Friday, September 30, 2011

Soil Characteristics

Students use their senses to describe soil samples taken from different parts of the marsh.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Can you believe it's the last week of September!?!

This first term of the school year is going by so fast!  Get ready for an exciting week.  First, i'm sure you are all excited for our field trip to Tybee's Burton 4-H Center.  We will be leaving first thing Tuesday morning to make it out to the island for a day of marsh and beach fun!  Did you read the article in the SMN about the baby turtle being nursed back to health at the center?  Check it out before our trip on Tuesday...and cross your fingers that we get to see this cute little turtle!  We will be getting into the ocean to do some work with a seine net, so wear something that can get wet.  You may also wish to bring a change of clothes and a towel.  Lunch will be provided, so you don't need to pack anything to eat.  You may wish to bring a bottle of water.

In math, we will be taking a look at factors.  We will talk about using factor trees to help us discover the prime factorization of numbers.  In addition, we will be practicing finding the greatest common factors of sets of numbers.  While we will not have a quiz this week in math, be on the lookout for a few nights of homework.  HERE is an online practice program about factors you may want to check out.

In science, we will be getting our hands dirty talking about soil.  We will have a lesson on Monday, and will work on a followup choice sheet for the next two weeks.  This Friday (Sept. 30) will be a vocabulary test on these words:

soil- a loose mixture of rock fragments, organic material, water, and air that can support the growth of vegetation
soil structure- the arrangement of soil particles
soil texture- the soil quality that is based on the proportions of soil particles
bedrock- the layer of rock beneath soil
humus- dark, organic material formed in soil from the decaying remains of plants and animals
leaching- the removal of substances that can be dissolved from rock, ore, or layers of soil due to passing of water
parent rock- a rock formation that is the source of soil

Next Friday (Oct. 7), we will be having a test on what we've learned about soil.  Here is a study guide you can use to help you prepare:

Soil Study Guide

Weathering (rock materials are broken down)
1.     chemical weathering (weak acids, air)
2.     mechanical weathering (ice, plants, abrasion)
Soil (loose mixture of rock, organic material, water, and air)
1.     residual soil- remain above parent rock
2.     transported soil- blown or washed away from parent rock
3.     Soil Horizons (See diagram)
4.     Soil and Climate
a.    Tropical Rain Forest- Nutrient poor soil because of leaching, thin topsoil, and lush vegetation with great demand for nutrients
b.    Desert- low rate of weathering means soil is created at a slower rate
c.     Temperate Forest and Grasslands- Some of the most productive in the world because of high level of weathering (moderate rain, freezing temperatures).
d.    Arctic- Slow soil formation.  Little rain and cold temperatures cause animals/plants to decompose slowly.  Little humus.
5.      Soil Conservation
a.    Ways to stop erosion (loss of topsoil)
                                                       i.     contour plowing- plow across the slope of hills
                                                     ii.     crop rotation- planting different crops from year to year to use less nutrients

Mr. Brandon will stop by to help us this week.  In addition, Ms. Fe knows a lot about soil, so you may wish to ask her for some help in your studies.  

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!  See you tomorrow morning!

Mr. Trent

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Exploring the Rock Cycle

Here two students learn about the rock cycle and types of rocks using a sorting activity found on our science Montessori shelf.

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Ten Marks  is a great website to practice what we are learning in math class this year.  You can take quick quizzes that will earn you points towards unlocking fun games!  The program will also keep track of your progress so you can see just how hard you've been working on practicing.  In addition, it includes wonderful tutorial videos showing you how to do each problem, just in case you need some help with your homework or while working on the website.  You even have access to the website at home!  Please see Mr. Trent for your username and password.

Looking Towards Friday

Friday is a very busy day! First, keep in mind it is a half day. Dismissal will begin at 12:15. The following items are due:

1. The "Hard Rock Cafe" menu ( you must choose 3 items to complete)
2. Your Accelerated Math assignment must be entered into the system
3. Money and permission slips for next week's field trip to the Burton 4-H Center on Tybee Island

We will also be having our final test on the rock cycle that day. Please be sure to study your notes, last week's vocabulary test, and the study guide I gave you.

I'm looking forward to a very productive day!

