Marshmallow Poppers

(This post was written by Rachel and Chloe)

How did we get the idea?

We got this idea from our classmate Rachel. She did a great post about it on her blog, “Rachel S. Science Success!

Marshmallow Popper

Marshmallow Popper

What we learned the first time we made them. (What attitudes of success did we need to use?)

We learned from our first attempt, that when you put the balloon around the cup the cup would collapse and wrinkle. We also learned that we might need bigger balloons to fit around the cup because the smaller ones were breaking.

The traits that we used:

  • Curiosity~ We had to be curious about what might work and what might not and what we could do better or fix next time.
  • Perseverance~ We used a lot of perseverance because the first time most of the poppers would not work and we ran out of time. But the second time we did not give up and fixed them.
  • Adaptability~ Our class had to adapt when the marshmallows we shot in class kept hitting the walls. So we had to adapt and not shot them in class but schedule a time to use the auxiliary gym to shoot them and see whose could go the farthest.

Bonus Trait:

  • Teamwork~  We helped each other a lot when we were doing this project. An example of this is we helped hold the cups for each other when they were putting on the balloon.

What did we do differently the second time we made them?

The second time we made the poppers, we had different balloons so that they would fit over the cup better. We also cut only a small, penny sized hole at the bottom of the cup, and not the whole bottom so that the cup would keep its shape and the balloon would be easier to fit over it.

Here is a video showing the activity, with some of thoughts about it:

How we tested them out in the gym. How did different ones work? What did we learn from the testing? What was the longest launch?

After we made our second marshmallow poppers, we tested them out in the auxiliary gym by lining everybody up against the wall and everyone took turns shooting a marshmallow out of their popper. After the marshmallow landed, we had a student mark where it landed with a piece of tape and wrote their name on the tape. The longest launch was Chloe’s popper – her marshmallow went 38 feet!

What did we learn overall? What did we think of the activity?

We learned that it takes a lot of adaptability to accomplish something as little as a marshmallow popper. It also takes a lot of perseverance because we didn’t give up when our first poppers did not work very well. We thought that this activity was very fun and a good way to wake us up in the morning! We also learned that a small little thing can take a lot of work and really makes you think.

Mystery Skype – Duxbury, MA

Last week we did our fifth Mystery Skype call of the year. Mystery Skype calls are a great way to improve our geography skills, and they also help us improve our problem-solving, teamwork, adaptability, and perseverance.

Below is a video, filmed and narrated by Taylor, showing some of the highlights from our most recent call:

Here is a transcript of the notes taken by our recorder, Stefie:

The start is pretty good and our class is VERY quiet. I think this is going to be a good mystery Skype call. The other class is off to a pretty good start. 🙂

All of the groups are doing well. Now the Skype call is getting a little intense. Their class is getting very close to getting to us, and we are getting closer. We kind of got stuck on one of their questions that was, “Does your flag have the background the color blue?” Eventually we answered that, yes, our state flag does have a blue background. Halfway through the call, it started to get loud very fast.

We found out that they live in Massachusetts. The other class found out that we live in CT. They are getting SO close to finding our town! The last question that they asked was,”Do we live in New Haven.” They are in….. Duxbury 🙂

Their school grades are 3-5 grade. (They are in 5 grade).


Here is an interactive Google Map that shows the locations we have Skyped with so far. We will keep it up to date as new calls are made:



What did you think of the video? What traits did you see being used?

Do you use Skype (or FaceTime)? If so, what do you use it for?

Fireside Book Chat – “The One and Only Ivan”

Reading is one of our favorite parts of the day. (In fact, if we don’t get independent reading time each day, Mr. Salsich will probably start to hear rumblings of a revolt!) Being able to pick our own books to read is what makes reading time so much fun.

Sharing the books we enjoy is also an important part of our reading time. Usually we just do this by using an iPad to project the book cover and special passages onto our Smartboard and share the reasons we like the book.

Now we are going to start recording short videos to share book recommendations with more people. These will be called “Fireside Book Chats.” Our first one is about the Newberry Medal winning book The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. The hosts for this episode are “Joe Manly” and “Mustache Man.”


Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?

What are some books that you would recommend?

What did you think of our first Fireside Book Chat?

“Trashing” Negative Thoughts

Quite a while back we did an activity where we built mini-catapults and then used them to “trash” some negative thoughts that might hold us back. 

This connects to what we have been learning about the attitudes for success. Certain thoughts can stop us from doing our best, or even from trying. Those thoughts need to be crumpled up and thrown out!

The negative thoughts we focused on were:

Negative Thoughts

Negative Thoughts


Here is a short (student made!) video that talks about the catapult activity we did to help us “trash” these negative thoughts:


What did you think of the video?

Think about one of the negative thoughts above. Why is it important to “trash” it?

Do you have any strategies for overcoming thoughts that hold you back?


Double-Digit Multiplication Strategies

In math we are focusing on multiplying double-digit numbers. When we multiply numbers (or factors) together, we find the product of the factors.

