Mrs. Brown's Fourth Grade Blog

…our learning adventure

Santa Cruz Island


Last Friday, we headed out to Santa Cruz Island. What an amazing day! In all the years I’ve taken this trip, I have never experienced such perfect weather conditions. The water was like glass all the way out to the island. Once there, we saw numerous island foxes. The island was full of color from all the rain this year. It was a beautiful experience for all of us. 

Chelsea Morning


For my students who want to see Joni performing “Chelsea Morning,” here it is. 

“Chelsea Morning”

by Joni Mitchell

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I heard

Was a song outside my window, and the traffic wrote the words

It came ringing up like Christmas bells and rapping up like pipes and drums

Oh, won’t you stay

We’ll put on the day

And we’ll wear it ’till the night comes


Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I saw

Was the sun through yellow curtains, and a rainbow on the wall

Blue, red, green and gold to welcome you, crimson crystal beads to beckon

Oh, won’t you stay

We’ll put on the day

There’s a sun show every second


Now the curtain opens on a portrait of today

And the streets are paved with passersby

And pigeons fly

And papers lie

Waiting to blow away


Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I knew

There was milk and toast and honey and a bowl of oranges, too

And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses

Oh, won’t you stay

We’ll put on the day

And we’ll talk in present tenses


When the curtain closes and the rainbow runs away

I will bring you incense owls by night

By candlelight

By jewel-light

If only you will stay

Pretty baby, won’t you

Wake up, it’s a Chelsea morning

Citizenship Breakfast


To view photos for the event, please click on the photo below.

4th Grade Citizenship Breakfast

In fourth grade social studies, we have been learning the difference between rights and responsibilities, communicating fairly, solving problems collaboratively, and treating others with respect. We discuss different ways that we can be positive leaders in our school and in our community at large. The Citizenship Breakfast is such a special culminating event because it gives the fourth grade students the opportunity to think deeply about what citizenship really means and what it looks like in action. We are so thankful for our guests for providing positive role models for our students, giving them something to strive for as they grow and learn.

The event kicked off with each student sharing what they appreciated about their special guest of honor as well as what being a good citizen meant to them: voting, taking care of the Earth, standing up for the rights of others, providing medical help for those in need, serving in our military, donating to a charity, giving food to the hungry, donating clothes to a local goodwill, adopting pets that need homes, being honest, obeying the law, helping others, and much more.

The keynote address was given by Diane Hall, who runs a non-profit called Little Star Pony Foundation, providing assisted pet therapy. Little Star is a two-foot miniature horse that visits retirement homes and works with hospice patients and children with special needs. Diane’s foundation was inspired by her hospice work with Gwendolyn Strong, a local girl who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) at 6 months old.

After learning about the Foundation and the important work Little Star does, each fourth grader had an opportunity to receive a kiss from the miniature horse.

A heartwarming highlight of the event was the unique connection between the keynote speaker, the miniature horse, and one of the special guests being honored at the Citizenship Breakfast—Gwendolyn’s mother Victoria Strong. Victoria is a writer, advocate, and founder—along with her husband Bill—of the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation, named after their late daughter to raise awareness and fund research on SMA.

Additional guests of honor included: Kent Wojciechoski, a retired police officer; Mary Fanaro, Founder of Omni Peace which has built eight schools for children in Africa; Janet Adderley, Founder and Artistic Director of The Adderley School for the Performing Arts; Adam Estabrook, a fireman; Brett Werner, a local organic farmer dedicated to saving family farms in the counties of SLO, Ventura, and Santa Barbara; Master Dave Wheaton, owner of Martial Arts Family Fitness; Kristen Fuerst, an ice skating coach; Kate Sulzbach, a riding coach (and Laguna alumna); Nathan Schley, a math tutor; Marcia Nogrady, a teacher; Angela Rockwell, Executive Director of ASAP (Animal Shelter Assistance Program); Dr. Will McClintock, Marine Scientist at UCSB; and Dr. Brett Grube, a local orthodontist.

La Purisima Mission


Last Wednesday, our class took a field trip to La Purisima Mission in Lompoc. This mission has a fabulous Student Living History Day. On these special days, the mission comes to life. Docents carry out the activities one would have seen when the mission was in operation. Here are some of the activities our class was able to experience:

Some things you may see or do during living history:


Adobe making         Soap making             Gristmill

Blacksmithing          Leather work             Monjerio

Cuartel & Soldiers    Chumash music        Basketry

Hide tanning            Spinning & weaving   Animals

Pottery making        Candle making          Mission store

Cooking                  Chumash games       Gardens

Crane Track & Field Day


Last Tuesday, our 3-5th grade students participated in the Crane Track & Field Day. Our students did very well and demonstrated good sportsmanship. 

What’s in a Song?


As part of our poetry unit, we are comparing songs and poems. We are looking at some of the greatest songwriters of the 60’s and 70’s for inspiration. Students compare the performances of different artists performing the same songs. What is apparent is that well-written songs are often rediscovered by later artists.

