LS Special Area Update

December 2015


Essential Question:

Why do people make art?

With the auction projects almost totally wrapped up and the cross curricular projects for 2015 done, we can begin to look ahead with anticipation. The students have learned so much by participating in the auction art as well as cross curricular art. From teamwork and collaboration to individualism all within the same project, it is truly amazing to see and hear what all they are learning.

Now that we are in the holiday season, the students have already begun crafting some terrific projects. They have been busily making clay and assorted ornaments, wire and yarn projects as well as some beautiful winter pictures. I just love to hear all the creative and unique ideas they are so freely sharing. This time of year just lends itself to enthusiastic collaboration and uniqueness.

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Essential Question:

How do musical symbols help us to play more musically on our instruments?

The Fifth Grade Band students did a wonderful job at their first band concert. Now it is time for them to get back to work in their band books. They will start learning some new notes and some new band pieces. They will be learning about dynamic markings, and how they can play more musically by observing the dynamics. They will also learn how to play musical phrases. One of the most important things they will work on all year is how to produce a beautiful sound.
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Essential Questions:

What elements are necessary in a play? Script? Characters? Props?

How important is the logistical planning of putting on a production?

How should an audience behave at a performance? Why is it important?

How does teamwork affect a show?

How does practicing for a play help us perform better?

How should actors behave at a performance?

How is reading a script different from reading a chapter book?

How are characters created?

How do behaviors, vocal skills, posture, and movement contribute to believable characters?

How are the basic elements of drama combined to create a play?

Fourth & fifth grades concentrated on public speaking skills. The students had the opportunity to speak in front of the class in various public speaking and communication exercises.

Second & third grades had fun performing in improvisations to demonstrate effective stage directions and a variety of actor positions.

Kindergarten began their unit on ‘How to create a character’. The students participated cooperatively in character building activities and drama games creating original characters.

First Grade rehearsed and prepared for their Grateful Gathering performance.

In grades 2-5 we will begin our unit on ‘Taking the Stage’. The students are being introduced to the process of putting on a production. They are learning the steps for creating a play, the guidelines for effective rehearsal, learning how to read a play and follow stage directions and gather information from it be reading scripts aloud, discussing and preparing for the spring play.

In kindergarten & first grades, the students will use the basic drama skills they have learned to communicate physically, improvise effectively and develop characters through several acting activities, and by acting out the story of ‘The Elves & the Shoemaker”.

Ms. Thomas is the sponsor for the Upper School Company.

She is directing the upcoming US production of

‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ by Neil Simon

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Essential Questions:

In what ways can the library impact my love of reading?

How do the illustrations and words tell the story?

How do I identify the elements of different genres?

In November students in kindergarten, first, and second grade completed an author study on Tomie DePaola. We compared and contrasted many of DePaola’s stories and illustrations. We also spent time discussing Thanksgiving and completed a thankful Thanksgiving activity.

In third, fourth, and fifth grades students learned how to access the library’s extensive collection of eBooks and audiobooks. Fourth and fifth graders downloaded two apps onto their iPads, Brytewave and Destiny Quest. These apps are wonderful digital resources that the library provides for student use!

Students in third grade completed a two day research project in the library. Each student picked one country in which their ancestors are from, and used print resources to research a variety of facts. This research will then be used in their social studies class to complete an activity.

In December students will be completing an author study on Jan Brett. We will read The Mitten. During our author study we will discuss the similarities between the illustrations in Jan Brett’s books. We will also begin to learn about genres. Our genre for December will be fantasy. Students will enjoy listening to a silly story called A Bad Case of Stripes. We will discuss the elements of fantasy and how stories can be altered from fantasy to reality. At the end of December, we will discuss how other countries celebrate the winter holidays. Students will learn about other celebrations through nonfiction and historical fiction books.

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Book of the Month

Kindergarten-2nd Grade

Maple and Willow Together

Lori Nichols

Maple and Willow are sisters and best friends. This story describes the things the girls love to do together, mostly involving nature and being outside. The illustrations perfectly capture the fun the girls have together. This sweet story is a new book to the library’s collection.

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Book of the Month

3rd-5th Grade

Who Could That Be at This Hour?

All the Wrong Questions Series by Lemony Snicket

This is the first book in the new series by Lemony Snicket, author of the very popular series The Series of Unfortunate Events. The four books in this mystery series take place when Snicket is a teenager and begins his career as an assistant to a detective. Snicket must investigate the disappearance of a priceless heirloom. The library has the first three books in the series. The fourth book was recently released, and will soon join the library’s collection!


Essential Questions:

How does understanding the structure of music inform a response?

How do composers express their intent to musicians?

Beatlemania is here to stay! What an exciting start to November. After a week of dress rehearsals, Lower School students performed their Beatlemania Concert for a huge audience on Grand People’s Day. The month continued with Kindergarten starting a unit on high and low pitch. 1st grade rehearsed and performed a concert for their Grateful Gathering. 2nd and 3rd grade each began units that focused on the voice, sound production, and pitch. 4th and 5th grade started a unit on the stylistic elements, instrumentation, and composers of the Classical period.

