Castlio Chronicles

A Newspaper for the Students, By the Students

Sweet Units For Spectra

By: Sivani Kandel and Kavya Saraswatula

How would you like to go on a picnic and blast off your own rockets? Well, Mrs. Warden, the Spectra teacher for fourth and fifth grade, revealed some Spectra units that fourth and fifth grade covered, and blasting rockets was part of one of them. Four years ago, all of Francis Howell School District thought of some very informational units that included collaboration skills, compromising, and other helpful skills. Shooting off rockets was just one example of those units. Mrs. Warden said that the fourth and fifth grade units started in early February. She thought that month would be a great place for the Spectra students to start their next units.

One amazing Spectra unit was Water Island for fifth grade. Water Island was a unit about surviving in uncomfortable situations. Students used nature to solve problems of survival. After the unit, Miles Vanderpool, a fifth grader in Spectra, gave us a very genius and positive review saying, “Well, it is the most fun idea and curriculum or unit that is in Spectra. We get to learn survival techniques, and we don’t have to research.”

The fourth graders are in the middle of doing the unit called 'Rockets'. This is a unit where students learn about rocketry and how they travel through space. Students have already created their own rockets. Vanessa Ng and Boston Party Winchester gave reviews that were also nice. Vanessa said," Well, I liked it because we are not just learning about rockets, but we are also learning about how to follow multiple directions. We also learned how important it is to listen to instructions." Boston's review about Rockets so far was, "Yes, Rockets are really fun. My favorite thing about is that you don't have to stay strictly to the rules, you can be creative,"

Mrs. Warden said that there have been some favorites that have stuck out in each of the grades so far. She thought that the fourth grade students’ favorite unit has been Bridges because they got to collaborate, act like grownups, and pick a spot to pretend to build their bridges. She thought that the favorite unit for the fifth graders was Bio-mimicry, where people had to mimic animal behaviors using a machine or something that was not living. She said, " In Bio-mimicry, they had to manage their time. A lot of time management!”

The fourth and fifth graders, and also Mrs. Warden, are excited about the new Spectra units. There are still more Spectra units to find out about that are for set the future. So, go find out what they are!



Student with Biomimicry projects.

Students with bridge projects.

A Hundred Bits of Fun


by Dax Perry and Judah Brown

The 100th day of school is a fun way for kids to celebrate that 100 days of school have passed and that they are 100 days smarter. This day is a way to say that the year is more than half over. This year, the 100th day of school at Castlio was a blast, according to the students. The grade levels that celebrated were Kindergarten through 2nd grade.


Grade levels celebrated by doing different activities. Mrs. Hickey, a second grade teacher said, "All of the teachers in the 2nd grade wanted to celebrate and they all picked a different activity.” The classes made a picture out of the numbers 1, 0, and 0. They also played a board game, wrote 100 words in 2 minutes, did exercises in 100 seconds, and wrote about what they would look like when they are 100. A kindergartner from Castlio, Abigail Brown, said, "On the 100th day of school, we made a Cheerio necklace, a headband, colored 100 circles, and wrote about what we thought we would look like when we are 100 years old." Abby said she liked making the Cheerio necklace the best. Next year, she hopes first grade teachers include playing games using the number 100.


The 100 day celebration is not a new tradition to Castlio, or even other schools. It has been going on for a long time. For example, the 100 day experiences also happened when the authors of this article, now 3rd graders, were in younger grades. Dax's favorite experiences were in 1st grade when he played 100 bingo, did 100 math problems, built Lego's related to 100, and more. His class also had a calendar that marked which day of school they were on. "My class and I were all very happy when it was the 100th day of school. First grade was my favorite experience because we didn't get to rotate to different classes or have a 100 day calendar in Kindergarten and 2nd grade. Kindergarten was a good experience because my teacher sent home a piece of paper and told us that we had to use 100 items to make the numbers 1, 0, and 0. I used 100 Fruit Loops ™ to make the number 100," Dax explained.


Looking back, it seems like the 100 day celebration has been something that the students have really enjoyed. We can't wait to see what new activities come out next year.

