Mandy's School News

Community: Fireflies Learn about Family Customs

A Fireflies mom came in to talk about South Korea, where her family immigrated from. They learned some Korean words by reading My First Book of Korean Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Henry J. Amen IV and Kyubyong Park. They made their own Sam Taeguk fans, painted red, blue and yellow to represent heaven, earth and humanity respectively. The Taeguk is found on the Korean flag and similar to the Ying-Yang has a swirl of red and blue to represent harmony between earth and sky. They also collaborated on a huge fan that they collaged with many different colors and materials. Once they were done they watched a video of a beautiful Korean fan dance ( and then used our fans for their own dances! Fun!

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They have also had families come in to the classroom with a Jamaican heritage.  They explored Jamaican culture through listening to reggae music and hearing some traditional stories. They read stories from Doctor Bird: Three Lookin’ up Tales from Jamaica. They learned that the Doctor Bird, a swallow tailed species of humming bird, is only found on Jamaica and because of its beauty and grace it has become immortalized in Jamaican folklore and song.


Mandy's School News

Project Work: First Grade’s Gender Bias/Media & Toy Study

First graders experience an ever-growing awareness of the world around them and examine their place within it. They are driven by exploration and express preferences that contribute to their self identity and the way they’re perceived. Concurrently, by the age of six, the socialization of gender has been at work for several years, influencing choices children make and also imposing limitations on the infinite possibilities before them. Societal gender bias is still deeply rooted and complex, and it shows itself in consistent and myriad ways in early childhood classrooms.

The first graders started brainstorming a list of words that spontaneously come to mind when they think of “girls” and “boys”. Words that capture the traditional feminine ideal flooded onto the paper, and notions of common masculine identity followed. “Pretty” and appearance dominated ideas about girls, while boys were “active” sports players who approached challenges. When the students were prompted to explain their ideas, they used examples of their own preferences, alongside their friends, to explain how these lists capture the ways of the world as they know it.


Then they temporarily disregarded the lists and asked the students to raise a hand if one of these words applied to them, as we read words from BOTH the girls’ and boys’ lists. Girls comfortably raised their hands for words like “soccer,” “powerful,” “hard challenges,” and “Karate”; and boys raised their hands for words like “feelings,” “ponies,” and “peaceful.” It didn’t take long for students to realize that gender specificity doesn’t necessarily match their personal preferences or identity. Girls especially were quick to share frustrations of “girl” expectations, particularly not being as “strong” as their boy peers. Among the insights shared during what will be a continuing conversation, one child summed up by explaining, “All of us are not just unique, we are VERY unique, so we don’t like all of the same things, we like a lot of different things whether we are a boy or a girl…”

Fairness is a recurring idea for young children. The Centipedes are quick to acknowledge when they recognize or feel injustice. Gender exploration not only pushes the typical boundaries of socialization, but also acts as a platform for further conversations. A study of gender in toys/products and the media is to follow…


Mandy's School News

Community: Town Hall Focus on Community Action

We have introduced our 4th value this month: Community Action, which is all about valuing and nurturing an overall awareness, respect and care for our surroundings, community and environment. We had our monthly Town Hall to announce this next value.

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Teachers Ryan and Emily did a fantastic skit on what Community Action means by demonstrating a mess they found and helping to clean it up even if they didn’t make it. They went over some other examples of Community Action with the kids.

Then we talked about how each classroom will be taking care of a new Pothos plant, with the help of our gardening teacher Sophie. The idea is for them to work together to take care of something, a plant that has value and purpose (the Pothos plant is not only beautiful but as a phytoremediators, it can remove toxins from the air, soil, or water. It can even purify fish tanks if they have their roots sitting in the water!).


Finally, we reviewed what each class’s yearlong Community Action Project is, and how this project and their informed awareness, will help care make school, the Bed Stuy community or planet a better place. The first phase of these projects has been researching the topic and this next phase is to assist/educate their school (the final stage is outer community outreach). The kids came up to explain:

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Prek’s Food Study: The kids will be revising their snack lists to make sure they are healthy!


