Solids, Liquids, and Gases

This week in Primary we have been talking about matter. Matter is anything that takes up space, and it can present in several states. We discussed the three most familiar states of matter—solid, liquid, and gas.

Using a hula hoop, students packed themselves inside to show how atoms are packed together when making a solid. It was impossible to move around in there! By removing a few friends, we could let everyone move around a little better, thus showing how the atoms are arranged with a liquid. Finally, we left only one student in the hoop to show how much room there is around the atoms in a gas.

We looked at some ice cubes and decided they were solid. Solids hold their shape unless a force exerts a change. Then we put the ice cubes in a pot and heated them, turning them into water. When we add energy to a solid, it begins to lose its structure and the particles pull apart, resulting in a liquid. Liquids take the shape of whatever container they are in. We kept heating the water until it had all evaporated, which meant the particles had broken apart completely and now roamed freely. Our liquid had become a gas!

We spent this week exploring the works on our shelves—shaking ping pong balls to represent a gas, pouring liquids into different shape containers, and painting with salt water so we can watch a liquid become a solid. Finally, we made bread with liquids and solids, discussing how yeast adds gas when baking to make the bread rise. It was the most delicious of our works! While waiting for the bread to bake, a few friends re- enacted the entire morning meeting outside, including making the bread.

Posted in McGuffey, Primary, science, Uncategorized

1800s Day!

A few weeks ago the Primary and Lower Elementary classes went back in time. We took a trip back to the early 1800s, a time without most of the modern conveniences we enjoy today.

Throughout the day, students have a chance to experience the school day through a different lens. Our day begins with chores—rounding up firewood, starting a fire, and preparing the noon meal. Children also spent time sewing and doing laundry. We took a break from our work to sing and dance with Papa Joe who dressed in period clothing and brought his banjo to provide some entertainment.

By lunchtime, we were starving! We all sat down to a meal that had been prepared by the class. In the afternoon, we had several lessons using chalkboards and pen and ink. And when you take a break to go to the bathroom, make sure you take the lantern!

At the end of the day, the children had a chance to reflect on their experience. Although it was really fun, could they imagine what it was like living that way every day? This day is always such a fantastic learning opportunity.

Look for photos of the Primary students on the McGuffey Instagram page.

Posted in Lower Elementary, McGuffey, practical life, social studies


We continue our exploration of North America, with a journey north to Canada! We discussed the many ways Canada is the same and different when compared to the United States. We talked about the Canada Goose and learned about the Arctic and arctic animals. We saw maple leaves on many things on our social studies shelf.

We also discussed the indigenous people of Canada, including the Inuit and the First Nations. As with the United States, we help our students understand that there were many groups of people who lived in North America before European settlers arrived.

A fascinating element of the Inuit history are inuksuit. An inuksuk is a single stone structure that was historically built as a marker, navigational tool, or a point of reference. We talked about these amazing structures, and then took some time to build some on our own on a much smaller scale, considering what each structure might communicate.

As luck would have it the Director of Hockey for Miami University, Mike Norton, came to Oxford from Canada! Mike joined us to talk about growing up in the city of Montreal. He discussed the province of Quebec which we would call a state here in the U.S..

During our visit we got to discuss temperature and weather. Mike shared that he practiced Hockey on frozen ponds and lakes when he was a boy. And, much to our surprise, he let us know that LaCrosse is actually the number one sport in Canada! Mike brought all the necessary gear to wear to play Hockey. When one of our students had all the gear on she looked ready to hit the ice!

Special thanks to Mike for teaching us about life in Canada and Hockey!


Posted in Primary, social studies

The String Family

In order to deepen their knowledge of the string family, second graders were treated to a visit by McGuffey parent Luciana Caixeta. Luciana is a professional violinist and brought all sorts of goodies with her. Second graders first played egg cartons to learn how the bow should feel riding between the bridge and finger board. Then they graduated to playing a real violin. Thank you Luciana!

Posted in music, Uncategorized Tagged

Fall is Here!

Our next season has arrived–fall! We noticed that many of us brought a sweater or light jacket to school today. The temperature is getting colder!

