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.