Meet Mrs. McRae

Meet Mrs. McRae :)

Hello, my name is Marissa McRae and I am one of the 4th grade teachers at Evangelical Elementary. This is my fourth year teaching 4th grade and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I love what I do, where I work, and the people that I work with; I am a very lucky girl! I graduated from Greenville College in December of 2011 with my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with endorsements in and Special Education, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts.

My husband Patrick and I got married in September of 2015 and bought our first house in Rosewood Heights. We have known eachother since we were in high school and dated for more than eight years before we were married. We have a very fluffy (often mistaken for fat) cat named Monza, named after my favorite cars the Corvair Monza. :) We are very excited for what the future has in store for us! I know that God will bless us with a family of our own and we look forward to that day!

I hope that I will get to continue living my dream, being a teacher and I hope that I have many more years here at Evangelical! I look forward to meeting you! :)

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun! (9-26-16)

I cannot believe it is officially fall; I am not sure where time has gone! I am currently sitting on my back deck enjoying the beautiful weather and thinking about all the wonderful things that we have done in the last month. So many fun things! I always love the beginning of the school year because the students learn so much and I get to know and love a new group of students. As with every year, I am blessed to have another amazing group of kids! They are each so different and fun to be around. We are happy to say that we have four new students in just my class alone this year! What a blessing to have them! They are fitting right in; you wouldn’t even know that they are “new”.

We are really enjoying our new science curriculum. We are using the Pearson Realize Interactive Science program which is project based, hands on learning. We just completed the first chapter which was all about different forms of energy. One of the projects that we did was a draft detector to help eliminate wasted energy. The students created their own draft detectors and tested them out all around the school. Some of the other projects we have done were to test how heat energy is transferred and to test what materials are better conductors of heat. Unfortunately, these projects are also “hands on” for me and I was only able to get pictures of their finished draft detectors.


We are going to take a quick break from the Science curriculum to study the planets in our solar system. We will be reading the story The Astronaut and the Onion this week in Language Arts so we decided to incorporate the solar system in with science. The students will be researching their planets and creating an alien that lives on the planet. I will make sure to take lots of pictures to add! They always turn out so cute, and the students really seem to enjoy doing this project.

We start off every year with learning about Native Americans who lived in our area. This is such an interesting chapter in Social Studies. The students really enjoy learning about the people who were here first. Each year my husband, Patrick, brings in his Native American artifact collection to share with the students. They are so excited to see the things that he has found just by looking in area creeks and fields, it’s amazing all the things he has found in just the last few years. I love how it brings the things that we learn in class to life. I was able to take a few pictures during his presentation this year.


During our study of Native Americans, the students learn about the different types of homes that they lived in. After studying the types of homes the students build a home of their own using natural resources, just like the Native Americans did. Here are a few pictures of how they turned out; I had lots of Teepees this year!

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As always, we are having a great time in fourth grade! I will keep you posted with pictures of all of our fun experiences! I am looking forward to an amazing school year and wouldn’t trade this for any other career or school! I LOVE WHAT I DO! :)


October News :) (11-8-16)

Wow, so many fun things happened in October. From our Springfield trip, to Junior Achievement, and reading Call it Courage; we had a very busy and educational month. We had a great time in Springfield, it was a very long day but we learned a lot about our state and Abraham Lincoln. We had a first year education student from SIUe come in and teach Junior Achievement. Mr. W. did an excellent job teaching the students about entrepreneurs, companies, and starting a business. Hopefully he lit a fire in some students to follow their dreams of starting their own company in the future. I know that Mr. W. will be a great teacher, he took a lot of time to get to know and connect with the students in the time he was here. We just finished up reading the short novel Call it Courage, it is one of my favorite books. It is a story about a Polynesian boy who is afraid of the ocean. He leaves his island to prove his bravery to himself and his tribe. Along the way, he faces many dangers and challenges, but he overcomes all of them and returns home a hero. The students really enjoyed reading this story and their grades reflected it! On every tests the students got an A or A+ because they were so interested in what we were reading!

