The Map Game in the Upper Unit

The Upper Unit students are learning about landforms, how to read a map, and more with the Map Game.

The Map Game incorporates Social Studies, Math, Science, and ELA in an interesting format and is scaled for students of different ages and ability levels.

Our students are enjoying using their creativity and imagination to solve the various challenges that the Map Game throws at them.

Posted in Middle School, social studies, Upper Elementary, upper unit

Inventing with Little Bits in the Upper Unit

Middle School and Upper Elementary students began Science this year by exploring Little Bits’ STEAM curriculum. Little Bits are electronic building blocks that allow students to easily build circuits and create inventions with them.

During the first weeks of school, students built self-driving cars, art machines, and throwing arms. In the second half of the unit, they will use what they’ve learned to create inventions of their own to solve challenges such as Inventing For Good.

Posted in Middle School, science, Upper Elementary, upper unit

Sewing stuffed creatures

As part of our practical life curriculum, our Lower Elementary students are spending time each week learning to sew. Third graders have been working on designing and crafting their own stuffed animals and dolls. They put the final touches on them this week and could not be more proud.

We can’t wait to see what they work on next!

Posted in Lower Elementary, McGuffey, practical life

Land, Water and Air

Last week we discussed the main components that make up the Earth—land, water, and air. The land is where we live! It includes terrain such as grassland, mountains, jungle, and desert. Most of the Earth is water, which includes lakes, rivers, and the ocean. And then there’s air. We can’t see it, but we know it’s there!

We took samples of land, water, and air from our outdoor classroom and stored them in jars. The jars can be used for observation or to help sort cards of different activities.

We explored our landform trays outside at the water table. We noticed how the water stayed around the outside of an island or peninsula.

We also took a moment to view the classic Eames film, “Powers of Ten.” Zooming to outer space from a picnic in the park, we are able to see the world both close up and far away. Some students even reenacted the beginning and end of the film by lying on the grass!

We then used cosmic nesting boxes to explain the idea of continents, countries, states, cities, and so forth. Each day as we transition to morning meeting, we sing a song that talks about our planet, continent, country, state, city, and school. These blocks help give a visual representation of this song.

Posted in Uncategorized

Grandparents Day 2018

Grandparents Day is on Sunday, September 9th. In honor of our beloved grandparents, past and present, we offer you this gift to share.

Posted in Uncategorized

Daily Practice

Today, Kindergarteners worked on Daily Practice for the first time. Daily Practice is a time-honored tradition at McGuffey, started by our founder, Janet Kretschmer. It is exactly as it sounds, things that should be practiced daily until proficient. Some tasks include writing one’s name, reading the date, writing letters, measuring, counting coins, and recognizing patterns.

Posted in McGuffey, Primary

Planning their week

Although the first graders had work plans in Primary, they are getting used to how to manage their more complicated Lower Elementary work plan. When they received their first work plan, they were paired with an older who student who helped walk them through how to plan their week. Our second and third graders got a chance to be the experts, sharing their strategies about how to make the most of their time. This is one of the many benefits of mixed-age classrooms—we have built-in mentors for nearly every task!

Posted in Lower Elementary, McGuffey, practical life


This week, Primary started the year’s study of Science with the monarch. Monarchs in the US and Canada migrate to Mexico or California every winter (which fits nicely into our study of North America), and a wealth of resources is available for studying them.

Some of the topics we’re exploring with monarchs include the geography of the migration, the stages of the butterfly life cycle, what caterpillars eat, and how they shed their skins. There are also monarch wings to wear in our outdoor classroom. We can’t wait until the end of the week, when some of our chrysalises should be changing into butterflies. After tagging them, the monarchs will be released for their journey south.

Posted in McGuffey, outside, Primary, science

The Upper Unit Breaks Out

Upper Unit students started the new school year with a teambuilding exercise. They worked together to solve a series of puzzles and open a set of locks in a limited amount of time.

This “breakout box” provides an immersive experience all students can benefit from. This type of learning helps develop critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration.

It gets the students talking, thinking, and laughing. It’s also a great way for the Upper Unit to kick off the school year!

Posted in McGuffey, Middle School, Uncategorized, Upper Elementary

Back to School #36

For the thirty-sixth year McGuffey is happy to welcome students and teachers back to school. In June we had the pleasure of hosting many of the founding families for Janet Kretschmer’s Celebration of Life. What a treat to hear about all the work that went into starting the school. I wonder if they knew what kind of legacy they were starting.

We are adding ten new families and fifteen new students across the school to our learning community. I am happy to be entering my sixth year as Head of School.

I love to think about all the people who have contributed with love and kindness to the life of McGuffey over the years.

At some point, parents and staff envisioned and built the well-used picnic pavilion, oversaw the pouring of the driveway that connects the Main Building with the Annex, made countless trips to Ikea, researched and implemented our Montessori transition and have guarded the vision and values through governance. Just this past weekend parents came in to clean, weed, install pavers, and sew. We look forward to seeing our new families add their own unique blend of talents and skills.

How lucky we are to continue the work that Janet and so many dedicated parents started 36 years ago.

Here’s to a fantastic 2018-19 school year!

Nancy Hawthorne
Head of School


Posted in Uncategorized