11 Nov

The Great 48 goes to the Metropolitan Opera House

On Tuesday, November 1st, the fifth-grade students attended a matinee performance of Verdi’s Aida.  As we entered the lobby students were excited to see the beautiful Swarovski crystal chandeliers, a gift from the Austrian government.  Their excitement continued as we entered the house, where students saw the beautiful theater, the stage, the gold leaf ceiling and all the other grandeur that makes the experience so special.

We were very fortunate this year to be given seats in the orchestra level.  Usually, students are only permitted to sit in the balcony or family circle.  It was mentioned to me by the director of education that because our school has a reputation for being so well prepared and appreciative of what goes into creating an opera, we were granted this privilege.

Students spent several classes preparing for the opera by engaging in activities such as listening to the arias, acting out parts of the story, and talking about the connections between their opera jobs and the jobs in the professional opera world.

At the second intermission, concertmaster for the Metropolitan Opera orchestra and D-E parent, David Chan, came to the lobby to speak to us about the production and to answer any questions.  We learned a great deal and truly appreciated Mr. Chan taking time to speak with us.


Here are some reflections from students in 5th grade:

Leah F: It was good – I liked that it was dramatic – the scenes, the backgrounds, the singing, the drama…

David L: I don’t speak any Italian – most operas are in different languages, they are rarely seen in English.  Even though I didn’t understand the language, it was a great opera. Descending down the death scene was showing you that they were underground and people above them were on ground level. What I really enjoyed was how the scenery looked so real.  I liked that they were brought out of a real place.  It was cool how the set moved up and how another set took its place underneath!

Demir: I liked the deep, loud voices to show the dramatic scenes.

Arhan: ….it shows us if we want to go far, you can.  If you choose the job of performer, or electrician… you can see how your job takes a lot of work.

Uma: I was surprised – I thought they would speak in some parts, but they sang the whole time.  I didn’t know that people could sing so high.

Kayla: I thought it was very interesting.  Some parts of the story I didn’t remember exactly, so I looked at the monitor that showed the words that they were singing. It was beautiful, relaxing, very entertaining.  I can’t believe they had real horses on stage!

David L: I noticed when they marched back from the war, the lights were bright; when the father talked to Aida, they were dark…

Sierra: The lighting for nighttime was really good – it was bluish black…

Christina: When it was night and Aida was talking to her father, the costumes were dark and weren’t vey bright – when it was daytime, they were wearing light colored costumes.

Jackson: I was looking to see where the light was coming from, and they were way up high in the air.

John:  It made me want to go to Egypt.

Alex F:  My grandmother said that when she saw Aida they had elephants on stage.

*(This is true. Many years ago when I first saw Aida they did have elephants on stage).

It was a wonderful day at the opera.  The opera house, the music, the scenery, the costumes, the singing, and all of the elements that go into making an opera is an experience one is likely to remember for a lifetime.

11 Nov

The First Six Weeks of School

November 2016

It’s hard to believe that we have successfully completed our first six weeks of school!  The preschool 4 children have been productively and thoroughly engaged throughout this time period.  For the teachers in the Lower School, these first six weeks of school are significant because our community is committed to following the Responsive Classroom approach.  By following the principles and practices of the Responsive Classroom, we hope to build a sense of community among the preschool 4 students and teachers; slowly and intentionally introduce students to the routines and activities in the classroom; work together to develop a set of classroom rules which the children agree upon and sign as a contract; and create an environment where respect and excitement for learning thrive.

The Responsive Classroom has been incorporated into many of our activities and classroom conversations. One such activity is our daily morning meeting.  During this meeting, the children and teachers gather on the rug and acknowledge each member of our classroom community using various greetings. We may shake hands while making eye contact and saying, “Good Morning, (student’s name)” or, we may greet one another by singing a “Hello” song.  Our morning meeting also serves as a time when we practice our math, literacy, and risk-taking skills.  Children whose job it is to take attendance or read the schedule stand up and count the number of children in school on our attendance chart or lead the children in going over our daily schedule, respectively.  As well, we use this time to introduce and model an activity that the children will have a chance to do during our work time.  This time is also a wonderful opportunity for the children and teachers to have important discussions, brainstorm about concepts that we are learning, or share personal experiences that, oftentimes, offer a chance for children to make a home-school connection.  We learn so much about each other and from one another during these valuable morning meetings!

Building community, developing social relationships, and gaining an awareness of self is an important part of the Responsive Classroom.  Many of our activities over the past six weeks have helped our students to grow in these areas.  One activity was creating our sunshine wall.  We began by painting paper to become our sun.  Next, the children thought of words and phrases that make others feel happy.  Some of the words and phrases they thought of include, “please hug”, “thank you”, and “sorry.”  Also known to the children as “sunshine words”, the children helped to think of these words and then wrote them on a strip of yellow paper that became one ray of our sun.  The children also drew and painted their own beautiful sun.  The preschool 4 children continue to think of new sunshine words to add to our wall and try to remember to use these phrases with each other.

The children have also been spreading joy and kindness by taking part in our card making activity. They have enjoyed writing cards for friends, family members, and teachers – adding special, thoughtful notes and decorations on each card.

As part of our “All About Me” unit, the preschool 4 children have been learning about each other and about themselves.  Each child had a turn to share his or her “me, family, fun” page and answered his or her classmates’ questions.  We displayed all of the pages on our bulletin board for the children to continue to learn about each other.

We also had an opportunity to draw all the members of our families.  We noticed that some families have brothers and sisters, other families have pets, and some even have brothers and sisters AND pets!

As well as introducing literature to learn about the similarities and differences that make each of us unique and special, the children looked closely at their features in a mirror and then worked carefully to draw and paint their self-portraits. They noticed their skin, eye, and hair colors and used the corresponding paint colors to illustrate their self-portraits. All of the children’s self-portraits are displayed on the bulletin board outside of our classroom. Please stop by and see them during conference time. They are priceless!

Please visit our preschool 4 “Rock Garden”, if you have a chance! After being inspired by the book, Only One You, by Linda Kranz, the children talked about how they each have unique characteristics that make them special and different from their friends. They also spoke about how they could make a difference in our community by being kind, generous, and considerate of others. The children selected and carefully painted their own rocks, each one different and quite unique. They then told us their idea for something they could say to help someone in our community feel better.

In learning more about ourselves, we also learned about our preferences as we tasted lemons and limes and different varieties of apples.  Following our apple taste test, the children voted for their favorite apple and then we graphed and counted the results.  Golden Delicious apples received the most votes, while Red Delicious and Granny Smith came in second and third, respectively.  And, surprisingly, some children really enjoyed the tartness of the lemons and limes!

Those lemons and limes were sour!

Another activity in our “All About Me” unit was measuring our height using unit blocks.  Each child worked with a partner to measure and record how tall he or she was in unit blocks.  We learned that, even though we are all in preschool 4, some of us are different heights.  Some of us are 9 unit blocks tall, while others are 7 or 8 unit blocks tall!


Please enjoy more photographs of all the fun we have been having in preschool 4!

Learning and practicing the letter “L”

Enjoying books and playing outside

Mixing colors using pipettes and test tubes

Mixing up some gak and building Mat Man

Collecting fall leaves and natural materials

Designing our leaf creations using our finds from nature

Learning the story of the “Little Red House”

Apple prints and observational apple paintings.

Contributed by Lorraine Yamin and Mary Cushman Early Childhood Teachers