Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Coming to an End

Fourth grade around these parts is wrapping up this week. 
The awards' assembly was yesterday where Sugar Plum Fairy was inducted into the Millionaire's Club. 
This has to do with students being recognized by having their name placed in a display case when they read 1,000,000 words. 
Pretty cool that the three 4th/5th grade girls are all best friends. 
Last August, I knew that this year could prove to be a challenge.
A fourth grader and a college bound senior.
Years ago, my teacher sister told us that 4th grade is the first year that students are expected to
"Read to Learn"
instead of
"Learn to Read".
How true that is.
It is truly a transition year to becoming a "big kid".
 Everything from moving from the fun playground with the swings and monkey bars to the boring playground with basketball hoops and 4 square and in California, building MISSIONS.
My girl was not a happy camper in the beginning about the playground and I was not overjoyed in the mission arena.
This was not my first 4th grade rodeo.
Part of 4th grade curriculum is learning about the California Missions, which I am all for.
I adore history.
We have visited umpteen missions over the years to teach our children about their unique history.
 I am first in line defending the teaching of the missions.
  Was it an ideal or wonderful thing in the day? 
Not completely.
Do I think the missions were founded on the principle that they would do good?
Yes.
  Were some Native Americans hurt in the process?
Absolutely.
 BUT, it is part of our history and I believe that we need to know our history...all of it...the good, the bad and the ugly in order to learn from it... and in some cases to not repeat it.
Okay.
I just stepped down from my soap box...where was I?
Oh, yes.
In my VERY humble opinion, building a model mission is akin to pulling my fingernails out. 
Maybe that is because I made our two older kids build theirs from scratch and not from the
store-bought ones.
In my mind, I thought they might learn about measuring and cutting and scale.  
What they ended up learning was that frazzled moms and hot glue are not a good combination.  (Which is also a good lesson to teach your children, by the way)
Besides...WHAT does one do with these masterpieces when they are done? 
Seriously.
Lollipop Pop's Mission
 We had two missions sitting in storage, taking up valuable space until very recently when I took pics of them and tossed them.
It actually hurt a little.
Anyway, when the year began for our 4th grader, I grew more worried that this teacher would be of the mind that mission building was a skill her students required.
She encouraged creativity in her class and some crafty stuff.
 I feared I was in trouble.
A book report was done in the form of a cereal box.
 
Then came the assignment for the Young Author's Fair.
Writing a story in the same vein as "Indian in the Cupboard...complete with a cupboard.


I was doomed.
I knew the Missions would have to be built at the same time we had two fairs occurring, Lollipop Pop's birthday party, and all of the other year end "stuff" that happens.
I worried.
I complained.
And then the skies cleared and the angels sang (well, not quite) when the most wonderful 4th grade teacher on the planet said that building a mission was OPTIONAL!!!!
Turns out, she has a 4th grade child and had no desire to build a mission herself!
Each child was assigned a mission to research and put together a display board.
These boards, along with the 5th grader's State reports would be on display one afternoon at the school for parents to view.
Brilliant!
 
They were then given additional projects they could do IF they wanted.
I gathered all the photos that we have taken at all of the missions Sugar Plum Fairy has visited and put them in a folder.
 I then showed her how to create a photo book! 
She placed the pics she wanted to use and left a spot for text on each mission.
 She then went back and wrote something about each one.
  The first couple she just stated what "number" that mission was and that she didn't remember it. 
She shared what her favorite things were and some interesting facts that weren't in the research info.  The best part of this is that we now have an album of our family vacations as seen through our youngest's eyes. 
 Love that!

So, what have I learned this year?
 I need to find a teacher, every year, who has a child in the same grade as Sugar Plum Fairy.

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