Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fun in River Class

This week's Big Fish

Fun in River Class - a video dedicated to our grandparents and special friends

Thursday, March 20, 2014

River News

This week's Big Fish

A focus on Spanish

Mixing the cornmeal, water, and salt
Using the tortilla press

In Spanish class over the last few weeks students have been working on vocabulary relating to family and culture. Children are making a mini book about their family, which they will be able to share with others. This week the children made tortillas, an activity aiming to bring cultural awareness, highlighting the importance preparing and sharing food plays in a family.

Abby serves the tortillas - yum!
Students have also been learning about cognates and false cognates. (A cognate is when two words sound similar and mean the same thing in two different languages, such as family and familia. False cognates are ones that sound similar and have completely different meanings, such as blanco, which sounds like black but means white.)

Abby has been teaching the children 'brain tricks,' which is a strategy to support memorization of Spanish vocabulary. For example, blanco sounds like black, but means white, so the brain trick is that when you hear blanco you think blank white paper instead of black. Abby has also been teaching River children a chant and movement to help remember how to count by tens in Spanish. 

Abby has been sharing several Spanish books with the children. These have included Fiesta! by Beatriz McConnie Zapater, Fiesta Fiasco by Ann Whitford Paul, Tortuga in Trouble by Ann Whitford Paul, and La Familia de Clifford by Norman Bridwell.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

This week in River Class

This week's Big Fish

 Focus on Art Class

1.  Chalk Pastel Cats (inspired by Paul Klee)

River students began this unit of study looking at the painting titled Cat and Bird by the artist Paul Klee. Then, using black oil pastel and following a line directed drawing lesson, each student drew a cat in a similar style to the cat in the painting. Students also drew a small image in their cat's forehead to let us know what their cat was dreaming about.

In the next class we read the book titled The Cat and the Bird A Children’s Book Inspired by Paul Klee written by GĂ©raldine Elschner and illustrated by Peggy Nille. The story explained why the cat in Paul’s painting was thinking of a bird. Next, the students used chalk pastel to add color to their cat drawings. The final step involved adding whiskers using the black oil pastel and retracing the original oil pastel lines.

2. How to draw a monster adapted from Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists by Carla Sonheim

Begin by drawing an eye anywhere on the page using a black sharpie marker. Now start adding to your drawing to create a monster. Let the monster emerge as you draw. If you feel that you have made a mistake, turn that mistake into a part of your monster. Once you have the outline of your monster body, use an extra fine point sharpie marker to add details to your monster.

3. Upcoming Lower School Art Show

This year's Lower School Art Show will happen in conjunction with Grandparents' and Family Friends' Day on March 28th. Natasha could use some parental help in preparation for this show. She needs 4 parent volunteers to help hang the art show on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 26, starting at 1:00, and 2 or 3 volunteers to help take the show down on Monday afternoon, April 14th starting at 2:00.
Please e-mail Natasha directly at if you are able to help out on either of these days.

Friday, March 7, 2014

This week's River News

This week's Big Fish

Our new project in Design and Engineering: Car Building

Students have been working on their new Design and Engineering project. They are designing and building cars to transport a "passenger" of their choosing. 

The first assignment was to draw a plan for their car. Children had the option of three chassis sizes: small, medium, or large. They made their choices based on the passenger they would be transporting. Passenger choices include Lego people, small stuffed animals, and other small toy animals and people. 

Students were asked to label, color, and write notes about their designs as pictured in the examples above and below. 

The next step was for the children to learn handsaw safety (pictured below left) and how to position their bodies for proper wood sawing. They worked with partners to accomplish their cutting goals. After the chassis sizes were chosen and the drawings completed, students measured, cut, and arranged their chassis parts to be assembled (pictured below right).

Learning handsaw safety
Connecting the chassis parts

Stay tuned for the next steps in our car building process!