Care Of Our Environment

For a while now, Primary students have been asking about the buckets that are kept in the classroom’s outdoor shed; most of them were gone. Today, everything that had been missing was brought out and placed in the middle of our morning meeting. Primary teachers explained that when items aren’t put away, it shows that the work is not important. If a work isn’t important, we don’t put it out as a choice. We were all stunned to see how many outdoor works had been left out.

After a group discussion, students expressed that the items are important. They agreed they could show how important they are by putting them away when finished. A few children wondered if it would be a good idea to reduce how many loose items could be used at at time, from five down to one. Everyone agreed to try one work at a time and to talk again in the future to see how the care of our outdoor environment is working. If it’s going well, the class might decide to change how many things could be chosen. We finished our morning meeting by dismissing the students one by one to pick an item from the middle of our meeting space and mindfully place it back into the shed. As each child carefully chose something, the room was silent.

McGuffey is proud to uphold high standards for responsibility and independence. Primary students as young as three years old know they can solve problems and work together as a community to make their environment and school a better place.

Posted in Uncategorized

Taking Care of Our Teeth

As part of our study of the human body, we are grateful to have hosted a visit from dentist, Derek Ross and dental hygienist, Jaimie Ross. They told us about the proper ways to brush our teeth and how to floss. We got to practice using models and we saw how teeth fit into bone by examining real skulls. We also got to guess how much sugar is in some favorite drinks. We were all surprised! It was a wonderful reminder to brush our teeth to keep the sugar from settling in. Jaimie and Derek also brought us hard boiled eggs that had been soaked in color filled drinks like gatorade and soda. Our job was to try and brush those stains off which took a lot of work.

Thank you Jaimie and Derek!

Posted in Uncategorized

Respiration and Circulation

The Primary students have started a long unit on learning how the human body works. This past week included the study of respiration and circulation. After having studied nutrition and digestion in the previous unit, we knew that the body needs nutrients. We learned that oxygen has needed nutrients as well as food. The lungs and heart work together to bring oxygen to the blood.

Works on the shelf helped us explore respiration and circulation including puzzles, a stethescope, models and a science experiment using balloons to see how our diaphragm pulls air into the lungs.

Posted in Uncategorized

Primary visits their Upper Elementary Partners for Astronomy

Upper Elementary has been studying Astronomy. They shared some of their favorite work with their Primary partners. Students demonstrated day and night with the Tellurium sun and earth model, showed them simulated solar systems, stars, and galaxies using Universe Sandbox, helped them match three-part cards, and read books to them. They loved answering their partners’ questions about the universe.

Posted in Uncategorized


Primary’s continent studies moved to Europe! We have been talking about France—the land of croissants, baguettes, famous art and artists, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and the Tour de France.

France has so many visually exciting aspects that the children dove right into exploring. They have been assembling puzzles of famous monuments and using a punch of the Eiffel Tower. One of our most popular works has been the bicycle that we mounted on blocks so that children could ride the Tour de France in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. They have been so excited to don a maillot jaune (or yellow jersey), helmet, and gloves and ride with all their might. We have had a child on the bike non-stop!

We have also been studying the children’s author/illustrator Hervé Tullet, who happens to be from France. Tullet’s books have fun interactive games that the children have come to adore. We made a collaborative sticker dot collage a la his most famous book, “Press Here.” We also learned basic color theory with the help of the book “Mix It Up.”

Last on our study of France was an Art History lesson about ballet. On Friday, we were thrilled to have a student from the Upper Unit, who happens to be a ballerina, visit our classroom. She talked about studying to be a ballerina for the last six years. She shared all of the different roles in the ballets that she has performed. So far, she has been on stage in The Nutcracker six times and has danced in other classic ballets like Coppélia and The Sleeping Beauty. We ended the visit by learning some of the positions of arms and feet used in ballet. The children all loved learning the movements and dancing around.

Posted in Uncategorized

Rejoicing in Fall

Primary has been celebrating fall. We have noticed many of us are bringing a sweater or light jacket to school because the temperatures are getting colder. We have observed changes around us; leaves changing color, birds flying south, squirrels and other animals gathering food for the winter.

We have been reading books about fall and the seasons. We have been exploring all kinds of leaf activities—sorting, matching, punching, and making crayon rubbings. We’re assembling puzzles about the seasons and investigating pumpkins. We had front row seats this week to watch a storm front coming in, perfect for our discussion about storms in fall (and spring!).

