Thursday, January 17, 2019

Library Time

The LS Library is one of my favorite places to be, not only because I love children’s literature, but because of how much energy the students bring to exploring books, asking questions and generating new ideas everyday!

In addition to other free-time options throughout the week, Sky class has its own special time each Monday afternoon to check out books and read in one of the cozy spots in the library. Each week the students spend time getting better acquainted with the geography of the library and the self-checkout system, which helps build confidence in their ability to search for and check out books independently. The students have access to the online catalog, but we find at this stage, browsing shelves can be a more efficient way to discover the next great read!

Recently, the most popular non-fiction sections in Sky Class have been animals, sports, gaming and geology. This month we also focused on “wordless” picture books that include beautiful illustrations and invite the reader to become the author. Wordless picture books are great for any reader’s imagination, but especially for students who might benefit from a non-traditional way to interact with a book. Our next steps are to encourage trying on transitional chapter books for size, such as The Princess in Black, Mercy Watson and A To Z Mysteries.

 Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Interest Groups

This post is a bit over due, but I wanted to share some pictures and information about Interest Groups in the Lower School. A few times a year 1st through 4th years have the opportunity to take unique classes offered by CFS staff and community members. The classes are all multi-age and meet three times for one hour and fifteen minutes (normally on Fridays). On Thursday, December 20th, our 2nd round of Interest Groups concluded. Since all three meetings were in December, several of the interest groups were holiday themed (Maker Gifts, Whoville Holiday, Harry Potter Holiday Crafts, Holiday Baking, etc.), but there were also many classes for children who wanted to explore other topics including coding and rockets. One Interest Group, Website Wizards, learned about photography and creating websites with Ruth. This group shared many wonderful photos from all of the Interest Groups. You can check them out in the slideshow below!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Guten Tag

This week it was our pleasure to host a German Center during Wednesday afternoon's Centers time. Seven students had the opportunity to learn some greetings, numbers and words in German from a Sky class parent, April. We are so appreciative of her offering to share her knowledge and passion with our students. They all had a blast and are already asking when they'll have a chance to learn more!

Here's a quick peek at our German Center!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Holiday Celebrations

It's been quite a festive and spirited week here in Sky Class. Every morning children and their families are invited to sing with Joanna and the CFS community in the multi from 8:20- 8:45. If you haven't joined yet, please consider coming out to sing holiday songs tomorrow morning. It's a great way to celebrate the season together. 

Today we celebrated Kwanzaa together as a community. Several 4th years gave up their lunch and snack recesses to learn a traditional African dance, which they performed for the entire lower school and some special guests. The dancers also shared some information about Kwanzaa and in Sky Class we read Seven Candles for Kwanzaa to learn more about the holiday. It is typical to share nuts and berries with family and friends during Kwanzaa, so the lower school had a shared snack and each child participated by bringing a handful of nuts or a small fruit to contribute to the lower school snack. The fruits and nuts were then arranged and presented to the students by the teachers. The annual Kwanzaa celebration is a beautiful tradition that allows us to come together as an entire community to break bread and connect with one another.

Lastly, since we could not visit the Senior Center as planned, we mailed them our holiday cards and took a class photo to share with the seniors. We are hopeful we can connect with our Durham community more in 2019!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Specials Spotlight: PE

Sky class goes to PE class once a week on Thursdays. Today's blog post was written by Kim, their PE teacher. 

We started off the school year establishing rules for class. Students continue to practice listening and following directions and being supportive classmates. We greet  each other every week with a high 5 to help us remember the following:
  1. Eyes watching
  2. Ears listening
  3. Body still and ready
  4. Voice off
  5. Brain ready to learn

A growth mindset is reinforced in every class and we encourage all students to at least try an activity and not be afraid of making mistakes. We are currently focusing on fitness and learning how our heart and lungs respond to a variety of movements and activities. So far students have played FIT DECK Tag, designed obstacle courses, and played a variety of chase and evade games, worked together with a very large parachute and enjoyed some competitive Battleship using scooters, yarn balls and bowling pins. Students love to keep moving and especially enjoy any activity that involves dodge balls or scooters. During the winter months we will build on their motor skills by adding more complex activities requiring throwing, catching, kicking, trapping, striking, volleying, rolling and dribbling. We will wrap these skills into a sampling of sports like basketball, soccer, volleyball and hockey.

Here are some pictures from PE. The kids were tasked to make parks using different equipment.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Hour of Code

Hour of Code is a special event celebrated in over 180 countries all around the world (you can check out a map marking events here). The goal of the event is to increase people's interest in coding and computer science. Coding is a part of our curriculum in the lower school at CFS, but Hour of Code is still a special event since we devote an entire hour to coding.

In Sky class students participated in a 30 minute unplugged activity and a 30 minute activity on the iPad. The unplugged activity required students to set up a puzzle and then use hand signals to direct their 'human robot' to a desired location. Students had to work cooperatively to guide each other and had extensive chances to practice their listening and communication skills. There was a lot of productive struggle surrounding the restriction on verbal directions and taking the perspective of the 'human robot' (the programmer faced the robot).

During the plugged activity 1st years worked on Candy Crush in Tynker, while 2nd years worked on Lightbot and Dragon Quest in Tynker. Here are more hour of code activities from Tynker and from These are all great activities that your child can do at home. There are also several activities that are very appropriate for adults! Happy coding!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Identity Self-Portraits

We have finally finished our identity self-portraits. After reading Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester kids were invited to explore their own skin color and race. We celebrated the beauty of our different shades as we mixed paints to match our skin colors. Kids then named their skin color and recorded the 'recipe' for that color.

We also discussed how we are all so much more than our skin color and race is just one facet of our identity. Kids were invited to reflect on what made them unique, their values, their strengths and ultimately, what makes them who they are. Students then represented 4-8 different facets of their identity on cards that now hang below their self-portrait.

This project gave us the opportunity to celebrate our differences and recognize our numerous similarities. We had really interesting conversations about whether or not we are all more similar or more different than one another and even discussed how genetically we are 99.9% the same!

These conversations will continue throughout the rest of the school year and hopefully will allow us all to become more empathetic and loving individuals. We hope you come into the classroom to check out our portraits for yourself!