Saturday, December 23, 2017

Happy Holidays from River Class

(Slideshow photos by Jeannine and Ruth)

River Class has enjoyed a fun-filled, exciting December, packed with a variety of holiday activities. Our most recent design and engineering endeavor involved making frames. Students designed their frames on graph paper before measuring and sawing their wood pieces. They learned how to saw safely and efficiently, using a handsaw and wooden block. Their frames evolved into lanterns, picture frames, holiday decorations, and more.

We invited parents to come and share their holiday traditions with us. Traditions included holiday stories, traditions around food, holiday crafts, holiday songs and games, and traditions from other countries. We want to take this opportunity to thank those parents for sharing their time and traditions with us.

We wish you all a peaceful and relaxing holiday and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy our Birds, Math, and Thanksgiving video!

Birds with Mark Hopey

Recently, River Class students have enjoyed a number of exciting activities including an afternoon with Mark Hopey, a bird expert who shared lots of fun, exciting facts about birds in North Carolina. We've dissected owl pellets, we've made clay owls, so now it was time to learn some more facts about them and Mark was able to give us lots of good information about owls in NC.

After learning some facts and how to imitate owl sounds it was time to venture outdoors. We stopped to fill up our bird feeder and Mark presented us with a hummingbird feeder for us to fill up with sugar water and hang out to observe. Our next outside stop was to see Gordo, the African collared dove. Then we hopped over to the soccer field to see a pigeon and learn some interesting facts about these amazing birds including how the pigeon named Cher Ami was a World War I hero.

It was turkey hunting next. (Mark had hidden a turkey in the woods for the children to find.) We quietly approached and there were excited cries when the River students spotted the turkey. Time for some turkey facts followed by a fun story by Mo Willems to end.

For more information about Mark's wonderful organization please click here:

Math Morning

Each year, just before Thanksgiving, Lower Schoolers enjoy a Math Morning. This involves picking 3 math choices from a comprehensive list. Choices included Dash and Dot Robots, Coding, Dominoes, Tangram Art, How Big is a Whale, Game of Set, Math Apps, and Cooking with Math. The morning was a great success and our beloved Headteacher, Lisa, wore one of her famous math t-shirts. Ask your child which math sessions they attended. If they've forgotten, it's on their name tag.

Thanksgiving Celebration

One of our favorite times of year has to be our Thanksgiving celebration on the half day before Thanksgiving. Each class contributes a food item. Forest provided apple cider, Mountain served fresh fruit, Sky baked a variety of tasty breads, and River gave out popcorn. River's morning began in a very fun way. Ruth's son Mac, a CFS alumnus, entertained us with his banjo playing. Needless to say, we found ourselves dancing and clapping to the rhythmic sounds. We then took turns to prepare the popcorn. It was then time to gather for our Meeting for Worship with the rest of the Lower School. Students and teachers enjoyed this beautiful time together gathered around the crackling fire at the Stone Circle. The silence was broken and we then lined up for the delicious Thanksgiving snack.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Owl Pottery


Who is making that sound?

Recently in art class River and Sky Class students have been learning how to make clay owls as a part of opening up the “Ceramics Center.” Students learned techniques such as using scoring and slip to attach two pieces of clay together. They also learned how to mold clay to make the shape they desired and how to incise designs into the clay. After the clay pieces dried, they were fired in the kiln. Then the students painted the clay pieces with tempera paint and washed the paint away to create a stained look. Many students took the opportunity to mix paint so that they could create their own unique colors to use when painting their owls. This connected back to the lesson they did earlier in the month, using primary colors to make secondary colors. Look for them on display in the Lower School.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Our First Birthday Party

River Class students enjoy 3 birthday celebrations per year. These celebrations usually honor 10 students at a time. This way, every child in River Class gets to be celebrated. At our first birthday celebration children enjoyed fun, food, and extra outside time. We greatly appreciate our celebrants' parents for making this party possible!
(Photography by Katy Fodchuk)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween Festivities

Halloween celebrations took place yesterday in Lower School and River Class. The children began the holiday fun in the morning with a hayride, which passed by Upper School and a field where horses greeted us. We enjoyed a fun spin around the soccer field!

At lunchtime, children changed into costumes and had a fun dressed-up recess. The bell rang and the parade began at 1 pm. Children, parents, and teachers paraded through Middle School followed by Upper School. They were greeted by an eager audience.

