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Welcome to Lower Elementary Willow

I trust that you will find our classroom an exciting, attractive, lively and engaging place to be.  Together we will create an atmosphere that is fair and just, and allows us to develop to our unique potentials.  I am excited to share this  journey and all of the promises that it holds with you.  

Onward we go, with flexibility and love!

Jaime Janiszewski

Jaime@traversechildrenshouse.org

 

Room Parents
Mindy Beers
Emily Modrall

 

Back to School Parent Letter

Jaime Janiszewski, Lower Elementary Guide
Jaime Janiszewski, Lower Elementary Guide
Jana Gray, Lower Elementary Support
Jana Gray, Lower Elementary Support

Classroom Highlights

5/23/24

Dear Willow Families, 

I just noticed that my classroom highlights were messed up. I am not sure what happened to all of the wonderful pictures, but they won't send properly, so please see my classroom highlights below sans pictures. 

Our community is busy, and the energy is contagious and at a fever pitch! The children are excited about all the upcoming activities, like Camp LOC, and thinking of the summer fun coming up in a couple of short weeks. 

We visited Brown Bridge Quiet Area for our final trip to discover all that Spring has to offer.  It was a wonderful trip and a lovely collaboration this year with Birch Classroom!  We were able to visit a beautiful Anishinaabe sign that Jane's mom, Emily, is working on.  Jane was quite proud to share this with all of lower elementary. 

The rising 1st years visited our classroom while our community played outside. The Kindergarteners had a chance to explore the room and ask many questions about elementary. Each Kindergartener was delighted to receive a personalized card from a potential future classmate. 

The North Sky Raptor Sanctuary visited and brought two beautiful falcons to share with the children! What an incredible opportunity for us all.  

On Monday, May 20, Willow and Birch classrooms ventured to Grass River to learn about woodlands and wetlands. The children searched for salamanders and learned how to properly care for and observe them. They went on a nature hike through the wetlands, searched for macroinvertebrates in the streams with nets, and learned how to find the evidence animals leave behind!

We've been talking a lot about Camp LOC in our classroom. The children have been wonderful at sharing what they know. We had a question-and-answer session, which allowed all the first years to have all of their questions satiated. 

The children have been working hard practicing lessons to share with their grandparents and special friends. We are excited to welcome them into the classroom tomorrow!

Della Terra continued as we visited the garlic Willow classroom planted in the fall. It is as tall as the children! We continued to water, re-pot, and roll compost. 

We celebrated Nadine's Day on Friday, May 17, and had a surprise visit from her at lunchtime. As a part of Nadine's Day, we planted flowers, sang songs outside, and had an opportunity to think about her as the incredible educator and human she is.  

5/9/24

Dear Willow Families, 

The students are brimming with excitement and anticipation for summertime. There have been conversations and statements about feeling nervous to move to upper elementary or excitement about being the rising leaders in our communities as third years. The students have been collaborating, working hard, and giving each other lessons. I gave a lesson on Kumihimo to four students, and now most of our community has learned this ancient weaving technique used by Samurais from each other.

We've had many exciting presentations and outings, including Kasey, the Fire Dog, who came to teach us about fire and life safety; Peter and the Wolf by Northwestern Ballet Theatre; and they presented their Ruby Bridges Day Project at the Project Fair.  They appreciated that so many of you came to hear from your young activists.  

Jana took the trip of a lifetime to Japan and has been sharing so many beautiful experiences with the children. She shared about the chopsticks her family made, the food they enjoyed, the places they went, and their unique cultural experiences. The children had many wonders and thoughtful questions. 

The students are practicing hard to solidify concepts they have been working toward throughout the year, they are completing and presenting studies, and many are challenging themselves by practicing more difficult lessons. 

We continue with Della Terra and caring for our community through watering, repotting, and compost rolling. The students have really been enjoying this, showing great enthusiasm and interest.  We've also repotted most of the plants in our classroom in an effort to keep them healthy and growing, a task they've taken on with great responsibility and care. 

