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April at GAP School!

Yellow Crystals




SEL with Janelle

This month the Yellow Crystals spent time increasing our mindfulness through books, discussions, nature journaling, games and problem solving . 


We emphasized kindness through a book about kindness snippets and discussed ways we can work together to show kindness to others. We also explored frustration and how this feeling often leads to anger but if we are able to control it with calm thinking it offers us opportunity to grow our flexible thinking . 


This rhyme is a favorite way of remembering how to handle frustration and resonated in a big way with the Yellow Crystals|:

“WHEN I GET FRUSTRATED, I CAN STOP AND SEE ,

WHAT I CAN CONTROL IS INSIDE OF ME.

MY ACTIONS, MY WORDS, MY FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS,

CAN FLIP MY FRUSTRATIONS TO CALM FLEXIBILE SPOTS .”

- a little spot of frustration by Diane Albert


We are seeing a huge shift in all of the Yellow Crystal's communication and advocacy for others. They are confidently and consistently using “I feel” statements to navigate problem solving.


We explore nature journals weekly as a way to refine fine motor and visual motor skills as well as observation skills and attention to our surroundings.  A few months ago focus was short and it was not a highlight of the week for many as it forces our bodies to be still. During April, we saw eagerness and focus that spans close to 30 minutes . 


We wrapped up the month with a teamwork activity that involved picking trail names / helping each other choose trail names based on our unique personalities.  It’s a beautiful experience to watch these learners support each other and point out so many positive qualities!


Math & Science with Noni


In April, we all continued our Monday jump rope tradition. We honed in on “Skip count jumping”, counting by 2s, 5s, 10s, and even 100s, which took us high in numbers really quickly!


The Bluebirds worked with the 10 frame to visualize adding and subtracting. They also practiced adding illustrations to simple addition problems to help visualize and practice writing numbers. 


The Chickadees and Robins reviewed place values, using the HTO (hundreds, tens, ones) chart. The Chickadees learned how to add three digit numbers using carrying.  The Robins, who have been finding great success with carrying, learned how to do three-digit subtraction with borrowing. This is a first look at an emerging skill that will be reviewed and practiced more next year.


On our rainy day, we had a few rotation stations where we played with Mobi number blocks by grouping, adding, sorting, etc. We also used place value dominoes, turning them into a game like the two player card game “war."


In the last week of April, we introduced some new math activities. For the Bluebirds, we talked about our experiences with parades and thought about different ways that they could take shape. We used animal cards and lined them up in various ways. The math challenge was to count their feet and make parades with exactly 10 or 20 feet. We also attempted to make the longest or shortest parade possible!


For the Chickadees and the Robins, we revisited the dot talk concept with a new format - dots arranged in patterns, with totals of 13, 15 and 18. The kids visualized how the dots could be grouped (finding the factors) and wrote the numbers out as sentences.


In Science, we have been preparing for a grand poster game that will be featured at our final Community Day! It will be a “spot the fakes” challenge! The kids have been working hard drawing real and imaginary objects and mushrooms. It will be up to you to spot the fakes! The Chickadees and Robins are also embarking on weather data tracking, collating, and displaying. This will also culminate at Community Day.


ELA with Emily


In the month of April the Yellow Crystals have focused on review through routine practices. Nouns, adjectives, and verbs were revisited and explored through gross motor games and group mad libs. Letter card sorting and themed verbal games have been fun ways to review alphabetical order. Nature journals continue to allow us to practice letter formation, sentence structure, and copy work. All Yellow Crystal groups have been exploring the world of nonfiction as we have read an array of books together, discussed facts, and understood the purpose of headings. During our morning meetings, we have begun to review letter blends and practiced sound production during ELA by playing the popular game, Headbands! During Brain Blast we continue our book study by reading The Kingdom of Wrenly. Learners have been working on a special project to share with families at Community Day! After giving a photograph of themselves, they completed the sentence  "I am ____ because we are ____." Here we celebrated this term's unit by reflecting on some special moments from this past year. 


