Mandy's School News

Elementary School Specials: October Update!

Our elementary school students have so many amazing specials. Here is the October update from our special teachers:


Prekindergarten The Bumblebees, Beetles and Dragonflies are working on their wood-pet projects. We started by picking out pieces for our animal’s bodies and observed them closely. We noticed that some sides of the wood were smooth and others were rough and full of splinters. We learned about sandpaper and how to use it to prepare our material. It worked like an eraser for the wood and we “erased” our splinters. When our pieces were ready we decided how we wanted to connect them and introduced the drill. We learned how to use the drill safely (pulling back long hair, removing necklaces, scarves and any loose items), and how to make a “helper hole” for nailing. Using sandpaper, the drill, hammers, nails (and safety gear of course) we started assembling animals. Once the animals are ready we can start thinking of what else they will need—habitats, homes, food, friends and more.


Kindergarten (Katydids)  is almost done with their treasure chest projects. After attaching all of our pieces, making the boxes that are the body of the treasure chest we attached our lids. To do this we introduced the idea of hardware and how it can help us in our projects. Using metal hinges that connect across two pieces allow those parts to move. We though about where else we see hinges and talked about doors and windows. To attach the hinges to the box and lid we used the drill and screws. We talked about how screws work—a simple machine that helps us do something. We looked at the threads, the point and the head and practiced using screwdrivers using Phillips screws and foam balls. Then, using the drill we made “helper holes” and put our screws in. We are ready to finish the treasure chest, paint, add handles, locks and decorations and see what treasures we find to fill them.


First Grade (Centipedes) is wrapping up their city building projects and will soon bring all of their separate creations together to make one big Shark city. We continued using the tools we learned in earlier classes—using hammers, nails, saws and vices—and introduced the drill. We learned how to use the drill and talked about how it can help us build things. After a demonstration we looked closely at the drill and talked about drill bits and how they work. We are using the drill to make “helper holes” that make it easier to nail wood together and to make sure small pieces don’t split. We are now putting the final touches on our buildings, painting them, adding final elements and are now beginning to think about how different parts of the city combine to make a whole. Our city will have a grocery store, a train station, launching pads for rockets, a cat shelter and more!


Second Grade (Sharks) is wrapping up their “Subway of the Future” project—putting on some final touches, painting and attaching the subway car to each other. After completing the body of our subway car we made plans for our subway. Where will it go? How will it get there? There were exciting ideas—flying double decker trains, trains with horns, trains that fold, trains that shape-shift and more. We added elements to the body of the train and used the drill to make “helper holes.” We went over the safety rules for using the drill and practiced making holes. We added wheels to our subway, making sure not to nail all the way so that the wheels could still turn. We are now decorating our train and will be adding eye hooks so that we can attach our car to one another. Together we will make a winding train track, tunnels and bridges for our subway to ride on (or fly off of…).




It has been an exciting October in the Science lab! The classes have moved into their Fall science studies which they will continue through November.

