Specials Curriculum Update

October 2019


All of the classes created large masks as a part of the haunted bus for Fall Fest. The Middle School students continued working on their large scale murals. They are focusing on incorporating their own portrait images into painted color fields. The students worked in small groups in the

last class of the month to design “haunted “theme rooms for the Halloween activity. We looked at the ways that a room can be transformed with fabric, nature elements and lighting.

The Anthony Class sealed, primed and painted designs on their Grecian urns in preparation for a trip to the Greek collection at The Penn Museum. We had the galleries to ourselves after the tour, and the students selected and did drawing studies at the exhibit. We then had lunch in front of the Waterworks and the Philadelphia Museum of Art so that we could experience Greek influenced architecture. After the trip, the Anthony Class came to Art Class wearing their togas. We recreated classic poses using the urns for effect. The students did figure studies in pencil.

The Fox, Penn and Rustin Classes created a collage that emphasizes transparency by using tissues and gloss glazes. On Halloween, the students learned about packaging design for their favorite candy. We explored the question,” What are the elements that give packaging it’s POW factor? ” (Andy Warhol would call it). The students made up their own candy name and packaging design. They cut out the packages and stuffed them to create a 3D effect.

Library/Information and Technology Literacy

Mott and Rustin – Preschool and Kindergarten

On October 2nd , the International Day of Non-Violence, students discussed what

peace means and what peace feels like. We also read The Peace Book by Todd Parr.

Throughout the month, we read books about Fall, farms, and Halloween. Some titles include The Little Scarecrow Boy by Margaret Wise Brown and The Haunted House by Eve Bunting. With the help of the students, we also acted out the story, The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams. Students continued to practice selecting books, checking them out, and reading quietly on the rug.

Penn and Fox Classes -- 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Grades

This month, the Penn and Fox Classes learned that fiction books in the library are organized alphabetically by the author’s last name. Students then designed book spines using their own last names and practiced putting them in alphabetical order. Throughout the month, we read several books including The Little Scarecrow Boy by Margaret Wise Brown and The Experiments of Dr. Vermin by Tim Egan to celebrate the Fall season and Halloween. Earlier in the month, we read Encounter by Jane Yolen and had a discussion about Christopher Columbus. The class continued to practice the book checkout routine. Most recently, Fox Class students have been practicing their keyboarding skills using the website learning.com.

Anthony – 4 th and 5 th Grades

The students in the Anthony Class have been researching and learning about a Greek god or goddess. During ITL class, they have been working on creating a trading card for their Greek god or goddess using Google Slides. Students practiced how to add color, backgrounds, images, and text. Most recently, students have learned how to use Britannica School, the online encyclopedia, to help them in future research projects.

Helman-Osborn – 6 th -8 th Grades

In ITL Class, students have learned how to use Britannica School, the online

Encyclopedia, to help them in future research projects. Students also learned how to cite sources by using the website easybib.com. Students continued to read and take notes on their R2S2 independent reading book and have begun working on selecting songs that reflect their book’s characters, setting, mood, and theme for their playlist project.


Mott, Rustin and Penn Classes have been learning Pumpkin songs throughout the month of October. We explored the concept of high and low using these songs as we sang and explored them using the xylophone. We also enjoyed using motions and passing manipulatives around in a circle to experience steady beat. It has been a very fun month celebrating the fall in song and also through listening activities. Students were able to use scarves to match their movements to spooky music such as Camille Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre. We also incorporated our songs into interactive story reading, a favorite was Pippa Goodhart’s Three Little Ghosties.

Fox and Anthony Classes continue their exploration of rhythm basics and added in longer tones as well as 4 equal sounds per beat. These rhythmic building blocks were used extensively during composition activities where students created, practiced and performed 8 beat rhythmic patterns. Students are becoming more fluent in their rhythmic dictation and are becoming more adept at performing these short compositions. Students also used music listening skills to identify melodic and rhythmic patterns in various songs and thematic music. A fun celebration of all things spooky occurred this past week when students performed Skeleton Dance, Smashing Pumpkins and the Ghostbusters theme on Boomwhackers.

Helman-Osborn students reviewed common musical vocabulary by completing a listening guide worksheet while they analyzed Antonin Liadov’s composition, Baba Yaga. This piece is based on the Slavic folktale of the same name. This folktale is often thought to be the origin of the Hansel and Gretl story and is full of wonderful detail. These details are drawn out musical elements in this symphonic tone poem of the late 19th/early 20th century.

