Our first Family Fun Night Rollerskating Party was a rousing success! Stay tuned for more events coming up this year!
We are having so much fun with your children. How delightful they all are!
The bonds and friendships are getting stronger and a feeling for a classroom community is gradually taking place. The children are learning more and more how to help each other and what it means to be a good friend.We are practicing using words to express our feelings and our needs, which is modeled by the teachers in the classroom.
Children receive their guidance and impulses for their actions, their play, and their behavior from the adult world. In going about their work teachers are aware of every single child in their care.The children are left free to imitate. If the adult activity around them is sufficiently broad and it is repeated often enough, all children will find what they are unconsciously seeking for the stages of their development, in relation to their own imitative capacity.
In the time before " Hallow's eve" we were busy having fun with our pumpkin, ghost, and witch circle, which included several different songs and movement around the topic and we played the "pumpkin patch" game.
Your little ones enjoyed making their pumpkin necklaces and helped carve out the classroom Jack o'lantern, which sat with a broad grin and a tealight on our table.
Because the various activities come around every year, the children gradually learn to place them in the context of the year, and as they grow older, they have experience of the same activities, songs, and circle games differently each year. The teachers help the children to develop an increasingly deep and living relationship with the events of the year in many different ways. Observing the seasons and festivals each year offers children a wealth of activities and experiences without the pressure of questions which require reflection or many memories. Young children are simply given the opportunity to feel the meaning which lies in doing things. This impresses itself deeply on the life and growth forces of young children.
Great importance is attached to the establishment of a happy, normal creative atmosphere in which, unknown to the children, the seeds of reverence and gratitude are being sown.
And speaking of gratitude...we are most grateful to have such wonderful children and their families in our care and community. We appreciate every single one of you!
With much love, Ms. Birte, Ms. Shivani, and Ms. Kalin
October has been a busy month for the first grade. This month we continued to work on our letters, this time, J, K, and L. The children heard a story with each letter and drew that letter in their main lesson book as well as a picture from the story. Before I read each story, I wrote every word from the story that started with the letter we were studying that day. on the chalk board. As I read the story, when we came upon that word, I would point it out to the children. This way they would begin to see the words for sight recognition and we would sound out the word too. The children really enjoyed finding their own words that started with the particular letter we were studying. They were very good at this and would come up with many words for each letter.
Our next three week main lesson block was Math. The children were very excited to be doing Math and loved the story about the four gnomes that work for the King. Each gnome has a name: Plus, Minus, Times and Divide. In the story, the gnomes work gathering gems from the caves and then the king distributes them to whoever needs them. Plus likes to gather many gems and always has many. Minus has holes in his pockets and loses them a lot. Times likes to gather many gems and they just keep on multiplying them and Divide likes to separate them and evenly hand them out. We worked on drawing each gnome and on their hat they received a symbol so that they could tell them apart, as the hats were the same color. The children learned the symbols and we did a story for each of the first two processes of plus and minus. We enjoyed putting the math problems on the board and them seeing what the answer was. Each child got to pick the numbers we would use in the problems and became fluid in plus and minus. We also used a 100 count chart and I would ask the children to find numbers on the chart and when they did they could put a gem on it. The children used their tracking skills to find the numbers and sight recognition when I wrote the number on the board and they would have to find them.
In painting we are working on using Vermilion, Golden Yellow and Lemon Yellow. Painting is every Monday and each lesson helps the children begin to be able to use the colors in a specific way. Sometimes Golden Yellow and Vermilion will work together and other times we are trying to have all three colors do certain patterns on the pages.
We finished reading Charlotte's Web and started a story called Johnny Chuck as well as The 7 Year Wonder Book. Johnny Chuck is a story about a woodchuck that gives away his home to a skunk and decides to see the wide world. He has many adventures and eventually finds a girl woodchuck to settle down with. The 7 Year Wonder Book is about a little girl who lives with her Mother. The little girl has a book that she lays out at night and the next morning there is a poem or verse about what what happened to her the day before or about a story that her Mother might have told her. It mixes fantasy with the real life adventures that the little girl has.
