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What We Were Up To In January

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

Green Goblins & Yellow Snakes


ELA with Julie & Emily

The month of January has been filled with fun and creativity in ELA!


The Cardinals, Sparrows, Ravens, and Hawks started out the new year setting intentions, going over expectations, and doing some fun word searches. We jumped into our PBL with excitement and motivation as we wondered, "How do we create a GAP store?".


The Cardinal group has found a passion for necklace making! While brainstorming ideas of merchandise to sell in our Trader GAP's store, this group decided to create necklaces using alphabet beads. The cardinals have been alphabetically organizing letter beads, sounding out new words, practicing letter formation, and practicing letter sounds as they further develop their fine motor skills beading necklaces.


January was a FULL month of exciting ELA growth. Now that we know all of our sounds, we have been diving into a lot of beginning sound games. We are matching Nature Cards to their first sounds and continuing to practice writing the formation of our upper and lower case letters. We are also matching upper case letters to their lower case buddies. Alphabet arc boards were introduced and we played many games with the new boards. We read Annie and the Wild Animals and Caps for Sale. Caps for Sale was our introduction into producing products for our Trader GAP's store and the kids dove into creating products made out of natural materials. We ended the month practicing our first and last names, jumping and clapping to syllables, and starting our first chapter book, Charlotte's Web.

The Sparrow group has been working hard researching birds, mushrooms, trees, and animals with the intention of writing a GAP field guide. Teamwork is their strength as they read and analyze some of the beautiful field guides from our library. Another group within the Sparrows have decided to research apothecary recipes to contribute to a book to share with others. Both groups have been eager to share their creations in our GAP store.


We started our month reading Trouble with Trolls by Jan Brett. We practiced using our question words and our illustrations. This led us into sentence writing and learning that sentences have 2 parts: the subject (the who and the what) and the action. We came up with our own ELA rules for double FF, LL, and SS letters. Ask your Learner what rule they came up with to help them remember. The book Caps for Sale was our introduction into producing products for our Trader GAP's store. The kids dove into creating products made out of natural materials. We ended the month jumping and clapping to syllables and starting our first chapter book, Charlotte's Web.


The Ravens group has been brainstorming ways to explore their creativity. Groups within the Ravens have been creating word searches and guided meditations. For the word searches, a group of Ravens has created a GAP themed word list! They have sounded out words and spell checked them before adding them into their word search template. Another group of Learners has found an interest in guiding their own meditations. This group has discussed and identified the theme and purpose for their meditations while looking forward to practicing their skills in descriptive writing.


The Hawks have dived deeper into their skits! The "hockey" group have completed their skits and are in the process of producing tickets so the public can watch their masterpiece on the big screen! The "preserving food" skit group is wrapping up their final draft and are eager for their next step... filming!


January began with the book Trouble with Trolls. We used this book to dive into question words and how questions help us write detailed sentences. Then sentences can come together to write a paragraph. We learned that sentences have 2 parts: the subject (the who and the what) and the action. We looked deeper into R-controlled vowels, double consonants, and syllables. We ended January with a guiding question that the learners came up with; What is a job and what are some synonyms for the word job. We then decided “what we want to be when we grow up” and did lots of research to find out what qualifications, education and training are needed for these careers. We also researched the salaries for these careers. We will have this new knowledge on display at community day.



In addition to our PBL, the Sparrows, Ravens, and Hawks have been introduced to dictionaries! They have loved applying their knowledge on alphabetical order while searching for and defining store related vocabulary words. All classes have been moving and grooving in some fun syllable games as they learn how to segment different words. And, of course, all groups are continuing to "Drop Everything And Read" and journal about all things nature!


Math with Kyle


January was an eventful month in math! To start out the month we made numbers into characters and wrote as many math problems we could think of involving that number! Then we dove into addition and subtraction. We utilized a life sized number line and jumped from number to number as we gave each other numbers to add and subtract with. We also started a project of working on a GAP Calendar.


We explored nature with rulers, it was so much fun finding things that were certain measurements in the wild! The Cardinals started to work on pattern recognition and enjoyed that. To round out January we started working with money again to get everything ready for the Trader GAP's Store! We got the cash register ready. We look forward to the math that will be involved! We also played many math games such as Sharks and Minnows math edition and Line Tag math edition!