We can’t wait until the leaves begin to fall, creating all kinds of fun in our outdoor classroom.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Three States of Matter

Solid, liquid, or gas? Primary students have been studying states of matter. First, we figured out that everything you see, feel, taste, or smell is matter. All matter is made up of atoms. That means we are made up of atoms, too!

We watched a table for a few seconds and decided that it, like all solids, can’t change its shape unless we change it. By pouring water into different size tubes, we observed liquids move take the shape of any container. We figured out that we can feel air even if we can’t see it. These three states of matter are different because of how their atoms are arranged, a little bit like putting ourselves inside a hula hoop! We all giggled, watching one student have plenty of room to move around the hula hoop like a gas. When we added two more students to replicate a liquid, we saw that they could still move abut had less freedom. When we packed in seven students, they were so close together no movement was possible just like a solid.

We got to taste some science experiments this week, too. While an ice block melted in the sun, liquid grape juice froze in the freezer–a perfect snack for a sweltering afternoon. We also witnessed liquids being mixed with solids and talked about yeast, which makes bubbles. In a few hours, we ate delicious, fluffy bread thanks to gas.

Posted in Uncategorized

Ants and Bees

The Primary unit has been studying bees and ants. We began by learning how important each of these insects are to our environment. Ants help keep soil healthy and bees both pollinate flowers and make delicious honey. We learned that ants and bees have several similarities: they both have three body parts, six legs, and two antennae. They are also dissimilar in the number of eyes and colors they can be. We spent time discovering how each live, both in colonies, but the nests differ drastically.

On the science shelves are a multitude of works to explore. Some children have enjoyed drawing the four parts of the any life-cycle. We have bees to count and an insect floor puzzle to put together with friends. There are resin cubes with preserved ants and bees for closer inspection and a sweet bee with paintbrush to make sure plenty of pollen gets on the bee while it uses it special straw-like mouthpart.

Knowledge of their environment helps engender a feeling of compassion in children for all insects. We have had numerous discussions on how to protect insects in our outdoor classroom as well as any outdoor space they may visit.

Posted in Uncategorized

The ​United States and Indigenous Peoples

Last week we began our exploration of the continents. This journey will take us well into Spring as we discuss each continent and several countries within it.

We began our discussion by talking about the seven continents, and identifying the one we live in—North America! Within North America there are many countries, including our own, the United States. The United States is comprised of 50 states. We identified Ohio, the place that we call home.

We discuss indigenous peoples of each culture we visit throughout our Social Studies curriculum. We were so grateful to have one of our Primary parents, Emily, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation, visit our classroom to discuss her heritage.

Emily began with a lovely book, “We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga” by Traci Sorrell and illustrated by Frane Lessac, that tells the story of how grateful the Cherokee community is for the gifts and challenges that each season brings. The children got to enjoy baskets that were woven by Emily, one filled with Cedar, as well as a wood rattle carved into an Owl. Owls are believed to be good luck!

The children also learned some of the Cherokee language. Traditionally when we take attendance at morning meeting we use the language of the country we are discussing to say “here”. We now include a choice of here, present or “ahani” (pronounced  “ah-hah-nee), Cherokee for “here”, when taking attendance this week. Emily also taught the children how to count to five in Cherokee:

1 = saquu (pronounced “saw-gwoo”) ᏐᏬ

2 = ta’li (pronounced “tah-lee”) ᏔᎵ

3 = tso’i (pronounced “joh-ee) ᏦᎢ

4 = nvgi (pronounced “nuh-gee) ᏅᎩ

5 = hisgi (pronounced “hee-skee”) ᎯᏍᎩ

We ended our morning meeting with a traditional Cherokee lullaby “Usdi Yona,” which means Little Bear. “Wado,” thank you, to Emily for visiting our classroom!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Structure of the Earth

Last week in Primary, we started a study of the Earth. It’s hard to imagine we live on an enormous planet, and even harder to imagine what we can see is such a tiny part of it We began by exploring the layers of the earth using a model. We tried to imagine how hot the core is while the crust is so cool. Next came the surface of the Earth, including Tectonic Plates. We talked about pressure and how that can lead to volcanoes and so of course, we set off a replica volcano at morning meeting which was met with excitement and cheers! We also used candy to help explore the three main types of rock; sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous.

With many works on the shelves, our student scientist are hard at work examining, exploring, and sorting elements of our planet.

Posted in Uncategorized