Mandy's School News

Elementary School Specials: March Update!


March has been an interesting month in the Science lab. Early in the month we got some cool insects in the mail! We have a new Green African Bush Preying Mantis that is growing by the day. We also have two adult Madagascar Hissing Roaches, Larry and Matilda. Surprise! They had a nice litter of 25 nymphs on St. Patrick’s Day. The Co-op kids have all enjoyed observing and learning about the insects. We have more bugs on the way this spring.

Prek (The Dragonflies, Beetles, and Bumblebees) has continued their study of the human body. They have focused on organ systems in the body. In March we learned about our bones, muscles and digestion. In science lab we put together life size paper skeletons and looked at real animal bones. We also learned that we have voluntary and involuntary muscles in our bodies. We put this knowledge to the test playing freeze dance.  As we explored the digestive system we took turns being a bite of food as it journeyed through the digestive system.


Kindergarten (Katydids) moved their Earth study into an exploration of Ecosystems. They up-cycled 6 large seltzer bottles and created two complete closed Ecosystems! The ecosystems have a pond habit in the bottom complete with plants, snails and a baby guppy fish. On top they have a garden habitat with plants, snails, pill bugs, ants, and crickets.  As part of our study of Ecosystems and Habitats we have been learning about the needs of all living things. We have also discussed what is living and non-living in nature. For example is a rock alive? Is water alive? Why or why not?


First Grade (Centipedes) has been busy working on carefully following their experiment procedure directions and accurate measurement using science tools. Everyone carefully measured out the ingredients to create some fantastic green flubber. The Centipedes have also prepared vinegar/water bags that they plan to add baking soda to after the break. If everyone measures their vinegar, water and baking soda correctly their bags should-POP! We will have our goggles ready and we are all looking forward to the event.


Second Grade (Sharks) has been thinking about trees in science this month. They have begun to learn about roots and the process of photosynthesis. Early in the month we examined Pussywillow branches and Catkins. Each child cut a small Pussywillow branch to propagate in water. The branches are just beginning to shoot out some roots! The class created their own diagrams of photosynthesis and they are looking forward to doing some light experiments on classroom plants.

IMG_1219 IMG_1194



Pre-K (Dragonflies, Bumblebees & Beetles) Continuing their work with clay, the Pre-K started off the month learning how to make pinch pots. Once the pinch pots had dried, students used tempera paint to add color and designs to their pots. While working in clay, several students noticed that if you pressed the clay onto the fabric table covering, the pattern and texture were imprinted into the clay.  To follow up with this inquiry, pre-k students dove into a texture study. After sharing a selection of natural and man made materials, we discussed different words we could use to describe the texture. Groups of student then worked together to sort the materials into various categories such as texture, color, size or color.  When finished, students investigated the materials by doing oil pastel rubbings revealing the visual representation of the textures. The next class we read the book, Lucy’s Pictures, a story that, describes a child’s quest to make a textured “painting” for her blind grandfather. Students then made a collage, selecting and arranging various textured materials to tell their story.

Katydids PreK 2 PreK 4 preK

Kindergarten (Katydids) In March, the Katydids primary focus was printmaking. We began with an exploration in which students designed and engraved shapes and patterns on foam plates, then learned how to ink and burnish the plates in order to make a series of multiple prints. We looked at block prints by the artist Margaret Burroughs paying special attention to how she uses line in different ways. Students tried their hand at developing an idea via a sketch and transferring it onto their foam plate and printing it.  I also introduced the Katydids to monoprinting, a form of printmaking that has images or lines that can only be made once (essentially a printed painting). Students used ink to paint a design or picture onto their tray and then pressed their paper onto the tray creating a one of a kind image. For many students, this kinesthetic learning process was really gratifying. Our next learning area is in clay. Thus far, the Katydids have had the opportunity to explore clay freely-learning about the physical properties of clay and the different ways the material can be pinched, pulled, rolled, dug into, piled, shaped, and combined.

katydids 3 Sharks

First Grade (Centipedes) This month the Centipedes finished constructing their Dream Playgrounds, and moved on to painting and adding the final details. As students worked, I photographed them representing an action they might be doing on their playground, and then used these portraits to create move-able 3-D action figures. For the culmination of this project, the Centipedes discussed what makes their playgrounds unique, why public playgrounds are important and explained how they attached materials and built certain structures. The Centipedes Dream Playgrounds are displayed outside the art studio. They are really proud of their work, I hope you can come down and take a look.

