Friday, December 31, 2010

Rudolph . . . We Want Your Job!

I have recently found the greatest treasures in other teacher's blogs. This idea I saw on a wonderful blog here. With the crazy, hectic schedules right before Christmas and the illness that was going around at school, unfortunately you will not see every one of the ACES in this slideshow. The children pretended that Rudolph was planning to retire and Santa was looking for a replacement. They not only had to create the finest looking set of antlers, but also they had to complete a job application highlighting the skills that would make them a good choice for Rudolph's replacement. Here are some of their responses:

*I can jump high.
*I am in good physical shape.
*I like being cold.
*Santa is so nice I'd like to work for him.
*I am very reliable.
*I am really daring and not scared of anything.

I'm sure Santa will have no problem choosing a replacement with these highly qualified applicants!! Who knows, he may just have to hire them all!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Gingerbread Man

We are participating in a Holiday Card Exchange project. The theme for the project this year is gingerbread men. The 1st and 2nd grade ACES did a readers' theater today. We hope you will enjoy! I will be posting more information soon about the Holiday Card Exchange.

Monday, November 29, 2010

LoGaN's ExTrEmE rOoM mAkEoVeR

Enjoy Logan's presentation! He was disappointed in the quality of the pictures he got from the internet, but he did a fantastic job! He also worked on making some great transitions that didn't show when I transferred his presentation to Slideshare :(

Saturday, November 27, 2010

ExTrEmE rOoM mAkEoVeR

The 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Grade ACES began an Extreme Room Makeover project in early October. The students were given the task/creative challenge to make over their bedrooms. They were each given a budget of $5,000 and a list of possible internet resources. It was so awesome to watch this project unfold. Most students chose to display their information using PowerPoint. Some decided to make a poster. Many were very frugal and hesitated to spend their budgeted amount. Some filled their rooms with the latest technology and gaming systems. My hope for this project is that the students gained an appreciation of budgeting. We talked about how we must first provide for our needs - bed, pillows, blankets, etc. Then we can think about those items that we might want for entertainment. We talked about how in our families, parents must first provide for our needs. Hopefully the boys and girls can better understand the next time they are told that they don't NEED the newest Xbox 360 game or latest fashions at the mall!!! I plan to continue posting their presentations and pictures of the posters they are creating. Enjoy this first of many . . .

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Meet the 1st Grade ACES . . .

I'm so glad I did! These little darlings are always ready to learning something new. We get so busy each Friday afternoon that I kept forgetting to take their pictures individually. I couldn't be more thankful to have the opportunity to teach them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fuel Up to Play 60

The 5th and 6th Grade ACES made a very quick attempt at a 30-second commercial highlighting how to "Get Healthy, Be Active, and Make a Difference". This was part of a contest sponsored by the Play 60 movement to encourage kids to get off the couch and play. We learned that it's not easy to condense thoughts and ideas from a group into 30 seconds. They gave it their best shot in the hour that we had to spend. Turn up the volume and enjoy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weird - but Totally Awesome - Science

The ACES enjoyed some weird, but totally awesome, science experiments recently! We ooohhhhed and aaaaahhhhhed over bubbles. They weren't just your everyday ordinary bubbles. They were bubbles that contained trapped carbon dioxide gas from our dry ice. We made Insta-Worms and Green Slime (hopefully everyone who took some home followed my directions about not opening the slime unless they had permission from a parent :)) We energized Glow-In-The-Dark Powder and made balloons scream.

These experiments came from the Steve Spangler Science Company. If you would like to receive a weekly experiment in your inbox, just visit!

The ACES had a great time with these experiments and gained some knowledge about science concepts in the process. I even heard a few of them say that SCIENCE is their new favorite subject!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Morning Announcement

Some of the 5th and 6th Grade ACES have taken over the Monday and Thursday Morning Announcement! The students are doing a wonderful job first praying, then saying the Pledge of Allegiance. They also announce the focus at Mass for the week. This focus is written by our Professional Learning Community Religion Committee of teachers. "Jazzed up with adjective" lunch menus and birthdays are also part of the announcement. Lastly, the ACES let the student body and teachers know about upcoming events. The students are doing a fabulous job! Most recently we have decided to add willing 3rd and 4th graders to this process.

