Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Holidays from River Class

This week's Big Fish

Kwanzaa Celebration

Dee leads the fourth year students in our Kwanzaa celebration.

Kwanzaa is the Swahili word for "first", and it signifies the first fruits of the harvest. Based on age-old African harvest celebrations, Kwanzaa begins December 26 and ends January 1. This holiday celebrates the harvest and the collective efforts of communities. Dancing traditionally plays a major role in such celebrations.


Former River Class students share about the principles of Kwanzaa.

River students enjoy a shared snack of fruit and nuts with the rest of the Lower School community.

Traditionally, teachers serve the students a snack provided by Lower School families - thank you!

Holiday Interest Groups

Our holiday Interest Groups were a great success! Children enjoyed a variety of activities such as Legos (pictured above).

Bedtime Buddies was a lot of fun. Children made colorful stuffies to keep them company. 

Stuffy Hats and Vests was also a fun option. 

Holiday Cards and Decorations provided the children with the opportunity to make a variety of fun holiday crafts (pictured above and below).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Latest from River Class

This week's Big Fish

Art with Jamie

Jamie, our Middle School art teacher, has been visiting River Class for the past few Mondays to share his artistic gifts with all of the River children. Students have an art lesson in small groups. Children decide what they'd like to be able to draw or improve on. They are grouped according to their preferences. 

The last three weeks children have been drawing dogs, cats, and horses. Jamie demonstrates on the board and also uses technology as a resource in the event that a student wants to try to draw something else. Children have an opportunity to practice their drawing skills during center time on Mondays and sometimes Fridays. We have a variety of drawing books in the classroom to help support students' varying interests. Upcoming groups will include fantasy, people, clothes, birds, vehicles, more animals, and birds. River students have been very excited to work with Jamie! 

A student is practicing drawing horses.

A student is proud of her artistic accomplishments!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Latest from River Class

This week's Big Fish

Design and Engineering

Students are working in pairs to design, build, and test a hand pollinator for a model of a specific flower utilizing the results of tests they conducted to determine which materials were best at picking up and dropping off pollen.

Children are using their knowledge of pollination, materials and their properties, and the Engineering Design Process to design and improve their hand pollinator for their model flower.

Students are engaging in activities where they: 
  • brainstormed ideas for their hand pollinator designs 
  • were asked to consider the design constraints imposed by different model flowers 
  • created and tested their hand pollinator designs
  • analyzed their hand pollinators for strengths and weaknesses based on observations made during testing 
  • imagined ways to improve their designs and implemented some of their improvements
Students are learning that:
  • engineers use a series of steps to find solutions to design problems
  • a human-made design (technology) can help to solve a problem within the natural world
  • a tool designed to solve one specific problem may not be successful in solving another similar problem

Monday Mélange

This week's Monday Mélange was about the Jewish celebration called Hanukkah. A River parent and student (pictured above) shared about the history and traditions of Hanukkah. We learned about the miracle of the oil, the lighting of the Menorah, the symbols on the dreidel, the various spellings of Hanukkah, the direction of Hebrew writing (right to left), and why latkes are eaten during this time of celebration. 

We learned about the Hebrew symbols and meanings.

We feasted on delicious potato latkes.


Dreidel Math

This week's math lesson was focused around the game of Dreidel. Children worked collaboratively in groups to play the game of Dreidel and to record their spins. We learned about the various dreidel symbols of gimel, hay, shin, and nun. Children then had to guess which symbol would appear the most times. 

First, the children played the game in order to become familiar with the various symbols on their dreidels. Secondly, River students began to record their game in their math books by means of a bar graph. The team members of each group worked together to ensure that they all had the same results. We ended the activity by tallying up the results from each group. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

News from River Class

This week's Big Fish

We hope you enjoy our latest video

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

This week in River Class

This week's Big Fish

Art with Natasha

Natasha, our art and Sky Class teacher

Pumpkin Art

River and Sky students completed this lesson over the course of two art classes. In the first class the students learned how to draw a pumpkin using curved lines. We began by looking at a pumpkin and noticing the segments. Once the drawings were complete, the students painted their pumpkins. They had fun mixing the three colors of red, yellow and white to create the many shades of pumpkin colors that you see.

In the second class, the students cut their pumpkins out with scissors and then created the pumpkin faces using primarily black and white paper scraps. They used watered down glue to adhere the face designs to the pumpkins.

Friday, November 8, 2013

This week in River Class

This week's Big Fish

What's new in Design and Engineering?

River and Sky students have been:
  • Making predictions about which materials and properties of materials are good or poor choices for a hand pollinator design.
  • Conducting controlled experiments to observe and describe the efficacy of materials for picking up and depositing "pollen."
  • Analyzing and comparing results of the experiments to inform decisions about their hand pollinator design.

Science concepts taught include:
Different materials have different properties.
Pollination is the reproductive system by which many plants produce new seeds.
Pollination can be accomplished by wind, insects, other animals.
Flowers have specific structures with specific functions. 

Students were able to see which materials picked up and dropped off pollen the best.

They will use this information as they develop their hand pollinators in the next step of this unit.

Materials used in the pollen experiment:

Friday, November 1, 2013

This week in River Class

This week's Big Fish

Check out our latest Halloween video above


We have just finished our first six-week rotation of S’math with the students is Sky and River.  Abby and Tom each did three different activities over the course of three weeks with one class.  Then they switched groups and did similar activities with the other class. 

