Specials Curriculum Update

January 2020


All of the classes started off the New Year with still life studies in pastel. The students worked on black paper, with particular focus on techniques for illustrating the sphere.

Jazz and Stitch: The remainder of January was dedicated to textile arts. We did various stitch and fabric projects while listening to jazz music. The Rustin and Penn Classes used burlap, large needles and yarn to experiment with different size stitches. They created collages using pieces of felt glued to MDF board. The Fox, Anthony and Helman Osborn Classes practiced several different embroidery stitches. They created a design on burlap first using yarn and large needles and then using embroidery floss and smaller needles for detail work. The students incorporated leather or felt to create appliques on their work. The students then practiced lettering stitches for their Ally quilt.

Library/Information and Technology Literacy

Mott & Rustin – Preschool and Kindergarten

January is the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards month and the Mott and Rustin Classes enjoyed several award-winning books. We read Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young, Waiting by Kevin Henkes, and Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Students learned about the Caldecott Medal, the Newbery Medal, and the Coretta Scott King Book Awards.

Penn – 1st and 2nd Grades

This month, we read award-winning books including Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, and Zen Shorts by Jon Muth to celebrate the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards month. Students learned about the Caldecott Medal, the Newbery Medal, and the Coretta Scott King Book Awards. Students continued to practice their computer and keyboarding skills using the website learning.com.

Fox & Anthony – 3rd Grade, 4th and 5th Grades

The Fox class read award-winning books including Black and White by David Macaulay, Zen Shorts by Jon Muth, and Lon Po Po by Ed Young to celebrate the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards month. With a partner, Anthony Class students researched one of the book awards given by the American Library Association including the Newbery Medal, the Pura Belpre Award, and the Coretta Scott King award.

Helman-Osborn – 6th-8th Grades

In ITL class, students selected their second independent reading book for their book share project. During robotics class, students have been working on designing and building solar cars.


Mott and Rustin Classes are continuing to make wonderful progress in music class. Our youngest students are singing more confidently during our welcoming song and other simple songs we learn. They are also becoming more creative with their movement choices when we are using our body to match musical selections. We have begun to use movement aids such as our “magic rope” and a large ball to engage in some basic folk dances. Students continue to enjoy linking literature to our music time. The cadence of songs, nursery rhymes and story texts all help to support fluency in both music and language reading.

Penn and Fox Classes are becoming rhythmic masters! They are doing a wonderful job identifying and reading rhythms involving quarter notes, eighth notes, and quarter rests. Now that we have a solid base for rhythmic reading, we will be moving further into learning melodic music notation. Fox Class is learning about note names on the treble staff and even created silly sentences to help them remember their order.

Anthony and Helman-Osborn Classes have been reviewing musical skills after winter break. Anthony Class has learned several new movement games. A new favorite is “We are Dancing in the Forest” which we played in the Big Room in order to have extra room to enjoy the tag portion of the activity.

Instrumental musicians worked hard and were proud to present the Winter Concert to a packed and supportive audience. The ensemble has grown a great deal in this larger group setting by learning about concert versus written pitch and working on balance and blend. We are now excited to get back to our smaller sectional based lessons and focus on growing our individual instrumental skills. As we do, it is important to remember that consistent practice at home, even short 10 minute sessions, makes a huge difference in the level of student playing. Please continue to praise your student when they remember to do so or request a mini-performance from them to inspire them to get their instrument out and play. Please note that I encourage students to send short video clips of their completed exercises to my UFS email address in order to maximize our instructional time instead of doing “belt testing”. The tested exercises are listed in columns in their achievement charts which are located in their method books.

Our vocal ensemble also participated in the Winter Concert and was a big hit! Chorus students have worked hard to memorize their music, texts, and treatment of foreign language pieces. They did a wonderful job keeping their eyes on me as the conductor, and responding to my cues. We look forward to beginning our Spring Concert repertoire.

Physical Education

We've been having a wonderful time in PE. The students in the Mott and Rustin students have been continuing to build fitness by participating in fun filled themed classes using the Stretch-n-Grow Fitness Stars Curriculum. We continue to learn the names of our muscles, we practice our love2run exercises, and learn the different paces of running (walking, jogging, running, and sprinting) Our Mott and Rustin students also learned sports skills such as baseball, basketball, and soccer.

Our Penn through Middle School students have been focusing on building their fitness levels as they participated in fitness circuits and the running challenge. Our students have participated in team building games such as hand-ball and relay races.

All of our students participated in the first Maker-Gym. A variety of equipment was placed around the Big Room. Students were asked to explore and create games and activities with the equipment and then explain what they did with the equipment they chose to use and how they felt after playing the game they created. It was a positive experience for all of our students.


Early Elementary

The Mott Class started the year off with an exciting review of colors, learning more along the way. Students jumped on all the colors of the rainbow as we sang the color song and identified different colors from pictures. The Rustin Class learned about and ate rosca de reyes (kings’ bread) for Día de Los Reyes (Kings Day). Kindergarten also learned about Spain’s New Year tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight. Students ate grapes, too, and then wrote and drew their desires for the new year. All early elementary students are participating in the reading of Los Tres Osos (The Three Bears) and are also learning ways of describing how they’re feeling.

Elementary students participated in tradiciones for Día de Los Reyes (Kings Day) and el Año Nuevo (New Year). Students learned about the origin of Kings’ Day, who was/is involved (the kings), and how it is celebrated in other countries. They even got to eat rosca de reyes (a traditional holiday bread in Mexico) from the local Mexican market down the street! The person who found the little figurine in the bread got to wear a crown. The Anthony class collaboratively wrote two paragraphs summarizing the differences between Christmas and Kings’ Day. All elementary students also learned about and simulated Spain’s New Year tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight, eating one grape and making wishes for every month of the new year. Students wrote and drew their desires for the new year.

Middle School wrote personal goals for the new year and worked on being able to produce their goals and their classmates’ goals through a variety of fun activities. Students matched English to Spanish, filled in blanks individually and as a class, matched pictures, put together puzzles with each piece having a different word in the different phrases, and completing a running dictation where teams worked together to write sentences more from memory. Finally, each student wrote twelve new desires for the new year. Students had kicked off the unit by eating twelve grapes as a way of wishing luck for all twelve months of the year, as they do in Spain.