Magnet Wall Finale

We met with the Middle School Engineers for the big reveal of the magnet wall creations. The kindergarteners were practically jumping out of their seats with excitement and anticipation.

Here is the pirate ship with a treasure box and pink and purple princesses.

The loop-d-loop with each of the students’ names on it as well as custom stoppers.

The tree, unicorn, and special ice cream. Look at the details!

The puzzle pieces that had to fit together and be decorated with dinosaurs, a unicorn, and buildings.

We went out to the Magnet Wall and put the pieces to work.

What an impressive showing! Thank you to our MS Engineers for all their hard work and dedication to this project. You made these kindergarteners VERY happy!

Turtles and Art?

We had the most magnificent field trip this past Friday as part of our Swooper Citizens program. When I originally planned the trip to the Turtle Conservancy of Ojai several months ago, my thought was to link the trip to the character trait of Responsibility, focusing on conservation and sustainability. This trip turned out to be so much more!

While planning the trip, I remembered that my friend’s nephew developed an app a few years ago called Turtle Friends. This free conservation app was invented by then-8-year-olds to watch, track, and protect sea turtles around the world. There were 196 backers who pledged $26,403 to help bring this project to life. I thought it would be fun for the students to meet these two inventors and learn about their efforts to help sea turtles. My friend offered to have our classes visit with the boys in a special space she started in memory of her sister: the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation. As luck would have it, the artist in residence at this time, Yassi Mazandi, was inspired by the tortoise shells at the Turtle Conservancy to create beautiful watercolor paintings. I could not believe my luck!

We arrived at the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation space and were in awe of the beauty inside. On display were sculptures and beautiful watercolors from Yassi Mazandi.

Floral skeleton and seed pod scultpures.

Watercolor paintings of shells.

Ms. Mazandi shared her inspiration with the students. She was a natural presenter who clearly enjoyed interacting with the children.

Next, we met Sarah Otterstrom, the executive director of the nonprofit group Paso Pacifico. Paso Pacifico helps restore and protect areas in South America.

Ms. Otterstrom showed us one of the tools they are using to help with conservation: the investEGGator. This pretend turtle egg looks just like the real thing but has an internal GPS. When turtle eggs are stolen, the rangers can track down the thieves!

The students then met the two boys who started Turtle Friends.

The boys spoke about their conservation app where one can watch, track, and protect sea turtles around the world. In creating the app, they had 196 backers who pledged a total of $26,403 to help bring this project to life. The boys also shared the importance of using glass or metal straws and reusable snack bags. (The students could relate to this and eagerly shared that they each have a reusable straw and snack bags from Dr. McCauley’s visit back in October.)

Inspired, we hopped on the bus and headed to the Turtle Conservancy of Ojai.

We were greeted by Max, who shared the mission of the Conservancy with the students. He then took us on a breathtaking tour where students had the rare opportunity to interact with turtles and tortoises that no longer exist in the wild.

Look how fast they walk!

We saw the incubator room as well as the nursery.

The finale was getting to feed and pet the Giant Galapagos Tortoise.


I am so grateful to all those who made this memorable field trip happen. As a way to give back and as part of a collaborative project, students will now work on creating watercolor paintings of turtles. It is my hope that we will sell these works of art and donate the proceeds to the Turtle Conservancy of Ojai. More details to come soon.



Holiday Road!

We jetted to Mexico and Germany to learn more about holiday traditions around the world. Students had their boarding passes, passports, suitcases, and travel itineraries in hand and were greeted by Flight Attendant Mieke when it was time to board the plane.

We were ready for take-off.

Once we landed, students glued their passport stamp for Mexico into their passports.

I read aloud The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola.

“In Mexico, the poinsettia is called flor de la Nochebuena, the flower of the Holy Night. At Christmastime, the flower blooms and flourishes, the quite exquisite red stars lighting up the countryside.

This Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl’s unselfish gift to the Christ Child. Beloved Newbery Honor-winning author and Caldecott honor-winning illustrator Tomie dePaola has embraced the legend using his own special feeling for Christmas. His glorious paintings capture not only the brilliant colors of Mexico and its art, but also the excitement of the children preparing for Christmas and the hope of Lucida, who comes to see what makes a gift truly beautiful.” (Amazon)

After listening to the story, students made a craft that reflects the holiday celebration.

Next, the students grabbed their suitcases, took out their Celebrations Airlines tickets, and boarded their flight to Germany.

Upon arrival, students added their Germany stamps to their passports and then learned about the German tradition of making gingerbread houses and gingerbread people. The students loved the book that I read aloud, The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.

“Remember how the Gingerbread Boy is eaten by the fox? Well, not this Gingerbread Baby in a delicious twist to a favorite old tale.

It all begins when Matti opens the oven too soon and out jumps a cheeky little Gingerbread Bay. He leads Matti’s mother and father, the dog and the cat. And a whole colorful cast of characters on a rollicking chase through the village and into the forest, staying just out of reach, daring them to catch him along the way.

But Matti’s not with them. He’s at home in the borders making what turns out to be a gingerbread house into which the Gingerbread Baby runs. Only Matti knows he is safely inside. And readers will too when they look under the lift-the-flap gingerbread house at the end of the story, and there he is!” (Amazon)

Students then make their own gingerbread ornament.

Tomorrow we will fly to England and Italy. Ready? Set? Jet!


We’re Leaving on a Jet Plane….

When the students arrived in class today, they were told to pack their suitcases and get ready for the trip of a lifetime! We are going around the world in five days to learn all about holiday celebrations. For this trip, the students will carry their suitcases, passports, plane tickets, and travel itinerary.

While we were still in our home country, we learned about three winter holidays that are celebrated in America. The first is Hanukkah. Students listened to the story Latkes, Latkes Good to Eat by Naomi Howland.

“Sadie and her four little brothers are very poor and always hungry. On the first night of Chanukah, Sadie performs a generous act, and in turn receives a frying pan that cooks up sizzling hot, golden latkes on command. Sadie tells her brothers never to use the magic pan, but when she goes out one afternoon, the mischievous boys can’t resist. They remember the words to start the pan cooking . . . but what were the words to make it stop? This humorous tale of generosity and greed is accompanied by bright, cheerful illustrations depicting a traditional Russian village. An author’s note and a recipe for Sadie’s latkes are included.” (Amazon)

Students then had an opportunity to color a wooden dreidel.

Next, I touched on Christmas. Students listened to some Christmas songs and then completed a Cloze activity where they had to record the missing words to the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  The children literally sang while they worked. We noticed that there were several high-frequency words included in this activity!

The final winter holiday that we explored in America is Kwanzaa. Students watched this clip from Sesame Street.

They then created a handprint wreath and added each of the seven principals.

Tracing and cutting out the hand prints was a great fine motor exercise!

Finally, the students recorded the first leg of their journey in their personal travel itinerary.

Tomorrow, we are off to Mexico!