Blown Away By Binary

By: Amelia Heidt and Angela Li

In Mr. Caldwell’s room, something amazing happened! The third graders were taught to code with Binary, the way computers talk, by third grade S.E.G.A (students with exceptionally gifted abilities). These student were taught during We Love to Code Week. The We Love to Code Week is week that is celebrated nationally throughout the United States of America. Every single 3rd grade class visited Mr. Caldwell's room and joined in on the activity for 30 minutes.


Students from third grade SEGA thought coding and having contact with computers was important because it can help students with possible coding careers when they grow up. SEGA liked that they could experience teaching other children. A student named Sivani Kandel said, “ I felt like a real teacher when I taught the third grade students how to do Binary code." She also said, "I got to share more knowledge, which helped me gain more knowledge myself."


The other third graders who got to participate were also affected because they got to learn how to do Binary code. Most of them had never heard of the Binary System before the activity. They learned that it was a base 2 system instead of a base ten system, like ours. That means that each place value gets doubled rather than changing by a power of 10. The students enjoyed doing the puzzles, and a lot of them were very challenged by it.


Looking back, the binary puzzles that the 3rd grade completed were a real math challenge. However, they were a big learning experience. Without the puzzles, the students may not have had the chance to learn about the Binary System. In the future, maybe the skills learned can help with a career in coding. If you did not get the chance to do the puzzles in Mr. Caldwell's room, then you can check out the examples below, and try it for yourself!





A picture of a Binary Puzzle the students created that made a rocket ship from Science Kiddo.

A picture of a Binary Puzzle the students did that created a smiley face from Science Kiddo.














How to Complete a Binary Puzzle:

1. Each puzzle is made of a grid that is split in half. Each half of the grid has the numbers 1, 2, 4, and 8 on the top, because these are Binary code numbers.

2. On the side of the grid, there are directions for each line of code. The first number tells you the Binary number to shade in on the left side of the grid. The second number tells you what Binary number to shade in on the right side of the grid. So, for example, if the first direction on line one says "1, then 8"; then you color the Binary number "1" on the left side of the grid on the first line, and then an 8 in the right side of the grid.

3. Continue doing this for each line in order to make a picture.


The Anti-Bullying Author Comes to Castlio

Matthew Borchert

Have you ever met an author in person? Well, a lot of students at Castlio have! Lori Groff, a local author, visited our school on March 21st. While in the library, she talked for thirty minutes about her book, Popularity Pizzazz, showed kids the writing process, talked about bullying, and her illustration process. It took place during different time slots throughout the entire school day!


Lori Goff is an author who has devoted much time and energy educating kids about bullying. Since her book was published, she has visited different schools for free and shared her message with hundreds of students . She was motivated to write her book after being bullied herself in school. She wanted to teach kids about the harmful effects of bullying, and express the importance of being kind to others. In her book, the main character, Sue, struggled with popularity. As a result, Sue learned to always be herself no matter what.


During her visit, Groff explained that "pizzazz" is what makes us unique. She told the students that if they were all the same, the world would be a boring place! She even created a bookmark to show her "pizzazz" that she shared with the students. It included the special things that she liked about herself including her glasses and her height. At the end of the lesson, she asked students to reflect upon the things that they loved about themselves. Then, she gave them each blank bookmarks to create their "pizzazz" on.


If you did not get to meet Lori Groff on March 21st, be sure to attend STREAM night on March 21st. She will be reading the book, talking about bullying and providing autographs. You will also be able to purchase copies of her book, Popularity Pizzazz, that night, too! As an added bonus, a portion of the money spent on books will be given back to the school so they can buy resources to help stop bullying.

Author Lori Groff reading to students.

Students looking at rough drafts of Popularity Pizzazz.

Coding For Cougars

By: Amelia Kelly and Grace McKinley


What is coding, and what does it mean to Castlio kids? Coding is a very complicated system of giving directions to computers that people have created to complete specific tasks. That is why from February 5th to February 9th, coding week went on in the library. Each and every grade did a different type of coding. For example, 3rd grade did Bits Box, 5th grade did the We Love To Code Symbaloo on the Castlio website, and Kindergarten did Kodable. Kodable is a simple coding game for younger ages. While playing, they tried to get to the next level by moving a ball with coding directions. The We Love To Code Symbaloo is a jumble of many different coding applications. To let everyone participate, each class at Castlio had 30 minutes in the library to do coding.