Pumpkin Seed Count

The first and second grade ACES participated in a Pumpkin Seed Count Project hosted by Jennifer Wagner at Students from around the world registered and completed the project. We had lots of fun estimating, measuring, sorting, and counting. The ACES even learned that "circumference" is the distance around a circle/sphere. They also had no trouble telling me that we would not be able to use a ruler for this measurement. They recommended using a tape measure or string that we could measure using a ruler. So clever!

Be sure to scroll over the pictures to see the captions! We hope you enjoy the slideshow as much as we enjoyed the project!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We're Back!!! with UV Detecting Beads

Whew!!! It has been so busy at school and I have fallen behind with our blog. The ACES have been hard at work for just over three weeks now. We have some exciting things happening and I can't wait to tell you about them!

For our first class, we had a science inquiry lesson. I gave all the ACES, 1st grade all the way through 6th graders, three mysterious beads to examine and describe.

The kids thought of adjectives like: smooth, hard, white, small, and circular. They noted there was a hole in the center.

After carefully observing these "magic" beads, the students hypothesized about what could be so special about the beads.

They said . . .

. . . maybe they glow in the dark!

. . . maybe they change color because of our mood!

. . . maybe they are sensitive to heat and cold!

We spent time observing the "magic" beads in the classroom. Then . . . we went outside with our beads. Something amazing happened!

The "magic" beads changed from white to a rainbow of colors. Why? Because these beads are ULTRAVIOLET DETECTING BEADS!!!

The ACES are so naturally curious that a myriad of experimentation began to take place. What happens if I go in the shade of the building? What happens when we go back inside the school? Will the beads always be colored now instead of white? This curiosity is why I love my job and never cease to be amazed at the learning that unfolds in young minds every day!

We talked about how ultraviolet rays from the sun can be harmful to our skin. We also decided that we could experiment to see if sunscreen is really effective. The possibilities with our UV detecting beads were endless!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Owl Pellet Dissection: The Beginning

The ACES are working on becoming "Wise Owls"! We have been researching owls and completing our first Lapbook project. To get some real hands-on experience and gain more knowledge about owls, we are completing an owl pellet dissection. The 1st - 4th grade ACES got started this week. The ACES were amazed to find so many bones in their pellets. Some had one skull, some had three skulls, some had a hard time with the smell of the project! It is so exciting to see them working on this project and being real scientists as they solve the mystery of what owls are eating! We will be finishing up our study in the coming weeks and will surely have more pictures to post and even some video too!

The 5th and 6th grade ACES participated in the Thinking Cap Quiz Bowl - America Answers competition. We will let you know the results of their efforts around May 10! These students will soon have the chance to begin their dissection.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pick and Draw

I was reading a great blog written by a homeschooling mom. She mentioned a game called Pick and Draw developed by children's book illustrator Rich Davis. He developed the game so that he can teach children about drawing. Rich Davis says, "Your ability to create is a gift from God."

I ordered Pick and Draw for my family. We received the game during Spring Break week. My children loved it! I decided it would be fun to share it with the ACES. I ordered the game from Rich Davis also has a blog where he shares ideas for drawing that can be found at

The following pictures were created by the 5th and 6th grade ACES. Before we started drawing, several of the students said that they didn't consider themselves artistic. When we were finished they were impressed with how well they created a character. After the drawing was finished, the ACES named their creation and decided what the character was good at and what kind of music the character enjoys. From start to finish, including naming the character, etc., we spent ten minutes on these creations. The ACES could have spent much more time and were very curious about where to find one of these games for themselves!

Name: Can Bob
Likes: Rolling and Eating
Music: Rock and Roll

Name: Boom Boom Chaka Waka
Music: Retro Hip Hop

Name: B.J. McDonald
Likes: driving his go-cart, jumping, and ice cream
Music: Jazz

Name: Mr. Bean
Likes: bean-eating contests and singing about beans
Music: Rap

Name: Billy Bob
Likes: dancing
Music: Rap

Name: Lars Mars
Likes: making people laugh
Talents: pulling pranks
Music Genre: classical

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

1st and 2nd Grade Leprechaun Traps

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MoNsTeR pRoJeCt

The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade ACES just completed the MoNsTeR pRoJeCt!!! We began the project with the students using a graphic program called KidPix to create a MoNsTeR head. Then we had a lesson about adjectives and descriptive writing. Next, the students used a planning page to brainstorm some adjectives that they could use to describe their MoNsTeR. The ACES then used these ideas to write a descriptive paragraph about their MoNsTeR.

