Second Grade Japan Celebration

In conjunction with a three-month-long cultural study of Japan, the second grade trekked up to the Boston Children’s Museum on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Once there, students had an opportunity to explore a traditional Japanese home called a machiya — a 100-year-old wooden house brought over from Kyoto, Japan. They also received a lesson on Japanese calligraphy. Their calligraphy was on display this Monday at the Second Grade Japan Celebration held for family and friends.

Learning About Diversity

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The Masks We Live In

How can we as a school help our younger students learn about diversity and the world we live in? During recent diversity workshops for lower school students, younger students participated in a discussion about “boy and girl colors” and heard Pug, a Dog, an original story by Melinda Van Lare. First through fifth grade students attended age-appropriate workshops about gender identity, bullying, racial identity, socioeconomic class and wealth distribution, feminism and sexism, media and toy representations of human figures, and cultures of various countries.

LSDiversityWorkshops021016 - 38 copy.jpgThe workshops also served as an important opportunity for students and teachers from different grades and classrooms across the lower school to connect with one another.

Highlights from the workshops included:

The Skin You Live In – Using the book The Skin You Live In, students learned more about the biology of skin color. They explored the purpose of skin, how it looks and feels, and the similarities and differences between all skin types and colors. Afterwards the children mixed their own paint color and came up with a name to match their skin tone – such as light peach, mine stone, dark tan, and tan-o-man.

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A Toy Like Me: Seeing Yourself in the Toys You Play With – Using a story about mothers in the UK who decided to design dolls that reflected their children’s physical diversity, students were given the opportunity to consider the importance of seeing oneself in the toys we play with. Students then brainstormed how physical differences should be represented in toys and wrote letters to toy companies with their ideas!

The Masks We Live In – Students unpacked the social constructs of patriarchy, sexism, and feminism. Confronting the impact of sexist and over-masculinizing media messages in society, students were challenged to think critically about the masks we all wear relating to gender roles. Students then painted masks representing their societal exterior and personal interior. These masks were displayed outside the fourth grade classroom.

LSDiversityWorkshops021016 - 34Other workshops included reading Red: A Crayon’s Story, My Princess Boy, having a party in which food was divided up like U.S. wealth, learning how to support others against bullies, understanding what it means to be transgendered, and a discussion on multiracialism. Students also discussed the tradition of breads in different cultures while making their own butter, and learned several dances and songs from around the world.

Could you escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library?

Fifth grade has had a blast writing our play this winter. We have been using the lemoncellos-library-press“Performance Cycle,” a series of drama based activities designed as part of the Arts Literacy Project, to celebrate and think deeply about the book Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, written by Chris Grabenstein. Arts Literacy was founded by Eileen Landy and Kurt Wooton to create and organize curricula and pedagogy focused on connecting literacy learning and the arts.

We have been very fortunate to have Eileen join us for this work. She has been mentoring the students and me as we have delved into our understanding of the themes, characters, and mystery in the book through drama, writing, and visual arts. It has been an honor working with Eileen. From her, I have learned about utilizing students’ innate desire to move and actively create as a way to build understanding of a book and of literacy concepts. As we were delving into the personalities of the different characters in the book, we led the students through a series of improvisational moments that showed these characteristics. I saw students who are usually timid about sharing their ideas and opinions open up with dramatic flair and teach us very refined insights into characters. These ideas and others that emerged through our Arts Literacy work served as fodder for the scripts that fifth graders wrote based on scenes in the play. The lines they gave characters really illustrated the character traits we had discovered through improvising and thus evidenced their strong comprehension of this novel.

We will perform the play we have created next Wednesday, March 11, at 1:00 and 6:00. Everyone is excited: this performance counts as a celebration of our learning, reflection, and creativity throughout the past 5 weeks.







By Carolyn Garth, 5th grade teacher