The children are almost finished with their knitting needles in Handwork. They have rubbed the needles on the concrete to make a pointed edge on one end and are sanding them smooth with sandpaper and gluing a round ball at the end. The only thing left to do is to polish them with beeswax. After this, we will begin to learn to knit!
The children have French and Gardening with Ms Jessica. They love to show me the carrots they have planted. I believe there are apple seeds out in the garden too! Ms. Carmen teaches Spanish; I have heard them singing the song from Spanish class and they are learning about themselves with Ms. Natalie in Meditation class. Next month, I will be starting the pentatonic recorder with the children. Every month we have a special cooking class with Ms. Stephanie Turillo Sherburne Lallo (Marielle's mom). This month she made the most delicious pumpkin bars. If you would like the recipe, please feel free to ask me and I will send it to you. It was gluten free and vegan. We also have Garrett Dawson(Elijah's dad), who is a musician and will be coming in to our class to do music once a month. Thank you so much to our parent volunteers for enriching our class!
On Fridays we have Forest Friday and go to many interesting parks for an immersion in nature studies. This month we went to Red Bug Slough where the children walked the trails and we played a game called fox walk. The children had to be very quiet and try to walk past another child that was blindfolded. The blindfolded child had to use their sense of hearing to try to catch the children quietly moving past them. This was fun but also taught the children about moving respectfully and quietly through the woods so that they might observe the creatures in the park. Robinson Preserve was next, where the children helped plant 226 trees. This taught the children about why the trees were needed and to give back to our community and parks. We went to Oscar Scherer and spent a lot of time observing plant life and the flow of water from a bridge on one of the trails. We walked for a long time and the children really enjoyed finding nature treasures. This was designed for the children to be able to relax and really observe what is around them. The last park this month was Crowley Nature Preserve. This is a very quiet and wooded area that the children could explore. We had a talk about shelter building and why we make shelters and some of the reasons why a person or animal might climb trees. The children enjoyed answering the questions and coming up with their own reasons why a person would build a shelter or climb a tree. Having a home is a basic need for all humans and the children were able to build their own shelter and learned how to work together to gather the palm fronds and talk about how they would arrange them. It was a real team effort! They also had a talk from Dixie, who works at the Crowley Nature Preserve. She spoke to the children about Crowley and what would be some of the natural hazards to look out for. At every park we visit we bring along our Science books. At the end of the day, the children are asked to draw what was important to them about the day or what they learned.
We had three birthday celebrations this month, they were Aiden and Elijah and Rowan who all turned 7. Congratulations!
The 1st grade update wouldn't be complete with mentioning our new friend who has come to live in the flower box outside of our window in the class. The children have named him or her Toadie. He/she is a tree frog that the children have been following everyday. Usually he/she is sleeping or dozing when we have class. Sometimes between the window and the flower box or in the dirt of the flower box. If you pull away the curtain from inside the classroom you will see Toadie and it's as if he lives in a terrarium.
Til next month, best wishes, Ms Laura
The second graders have been very busy learning new skills each day. They have heard contrasting stories about the good deeds of the saints and the trickery of many sneaky animals through fables stories. They draw beautiful pictures in their books, then copy from the board, part of the story, taking care to print the letter forms correctly. We then read their books together, each day.
We are also working with numbers, through skip counting, number games and simple word problems. They are beginning to learn times tables through rhythmic movements, jumping, hopping, clapping, all helping with their memory development.
Form drawing this year is mostly running and mirroring forms, some simple, some more difficult. Using line and color, block and stick crayons, developing a consciousness of space, as well as beauty and reverence for the process. The children are asked to stand and use large sheets of paper to enhance their experience this year.
We paint once a week, continuing with color experience, mostly formless. The colors the children use this year are bold and they have enjoyed mixing them and seeing the contrast in their paintings, from wet, to the changes when dry.
We will begin learning to play pentatonic flutes in January and so the children are busy knitting flute cases, adding purling details, and are looking forward to dyeing them as they all finish.