Mr. Trent

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Tybee Burton 4-H Fieldtrip Update

Money and permission forms for the Tybee Burton 4-H Center trip will be due this Friday. This is a change from the date printed on the form that was sent home. Please let me know if you have any questions.

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Progress Reports

Progress Reports will go home Tuesday. Please review them and return them signed on Wednesday.

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Submarine Volcanoes!

Mr. Brandon talks about how undersea volcanoes create extrusive igneous rocks.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Week of September 19, 2011

WOW, what a wonderful weekend!  The weather was amazingly beautiful, wasn't it?  I hope you are refreshed and ready for a busy week.  I will give you handouts of the copy/pasted study guides found below.  It is very important that you are focusing on your work, always having good purpose, and studying each night this week.

In math, we will learn about Stem and Leaf plots Monday.  We will review all the ways we discussed to organize data on Tuesday so we can be ready for a quiz Wednesday.  Here is what you will need to know for your quiz:

Ways to Organize Data:

Bar Graph- displays data with vertical or horizontal bars.  Used to compare data.

Line Graph-  displays data with a series of plot connected by straight lines.  Used to show change over time.

Frequency Table-  organizes data with intervals

Histogram- a bar graph that shows the number of values that occur within each interval

Line Plot- shows the frequency of data on a number line

Tally Table-  shows data as a series of tallies on a table.

Stem and Leaf Plot- show how often data values occur and how they are distributed. 

Other info. to know:

Mode:  The piece of data that appears most often in a set.
Outlier:  Data that does not follow a given trend (seems “out of place”)


We will be finishing up our work on the rock cycle this week, also.  Please be sure to complete at least three choices from your "Hard Rock Cafe" menu.  It will be due Friday.  In addition, we will have a quiz on the rock cycle this Friday.  Please know the following for the quiz:

Types of Rocks
            Igneous Rocks- form when hot, liquid rock (magma) cools and solidifies
Extrusive igneous rock- forms from magma that erupts onto theearth’s surface.  It is common around volcanoes.  It cools quickly on the surface and contains very small or no crystals.
                        Intrusive igneous rock- forms when magma cools below the earth’ssurface.  The magma cools slowly and forms large, visible crystals.
Sedimentary Rocks- form at or near the Earth’s surface.  It forms without the
heat and pressure that are involved in the formation of igneous or metamorphic rocks.  Formed of weathered rock/mineral fragments, crystallized minerals, or from the remains of once-living plants and animals.
Metamorphic Rocks- Forms when rocks are exposed to intense heat,
pressure, or a combination of both.
            Contact metamorphism- When a rock changes to a metamorphic rock through heating from nearby magma
                                    Regional metamorphism- When a rock changes to metamorphic rock due to the    pressure from the Earth above it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"God With No Hands" Great Lesson

This year's musical will be based upon the Montessori Great Lesson: God With No Hands.  Please review the great lesson so that you can share you ideas for how it should be presented in the musical.  Our class will be responsible for the grand finale where the cloud of dust and smoke is lifted and the sun can shine upon the earth once more!