Possibly the most exciting part of the project was reading their descriptive paragraph to a partner as they tried to recreate the MoNsTeR using the same program, KidPix!! It was a challenge to only read what was written on the paper and not give any extra hints. The ACES also did a great job of keeping their MoNsTeR's hidden from their friends.

We hope you enjoy the results of our MoNsTeR pRoJeCt and our first attempt at using Voicethread to share our work!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Project

The 1st and 2nd grade ACES took part in an on-line St. Patrick's Day Project. The boys and girls became "researchers". They were researching to prove or disprove the following hypothesis:

There are more clovers than any other shape in a box of Lucky Charms.

We found that there were the most hourglass shapes in our box of lucky charms. We will be adding our results along with 500 other classrooms throughout the world! After we return from Spring Break we will check the results and see if other classrooms got similar or different results.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Leprechaun Trap - Part 2

Here are the 4th Grade Leprechaun Traps!

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Monday, March 8, 2010

So Long, Farewell Flat ACES!

So sad to see them go, but I've taken down the Flat ACES to make room for the Saintly Scholars. I wanted to share them with you before they go home with the boys and girls. So . . . we hope you enjoy the Flat ACES!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


This week we worked on a creative project. We started by learning a little about leprechauns. In Irish folklore, there are many stories about leprechauns and fairies. The fairies love to dance and the leprechauns work to make and mend the fairies' shoes. The leprechauns are paid with gold pieces. We also learned that we have to keep a close watch on these little guys because they can disappear in the blink of an eye! The creative task set before the students was to create a leprechaun trap. They used the shoeboxes that they brought from home. They were provided with lots of materials like pipe cleaners, craft pom poms, lots of shimmery sparkling things, fabric, etc. The ACES' imaginations were in full force to create contraptions that would lure and trap those silly leprechauns! We hope you enjoy the pictures and watch for more to come!!

Click to play this Smilebox greeting: Leprechaun Traps
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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Winter Olympics - Vancouver 2010

The 4th, 5th, and 6th Grade ACES have created their first Photo Story project!!! The students used the official Winter Olympic website to get information. They read about each of the winter olympic events. They summarized their research and recorded themselves reading. This was a tedious process, as the ACES wanted things to be just right! We used Google images for the photos and iTunes for our background music. We hope you enjoy the first, and certainly not the last, of our Photo Story creations!

For some reason there is a problem with my embedding of our Photo Story. Let's get to it by using this URL!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Saintly Scholars Challenges

Hip-hip-hooray for all the ACES that are participating in the Saintly Scholar Challenges! I am planning to arrange lunch with everyone who has completed a challenge. The final step in showing mastery of the topic is to discuss what was learned. I am so excited to hear about all the great knowledge the boys and girls are gaining! I'll be in touch with the classroom teachers and ACES about having lunch next week (March 8-11).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saintly Scholars . . . Get Ready, Get Set, GO!!!!

St. Ambrose's ACES you are invited to participate in a new and exciting challenge called "Saintly Scholars". If you look on the left side of our blog you will see a link to Mrs. Renz's Mastery Club. When you click on the link you will see a list of challenges that are divided by subject area. Let your child choose a challenge and let the fun and learning begin. There is also a link to help with completing the challenge. Students are also encouraged to explore books they may find in the library to help with their answers. When your child has the answer to the challenge, go back to the left side of the blog. Click on the link to our very own "Student Blogs". Every "Saintly Scholar" has their own blog to submit their answers. In the title of the post, please put the subject and challenge number (i.e. Science Challenge 9). Once they create and submit a new post with the answer to the challenge, I will receive an email. To complete the challenge and receive a point, the students will need to be able to tell me the answer to the challenge orally. This will show true mastery of the topic. There are some challenges that will not be able to be recorded on their "Student Blogs". For example, there is a math challenge that asks the students to draw lines of symmetry for any letters of the alphabet that are symmetrical. They can just complete the challenge on a piece of paper and turn that in to me. We will be keeping track of points and posting those on our blog periodically. Let me know if you have any questions about the process. Good luck to all "Saintly Scholars" who are willing to take the challenge!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Flat Stanley's Adventures

The 1st and 2nd grade ACES sent Flat Stanley all over the United States to family and friends. They enjoyed reading and learning about all his adventures. This is our first attempt at creating a movie using our Flip Video Camera. The 1st graders were even the videographers!! They did a great job. Thanks to all the families and friends who participated in this project. Be sure to pass along word to them to check out our movie.