The second graders, as they listen to stories of good and evil, are becoming much more aware of the good and evil that surrounds them in the world and are at the beginning of nurturing or fighting those forces within themselves. This can create many social conflicts within the classroom as well as on the playground. The children are trying on fighting for the good and tasting the not so good, each day, sometimes switching roles many times within the day. Although this is normal development for seven and eight year olds, it can lead to hurt feelings and tears. The feeling of “apartness”, the tendency to squabble or feel persecuted by “ everybody”, bereft of friends. Difficult as in can be, the curriculum very much supports these struggles for a healthy development towards the building the confidence they will need as they grow. ~Mrs McMillan
The third graders have been expressing their interests in topics such as science and history, and the curriculum has been tailored to meet these interests. We have studied some of history's great scientists and inventors such as Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and the Wright Brothers, amongst others. The students have also practiced their own experiments with magnets and imagined their own contributions to the sciences through creative experiments. We have practiced finding the main idea in passages, short and long, and they have been very successful in discovering the main thrust of stories such as David and Goliath. They have used art and games to build their spelling skills and are expanding their expertise in skip-counting and other basic math skills. It has been a real joy to see how they express themselves through art and seeing them work together to become a team in learning. ~Mr Geoff
Lightheartedness, positivity and facing growing edges sum up the month of October for these powerful children.
Our daily study of Spelling has continued, with our focus being on patterns of a_e, u_e, o_e, u_e, _le, _ve, i_e, consonant digraphs, r-controlled vowels, y, and finally a list of the most commonly used and misspelled words. With a little block of practice each day, children are reviewing and learning new spelling patterns.
We concluded our first block of Botany studying more in depth pollen, the tulip, seeds and cotyledons, and the rose family. Alongside these studies, we also finished reading aloud John Muir: My Life with Nature, taking in the flavor of relationships Muir creates with plants and animals alike. We heard more details of his walking journey from Indiana to Cedar Keys, Florida before learning from some of his favorite animal encounters in California and Alaska. John Muir traveled with little but gained much with an open heart and a focused mind, sharing of his deep sympathy for all his fellow mortals. We learned of Muir’s dedication to protecting these fellow mortals, noting that it was his heart’s calling to write books and articles to help the American people learn to love and protect their wonderful natural heritage. The children learned of his struggles with public speaking, but his will to be the voice for the trees, animals, and plants whom he loved lifted him to spread his message to people from coast to coast. He had no interest in fame or material wealth, only for people to be nourished from wild nature. Muir’s stories of listening to his intuition in many encounters in the natural world and the outcomes were taken in as well by the children. “The sun shines not on us, but in us. The rivers flow not past but through us. This whole world is our home and everything is our kin.” We strive to see our kin as we walk amongst them on Forest Fridays, opening our eyes and tuning into the mysteries and surprises that nature has for us. From our Botany and teachings of John Muir, the class became inspired to plan a camping trip in the spring, so that we too may go closer to nature, and “learn her secret ways”.
And thus we turned our attention to our first Mathematics block of the year. After practicing and reinforcing double and triple digit multiplication, long division, divisibility rules, place value, and equivalent fractions, the children began their journey into decimals. We noted that the word decimal comes from the Latin word Decem, which means ten. A natural beginning was to review our money system and write the value of coins in words, fractions, and decimals. Students reviewed place value through millions and then learned place values through the thousandths. Reading and writing decimals, as well as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing decimals made up a good portion of our block. Expressing decimals as fractions and fractions as decimals helped students reinforce and expand on the fractions block of last year. Children recorded lessons in their Main Lesson Books and utilized their graph notebook for practicing extra problems. This fall consisted of a great deal of collaboration. At any given moment, one might have seen a student helping another with long division and then get a lesson on how to divide with decimals from the very person they helped! These children treat each other with great respect and want each other to master these skills and succeed. Each student was asked on numerous occasions to assist others with a skill they had just mastered, thus having opportunities to lead and teach as well as receive lessons from each other. As we turn our attention toward North American Geography, we will continue to practice the aforementioned skills several times a week along with a renewed commitment to adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing mentally through the use of composing and decomposing numbers.
We have continued to utilize our ‘Acorn’ as a means of organizing ourselves as a class community. Our Forest Fridays follow the rhythm of the day as taught to us by the sun, earth, plants and animals. Each student has opportunity to lead or help decide on portions of the day. The students can count on this flow as we continue to learn and practice tools for increasing our awareness of our surroundings and how to move through them harmoniously.