Coding began at Castlio because there was a National Coding week in December. After that, it soon became “We Love To Code”, which occurred in February. We Love To Code is very important for kids because many jobs now include computer sciences, which include coding. When we interviewed Mrs. Bender in the library before the event, she said, “We hope Coding week will spark an interest so students can keep learning even after coding week is over." We also interviewed some students afterwards to see what they thought. Sivani Kandel said, “It made me feel like my dad when he is working, and it made me want to be like him when I grow up." Sivani's dad works designing software.

We Love To Code week is over now, but it was very successful and people loved it! It had a really positive and upbeat effect on the students. Coding week was a great opportunity to have fun and at the same time learn about computers. We hope you enjoyed coding week and remember you are always coding for the Cougars!


A Valentine’s Day That’s New to You!

By Ellen Lovellette

When you woke up on Valentine’s Day, you probably thought, cool, it’s Valentine's Day, so we get to give out candy! True, however, this year’s Valentine’s Day was so much more! Six classes visited Mrs. LaChance’s and Mrs. Branstetter’s rooms for a unique celebration. SEGA students, yes, students, were running Valentine’s Day enrichment stations for others to enjoy. Some activities included: art projects like a cupid craft, making a sparkly valentine, writing Valentine’s Day idioms and poem books, playing Scrabble, and solving math picture puzzles.

There were a lot of reasons that we hosted this event. One reason was that we wanted to include academic activities instead of just candy giving. Another reason, Mrs. Branstetter stated, "We were doing this to have some learning fun and to engage SEGA students in activity with others in their grade level.’’

The SEGA students were very excited about preparing the activities for other students. Before the stations, everyone was excited to host them. Dax Perry, a SEGA student, said, "I’m really excited! I think it will really help students break away and do something fun academically.” SEGA student Sivani Kandel was also excited, saying that she thought, “It will be lots of fun for the classes and the SEGA students. ”

In their own words, the students explained their stations and activities. Grace McKinley and Amelia Kelly ran a station. Grace explained their station, saying, “Our station was history, and we had a Jeopardy game and it had valentine topics.” Miles Vanderpool and Matthew Borchert also ran a station. Miles Vanderpool told us about their station, saying, “Our station was coding and we were letting the students code their own action.” Callum Scales ran a station by himself, and he said, “My station was science, and my activity was a board game that included facts about birds.” Boston Party -Winchester ran a station with Alex Edwards, saying, “I did logic puzzles with Alex, and we had the students solve logic puzzles, and the difficulty depended on their grade level.”

Looking back, the students felt great about their stations. Vanessa Ng, one of the students who ran a station said, “I think the stations were a success because the students were obviously having fun, making friends, and most importantly, they were learning.” It was a success. Alex Edwards' opinion was, “I think it worked out very well and I think the teachers did a very good job organizing it.”

We spent a lot of time on the stations, so we ALL felt good, not just Vanessa Ng and Alex Edwards. Did you give someone your card, poems, or cupid? We hope bird watchers, puzzle lovers, and smiles left the classrooms! The time has passed, but the fun hasn’t!


Students viewing a coding game.

Students doing a poetry project.

Lincoln, Learning, and Fundraising!


By Alex Edwards


The fifth grade field trip on March 9th was all about Abraham Lincoln. Students on the trip were provided comfortable charter buses for transportation, and they were even given snacks! Students brought their own devices for the long rides there and back. They had to get up early, because they had to get to school at 6:15 in the morning to make the long trip to Illinois!


Mrs. Tarka was interviewed about the topic. She explained that the students go on the field trip each year because it covers skills that are part of the social studies curriculum. She said, ”The field trip is all about Abraham Lincoln, and slavery, as part of their social studies units.” She also stated that this year, the teachers organized a fundraiser at Freddy’s Restaurant before the trip. The event raised $329.55 to put towards going to Springfield. This helped to lower the cost that every student had to pay to attend.