Pre-Kindergarten The Beetles, Dragonflies, and Bumblebees have been studying Pets in their classrooms as well as in the science room. This past month we have been learning about Mermie and Permie our Science Lab Hermit Crabs. We begun our study by drawing our habitats at home. Then we observed and drew the hermit crab habitat in the science lab. We read A House For Hermit Crab by Eric Carl and it really got us thinking about hermit crab shells and why they might be so important for the crabs. This lead to our observation and study of the hermit crabs anatomy. We have discovered that the hermit crabs have ten legs, mouth parts, antenna, and soft abdomens and tails. The hermit crabs need to have a shell to protect the soft parts of their bodies. Last week, we pretended to be hermit crabs and imagined how amazing it would be to have so many legs and pinchers! We have also compared our habitats to the hermit crabs habitat and concluded that both humans and hermit crabs need: food, water, and a home to keep them save from the elements as well as danger. In the month to come the children will select another Co-op school animal to be the focus of our study.
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Kindergarten (Katydids) have begun identifying and exploring how their Five Senses work. This study will help them to understand how we observe and learn about the world. In addition they will gain knowledge of how they use their inquiry skills to learn. We began our study by reading My Five Senses by Aliki, and discussing different senses we use to help us answer different types of questions. Thus far, we have experimented with our Five Senses and marshmallows, smell mystery bags, a blind touch box, and we have gone on a listening walk through school. We will continue to create experiments that help us understand how our five senses function. In the weeks to come we will experiment with touch, and taste. The Katydids will be creating a five senses center that they can share with other classes. This study will also complement the Katydids upcoming writing work about writing using Five Senses.
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First Grade (Centipedes) are very excited about their study of “Potions.” This study is an introductory exploration of Liquids, Solids, and Gases. We are experimenting with and observing that matter exist in three states: solid, liquid and gases. We have begun with liquid and we are working with water as the universal solvent. We began the month by conducting a series of experiments about water and oil. The students observed that water and oil do not mix and we have discussed that the molecules in water do not bond as easily with oil. We tried adding dish soap. We also tried adding a fizz tablet (sodium bicarbonate and citric acid that makes a chemical reaction that creates Co2 bubbles) to see if this would cause the oil and the water to mix. Next we experimented to see if the fizz tablet was mixing with the water or the oil in our solution. We concluded that the water was mixing with the fizz tablet and that the oil could not activate the  tablet to create a bubbling chemical reaction. Currently,  we are experimenting with salt water solutions to see what happens when fresh and salt water mix, like they do in the East River. We are experimenting to carefully layer salt water with varying concentrations of salt. We are observing which level of salinity will be most dense. This has also lead to a discussion of what density is! The Centipedes are measuring the salt and adding different amounts to water. Then they are coloring each salt solution with a different color of food coloring. The Centipedes are also learning that we have to control our variables when we experiment. It is also important to follow our experiment procedure so that our experiments are successful.
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Second Grade (Sharks) are continuing their S.T.E.A.M. study this month. In the coming month, I will be working with the Sharks as well as the other classes on a collaboration between the science lab and their fantastic science centers!




Beetles children love to rock! Every song we sing seems to end up in a Rock ’n Roll version – “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “ABC’s,” and even “Baa Baa Black Sheep.” Cole brought in a song he had written at home called “Chocolate Milk Rock”. We’ve been working on dynamics – how to sing Rock ‘n Roll without shouting. This is definitely a work in progress! The song “Mama’s Sleeping, Don’t Wake Her Up” is a great way to practice loud and soft. Since our class is thinking about pets we’ve been singing songs about animals including “I Bought Me A Cat,” “B-I-N-G-O,” and “A Slippery Fish”. One day we came up with ideas for a Hamster song. “What will we name him?” Recently the Beetles have been introduced to The Beatles, and we sang “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” In our last class James Lucy was the conductor, and we had to watch for her waving her wand. If she stopped waving, we had to freeze our voices and our instruments, until she started waving again. Everyone wants a turn to conduct and we’ll get to everyone eventually!  We also worked on pronouns – identifying I, He, She, You, Them and We in an Ella Jenkins song called “Who Fed The Chickens?”



Dragonflies have established that they really love two songs in particular: “Subway Train” and “Jump In The Water!” Their class has been deciding about pets and so we have also been singing a lot of animal songs – “I Bought Me A Cat,” “B-I-N-G-O,” and “A Slippery Fish” among them. Many children have been singing songs from home in our class, and being very brave to take center stage and perform them for the class! Jackie sang “Let It Go” and Zelig sang a song from “Cars.” Ella and Farah demonstrated how to sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and do the movements at the same time.