Tom (Sky Class and S'math teacher)

In Tom’s first activity with Sky Class, each group was given a charge coming up with a name for their group by using the process of consensus.   The second week activity was taking the group hiking on the nature trail that surrounds the school. The second week, the students hiked down the gravel driveway to the entrance of the nature trail.  It was established in 2001 by a group of Upper School students. It is about a mile and a fourth long. It circles around in back of the Klopfer’s land, past the Davis horse farm to the Upper School baseball field and then follows the creek back to Lower School. The students hike the trail once in the fall, again in winter, and finally end with a spring hike.

Cooperation Squares (pictured above)

The final week only one group met for S’math.  This group participated in a physics experiment involving a can of olives.  They first predicted how far a can full of olives would roll when released at the top of an incline plane. Students placed stickers with their name on the floor of the multi to record their predictions. The experiment was done three times. Next, the can was emptied of its juice and the students were given an opportunity to change their predictions and experiments were repeated. Some were surprised that the empty can did not roll as far. Finally, the can was emptied of its olives. After students counted how many olives were in the can, they changed their predictions and the now empty can was released to roll down the inclined plane three times. Students who wished were also allowed to taste the olives at the conclusion of the experiment.

When Tom worked with River Class, rather than deciding on group names, the students created a birthday graph of all the students in their class.  He then went on and did the hike and olive experiment during the next two sessions.

Cooperation Squares (pictured above)

This week the Tuesday and Thursday S’math groups were merged with the half of River and half of Sky on each day. The students participated in an activity called “Cooperation Squares.” Students worked in groups of five to cooperate to put together five squares from pieces of poster board. The challenge was that each student had to try to complete one square while starting with pieces that would not make a square. Squares could only be completed by sharing, yet they were not allowed to talk, take pieces from others, or communicate by gestures. They could only give pieces to others. They had to work hard at this challenge!

This week we formed new S’math groups, two for Tuesday and two for Thursday. Each group is comprised of half River students and half  Sky students. As before, students will work a few weeks with one teacher, and then switch to work with the other teacher.

Abby (Sky Class, Spanish, and S'math teacher)

In Abby’s set of S’math groups with River Class, the first activity focused on probability. The kids played three different games to create, observe, gather and record data. The first game is a frog race game called “Hop to the Pond” where the kids worked with a partner using one die. We discussed the die and how numbers are represented in dots. We made predictions about the frogs that would win before we began the game. After taking a few turns, we discussed changing our predictions based on the new data we had created. Some kids changed their predictions since some of the frogs gained a lead in the race by having their number come up on the die and some chose not to change their predictions. The kids played the game with a partner and recorded the frog winner for each game on a graph on the board. We talked about the results and the probability associated with rolling certain numbers using one die.

For the second session, we used two dice and added six more frogs to the race. The kids made some thoughtful observations and conclusions based on the changes with the probability of the numbers when a second die was added. We recorded the whole group data on a graph and compared it to our first graph with six frogs and noted reasons for the change in frogs that were more likely to win (or lose) in the races.

The third activity for this set of classes was called “Scatter Beans” and we continued to make predictions about probability and added the challenge of mental math calculation through this game. The game consisted of a basket of beans (or pebbles) that have one side colored solid red or labeled with a red star and one side blank. Point values were given to the different bean color options. The students in pairs or trios, dropped the basket three times for each of their turns and had to find the sum and keep a mental running count of their points for all of their three drops on each turn. We again completed a group graph with our results of the points generated on each student’s turn and talked about the chances of possible outcomes for each set of turns.

The kids really enjoyed the games and participated in some very thoughtful and introspective conversations as a result of their engagement in the S’math games.
I am very excited about the experiences and experiments that I have planned for the next set of sessions. We will be focusing on making accurate predictions, the methods and components of conducting experiments and will be using some really fun and neat supplies.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

This week's Big Fish

      This week's Big Fish

Physical Education 

We hope you enjoy the above video about our Physical Education class with Alex and Jonathan. Our Pioneers and Planners are either with Alex or Jonathan to begin with and then switch part way through the year. Physical Education takes place every Thursday afternoon. Children learn a variety of skills including how to throw and catch, how to follow directions, and how to warm up their bodies.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

This week's River News

This week's Big Fish

Design and Engineering Update:

River and Sky students were introduced to the field of agricultural engineering after hearing the story, Mariana Becomes a Butterfly. The book presented several opportunities for students to focus on the role of insects in natural systems. Mariana’s aunt, Tia Leti, an agricultural engineer, shows her niece how hand pollination tools are a good example of a technology that imitates nature, specifically the role of pollinating insects.

The lesson helped students:
·     Recognize that insects are a part of the natural world.
·      Understand that insects can be helpful and harmful.
·      Identify the parts of a natural system of pollination.

Students learned:
·      Pollination is a natural system and that natural systems are made up of parts.
·      If parts of a system are missing, the system doesn’t work.
·      Agricultural engineers design and improve technologies for agriculture.
·      Humans can engineer technologies to manage, replicate, or restore natural systems.

Every student made a model to demonstrate the pollination system. Children cut wood, drilled holes, and glued their pieces to complete the project.