While in Springfield, the students visited several sites. Each pair of classes toured different places at different times. On one bus, the first stop was at Lincoln’s Tomb, where the students got to see where Lincoln was buried. They also got to rub Mr. Lincoln’s nose on the statue for good luck! Next up, the students went to the Old State Capital where they received a guided tour of where political meetings used to take place. They also got to spend a few hours in the Lincoln Museum where they saw Civil War artifacts and watched two interactive movies about the Civil War. Finally, the students got to tour Lincoln’s neighborhood before heading home.


All in all, it was very fun and a great learning experience for all who went. The exhibits were very educational, and the students had fun! Hopefully, there will be Springfield trips for years to come!


The statue of Lincoln that students got to touch for good luck.

This was the check presented to 5th grade by Freddy's Restaurant.


The Senior Project

By Miles Vanderpool


During the month of January, a former student, Sam Porter, came back to Castlio. He came back for his senior project for Saint Louis High School. He liked how Mrs. Branstetter, a fifth grade teacher at the time, handled the students. He asked if he could work with her and be a partner teacher for his senior project. The senior project is where you do work in the community to gain leadership skills. The senior project is done in colleges, and rarely in high school.


Mr. Porter once was a student at Castlio, just like you. When asked about how it felt to return, he said , “It was surreal. It was seven years ago that I was student in those hallways, eating those school lunches, playing on the playground, and now to come back as a seventeen-year-old, with a beard, who is making college plans, was so touching. I knew that I would see a lot of old faces and reconnect with people who had taught me in the past, but I didn't know that it would be such a moving experience for me. It was great to give back to the place that gave so much to me, that started my whole academic career. I hope to come back soon and see everyone again.”


While he was here, Mr. Porter taught Mrs. Branstetter’s class some new things. for example, he the students Spanish. He made a Jeopardy game for them to play that taught them some commonly used Spanish words. He also taught the students some complicated physics! They had to solve a really hard math problem that took over one hour to complete, but it helped them figure out how many balloons it would take to lift them in the air! But wait, that's not all he did. He also worked with individual students in Mrs. Longmore's, Mrs. Steele's, and Mrs. Morris’ classes.


So, he helped us and our teachers when he came back for a senior project. Without him, students would not know how many balloons it would take to lift them in the air, or how to say "student" in Spanish, which is estudiante! The students hope that he returns in the future.



This is a photo of Mr. Porter with Mrs. Branstetter's class on his last day at Castlio.


The Day the Crayons Came Home

By Hannah & Zoey

Who thought that the musical was awesome? Well, we did because the authors of this article were in it. The second grade musical is a Castlio tradition that has been a school custom for a long time. We don’t know who started the second grade musical, all we know is that the 2nd grade musical has been a tradition for at least 15 years.

The second grade musical teaches the students to practice, memorize, act, dance, entertain, keep a steady beat, collaborate, express emotions, follow a director, and compose. “We do the second grade musical to teach the second graders what it feels like to perform,” answered Mrs. Humburg. She also said, “The second graders don’t need to be convinced the musical is cool because they already think it is cool from listening to the the music!” Mrs. Humburg and Mrs. Wikowsky had the students ready to perform on March 9th, 2018. At that time, they started dress rehearsals.

This year's theme was, “The Day the Crayons Came Home,” based off the book by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. It's was a story about crayons that were lost, forgotten, broken, or neglected by Duncan, the main character, and they wanted to go back. Costumes included things like: pirates, crayons and mummies. There were also songs such as: We Are the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, Green, Raindrops, and Spooky Night! During the Spooky Night song, the lights went off and dancers were dressed in skeleton costumes that glowed in the dark.

The kids who were interviewed seemed to think the musical was a success! After the musical was over, this is what some students said. When asked whether they would do another musical, Ameer Darbadwan, Kaitlyn Jones, and Riley Kruger all said, "Yes, I would do another musical because it makes music fun." Also, when asked if he thought the musical was a success, Aiden Donaubauer said, "I felt nervous, but it was a success." Many students felt nervous in the beginning, but after the play was over, they felt amazed by what they just did. Aiden Donaubauer, Jaylen Blackmon, Nora Wallace, and Raya McPherson all agreed that once they knew their parts, they were no longer nervous. "No, being in the play wasn't hard," they said. Ameer Darbadwan said the musical was, "Easy peasy, lemon squeezy".