K’s Recycling Study: The kids will be assisting classrooms and the school in making sure they have efficient systems set up for recycling.

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1st Grade Homelessness Study: The students will be coming around to classes and educating the school on what it means to be homeless and how to help others that have less.

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2nd Grade Tree Study: The kids will be trying to get a tree planted on our block and will teach our classes on why trees are so important to us/the planet!


Mandy's School News

Elementary School Specials: January Update!


All of the classes in January started by listening to music – we listened to recordings by the great Louis Armstrong, who was our Monthly Spotlight Artist for January.  The classes heard “When You’re Smiling”, and recognized the sounds of different instruments. We clapped in rhythm to every song we listened to, finding the beat.

Pre-Kindergarten classes have done so much already in 2015 !  In the Dragonflies, we experienced an entire class devoted to going on a Deep Dragonfly Dive, to coincide with the water study in their classroom. We brought materials, made the sound of the ocean, changed the words to “Yellow Submarine” and explored new songs written by our classmates.  In the Beetles we were especially excited to create a new song for our class pet hamster, Koo-Koo Banana Pants. We used ideas from every child to really make our song fun and original. In the Bumblebees, in addition to writing new verses for “When The Saints Go Marching In,” we learned a new song written by Dan for the class to sing at the next Town Hall Meeting, about taking care of the space around us.
Kindergarten (Katydids) In listening to Louis Armstrong recordings, the Katydids heard a trumpet and many other instruments. We identified brass instruments in our classroom pictures. We worked on improvising – new lyrics for “Mary Had A Little Lamb” included “Georgie Had a Little Pink Pig,” “Mary Had A Little Balloon” and others. We improvised new verses to “When The Saints Go Marching In”, and mastered the art of Scat Singing. The children were so excited about scatting that we developed more skills through the book “Charlie Parker Played Bebop” and the nursery rhyme “Ram Sam Sam.”
First Grade (The Centipedes) have been working on clapping in synchronicity, and have assigned numerical chants to different rhythms. The song “Bernie Bee” started as a clapping experiment, and quickly elevated to a vocal song where we clapped and sang the rhythm simultaneously. The children wanted so badly to sing it as solo performances, so we took some time to let each child sing the song by her/himself. Centipedes were also very excited by scat singing, learning about Louis Armstrong’s life, and imitating his growly singing voice! We discussed Bebop, listened to a little Charlie Parker, and played rhythm instruments in four parts arrangement.
Second Grade (The Sharks) really love Jazz! Our exploration of Louis Armstrong began with research – what do we HEAR in the recordings? We encouraged the children to listen with their whole bodies, giving encouragement for focus and attention to detail. Many children could name instruments they heard in the recordings. The children learned and sang “When You’re Smiling” and “What A Wonderful World”. For the latter, they made recordings in two consecutive weeks. The second week, the children voted to determine which recording would be posted for the parents.  Take 2 was the winner  by a vote of 8-to-4, but both takes are here for listening. Additionally, the children were particularly impressed by the vocal stylings of Ella Fitzgerald (and also that her name sounds amazingly like Elephants Gerald.) We listened to her sing several songs, and will continue discussing her and other female vocalists next month.
Listen to Take One :

Listen to Take Two :

February’s spotlight artist is Nina Simone. Stop by and sing along!!  



Pre-Kindergarten has been working on their class wood-buddies. Each student was assigned a body part to design and build. We have piles of noses, ears, mouths, eyes, arms, tails, horns and more. We discussed what kind of animal we might end up with. Since each student is responsible for a single body part we are likely to get various mix-ups and mash-ups. We learned about the word hybrid and how it can describe something that is a combination of two or more things. The students had amazing proposals for what we might end up making—a half-lion-half-rabbit, a fish-bird, a Train-a-saurus (a train and Tyrannosaurus of course) and maybe even a lady-bug (half lady/half bug).

