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What We Did in April!

Green Goblins & Yellow Snakes

English Language Arts with Emily & Julie

April might have been fleeting... but in English Language Arts we did a lot of reading, writing, and creating!

All groups have been accelerating their name writing skills. The Cardinals and Sparrows used "sign in" sheets daily. Learners signed their name through copy work with the added challenge of writing their name independently without a reference. The Ravens & Hawks continued practicing writing their names in cursive and had a blast. All groups began our Spring Festival project by journaling ideas of what they wanted to see at our GAP Spring Festival. After brainstorming, writing, and illustrating we practiced presenting as we shared in front of our audience. This helped further inspiration while building confidence as we learn to share our writing in front of others.

The Cardinals decided to take Sight Word Bingo to the next level by creating their very own "Spring Word Bingo" game! These determined Learners generated words by reading books and hunting in spring word searches. Once words were found, they copied their findings onto a whiteboard and added them to our generated list. This list soon transitioned into our next step... our word strips for Bingo! Their plan is to combine the spring words onto a spring spiderweb. This not only symbolizes their eagerness for spring, but calls back to the book they read together as a class, Charlotte's Web. The Cardinals have also practiced writing out number words through a group match and write game. Here, we decoded number words by breaking them up by sound as we matched the number with the correct word. Learners then used white boards to practice writing numbers and number words.

The Sparrows have been adding adjectives, verbs, and nouns to their spring word ideas as they have created a poster that represents spring. Their idea is that this poster will inspire them and others to creatively free write about spring and all the wonders that comes along with it. After researching awesome spring time findings, they have added to their poster and begun the writing and illustrating process. They are eager to share their work with others!

For the Cardinals and the Sparrows, April has been all about SPRING. We asked questions like: What does it look like (nouns and adjectives)?, What can you do in the Spring?, and What do the animals do in the Spring (verbs)? The Cardinals' list of interests included Red Ants, Tulip Poplar and Monarchs. The Sparrows' list of interests included White-tailed deer, beetles, and chipmunks. The Cardinals' spring words will be displayed on their spider web projects this Community Day. Two-letter blends were introduced to them this month. Many of our Learners are becoming readers, which is so exciting! As a group, we continue to work on different vowel sounds and making words out of all of our letter sounds.

The Sparrows have been busy working on creating a poster using their chosen spring word and corresponding research sentences. Both rotation groups finished reading Charlotte’s Web this month. The Cardinals introduced story sequence, character development, and setting. The Sparrows reviewed the story sequence, discussed in depth character development, talked about the different settings in the book, and discussed the different seasons that took place. We all finished our Charlotte’s Web unit with vocab words and writing adjectives to describe the different characters.

The Ravens group felt inspired by one of our favorite GAP animals, Einstein! They have been practicing important writing skills, like similes and metaphors, to move along with their creative story writing process. They have added details by understanding the importance of verbs and adjectives. The Ravens were also introduced to homophones and practiced matching the correct spelling of words with the correct pictures. They then practiced sentence writing by putting these commonly used words into use.

The Hawks were also introduced to homophones and played word to picture matching games along with sentence writing. The Hawks aspired to undertake an ambitious project: setting up a lemonade stand for community day. The Hawks saw the importance in creating a commercial to attract families to their stand. To feel inspired, the Hawks watched classic lemonade brand commercials and we discussed the main idea of the product. They were introduced to the concept of plagiarism and furthered their understanding of the importance of research. They understand that one can gain knowledge from others while still choosing to use their own voice through the words and ideas they express. They then came up with a "lemonade stand materials list" and from there, formulated a budget for their lemonade stand. These Learners feel enthusiastic and motivated to move forward with their process in the month of May.

In April, the Hawks and Ravens discovered Tall Tales, Fables, Myths, and Legends. We read stories such as "Paul Bunyan", "The Tortoise and the Hare", and myths and legends coinciding with the Appalachian Mountains. Both groups created a legend or myth creature of their own, learned that myths usually explained some aspect of nature, and learned that myths frequently include a change in shape or form. Figures of speech were introduced, like metaphors, similes, personification, hyperbole, and alliteration. These help make these genres of stories very creative. My favorite simile written for a creative writing piece was, “this made him as mad as a bull seeing red for the first time.” We finished off April with an introduction to main ideas and supporting details. Using this, the Ravens wrote and illustrated their own Fable about Einstein and the Squirrel.