We are just wrapping up our science fair experiments. They were pretty creative this year! I had a group test methods to cool sodas the fastest, two volcanos, an experiment to see which bouncey ball bounces the highest, a group test to see if they could make a Twix bar float, homemade rock candy formations, a homemade hovercraft, and an experiment to see if a homemade lava lamp would react faster than a glitter lamp. These experiments and several others will be on display next week (November 17th and 18th) in the new kitchen and the stage. Come by and check them out!


Our big writing project in October was working on a class representative speech. This was a new project this year, in honor of the Presidential Election. The students wrote and delivered a speech trying to get their fellow classmates to vote for them for class representative. The students worked really hard and came up with several traits and characteristics about themselves. I was very happy with how their speeches turned out. We actually had a tie in votes so our class now has two class representatives, Jayden and Riana. I know that they will be great representatives for our class. They are both very hardworking, kind and thoughtful students. Here are our class representatives:



I also have DWP stars from September and October. Our September DWP star was Lyla for her great social skills which is skill number 5. I had two stars for October. One of them was Roland for his hard work on completing and task. He worked so hard on his cursive handwriting, a skill he wasn’t taught at a previous school, I am so proud of how he never gave up. Riana was our other October DWP star. She is our star for her willingness to share. Her and her family donated the rest of the Bluestem Award books that the library was missing. I am so proud of all of my students and their hard work! They are such a great class!

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Catching Up on 4th Grade News (1-5-17)

They say that time flies when you’re having fun…isn’t that the truth?! I cannot believe that it is January, I swear that yesterday it was October! That being said, we have a lot of catching up to do. I have to start by saying that I have an amazing class this year! I had to have knee surgery in November and they have been nothing but helpful and understanding! They helped me more than they know; I’m glad to say that I am doing much better!

Math has been the most challenging subject the last few months. We started with two by two digit multiplication, which is always tough because of all of the steps. I am happy to report that after a day or two the students grasped the topic without problem! They actually really enjoyed what we call “Long” multiplication. Right before Christmas Break we started long division. Fourth grade is the first time that they are introduced to long division, so it is usually a struggle! I am very proud of how hard my students worked to master the steps and ROCK long division! We are still working on long division, slowly making it more and more difficult. Today we are starting with three digit dividends and quotients, I know they will do very well with this!

We just started out new social studies book “States and Regions” this book focuses on the regions of the United States.The regions are the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West. We read a few chapters about the region’s states, geography, economy, and history; then the students take a test over the states, capitals, and abbreviations. I am very happy that the students spent a lot of time over Christmas Break studying the Northeast states and capitals, most of them are ready to take the test already! :)

We just started a new novel Sarah, Plain and Tall , this is one of my favorite books! This is a story about a family living on the Prairie in a time before running water, phones, and cars. Unfortunately the mother died after giving birth to the youngest son, Caleb. The father, Jacob, feels that it is time for his children to have a mother so he puts an ad in the paper looking for a wife. Sarah Wheaton of Maine answers the ad and agrees to come live on the Prairie for a month to see if she likes it. At the end of the month she will decided if she wants to marry Jacob and become Anna and Caleb’s mother. The students were very excited to start a new novel and learn about the struggles of a girl their own age.

In Science we learned all about electricity and electrical circuits. This was a very interesting chapter, we learned about series and parallel circuits, insulators and conductors, and resistors. The students really enjoyed getting to play with electrical circuit boards; their goal was to make the light bulbs light up by completing the circuit.  They had to make a series circuit and explain what each part of the circuit was as part of their Ch. 3 test; they did a great job! We started Ch. 4, about plants and animals, right before we left for break. To start we discussed plant and animal cells and their cell organelles. The students worked in two groups to create huge representations of plant and animal cells, they created descriptions and labels for all of the parts of the cell as well. I have included pictures of their cells, they are on display in our hallway if you want to come check them out in person. They turned out really well!