Overall, the musical went well. All of the kids remembered their lines and dance moves, and that was a lot of information to remember. When it was all over, the crowd clapped and cheered. They even gave flowers to the music teachers. The first graders will enjoy being part of such a big production next year!

The pirates in, "We Are The Pirates Who Don't do Anything".

Sweet 2nd Grade Experiments

By Maverick and Dryden


Ready, set, go!! That’s what Mrs. AuBuchon’s students said when they did an experiment. They were trying to see if a toy car would go faster on carpet or tile floor. They built ramps and tested the cars in the 2nd grade hallway. Mrs. AuBuchon did this to teach the kids the scientific method, creativity, as well as allow for fun. Now, with the new knowledge, they can do so much more with science. For example, the students know all of the steps in the scientific method, so now they can do more experiments independently.


Mrs. AuBuchon had the whole lesson planned out. Her class tried different types of ramps. For example, they used paper, pencils and cardboard. They used anything they could find that was able to roll. They conducted the experiment by rolling toy cars or other rolling objects down ramps. Then, they measured how far the cars traveled on different surfaces like carpet or tile. Mrs. AuBuchon’s students measured the distances with meter sticks.


When the experiment concluded, there were some interesting findings. The car went farther on tile because there was less friction pulling on the car instead of the carpet. Overall, the students learned that friction will slow things to a stop.

Pretend you just did the experiment, how would you use that newly learned knowledge? Would you try this experiment or would you change it? These are questions you should ponder. To learn more, ask Mrs. AuBuchon about the sweet second grade experiment.


Former Castlio Students Finally Return!

By Vanessa Ng and Alex Martensen


Cougars and Knights and news, oh my! On January 31st, three former Castlio students, Samantha Cary, Sarah Zimmerman, and Uma Upamaka, came back for a visit to Castlio! Now students at Francis Howell North High School, these former Castlio Cougars kindly volunteered to come back to Castlio to teach the S.E.G.A. students about journalism in high school! While here, they gave the S.E.G.A. students some tips and tricks to create a good newspaper!


During the visit, each of the high schoolers explained their roles in creating Francis Howell North’s newspaper. Samantha talked about her job with photography and how to take lots of pictures to go with the articles. She taught the students different ways to take photos using symbols and capturing emotions. Sarah explained how to write articles about big events that happen around the school. She said that a lot of story ideas come from the students. Lastly, Uma described how she wrote opinion pieces that explored people’s emotions about particular situations. She said the trick to writing these types of articles was finding a topic that students had different feelings about.


The visit provided new knowledge to the S.E.G.A. students about the future of the Castlio Chronicles. “I’m glad that they came here. If they didn’t come we would have not come as far,” commented Dryden Finley, a second grade S.E.G.A student. “It made a big impact on the newspaper,” added Callum Scales, a fourth grade S.E.G.A student. Their visit really taught the students how to improve their newspaper.


The S.E.G.A. students can’t wait to continue writing their newspaper articles. Thanks to the high schoolers’ visit, the S.E.G.A. students will continue to improve the content of the news that is being brought to Castlio every day! Someday, maybe someday, the current S.E.G.A. students will be the ones working on the high school newspaper, and they will be the ones that come back to teach students about journalism in the future!


Samantha (Left) , Uma (Right) , and Sarah (Middle) teaching S.E.G.A. students about journalism.

Teacher’s Corner

By Vanessa Ng


What does Mrs. Parker do at Castlio? Her position is very different from other teachers in the building. She gets to work with so many grade levels, and gets to teach the subject she likes the most; math! She works with students from first to fifth grade on a variety of math skills! For example, she works on adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing numbers. She sees kids from nearly every regular classroom in the building. She loves seeing the kids she works with grow and learn new things.


Mrs. Parker originally wanted to be a lawyer, but then realized she wanted to teach when she had to help her family. Her brother and cousin needed a lot of help with math. That resulted in her helping the two of them, and she got used to it. She helped so much, that it encouraged her to continue teaching. Then, she starting teaching at Castlio Elementary. The reason why she chose Castlio is because at the time, Francis Howell was a 4 cycle district which was different from the regular present schedule. She wanted to experience the cycles, so she chose Castlio. She’s been teaching for 25 years, and it has always been right here in our own school.


