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Getting Creative

We are a tiny school with limited resources, but I love when those limited resources help our kids to get really creative.

One of our students was temporarily stymied by our lack of a sifter when making frosting (for gingerbread house glue), and after some thought, improvised with a cheese grater. She also offered to inventory our current kitchen supplies at our next work day and come up with a list of items we hope people can donate. I appreciated her short-term and long-term solutions to her problem.

Our third graders were doing a math activity that involved figuring out different items that are a certain number of grams (1, 10, 100, 500). We only had some of the standard weights in our set, so they figured out a penny weighed between 2 and 3 grams. They actually had some conflicting results with different pennies, and then realized that they maybe weren't all the same weight. They did all sorts of incredible math as they figured out how many pennies were the same as 10 grams, then multiplied and divided to figure out all of the other weights. Occasionally I asked a question or pointed them in a given direction, but mostly they were just really excited to solve their real-world math problems.

When we go outside, we don't have a fancy climbing structure, but we do have lots of trees, a tiny seasonal stream, and lots and lots of sticks. Our kids get to stretch their imaginations and get resourceful, and somehow, they rarely get bored for long.

Morgan's PK and K Class

* Explored pine branches with magnifying glasses and used our fine motor skills with scissors to cut up the branches.

* Ring toss! I challenged the children to use their non-dominant hand as well to toss the rings onto the cones. Many children said it was harder that way.

* Vet and doctor kit for the baby dolls and rocking horse.

* Some children made creative creations with our new bigger bin of Lincoln Logs (Thanks Rose!).

* Explored paint, shaving cream, colored water and sand.

* We read some winter themed stories and sang songs about penguins, winter and snowflakes.

* We also made cloud dough with a couple of the 6th graders for their science projects. Everyone kept saying how nice it smelled.

* Helped make pudding slime as one of our math lessons.

* Practiced adding numbers with two dice then found the correct number on a big snowflake!

* Explored nature materials in magnifying boxes and then drew what we saw. The children kept asking if the materials were once alive and how did we get them in the containers. It led to some interesting conversations about how we can tell if something is alive.

* Made our own winter beginner reader books.

We're looking for any small plastic winter or Arctic animals we can borrow for our sensory trays (polar bears, penguins, moose, narwhal, orcas, etc.). Please send some in if you have any you can spare!

Tracy's 1st-3rd Class

In math, our first grade class is working hard on understanding place using tens and ones. What is 10 more or 10 less than a given number? We used base 10 blocks to solve riddles about what number had a certain number of tens and ones, then played around to see how that number changes when we add or subtract a ten. Our second graders worked on lots of money math, using a "vending machine" to figure out what they needed when the exact change light was on and how much change they would get when it wasn't. Our third graders worked with polygons, quadrilaterals, perimeter, and area.

In writing, we picked one of our favorite poems from the past few weeks, made a final copy on watercolor paper, and illustrated it. We're putting all of the poems together into a book for the school.

In reading, we worked with syllables versus sounds (something that can still be a bit confusing to some of our students). I also read one on one with students because with absences many of our reading groups were incomplete.

Theresa's 4th-6th Class

The big kids are approaching a 2nd semester groove!

In Math, everyone, in all the grades, is learning about fractions, decimals and percents. The 4and the 5th graders are exploring decimals, and the 6th graders are learning how to convert between decimals and percents.

In writing, we just published narratives! The kids have a lot of enthusiasm, but we have to work on polishing their work. Trying to figure out how to reinforce their skills without breaking their love of writing is the challenge of the rest of the year. We are going to begin writing weekly essays/paragraphs, again, to give the kids regular mechanical practice. We are also beginning a research report. The students are mostly going to work on animals of their choosing, but we have a few students who will be studying different topics they have chosen.

In reading this week, the eldest kids read Letter from a Birmingham Jail, by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. All readers (especially strong ones) need to occasionally tackle difficult texts, to practice comprehension and paraphrasing skills.


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