January was a fun one in math with the Hawks, Ravens, Sparrows and Cardinals. We are growing our confidence every day and looking forward to the next!


Science with Naomi



Part of the way we do commerce and business in our world requires an inherent need for raw materials, what we call "natural resources". As residents and stewards of the earth, it is up to us to ensure that we look to the future and the health of our ecologies when we are making decisions. Thus, our focus in Science during the month of January centered around talking about natural resources, including the use of forests for wood, and the use of oceans, lakes, and rivers for water. We studied the biographies of some conservation heroes. We read about Jadav Molai Payeng, the "Forest Man", from India, who began planting trees in 1978 to save his beloved coastline as he sought to balance our use of natural resources. We read about Rachel Carson, respected author of Silent Spring, that many argue catalyzed the most recent environmentalism movement in the 1970s when she exposed industrial pollution. We also heard the story of Jean-Henri Fabre, a Frenchman from the turn of the 20th century, who took the austere biological community of the time by storm with his vivid, poetic vision of plants and animals and their wild, almost magical behaviors. He went on to win the Nobel Prize for his contributions to positive public opinion and concern for our global cohabitants.

Coinciding with our studies of natural resources and their heroes, we gained a new skill - to contribute a homemade nature craft to the Trader GAP's store. We learned how to use sticks and yarn to make "God's eyes" - a fun and strangely satisfying way to weave that results in a striking diamond pattern. Here is a little history about "God's eyes":


Ojo de Dios (oh-ho-day-DEE-ohs) is Spanish for “Eye of God.” When the early Spaniards came to Mexico they encountered the Huichol (wet-chol) people who lived in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. The Huichol Indians who lived in the mountains made "God’s eyes" (or Ojos de Dios) to watch over them. They were woven onto crisscrossing sticks, joining in the center. The center eye represented the sun and stood for the power of seeing and understanding things we normally cannot see. The ends of the sticks represented the basic elements– earth, water, wind, and fire. The Huichol people focused their worship on nature and the earth rather than a specific divine being. Often they are made for little children as gifts. They accompany wishes of health, long life, and protection.


Silver Foxes with Corrie, Sarah, and Tara



Throughout January, the Silver Fox class has been busy exploring various types of economies and generating inventory for our Trader GAP's Store! This all-school project has inspired Learners to develop their demolition and construction skills, discover services that they can offer, and take up new handicrafts.


In Math, the Silver Foxes took many directions as they prepared for our Trader GAP's store. Younger learners practiced subtraction with regrouping, and adding with carrying over, both on paper and using manipulatives, money, and real world applications. Learners calculated the ingredients required for play dough, weighed individual containers for sale, and packaged the product.


Older learners practiced division strategies and considered some practical applications. Learners considered the math involved in hauling supplies, sourcing materials, and leveling shelving as they supported the transition of New Oslo to the new store front. Some learners explored the properties of cubes in order to create dice as products to sell at the store. Other learners took up knitting or crocheting, which led to discussions and reflections on practical uses of math in order to successfully create a scarf.


Ask your Learner about the ways they have contributed to Trader GAP's as a mathematician!


In English Language Arts and Social Studies, Silver Fox Learners acquired some economic concepts and terminology to help them talk about all their hard work preparing for Trader GAP’s grand opening. These included: budget, goods and services, tangible and intangible commodities, opportunity cost, scarcity, and intellectual property. Learners created booklets of vouchers offering services, like baseball pitching lessons and storytelling, for trade in the Trader GAP's store. This required us to consider which skills we have that are of value to others, and the Silver Foxes concluded that they have many! We discussed the differences between a gift economy, a market economy, and a barter economy. Silver Foxes even had a discussion about the capitalism/communism spectrum. We tended to agree that we like the freedom to earn a profit from our efforts, but we also appreciate public libraries and child labor laws! A Time Travel lesson on the American Revolutionary War raised our awareness of the sacrifices made to establish our uniquely American way of life. Our three Literature Circles are well under way, with Learners studying A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. In our writing, we continue to practice how to assert a main idea and develop it with supporting details. It has certainly been a learning-packed January!


