Normally, I publish a separate post for each group, but this week we’re trying something new! There is so much to catch up on, I thought it might be best to have it all in one place.

**Kindergarten enrichment mat**h students have been working with patterns. This week, we played Target Addition. The game uses a five-row, five-column board where the top row is all 5’s, the next row is all 4’s, then 3’s, 2’s and 1’s. Before beginning play, each pair chooses a target between 25 and 55. Players then take turns placing a marker on one of the numbers on the board. Each time a player places his or her marker, s/he announces the total of the covered numbers. For example if the first player covered a 4, the second a 3, and then the first a 2, the sum would be 4 + 3 + 2 = 9. The first player to reach the target number exactly wins. If a player goes over the target number, s/he is out.

This game is great to strengthen mental math skills. The kids are really good at addition, but working on accuracy and speed is always helpful. Keeping track of the total in Target Addition can be a challenge, but since the board is always in front of you, it’s no problem to start from zero and add up all of the covered numbers, if necessary. The game also encourages the kids to think a few steps ahead. Once you near your target, you need to start thinking about what your opponent will do if you cover a certain number, and how you can avoid setting your opponent up to win. The students brought a board home with them so that they can teach someone else how to play. This is the only homework this week!

In **first grade enrichment math**, we continue to work on different kinds of puzzles. This week, we worked on using clues to locate a “secret number” on a hundreds chart. I gave the kids four clues for each number. As they received the clues, they used dry erase markers to eliminate numbers on the chart that could not be the secret number. For example, if the clue was “the number is odd,” then the kids crossed off all of the even numbers. This is a bit more confusing than perhaps it sounds, because one has to be careful to be sure to mark off the inverse of the clue (if it says that the number is even, for example, then you need to mark off the odds). Some of the kids got the idea quickly; many of them did not. Of course, then the clues got harder (“if you add the digits, the sum is 12,” for example). They worked hard and with great enthusiasm (for some of them, finding the number in question was quite difficult, but it was almost equally difficult not to shout out the number as soon as they found it).

Homework is to create a set of four clues that lead to one and only one secret number. All of the clues should be necessary to find the number, and they should lead to only one number. I sent home a hundreds chart to help. Please do not cut out the clue cards — keep them as a whole sheet, turn them in and let me check them, and then we will use them in class the next time we play “Secret Number.” I told the kids they need to practice to be sure that their clues actually lead to one (and only one) number. It might be a good idea to make copies of the hundreds chart, in case they need to practice more than once.

This activity was “confusing, and hard, and SO FUN” according to one of the first graders. I would say this is a pretty accurate summation of how most of the kids felt. Your child may need some help creating his/her clues and practicing to make sure they only lead to one number.

You can find the packet at this link (Secret Number), if you need another hundreds chart or more cards.

In **first grade enrichment reading**, we completed our second day of Crime Lab testing, and the students wrote paragraphs synthesizing their results. Their paragraphs were impressive — super detailed and full of factual support for their hypotheses. In the end, most kids correctly identified the two guilty parties: Brandon and Julia.

We knew Brandon looked guilty because he brought the brown dye, he brought pie, he didn’t drink from the cup, his footprints (well, footprint!) were at the scene of the crime, he wanted to swim in the ocean, and he was wearing a purple cotton sweater. We knew Julia looked guilty because she didn’t drink from the cup, her footprints were at the scene of the crime, Danny smelled like her shampoo, she brought pie, and she has a dog, whose hair was found on Danny and whose footprints were found at the scene of the crime.

In case you were wondering (we were!), the mystery powder in the ice cubes (and then the juice) was indeed sleeping powder. Ask your kids how the powder wound up in the juice!

Next week, we’ll be working on cracking some codes!

In **second grade enrichment math**, we spent this week’s class time working with Babylonian numbers. Like Ancient Egyptian numbers, Babylonian numbers are additive. Babylonian numbers do, however, have place value. The students were thrilled! Place value! Something we understand! They were overjoyed to tell me that the place to the left of the ones place must be the tens place. They were correct! It was glorious.

Then they couldn’t wait to let me know that the next place had to be the hundreds place. But nope, it didn’t have to be that at all. In the Babylonian number system, the next place is the sixties. A base 60 number system? Say it isn’t so!

Here is a sample of some Babylonian numbers:

Some of the kids made (with my encouragement) “cheat sheets” listing multiples of 60. This made translating Babylonian numerals considerably easier. We spent the remainder of class working with Babylonian numerals and translating back and forth. Next week, we’ll be comparing Egyptian, Greek, Mayan, and Babylonian numerals.

In **second grade enrichment language arts**, we embarked upon a simulation called “To Dig or Not to Dig?” I presented the following scenario to the students:

*The city of Falls Church has decided to construct a football stadium on a block of land at the edge of the city, near Poplar Heights Pool. The City will then acquire Virginia’s first NFL franchise – Falls Church Freedom. To deal with increased city traffic, the city will also have to build a highway extension to widen the exit of route 66 and an access way from the metro station. Before they can do any building, though, federal and state law require that the site undergo an archaeological survey to determine if any cultural resources would be impacted during construction.*

*A group of archaeologists come to excavate the site. After several weeks of field testing, they report that the site is of tremendous scientific and historical value and could help answer many questions concerning Virginia’s past. Archaeologists report that they have uncovered an extensive concentration of human remains deposited under the land. These remains have been identified by a forensic anthropologist as being Native American.*

*The archaeologists, in compliance with federal and state law, halt further excavation and notify the Native American Tribal Council of Virginia. Tribal leaders visit the excavation site and immediately identify many of the uncovered artifacts as ancient ceremonial burial objects. Upon further investigation, tribal leaders inform archaeologists that the proposed stadium construction site is the location of a cemetery of their ancestors, and that it has significant religious and heritage values to Virginia’s Native American population. Tribal leaders demand that the site be covered again, and left undisturbed with no further archaeological excavation or stadium construction.*

*This demand sends shock waves through the Falls Church community and the entire state of Virginia, which has long sought to bring an NFL team to the area. The Governor, the Mayor, and members of the City Council form a task force to make recommendations about what to do. The task force is composed of the following:*

*The Stadium Building Authority*
*City Archaeologist*
*Owner of the NFL Franchise*
*Tourist Council of Virginia*
*Native American Tribal Council*
*Citizens for the Preservation of Virginia*

*In addition, the Mayor will serve as the task force chairperson.*

*You will be assigned a role as one of the people or groups on the task force. You will receive a task card telling you whether you support or oppose building the stadium. Your job is to prepare remarks to support your position. You will all then have a chance to speak at our mock task force meeting.*

The students then worked together in pairs to prepare their remarks. They focused on presenting and justifying their positions, and then on putting forward a compromise that might work for all sides. This week, we held our task force meeting, and the students took turns explaining their positions. Most of them also presented compromises they had developed that might help bridge the gap between the two sides.

During one task force meeting, a student representing the Tourist Council spoke rather stridently about how “bones don’t matter! Who cares about bones?” and argued that “the stadium will bring in money, lots of money.” I know this wasn’t a real meeting, but I’m going to be totally honest and say that I felt uncomfortable. I’m quite certain that the student was trying to be funny, but it didn’t come across that way at the table, and the students representing the Native American Tribal Council looked alarmed.

After everyone had their chance to speak, I asked if anyone had any follow up remarks. One of the students raised his hand and said “I just want to say that it’s not always about money, and money isn’t the only thing that matters. There are other things that really matter and those things are important to people, too, and we should pay attention to them.”

Sometimes, the state of the world can look pretty bleak. Then I spend time with five-, six-, and seven-year-olds, and I know that everything is going to be okay.