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Getting Our Hands Dirty

We know how to sink into our work here. This week our older kids were exploring Oobleck (a non-Newtonian fluid made from cornstarch and water). Our younger kids were making "Spring Stew" and some serious mud pits. We painted and hammered and got our hands dirty. It's part of hands on learning, and it means that even with my smocks, I have to retire my school clothes with some regularity. But when we make that visceral connection with something, when we touch it and look at it really closely, it's easier to remember what we've learned.

Tracy's PK-2nd Grade Reflections

The endangered animals are painted! It was challenging for some of our younger students, but we did our best to try to make our animals realistic because this is a scientific project. Everyone spent a bunch of time looking back and forth between their pictures and their model to notice details like where colors changed, if stripes went all the way around the belly, and what noses looked like. We were all a little disappointed that the rain kept us from being able to share the models and our books with our families, but we're trying again for next week.

We continued our exploration of poetry, reading Dogku, The Snail and the Whale, Pugs and Other Animals, Hip Cat, Spectacular Science, and Where the Sidewalk Ends. We talked about syllables, internal rhyme, repetition, using words in different ways, and changing perspectives. Each child has picked out a poem or two to put in our book of poems, and we gave those poems an extra close look, trying to figure out if we could improve them in any way.

We finished up our weather theme and looked at our graphs for April's weather. Not surprisingly, it's been all over the place! Not all the graphs were the same which gave us a chance to discuss why that could be - different weather at different locations, many days have more than one type of weather, etc. We acted out the water cycle many different times, and I think almost everyone has a strong sense of how a water drop can travel. Ask your child to a demonstration for you, and let me know how it goes.

Many of the big ideas have been taught in math at this point, and we've been doing some assessments to figure out which ideas need a little more reinforcement. For some of our youngest learners, they are working on writing numbers and telling number stories. Our first graders played Time Memory, Math Baseball, and Tic Tac Toe Add to 15 to develop some of their skills. Our second graders are practicing ballpark estimates, adding and subtracting multiple digits, and making equal parts. The second graders' math "store" has been a big part of math choice time. All of the younger kids now have "credit cards," and they are able to "buy" school supplies from the store. Meanwhile our second graders continue to work on their coin counting skills, adding up purchases and making change.

Theresa's 3rd-6th Grade Reflections

In true Country Classroom style, the kids finished up on Tuesday by helping to erect the tent that will protect them from the sun and rain for the next few weeks. They showed some serious teamwork and tenacity as they pounded in stakes, stretched the canvass and created our outdoor classroom. Special thanks to all of our volunteers for helping out!

The big kids at Country Classroom are having their first experiences with grades. While the kids are young, we rely on their internal motivation and love of learning. However, we want our kids to be ready to move from our school to a different private school or public school, and part of that is getting them ready for grades. We also find that as children get a bit older, they occasionally need a little motivation to help them to remember their homework and to proofread their work. I have been grading their work for several weeks, and their use of grammar and punctuation is much improved!

The kids just finished their most recent writing project. The assignment was inspired by a podcast called, "The Past and The Curious." It is a history podcast for kids. One of the segments is called "You Have 30 seconds," in which kids share something about history that excites them. Our kids wrote and produced their segments about a variety of topics, including Rosa Parks and the History of the Corgi. Kids who want to, and who have parent permission, will submit their work this week. Most of the kids are raring to go on their next assignment, which is a fictional piece.

We are about half way through "The One and Only Ivan." The book talks a lot about Ivan's love of drawing. The kids have been "sketching" passages after they read, and we have been using their drawings to help us understand the text.


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