Lower Elementary students who will be bridging to the Upper Unit visited Glen Helen for the day recently and had a great time. The weather was beautifully warm and sunny; we saw the Glen at its spring best.
We were met by the director of the Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center, Michael Blackwell, and Cindy, one of the naturalists. Cindy showed us the lodge and the cafeteria and then took us on a wonderful hike. The students visited the waterfall, the Helen tree, solved puzzles on the trail, visited the famous Yellow Spring, found a secret cave behind a waterfall, and then hiked back to the lodge for lunch.
Lunch was entertaining and tasty as always, with vegetarian and gluten free options. Several students even got to participate by helping out with serving, cleanup and lunchtime activities. After lunch, we toured Sycamore dorm, where McGuffey students stay each year.
This day trip is very helpful in introducing students to Glen Helen and preparing them for our four-day Outdoor School experience next year. Special thanks to Neal Sullivan, our wonderful driver and chaperone.
During the Middle School trip to Chicago, Upper Elementary students enjoyed a special week of their own with the Upper Unit to themselves. This week, their big project was to help to develop the McGuffey Games Curriculum, a collection of educational games that support different curricular goals for each grade band.
UE students playtested several games and filled out reports on what they were like to play and how they could be useful to each subject area. Then they created card games of their own, writing the rules, playtesting their games and asking for feedback, revising the rules, creating a final rules sheet, and designing the cards and the box. After finishing their games they filled out a Game Developer Report about their experience. They are looking forward to sharing their games with the Middle School students. Grade 5 went upstairs each morning for a special math class with Kadriye, exploring new challenges such as the coordinate plane and had a wonderful time. Grade 4 continued to work hard on math downstairs. Many of them designed card games based on math!
On Wednesday, we began our new science unit, Weather and Climate. We took advantage of some available cardboard and the beautiful weather to build forts in the outdoor classroom to work in, measured temperatures in different locations, and set up a mini weather station. The forts were a wonderful place for reading as well as doing science and working on games.
Thursday, we walked to Patterson’s and had brunch together. We practiced table manners and how to represent McGuffey while out in the community, just as the middle school students do on their week-long trip. Students ordered for themselves and were respectful and curious. Michelle and the staff of Patterson’s were delightful hosts, and our students thanked them for a delicious meal as they left. Thanks to Chip Murray for accompanying us!
On Friday, Upper Elementary hosted the third graders for our first Step-Up day, where they get to know the Upper Unit. The third graders joined us for a work period; UE students shared their science lab activity with them and the third graders shared their biome work. Afterward, they had recess and lunch together.
It was a special week for UE in Art and Music as well. Musical rehearsals have been in full swing and generated a lot of buzz. Many exciting art projects headed home as well.
On their final full day in Chicago the students split into two groups and chose the museum they were more interested in. A group went to the Field Museum of Natural History and a group went to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.
Both locations provided plenty of educational stimulation for our students. At the Field Museum the students explored mummies from Egypt and Peru, the ancient Americas, and (of course) we paid a visit to Sue, the T-Rex. At the Museum of Science and Industry we learned about how global warming affects glacial ice, how weather patterns form, and looked at modern farming techniques.
We finished off the day with a visit to “Greek Islands” a restaurant that has been a part of Chicago’s Greektown since 1971. Food is culture and we wanted the students to have a final taste of this ethnic neighborhood before we leave tomorrow morning.
Wednesday was our second full day in Chicago and we continued our explorations. On this day we focused on the center of the city.
Our day began with a guided tour of the Art Institute of Chicago. The docents are amazing and the opportunity to have such an up close look at the masterpieces housed there is something that will stay with them. There was an emphasis on the art of Asia and Africa as we had studied those continents this year in Social Studies.
After the museum the kids needed some time to be kids so we headed across the street to Millennium Park where they had some fun running around, making human pyramids, and just being kids. We also stopped by the “Bean” for a classic Chicago photo op.
Finally we headed to the tallest building in Chicago, the Willis Tower (Formerly known as Sears Tower). We all walked out onto the “Skydeck”, a plexiglass enclosure where you can look straight down to the street, and snapped a few pictures.
It was a fun day. Tomorrow is our last full day in the city. Check in to see what we did to wrap up our trip!
Tuesday was the middle school’s first full day in Chicago and we saw a lot! We started on the South Side and ended in the North. Many miles were walked and they had many new experiences.