Mario Montessori shared this story, as he remembered his mother telling it, in the December 1958 issue of the AMI publication 'Communications'. He described it as a 'cosmic tale' that she told to the children. This story should be told, in one sitting, within the first week of the students arrival in the elementary classroom.
God Who Has No Hands
From the very beginning people have been aware of God. They could feel Him though they could not see Him, and they were always asking in their different languages who He was and where He was to be found. "Who is God?" they asked their wise men. "He's the most perfect of beings," was the answer. "But what does He look like? Does He have a body like us?" "No, He has not got a body. He has no eyes to see with, no hands to work with and no feet to walk with, but He sees everything and knows everything, even our most secret thoughts." "And where is He?" He is in heaven and on this earth. He is everywhere." "What can he do?" "Whatever He wishes." "But what has God actually done?" "What He has done is all that has ever happened. He is the Creator and Master Who has made everything, and all things He has made obey His will. He cares and provides for them all, and keeps the whole of His creation in the most wonderful harmony and order.
In the beginning there was only God. Since He was completely perfect and completely happy, there was nothing He needed. Yet out of His goodness He chose to create and all the He willed came into being; the heavens and the earth, all that is visible, and all that is invisible. One after another He made the light, the stars, the sky, and the earth with its plants and animals. Last of all He made man. Man, like the animals, was made out of particles of the earth, but God made him different from the animals and like Himself, for into his body which would die He breathed a soul which would never die." Many people thought this was just a tale. How could someone with no eyes and no hands make things? If God is a spirit who cannot be seen or touched or heard, how could He have made the stars that sparkle overhead, the sea which is always astir, the sun, the mountains, and the wind? How could a spirit make the birds and fishes and trees, the flowers and the scent they shed around them? Perhaps He could make invisible things, but how could He make the visible world? It is all very well, they thought, to say that God is everywhere, but who has set their eyes on Him? How can we be sure He is everywhere? They tell He is the Master whom everybody and everything obeys, but why on earth should we believe that? And it really does seem impossible. We who have hands could not do these things, so how could someone who has no hands do them? And can we imagine animals and plants and rocks obeying God? The animals do not understand when we talk to them, so how could they be obedient? Or the winds and the sea and the mountains? You can shout and scream and wave your arms at them, but they cannot hear you for they are not even alive, and they certainly won't obey you.
Yes, that is how it seems to us. But, as you will see, everything that exists, whether it has life or not, in all that it does and by the very fact of its being there, actually obeys the will of God. God's creatures do not know that they are obeying. Those that are inanimate just go on existing. Those that have life move and go on living. Yet every time a cool wind brushes your cheek, its voice, if we could hear it, is saying: 'Lord, I obey.' When the sun rises in the morning and colors the glittering sea, the sun and the sunbeams are whispering, 'My Lord, I obey.' And when you see a bird on the wing, or fruit falling from a tree, or a butterfly hovering over a flower, the birds and their flight, the tree and the fruit and its fall to the ground, the butterfly and the flower and its fragrance are all repeating the same words: 'I hear, my Lord, and I obey.'
At first there was chaos and darkness was on the face of the deep. God said: 'Let there be light', and there was light. Before that there was only the deep, an immensity of space with no beginning and no end, indescribably dark and cold. Who can imagine that immensity, that dark and coldness? When we think of dark, we think of night; but our night would be like brilliant sunshine in comparison with that darkness. When we think of cold, we think of ice. But ice is positively hot if you compare it with the coldness of space, the space that separates the stars: as hot, you might say, as a blazing furnace from which no heat can escape. In this measureless void of cold and darkness light was created. There appeared something like a vast, fiery cloud which included all the stars that are in the sky. The whole universe was in that cloud, and among the tiniest of stars was our own world; but they were not stars then; as yet there was nothing except light and heat. So intense was the heat that all the substances we know - iron, gold, earth, rocks, water - existed as gasses, as insubstantial as the air. All these substances, all the materials of which the earth and the stars are composed, were fused together in one vast, flaming intensity of light and heat - a heat which would make our sun today feel like a piece of ice.
This raging fiery cloud of nothingness, to huge to imagine, moved in the immensity of freezing space, which was also nothingness, but infinitely vaster. The fiery mass was no bigger that a drop of water in the ocean of space, but that drop contained the earth and all the stars. As this cloud of light and heat moved through empty space little drops fell from it. If you swing the water out of a glass, some of it holds together and the rest breaks up into separate drops. The countless hosts of stars are like these little drops, only instead of falling they are constantly moving round in space, in such a way that they can never meet. They are millions of miles from each other.