I have the privilege of teaching the class music block this year. Teaming up with Mr. Eric and Woodworking class, the children put together a DIY cajon, a South American instrument made of wood and some snare wire. Children have designed their own cajons, Mr. Eric has cut the pieces, and all will soon begin gluing the pieces together. Then, each child will have a chair and percussion instrument for music class! In the meantime, we have dedicated ourselves to learning a handful of songs of various genres and time periods. There has been equal emphasis placed on singing, deciding as a group the best ways to support the music rhythmically based on the instruments being played, and teachings on music theory and songwriting. Once our cajons are ready, we will continue building our song repertoire as well as give more attention to learning rhythms in our percussion ensemble. Many Thanks, Mr. Jon
Our oldest students remain as exuberant as ever! Active and engaged, they have undertaken quite a few projects this month:
First, combining their passion for building and engineering, several of our students created a cardboard canoe regatta team, to compete in the annual race at a nearby spring. The manner in which they participated exemplified their capacities for principles of physics, as well as their confidence in their creative thinking. Prior to beginning, they collaborated on the design, with all members of the team making valuable contributions. Then they set to work, having been given 3 hours to build their vessel. As they worked, they soon realized their boat looked very different from the others in this decidedly adult skewed competition. Undeterred, they continued. Once completed, the heats began, and to their surprise and delight, the boat not only didn’t take in any water, but was fast and very stable. They went on to take all, their very first time out, thanks to their efficient design and swift paddlers, Giada and Owen. Congratulations to them, as well as their other teammates, Viveka and Ava. Endless gratitude to the parents, siblings, and friends who came out to assist and support them!
Service projects also kept our class busy this month. They contributed to the great Buttonwood planting at Robinson Preserve on our service based Forest Friday, as well as took on the repair and eventual replacement of our garden fence. These types of tasks activate their will forces in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling; they also have the opportunity to look outside themselves, shifting their focus to others, their needs, and how they are capable of meeting those needs.
Our class also began our partnership with Mote Marine Aquarium, with a lab session day on Ocean Acidification, in conjunction with their chemistry studies. They tested the ph of various liquids and learned more about the effect of CO2 on our oceans, bringing consciousness to the impact it has on our marine environment.
During our main lesson time we concluded our Middle Ages block with a trip to the oldest cathedral in the area, Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Tampa. A stunning building with century old, highly detailed, stained glass, the students were able to observe the architecture as well as learn about the patience and dedication required in the development of a structure of this magnificence, comparing pictures of the original building with various stages of its construction and the finished building.
We continued our immense amount of math review in preparation of algebra, which was introduced in the later in the month. Word problems, measurement, percentages and business math were all given plenty of recall time, especially given that we have new class members for whom it is an introduction. Seasoned students find familiarity and renewed confidence as we recall these various concepts.
Algebra was introduced in the gentlest of capacities; prior to this, the mere mention of the word elicited fearful reactions. In order to display that it isn’t actually scary, they were re-introduced to the equation. This was met with much protest as they had been doing this since first grade! How can this be algebra?? Then they were able to see other equations such as ____ + 5 =10. Oh that is easy they said, it’s 5, we have been doing this since 2nd grade! Yes, exactly! You have been, but how have you been doing it? Thus algebra is simply bring into consciousness what they have been doing it all along! Now suddenly former nearly math phobic students are ASKING to do math! So far we have covered algebraic problems including addition, subtraction, and multiplication, and no one has cried! Our gentle continuation of algebra, in all four operations, will continue in the coming months.
Next month creative writing will be introduced, and will come in the form of writing exercises, conscious word choice activities and poetry, yet our goal for this block is much deeper than just producing more precise writers. For a student of this age, adolescent or nearly adolescent, there is a rich yet chaotic emotional life that can now be transformed into feelings, (which can be more manageable) that when communicated can evoke the same feeling in others upon reading. In this way they can find balance, along with perspective in their relationship with the world around them. With gratitude, Ms Erin