*Fundraising meeting directly after school on Tuesday! Please consider adding your voice to this important work!*
My first two weeks with the grades children have been wonderful. All of the students are eager and enthusiastic to be back at school, and it is such a joy to teach them. My intention is to provide you with a review of our activities twice a month, so you can follow along with what we are studying and learning. Even if you don't yet have children in the grades program, I hope you will read my messages, as they will give you a preview of what your little Chickadees will experience in their future years at Riverwood. Miss Karolina will be sending out a similar message about her 1st/2nd grade class.
Our third graders have begun the year with a four-week Language Arts main lesson block. The literature focus is Hebrew Culture, so they are hearing stories from the first five books of the Bible, the Torah. So far, they have heard the powerful stories of Creation, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and their Expulsion from Eden. The strong messages of God's goodness and unconditional love combined with the importance of obeying authority and the outcome from disobedience resonated deeply with the children. From these stories come their language arts lessons. On the first day of the week, they listen to a new story. The next day, we review the story together to work on memory and comprehension skills. Then, they help write a summary that is carefully copied in to their main lesson books. From the story summaries, they are studying basic sentence structure and practicing reading and spelling skills. What beautiful penmanship they have - thanks to lots of practice with Miss Karolina last year! We are continuing to work on the proper formation of lower and uppercase print letters with cursive writing beginning soon.
To deepen their understanding of the stories, they are creating beautiful crayon and colored pencil illustrations in their main lesson book, and they have also begin to paint The Seven Days of Creation with Miss Karolina. Math practice is also a part of our main lesson time, whether we are in a math block or not. We are focusing on the multiplication tables and building on what they learned in second grade - through skip counting, rote memorization and recitation (4 is 1 x 4, 8 is 2 x 4, 12 is 3 x 4, etc.) and the use of manipulatives. Third grade is the ideal year to master all twelve tables. Daily math practice sheets (30 problems) emphasize the weekly math facts that the children are reviewing and learning.
Our upper graders (4th grade and older) are in their first science main lesson block - Botany. We began with an overview of the archetypal higher, flowering plant and are now progressing from the lower to the higher order of plants, always examining their relationship to the flowering plant. So far, we have studied fungi and algae/seaweed. Observations, drawings, dictations and self-generated writings are guiding us through this block. Weekly spelling lists have been developed from our studies. We also have math practice every day, whether we are in a math block or not. We are reviewing basic fractions skills, the multiplication tables and more complicated mental math problems using all four processes.
I am also teaching Lower (1st - 3rd grade) and Upper Handwork (4th grade and up). We meet twice a week, and the Lower Handwork students have already each made a new set of knitting needles. We started with long dowels which they helped to measure and saw to the correct lengths. Then, each student sanded a pair of dowels to create smooth needles with well-formed points. After finishing them with a beeswax rub, they designed unique, colorful clay balls for the ends. Most have now begun their first project. The new knitters will make a little chicken. The returning students are refreshing their skills by knitting a beanbag cover. The Upper Handwork students are making beanbag covers using double pointed needles. When they are comfortable with these needles, they will then each begin knitting a hat that will involve using four needles with various color changes. During the class, Miss Aja or Miss Karolina read short stories out loud, so the students can focus on their work in a quiet environment. The Lower Handwork class is listening to stories from The Book of Fairy Princes, and the Upper Handwork class has heard several Norwegian Folktales, which remind them of some of the Norse Mythology stories they heard last year.
We have a new class this year - Gym/P.E - it is a mixed-grades class for 1st through 8th graders. The mix of ages and abilities is working well. This class is in addition to their hour-long Yoga class on Thursdays. In this class, we focus on indoor and outdoor cooperative games that build endurance and physical agility. Have you played Four Square lately? It really has a lot of action and opportunities for the children to competitively play together. Unfortunately, the rain washed away our chalk lines, so we have to draw it again!
Until Fiddle class begins in October, I am teaching a combined Form Drawing class for the 3rd graders and older. We are doing a progression of drawings that become more and more challenging, all focused around the circle. Drawing a perfect freehand circle on a large piece of paper isn't that easy and actually requires years of careful, patient practice. The children are discovering on their own that the rest of the drawing doesn't work very well if their initial circle is sloppy or uneven. They are really trying to draw the best circles that they can. Stop in to our classroom (Blue Spruce Room) and take a look at their drawings if you have the chance.
Miss Stazya has begun teaching the children several multi-cultural songs and dances in our weekly mixed-grades Singing class. If you happen to be in the building between 1:45 and 2:35 p.m. on Wednesday afternoons, you will have the opportunity to hear their enthusiastic singing throughout the building.
On Friday afternoons, Aja Bridge is teaching a new Literature class for the 4th graders and older students. The first book they are reading together is titled, The Mysterious Benedict Society. In addition to the work they do in class, they have assigned reading to do at home. Apparently the book is so fascinating that they all quickly finish their homework assignment and want to read ahead.
All in all, we are keeping busy and learning so much together. The next two weeks should prove to be just as enjoyable and knowledge-filled. Thank you for letting me teach your children.