Following this we started working on a collaborative “Wishing Tree.” We talked about different types of trees and where the wood in the woodshop comes from and then thought about the structure of trees. The Pre-K’s made drawings of trees and collages using paper-thin strips of wood veneer. Now each student is working on a single branch, using a central branch and adding to it. We will soon start connecting all of out branches to form one large tree which we will then decorate and hang wishes from.

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Some possible configurations of the Pre-K’s woodshop buddies.


Kindergarten (Katydids) completed their interesting-thing-invention project. The students considered the objects they chose to work with and examined them closely. We really tried to think about what could be invented around these objects. What do they resemble? How could they work as something else? We will continue honing the skills needed to go from idea to plan to execution using blueprints and work-plans. By breaking down the process and slowing down we can become more deliberate in our choices of materials, tools and construction. How can we turn this small broken piece of a computer into the body of a lizard? How does this plastic remote control transform into a flying ambulance?

We started thinking about this in a new project that is already near completion: mini-me’s!

To figure out what details are important to have in the mini-me to make it recognizable as a miniature version of oneself the Katydids first made self-portraits. They first drew their faces on a full sheet, considering all the different aspects of the face that make each of us unique. Then they made full-body portraits, and finally moved on to draw on small wooden pieces. Cutting dowels for bodies and adding arms and legs. Now that the mini-me’s are almost done we are starting to build furniture for them—making chairs and beds. We will draw designs, figure out all the parts and make a plan for building mini-furniture for the mini-me’s.

First Grade (The Centipedes) finished the wood shop sign. The door now proudly declares “The Co-op Wood Shop” for all to see! There were some great discoveries and inventions while making the sign. Each student came up with a unique method for measuring, cutting and assembling their individual letters. After decorating each letter the Centipedes then painted the part of their composition that spelled out their letter. Making it stand out and “pop” out of the collective abstract composition. Having finished up the sign we moved on to the next project. In collaboration with Carla, the Spanish teacher, we are making “mini-me”s that will inhabit the casas the students are building in Spanish class. Each student started by making a full page self portrait of only their face. Making close observations of the features that make each one of us unique. Students took special care to put in all the details they could. Following this we talked about what might get lost when we make a smaller version of ourselves and what would be important to keep. They then made portraits of their entire bodies, eliminating some details and introducing new ones. Finally students began drawing their faces onto small wood beads and painting heir bodies onto small dowels. We considered what would be a good way to decide how long or short to cut the dowel and tried to count how many times our head fit in our bodies as a measurement for sawing the dowels. We assembled the mini-me’s, adding arms and as much detail as could fit.

woodshop_first The Centipedes then began planing furniture for the mini-me’s. Using a work-book students designed several different types of beds, considering which would be best for their mini-me’s. They then broke down all the different parts that would be required to assemble it. Finally they drew out and wrote all the stages of construction—making a detailed plan that will allow us—step-by-step—to build things for the mini-me’s.


Second Grade (Sharks) for their theatrical debut the Sharks built all the props and sets. Each shark contributed a lollipop flower to the lollipop field, the built the giant TV for Mike Teavee’s scene, they made the television camera, the cane for Willa Wonka and did a beautiful job putting it all together. The students really considered how each element was going to be used in the play and what would work best for the design. It was great to see everyone come together and really put all of their efforts towards a shared goal. No single piece was any one person’s project—it was a true collaboration among all the Sharks. When the Sharks got back from break we introduced measuring. The Sharks learned how to use a tape measure and using a work-book on the subject, working in pairs, they measured everything in sight. We started with ourselves—each shark measured their friend—head to feet, shoulder to fingers, heel to toes and so on. They then measured chairs—considering the difference between measuring width and height, how best to read the tape measure and more.

