Author Skype – Mike Artell

Today we had a great Skype session with author and illustrator, Mike Artell. We talked about some of the books he wrote and how he has to do research for them too. For Backyard Bloodsuckers, he spent time at the largest bug museum in the world – The Insectarium in Louisiana.  We listened as he read to us from Petite Rouge in his funny Cajun accent.  The highlight of the day was learning how to draw – cartoon style.  We drew a horse and he gave us some tips on how to personalize your cartoon words.  At the end of the session we asked him a few questions.  We learned that his favorite thing to draw is animals and the hardest thing to draw for him is realistic art.  Please check out our photos and short video clip below called “Fun letters.”  To learn more about Mr. Artell go to

Thanks so much Mr. Artell!!

Skype with author, Mike Artell on PhotoPeach

Fun Letters

First Mystery Skype of the Year

Last Friday we had our first Mystery Skype of the year when we met Mrs. Zwart’s 4th grade class from California.  We each asked and answered 10 questions to give clues and then we took a guess.  Both classes did a great job and guessed on the first try.  All of the students in both classes were very excited to meet and learn more about the other state.  Here are a few things that we learned.

  • California’s nickname is the Golden State
  • Their population is 37 million
  • Famous places in their state are Hollywood, Disneyland and Lego Land
  • Famous people from their state are Jack Black and Steven Spielberg
  • Animals from their state include mountain lions and condors
  • Their school has 600 students from K-5th grade
  • They don’t have any extreme storms but they do experience Earthquakes.  Mrs. Zwart told us that they just practiced their Earthquake drills during the Great Shake Out.  She was also told us that the noise from an Earthquake is very loud and sounds like a wave crashing.

They even played the recorder for us.  Click below to take a listen to how good they sounded!

Playing the Recorder

Thanks for a great first Mystery Skype!!

Meeting Room 14 in New Zealand

It was 7 pm Wednesday night and we were back in the classroom – parents, students and a few siblings.  A buzz of excitement was in the air because we would soon be speaking live on Skype to our collaborative buddies from Auckland, New Zealand.  For Room 14, it was 11 am on Thursday and they had just finished their morning tea.  Each child brought in something to share, either a personal item or something about our life and country, and we took turns talking.  Even after our year long online collaborations, we learned so much about New Zealand in this live session!  Here are some of those interesting facts:

  • New Zealand is made up of 2 islands.  The northern island (where our buddies live) only experiences 3 seasons: summer, winter and spring.  But the southern island experiences all 4 seasons because they are closer to Antarctica.  High temperatures in the summer are around 26 degrees Celsius which would be in the low 80’s here.  Low temperatures in the winter are about 17 degrees Celsius which would be in the 60’s here.   They are the exact opposite of us with July being their coldest month and January being the hottest month.
  • There are 48 volcanoes in their country and a few are still active
  • Their country is very diverse and it is one of the safest in the world
  • With a population of only 4 million people, their country is 1/3 the size of our state! (PA population is about 12 million)
  • Instead of a president, they have a prime minister and his name is John Key.  He lives in a regular house, only has one guard, and can often be found walking the streets talking to residents of his country.
  • New Zealand’s big “boss” is the Queen as they are part of the Commonwealth of England
  • Their country is on a fault line so they do experience earthquakes.  Christchurch experienced a very severe one last year and they have still not recovered from it.
  • Point View Elementary School has 850 students and it goes from Year 1 to Year 6 with 4 or 5 of each grade.  They wear uniforms that are their school colors of green, red and black.
  • They play many outdoor sports including soccer, netball, hockey, swimming, basketball, track, tennis, skiing etc.
  • We like some of the same books but we also shared some different ones.  We like the same TV shows, singers, and computer games.

Thanks so much Mrs. Rivett and Room 14!  We had a fantastic time talking to you and we look forward to our continued collaborations through our blogs for Chiplet and Fantail!


Mrs. Rivett’s class designed some really nice posters to teach us even more information about their country.  Check it out on their WIKI

Meeting Author, Ed White

Last Tuesday, we had the exciting opportunity to Skype with author and sled dog racer, Ed White.  Mr. White is the author of Foxy’s Tale.  The story is exciting to read as it tells about Ed’s daughter, Kelly, and her time racing their dog, Foxy.  What makes it especially cute is that the story is told by Foxy.  Mr. White shared video and photos of Kelly and Foxy during the Skype.  We found out that Foxy got her name because they thought she looked like a fox.

Kelly & Foxy's ribbons

Mr. White and Family

The children had fun asking questions about Foxy, sled dog racing and becoming a writer. Mr. White is originally from our area and attended a local Catholic school (Holy Trinity) as a child and use to serve Mass at our church.  He now lives in State College, PA.  He may stop by for an in person visit later this month when he will be in town for a high school reunion.  You can learn more about Mr. White and his book by visiting his website
Glitter Words
[ – *Glitter Words*]

My students and I were thrilled when Mr. White stopped by for a quick visit last Friday! He answered a few more questions, gave us Foxy’s Tale magnets, and posed for photos.