Centipedes 2 centipedes

Second Grade (Sharks) Continuing with the Sharks tree inquiry, students studied the shapes, patterns, veins and stems of leaves collected from our region to create four observational drawings. As they drew, students referred to a leaf identification chart to label and compare their leaf drawings. Next, selecting their favorite drawing, students transferred their image by tracing their lines on to onto a foam printing plate They then rolled ink onto the plate, centered it on their paper, and burnished the back of the plate creating a print. The Sharks had the opportunity to print multiple images,  explore printing in different colors as well as cutting out their leaf form to use as a stamp.

sharks 1



Marionette mini bed mini-me stuff 2 mini-me stuff transportation 1 transportation 2



Our spotlight artist in March was QUEEN, the British Rock Band. When we heard an instrument we recognized, we would write it on the board. We heard pianos, bass, electric guitar, drums, and keyboards, as well as trumpets, violins and singing. Several classes were excited by the fancy costumes that the band sometimes wore!
Beetles, Bumblebees, Dragonflies The children were very excited to play our guessing game, “Who’s That Tapping At My Window?” In the game, the listener must stand at the front with eyes closed while the teacher selects one child to be the singer. Based on just hearing the voice, the listener will have to identify the singer. The teachers were very impressed with the children’s listening abilities. Everyone participated and the children really loved it when the teachers got involved as well. Our Pre-K started playing the glockenspiel and the xylophone, learning about each instrument and how they are different. They would identify melodies which were played on the instruments, and we would sing the songs together. The children each played every instrument, showcasing their abilities to play music with different styles: jumping music, happy music, sad music, soft music, et cetera.
The Katydids identified the difference pitch ranges of our variety of mallet instruments. They recognized the tenor and alto xylophones as lower and higher pitched, and the glockenspiel as the highest. We compared these pitched instruments to three different sized drums and noticed a similar relationship with pitch. Our Katydids took turns conducting songs and experimenting with soft and loud versions. Continuing our study of the piano, the Katydids listened to Queen and identified which songs were a “ballad” and which were an “up-tempo” song. We listened to several songs, including “We Will Rock You”, “Under Pressure”, “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” We defined words like harmony, solo, lead singer, and collaboration.
First Grade
The month began with our piano exploration. Many of the children wondered how a piano makes its sound, so we looked inside the piano in our music room! We identified the keys, hammers, strings, and sound board. The children also learned about the sustain and damper pedals. It was quite exciting for them to watch the hammers move as they played the keys! In discussing the band Queen, we discussed how four people might all get to have their say in a group without fighting. We talked about how any group – be it a rock band, a committee, or a class – can work together to create something. In conjunction with the Grand Opening of the Centipedes Super Store, we wrote a jingle! We studied advertising jingles from “Kit Kat”, “McDonalds”, and “Meow Mix” and discussed why they were so catchy. It took a long time to agree on words that we all wanted, but through diplomatic collaboration and passionate conversation, we created something we were all very proud to sing.
Second Grade
The children of the Sharks classroom have been very into the songs from “Annie.” We talked about how characters sing songs, and how we can play characters when we sing. One child mentioned that maybe Freddy Mercury was one kind of person onstage, and maybe someone else off stage. While listening to songs by Queen, we determined that lots of songs tell stories and that those stories might mean different things to different people. We discussed harmony in a very detailed way – for voices, and for instruments. Four children sat at one xylophone, each playing different notes. As they rehearsed their notes, the notes together became chords. As they practiced, the chords changed beautifully. We worked hard t remember our patterns, so our chords changed in sync. As we have been campaigning for a new tree in front of our school, the children decided to write a song to help the cause. Everyone contributed to the song, and with only a little practice the song was quite a hit. Hopefully we will get a tree! We originally called it “Give Us A Tree”, but switched it to  “Give Us A Me” because we did a yoga tree pose when we sang, “I am a tree, please give us a me!”