Plant Cell

Animal Cell

Animal Cell

My DWP stars for the months of November and December were Cooper for initiating solutions (skill #13), Sienna for communication (skill #10), Maria for leadership (skill #9), and Madalyn for resolving problems (skill #12). All of these students have been very selfless this year, helping other students and sacrificing something of their own to help someone else. They have made me very proud and I know they will keep up the good work! (Not pictured: Cooper)







I am looking forward to the things to come the rest of this school year! I promise I will be better about keeping you up to date! We’re always so busy doing fun things that I forget to post about them! :)


A Jam-packed January (2-14-17)

January has been a very busy month filled with lots of exciting projects and assignments. In science we wrapped up our chapter about plants and animals and started chapter 5 which is about ecosystems, the environment, natural resources, and fossils. One exciting project that we did in chapter 4 was an owl pellet dissection. The students were pretty grossed out at first but quickly became very excited as groups started finding skulls and other rather large bones. When they finished their dissections they sorted the bones into groups and glued them on papers to display in the hall. Here are some pictures of the scientists at work and their final products:


Digging in!


What’s inside?


“I’m ready for my close-up”




A skull and leg bone (we think)!


Finished Product


Amazing that this was all in a little owl pellet…must have been a hungry owl!


dem bones, dem bones


tiny little bones

We are currently studying the south states and capitals. The students, well the girls, are enjoying singing Mrs. Hawkins’ version of Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” to learn the states and their spelling! Mrs. Hawkins is so creative and has come up with some pretty clever lyrics! They will be taking their states and capitals quizzes and tests next week, I am confident that they will do an awesome job like they did last time! :)

I am so proud of how hard my students have been working in math. They have conquered fractions and we have moved on the decimals. They are doing so well with these tricky topics. We are finishing up with decimals and moving on to geometry.

In reading we are currently reading one of my favorite novels Because of Winn-Dixie. This book has so many topics that really hit home for most 4th graders. Opal is a lonely girl who is struggling to make friends in her new home. She meets a dog who helps her to make new friends. Along the way she meets people who have their own secret struggles and they help each other in many ways. We have a few fun writing projects that go along Because of Winn-Dixie. One that we are working on right now is an article about ten things we learned about our classmate. The students get to come up with ten questions to ask a friend and then write a newspaper article about them. These will be hung in the hallway in the next few days if you can stop by and see them.

I had five of my students compete in the school spelling bee. They were very nervous but they did very well! They all made it through the first round which is awesome for a 4th grader. Here is a picture of the students before the spelling bee (don’t they look nervous?):  IMG_4213Finally, our DWP stars for the month of January were  Scarlett (Following Instructions) and Logan (Cooperation).

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Catching Up To Do! (3-21-17)

I say it every month but the time seems to be moving faster and faster! Here we are in the middle of March and I am catching you up on February. Oops! :)

We took a short break from our regular science curriculum to do a week of STEM challenges and let me just tell you, the kids did an amazing job! Their first challenge was to build a bridge using 30 popsicle sticks and about 1.5 feet of masking tape. Their bridges had to span 1 foot and hold as much weight as possible. The winning group’s bridge held 43 hundreds blocks. Here are a few pictures of their bridge making process and their bridges being tests. IMG_4279IMG_4276IMG_4286 IMG_4291 IMG_4281IMG_4295


The following day we did an Army Man Launcher. The students were given six popsicle sticks, a plastic spoon, a paper cup, about a foot of tape, and about a foot of yarn. They were supposed to build a catapult to launch their army man as far as possible. We went outside in front of the church to put them to the test. The winning launch went over ten feet.

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We also did a challenge where the students were given a 6×6 square of aluminum foil and a 3×3 square of cardboard and asked to make a boat that would hold as many ones cubes as possible. The winning group’s boat held almost 50 cubes! Some students chose to use the cardboard and others did not. Here are some of the pictures of the boats being put to the test.


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The final STEM challenge that we did was an egg drop. For this challenge the students worked in groups of 4 to make a contraption that would protect an egg while being dropped from the second floor atrium balcony. As with the challenges I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently the students worked. Surprisingly all of the eggs survived the drop intact, one group’s egg did crack but did not break all the way through.