River students came back to the classroom and were read to by parent volunteers while the teachers prepared for the Halloween play, Are you my Father?/Eres tu mi papa?  Following the fun play, the children returned to the classroom for a Halloween party. 

We would like to say a big "Thank you!" to all our wonderful parent volunteers for making this day possible. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Probability - Hop to the Pond

S'math is a combination of science and math. Our most recent S'math activity was Hop to the Pond, a game designed to get children thinking about probability. We played two versions of the game. In Hop to the Pond with 6 Frogs, we used a game board with space for 6 frogs, which are numbered 1 through 6. Students working in pairs took turns rolling a die. Whatever number came up, that frog moved a space. When a frog moved 8 spaces, it reached the pond and got to hop in. Then all the frogs went back to the beginning for another game. As a frog won, students reported it by adding an X above the frog’s number on a graph we created on the whiteboard.

Students then played the game using 12 frogs and 2 dice. At the end of both sessions, the children were able to see the difference in the two bar graphs, which were created from the children's results. It was visually evident that the graph of the first game with 6 frogs was more even than the second graph. We ended our lesson on probability with the children answering questions and analyzing their results.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Straw Design Challenge

River students had fun tackling another design and engineering challenge using 20 straws and 2 feet of tape. The challenge was to make an aesthetically-pleasing, free-standing structure. We discussed the different stages of the design process: ASK, IMAGINE, PLAN, CREATE, IMPROVE. We also talked about working within certain constraints. This included time, materials, and the type of structure they were expected to build.

Children worked in teams of three and were encouraged to cooperate, learn from other groups, learn from each other, and take turns in implementing their ideas. The design took place over two sessions, each ending with the children sharing information first about their design plans and subsequently about their creations.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Building and Planting

Design and engineering students have fun navigating the Marshmallow Challenge, created by Peter Skillman. The challenge was to make a free-standing tower which would support one large marshmallow, using a limited supply of spaghetti, tape, and mini marshmallows. Initially, students worked in teams to brainstorm, plan, design, create, and modify their structures. Students then tried the challenge individually.  We base our design thinking process on the Engineering is Elementary model developed by the Museum of Science, Boston. 

We also had fun planting lettuce in groups. First, we raked and pulled out any weeds. Then we dug holes and carefully planted our seedlings. We then watered our garden square. We're looking forward to having a salad bar in a few weeks' time.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Owl Pellet Study

Studying and dissecting owl pellets is a perfect way to understand the nature of food chains and to demonstrate the role of predators in the ecosystem. River Class students had first-hand experience of the use of dissection tools and techniques and were introduced to a bone chart as a means of identification. We were very excited to use our brand-new stereomicroscopes (bought with River parents' donations last year). These powerful instruments gave the children an opportunity to see their findings in great detail.

Monday, September 18, 2017

All About Snails

Snails in their habitats.
The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman

River Class students have been having fun learning all about snails. River teachers read both non-fiction and fiction books to teach the children snail facts and to show them visuals to help them with their artwork. Students created both snail habitats and snails.

River students are learning how to do research by using books,, and practicing quiet observation.

Snail-Snaily-Snails by Bonnie Bader
We also observed our tiny living snails using a document camera.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Field Day Fun!

Field Day was fun for everyone! Activities including face painting, tattoos, a scavenger hunt, sidewalk chalk, a balloon launch, bubbles, hula hooping, timed activities, and more.

We want to say a big THANK YOU! to all of our wonderful volunteers. We couldn't have done it without you. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Field Day Coming Soon - Volunteers Needed

Field Day takes place next Friday, September 1st from 10:30 to noon. We would love volunteers to help with face painting, the balloon launch, refreshments, and more.  

Our First Full Day!

Today, our first full school day, we've been focusing on snails. Children have worked on completing their paper snails for our River Class bulletin board. Come check it out!

Kathy, our resource teacher, read The Biggest House in the World by Leo Leonni.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Overday Fun

What a terrific Overday we had this year! What is an Overday? Well, it's a day when we stay at school past the regular end time and have nothing but fun fun fun! We had a great time watching Wall-E in both River and Sky classes, mixing up River and Sky students to make it a little bit different and special. Sleeping bags, pillows, and stuffed animals kept us warm, comfy, and cozy. We had a yummy snack al fresco followed by some River/Sky playtime. We had our Top Chi pizza for dinner (again outside) and then prepared for our talent show. We were amazed by the variety of talent in River Class. Acts included expert jump roping, martial arts, a play, jokes, and basketball comedy. Our evening ended with a campfire, s'mores, and a time of reflection.

