National Park Service Centennial!

We recently wrapped up a study of the different National Parks in the United States. Since this year is the celebration of the National Park Service Centennial, it seemed like a great time to introduce our 4th graders to all of the amazing sites that are protected by the NPS.

To set the scene in our room, we had camping-style decor (that we actually “camped out” in!).


Our big project was creating a brochure about one of the National Parks.  Each student researched a different park ( is an AMAZING resource!!), and found facts to share about their park.  We created the brochures, as well as bookmarks and trading cards, to share with one of the 2nd grade classes, who were studying Yellowstone National Park.  It was a blast sharing our research with such a great audience.


As part of our research, we also created fact cards about our parks.  While working on our research, we were able to travel (via green screen) to our parks for a visit.  🙂


I definitely enjoyed this short unit, as the National Parks are some of my favorite places to take trips.  I hope some of our students were inspired to travel to a National Park someday!!  🙂


Olympics Unit 2016

It’s been one week since we wrapped up our 4R Olympics unit, and I think I’ve finally recovered enough to write a post about it!  😉

We started this unit the first week of school with an Opening Ceremony.  Each student picked a country out of a hat, then created their country’s flag and a torch to carry.  At our Opening Ceremony, students heard their name and country announced, then did a lap (or two, or three…) around the playground carrying their flag and torch.  This Opening Ceremony marked the start of our events competition.


There were 10 events that students competed in over our two week unit.  They ranged from artistic (design) events to researching Olympians, and learning about different host cities over the years.  Students could choose which events to participate in, and which order to do them.  They were not required to do all events.  Points were given for each event turned in, and based on how well each event was done, and how many were done, students received a point total at the end of the unit.  Medals were given based on how many points were earned (500=bronze, 750=silver, 1000=gold).

During our unit, we were blessed to have two different guest speakers come and talk to both 4th grade classes about their experiences.

Our first guest was Judy Walker, a former fencer from the 1956 and 1960 Olympics.  She told us about how she got into fencing, what it was like to make friends with people from other countries, and other experiences she had while participating in the games.

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Our other guest was Steve Doudt, who participated in the 1996 and 2000 Paralympic Games, in sitting volleyball. He shared how the Olympics and Paralympics are similar and different, and also talked about the hard work that goes into training for the games.


For our Closing Ceremony, students were awarded their medals or certificates, based on the number of points earned during our unit.  We had 5 golds this year, and a pretty even mix of levels throughout the class.  Everyone worked hard on the events, and it was fun celebrating together at the end.  (Thanks to our awesome room moms who made us Olympics treats to enjoy!)


This is always such an awesome unit to do, and especially exciting because it only comes around every 4 years.  Look out, kindergarteners…you’ll be next!!  🙂

First Week of School 2016-2017

Welcome back!!

It’s been a whirlwind first week and a half of school.  We’re well underway with our Olympics unit (details to come in a future blog post), and have been busy learning classroom procedures and routines.

Much more to come this year.  I look forward to keeping you updated through social media.  Instagram is definitely the way I update most often, but will put special events, large units, and other exciting things on this blog from time to time as well.

Catch us on Instagram: @missrenzelmann


Can You Beat Miss R. at AR?? 2016 Outing

Today we celebrated the reading achievements of three students in our class.  Each year, I try to read books along with the students and take AR quizzes on them as well.  We keep track of the points earned, and on the last day of school, anyone with more points than me get a special prize.  This year we went on a bowling outing, where we bowled, played some arcade-style games, and ate lots of greasy bowling alley food.  It was a great time, and I’m so proud of these kids!!  (Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, they may have beat me with AR points, but I managed to beat them in bowling!)  Thanks for a great day.  🙂



Tropical Rainforest Study 2016

A favorite part of our almost month-long study of Tropical Rainforests is the puppet show reader’s theaters we do using the book “The Great Kapok Tree”.  It’s always so fun to see how the students create each animal, and also fun to hear how they use different voices for their characters.  I have included both productions of our reader’s theater for this year, as we performed in two different groups for the kindergarten classes.  Enjoy!!  🙂

For other Tropical Rainforest projects and exciting activities, be sure to follow my Instagram account to check them out!!  (@missrenzelmann)

Passion Story Green Screen Project 2016

This past week, Holy Week, we spent our Religion class recreating the Passion Story of Jesus.  The students used paper to create small puppets and props for their group’s scene.  Then, using green straws (thank you, Starbucks!!), they attached their creations and acted out the scenes in front of a green screen while reading their part of the story from the Bible.  Scenes were set on a background they found online, that went with their scene.  Wonderful creativity in the creating of their people and scenery for these scenes.  And what a great story to tell.  Enjoy this journey to the cross, which begins on Maundy Thursday and concludes after Jesus rose on Easter Sunday.  Christ is risen!!

1st Annual 4th Grade Pioneer Day

Since both 4th Grade classes read Little House in the Big Woods this year as a novel study, we thought it would be neat to have the kids experience a little hands-on taste of life in pioneer times.  This year we held our first ever Pioneer Day, and it was a hit!!

We split our day into two sessions.  During our morning session, students learned how to make butter, sew on buttons, dip candles, and peel potatoes and carrots for our venison stew.  They also got to watch portions of the first episode of the Little House on the Prairie TV series.  Classic.  🙂

We learned that making butter is an arm workout, sewing on buttons is harder than it looks, dipping candles is messy, and peeling potatoes is pretty fun!



During our afternoon session, the students learned how to make yarn dolls, bake biscuits, and make different pioneer toys.  At the end of the day, we got to enjoy our venison stew that had been cooking all day, the biscuits with homemade butter, and a delicious dessert made by one of our parent helpers.



Special thanks to our parent and grandparent helpers for this day!  We truly could not have done it without you.  We know the students appreciated learning all these new skills, and it was fun to watch them step outside their comfort zone with some of our activities during the day.


**To see “live” updates from our day, check out Mrs. Sorg’s class Instagram account.  Her students were posting pictures and videos throughout the day of their experiences.  Lots of great glimpses of our day!!  (@mrssorgs4thgrade)**