Specials Curriculum Update

January/February 2019


In the month of February many classes worked on community or curriculum related projects. Everyone participated in a quilt square design that reflected the ally week theme, intersectionality.

The Fox Class (2nd and 3rd grades) created covers for their classroom insect books using a foil pressed technique. The Helman–Osborn (6th, 7th, 8th grades) and Anthony (4th and 5th grades) Classes made rubber press blocks for fabric printing for their Spring Benefit projects. The Penn Class (1st and 2nd grades) did a large hand print project to design a mirror frame for the Spring Benefit.

The Anthony and Helman–Osborn Classes created pouring vessels from clay and glazed their works. The Rustin, Penn and Fox Classes made flat clay figures which they finished with gouache.

All of the classes did two different color studies. The first was a collage of complementary colors. We looked at the color wheel and then selected colored papers to illustrate complementary color. Next the students used black Sharpies to repeat a line design, then they selected contrasting or complementary colors to fill in select portions of the line design. The students are beginning a project based on “Flower Power,“ the theme of this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show.

Library/Information and Technology Literacy

Mott - Preschool

This winter, the Mott Class read books by Rosemary Wells in connection with the class’s author study. We also completed a bear unit where we read fiction books and explored non-fiction books to compare the two genres. When the class welcomed their class pets, we read books about guinea pigs and other pets. During Ally Week, we read How to Be a Lion by Ed Vere. Students continued to practice selecting and checking out books in the library.

Rustin - Kindergarten

The Rustin Class completed a study on bears by exploring fiction and non-fiction books. As a class, students generated a list of questions they wanted to find out about bears. We explored many of those questions using the non-fiction books. During Ally Week, we read Mixed: A Colorful Story by Aree Chung. We also continued to learn where books of interest are in the library and practiced the book checkout routine.

Penn - 1st and 2nd Grades

This winter, the Penn Class learned about the biography genre, where biographies are located in the library, and discussed what kind of information people would find in a biography book. Some biographies we read include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Wilson Bentley. During Ally Week, we read Mixed: A Colorful Story by Aree Chung and How to Be a Lion by Ed Vere. We had discussions about identity. Students continued to practice computer and keyboarding skills using the program learning.com and to practice selecting library books by using OPALS.

Fox - 2nd and 3rd Grades

In the Fox Class, students have learned about and explored the biography genre. Some biographies we read include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Wilson Bentley, and during Ally Week, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With partners, students chose a biography subject, read about their life and work, and generated a list of words to describe them. Using their word list, students learned how to create a word cloud using the website wordart.com. Students continued to practice selecting books using OPALS and the book’s call number.

Anthony - 4th and 5th Grades

This winter, the Anthony Class explored the biography genre. Using OPALS, the library’s online catalog, students selected a book in the biography section and used the Big 6 research model to take notes and gather information about the biography subject they chose. Currently, students are working on creating a final project to share their research with their classmates.

Helman/Osborn - 6th-8th Grades

In ITL class, students have selected their second book for their R2S2 assignment. In robotics class, students are continuing to learn the Lua programming language on the Calisto boards and have been adding motors and distance sensors to the boards. They have been working on understanding the coding necessary to make these accessories work.


Mott and Rustin Classes (Pre-k and Kindergarten) 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. A highlight these past few weeks is 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 (grades 1-3) are becoming rhythmic masters! They are doing a wonderful job 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.

Anthony and Helman-Osborn Classes (grades 4-8) are currently presenting projects they have completed in small groups about famous composers. Students in Anthony Class utilized composer texts assigned in music class while H-O students researched their composer of choice using internet resources. We are all learning interesting facts about these famous musicians and enjoying the opportunity to pair each composer to a famous musical work.

Instrumental musicians have worked hard these past two months to prepare a “mini-concert” which was presented to younger students in our school community. Our youngest students were amazed by the band’s big sound and enjoyed a chance to be a 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 presentation to younger students and were a big hit! Chorus students have worked hard to memorize their music and texts. They did a wonderful job keeping their eyes on me as the conductor, and responding to my cues. We look forward to continuing our sight reading skills and choosing more repertoire as we move forward.

Physical Education

Although we've have had some crazy, cold, and snowy weather, all of our classes managed to get outside and breathe some fresh air while we played capture the flag, tag games, and participated in the running challenge. Our days inside consisted of playing handball, basketball, fitness games, parachute fun, relays, and more! We just started our volleyball unit in the kindergarten through middle school classes. We started volleying balloons and had a friendly competition between classes to see which class could keep the balloons in the air the longest. Our volleyball unit will continue the next two weeks. We will be learning more skills and playing volleyball games.


With the new year, students in all Spanish classes focused on time as well as guidelines of behavior given in the Spanish language (which students wrote down as resolutions; students are now familiar with hearing and responding to Spanish reminders of guidelines).

Early childhood classes (Pre-K - K) learned about the different greetings to give throughout the day and started learning about the names of different parts of the day. Around Valentine's Day, students learned the Spanish phrase for “I love you” as well as who Noemí's true love is (her “gato”). Students are just beginning to learn about pets.

Elementary classes (grades 1-5) reviewed the same time information but also delved into telling the hour. A favorite activity for this was through the “Ghost In the Graveyard” game in Spanish, “Lobo,” in which students counted the hours before looking for the “lobo” at “media noche” (midnight).

Middle school students (grades 6-8) learned how to state their daily activities in Spanish, strengthening their ability to conjugate verbs.

After School Care

This month students enjoyed crafting and celebrating many events including Chinese New Year and the month of Love! As part of a lesson on culture, we read PoPo's Lucky Chinese New Year written by Virginia Loh-Hagan and illustrated by Renee Benoit.

The story is about a Chinese American girl who learns about the customs and beliefs of her family and culture through her Chinese grandmother who comes to visit. Through this story students also learned that 15 days of preparation precede 15 days of celebration. Much fun was had making decorations and dragon masks. In order to explore the event through taste, students sampled Chinese Noodles with chopsticks and, of course, fortune cookies.

In celebration of Love, students baked for their pals and made various gifts and cards.

We are looking forward to "Marching into Spring". And, to begin the month we will celebrate Smile Day and Read Across America Day.