Math with Kyle

April was a fun “time” in math! We returned from Spring Break and jumped into learning about time and reading clocks! We started the month off by observing the shadows that trees cast on the ground and how those shadows change throughout the day. We then started using clocks and telling time! We spent many days learning how to read the hour and minute hands on analog clocks. Then we got into learning planes and geometric shapes. We all utilized Keva blocks to make as many shapes as possible. We observed our surroundings and tried to find these shapes in nature. We found a lot of cylinders and cones with logs and sticks. We also found cubes, squares, triangles, and pyramids in the playscape! We enjoyed shape yoga where the Cardinals tried to make shapes with their body. To finish off April, we continued to work on our calendars. The Learners are feeling excited and are almost done! We are excited for the calendars to be put on display in your homes!

Science with Naomi

Science in April began with joyous discoveries as we watched the forest floor come back to life and the forest canopy fill in with bright spring green. Our guiding question regarding spring and celebration led us to study and diagram the flowers that we were seeing in an attempt to identify their parts and see how they function in conjunction with pollinators. One of the loveliest blooms we saw this year was the deep purple Paw Paw blossom. This sight was new to many of us.

We have really been enjoying reading the book Little Bee Sunbeam, which takes one into the world of the honeybee through a rich imagination and vivid storytelling. We took a closer look at the body of a honeybee. We drew and labeled all of its parts and even examined an illustration depicting a bee's internal organs, which was fascinating! The younger Learners, particularly, became enamored with the world of this little striped pollinator. It definitely sparked their imagination, and playing the spontaneous, GAP Learner-invented "bee game", became a fast favorite.

We're looking forward to exploring lemons and limes next week, furthering our deep dive into lemonade. Lastly, we've been reading about Mayfair celebrations and the time honored tradition of dancing around the Maypole. We're hoping to learn a song and dance, or two! What a beautiful and lively way to celebrate the spring that we've all been so happy to welcome in.

Silver Foxes with Corrie, Sarah, and Tara

ELA and Social Studies

In ELA, the month of April has been blooming with accomplishment and creativity! After spending the first week enjoying Spring Break, the Silver Foxes jumped back in with both feet by composing very persuasive opinion papers. They asserted opinions and backed them up with supporting details. Some even crafted introductions that made strategic concessions to the “other side.” By now, the writing process is becoming second nature for the Silvers! Word elements on our radar this month have been “graph,” “pyro,” and “mal." Learners really enjoyed brainstorming words using these elements. We started a new read-aloud book: the Newbery award-winning Hello Universe, by Erin Entrada Kelly. This novel celebrates individuality and unlikely friendships. The Silver Foxes also learned and practiced a new fixed-form poetry style, the Japanese tanka – which bears similarities to one of our favorites, the haiku. Learners are very excited by and engaged in preparations for the upcoming Spring Festival. Surprises are in store for attendees!

Social Studies work during April included lessons about our nation’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, as well as his contemporary, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass. What fascinating human beings these two men were! Additionally, the Silver Foxes learned about many of the important events, inventions, and people of the 20th century. These included air travel, plastic, World War 2, Oreos, the Cold War, and the Internet. Learners found this lesson especially interesting. Please ask your Silver Fox Learner about all of this.

The Silver Foxes enjoyed many incredible opportunities to investigate and explore the life sprouting up around the property this April. Learners identified the parts and functions of flowers, seedlings, and caterpillars. We collected flowers and plants to press using a flower press. These will be incorporated into the Spring Festival. During our recent Kinser’s hike, we practiced pace counting and used our knowledge to hide a geocache for other classes to discover. Learners have been practicing math skills involving fractions, from finding equivalent fractions to operations with fractions. We will continue to study fractions and review other math topics covered this year throughout May.