We missed a few sessions this month due to the Sharks various field trips but will be making up those classes in February. Using measuring, the Sharks will hone finer woodworking skills and make detailed plans, designs and blueprints.

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Science with Nicole!

Everyone is off to an exciting start of the New Year in the Science Lab.

Pre-Kindergarten (The Beetles, Dragonflies, and Bumblebees) began their study of the human body by brainstorming about human’s similarities and differences.  The children discussed that all people have a heart, a brain, blood and bones in common. Then we looked at our uniqueness. The children mentioned that we all have unique likes and dislikes and they we have a different appearance. The children looked at their individual fingerprints and discussed how each individual had a unique fingerprint! Then children we moved on to learning about the circulatory system. We have been feeling our heart beats at rest and a play. In addition we have read about the heart and looked at many pictures of the heart inside and out. The children learned to create a pump and practiced pumping red colored water from our “heart pump.” This past week we began to talk about blood and we read A Drop of Blood by, Paul Showers. Finally, we created a beaker of magnified blood cells from red and white bottle caps and used water for plasma. We are looking forward to learning more about the human body in the next few weeks.

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Kindergarten (Katydids) have been exploring where the trash we produce ends up and the process of recycling. In class we have created a mini-landfill that we will observe over the course of three months. Our landfill is a plastic box filled with soil, a lemon, 5 blackberries, a sandwich, a plastic cup, a plastic produce bag, a pencil, a ball of foil and some paper scraps. The students wrote down their hypotheses about which items in the landfill will biodegrade over time. We will know the results in April. In addition, we have been reading about Recycling and discussing the wealth of information the children already know on the subject. The Katydids especially enjoyed reading, Adventures of a Plastic Bottle by, Allison Inches.  The Katydids have created recycling posters that are hanging near the school recycling bins. Please stop by to see these wonderful posters! In the next month we will begin learning about our ecosystem and begin to create a model ecosystem using recycled materials.


First Grade (The Centipedes) have been hard at work experimenting with States of Matter: solids, liquids, and gases. We have focused on water and observed how it can change states. We have also conducted experiments to observe and prove some basic facts about solids, liquids, and gases. We have observed the following: solids have a fixed shape and volume, liquids take on the shape and volume of their container, and gases have no shape and they take on the volume of whatever container they are in.  We have also collaborated with Carla to learn the Spanish words to describe the States of Matter in two languages! A week ago the Centipedes looked at solid sugar crystals with a magnifying glass. Then they dissolved the sugar in water creating a liquid. The class combined their liquid in a pot and we boiled it hoping to grow new larger sugar crystals. We will be observing our results in our next class.


Second Grade (The Sharks) have returned to Science this month! We have spent the past few weeks learning about the Water Cycle. We have been reading about the Water Cycle and reading One Well: The Story Of Water On Earth.  The Sharks have created Water Cycle In A Bag experiments that they are observing in their classroom.  They filled their Ziploc bags a third full of water and then hung their sealed bag in a sunny part of their classroom window. The suns heat causes some of the water to evaporate. Then the evaporated water condenses near the top of the bag creating condensation. Finally drops of water appear on the inside of the bags creating precipitation that runs back into the collection of water in the bottom of the bag. We have also conducted experiments on evaporation and precipitation using ice, water, shaving cream and coloring.  Next we will revisit our study of waters properties that we began in the fall. In the weeks to come the Sharks will utilize their knowledge of the water cycle and some of water’s amazing properties to enhance their study of trees.




Kindergarten (Katydids)The Katydids started the year by talking about shapes. We read, When a Line Bends….A Shape Begins by Rhinda Growler Greene. Then using individual mirrors, we studied our faces, looking for shapes and lines in our faces. We discussed what it means to make a self portrait and how artists use mirrors when creating self-portraits.  We read the The Colors of Us by Karen Katz and had a conversation about the variety of skin tones in our class. Then after reviewing color mixing, the Katydids tried mixing their own skin tones and adding these colors to their self portraits. Continuing our investigation into shapes, the Katydids did some observational drawings. A scooter was place on the table with the Katydids surrounding it. Students looked for shapes in the scooter and how they connected to other shapes and lines. Some Katydids even started an additional observational drawing of a pot of young green lettuce that is growing in the Science/Gardening room.