Our May Day celebration was lovely.  It was fun to have a Willow Classroom section of ukelele's playing with our May Day songs. 

We've been studying Ancient Greece lately.  We've learned about Eratosthenes (the librarian that measured the Earth), the Ancient Grecian culture, and have begun our Ancient Grecian Reader's Theatre.  We've learned about how instrumental the Greeks were in the evolution of theatre. Alison has been helping the actors make their theatre masks, as Ancient Greeks wore masks when they performed. 

The actors were hoping to present their reader's theatre to you, so we have planned a performance for the last week of school on June 3rd from 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Your young thespians will perform with their Ancient Greek masks!

Our 3rd years are partnering with Maple Classroom's 4th and 5th years to build a natural river in the ravine and learn about the power and work of water. We've just begun clearing our river, determining its course, and constructing the riverbanks. The 3rd years also enjoyed their time with upper elementary as they planted trees with their future classmates along the Ottaway River (Boardman). Our community made cards for the rising 1st years, as they will visit our classroom on May 14th.  

Camp LOC is approaching quickly. If you haven't sent your permission form back, please do so tomorrow!

4/24/25

Dear Willow Families, 

With spring in the air, it has been the perfect time to investigate the wonder of flowers and their unique relationship with pollinators. Your young botanists have been dissecting flowers and their parts and seeking to look more closely at what might be discovered under a microscope.  

The students have been excited to visit the greenhouse for our work with Della Terra. Four to five students go every Wednesday afternoon to plant seeds, water existing plants, and roll the compost bins. 

Your young actors finally presented their Ancient Mesopotamian skits to their classmates. It was so much fun seeing them perform and share this with our community.  

Our Ruby Bridges Walk-to-School Day Committee has been preparing our classroom project for the upcoming project fair. We eagerly look forward to welcoming all of you and hearing from your students about how they chose to make the world a better place. Please join us in the gym tomorrow, Thursday, April 25th, between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Our classroom has a lovely hum and buzz as your young learners work and practice lessons. There is an end-of-the-year energy present, to be sure, but smiles and laughter fill the air.

4/11/24

Dear Willow Families, 

Our community is back in the groove after what sounds like a beautiful, restful, fun-filled Spring Break. The stories of their adventures have filled group meetings, lunches, and show-and-tell. 

We launched into a study on the moon before Spring Break to prepare us for the eclipse, and curiosity and wonders have abounded. We enjoyed the eclipse together on Monday, and many children documented it with circle art and time stamps of the changes. 

Our study of Ancient Egypt has led us to experiments on mummification and building pyramids. It was heartwarming to hear that many of you actively participated in building pyramids at home with the help of your learners!

Our read aloud book, The Wind in the Willows, has been such an interesting experience.  It was written in 1908 and the language is antiquated.  I wondered if they were enjoying it and if they knew what was going on with so many words that are unfamiliar to them, but they are loving it and were unanimously in favor of continuing our journey with Rat, Mole, Otter and Toad.

Our Gus Gus committee finally presented their knowledge of African side-neck turtles and the rules for caring for our class reptile. The committee also decided to set up a schedule for taking him out of his tank and observing him, as well as a process for the committee members to give individual lessons to each classmate. 

Many studies and presentations are happening, and we are learning about various types of animals, ballet, thunderstorms, ancient civilizations, tsunamis, fossils, apex predators, and gemstones. What will we hear about next?

3/22/24

Dear Willow Families, 

It was lovely to sit down with you at conferences last week. It was a time of reflection and appreciation of the incredible humans that enter the Willow Classroom doors each day. I value the time we take during conferences to build our partnerships. 

Meals on Wheels has been a wonderful experience for elementary students. While we are only supporting the route for a few short weeks, the students who have been able to go have truly enjoyed it. We still have two needs for Meals on Wheels. We have a driver but need a second adult on April 3rd and April 10th. If you are available, it would be so helpful. Let me know, and I will connect you with the right person. 