With the boys

With the girls

Skype with Argentina

Today we had a great time Skyping with some Year 5 students from the Colegio Goethe School in Buenos Aires. One student from our class came forward to speak with one student from their class. We shared some information about ourselves in English and then they asked us questions in English. We tried to answer some in Spanish and then ask them a question in Spanish. Some of the topics we talked about were our favorite foods, after school activities, favorite pets, family members, and favorite colors. Both classes did a fantastic job speaking the other language!

Click below to watch some video from the Skype




Skype with our Flat Stanley Buddies in Romania

On Thursday, March 15th we were so happy to be able to speak live on Skype with the Bunnies.  They are in 3rd grade at the Mark Twain International School in Bucharest, Romania.  We have been sharing and learning about them for the last few months through our shared wiki and mailing packages of Flat Stanely’s.  We decided to each bring in something from home to share: hobbies, travels, sports, etc.  Skype was causing us some difficulties with audio problems and dropped calls but we made it through.  We are usually 7 hours difference in time but because the US changes to Daylight Savings Time 2 weeks before Romania, we were only 6 hours difference.  Special thanks to Mrs. Milos who was nice enough to keep the students after school for a hour to make this possible.  We were so very impressed with how well they speak English!  Check out these videos to see how much fun we had!


Math Class via Skype

Yesterday we had a very interesting Math class which involved playing a game against another class on Skype. We played a guessing game where each team had to think of a secret number between 1-99. The opposing team would try to guess that number by asking only yes and no questions. Our opponents were the 4th graders in Mrs. Egesdal’s class from Forest City Elemtary School in Iowa. We split each class into 3 groups to do three rounds of the game. We had fun coming up with questions and trying to keep track of what numbers were possible answers. Our thinking caps were on! Is your number even? Is the number less than 50? Is it a multiple of 9? The students did a great job but we were beat by the 4th graders – 2 to 1. We thought it was a funny coincidence that for the first round, both classes had chosen the same number as their secret number – 67!

Thanks for playing with us Forest City 4th graders! Special thanks also goes out to Elle Deyamport for giving us the idea on her Language Journeys blog

Skype with Nebraska

Today we did a fun Yes/No Mystery Skype with Mr. Badura and a group of third grade students from York Elementary School in York, Nebraska. My students had jobs during this Skype to make sure that everyone was engaged and helping out. We had Hannah and Claire as our Greeters, Emily and Kiera were the Inquirers who asked our questions, and Jeremy and Nathan were the Answerers who gave our answers. Sarah took photos and Anthony did the video. Liam, Tyler and Nicholas were the Text Mappers who looked at terrain in the maps.

Katie and Anna were Atlas Mappers who marked off what states it could not be using dry erase markers on a map.

Veronica, Emmet and Adam were our Think Tanks who helped come up with questions.

Lexi and Brennan were our Question Keeper to keep track of what questions we had already asked.

Helena and Megan were the Runners who went to each group, gathered questions and relayed them to the Inquirers.

Both classes did a fantastic job of asking questions to narrow down the locations. We each guessed correctly right after each other!

At the end, we had fun sharing some facts about our different states. We learned that Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska. We enjoyed learning about how they keep safe during tornadoes since they live in Tornado Alley.An interesting rock formation in their state is Chimney Rock.

They also have Carhenge which is a spoof on England’s Stonehenge. We thought this sculpture was really neat!

Thanks for a great Skype! We hope to keep connected through blog comments.

Skype with Iowa

Last Thursday we had a great time leaning about Iowa from Mrs. Massman’s 3rd grade class at Northeast Hamilton School.  It is a K-12 school with an enrollment of 275 students.  We were worried that we might need to postpone the Skype due to early dismissals in Iowa from a pending snow storm.  Luckily the storm came later in the evening so the Mystery Skype went on!  We asked them to send some snow our way as it has been an unusually warm winter for us.  Thursday’s high was 60 degrees for us.  That is April and May weather, not February!  We’d like at least one snow day this year.  Other then the recent weather, we discussed animals in Iowa like geese, fox, coyote, and rabbit.  Famous people from their state include Ashton Kutcher, former president Herbert Hoover, John Wayne and Isabella Bloom.  They live in a rural area with only 300 in their town and 3 million in their state.  We found it interesting that both their eastern and western borders are rivers.  Crops that they grow include corn and soybeans.  Iowa is sometimes called the Food Capital of the World.  They showed us photos of their state bird and tree: goldfinch and oak.  We are looking forward to continuing our connections with Mrs. Massman’s class by commenting on each others Kidblog’s and having discussion in the Global Classroom K-3 Edmodo Pen Pal Group.