Our third and fourth graders were recently delighted by a visit from the author of the Last But Not Least Lola book series, Christine Pakkala. Ms. Pakkala arrived with her colleague, Kelly Reznikoff, a psychologist specializing in positive psychology and mindfulness. The visit began with Ms. Pakkala reading chapter one of Last But Not Least Lola and the Wild Chicken. Our students chuckled and giggled at Lola’s experiences with friends and riding the school bus. Following the reading, Ms. Reznikoff led the students in mindfulness activities, something our students are already familiar with from their practices at Unquowa. She taught us the acronym GREAT DREAM which stands for; gratitude, relationships, exercise, awareness, trying out-direction, resilience, emotions, acceptance, meaning. Ms. Reznikoff took us through each stage as we talked about being grateful and happy in our daily lives. Students were each given a jar to keep filled with water and glitter. Ms. Reznikoff explained how we each hold as many as sixty thousand thoughts in our minds every day and they all swirl around, much like the glitter. As the glitter fell to the bottom of the jar, she explained how important it is to take some time each day to allow our thoughts to just settle, breathe and be present. Finally, we closed with Ms. Pakkala giving each student a signed copy of Last But Not Least Lola and the Wild Chicken so the children could continue to read the story on their own. We are so grateful to Ms. Pakkala and Ms. Reznikoff for their visit, entertainment and wisdom. Our third and fourth graders loved it!
Working together in teams, students in grades three through six have all been part of a project to design and build a walk-in camera obscura in the Makerspace.
Children have been exposed to screens throughout their lives and this opportunity to step back in time and reflect on the projected image has been an interesting challenge. Students are so used to seeing images projected that it seems almost obvious to them that light through a hole would produce one. It turns out it is rare to have a projected image occur by simply focusing light through an aperture. The students have eagerly explored the mechanics of how this seemingly magical and simultaneously obvious phenomenon works.
Using their formidable skills with hammers, nails, saws, screws and power drills they designed and built this masterpiece. As always, duct tape, drop clothes, trash bags, paint and staple guns also played a role.
This photo sequence is of 1) the kindergarten class being shown the camera and its aperture, 2) gathering inside for a demonstration and 3) Riley jumping outside in front of the aperture so that his image could be projected on the (then closed) back flap. His classmates were delighted and amazed to see him projected on the back flap!
Their functioning prototype has taught them about light, vision, projections, cameras, and more. We all love this project and look forward to seeing where it goes next … perhaps a larger permanent installation!
With the drumbeat and chant from our kindergarteners, the excitement of performing to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Dog began from the first moment. Students performed songs and chants using their own traditional crafts as props and introductions and background were given by our older students in… Mandarin and English!
Making these crafts gave students the opportunity to learn the Chinese traditions involving food, decorations and the history of this holiday. Very quickly each student knew the character – 福（fú, luck and happiness)and the traditional gesture for wishing a good Chinese New Year with the expression – 恭喜恭喜 ( gōng xǐ gōng xǐ). Students in third and fourth grade were very proud of themselves when they made their 福（fú）character crafts. As students learned in class, when福(fú）is upside down, it means “luck and happiness have arrived.” There are several upside down 福（fú）characters in the first grade students’ crafts, so luck and happiness have just arrived around us at Unquowa. Upper school students also made their own 春联 ( (chūn lián), adding happiness and best wishes to the celebration.
As you are watching this video full of our students’ enthusiasm and talent, we wish you and your family 狗年大吉大利 (gǒu nián dàjí dà lì)…luck and prosperity in the Chinese New Year of the Dog!
Third graders have been busy honing their multiplication and division skills by teaming up to help each other with speed and accuracy. From an activity called Wrap Ups to jumps, chants, rhymes and, of course, flash cards, our third graders practice their facts each day so that we may become stronger together. Facts with friends is a great way to learn!
In PE class, Unquowa students celebrated the Opening Ceremonies of the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang with some winter events of their own! Walking behind their torch bearer, along with the Olympic theme song set the stage for an unforgettable class. The figure skating routines were graceful and the ski jumpers were smooth at take off. Skiers cruised through the biathlon and torch relay while curlers showed great strategic maneuvers. Go Gators! Go Team USA!
Did you know that an owl can hear a mouse’s heartbeat from forty feet away? Third graders traveled to the CT Audubon for a bird identification program and learned this fact and many more. After some practice using field guides and binoculars, students headed outside to view a variety of birds at one of the Audubon’s many bird feeding stations. Tufted titmice, black-capped chickadees, downy woodpeckers and dark-eyed juncos were among the many visitors. Students hiked through the Larson Sanctuary in search of birds and signs of wildlife. The program closed with a close-up view of a barn owl and an American kestrel, two birds of prey that have been rescued by the Audubon. Thank you, Colleen Noyes, for providing our third graders with an interesting outdoor and indoor field experience!