First Grade (Centipedes) To get warmed up and back in the swing of things, the Centipedes began January by making a painting that expressed something special that they did with their friends and family over winter break. The next week, following our Town Hall meeting in which we discussed Innovation,  I gave them an unusual sized paper and asked them to use the shape of the paper in an innovative way to make a painting. I also set a goal for them to mix two new colors to use in the painting. Then, to transition into our upcoming 3D construction project, the Centipedes did an abridged version of the marshmallow challenge!  Each table became a construction team, and we spoke about collaboration and sharing ideas with team mates.  I gave them 20 pieces of dry spaghetti, 1 yard of string, 1 yard of tape, and one marshmallow and asked them to work together to figure out how they could connect them in an innovative way. Not surprisingly, many Centipedes really wanted to eat the marshmallow, but managed to restrain themselves and came up with some interesting solutions on how you can build and connect 3D materials in new ways.

Second Grade (Sharks) To start out the new year, we discussed the idea of resolutions and what that word means.   I asked the Sharks to think about what their hopes and dreams were for this coming year. It could’ve been a hope for themselves, their family, the art studio, school, however they wanted to represent the idea. They spent a couple classes working on this painting, diligently mixing new colors to express their intention. The next class we spoke about the differences between tempera paint and watercolors discussing the physical properties and the different ways you can use your brush to apply it. After a demonstration on watercolors, in which I showed them different techniques, the Sharks explored watercolors on their own, investigating how the colors mixed together using the wet-on-wet technique and stayed separately when applying them directly to dry paper.



Kindergarten (KATYDIDS) ¡Saludos! Diciembre has been a wonderful month to learn about the five senses/ los cinco sentidos: vista/sight, oído/hearing, olfato/smell, gusto/taste, tacto/touch. As well as practicing the names of the body parts involved: ojos/eyes, oídos/ears, nariz/nose, boca/mouth, lengua/tongue, manos/hands, piel/skin. We engaged in fun and exploratory activities to learn more about the topic and most importantly to surprise us with our different perceptions. For instance, some grillitos have different opinions regarding to which textures feel soft/suave or rough/aspero-rugoso. Also, we learned that some friends like certain scents/olores like coffee while others dislike it! Si me gusta/I like it or No me gusta/ I don’t like it. ¡Muy buen trabajo grillos!

First Grade (CENTIPEDES) ¿Qué tal? Espero que muy bien. Los ciempiés have been learning so much about the five senses/ los cinco sentidos: vista/sight, oído/hearing, olfato/smell, gusto/taste, tacto/touch. As well as practicing the names of the body parts involved: ojos/eyes, oídos/ears, nariz/nose, boca/mouth, lengua/tongue, manos/hands, piel/skin. We engaged in fun and exploratory activities to learn more about the topic and most importantly to surprise us with our different perceptions. For instance, some centipedes have different opinions regarding to which textures feel soft/suave or rough/aspero-rugoso. Also, we learned that some friends like certain scents/olores like dry cat food while others dislike it! Si me gusta/I like it or No me gusta/ I don’t like it. In addition to this, we collaborated with Nicole-our science teacher, to learn about the states of matter/los estados de la materia: sólido, líquido, gaseoso, y plasma. And also, we collaborated with Rotem-our woodshop teacher, to create “mini me’s” to play with our cardboard city on Viernes divertidos/ fun Fridays. ¡Excelente trabajo ciempiés!