Another exciting event is coming our way. Your learner may have shared it with you, as we've been studying the moon lately in preparation. There will be a solar eclipse on April 8th between 1:58 and 3:14 pm, and we will go outside to watch it. I have special eclipse-viewing glasses for the children to wear. 

Thank you to Leland, Chad, and Mindy for a magical maple syrup trip on March 8th for not just Willow but all of elementary! I hope you enjoyed the delicious maple syrup the students brought home. 

I wish you an adventurous, restful, and fun Spring Break that brings you closer together! I look forward to seeing everyone on April 1st!

3/7/24

Dear Willow Families, 

February departed, bringing with it the gloomy days of winter with little snow. It has quickly given way to bursts of spring days full of sunshine and blue skies. The sun has shared its energy with the children, who are on full throttle. We have enjoyed a few of those days with some extra time outside. 

Our exploration of ancient civilizations has continued with a dive into Ancient Egypt. Our ancient (apple) pharaohs are in the sacred mummification process outside our classroom, and we will observe the changes over 14 days. 

March brings with it a hectic schedule.  It was wonderful to welcome all of you into the classroom this week and see the children's joy in sharing their hard work and the new things they are learning with you.  I look forward to meeting with each of you next week to discuss your lovely children.  That will lead us quickly into Spring Break if you can believe it!

Please remember our field trip to the Beers' home tomorrow to learn about the Maple syrup production process. Please check the weather and dress appropriately.  We will leave at 9am by TCAPS bus and arrive back at school by 11am. At last check, we are looking at lots of rain.  

 

2/22/24

Dear Willow Families, 

It has been a busy, fun, and exciting couple of weeks. The talent show was a time to collaborate with classmates if you performed with someone, and that can be challenging when there are so many beautiful ideas, but the group must choose only one. The children learn so much in these moments if we give them the grace and the space to figure things out. It's easy to forget the courage it takes to put yourself out there and the bravery it takes to admit you just aren't ready yet. I saw all of these things play out in our classroom surrounding preparations for the talent show.  

The children experienced archeology uniquely and tangibly, inspiring many intriguing questions and wonders to wrap up our study on Ancient Mesopotamia. We celebrated Valentine's Day in our pj's while playing board games, learned about the Lunar New Year and the year of the dragon, and read about President's Day. We celebrated the 100th day of school with a 2nd pajama day, balloons, 100 things, and a dance party. We finished six fun-filled weeks and a makeup day of swimming and had the chance to swim with Birch classroom. The children loved being with the other lower elementary classroom! 

Speaking of winter, we head to Brown Bridge Quiet Area tomorrow for our 3rd observation trip. We will observe another change in seasons and learn more about winter! It will be 32 degrees tomorrow. Please ensure they have proper attire to be outside at this temperature for the morning. We will leave on a TCAPS bus at 8:30 am and return to school in time for lunch. 

The quote in my email signature says, "The child is both a hope and promise for mankind." Maria Montessori said this about the children she observed over decades, and I see and feel this daily in your children. 

Thank you's: 
Thank you, Emily Modrall, for enrapturing the children with archeology!
Thank you, Cory John, for sharing your time and talents to help the children help others. 

Coming Up: 
February 23rd - Brown Bridge Quiet Area - Winter
March 5th and 6th - Parent Visiting Day
March 11th - 15th - Conferences (a separate email will go out next week with signups)
March 25th - 29th - Spring Break

Have a lovely weekend!

2/9/24

Dear Willow Families, 

Settle in; there is a lot for you to know! The children have been enjoying our exploration of the cradle of civilization, Ancient Mesopotamia. Last week, we welcomed ClaySpace into our classroom to learn about and work on pottery. They collaborated on their designs, and each person put individual flare on their recreation of ancient pots. You can view them during parent visiting week.  The children also learned how to write in cuneiform on a clay tablet. Their tablets will come home once they have dried. You could try to decode it when they bring it home. 