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Bumblebees are excited about their soon-to-be-selected class pet. We recently sang “You Can’t Make a Turtle Come Out” by Malvina Reynolds, a song about being kind to animals. We also talked about many animals in “Subway Train” by the Pop-Ups. The Bumblebees have been matching pitch quite well, confidently finding the Little Richard-inspired “oooh!” at the end of “Rock ’n Roll Itsy Bitsy Spider.” They also love to “Jump In The Water”, with each child’s name being sung as she / he jumps in the center. The Bumblebees also really enjoyed this year’s Halloween jam, “Five Little Pumpkins.” As The Bumblebees have been been working on spelling their names in their classroom, we sang “B-I-N-G-O,” incorporating the rhythm of clapping to the silent letters. Next month the Bumblebees will be writing and recording a class song.

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Kindergarten (Katydids) worked a lot with the concept of RHYTHM. We asked, “What is the BEAT?” and tapped it using rhythm sticks, our feet, hands and voices. The Katydids were particularly excited to dance around to Stevie Wonder songs, and we identified some of instruments we heard in the recordings: bass, piano, guitar, drums, and trumpet. Several children delighted in sharing their rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” song. We investigated the concept of REST and how a REST is different from a NOTE. We incorporated the classroom study of stories to tell the tale of “Abiyoyo” and discussed the detailed list of events in “The Green Grass Grows All Around.”



First Grade (Centipedes) have been working very hard on learning about rhythm. Our class moved to music to experience different tempos and styles, and we reflected the changes by moving our bodies differently, depending on what we heard. The Centipedes wrote and recorded an incredible anthem called “1, 2, Centipedes.” We split our class into 1’s and 2’s, and practiced clapping at different times. Our class had a great discussion about which lyrics we could use in our song. It was hard to remember the order of the lyrics, but then we practiced until we felt we had it memorized. Our class is making lots of progress working as a group, listening to our teachers and friends. Akiru and Ben each got a turn to demonstrate playing instruments at our classroom open mic, and Lilac and Danika sang a song together. In our most recent class we learned about how a REST in music is like resting our bodies and voices. We practiced with rhythm sticks how to play on the beat, following the conductor, and how to remember what beat we’re on without counting out loud!


Second Grade (Sharks) started October by moving to music in different ways. We walked around our room while reacting to changes in tempo and style. We used the piano and also recorded music for references. We listened to music and found the BEAT. We clapped rhythms and used rhythm sticks. We learned about TEMPO and played some conducting games where children had to follow a conductor who waved his arms to indicate the speed of the beat. We practiced sing-along songs in three tempos –  PRESTO (fast), MODERATO (medium), and LARGO (slow). One day when Ryan was sick, we wrote and recorded a “Feel Better Song” and sent it to him. (It worked!) Our classroom Open Mics have been exceptional, with some children sharing a Rock ‘n Roll version of “Let It Go” and others demonstrating their piano skills. Isaac played “You Are My Sunshine” for us, and he told us how difficult it was for him to learn it, but now it’s easy for him to play. Then we asked if he could do it with his eyes closed – and he did it! The children are working on their class play, “Willy Wonka.” Jocelyn asked Dan for help with the music, so we started learning an opening number – “If All The Raindrops Were Lemon Drops and Gum Drops.” We’re going to work on music for the Oompah Loompahs, and a special closing number in November.

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Pre-Kindergarten (Dragonflies, Bumblebees & Beetles) The Pre-K has been investigating shapes within different mediums and materials. We started out by combining and arranging pre-cut shapes to make animal collages. The following week, we discussed pattern and how shapes, colors, sounds, letters and even numbers can be repeated to become a pattern. We searched for patterns everywhere, finding some on our clothes, on buildings and even in the classroom. Classes experimented with various shaped cork stamps to see how they could create patterns with different shapes and colored ink. Stamping continued the next class, this time using only black ink and stamping materials sourced from the resource room. Favorites were bubble wrap, packing peanuts, paper towel rolls, caps and cardboard. We read Lio Lionni’s book Swimmy, which was illustrated exclusively with fish-shaped stamps and various other materials. Next week, students will choose how they will add color to their monochromatic stamped images, looking for patterns, shapes and lines.