Green Goblins, Yellow Snakes, & Silver Foxes


Projects with Adrienne



January Projects have been pretty relaxed and we focused on starting to introduce our Elements of Art. Learners kicked off January with the Color Wheel. Together we spent time talking about and mixing colors to create Primary and Secondary colors, as well as learning about value with shades and tints. Each group successfully, and with a lot of enthusiasm, played games to remember blends, and we're introduced to a new medium of collage! All Learners followed their introduction to color and collage by using our new knowledge of shades and tints to create a gradient scale bookmark! Blending one color of paint with black to create a shade or white to create a tint, Learners were able to contribute to our Trader GAP's store.



We wrapped up January's Color Wheel lesson by designing our very own artist trading cards! As a whole-school Learners will be able to trade and put value on the time spent, materials used, and their personal affection for each card to either trade or put in the Trader GAP's store! This was a great way to talk about the concepts of trading and value and for Learners to understand how artists also use their own images and designs to promote their work.


We are excited to have our first big trade session before February's Community Day. Ask your Learner about the Color Wheel and their trading cards!


Knowledge Seekers with Max


Returning to GAP school after a two week break always requires time for our Learners and Educators to reintegrate themselves into the flow of school. We used this as an opportunity to revisit some of our school norms such as using "Stop and Wait" power in our everyday school interactions. Through a variety of games, Learners of all ages practiced using self control, remembering multi-step directions, and resisting temptation ("Stop and Wait"). This idea and the games come from the Greater Good in Education resource from UC Berkeley. The games can be adjusted to accommodate Learners of all ages and abilities, and are a fun way to get back into the groove of school expectations.



January continued with the start of our next All School Project, with the guiding question "How do we create a GAP store?". Learners generated questions about how stores work, what could be created, how money works, what products are made out of, and many more. These questions drove learning across a variety of rotations including learning about resources, practicing with money, learning new skills for a variety of crafts, and developing systems and expectations for our store at GAP. The resulting store, "Trader GAPs", will have a ribbon cutting ceremony at our upcoming community day. Learners will have opportunities to sell or trade products they have crafted as well as help work at the store. The store will run for several weeks and can support Learners practicing new skills as they make more products for the store. Skills Learners have practiced already include braiding friendship bracelets, collage skills for creating bookmarks and stick puppets, creating trading cards, crocheting, knitting, weaving, needle felting, whittling, and cordage making.



For whittling, we devoted time in Knowledge Seekers to learning all of our safety expectations, practicing with soap, and then practicing with sticks in a safe environment. As Learners choose to take on more whittling projects they will all be asked to demonstrate understanding of safety expectations before taking on individual whittling projects.


As the month wrapped up, Learners participated in creating their own personal logos to put on price tags for all their crafted store items. Learners also considered how to price their crafts for sales. Besides putting their crafts up for sale, our Learners may also elect to trade with each other. To practice trading in a respectful and fair way we used found nature objects to participate in a "trade blanket" activity. The "trade blanket" activity is inspired by the trading practices during the 1600 and 1700's between French fur traders and the Indigenous communities.



Ukuleles with Rachel

In Ukuleles, most Learners are in full swing working on their own music! The Silver Foxes are working individually, in pairs, or in groups working on music that they have chosen. Throughout the lessons I assist them to help them improve. Some of the most popular choices have included “Sharks”, “Bones”, and “Zero” all by Imagine Dragons. We have also completed a “No Stress Test” to assess how each Learner is doing with the basic ukulele chords that we have learned. All have a good handle of them and are doing amazing!

The Sparrows, the Hawks, and the Ravens are also working on their own songs. We always start the lessons with a group session reviewing or learning new chords and techniques. One technique we have just begun learning is the finger picking playing style! Then for the second half of their lesson, they can work individually, in pairs, or in groups on the music they have chosen.

The Cardinals continue to learn in group sessions. We are still building our finger dexterity, working on chords, and playing songs together.

Every Learner has grown so much and I’m looking forward to their continued growth in Ukuleles.



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