Mrs. Parker’s students really enjoy her teaching. While in her room they get to work with other students in a small class setting. While she is helping them, they don't have any distractions because they work in groups of 3-6 students. It seems to help keep them focused. Her students also enjoy her fun personality. “She’s really nice, but still makes sure we are learning,” answered Maverick, one of Mrs. Parker’s former students.


Her love for teaching is still going on today. When talking to Mrs. Parker, she said, “I love seeing kids’ faces when they learn something new." Watching students persevere and accomplishing what they thought was impossible is one of her favorite things about teaching." She enjoys her job working with all different students.. Hopefully you learned about her job at Castlio and what it's like to be taught by her. If you ever want to stop by, just head on down to room 122!


Mrs. Parker

Prodigy Playoffs

By Boston Party WInchester


Have you ever wanted a more exciting way to learn math? Ask Mrs. Knopfel. She is a third grade teacher here at Castlio. She uses a fun math game called Prodigy. She learned about it at a teacher convention. The learning session was held by an educator who had been using Prodigy for a long time, along with the developer of the game. Mrs. Knopfel thought the game was interesting and that the students would love it, so she started using it just this year.



So what is Prodigy? Prodigy is a math game, similar to Pokemon, where you are a wizard. It is a free game where you are in a land of mystery, magic, and monsters. You must battle in order to level up, get coins, learn new spells and catch monsters all while solving math problems. You must try to find the mystical wardens, masters of magic who disappeared from Lamplight Academy years ago. You can also collect pets and go on quests as you search for the masters of magic! The best thing is, it allows students to practice skills while having fun!


So far, Prodigy has been a success with the students and teachers. During an interview with Mrs. Knopfel’s class, we learned that students liked it so much, that they have even been playing it outside of the classroom. Caden says that, “Me and Lincoln play both here and at home, and Lincoln also plays at Vacation Station”. Both of them love to battle others. Mrs. Knopfel said her favorite feature was that as a teacher, she could set what the students were learning according to their learning level.


In conclusion, Prodigy is an amazing game that both teachers and kids love. If you haven't had a chance to try it, you should ask your teacher about it. I mean, can you think of a better way to take a math quiz than to play a game while doing it? That's why Prodigy is so cool and popular!

Some of Mrs. Knopfel's kids playing Prodigy in class during math time.

Learning During Lunch!

By Callum Scales


When your teacher teaches you about something unexpected or surprising, do you wonder where they get these ideas? Well, for us students, there’s not always a way of knowing for sure, but here is one way: Lunch and Learn.


Lunch and Learn is an event that comes in line with other big themes like Week of Code. It is when teachers sign up during their students’ lunch times, and go to the library for lunch. While they are eating, teachers, students, or even Student Council members come in and teach them about subjects that that line up with the big theme of focus. The most recent Lunch and Learn came with the Week of Code, and was all about coding. Fifth grader, Alex Edwards, and 4th grader, Vanessa Ng, gave a speech to the kindergarten teachers in order to teach them how to do Hopscotch Coding. Hopscotch Coding is where you create patterns of code on the floor, and then move interactively through the steps!


But enough about what it is, let’s get down to what you really want to know: Why does Castlio do Lunch and Learn? In an exclusive interview, Alex and Vanessa said, “Teachers do Lunch and Learn to learn new things, and to help their kids.” What this means is that the teachers sign up for Lunch and Learn to learn about fun subjects that they can then teach their students. It is a way for teachers to learn how to make classroom activities more engaging.


So, Lunch and Learn is a fun little event, and you might have even had the fortune to be there for it. Just remember, if your teacher ever teaches you about something unexpected or surprising, check to see if there’s a big theme event going on. The idea could have come from Lunch and Learn!

Alex and Vanessa at Lunch and Learn

Comic Section

Are you looking for a fun way to summarize a book you have read? Then, check out our reading comic strips below by Vanessa Ng (grade 4) and Grace McKinely (grade 3). Each one contains all of the important story elements: characters, setting, problem, and solution.

Comic Strip of the book, Wonder, created by Vanessa Ng.

Comic Strip of the book, Beauty and the Beast, by Grace McKinley