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Kindergarten (Katydids) The Kindergarten has been continuing their study of recycled materials by building assemblage sculptures. The Katydids looked at images of work by Louis Nevelson, a New York City based artist who created sculptures from materials she found on her walks around her neighborhood. The Katydids recognized in Nevelson’s work- steering wheels, table legs, pipes and all sorts of triangles, squares, rectangles and circles. Utilizing recycled materials from the resource room, the Katydids collected various shapes and materials to create their own assemblage. Just as Nevelson painted her sculptures to be monochromatic, the Katydids are in the process of painting and disguising their individual sculptures in black paint before combining them to make one large sculptural work. The finished sculpture will be installed outside the art studio in the basement.

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First Grade (Centipedes) Over the last several weeks, the centipedes have been busy working in paper construction. We began by discussing architecture and how architects make blueprints and models of the buildings they plan to construct. We observed images of adobe structures and contemporary New York City skyscrapers to compare and contrast the forms. Some building had forms that were repeated many times. With this is mind, the centipedes sought our to discover how to build a city out of paper. Beginning with a paper construction exploration, the centipedes learned how to fold strips of paper to make them stand up, and then how to build a paper cube. Building the cubes was challenging as it was discovered that the amount of glue that was applied was important to determine whether the cube would stand. The centipedes shared their challenges and solutions, working together to solve their construction problems. Individually they decided, if they would be tall or short structures, narrow or wides.  Finally, the completed buildings were combined and arranged to create a whole city.

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Second Grade (Sharks) The Sharks are continuing their transportation inquiry study in the art studio. We started off the month with a slide presentation of mosaics in the NYC subway system, looking at the various images and colors and learning about the process of mosaics. With the goal of a group mosaic in mind, the sharks brainstormed types of transportation in NYC and each chose three to make a sketch of. We are in the process of preparing and painting the mosaic base, sorting and organizing the mosaic tiles, or tesserae, and combining our sketches to create one NYC based transportation mosaic. Students will take turns collaborating on the class mosaic, and will also create individual mosaics to explore the technique of mosaic and troubleshoot any challenges that arise.

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Kindergarten (Katydids) ¡El otoño está aquí! And we are having a wonderful time learning about fall and its colors. We continue to extend our knowledge of numbers (1-12), colors (plateado/silver, dorado/golden, colores brillantes/shiny colors), and shapes. We are currently working on fall festivities such as Día de muertos/Day of the dead, Halloween, and prepping for Día de acción de gracias/Thanksgiving day. ¡Fantástico grillitos!







First Grade (Centipedes) Our wonderful ciempiés have been working so hard as a community! I am really proud and honored to be a part of this learning experience. We are currently working on a unit about family and we are correlating this topic to the festivities celebrated during fall. We also started having “Viernes divertidos”/”Fun Fridays”, where we get to have independent play at three different stations: loteria/bingo, memoria/ memory, and pretend play. ¡Muy bien ciempiés!

Second Grade (Sharks) Los tiburoncitos/sharkies are having a great time in Spanish class. We have been learning a lot about our families. We are also getting ready to talk about families in Central and South America, and we will correlate this topic to the space and environments we live in (casa/house, departamento/apartment, ciudad/city.) As for now, we are getting ready for all the fall celebrations including: Día de muertos/Day of the dead. ¡Hasta pronto!



We’ve been having a great time in gardening class this month. We’ve continued the great seed saving work that we started in September and saved seeds from corn, tomatoes, peppers, and two different kinds of squash! In all the classes we’ve continued to harvest and eat from the garden and also made delicious vegetable soup by bringing in our favorite vegetables from home!  We’ve continued to learn about how to care for our garden and started using our newly donated compost tumbler.
The Katydids, Centipedes, and Sharks have been doing some excellent gardening inspired art work with some vegetable and plant still life drawings and Scarlet Runner Bean art.  In these older grades, literacy work is woven into the gardening activities through writing and vocabulary work as appropriate. In the Beetles, Dragonflies, and Bumblebees classrooms we’ve continued to learn about the garden by exploring the different planters using our different senses and also made grass seed pets in collaboration with their classroom pet studies.