Our Third and Final Birthday Party

Overday Slideshow - Photography by Katy Fodchuk

River Class students recently enjoyed their third and final birthday celebration. This was made possible by all of our parents' contributions of food, time, and expertise. Thank you all so much! The weather also cooperated! It was a fun, beautiful afternoon!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Gordo Visits River Class

River Class recently enjoyed a second visit from Mark Hopey, a bird expert, and director of the nonprofit Southern Appalachian Raptor Research, who previously came to talk to River Class around Thanksgiving with a focus on, you guessed it, the turkey!  This time Mark brought with him an African Collared Dove named Gordo for the River children to meet and pet. We learned lots of interesting facts about birds including their cleanliness habits. They are, apparently, very clean animals! Birds also need shelter, food, water, clean air, and a safe place to nest. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

S'math in River

Magnetic Fun

 River Class students enjoyed a S'math lesson taken from AIMS Education Foundation and led by our shared resource teacher, Joan. Students compared the magnetic strength of a single magnet with two magnets put together to make a single unit. Students worked in cooperative learning groups to complete the exercise. Students were asked to estimate and then record their results.

Students discovered that a magnet made up of two single units is indeed stronger than a single magnet but not as strong as the combined strength of two magnets tested separately.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Dance with Annie

Dance begins each week with a story that inspires part of the lesson that follows. Children put ideas in the dance mailbox and their enthusiasm shapes the flow of the experiences that follow. This year we did an expansive study of our bodies and shapes that are wide, narrow, curved, twisted, symmetrical and asymmetrical. We traveled about the room and figured out how to control our energy in a still shape. The children were excited about shaping together with a partner and creating "shape fences" that progressed around the room as a whole group. Like puzzle pieces that fit together, they delighted in creating designs with their partners. When we started to read the Pilobolus Alphabet book they decided we needed to create letters with our bodies and were fascinated by the idea of embodying a letter shape. Their sense of where they were in space and where they were in relation to the shape of a partner was amazing!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spirit Week

River students enjoy Pajama and/or Crazy Hat and Hair Day!

 Thanks to our fourth years for planning an exciting week! Here's a recap of each day:
Monday: Movie Monday and Capture the Flag
Tuesday: Pajama and/or Crazy Hat and Hair Day
Wednesday: World Water Day
Thursday: Dress Up Day
Friday: Ice Cream or Sorbet Day

Friday, March 17, 2017

Planting Lettuce

River students take turns to plant lettuce seeds. We'll watch them germinate in the classroom.  Students will help plant them in our garden square. We'll celebrate with a lovely salad bar in a few weeks' time.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

North Carolina Children's Book Award Update

A visual reminder of the ten nominated books

Since we returned from Winter Break, Natalie, our Lower School librarian, has been reading the picture books nominated for the North Carolina Children's Book Award to River Class. These books were chosen by children all across North Carolina, and students across the state are reading these books in order to select this year's award winner.

Be sure to follow the rules!

Last week, River Class students participated in the voting process by choosing their favorites! These votes will join thousands of others - the winning book will be revealed in April. 

Natalie demonstrates how to use the ipad voting system

River students took turns to vote (see below).

Voting is fun and easy using the ipad!

Celebrating with popcorn

River students were presented with a fun voting sticker and celebratory popcorn! 

You can read more about the book award on the library blog here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Day on the 100th Day of School

River Class celebrated the 100th Day of School on Valentine's Day. We had so much fun! Children shared their 100 collections with each other and participated in a variety of 100th Day and Valentine's Day activities. Please check out the above slideshow for more information.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Focus on Specials - Dance

Enjoy the Video!

The introduction to dance with River and Sky included a discussion and sharing of Dance by Bill T. Jones and Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees. We began to explore the magic of dance with call and response and a chant in the multi. The children were excited about moving together in new groups. We are off to a joyous start exploring personal space and general space as a beginning!