Instrumental music students continue to learn proper positioning and tone production of instruments. Many students are making great progress on their instruments and are beginning to advance on our levels of achievement. Students advance levels according to their progress on exercises listed in the back of their method books. They present their completed exercises during lessons or by sending progress videos via email. Consistent practice, 10-20 minutes 4-7 times per week, is key to gaining stamina on instruments and progressing. Bringing instruments and method books every Tuesday for participation in lessons is essential for growth. We will begin working on repertoire for our winter concert in the next few weeks and look forward to working on pieces as an ensemble.

Our vocal ensemble has begun to sight read 3-4 note melodies to warm up before each rehearsal. We will begin rehearsing our winter repertoire in earnest as we prepare for our January 14, 2020 concert. Please save the date! We were very happy to sing a few Halloween songs to close our UFS Halloween party. The students were very poised and performed beautifully for a very engaged audience of younger students. Bravissimi students!

Physical Education

Our PE Classes have been filled with so many fun games, exercises, and challenges. Our younger classes used their imaginations and caught leaves falling from the trees; we crumbled leaves; we jumped in leaves; and made leaf piles while building our fitness level and motor skills. Penn, Fox, Anthony and HO Classes completed the first Pacer assessment. All of our students did an amazing job. Many of them set goals and succeeded in reaching those goals. Other weeks, our Rustin and Mott Classes pretended to be firefighters while using the noodles, parachute, and other fun equipment to get moving and exercising. Penn, Anthony, Fox, and HO Classes all participated in the rock, paper, scissor challenge and obstacle course filled with lots of exercises. We worked on increasing our flexibility through stretches; building strength through push ups and plans; increased running endurance during our running challenge; and increased speed during our relays, It's been a wonderful month!


Early Childhood continued greeting and introducing and reviewed colors and, more recently, family member titles. They learned how to sing “Bebé Tiburón” (“Baby Shark”) and identify family members in pictures and in conversation, even around the topics of Day of the Dead (“¿Tiene un abuelo muerto?” )

Elementary learned some basic questions to get to know someone and were able to put these questions into practice at the Middle School Hispanic Heritage Month Interactive Museum. In this museum, students were able to ask important hispanic figures about their names, age, birthdays, birthplace, and reasons for being famous. Students also have been learning the Spanish alphabet as part of their routine and can successfully identify many letters. Anthony and recently Fox Classes are also in the habit of stating how they feel and why (“Estoy cansado porque dormí poco” “I’m tired because I slept little”) as well as responding with “me alegro” (“I’m happy for you”) or “lo siento” (“I’m sorry”). Additionally, Penn had the privilege of learning more about the home-country of Tatiana, a Colombian family friend of Penn class student, Madelaine. They observed pictures from different “ciudades” and discussed the colors. For Day of the Dead, all students learned about Noemí’s family members and altar and were able to share about their deceased family members in Spanish as well.

For Hispanic Heritage month (September 15-October 15), Middle School focused on famous and important hispanics and discussed what “hispanic” and “heritage” meant. Incorporated into these topics was that of the basic getting-to-know-you questions and answers but also the practice of recognizing cognates and taking and making visual clues. As a culminating project for Hispanic Heritage Month, 6th Graders read on important hispanic figures (Ellen Ochoa, Mario Molina, and Dolores Huerta) and dressed up as interviewers and these figures for the Hispanic Heritage Month Interactive Museum. They also gathered basic information (age, birthday, birthplace, and reason for being famous) to respond to elementary students’ questions. 7th and 8th Graders researched a hispanic country and made a poster with all the basic information, presenting these to the elementary students who came to the Hispanic Heritage Month Interactive Museum. Students are also in the habit of asking how each other is doing and explaining why (“Estoy cansado porque dormí poco” “I’m tired because I slept little”) and responding with “me alegro” (“I’m happy for you”) or “lo siento” (“I’m sorry”).


During October, we have continued our work on converting fractions to decimals, as well as understanding the difference between terminating and repeating decimals. (Interesting fact – if a fraction is simplified, it will be terminating if the denominator only has prime factors of 2 or 5. Otherwise it will be a repeating decimal.) We have also begun to develop a working understanding of positive and negative numbers and how they interact, using the idea of an acrobat moving on a high wire. On a different track, students have been working with areas and perimeters of polygons, becoming more fluent in “thinking in shapes and sizes” as well as inferring spatial information from partial evidence. We continue to work on logical and mathematical puzzles, as well, which has included learning to fool around with summation and factorials, which helps to develop fluency and comfort in numerical thinking.