Silver Stardust & Silver Warriors




ELA with Michael

Silvers have expanded their vocabulary thanks to our upgraded, “Vocabulary Card Game - April Expansion Rules.” Educators created a list of level appropriate words for them to choose from for this new level of word exploration and understanding. The rules of the game inspire learners to “upgrade” their cards, which also deepens their understanding and encourages them to make more complex and detailed cards.

    Vocab Trading Card Conference with cards broken into three “levels”

Common Cards:

  • Drawing on Front

  • Word and definition on back

Uncommon Cards:

  • Color Drawing on Front

  • Word and dictionary definition on back

  • Example sentence from dictionary

Rare Cards:

  • Detailed Color Illustration on Front

  • Word and dictionary definition on back

  • Part of speech on back

  • Create your own sentence with correct spelling


Some of our more prolific writers are still working on their short, (actually, not so short!) stories. Everyone will have an opportunity to read their story to the class. Learners continue self- and peer-edit writing for capitalization, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraphing. By the end of April, most Learners finished their short stories. Some created “mini books“ and others wrote their stories neatly on “fancy paper.” 


Our daily warm-up exercises covered a range of reading and writing topics. On any given day we identified genres, determined the author's purpose, evaluated cause and effect, inferences and making predictions about the plot of a story. A more extensive warm up this month was our “adjective or adverb” sorting practice. We followed this with adjective/adverb review and sentence writing practice.


April was National Poetry Month and we read poems, wrote poems and explored various forms of poetry including, acrostic, free verse, couplets and haiku! Silvers also recorded their impressions of the solar eclipse.


We dipped our toes into some Media literacy with our Toy Commercial project.

We flexed our creative muscles to design a toy and write a radio ad for it. This is a great way to practice persuasive writing and have a little fun at the same time. Each learner is making a poster for their toy as well.


ELA with Emily


In the month of April, Silver groups have been busy as bees as we continued our Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe book study. This month, groups felt a sense of gratitude, happiness, and accomplishment when we completed the book! Silver Learners have been working hard as they stated their opinions while writing persuasive essays on whether YOU should try Turkish delights. Here we are reviewing letter formation on lined paper, spelling, and punctuation. Learners have been tracking their reading using pop-its as they read from word lists. The understanding of antonyms and synonyms has been practiced through anchor charts and matching games. Learners continue to deepen their practice in phonemic awareness, which supports reading and spelling. We are excited to share our essays and hard work at Community Day in May!


Science with Furn


Silver Science has been busy this month! We returned from Spring Break (on the day of the eclipse!) excited about science learning. After reviewing expectations, we dove into our “States of Matter” unit by learning about atoms and molecules and nature journaling the various states of the very important and very abundant dihydrogen monoxide… aka water. We learned about how molecules are arranged in liquids, solids, and gasses, and what makes matter change state (spoiler: it’s heat) through a movement-based game where Learners acted as molecules and worked together to change states according to different scenarios. We discussed how molecule density affects whether different materials float or sink. On our experiment day, we tested this concept out by blowing up a balloon using carbon dioxide, demonstrating 1) gas taking up space even though we don’t see it and 2) once the experiment settles, how the density of the different materials affects how they arrange in the bottle. We defined and debated how we categorize things as liquids, solids, and gasses and had so much fun meeting the non-Newtonian solid "Oobleck." We finished our States of Matter unit with a scavenger hunt review, in which Learners ran around campus to answer a series of hidden questions about changing states of matter.


Our next unit is Weather and Climate! We started off this unit brainstorming the difference between weather and climate, and quizzing ourselves on what defines and relates them. Next, we discussed the different climates we see throughout the globe and the factors that influence them, such as proximity to the equator. We played “Monster Vacation”, in which each Learner played the role of travel agent for their own laminated monster. The class would get a location and any other necessary information (like Northern Australia, or Estonia in the spring). Learners would find the location on a world map, find that location on their corresponding climate map, and figure out what climate they were sending their monsters to. Finally, Learners used dry erase markers to dress their monster appropriately for their vacation! This was a great way to gain a global awareness of different climates. We are looking forward to finishing off our year by completing our final Science project - Extreme Weather Reports!