We started the day with a train ride to Chinatown located in the South Side of Chicago. The children enjoyed experiencing the sights in Chinatown. Chicago has the second largest Chinatown in the US (outside of San Francisco) and it was fun showing them a vibrant ethnic neighborhood in a major US city. We visited Chinatown Square where the students posed with their Chinese zodiac symbols and ended up our tour in Ping Tom Memorial Park.
From there it was back on the “El” for a train ride back into downtown Chicago where we walked the “Magnificent Mile”. The students saw many of Chicago’s architectural landmarks like the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, and The Old Water Tower. The walk ended at Oak Street Beach where everyone had a chance to skip stones or just sit with their toes in the sand.
Tonight we will be heading up to the world famous Kingston Mines blues club for dinner and the early show. Tomorrow we hit the Art Institute and the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower.
This semester in Peace the Upper Elementary students have been talking about emotions, feelings, and moods. We started off by looking at the Atlas of Emotions where we talked about the five “universal emotions” and emotional triggers. I’d like to encourage parents to take a few minutes and check out the Atlas of Emotions by following the link above.
We then talked about the differences between emotions and feelings and discussed constructive things we can do when we experience negative feelings. Creating these tools at a younger age can help our students be more resilient as they go through life.
We finished off by creating “feeling self-portraits”. The students began by making a pencil self-portrait and then, using a specially designed color wheel, they colored in the portrait with colors that reflected how they were feeling at the time.
It was interesting watching the students share their feelings through artwork.
Primary students have continued the year of animal study with a unit on reptiles. We learned that reptiles can live in water or on land. They can have short legs or no legs at all. Most reptiles lay eggs and the young reptiles can take care of themselves after hatching.
Our shelves are filled with reptile models and puzzles as well as a snake skeleton and snake skin. Students have been fascinated and creating their own reptile works, for example, carving a turtle from play dough.
Upper Elementary and Middle School are finishing up a unit of grammar. The Montessori method of grammar instruction uses manipulative symbols for various parts of speech. UE enjoyed reading the Parts of Speech fairy tale, which is a method of memorizing the parts of speech and explaining their function, and played games that helped explain various parts of speech. For example, students tossed a tennis ball to one another, demonstrating a preposition using the tennis ball when they caught it. In the photo, two students are under the ball! Montessori Grammar is also taught using miniature environments, beginning with the Grammar Farm, where students set up a scene and then write sentences about it to analyze.
In the Upper Unit, a model grocery store and cargo ship are the miniature environments for both UE and MS, allowing them to construct more complex sentences to work with. Upper Elementary identifies the parts of speech in a sentence and learns that some parts of speech, such as nouns, have several different roles they can play. In Middle School, grammar study extends to studying subtypes of speech, such as kinds of conjunctions, and diagramming sentences. All of this work helps students understand how the English language is put together, and provides excellent preparation for learning foreign languages.
Primary recently continued our exploration of Africa by shifting our focus to Ghana. Although it is a small country, about twice the size of Ohio, it has many unique characteristics.
We were so lucky to be visited by a parent, Naaborle Sackeyfio, who is from Accra, Ghana. She told us about living along The Gold Coast and shopping for arts and crafts in the marketplace. Naaborle brought a beautiful brass bracelet with a Sankofa bird. The significance of the bird is about going away and returning to home. The children also learned the word “Akwaaba” which means welcome and were treated to a traditional Ashanti tale of Anansi and the Spider by Gerald McDermott. We thank Naaborle for taking time to share her stories and experiences with us!
Ghana is where the well-known kente cloth originated, woven on looms by the Ashanti people. The children in Primary had the opportunity to work on a loom during our work period. We were also very excited to discover that Ghana is the world’s second largest producer of cacao! The students spent two weeks exploring Ghana with books, photos, musical instruments, artifacts, and games.
This semester the Upper Unit students are learning about the physical and cultural geography of Asia. We began with a look at the differences in land mass, total population, and population density between North America and Asia.
Using the data provided the students then created a visual representation of the difference in population per square kilometer between North America and Asia. Middle school students were asked to calculate population density after being given the population data and the size of the continent in square kilometers.
This activity gave the students a concrete way to observe the population differences between these two continents.
SOAR Program is an all-school running and walking program that inspires fun and fitness during the noontime recess. Students may seek sponsors to pay them for distance covered to raise funds for the school playground and sometimes other non-profits. Look … Continue reading →