Indeed, some stars are so far away from us that it takes millions of years for their light to reach us. Do you know how fast light travels? (the children might answer: 100 mph, 200mph...?) No, much faster. It travels 186,000 - not per hour, but per SECOND. Imagine how fast that is! It means that in one second it can travel 7 times around the whole world. And do you know how big the world is? If we were to drive at 100 mph continuously, all day long and all night long, without stopping, it would take us more than 10 days to cover that distance. And yet the light covers it 7 times in one second! You 'click' with your fingertips, and it has gone around the earth 7 times already! So, you can imagine how far some of these stars are, that it takes their light 1 million years to reach us? Then there are so many stars that scientists have calculated that if each of them were a grain of sand, all the stars together would cover up all the states from Virginia to New York up to the height of 200 meters! One of these stars, one of these grains of sand among those thousands of billions of grains of sand, is our sun, and one millionth part of this grain is our earth. An invisible speck of nothingness. One wouldn't think so. The sun doesn't look so big. But that is because it is so far away. The light from it takes about 8 minutes to reach us and if we were to travel the same distance at 100 mph it would take us a little more than 106 years to reach the sun. In fact, the sun is one million times bigger than the earth. The sun is so big that just one of its flames could contain 22 earths.
When God's will called the stars into being, there was no detail He had not planned. Every scrap of the universe, every speck which we might think too tiny to matter, was given a set of rules to follow. To the little particles which were like smoke, like vapor - which could only be distinguished as light and heat - moving at a fantastic speed he said: 'As you become cold you shall come closer and become smaller.'
And so, as they cooled they moved more and more slowly, clinging closer and closer to each other and occupying less and less space. The particles assumed different states which man called the solid, the liquid, or the gaseous state.
Everything we know is a gas, a liquid, or a solid, and which of the three states it is at the moment depends on how hot or cold it is. Then God gave some other instructions. Each of the tiny little particles was given a special love for certain particles and a special dislike for certain others. Some were attracted to each other and some were not. Just like human beings, they like some, and refuse to have anything to do with others. So they form themselves into different groups.
In this way, the particles combined and formed themselves into different groups. In the solid state, God has made the particles cling so closely together that they are almost impossible to separate. They form a body which will not alter its shape unless one applies force. If a piece is broken off, the particles will still cling together. If, for instance, you start chipping a flint, the flint and the chips still remain solid pieces of stone. When it came to liquids, God said: 'You shall hold together also, but not so very closely, so that you will have no shape of your own and will roll over each other.'
'Thus you shall flow and spread, filling every hollow, every crevice in your path. You will push downward and sideways, but never upwards.' That is why, though we can put our hands in water, we cannot put them inside a rock. And to the gasses He said: 'Your particles shall not cling together at all. They can move freely in all directions.'
But as the particles were all so different individuals, they did not become solid or liquid or gas all at the same time. At certain temperature some remained soild, others became liquid and still others became gaseous.
And so, while obeying these laws, the little drop of nothingness that was to become our world, the blazing mass, went on spinning and spinning around itself and around the sun in the tremendous cold of space. And as time went on, the outer ring of this mass began a dance, the dance of the elements. The particles that were at the outermost edge became cold and shrank. Huddling together they hurried to the earth, but as soon as they approached the hotter part, they became hot and up they went again. Like little angels, they carried a bucket of hot, burning coal into space, and returned with some ice.
How marvelous it is! And how simple! If you become hot you expand and as you expand, you become lighter and soar upwards, like a bubble of air in the water. But, if you become cold, you shrink and fall as a grain of sand sinks to the bottom of a pond.
Because of this law the earth gradually changed from a ball of fire to the earth we know. This was the law that the tiny radiant particles obeyed as they danced their dance; particles to minute to be seen or even imagined, yet numerous enough to have produced the world.
For hundreds, thousands, millions of years this dance went on. Finally, the particles settled down, like tired dancers, and one after the other, they became first liquid and then solid and as they became liquid or solid some of them joined others to which they were attracted, forming new substances.
The heavier ones went nearer to the heart of the earth and the lighter ones floated above them like oil floating on the water.
A thin scum was formed, like the skin which forms on milk when it is boiled and left to cool. It seemed as though the earth had taken some shape. But the elements inside this skin were still very hot. They felt trapped. They wanted to get out. What could they do otherwise? They had to follow the law of God: 'If you are hot, you expand.' There was no place to expand and so they burst out. They broke the skin and it was like a terrible fight.
The water that formed on the surface turned immediately into vapor and went up as the hot stuff came out from inside the earth.
There were also ashes. A veil of clouds was drawn to cover the earth so that nobody could see what was going on. The sun was ashamed of them!
Eventually, the fighting ceased. As everybody cooled down, more and more gasses became liquid, more and more liquids became solids. The earth itself shrank and became wrinkled like an old apple that has been left in a cupboard. The wrinkles are mountains and the hollows are the oceans.
For, as the rocks had cooled down, water was able to return to the earth and it rained and rained. And the water, being liquid, filled every hollow and crevice found in its path. Thus the oceans were formed. Above them was the air, the air that we breathe. The cloud had disappeared.
The veil had withdrawn and the sun could once again smile upon its beautiful daughter, the earth.
Rocks, water, air: solids, liquids, gasses. Today, as it was yesterday and millions of years ago, God's laws are obeyed in the same way. The world spins round itself and round and round the sun. And today, as it was millions of years ago, the earth and all the lements and compounds it is made of, as they fulfill their tasks, whisper with one voice:
'Lord, Thy will be done; we obey.”