Math with Kyle


The month of April had a lot of fractions, 24 cards, and math puzzles!


In the Dogwoods group, we explored fractions using geometric puzzles to visualize the fractions in multiple ways. We also compared fractions within these geometric puzzles. We enjoyed solving "24 Cards." We also split up a grid of 24 into 6ths, 8ths, and 12ths. This visually demonstrated how different fractions look. This also prompted discussions about how fractions can equal each other with different denominators.


In the Willows and Hickory groups, we used square blocks to create arrays for solving the perimeter and area. This also opened up the discussion of multiplication. We also explored the relationships of fractions, such as how ½ is also 2/4. We recognized that even numbers are simpler to split in half than odd numbers. This was done using a pattern of dots. We also solved math puzzles to further improve our multiplication knowledge.


In the Sycamores group, we explored numbers on a number line that compared the life span of different animals. They enjoyed the comparisons! The Learners were then tasked with finding the next animal to put on the number line with a word problem. We have also been doing math problems found in the book "Lemonade War." It has been fun using examples to add up money and explore multiplication. We also started personal projects making timelines of our days!



Emerald Alpacas with Corrie



In April the Emerald Alpacas focused mainly on their upcoming Emerald Exhibition, as well as math and English topics to finish the year strong. Learners selected their personal research topics to present at the Emerald Exhibition during the final May Community Night. With topics ranging from cacti to sourdough, the Alpacas applied their knowledge of the five-paragraph essay to craft another writing piece for the Exhibition. They are in the “taking action” phase now, as they create a way to share their new knowledge and understanding with the community. 


Along with preparations for the Exhibition, the Emeralds applied themselves to understand new concepts involving fractions. Our lessons centered around multiplying and dividing fractions and mixed numbers. We used manipulatives to visualize the process and then transferred those skills to solve equations and word problems. 


During English, Learners read their final group novel studies of the year, Out of My Mind and Small as an Elephant. Reading lessons involved understanding story elements like characterization, theme, and sensory details. The Alpacas have independently read five novels throughout this year during Brain Blast!


Knowledge Seekers with Max



We jumped back into robotics upon our return from spring break. But first, we checked out an amazing partial eclipse on our first day back!


Cat McGuire, GAP School board member, continued to work with our Learners to explore engineering concepts around robotics. Working in groups, Learners designed, built and re-built their own verisons of a robot. Cat provided additional parts such as motors, lego technic to support the designs. At the end of the robotics activity many of our desings had a long way to go towards a functioning robot. Learners will have the opportunity to continue designing in Projects if they so desire. The experinece was a great lesson in how much design, failure and re-design go into engineering endevours.


April was also the month to explore spring ephemerals. These are the small flowering plants that are only around for a few weeks in the woods before the forest canopy leafs out. We found a vareity of ephemerals such as Star Chickweed, Cut Leaf Toothwort, Bellwort, May Apple and Rue Anemone. Learners practiced identifying the plants by noticing the specific features of each species.


After looking for spring plants in the woods it was time to start our garden plants. We started at the bottom and explored 3 types of soil to compare and contrast living and non living components of soil. Our Yellow Crytal flock also did a deep dive experiment looking at germinating seeds in glass jars. Next, Learners made origami plant pots out of newspaper and planted a wide variety of seeds to start our garden.

Our most popular choices of seeds to plant? Watermelon, corn and peas. Our garden starts will begin to be planted into the garden beds the first week of May and we wont even take them out of their newspaper pots. The paper pots will biodegrade int the garden bed as the plants grow.


Our month is wrappng up with creating public products for the next community day. We are creating garden themed "seed packets", "paper plants" or "design of choice pending approval" that will reference all the great work that we have done in Knowledge Seekers this Winter and Spring.



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