Mrs. Brown's Fourth Grade Blog

…our learning adventure

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.

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

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.”


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.



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.

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