In dance, children explore movement as a language and as a way to sense their place in space. Children cannot read, talk, touch, draw, or write without moving. We do warm-ups that are teacher directed and where children make their own choices. Poetry, props, imagery, traveling through space, connecting, laughing, stretching our bodies and igniting our imaginations are integral to each experience. Sky and River teachers come and participate with children so we can weave connections between what is explored in the classroom with what is explored in the dance space. There is a dance mailbox in every classroom where children write notes about ideas for dances and future classes. This year we will be moving inspired by the LS theme of water and doing a visual art integration with Natasha, our LS art teacher.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Focus on Specials - Art

Collage Hearts

River and Sky students were introduced to the collage center in art class recently. The students learned how to cut out a heart shape on a folded piece of paper and used this as the base paper for their collage. They were asked to pick a theme for their collage and utilize all the materials and tools in the collage center such as paper edger scissors and glue to create the hearts that you see here. 

We also looked at a collage/painting by the contemporary artist, Kerry James Marshall, and discussed how he used collage in his painting. 

Can you figure out what the theme is for each heart?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Last Year's 100th Day Celebration

What a fabulous, fun-filled day we had on Friday. We celebrated the eve of our 100th Day of School. Activities included sharing our collections with one another and Sky Class, art activities, dance, and participation in outside fun; 100th Day collections were wonderfully varied and creative. 

Focus on Specials - Music

In music class, River students have been exploring rhythm and melody through singing, movement, and instruments. We’ve learned a number of songs that use the pentatonic (5-note) scale that we can accompany with xylophones and rhythm instruments. Students have even been able to figure out how to play the melodies of simple tunes such as “Cobbler, Cobbler” and “Hey, Lolly” all by themselves! We’re challenging ourselves to sing songs while playing different patterns on our instruments or bodies, an important musical skill especially for our budding singer/songwriters. Movement games such as “Head and Shoulders, Baby,” “Jump Jim Joe,” and freeze dance develop rhythm and listening skills through high-energy fun! Finally, we’ve learned several songs that develop vocal skills while expressing our Friends School values, such as “Walk a Mile,” “This Little Light of Mine,” “What a Wonderful World,” “I Will Be Your Friend,” and more.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Lower School PE classes have been a whirlwind of excited, engaged, and energetic students. They started the year with Dave doing a variety of activities to encourage movement and cooperation. We continue to work on listening and following directions and being able to safely move through personal and general space. Think chase and evade games involving “tails," dodgeballs, and even hula hoops. Throwing and catching, changing direction and striking have all been incorporated into individual and group challenges such as filling buckets, racing around objects and relays. Currently, the LS classes are enjoying some parachute activities like “cat and mouse," sharks and lifeguards, the moving turtle, and chute ball. Parachute games are not just fun and hilarious for all ages - they build upper body strength and endurance while improving perceptual, cognitive, motor, and social skills. Coming soon….jump rope classes!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


In Spanish classes this month, students are learning the names of shapes, types of lines, and reviewing color and number words. We are also working on using size adjectives to describe the shapes. Students participate in a variety of activities to introduce and practice both listening and speaking the new vocabulary including reading books about shapes, playing games that elicit student responses, and following directions in the target language to complete short drawing lessons. We have also begun discussing the five senses and learning vocabulary for that unit as well. We continue to practice our numbers, counting by tens, colors, days of the week, months, common greetings, and the alphabet. For more information check out our Spanish program on the website: Spanish

Following directions 
A book about shapes (left) and one to help with counting

Friday, January 6, 2017

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dee reads Martin Luther King Jr. Day by Linda Lowery in readiness for our celebration on Monday, January 16th. River students will also be watching The Boy King, a drama focusing on young Martin Luther King Jr.'s early encounters with prejudice and how the love and courage of his family moved him to speak out against segregation.

About This Book

Briefly recounts the life of the black minister who devoted his life to civil rights and discusses the national holiday in his name: Martin Luther King Day celebrated on the third Monday of every January. (Summary from

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Our Ten Nominated Books - Take a Look!

Since we returned from Winter Break, Natalie has been reading the picture books nominated for the North Carolina Children's Book Award to River Class. These books were chosen by children all across North Carolina, and students across the state are reading these books in order to select this year's award winner. Next Tuesday, River Class students will participate in the voting process by choosing their favorites! These votes will join thousands of others - the winning book will be revealed in April. You can read more about the book award on the library blog here.

First Book - Nerdy Birdy

Natalie reads Nerdy Birdy

Nerdy Birdy likes reading, video games, and reading about video games, which immediately disqualifies him for membership in the cool crowd.