Projects with Adrienne

In April Projects, we are ringing in the sunshine and Spring. We are kicking off our return from Spring Break with mixed media, still life, and installation vocabulary. All of the Learners have jumped in feet first, excited to learn new techniques, use new materials, and practice their existing skills. This fourth quarter is about building on the foundations we have all worked so hard at learning and applying throughout the year. The Green and Yellow classes kicked April off with a drawing scavenger hunt! Learners paired up and searched for eggs with drawing or action prompts in each one. We also had fun practicing our observation skills will Peep still life drawings. With each delicious bite, our artists observed how their Peep changed, and drew its forms in each stage. Reviewing our vocabulary from the previous unit, Learners discussed foreground, middle ground, and background to place their Peep in a scene from nature. The following week, Learners discussed the all school project, the "big question", terms like installation, perspective, scale, mixed media, spring, spring creatures, and changes in nature. These discussions helped the Learners further envision our "Bigger than Life" project. A small group also had the opportunity to meet with Jenny again and sew their own foraging bags! This was such a treat. Thank you, Jenny! We wrapped up April working on our projects and performances for GAP's final Community Day, and looking forward to sharing and showing off all of our hard work!

Silver Learners kicked April off with a drawing scavenger hunt as well! We also had fun practicing our observation skills with Peep still life drawings. However, this group added the element of FIRE! With each stage, our artists observed how their Peeps changed sitting atop a piece of slate over hot coals, and why. But never fear, they too got to bite into these delicious treats. A small group of Learners had the ambitious idea to make their OWN PEEPS during Maker Day. They made Peep cupcakes to be exact! After melting and drawing our sugary still life drawings, the Silver class enjoyed their own take on this popular candy by learning how to make their own marshmallows. The following week, the Learners discussed the all school project, the "big question", and new terms like installation, perspective, scale, and mixed media. We also discussed spring, spring creatures, and changes in nature. These discussions helped the learners envision our "Bigger than Life" project. A small group also had the opportunity to meet with Jennie again and sew their own foraging bags! This was such a treat. Thank you, Jennie! We wrapped up April by breaking up into groups and working on our giant installation project for GAPs final Community Day. We are looking forward to sharing and showing off all of our hard work!

Knowledge Seekers with Max

After Spring Break, we jumped into preparing our school garden in Knowledge Seekers. Learners are "digging in" to understand the different components of what makes a garden grow. We began our investigation by moving soil up to our garden beds and weighing how much total soil was moved. Learners practiced making estimations about the total weight of soil moved, with the closest estimate winning a fun prize. Congratulations Gus!

After our soil was set we began to look into seeds. Learners spent time experimenting with "old" seeds to see if they would sprout. We also compared a variety of seeds, made guesses as to what type of plant they were, and continued practicing our estimation skills by guessing the quantity of different sized seeds on a tray. Later, we designed different models of seeds to represent a variety of ways that seed disperse. Learners tested their models to see if their seeds would either float in water, glide on the air, or attach to an animal. Having investigated seeds, it was time to plant. Learners all had opportunities to create seed starts as well as directly sow seeds into our beds. We have also started a "Potato Tire Tower", a type of vertical garden that allows for a greater potato yield. Hopefully, by next fall we will be flush with potatoes. Learners are now starting to map out which plants will go in which garden beds, as well as explore the question, "How do plants make fruits and vegetables?"

Running parallel to our garden investigations, we spent the month of April observing signs of Spring at School. Each week, we took time to hike the trails and notice the changes we saw. Learners used field guides to identify wild flowers, learned about wild edibles, and also about the hazardous plants in our area, such as poison ivy. Our exploration of the transition to spring culminated with each flock hiking Kinsers the last week of April.

Music with Rachel

In April we jammed out in ukulele lessons! The K-2nd grade Learners began their first round of "No Stress Tests" so that we could assess their progress learning the basic chords of C, C7, Am, F, G, and G7. The 3rd-5th grade Learners have begun their second round of "No Stress Tests" to assess their progress on the advanced chords of E, Em, D, Dm, and B. While waiting for their one-on-one time, all of the Learners worked on their own songs, independently or with friends, and colored ukulele themed coloring sheets.

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