There are several students wrapping up studies and many more diving into a second or third study.  The children are researching a wide array of things from ballet and Ancient Egypt to apex predators and fossils.  We have several students going out of the classroom to learn more about their study topics from experts at Interlochen Center for the Arts and Northwestern Michigan College. Writer's Workshop is focused on learning and practicing different types of writing. We have been practicing Informative and Persuasive writing, and just finished an informative paragraph on Ancient Mesopotamia.  

We began our 4th read aloud book, Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, a book that was written in 1908, which they seem to enjoy.  Bonus: we are learning lots of new words!

While the classroom is quite busy with lessons, studies, and practice, the school event calendar is filled up as well.  I thought it might be helpful to detail everything that is coming up that directly affects your students. 

First up, Meals on Wheels. We still need drivers! Please visit this link and sign up if you are available. 

On Deck: 

  • February 9th: Swimming
  • February 12th: Makeup Day for Swimming
  • February 9th: Emily Modrall shares her expertise in Archeology.
  • February 14th: Valentine's Day - Valentine's exchange, pajamas, and stuffies. A note with the details went home in their home folders. 
  • February 15th: 100th Day of School: Please send your child to school with 100 of the same object. A note with the details went home in their home folders. 
  • February 15th: Talent Show at 2pm - parents are welcome to attend. 
  • March 5th & 6th: Parent Visiting Day (see schedule below)
  • March 11th - 15th: Conferences 

We have the new Kitchen Classroom List, which I have attached to this email.  Enjoy your weekend and thank you for sharing your lovely children with me each day!

1/25/24

Dear Willow Families,

      Can you believe that January is almost over? I can't... the time is flying and we are having fun! The children marvel at the stories of the first superhero, Gilgamesh, and his search for everlasting life. Their eyes widen at all the inventions the Ancient Mesopotamians were responsible for, and they gasp at the hundreds of gods they worshiped. Their study of Ancient Mesopotamia is in full swing. You could ask them what has stuck out to them so far.  

      Our scientists have been combining and separating solutions, mixtures, suspensions, and compounds and learning about the differences between physical and chemical changes. Our artists learned a new style of art called Notan. You could ask them about that and see if they want to show you how to make one.

      We are almost finished with our third read aloud book, Wishtree.  The children are loving it! It is a story about Red, an oak tree.  Red is the neighborhood "wishtree" - people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches.  Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood.  You might say Red has seen it all.  Until a new family moves in and not everyone is welcoming.  You could ask them to describe their favorite parts of the book. 

      The children love every moment of swimming! Seeing them learn new things and be proud of their accomplishments is a joy. Unfortunately, we will NOT have swimming tomorrow due to the pool's pump issues at the Civic Center YMCA.

Please enjoy the pictures of your children at work in the pool! 

1/11/24

Good Afternoon Willow Families, 

We've quickly settled back into our rhythms and routines after the break. I enjoyed hearing about all of their adventures over the holidays. The children are busy, and the room is buzzing. We began a whole-class study on Ancient Civilizations and will launch into Ancient Mesopotamia next week.  

You might have heard about a new addition to our classroom. Gus Gus, our 22nd classmate, is an African Sideneck Turtle. There has been a lot of excitement surrounding his arrival. We formed a committee to learn about his species, as well as how to care for and handle him. The children seem to enjoy that he looks like he is always smiling.

As we approach the holiday on Monday, we have been talking about Martin Luther King Jr., and the impact he made and continues to make on our world. We saw a moving percussion performance set to MLK's I Have a Dream speech by Keith Aleo on Wednesday and will watch the speech together in class tomorrow. You could ask your children what impacted them the most about what they saw and heard.

Our first swimming class was fun to watch and the children had a blast.  The instructors started off by dividing them into groups based on skill level and then working on skill-appropriate instruction for the remainder of the time.  I saw a lot of proud smiles and everyone participated beautifully.  We are looking forward to our second swimming lesson tomorrow.  Please remember to send their swimming suits, towels and googles (if needed).  

