NEWS FROM THE MUSIC ROOM
We are in a music theory unit for all of the grade levels at Aurora School. Kids are learning about the staff and treble clef, and working on memorizing all of the note names in the treble clef. We’ve been doing this through stories and games, and in particular some stories featuring Freddie the Frog (who lives on the F line in the treble clef). We are also working on learning and composing with whole, half, quarter and eighth notes, as well as the quarter note rest.
K/1s spent much of February and March perfecting their play songs and choreography. Room 3 additionally took time to choose and compose musical sounds for their characters.
2/3s continue to work on recorder, which we have been using as our main tool for reading and playing music.
4/5s have been through a process to choose what they will be singing for Graduation. I always learn more about popular music from the kids during this time, as they bring in their favorite songs and we listen to and discuss lyrics and melody.
In K/1 movement we have been playing games with hula hoops and carpet squares, as well as our usual scarf and ribbon fun. We have just added bean bags to the mix which is fun – kicking, balancing, and catch and toss. – Eve
NEWS FROM THE LIBRARY
K-3: The younger grades spent some time in February looking at other award winners from the American Library Association’s Mid-Winter Conference such as the Geisel Award for the best beginning reader of 2013. Then we began one of the best-loved units of the year, the California Young Reader Medal competition. Together we read 5 books nominated for the CYRM picture book category and then students voted for their favorite. Each student’s vote was forwarded to Sacramento where the votes are tallied. A winner will be announced in late April. Everyone enjoys being a real judge for the winner.
4/5: In the older grades, we also spent some time on other award winners from the ALA Youth Media Awards for 2013, such as the Newbery Award for the most distinguished writing for young people. We reviewed the criteria for the award and learned all about the four books that won a medal this year. We’ve also spent a good amount of time on sharing favorite recent reading with each other and identifying titles to add to the Aurora Library. And the “behind closed doors” bookshelves are such a wonderful hit with the 4/5 students. Those books are the titles that are reserved for only the older readers getting ready for middle school and they are so popular! We’ve also added quite a few older reader graphics that are equally popular. Our “young adult” section is humming with enthusiastic readers.
During the last two months we have also completed our hand-made booklets to hold our “Fiction Genre” study coming up. Everyone created a single signature of pages, hand-sewed the pages together and attached them to the “hard cover” boards also of their making. They look beautiful and will be the perfect home for our study of six specific fiction genres coming up next month. – Kathy
NEWS FROM THE ART ROOM
Ceramics was the name of the game for the month of February in the Art Room across all grades. We delved into the skills of coiling, pinching, modeling, and slab building. During the process of learning the properties of working with the clay we then added textures, details, and our own style. Glazing and firing the kiln is always a highlight. It is sort of magical to watch students go through the process that requires a certain amount of patience, for a big reward. They are very proud of their work, sharing it with their fellow classmates.
The month of March brought our artists into exploring other media:
4/5 students began acrylic painting, a real highlight of the year. This year we focused on various methods to create a more “painterly” look (rather than our paintings looking like they were “colored in” like in a coloring book.)
2/3 students worked on a scratch paper art project, discovering ways to add pattern and texture to their drawings of animals. We studied various artists from Aboriginal art to engravings by Stephen Alcorn and discussed how these artists achieved this effect.
K/1 students continued to explore their classroom theme of oceans/water by creating multi layered ocean collages, using a variety of media to create depth and texture.
Integrated Art was focused on the 4/5 classrooms in February, studying the human skeleton. In the Art Room we talked about the wide variety of jobs that exist for artists in the fields of Bio Medical Visualization (Medical Illustration) and how it crosses over from hand drawing to computer work. For our practice we carefully observed a human skeleton and skull and practiced sketching with awareness.
Integrated Art in March was focused on the 2/3 classrooms and their study of People Who Make a Difference. In the Art Room, each week, we looked at the way artists can make a difference. From a study of the ADA (American with Disabilities Act) we took a stroll around the school discussing and noting how our school includes people of all abilities and what changes we can make to make it more accessible. This led us into designing a playground that would include everyone – a boundless playground. We also studied Rachel Carson and her contributions to environmental awareness. We made “seed balls” of indigenous wildflowers that attract birds and butterflies that we threw (planted) throughout our community. Our final week was focused on the artist Hundertwasser and his contribution to environmental activism through his posters and the way he lived his life. We created our own posters in response to issues we personally believe in and would like to see changed. – Kerry
NEWS FROM THE COMPUTER LAB
It’s been a lot of fun in computers this month! The 2/3s continued using Storybird. Students chose artwork from a gallery of beautiful illustrations and created their own story, including characters and dialogue. After they finished them up, they shared them with you…be sure to check your email inbox This creative writing exercise has been a fun way for students to practice their typing skills and allow our writers to create a story from artwork rather than an idea of their own.
The 4/5s have been hard at work with their state project. They were introduced to Britannica for Kids the first week of March. Room 5 researched Alaska’s geography and Room 6 researched Hawaii’s geography. They gathered information and made notes in preparation for an in-class writing assignment. Each class since then has been spent gathering research for their state project, formatting their paragraphs, and typing up their author connections and bibliographies. Great work 4/5s! – Nikki
NEWS FROM THE WOODSHOP
As always, we’ve been having a wonderful time in woodshop these past few months!
Our biggest project so far was the abacus. With 2 rows of 10 beads, we were able to start practicing addition and subtraction. The students worked hard to build these complex math machines, and they were then given the opportunity to brainstorm their own math problems. Not surprisingly, many creative problems appeared on the woodshop dry erase board. 10+10-2? No problem! Let’s count the beads!
In the era of smartphones and tablets, an abacus may seem archaic, even to a first grader. However, making our own tools helps to strengthen understanding and empowerment, and hopefully, enthusiasm for the task at hand!
Next up, we’ll be building wooden brick houses for the island project. This project consists of an imaginary community that we build from the ground up on a model island in the middle of the ocean. – Alex
NEWS FROM THE PE YARD
This is Coach Scott with the PE update. Before the February break, we had a great time re-visiting Capture the Flag. This is always a favorite and is a great teamwork activity.
We had been working for a long time on lacrosse and have just recently reached the culmination of our Lacrosse unit. We played ‘steal the bacon lacrosse’ in which the students had the opportunity to show what they had learned. The ‘scoops’, ‘shots’, and ‘passing’ were done very nicely and all of the students made improvements in their hand eye coordination.
Next up we have Basketball. In this unit students will learn how to :
I truly love teaching the basketball unit and am excited to get started! – Coach Scott
NEWS FROM THE SPANISH ROOM
K/1s have been learning about different shapes, body parts and, “La Ropa”. They are going to be designers creating their own clothing. They have been solving crosswords and playing memory cards. They know more words in Spanish, and some of them can create short silly phrases.
2/3s have been learning about “the city” and directions. They have created their own maps and added the names of different places in Spanish. In April, they will be exploring how to navigate in a city where people speak only Spanish. Students made a word-search in Spanish for Aurora. Please find the instructions to solve it in the auditorium on the Spanish bulletin board.
4/5s have been learning about professions and verbs. They had an intense month learning how to conjugate verbs in Spanish. They created a song and learned a lot. Fifth graders made a video about members of their families. It will show at an assembly in April. I will send you the date soon.
You are always welcome to be part of any Spanish class; please feel free to contact me in advance to let me know when you want to join us. – Tania