Taken from:

A Thousand Thanks!

WOW, we've reached over 1,000 visits to Mr. Trent's Classroom Blog!  Thanks for reading!

Fieldtrip to Tybee Burton 4-H Center

6th graders will be taking a fieldtrip to the Burton 4-H Center on Tybee Island on September 17!  We will be leaving the school at 9:00 and returning before the end of the day so students are able to dismiss as they normally would.  While there, we will explore the amazing coastal ecology that makes Georgia unique!  The cost of the trip is $19.50.  The cost includes transportation, two classes at the center, and a hot lunch.  Please return the permission slip and money to your homeroom teacher by Monday, September 26.  I look forward to exploring the marsh with you!

Hands-on Fun!

Today, students used refractometers to measure salinity levels of various water samples. They graphed their results to present their findings.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gathering Data

Students use tally tables to organize data collected from decks of cards.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Rock Cycle PowerPoint

Here is a copy of the PowerPoint I showed today about the rock cycle.  You can use it to guide your studies concerning rocks.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What's in Store for the Week of September 12?

Hello, 6th graders!  I trust you are enjoying another beautiful Savannah weekend.  I have some interesting things planned for you this week.  In math, we will be discussing gathering data.  We will use histograms and frequency tables to better organize large amounts of information.  You will have some classwork associated with these concepts, and some homework to do as followup.  In science, we will be starting our investigation of the rock cycle.  You will be given a choice sheet called "The Hard Rock Cafe" that will be due Friday, September 23.  You will also be given a list of vocabulary words you will need to study.  The test on these vocabulary words will be this Friday (Sept. 16).  Here are the words you must learn:

rock - a naturally occurring solid mixture of one or more minerals or organic matter
rock cycle- the series of processes in which a rock changes forms, changes from one type to another, is destroyed, and forms again by geological processes.
erosion- the process by which wind, water, ice, or gravity transports soil and sediment from one location to another.
deposition- the process in which material is laid down
composition- the chemical makeup of a rock; describes either the minerals or other materials in rock
foliated- the texture of metamorphic rock in which the mineral grains are arranged in planes or bands
texture- the quality of a rock that is based on the sizes, shapes, and positions of the rock’s grains
strata- layers of rock
nonfoliated rock- the texture of metamorphic rock in which the mineral grains are NOT arranged in planes or bands
igneous rock- forms when hot, liquid rock (magma) cools and solidifies
sedimentary rock- forms when weathered rock is compressed and then cemented together
metamorphic rock- created when the structure, texture, or composition of a rock 
changes due to heat, pressure, or a combination of both 

I'm looking forward to another great week at Ellis!  See you Monday morning.
Mr. Trent

Friday, September 9, 2011

"God With No Hands" Great Lesson

Maria Montessori used a series of "Great Lessons" to inspire her students to explore the world around them. Today, we presented "God With No Hands". This lesson speaks of the creation of the universe. This lesson will also be the theme for this year's musical!

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Minerals and Sediment Cores

Mr. Brandon gives a talk about sediment cores he uses in his research.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Progress Reports

Progress reports will be sent home bi-weekly.  The reports will consist of a coversheet that contains an overview of completed work and comments concerning grace and courtesy.  Workplans from the previous two weeks will be stapled to the back of the cover sheet for your review.  Please take a look at the progress report, talk about it with your family, sign, and return it to your homeroom teacher the following day.  If you have any comments or questions, simply write them on the cover sheet, and we will try our best to respond in a timely manner.  Signed progress reports will be kept on file at the school.