Factor x Factor = Product

This can be tricky when both factors are in double-digits. Below is a video tutorial showing a few different ways to find the product of 35 and 28.


And here is a slideshow of the rest of the ways that we solved this multiplication problem.


What did you think of our strategies and explanations?

What is your favorite strategy for solving large multiplication equations?

“A Heavy Load” – Determining the Theme of a Narrative Story

We have been learning about how to determine the theme of a narrative story.

Theme means the message, or the big idea, that the author is trying to communicate through the story. A story’s theme usually has something to do with ideas about how people should act or treat each other, or other big lessons about life.

A good narrative story can have several themes, and themes are open to different opinions.


"Zen Shorts" by Jon J. Muth

“Zen Shorts” by Jon J. Muth

Below is a video of a short story from the book Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth.

This beautiful book collects folktales from Japan and retells them in the form of a picture book that features a giant panda named Stillwater and three young siblings named Michael, Addy, and Karl.

The story below is called “A Heavy Load” and in the book Stillwater the panda tells it to Karl after Karl has spent the whole day being grumpy about how his older brother Michael sometimes bosses him around.

Listen to the story (read by Chloe!), and see if you can come up with a theme that it might be trying to communicate:



What do you think the theme of the story “A Heavy Load” might be? Use details from the story to support your idea.

What were your thoughts about the story?

Do you have a time when you were carrying “a heavy load” that you needed to put down?


Student Blogs and Commenting Skills

Every student in Mr. Salsich’s class now has their own blog! You can visit the home page for student blogs here.

To get us started on blogging and commenting, we did a “Paper Blog” activity.  Each of us wrote, typed, and printed a rough draft of our first blog post and then decorated it with a border.

Paper Blog

Paper Blog


Then we walked around and left comments on the blogs using sticky notes. 

Posting comments

Posting comments


We talked a lot about how to leave a quality comment.

A comment should keep the conversation and the learning going. We don’t want to write “dead-end” comments that just say things like “Cool!”  These are dead-end comments because they are hard to respond to and they don’t open the conversation up.

Instead, we want to write “highway” comments that keep the conversation going and maybe take the post in new directions. Highway comments may have questions, connections, or suggestions in them. And they definitely have specific details and clear, correct writing.

Here is a link to a document with more tips for leaving a great comment.


Below is a slide show of some of our paper blogs and us commenting on them:


Please check out our student blogs, and leave one of us a “highway” comment! We will be sure to reply back!


What did you think of our paper blog activity?

What are some things you can include in your comment to be sure it is a “highway” comment?

What else should you be sure to do when leaving a comment on someone else’s blog?

Mystery Skype Call – San Jose, CA.

On Friday we did our first Mystery Skype call.

A Mystery Skype call is when two classes Skype each other, but neither one knows where the other is located. The mission is to figure out where the other class is simply by asking “yes” or “no” questions.

Our Mystery Skypers

Our Mystery Skypers

We split into different groups, with different jobs, to accomplish our mission.


Here is a video that shows the Skype call in action:


We had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and had plenty of ideas for how to improve on out next Mystery Skype Call.

Thank you to Mrs. McConnell’s and Mrs. Monger’s class for Skyping with us! (We will be working with them again very soon, when we start The Global Read Aloud next week! Stay tuned for more about that…)


Here is a great link to more information about Mystery Skype calls.


What are some important questions that could help us discover where someone is?

What did you like about the Mystery Skype call?

What “Attitudes of Success” did we have to use during the call?



Attitudes For Success

In the first couple of weeks of school we talked a lot about attitudes for success. These are ways of thinking and acting that will help us accomplish our goals. 

The attitudes we focused on were:








We worked on some projects and activities to learn more about these attitudes. 

Three of the attitudes that were a little new to us were; Self-awareness, Adaptability, and Perseverance.

Using footage from a math activity and a problem-solving activity, we made a video to share our ideas about these important attitudes. 

(If the video is loading slowly, try clicking the HD button off in the lower right corner.)

This video was made on one of our iPads, using the iMovie app. We will be making many more videos in the future as we get better at using the app.


What are your thoughts about these attitudes?

Can you share an example from your life when you’ve had to use adaptability or perseverance?

How does self-awareness help you accomplish your goals?


Welcome to a New Year and a New Blog!

Welcome to our brand new blog! This blog will be a place for Mr. Salsich’s 5th grade class to share our learning and connect with others.

We are a class of 24 smart, creative students.



Our school is located in Connecticut, USA

We live in a beautiful coastal town about halfway between New York City and Boston.



Our Blog

Our blog will be a journal of what we are learning in class (and out of class). It will be a place for students to express themselves and share what we have created – from writing and art, to science and math, etc.

The blog will also be a place for us to connect to other students around the world. We will exchange ideas and learning with peers near and far.


What is a Blog?

The video below – “What is a Blog?” – does a fantastic job of explaining blogs and educational blogging.


Check back soon, and often, for posts about our amazing learning adventures! The best way to keep up to date with our blog is to subscribe by email using the widget on the top right sidebar.