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I hope that the students had as much fun with these STEM challenges as I did! :)

March has been a fun month (4-9-17). We have been very busy in the 4th grade and we are ready for spring break so we can rest a little. :) We also looking forward to April and May  because we have two field trips coming up! At the end of April we will be going to the Riverbend Migratory Bird Sanctuary for a day full of adventures in nature. In May we will be doing an Underground Railroad tour around Alton. I will keep you posted on those two trips! :)

We read the novel Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson. The students really enjoy reading this book, it is fun to hear them point out the differences between today and the 1960′s-1970′s. From the way that the characters dress, to the teachers in school, and the family dynamics; it’s quite different from today. When we finished the novel the students had to choose their favorite character and do a character sketch. For this project they had to describe what their character looked like, their thoughts and feelings throughout the story, their character’s problem and what they did to solve it, their character traits, and what they thought would happen to the character in the future. On the outside of their project they had to draw a picture of what they thought their character looked like. These projects are on display in the hall if you have an opportunity to stop by and check them out. Here is a picture of Audrey’s work:

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We just wrapped up our chapter about geometry in math. The students really enjoyed this chapter, it was a little mental break after working our brains so hard with fractions and decimals. As a final project about geometry the students worked as contractors building “Geometry City”, a city built using geometric shapes and terminology. They had to first get their permits approved by drawing and defining different geometric terms; once they had their permits approved, they were asked to draw up plans for their city. Finally, when their plans were approved, they were set free to build their cities. I am really happy with the way they turned out! Mrs. Hawkins class even made a geometric garden scene as a background. Here are a few pictures of the finished project, they are on display in the hallway if you have a chance to come see them!

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How in the world is it the end of the year already!? (5-10-17) The year has been packed full of fun lessons, exciting experiments, interesting field trips, and lots of laughs! We are wrapping up our lessons and taking our final tests and quizzes. The students will be taking a math test over capacity and their ending the year with their 50 states and capitals tests.

Last month we took a field trip to the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary. We were excited for this opportunity to attend a FREE field trip. The National Park Foundation awarded a transportation grant to the Sanctuary so they were able to cover our travel expenses to come to the park. In addition to the free travel, each student was given a pass that allows them and their family members to enter any National Park for FREE all year! What an awesome opportunity!

While on our trip the students attended several different educational stations, our first station was a man by the name of Serengeti Steve. He is a herpetologist (someone who studies reptiles and amphibians) who goes to schools, parties, and different events sharing information about the reptiles that he studies. He had an electric personality and had the kids so engrossed in what he was talking about. It was so much fun to see them so excited and engaged in something! Many of the students were given the opportunity to hold the reptiles that he brought with him.


Madalyn holding a snake…eeek!


Maria about to hold a lizard…she wasn’t a fan!


Roland holding an ALLIGATOR!!!


Molly held it too, like it was no big deal!


Carter, Logan, Madison, and Audrey holding an albino python! YUCK.


The students also netted for macro-organisms such as diving beetles, damselfly and dragonfly larvae, crawfish, and tadpoles. The dragonfly larvae has a very interesting physical feature, they take in water through an opening in their tail-end. They use this water to propel themselves forward or to be able to thrust out their jaw to catch their prey. It is something to see! If you are interested here is a link for a video of the dragonfly larvae hunting:

Finally, we took a hike down to the river for fishing and a canoeing adventure. Unfortunately we didn’t catch any fish but the canoeing was so much fun! We were loaded onto big voyager canoes and learned to work as a team to paddle these big boats. We even raced Mrs. Hawkins’ class; we lost, but they had a head start!

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As a final wrap up for the year we will be going on an Underground Railroad tour. The students and parents are very excited for this trip. We will be going around Alton visiting knows sights of the Underground Railroad. Also, since we weren’t able to go to the Lock and Dam (because it was raining) we are going to make another attempt to visit and take a tour.

I am sad to see this year end, but I am excited for summer break and the opportunity to meet and love another group of kids! :)

Have a great summer!!