Second Grade (SHARKS) ¡Hola! ¿Cómo están? Espero que super bien. Los tiburones have been learning  about the five senses/ los cinco sentidos: vista/sight, oído/hearing, olfato/smell, gusto/taste, tacto/touch. As well as practicing the names of the body parts involved: ojos/eyes, oídos/ears, nariz/nose, boca/mouth, lengua/tongue, manos/hands, piel/skin. We engaged in fun and exploratory activities to learn more about the topic and most importantly to surprise us with our different perceptions. For instance, some sharks have different opinions regarding to which textures feel soft/suave or rough/aspero-rugoso. Also, we learned that some friends like certain tastes/sabores like vinegar while others dislike it! Si me gusta/I like it or No me gusta/ I don’t like it. To wrap up this unit, we will have a little picnic to practice our idioms and conversation skills: ¿Te gusta?/ Do you like it? ¿Sabe bien/mal? / Does it taste good/ bad? ¿Huele bien/mal?/ Does it smell good/bad?

¡Excelente trabajo tiburones!


Mandy's School News

Community: Town Hall Focus on Innovation

During the month of January, we will be concentrating on our next value – INNOVATION.

Value #3: Innovation: We value and nurture curiosity, imagination, creativity, experimentation and perseverance when faced with challenges.

For Town Hall, we all discussed what innovation means and how we can recognize it on others and ourselves. We opened with an amazing song about how we need courage and confidence to be INNOVATIVE, written by music teacher Dan and sung by the Katydids. Then, Emily (Centipede teacher) and Ryan (Shark teacher) did a wonderful skit to demonstrate how we, as teachers and students, can demonstrate and share our innovative ideas and strategies.

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Afterwards, each class shared their innovations. It was so cool to see how each class used the same (EXACT!) materials in very different and INNOVATIVE ways!

The Pre-k Dragonflies did lots of innovating and created a small animal obstacle course, a mini basketball game, a funny guys, a car and a pirate ship!

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The Pre-k Bumblebees made two innovations, one was a one eyed, flying monster and
the other was a cool sculpture that had a nest on top!


The Beetles created a telescope car and they even wrote a story to go with

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The Kindergarten Katydids invented a house car – its a house on top or a car!

The first grade Centipedes also did lots of innovating and created a marble race, a barn & farm, a space ship and a trap!


The second grade Sharks came up with a cool game they named a Spinadoodle!


It was so wonderful to hear all the ways in which we show our INNOVATIVE spirits everyday! We will keep the conversation going, throughout the month, and we’d love to invite the parents to join in.


Mandy's School News

ARTSHOP was a smashing success!

Our teacher-led Art Committee put together a wonderful event this Saturday, the annual ARTSHOP! Teachers, parents and family members created wonderful art centers for our kids. The results were awesome –  beautiful art, good times and smiles all around! Thank you Stephen, Carmelle, and Emily!

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Mandy's School News

Get to Know a Co-op Teacher!

The 10 Question Teacher Interview For Our Brevoort Science teacher, Nicole Porter!


1. How long have you been working at The Co-op School?

Since September.

2. What’s your favorite part of being part of The Co-op School?

I already appreciate being part of The Co-op School community of amazing teachers and fun, bright students.

3. What do you like to do for fun?

I like to spend time with my family and play outside.

4. What’s your favorite restaurant?

My favorite restaurant is Samurai Mama in Williamsburg.

5. What’s your favorite sandwich?

I like grilled cheese sandwiches with a bowl of tomato soup! Yum!

6. What’s your favorite song?

This is difficult because I like so many songs but, Fairies Ware Boots by Black Sabbath is one of my favorites.

7. Where do you want your next vacation to be?

I want to go to Italy with my family.

8. What are you reading right now?

I am reading a great book called: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by, Michael Chabon.

9. If you could buy yourself anything what would it be?

I would buy a beach house on the island of Culebra in Puerto Rico.

10. What TV sitcom family would you most like to be a member of?

None, I like real life.