Mrs. Brown's Fourth Grade Blog

…our learning adventure

What Are the Odds?


The fourth graders have been learning about probability. As a way to demonstrate this concept, they experimented by dropping a centimeter cube onto a mat that had been shaded with colors in different proportions. They dropped the cube fifty times and recorded their results. We talked about the difference between a guaranteed outcome and a probable outcome. 

Next we learned that we could calculate the probability of outcomes. Below is a sample from one of their math journals. In this case, students were asked to shade a spinner with three different colors. They wrote down what fraction of the circle was shaded with each color. Based on the fraction, they were able to calculate the probability of landing on each color by asking the question, “What is (fill in with a fraction) of 24 (the number of times we would spin the spinner).


Art Inspiring Art–An Interview with Patrick Dennis!

Look at the bottom of this post to view the poems written by the fourth-grade students, which were inspired by Patrick’s painting. 
“Patrick Dennis – former musician, restaurateur, teacher, museum specialist, gallerist, lobbyist and founder of thirteen art festivals – has moved back home to California. Born in Santa Monica, he followed his career path to Oregon, Florida, Washington, DC, and Georgia. 
Patrick established the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces to improve public access to art, implementing city and county ordinances that would create new opportunities for artists. Also while in Atlanta, Patrick opened an art gallery for mentoring emerging artists.
An art hobbyist since an early age, Patrick began painting seriously in 2005 and displaying his work at both galleries and art festivals and developing a growing following.  His experience as an art festival director and gallery owner made him a frequent choice as judge, writer, and speaker in the arts community.”

On a weekend trip to Cambria, I had the privilege of meeting Patrick and spending some time in his art studio. He was gracious enough to share some of his painting techniques. Today, the fourth-graders watched this brief video below, which captured a bit of my experience at Working Art Studio. We used his painting as the basis for a visible thinking poetry lesson.


The man walking through the woods

Endless trees surrounding him

Heaving himself forward

What seems like just a tiny bit with every step

But in reality it is a lot

The chirping of birds and sun

One day and lightning and rain hammering on the back of his neck

Every drop with its own unique mark

The next leaves crunching under his feet

Clouds chasing him down

Pushing through the broken and dead shrubs

His blistered feet doing him no good

His back aches, leaning ever

Swiping with his rusty and half-broken dagger

Starving and waiting for food

Like a bear waiting for its prey

It seems like he will never escape the hold of the forest


The Golden Sky

The golden sky of the desert flickered with brightness

The cacti smiled that they were happy

The animals gleamed for they have not seen anything like it

The sky says, “The sky tells many stories

Within it you will find many things.”


The Yellow Lake’s Leaf

The golden tree leaves fall from the tree

Just to hit the beautiful surface of the yellow lake

When it does, it wanders to wherever its heart takes it

As it comes to a stop at the bank

It whispers to the Earth, “Good-bye.”

As it was once was alive

Now is has left the Earth in search of adventure


Possibilities Wonders

The person holding something has a black hat

The person holding something out to the world to see

And is not scared to hold it out

It is raining so hard like a falcon diving

The water droplets soaked the treetops 

They got so full they were droopy

Like a bunny in a meadow

An owl sitting on a branch is like possibilities

that are just sitting and waiting for someone to open it


The Silent but Alive World

A person looking into the distance as if the world had turned into fire

While the birds look at the fire

The rain falls down on the whole world

The world so silent as the raindrops fall

But so alive of feelings, emotions, and spirits

As the people, animals, plants, and all living things

Wake up from the night

Even though they were fast asleep,

They were still wary of everything around them

Like a vulture, looking over everything that is happening

But not really knowing what is going on


I see…

In this painting I see a hand opening a drink

Outside in the wilderness,

with a clink that is soft and mellow

Then a pop! and fizz

The soda, dripping down slowly on your hand

Like a tiny waterfall

You drink and feel a little sizzle going down your throat

You smile and then walk away, slowly sipping


Why so Sad?

A black rain cloud bursting with sadness

as it cries with rain over the forest

But as it cries, it fills the oceans and lakes

like a bee fills its honeycomb with nectar

Why was it sad?