One thing is clear: being a nerdy birdy is a lonely lifestyle.

When he's at his lowest point, Nerdy Birdy meets a flock just like him. He has friends and discovers that there are far more nerdy birdies than cool birdies in the sky.

Second Book - The Quickest Kid in Clarksville

Natalie reads The Quickest Kid in Clarksville

It's the day before the big parade. Alta can think about only one thing: Wilma Rudolph, three-time Olympic gold medalist. She'll be riding on a float tomorrow. See, Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like Wilma once was. It doesn't matter that Alta's shoes have holes, because Wilma came from hard times, too. But what happens when a new girl with shiny new shoes comes along and challenges Alta to a race? Will she still be the quickest kid?

Third Book - I'm Trying to Love Spiders

I'm Trying to Love Spiders - By Bethany Barton

I’m Trying to Love Spiders will help you see these amazing arachnids in a whole new light, from their awesomely excessive eight eyes, to the seventy-five pounds of bugs a spider can eat in a single year! And you’re sure to feel better knowing you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being fatally bit by a spider. Comforting, right? No? Either way, there’s heaps more information in here to help you forget your fears . . . or at least laugh a lot!

Fourth Book - Wolfie the Bunny

Natalie reads Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman

The Bunny family has adopted a wolf son, and daughter Dot is the only one who realizes Wolfie can--and might--eat them all up! Dot tries to get through to her parents, but they are too smitten to listen. A new brother takes getting used to, and when (in a twist of fate) it's Wolfie who's threatened, can Dot save the day?

Fifth Book - A Boy and a Jaguar

A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz

Alan loves animals, but the great cat house at the Bronx Zoo makes him sad. Why are they all alone in empty cages? Are they being punished? More than anything, he wants to be their champion—their voice—but he stutters uncontrollably.

Sixth Book - Mother Bruce

Bruce the bear likes to keep to himself. That, and eat eggs. But when his hard-boiled goose eggs turn out to be real, live goslings, he starts to lose his appetite. And even worse, the goslings are convinced he's their mother. Bruce tries to get the geese to go south, but he can't seem to rid himself of his new companions. What's a bear to do?

Seventh Book - Glow

Why be afraid of the dark when there is so much to see? Whether it’s used to hunt, hide, find a friend, or escape an enemy, bioluminescence—the ability to glow—is a unique adaptation in nature. In this fun and fascinating nonfiction picture book, join world-renowned photographers and biologists on their close encounters with the curious creatures that make their own light. Author’s note and bibliography included.

Eight Book - Finding Winnie

In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian on his way to tend horses in World War I, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and he took the bear to war. Harry Colebourn's real-life great-granddaughter tells the true story of a remarkable friendship and an even more remarkable journey--from the fields of Canada to a convoy across the ocean to an army base in England...and finally to the London Zoo, where Winnie made another new friend: a real boy named Christopher Robin. Based on the 2016 Caldecott Medal winner, Finding Winnie is the remarkable true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh.

Ninth Book - I Yam a Donkey

Even frustrated grammarians will giggle at the who’s-on-first routine that begins with a donkey’s excited announcement, “I yam a donkey!” Unfortunately the donkey’s audience happens to be a yam, and one who is particular about sloppy pronunciation and poor grammar. An escalating series of misunderstandings leaves the yam furious and the clueless donkey bewildered by the yam’s growing (and amusing) frustration. The yam finally gets his point across, but regrettably, he’s made the situation a little bit too clear . . . and the story ends with a dark and outrageously funny twist.

Tenth Book - Henri's Scissors

In a small weaving town in France, a young boy named Henri-Emile Matisse drew pictures everywhere, and when he grew up, he moved to Paris and became a famous artist who created paintings that were adored around the world. But late in life a serious illness confined him to a wheelchair, and amazingly, it was from there that he created among his most beloved works—enormous and breathtaking paper cutouts.

*All italicized book descriptions are from Amazon.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year!

Natalie introduces the North Carolina Children's Book Award process

Natalie, our Lower School librarian, came to River Class today to introduce the ten nominated books for the North Carolina Children's Book Award.  Natalie will be coming to River on Tuesdays and Thursdays to read the 10 picture books, which were chosen as entries last year by students all across North Carolina. River students will also have an opportunity to pick entries for 2018.

River students hold up the ten nominated picture books