As we continue to explore the character trait of Responsibility, we invited Dr. Douglas McCauley to visit during our Swooper Citizens lesson this week. Dr. McCauley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at UCSB, and a Laguna Dad. He has an important message to share regarding sustainability. (We think that the traits of responsibility and sustainability go hand in hand.) Dr. McCauley began his talk by sharing his marine science background with the students and then segued into what sustainability means.


Dr. McCauley then shared a story about Flora, a young girl who is forced to move to a new island because the natural resources on her previous island have run out.

At the end of the lesson, Dr. McCauley provided the students with a “sustainability bag” filled with items that will help us all make choices that are Earth friendly.

Thank you so much, Dr. McCauley, for your informative visit!


We Were BOOED!

Imagine my surprise when I walked into the Kindergarten classroom this morning and found this:

The classroom was a complete mess!

Stunned, I looked around for clues. First, I saw this hanging out on my computer:

Then, I saw these:

Each student was left a little Halloween surprise:

I had just enough time to get out my iPad so that I could record the students’ reactions:

We have been sleuthing to figure out who Booed us. Right now, Dr. Surber is the main suspect. He has been hiding spiders in cabinets in the kitchen and in the microwave these past few days. In an attempt to spook him, I hid the rat that was left on my computer screen in his office yesterday.  Interesting how the rat ended up back in my classroom this morning…..



We looked at the character trait of perseverance today by reciting a famous quote for the children, “It’s not that I am so smart. It’s just that I stay with problems longer” -Albert Einstein.

What does that mean? Students shared their thoughts about this, saying that the person keeps trying, even if the thing isn’t fixed or solved. Bingo! That’s perseverance- showing determination and never giving up. We decided that the students needed a chance to practice persevering, so we took them out the climbing wall and gave them a challenge. Students who have not yet climbed all the way across the wall were encouraged to do so. Those students who have previously climbed across the wall were challenged to cross the wall using only the RED pieces! (I wish I had been recording when I announced this! The students’ response was priceless!)

The students gave the challenge their all!

After each student took a turn climbing across the rock wall, we returned to the classroom to listen to the book Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty.

“Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal–to fly–Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. But, when her contraption doesn’t fly but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose insists that Rosie’s contraption was a raging success. She explains, ‘You can only truly fail if you quit.'”


After the read aloud, we asked the students why we would choose to read this particular book to the class during our discussion of perseverance. Their answers were spot on, sharing that Rosie kept trying and didn’t give up. We will be referencing this character trait often in the classroom, as new concepts are introduced to the students. Never give up.

October Morning Exploring Tubs

October is already half-way over, and I haven’t yet shared the October Morning Exploring tubs! There are some FUN thematic activities this month!


Tub 1: Students choose a number card. They then build that number in a ten frame using pumpkins. Read more about why the concept of the ten frame is important:


Tub 2: Students us a die or two dice to roll a number. They then build that number on the spider web mat using tweezers and flies…eewww! With this activity, students are not only strengthening their fine motor skills, but they are practicing several math concepts including addition and number sense.


Tub 3: Students identify a number on the candy jar and then fill the jar with that number of candy corn. Besides building fine motor skills, students are recognizing numbers and demonstrating both one-to-one correspondence and number sense.



Tub 4: Students count the number of pumpkins in each container and record their answer. This activity reinforces counting as well as number writing.


Tub 5: Students match a number to the correct ten or double ten frame and then clip the cards together. Squeezing the clothespin strengthens fine motor skills. Students are also identifying numbers, counting, and demonstrating number sense.


Tub 6: Pokey Pins! Students use a push pin to poke holes along the outline of either a ghost or a pumpkin, making this fun light-up design! This activity works on strengthening fine motor skills.


Tub 7: Students pick a pattern card and then use tweezers to make the pattern. They are working on AB, ABC, ABB, AAB, and AABBCC patterns.


Tub 8: Each student has a number book with teen numbers. They use a hole punch to punch that number of holes on each page. This activity demonstrates number sense and one-to-one correspondence and strengthens fine motor skills


Tub 9: Students use links to measure Halloween themed items. They record the number of links long each item is on the picture card.

Mornings are delightfully busy in kindergarten!


Sensory Table Fun

Students had an opportunity to see what is inside the October Sensory Table today…

colored pasta!

The children immediately wanted to know how I made the colored pasta. I told them I would share the recipe here on the blog so that they can make it at home.

