Friday, April 28, 2017


Last Thursday, the entire second grade was treated to an encore presentation from Wildlife Encounters. Again, this wonderful organization brought several animals to SMS, this time with a focus on how animals contribute to the plants of our ecosystem.

The first animal we were introduced to was an amphibian. The WHITE TREE FROG is responsible for eating insects that would otherwise harm plants. Found in Australia, the White Tree Frog, actually isn't white at all! It can be found in shades of back, brown, or even purple!

Once the frog was placed back in its container, Kirby introduced us to a familiar animal: the SIX-BANDED ARMADILLO! In the fall, we met a three-banded armadillo, but unlike that interesting animal, Tatu and other six-banded armadillos cannot role up into a ball (they have too much flubber on their bellies!). Tatu also has the important job of pest control. Searching for termites and worms, he gives the soil a good mixing while digging for his food. 
Although covered in scales, the armadillo is actually a mammal! It has hair, delivers live young, and is warm-blooded making it the only shelled mammal! 
Once Tatu was placed safely back into his cage, Kirby and Kat brought out another familiar critter: a MINI-LOP BUNNY named Iris. This cuddly, sweet animal originates from Holland and is a seed disperser. She eats the seeds of fruits and vegetables, hops away, and then poops the seed out in a new location.
Black bunnies often don't survive in the wild as they can't rely on camouflage for protection.

After Iris went back in her cage, we were introduced to a second grade favorite: THE NORTH AMERICAN PORCUPINE. Hollywood was a crowd-pleaser from the start and was happy to show off his ability to snatch peanuts for a delicious snack! Porcupines are great climbers and are often found in trees. Porcupines have extremely poor vision and are very slow moving, which would cause them to be quite defenseless without their quills (although fisher cats have quickly discovered that porcupines have no quills on their bellies!). Porcupines are strictly herbivores and are also seed disperses and are responsible for the spreading of many tree seeds. 

Kirby demonstrated what strong climbers porcupines can be! As they are largely nocturnal, porcupines can often be found sleeping in trees during the day.
Hollywood is shedding his thick, winter coat! He left us a present of fur and quills to study further after he left :)
While we were sad to say goodbye to Hollywood, we enjoyed meeting the next animal: Grumpy Gus, the ARGUS MONITOR LIZARD. This Australian animal is another animal responsible for insect control. Its large throat pouch, loud hissing sound, and ability to stand on its back legs makes it appear big and scary to its predators. While we didn't get to see him standing on his back legs, we were able to hear his hissing noises when we listened carefully.
Grumpy Gus still has a scar from an injury he received before he was rescued by Wildlife Encounters.
The final animal we were introduced to, which holds a special place in my heart, was a CHINCHILLA! Native to the Andes Mountain Range, these animals are their own farmers! They have the ability to grow their own food! Living in a volcanic habitat, their food source is often wiped out by lava flow. To rebuild their home, chinchillas hop down the mountains, eat plants, hop back up the mountain, poop (up to 50 times a day!) and use their large back feed to "plant" the discarded seeds. Pretty impressive for little balls of fluff!
After meeting this chinchilla, I was excited to share with our class that I used to be the owner of a pet chinchilla! While I would not recommend having a chinchilla as a pet (they are very active, social animals who require a LOT of attention!), Willy was a wonderful addition to my home for a very long time!

Again, after the presentation was complete and we had met all of Kirby and Kat's animal friends, we were allowed to use a "two-finger touch" to pet the argus monitor lizard and the chinchilla! So fun!

Thank you again to Wildlife Encounters for sharing your wonderful creatures and enhancing our science unit!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Jump, Jump, Jump! SMS Jump Ropes for Heart!

Last Friday, all of SMS participated in the annual Jump Rope for Heart! With music blasting, students broke into relay teams (as practiced in PE) and jumped their hearts out! Take a look at our awesome relay teams!!

Our star jumpers sure have skills (hence so many of the pictures are blurry---they were just too fast for me!)

Some Owls were shocked to discover their teacher still had some jump roping skills :-P
Everyone had a BLAST while also supporting the American Heart Association. We haven't gotten the final figures yet, but Ms. Batchelder said SMS raised a TON of money! Way to go SMS! Thanks to all the families that donated. Your donations support important research for heart disease as well as educational incentives to teach others about keeping a healthy heart!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Apr. 16th News

Bring on the spring temperatures! 2H had a ball soaking up the rays this week! 
Highlights from our week:
*Writing: We've begun our latest writing unit: poetry! Students have been busy reading and writing poetry. While the thought of poetry can be somewhat intimidating, these second graders have been filling the air with truly beautiful words, phrases, and lines. We'll continue to use our poets' eyes and look at things that give us BIG feelings and see things in NEW ways over the next several weeks. This beautiful weather will give us great opportunity to find inspiration in nature!
 *ReadingThis unit, we will continue to "amp up" our reading power! This week we learned that one of the most powerful reading tools we have is.....OUR PARTNER! Students had the opportunity to choose the same book as their partner to practice using this great "tool". 
Later in the week, each reader was given an "Emergency Reading Tool Kit" equipped with a special mechanical pencil and lots and lots of post-it notes. One strategy readers can use when they're stuck at a confusing part, or if they want to hold on to important information, is to "stop & jot" their thinking on a sticky note. We had a lot of fun practicing using our tool kits during various shared reading experiences. They really enjoyed going off to use their tool kits independently. They have a lot of powerful, deep thinking going on! 
Next week, we will review all of the strategies we've learned this year. We will then set individual reading goals. It's hard to find what you already do really well as a reader, and what you'd like to work on, but these Owls will be up for the challenge!
*Science: With the wax museum (and Jack's beanstalks!) under our belt, we have a lot more time and energy to devote to our science experiments. When observing our beanstalks, we noticed some grew, some didn't, some grew a LOT, and some just started. What causes this? What do plants need to grow and thrive? After a great science talk, we decided to PROVE what plants truly need to survive. Using pea, carrot, bean, and flower seeds, each student helped plant a seed to contribute to our experiment. Each table seat was set to experience a different variable. Our control plants and will receive water and sunlight; others will receive water and no sunlight; some will receive no water and sunlight; and some will receive no water and no sunlight. We set our predictions and will be carefully observing our findings over the next few week.

To officially launch our plant unit,the Owls were in for a special surprise when they learned Mr. Healey, on behalf of Urban Tree Service, sent each second grader a special gift. Each student received their own spruce sapling to take home and plant! We owe a huge THANK YOU to Urban Tree Service! The Owls were SO excited!!! What a great kick off to our latest science unit!
Have a wonderful, sunny weekend!
Coming Up:
-Jump Rope for Heart: Friday, Apr. 21st
-No School, Spring Vacation: Monday, Apr. 24th - Friday, Apr. 28th
-PTO Spring Social: Friday, May 5th 7-11pm, Portsmouth Harbor Events & Conference Center
-Bike to School Day: Friday, May 12th
- Early Release: Wednesday, May 17th