No one knows and no one will ever know


New World

The sun shining down onto the green trees full of life

like a bunny hopping around in a meadow of poppies

And a ladybug on one of those poppies standing out from the rest

The ladybug on a poppy,

A bunny hopping through the poppies,

The trees full of life

And the sun shining down

It repeats over and over again

But then one day a bird comes over and sits on one of those trees

And everything changes

Now the sun stops shining and begins to rain

The trees wilting with no more life

The bunny stops hopping through the poppies because the poppies are gone

And the ladybug is no longer there

Not it all comes together and forms a new world with emotions, happiness, and sadness


Eating Clouds

Eating clouds and drinking rain

I am soaring across the sky and just open my mouth,

eating white cotton candy (clouds)

I am lying down in the sky, drinking rain

Hmmm…somebody wake me up

But it’s not a dream

–Lana Zeini

Shining Light

The dragon I see is fierce, bold, and strong

Like a tiger, big and fast

It’s like a spirit popping up to haunt you

It’s this big dark foggy cloud,

Skimming the ground everybody’s scared of

But in the end, it turns into a beautiful ray of sunshine

It’s now everybody’s faith and light in the distance


The Thief

I think it is a person holding something

It is a man holding an elephant head

And that man is wearing a black hat full of cash

Almost like he cashed in a 1,000,000 dollar check

Except he robbed the cash

the thief with an elephant head


Eye of the Hurricane

Storms rush up and down

Spinning around

Upside down, trapped in the eye of a hurricane

And suddenly I fall out, moving about

Lightning strikes and I fall down

I come back out

Stronger now

Braver than ever before


Opera Lab



The Opera Lab is an innovative highly interactive program designed to teach your students the A-B-and high Cs of opera! Guided by four professional singers specially trained in improvisation, your students will learn the building blocks of this fascinating art form and use them to construct their very own opera, performed for them on the spot.

Today, the third and fourth-grade students had the pleasure of working with the Opera Lab to create an opera about a skateboarding flower–REALLY! Here’s a clip.



Simple Science of Sand


Sand is one-of-a-kind, like a fingerprint. The sand found on every beach is unique, a product of its local environment. It articulates a story from hundreds to thousands to millions of years of weathering, breakdown, and erosion. Grains have been tossed around by waves or washed through a watershed. Sand tells us information about rock types, shelled organisms, waves, and biota from the region it is found. Beaches are a river of sand, regardless of whether it is found on the slope of an ocean, lake, or stream.

Help us build our story! If you are headed somewhere over spring break and can grab a sample to add to the Lower School science lab collection, we’d appreciate it. We are collecting sand samples from around the world. A good sample is about a quarter of a cup, or about a baby food jar size amount, of dry beach sand – collected in a plastic baggie is great. Thank you, and Happy Spring Break!

–Ms. Svedlund

Tecolote Tuesday Talent


Among the many talented performers this morning, Leona and Ava sang, “How Far I’ll Go.” 

Take a Virtual Tour of the California Missions in Minecraft!


The fourth grade students concluded their study of the California missions this week. They researched the missions in teams. Each team created a written report, created a replica of its mission in Minecraft (including an audio tour of the mission), and presented their learning to the class. The last piece was focused on public speaking skills. Below are their Minecraft mission tours. Enjoy!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Tom Strelich is the Pipe Major of the Santa Barbara Sheriff Pipe & Drum Corps, a volunteer element of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.  Local pipers and drummers started the band in 2007, and it is the only Law Enforcement pipe band between Los Angeles and San Francisco. On Friday, Tom paid us a visit! We learned about the history of the bagpipes and enjoyed a performance from Tom on the bagpipes as well as an Irish dance performance by the third and fourth-grade students.

Jumping to the Stars


AJ wrote a fabulous poem based on his picture book exploration. The students read picture books looking for words that “strike the soul.” Notice AJ’s use of similes.

“Jumping to the Stars”

by AJ

Up I go, ready to do tricks

to jump and flip

So many tricks

Which one is next?

It feels like I am flying 

in the sky

 like an eagle soaring

through the clouds

up high

I tuck hard

and spin through the air

like a tornado in the sky

on my stomach

and POP!

In the air again

I twirl like a spinning blade

Land on my feet

Strong and firm

Happy as ever

Victorious, excited

Up I go, ready for more tricks

This tremendous feeling will never end

Fraction Cards


Another great way to visualize equivalent fractions is by lining up equivalent fraction cards next to each other. As the students wrote down the equivalent fractions in their math journals, they began to notice patterns. As we were writing down the equivalent fractions for one half, one student commented,”Look, the denominator goes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and the numerator goes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.”

Adding & Subtracting Fractions


Students are using pattern blocks to add and subtract fractions. This provides students a visual representation of what it really means to add and subtract fractions that have different denominators. By switching out one larger pattern block for smaller pattern blocks, we have concrete examples of the operation. One method is the “take-away” method. Students pull out the starting pattern blocks, and then remove the amount they are subtracting. What is left is the answer. In the video below, Alexis is demonstrating the “cover up” method of subtraction with fractions.

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