Joni Mitchell

Rolling Stone called her “one of the greatest songwriters ever”,[2] and AllMusic has stated, “When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century”.[3] Drawing from folk, pop, rock and jazz, Mitchell’s songs often reflect social and environmental ideals as well as her feelings about romance, confusion, disillusionment and joy.

Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock

Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is famous for his songwriting. Many of his songs are written about what was happening in the world from his perspective. Last year Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Here’s a news clip from CNN.

“Upon the announcement of Dylan’s award in October, the academy’s permanent secretary, Sara Danius, said Dylan “is a great poet in the English-speaking tradition,” drawing parallels between his work and that of ancient Greek poets.”

Bob Dylan’s The Times They are a Changing

Bob Dylan’s Blowin in the Wind

I try to model what I ask students to attempt, so here is one of my originals.

Donna Brown’s Eagles

Inspiring the Next Generation of Girls in STEM!


Leona had the opportunity to hear Gretchen McClain speak at the Girls Inc. One Hundred Committee Scholarship Luncheon. Gretchen was the Chief Director of the International Space Station at NASA!

Earth Day Celebration


Last Friday, the Lower School celebrated Earth Day. Check out the stations!

1. Solar S’mores on Honey Graham Crackers!
3.   Planting Sunflowers and Bee Observations
3.   Recycle Game
4.   Art project
5.   Bee Food Item/Sort Game
6.   Recycled Crayons
7.   Bike Blended Smoothies
8.   Games!
10. Being Waste-free
11. Snack Table
12. Composting
13. 5th / 6th grade sustainability project showcase
14. Bag Monster

Magic at MOXI


Today, the third and fourth grade students had the opportunity to explore  MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation. The museum’s mission is to ignite learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity. As Santa Barbara’s newest hands-on destination for families and curious minds of all ages, MOXI is a place where you can explore and discover new things about the world around you, ask questions, seek answers, and have a blast doing so.

“Feed your need for speed as you build your own race car and send it down our test track. Prototype designs for a marble roller coaster. Discover the beauty in all types of movement. Slow your mind as you challenge someone at the game of Mindball. Your body and your brain will be active throughout your time in the Speed Track.”

“Explore the world of lights, colors, shadows and more in this area where science and technology beautifully combine with visual arts and creative expression. Take the ultimate selfie at Mosaic Faces. Create a bold display of colored lights at Light Patterns. Control the Color Mixing Machine that hangs above our entryway and learn more about color and light waves while delighting observers inside and outside our main entrance on State Street.”

“Go inside the Giant Guitar to learn about how your favorite guitar riffs begin. Be mesmerized by our very own George Rhoads-designed Sound Machine. Take control of the Reactable, part digital DJ table, part futuristic musical instrument. Be a part of Hollywood magic when you step into our Foley Studios to create your own sound effects for a popular film clip. Do it all and more in the Sound Track, the biggest exhibit area on the first floor of MOXI.”


“Step outside into this space dedicated to gravity, magnetism, propulsion, centripetal force and more. Conduct test flights in our Wind Column Workshop, launch an Air Rocket and discover the power of magnetic fields on our Magnetic Islands. Play with all these things and more in our grand Fantastic Forces Courtyard that soars up three stories to the glass ceiling of the Sky Garden.”

“Discover a unique showcase for a wide range of digital interactive experiences designed in partnership with area artists, educators and scientists. Both our Interactive Media Theater and our Bridge gallery space will feature rotating displays of new media arts and technology. The first installation in the Theater is created by the UCSB AlloSphere Research Group and allows you to explore and interact with a large-scale representation of a Hydrogen-like atom.”


Painting with Words


As you know, we are a class of poets, among other things. Our last session was devoted to two of our best friends, Metaphor and Simile.

I usually write alongside my students as they write. It is so important to model for students, not only the skill, technique, or concept you are teaching, but your willingness to take a risk. When they look up and see that I am writing alongside them, they know that I value writing–it’s part of my life. In the spirit of sharing something raw (as I am always asking them to do), here is a poem that I wrote during class the other day. One of our poetry prompts is the observation poem.

I shared with them the backstory. There is an older gentleman who lives in my neighborhood. He owns approximately eight old Buicks, which he rotates around the neighborhood every day. My poem doesn’t have a title yet, so feel free to suggest a few:)


Mystery lives on my street

He rises before the light reflects on the dewy leaves

His eyes combing the neighborhood,

Like a detective on the beat

Like a game of chess, he strikes a move

I wonder if all those cars’ existence prove

He once was a young man, an on-the-move man

Like Jack Kerouac, on the road

Adventures from mountain to sea

Wanderlust feelings must be

Now measured in feet

While once the miles raced beneath

In my neighborhood, a museum of Buicks appears

Frozen in 1975,

But in his mind alive

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