November Cocoplum Newsletter

Hello, families,

If you visit the Cocoplum classroom, you will feel the energy of scientists at work. We have been moving through the scientific method with several different experiments. We are becoming very familiar with the steps in the scientific method: question, research, hypothesize, test, analyze, and share results. Hopefully, students are sharing the results of these interesting experiments with you!
We conducted an experiment that demonstrated osmosis in action. Based on last month’s Honest Eco acidification lesson, we were able to conduct a parallel experiment in a controlled environment, our classroom. The students used vinegar to treat eggs, which are covered in a calcium carbonate shell, similar to the coral reefs.
We soaked an egg in vinegar for 24 hours so that its calcium carbonate shell dissolved, leaving behind a permeable membrane with egg whites and yolk.
We made hypotheses/predictions on what would happen. We consulted our scientific notebooks to re-create the ocean’s parts-per-thousand salt-to-water ratio.
Then, 24 hours later, we put the eggs in different solutions and watched/questioned/observed what happened.
As we learn more about osmosis, we will continue to use inquiry-based research to draw conclusions about our experiences.

Also, our mangrove propagules are evolving, and we continue to make note of growth and changes.

Our boat trip with Honest Eco in September fueled our desire to learn more about the creation of the Keys and the bigger picture of Earth. We have completed seven charts in our Montessori Dynamic Geography curriculum, which includes: Anthropology, Astronomy, Botany, Chemistry, Fundamental Needs of People, Geology and Historical Geology, History, Meteorology, Oceanography, and Physics. Our study of Dynamic Geography began with the study of the Sun. So far this year we have completed Chapter 1,which includes: The Solar System and the Earth, The Cosmic Dance: Beginning of the Cooling Process, The Time of Volcanoes, The Chemical Constitution of the Earth, The Rock Cycle, Continental Drift, and much more! Students are transferring their knowledge into their own words in the form of a booklet. It’s a hefty subject, and many students are using art to understand and explain it all.

Another big driving force in upper elementary is our Cultural Studies. We have been dedicated workers day by day to create sentences from our research,and week by week to create paragraphs. After two months of work, we have incredibly rich paragraphs that have turned into multipage essays. The students can’t believe that by chipping away each day in our culture research, each of them has created an impressive essay! Who knew essay writing could be so fun?

We have completed our eight-sentence paragraphs on the material needs: clothing, shelter, defense, food, and transportation. Next, we will delve into the spiritual needs: religion, communication, music and dance, beauty and ornamentation. We will finish our current Ancient Civilization project by winter break.

Fourth years have been working on Early Humans migration charts and dioramas. We all enjoyed learning about Ancient Egypt when the fifth years threw an Ancient Egyptian Feast for us. Thanks again for the delicious lesson!
Of course, we have been diligently using the Montessori materials for Math and Language each week, as well. Some favorite lessons have been using the Golden Mat in a variety of ways, including adding, subtracting, and multiplying decimals to the millionths place.

In Writer’s Workshop, we are beginning to develop the parts of a story, focusing on writing a story step-by-step. This month, we worked on character development, creating a setting including the location and time, and are beginning to work on the plot. Lastly, we will write the conclusion. By reading other stories, we are identifying important parts of a story so that we can become better authors.

In our study of the U.S. states, we have learned about our borders, capitals, and popular cities; major rivers and bodies of water; major mountains and deserts;and state history. I will continue to encourage students to research and find information that is personally interesting to create a U.S. states notebook that is beneficial for each child.

Thank you again for those of you who have donated watermelon for pizza Friday lunches. If you haven’t signed up for a month, we need volunteers for December and January. Please let me know.


Ms. Irie beautifully demonstrated how to play the violin, and then gave each of the Cocoplums the opportunity to play. She explained that a violin has four strings and is a bowed string instrument. The viola and cello are also bowed string instruments, whereas a guitar is a plucked string instrument. The bow of a violin is strung with approximately 150-200 hairs from the tail of a horse. The sound of the violin is caused by drawing the bow across the strings. Rosin (which is made of tree sap) is applied to the bow to increase the friction and to help produce the sound. The class finished with a fun game of “freeze dance,” with everyone dancing to the lovely sound of the violin.

Several nursing students from the College of the Florida Keys came to talk about different health and well-being subjects. Their first visit was to bring attention to the sugar content in various beverages. This was demonstrated practically by placing sugar cubes in a cup next to the beverage in question, to illustrate how much sugar was in that particular drink. In the demonstration, Sunkist soda had the highest sugar content, followed by Powerade. It was recommended that we should have no more than six cubes of sugar per day, as consuming too much can lead to tooth decay and brittle bones, and can thicken blood. It was advised that labels should be checked for sugar content — but the best thing to drink is water!
In subsequent visits, practical skills such as thorough hand washing to help prevent the spread of germsand how to properly take care of wounds were discussed. Bicycle safety was also addressed, along with valuable tips on how to choose a well-fitting helmet.

A class favorite has been our Photography Enrichment each Wednesday. We learned how to use a Polaroid camera in different light, stop action, and photo transfers. Look for more information on our photography exhibition, coming soon!

Our play was a huge success! Everyone worked together to create an amazing play. Drama teaches teamwork, problem solving, creative thinking, and builds confidence. I am proud of everyone for getting on stage with such a big audience!

Foreign Studies
Ms. Erika (Jack and Cody Hawks’ mom) spent a week with the Cocoplums teaching Spanish. She explained that her parents grew up in Cuba and that her family roots were from Spain. We learned about the flag of Spain, and how the joining together of five kingdoms — Castile, Leon, Aragon, Navarre, and Grenada — are represented within its coat of arms. Ms. Erika taught numbers and colors in Spanish, and explained that there are 30 letters in the Spanish alphabet (compared to 26 in the English alphabet).

Mr. Peter (who has a daughter, Sandra, in the Kapok class) came to talk to us about growing up in Poland, how he became a musician, and that doing so helped him to learn the English language. Thirty-eight million people live in Poland. Its language is Slavic, and is considered to be the third-most difficult one to speak (after Arabic and Mandarin). Geographically, it has both lowlands and mountainous regions, and is bordered to the north by the Baltic Sea. Amber (fossilized pine resin) is found naturally on the beaches of the Baltic Sea and has medicinal properties. It is a valuable resource, as is salt excavated from salt mines in Poland. Mr. Peter also shared information on the meaning of the Polish flag, and demonstrated a Polish folk art form with cut paper.

October’s enrichments wrapped up with a Foreign Studies lesson about Argentina and watercolor painting with a local artist .

Thanks for reading all about our month!


Ashleigh and Ann