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Students help Santa and Rudolph find the way

Second-graders recently used their newly honed skills in map reading to make directions for Santa Claus to travel from the North Pole to Skaneateles on Christmas.

In addition to the skills learned in social studies, the second graders had a little help from their friends: fifth-graders whom they joined at State Street School for an afternoon of map making and direction-writing before school let out for the holidays.

Santa, it turns out, doesn't have a GPS.

Second-graders from the classes of Mary Arnott and Pam Anastasio walked to State Street School, where they were paired with fifth graders from the classes of Heather Buff and Peter O'Connor. Each pair mapped out a unique route and then wrote out directions.

Zac Ripich, a fifth-grader in Buff's class, worked with JP Soderberg, a second grader in Arnott's class. "The directors are to JP's house so I let him decide," Ripich said. The directions, in part: "From the North Pole, gravel south east to Asia, then south east to Australia. Go north west and stop in Africa, then go north to Euorpe, then south west to South American and north west to New York."

Here is how Kaolin Howard, a fifth grader in Buff's class, and Payton Sweet, a second-grader in Anastasio's class, had Santa travel: "From the North Pole go through the Arctic Ocean, stop in Africa because we want the boys and girls there to get toys, west to South America, through the Atlantic Ocean to South America. Next, go north to North America."

Arnott said the project fit in well with the study of maps that the second graders were doing in social studies. In addition, she said it is "wonderful and great" to have students of different grades work together.

"Our second-graders often go down to the kindergarten classes where they are the oldest," she said.

Working with fifth-graders might give the second-graders insights about being better mentors to the kindergartners, she said.

There were a few logical connections that led the particular classes to combine: Arnott has O'Connor's son, Noah, in her second grade class, and Anastasio has Buff's daughter, Megan.

"Even after their kids are gone from our classes, we'd like to continue this tradition," Arnott said.

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