For our independent activity during reading centers, I hid spiders with pictures on the back in the pasta.

Once students unearthed a spider, they were to say the name of the picture, like “fan”.

Next, students identified the vowel sound in the middle of the word. They then recorded the vowel on their worksheet.

Check back for more sensory table fun soon!


Storyteller Michael Katz Visits Lower School

We enjoyed a visit today from famous storyteller, Michael Katz. Mr. Katz has been visiting Laguna for more than ten years to share his gift of storytelling. It is always a wonderfully entertaining time when he performs!

“Michael Katz has been a storyteller since 1984 and has been featured at such illustrious locations as the openings of both the Los Angeles Getty Center and the Disney Concert Hall. Michael is the host of the radio storytelling program Katz Pajamas heard on NPR station KCBX FM. He is one of the founding members of the national touring theater company BOXTALES, and was the founding Artistic Director for the Flying Leap Storytelling Festival in Solvang, California.

Michael Katz

Michael tells stories which weave together both the comic and the profound using his own highly energetic, animated and interactive style of storytelling. Michael’s stories include multicultural folktales, myths, original stories and personal narratives. Michael has performed at theaters, concert halls, festivals, school assemblies, and libraries throughout the U.S. Because of Michael’s extensive research of stories, his repertoire is so vast he can find the right story for almost any event.” (from

Mr. Katz told three stories today. Here are the first two. Enjoy!

Students in grades two through four have the very special opportunity to engage in several workshops with Michael, where they will learn the art of storytelling. Thank you, Mrs. Brace, for organizing this very special opportunity!

Swooper Citizens: Determination

As part of our month-long look at the character trait of Responsibility, we explored how the trait of Determination relates to Responsibility. Determination means to make up your mind about doing something.  We began the class by discussing what happens when students tried doing something that was too hard at first.  Do they give up or did they try harder? Many students shared about learning how to ride a bike without training wheels. After lots of practice (and a few skinned knees) they were able to successfully ride a two-wheeler!

To put students to the test, they participated in a Braincercise Challenge called Scissors/Straddle/Together.

That was really challenging!

Then we showed the students a video clip that very clearly shows exactly what determination is…


Finally, students listened to the book Sally Jean, Bicycle Queen.

“I can pop a wheelie, I can touch the sky,
I can pedal backwards, I can really fly!

Sally Jean was born to ride. And her bicycle, Flash, is just about her best friend. But one day something terrible – and wonderful – happens. Sally Jean grows. Suddenly she finds herself too big
for Flash. What’s a Bicycle Queen to do? Finally, by collecting old bicycle parts to make a new bike – and giving Flash to a young friend who longs for a bigger bike of his own – she rides

With exuberant art that’s just the right match for Sally Jean’s new found freedom, this joyous text celebrates growing up, learning new skills, and giving back to the community.” (Amazon)

This week, we plan to create situations where students will need to practice diligence. Stay tuned!

Five Senses

Our unit on the Five Senses is wrapping up, but not before we squeeze in some last minute senses learning! Last week, students were asked to create a musical instrument using any items they had at home. Students were asked to “think like an inventor, be a problem solver, use your imagination, and have fun!” They were given a planning sheet where materials and ideas were recorded and a blueprint was sketched.

Once students brought their instruments to school, they were invited to share the process they used to invent!

Students also brought their instruments to music class, where they played a listening game.

Students even had an opportunity to play their musical instruments!

I love how this project integrates learning at home to school to music class!

Lane Farms

We had a wonderful field trip to Lane Farms. The weather was perfect, and the pumpkin patch was near empty for most of our time there. Mrs. Lane even had a scavenger hunt for us to do! Look at all the things we found:

We saw a donkey.

Students took turns driving the tractor.

The students played “Scarecrow Says.”

We went took a hayride!

And, each student chose a pumpkin to bring back to school.

We will be using these special squash to help us with a quick learning unit on pumpkins where the students will record their information in these pumpkin books.

Happy fall!

Welcome Engineers!

Today we hosted the Middle School Intro to Engineering class as part of our project-based learning unit that revolves around the Magnet Wall. The kindergarten “clients” met with their engineer team.


They explored the magnet wall together, discussing pieces the wall lacks.

The Engineers took notes and made specific measurements.


Here are some preliminary ideas.

Big ideas! We will travel to the Upper School in a few weeks to check on the Engineers’ progress. Wait until you see the new STEM Lab where all of the pieces will be created.