Each spring, Drama and Music collaborate for a cross-curricular Spring Musical in 2nd – 5th grade. While our production is still many months away, we are planning to announce the play and begin introducing the music very soon! Also this month, Kindergarten will complete their unit on pitch, and begin a unit on melodic direction. 1st grade will begin a unit on steady beat. 2nd grade will learn about lines and spaces of the treble clef staff. 3rd grade will complete their unit on pitch and sound production, and will learn about the orchestra and the brass family. 4th and 5th grade will complete their unit on the Classical period and will begin a unit on notes and rests.

Lower School Holiday Sing-Along on Friday, December 18th at 9:00 AM in the Dining Hall. Featuring the Maclay Glee Club and Maclay Prep Singers, with special performance by the Maclay Concert Orchestra.
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Essential Question:

What does it mean to be part of a team?

Key elements in nearly all sports can be broken down into 4 categories. Our physical education instructors teach various types of units that fall into each of these categories.

The first category consists of agility, footwork, balance, and motor skills. These skills are essential to the ability to control one’s body during various movements.

Our second category is striking and hand eye-coordination. These abilities not only helps to protect our body from objects coming at us, but also allows us to strike various balls, pucks or birdies in many different sports.

The third category consists of catching, throwing and kicking. There is some form of catching and throwing in all field and court sports. Kicking is used in many field sports as well.

Our fourth category is team work, sportsmanship, and cooperative games. Many of our sports require a team. The ability to cooperate and work as a unit determines the success of a team. To be a well-rounded athlete, sportsmanship must always be developed and shown.

This past November, we focused on developing our striking, hand eye-coordination, catching, throwing, and kicking. In November we had two Essential Questions. The first was, “What components are needed to perform this skill?” The second was, “Is it better to use both hands and feet? Why?”

This December, our focus is on team work, sportsmanship, and cooperative games. Presidential Fitness testing will be going on during the week of December 14th.

K-2nd Grade Upcoming December Units:

Coach Bunch – Kicking, Capture the Flag, Presidential Fitness

Coach Hall – Kickball, Soccer, Presidential Fitness

Coach Harris – Basketball, Hand Ball, Presidential Fitness

Coach McGrotha – Football, Kickball, Presidential Fitness

Coach Sherrod – Soccer, Basketball, Presidential Fitness

Coach Clayton – Kickball, Various Games, Presidential Fitness

Coach Droze – Catching & Throwing, Relays, Presidential Fitness

3rd-5th Grade Upcoming Units:

Coach Clayton – Kickball, Various Games, Presidential Fitness

Coach Harris – Basketball, Hand Ball, Presidential Fitness

Coach McGrotha – Football, Kickball, Presidential Fitness

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Essential Questions:

How does our understanding of science help us to better understand our world?

kindergarten: What affects the way objects move down a ramp?

How do animals use their bodies to move?

1st grade: How can we keep our bodies healthy?

2nd grade: How can we group animals?

3rd grade: Why do scientists gather, classify, and interpret data?

4th grade: How have animals adapted to their environment?

5th grade: What can we do to protect and conserve resources?

In science lab this past month, kindergartners completed hands on activities to reinforce their understanding of simple machines. First and Second grade learned about parts of the plant and the plant life cycle. The third and fourth graders learned about how to use microscopes and identify different parts of the microscope. The fifth grade learned about polarity of water and refraction.

In December, students in kindergarten will explore the different ways animals use their bodies to move in a variety of environments. The first grade will learn about health and the body. The second grade will learn to classify animals (reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals, and fish). Third grade will begin their unit on competition for resources. The fourth grade will learn about animal adaptations and how organisms have adapted to survive. The fifth grade will begin their unit on Florida geology and learn about natural resources and hazards.

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Essential Question:

- Why is music important when learning about other cultures?

¡Feliz diciembre!

I can’t believe how fast noviembre passed! I feel like I was just updating you on Spanish class last week! During the past month your children learned about the celebration of the “Day of the dead” in Mexico, and the day of all Saints in Guatemala. The activities were modified according to the grade of your child. Also since we just celebrated Thanksgiving we learned words to express gratefulness in Spanish and sang a beautiful song, “Doy gracias”.

During the month of December we will continue developing verbal fluency and proper pronunciation through singing traditional holiday songs in Spanish. Holidays are a great opportunity to explore the different celebrations around the world. Students love learning about the ways in which people celebrate their holidays and traditions. However we will focus on learning about “Las Posadas” of Mexico and traditions of Spain.

I hope you can join us during our yearly assembly on December 18, at 9:00 am to see your sweet children perform their holiday songs.

- Every grade level will sing “Feliz navidad”, “Tin tin”, and “Ocho candelitas”

Thanksgiving Song


Essential Question:

How can Technology tools enhance my Creative process?

Lower school students have benefited from wonderful collaboration between their classroom teachers and Mr. G! Kindergarten students have honed their skills with the mouse while also working on number recognition and sequencing. First grade students will be working with fifth grade 'student mentors' on Lego Wedo Kits. This will put those coding and collaborating skills to use!

The second grade students recently completed a research project on Heroes and Heroines. They will complete another research project in December, developing their understanding of how to create, access, and save their files. Third grade students worked on Keyboarding skills and Microsoft Word in November when they wrote 'Thankful Letters'.

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