this month doing the Africa Bridge Reading Challenge?

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Let’s Play!


This week we begin celebrating our work in our Africa Bridge Reading Challenge. We have worked hard for the last month in our reading at school and at home. In class we have been reading about the rights of children in a book called A Life Like Mine. It is published by UNICEF, which is a group that works to improve the lives of children around the world. We have learned that children have the following rights. The right to

  • water
  • food
  • a home
  • a healthy life
  • an education
  • time to play


Now it is the time to play! One of the things we have learned from our friends in Tanzania is that drumming and dancing is an important part of celebrating, so we will be drumming and dancing with Okaidja all this week.


Let’s get creative and also make our own games to play with each other. We learned that our friends in Tanzania make their own soccer balls. We also read a great book called Galimoto where a boy makes a toy out of scraps he collects. This week we want to challenge ourselves to get create and create our own toys. Here are some ideas we got from our friends:

  1. Make a soccer ball out of plastic bags, cloth and rope or string.
  2. Make a Mancala game with an egg carton and some small pebbles or corn kernals.
  3. Make a Galimoto out of materials you find at home.


Let’s build the bonds of friendship through play. Share your joy with others and let’s make the world a better place.

What game will you create?

What is your favorite game to play with others?

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Happy Earth Day

Tomorrow is Earth Day! In our research about ecosystems we have learned how everything and everyone is interconnected here on our planet Earth. We see how we are one world, and we must do what we can, where we can, to help to protect it. We hope you will add your name to our Padlet by clicking anywhere on the pad and tell us what you will do to protect our Earth. Help us protect our planet. Watch this Earth Day video to help you brainstorm what you can do.

Let’s do it! Let’s help the Earth!

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Happy Earth Day!

What will you do to protect the Earth?

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Our Food, Our Culture


This week’s Student Blogging Challenge is to write about food. We want to share with the world the foods that are special to our culture. The United States is a nation of immigrants. Our ancestors are all from different countries.  I will share a food that is part of my English tradition: tea and scones.

Tea and scones has been one of my favorites since I was about 4 years old. Back then I would pretend to have tea and scones with my tiny tea set and dolls. Now, I love to set the table for tea and invite friends and family to enjoy a hot cup of tea and scones fresh from the oven.


Scones are a real treat for a brunch or “High Tea” in the afternoon. They are especially good with lemon curd or raspberry preserves, and a bit of whipped cream on the side. The important part of this tradition is taking time to relax, enjoy good conversation and share the joy of a simple food. Here is the recipe.



  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in raisins.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg yolk until smooth.
  4. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)
  5. Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 6 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Brush with egg white and 1 tablespoon water to help brown tops. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

What food is special to you and your family?

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Jambo Rafiki: The Journey

We have made new friends with the the students at Ipyana Primary School in Tanzania thanks to Africa Bridge, an organization that helps orphaned children in rural villages there. With our Flat Stanley Project we wrote messages of love on the back of our “Flat Stafford Students” and made sure that each of the 131 students got one.  It is a great feeling to know we passed on a little happiness to others with our special form of “happy notes“.


In our study of great people we have learned that it is important to look beyond ourselves and our own lives to help others whenever and wherever we can. We are doing that with our Read to Feed/Read to Build Reading Challenge Project this month. We will invite sponsors to help support us in our reading. We will read with the intention of challenging ourselves, but also knowing that our help for the children in Tanzania will be changing their lives.


Having seen the villages myself and seeing how the Stafford community has helped get village children in school, provide desks for their classrooms, plant avocado orchards and build 4 new classrooms and a toilet, I can truly say you are doing amazing things there. Through the efforts of our reading challenge project and the yearly school wide Marketplace you are becoming world citizens and changing lives. What a feeling of achievement!

Let’s read to feed! Let’s read to build! Let’s read to change the world!

How will you challenge yourself in your reading this month?

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Eduardo Makes His Way to Tanzania


You can imagine my surprise while I was waiting to board the plane to Tanzania when I saw Eduardo, the eagle peaking out from the backpack together with Flat Stanley and Flat Stella. He had snuck into my bag without me seeing him: an actual stowaway. It made sense though. He loves to fly, and perhaps I should have thought to invite him. Why wouldn’t our book bag eagle want to take the trip together with Flat Stanley and Flat Stella to meet our new friends at Ipyana Primary School in Tanzania and see all the animals in the African savanna?


Eduardo was a great flying companion. We read together about the African savanna in preparation for the safari that awaited us.


Eduard was excited as we approached the African continent and saw the Sahara Desert from the plane.


He was even more excited while on safari seeing all the amazing animals.




He had a great time with the second grade teachers as they, too, got to go on safari. The elephants were the favorite animal of Mrs. Kriesel, Ms. Wise, and first grade teacher Mrs. Wilhelm.  They commented on how they were “majestic and magical” as they slowly moved through the vegetation of the woodland savanna.


The third grade teachers, Mrs. O’Brien, Mrs. Warren, Ms. Melland and Mrs. Fordyce loved finding the den of lions as they held their breath sitting tightly in the jeep that pulled up right next the them. Their comment: “awe inspiring”.




And then there was Mrs. Vasilopolis and her family who loved every minute of everything


 . . .especially meeting the students at Ipyana Primary School, our new sister school. Comments from Mrs. Vasilopolis: “This was a once in a lifetime experience. The students, the teachers and the principal were so excited to know that Stafford students made them the Flat Stanleys and Flat Stellas, and that they had friends in Oregon who cared about them.”

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Eduardo was so touched by the love and excitement of the students that he asked to stay in a class book bag there and learn more about the students. He is asking them to write in a journal about themselves in swahili, the language they speak there. My comment: “Well done, Eduardo. You have become a world citizen. Thanks for being our representative there at Ipyana Primary School. The students will miss you at Stafford, but you have opened up your world to new friends and new learning. Good work!”


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I Am The Earth

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Watch this creative project that teaches all about ecosystems and how we can do our part to protect our home, the Earth.  Thank you to the students at Marryatville School in England who put together this animated video that illustrates perfectly our definition of an ecosystem. Thank you for sharing your learning with the world!

We will work together with you side by side to protect our Earth! We invite our new blogging challenge friends to do the same. We love singing this song written by Glyn Lehmann. We invite our new blogging challenge friends to join us in our learning by singing along.

How did you like the song?

What can we do to better care for and protect our Earth?

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We began our study of ecosystems this week. What is an Ecosystem? An ecosystem includes all of the living things (plants, animals and organisms) in a given area, interacting with each other, and also with their non-living environments (weather, earth, sun, soil, climate, atmosphere).
meaning of ecosystems

In an ecosystem, each organism has its’ own special role to play. We will use Scholastic Study Jams Science: Ecosystems to learn more about ecosystems. This is a great website to learn and review our learning in science. Click on the link above to watch the video and learn more!


This wonderful video above was posted from Mrs. N-C and The Terrific Tuis from New Zealand who were part of the the Student Blogging Challenge 2014. They used this for a creative writing project to help them come up with strong descriptive sentences. It is hard not to laugh with the intense music playing, and the perfect camera shots of the main characters, Squirrel and Eagle, in their forest habitat. What a great way way to get inspired to write. Thanks for sharing your great idea, Terrific Tuis! We will try it out.

Mrs. N-C and The Terrific Tuis from New Zealand

As a part of the Student Blogging Challenge 2016 we are sharing our learning with others globally and are inspired by them to explore new ideas for integrating technology in the classroom. Check out all the great blogs we are following listed under “Global Connections” on the right sidebar of our blog.

What did you enjoy about the video?

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