During the second term, when we begin putting grades in the county's grade book software "Power School", we will also print off a grade report that will be stapled to the progress reports.  In addition, you will be given a username and password to check up on your child's progress at any time.  We will talk more about this powerful communication tool at our first parent/teacher conference next month.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Say Hello to the Week of September 5th!

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!  I spent a lot of time relaxing on my porch...and planning some fun stuff for this week in school!

In math, we will be taking a look at line graphs.  I'll show you a new website we can use to track hurricanes, and we will use some data about the wind predictions for hurricane Katia to make a really nifty line graph.  Be on the lookout for some homework assignments about graphing, also.

In science, we will continue our investigation of minerals.  Your "Mineral Tic Tac Toe" assignments are due to me by Friday.  In addition, we will have our first quiz of the year on Friday!  I will copy/paste a study guide you can use to prepare for the quiz at the end of this post.  I will give you a hard-copy of the study guide on Tuesday.  We will take some time to talk about study techniques that will help you get ready for the quiz.  

Mr. Brandon will be back this week to help you with your work.  Ms. Carla will also come in and have another guidance lesson with you.  If you are planning on ordering books from the Scholastic Book Order, please have the money (cash or check made out to "Charles Ellis") to me by Thursday.  I see that some people are ordering online, too!  That's great!  We get free books for our classroom library every time someone places an order!

I look forward to seeing you bright and early Tuesday morning!
Mr. Trent

Mineral Study Guide
Quiz on Friday, September 9th

What is a mineral?           
            Minerals must:
1.     be naturally formed
2.     be inorganic (nonliving)
3.     be a solid
4.     have a definite crystalline structure

How are minerals identified?
1.     by their color
2.     by their luster
a.     metallic (bright, reflective)
b.     submetallic (dull, reflective)
c.      nonmetallic (no reflective)
3.     by their streak (the color of the powder formed when rubbing it on a piece of unglazed porcelain)
4.     by it’s cleavage or fracture
a.     cleavage- breaking along smooth, straight lines
b.     fracture- breaking along uneven, jagged, or irregular surfaces
5.     Hardness
a.     Moh’s scale is used to identify a mineral’s hardness
                                                                          i.     1 is soft (like talc) and 10 is hard (like diamond).  All minerals will fit somewhere between 1 and 10
6.     Density (the measure of how much matter is in a given amount of space)
7.     Other special properties
a.     Chemical reaction (will react when it comes into contact with a weak acid)
b.     Taste
c.      Radioactivity (giving off radioactive energy)
d.     Magnetism (act as magnets)
e.     Fluorescence (glowing under ultraviolet light)

How are minerals mined?
1.     Surface mining- the top layer of earth is removed from an area where minerals are found.  The minerals are removed and the earth is put back into place.
2.     Subsurface mining- Deep passageways are dug into the earth to mine such minerals.  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Scholastic Book Club Online Ordering For Parents

Online Ordering Information
Web address:
Class Activation Code: HBZB3

Now it's easier than ever to find the perfect books for your child -- shop our NEW online Book Clubs Web site. Choose from a much-wider selection of books than in the printed flyer. Plus, you can send your orders directly to me online and use your credit card to pay.

Best of all, we earn a FREE book for the classroom library every time a parent places an order online.*

It's so simple! Here's how it works:
SIGN UP at On the parent page, click the "Register" button in the "First Time Here?" section. Register for your own user name and password. When prompted, enter the one-time Class Activation Code shown above. This unique code ensures that your order is sent to me.
SELECT the books you'd like to order -- choose from thousands of titles -- many more than in our monthly flyers.
SEND your order to me online by the due date and your child's books will be delivered directly to my classroom.
Ordering online is fast, easy, and secure.

Of course, you can still order using the form from the printed flyer. But why not see for yourself how convenient it is to order online?

Thank you,
Mr. Trent

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Maria's Materials

Our Montessori materials sure do make learning new things a lot easier! Here a student uses the place value number cards to investigate expanded notation in numbers into the millions!

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Mineral Identification Lab

Two friends use special properties to discover the identity of mystery minerals.

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