Over the next stretch of time we will be observing that changes that we see around us. The leaves will begin to change color, many birds will start to fly south, and we will see squirrels and other animals gathering food for the winter.

In the meantime, we are reading books about fall. We are exploring all kinds of leaf activities—sorting, matching, punching, and making crayon rubbings. We’re assembling puzzles about the seasons.

We can’t wait until the leaves begin to fall, as leaf piles offer all kinds of fun in our outdoor classroom!

Posted in Primary, science

Chemistry in McGuffey’s new Science Room!

Thanks to a very kind donation, McGuffey was able to finish converting one of the Main Building’s upstairs rooms into a science lab this summer. We are enjoying all the facilities to the fullest while studying chemistry this semester – sink refrigerator, new floor, new glassware, balances, and new chemicals.

Posted in Uncategorized

North America, the United States, Ohio and Oxford

We have launched into our exploration of the continents. This journey will take us well into spring as we discuss each continent and several countries within it.

We began our discussion by talking about the seven continents, and identifying the one we live in—North America! Within North America there are many countries, including our own, the United States. The United States is comprised of 50 states. We identified Ohio, and Oxford, the place many of us call home.

There are many works on the shelves that the children can explore about landmarks and monuments, North American animals, geography, flags, and artifacts. We have also included materials that are specific to the state of Ohio. These works remain on the shelves for two weeks until we move on to our next country.

We are grateful to have Emma, a member of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, working in our classroom this year. The word “Miami” is quite familiar to our students, as many children have parents who work at the university. Some of us have heard of the Miami River or Miami Township. All these names came from the Miami Tribe who once inhabited this region, but many of whom later relocated to Oklahoma.

Emma’s brother Jarrid visited our classroom and talked to us about the Miami Tribe. Tribe members are just like other Americans—they shop at the grocery store, have jobs, and drive cars. But sometimes they participate in special traditions and even speak another language—Myaamia.

Emma and Jarrid taught us a song that they sing as a greeting to one another. Jarrid also showed us how to play a game called Mahkisina Meehkintiinki, or, the Moccasin Game. One player says “kyaatoolo” or “hide it” and then the other player hides an object under one of four potholders. The player also pretends to hide it under all the other potholders. That player then says “mihkanto” or “find it.” This game used to be played with moccasins, but is now played with colorful potholders that bear the same decorative touches. Jarrid also talked about Lacrosse. It is a popular sport with the Miami Tribe often played at social gatherings.

Special thanks to Emma and Jarrid for sharing their knowledge and traditions with us!


Posted in Primary


Primary students have been studying bees and we were fortunate to have visitors come tell us all about them. Nick and Amy Fankhauser brought the tools and equipment they use to raise bees. We learned that sometimes bees need fixed their hive and use propolis to do so. Propolis is something that the bees make, spitting it out and using it like glue. Bees can also turn nectar into honey by drying it. Young bees move air over the nectar by beating their wings at entrance. Bees communicate by dancing and we all had fun wiggling and dancing like bees after our visitors left.

Posted in Uncategorized

Learning About the Myaamia Language

Jarrid Baldwin, son of Darryl Baldwin, Director of the Myaamia Center at Miami University, stopped by our classroom today to speak to the students about the Myaamia language and the role oral tradition played in their culture. We will be discussing oral tradition and storytelling in ELA later this year.

Jarrid discussed the importance of story telling to the Myaamia people, how the language changed over time and was eventually lost, and how the language was rediscovered and preserved.

He taught our students a few phrases as well, including basic greetings and his favorite word to say in Myaamia (nine hundred ninety-nine). It was an interesting talk and a great way to learn about local nations as we learn about the indigenous people of the United States in Social Studies.

Posted in guest speakers, language arts, Middle School, social studies, Upper Elementary, upper unit

Happy Grandparents Day!

Sunday, September 10th, is National Grandparents Day! To celebrate, Lower Elementary made a video for their grandparents to show them how much they are loved. The video was written, directed, and filmed by the Lower Elementary students.

Posted in community, Lower Elementary, McGuffey, peace, technology