I feel grateful to spend my days with your lovely children. Each one brings a unique voice and personality, and each one plays a vital role in the beauty and functioning of our classroom community. Thank you for sharing them with me each day. 

Warmly, 

Jaime Janiszewski 

12/15/23

Hello Willow Families, 

It has been an exciting couple of weeks of learning about festivals of light around the world.  Everyone has enjoyed making foods, crafts, and costumes to share with their classmates that are parts of these celebrations. The children have done a beautiful job of presenting. I have shared pictures with you below. We've also had several study presentations to finish up the first half of our school year together.  Please visit THIS LINK to see some pictures. 

Update on our Ruby Bridges Committee Project: The five children on our committee delivered the check on Monday to Cherryland Humane Society, and as a bonus, they were able to pet some of the animals.  Thank you to Renee Mittelstaedt for driving our students! 

**A quick note about math and spelling: Due to an hour of our work cycle invested in our school sing along this morning and specials (art/music) this afternoon, we did not have ample time to give math and spelling quizzes today.  We will pick back up on Thursday, January 4th with the same spelling lists and math facts. 

Student Council Bake Sale to benefit Meals on Wheels
Student council is having a bake sale. We are going to donate the money to Meals on Wheels. If you are going to bake something, please remember to label your food. Please drop it off baked goods Thursday at afternoon carline or Friday morning. The bake sale will take place at the Seasonal Sing! 

Thank you, Hank, Annie, Claire, Elijah, Maxon, Alexandra, Lana, and Naomi

Seasonal Sing, December 15 at 11:30 a.m. This is a time-honored tradition on the final day of school before winter break. Families and friends gather to sing a variety of festive songs from many cultures celebrating this wonderful time of year. Campus closes immediately following the event, no lunch, no Friend's Club. 

My hope for you this holiday season and throughout winter break is that you are able to slow down and enjoy one another.  I hope you play games, laugh, and connect through conversation.  I hope this holiday fills your children's cups and they come back on January 2nd ready for the next part of our journey together. 

Have a lovely winter break!

11/30/23

ruby_bridges_bake_sale_fundraiser_1_1.jpgDear Willow Families, 

Our stone soup meal on Tuesday, November 21st, was a wonderful send-off for the break. We shared what we were grateful for and enjoyed a beautiful family-style meal. We joined elementary and junior high together, and it was lovely to see each student get to know someone new.  When I returned, I was thrilled to hear about the students' holiday adventures. They were all smiles as they shared what brought them joy and excited them most during their time off.  

It is an exciting time of year! Currently, our classroom is learning about seven different festivals of light worldwide. The students ranked the top four festivals they wanted to know about, and then we broke them into small groups. They have begun their exploration of these festivals and will transfer their knowledge to a presentation to the class. 

Our Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day was a HUGE success. We raised $578.63 for the Cherryland Humane Society. We walked on November 14th with our adopted primary classroom, Fern (Alison B.'s class), and it was a wonderful sight to see the elementary and primary classrooms walking hand-in-hand, many explaining why we were walking to their younger schoolmates. 

Going Out Drivers Needed:  Please let me know if you are willing and interested in driving students when needed. When students "go out," it is typically with a small group focused on some project or area of study they are working on versus a field trip with the entire class.  

Thank you for sharing your lovely children with me each day.  

11/16/23

Dear Willow Families, 

It was a pleasure to meet with you last week and share your child's progress and work. It is a busy time with many research presentations, birthday celebrations, lesson practice, and preparation for a special time in elementary time. The children came home with a letter containing the ingredients they will contribute to our Stone Soup. In class, we are reading many different versions of the Stone Soup story and comparing and contrasting each one. Stone Soup Day, Tuesday, will be a time for us to gather as elementary and junior high and think about how fortunate we are in our families, school, and community. *Please remember to send a place setting with them to school.  

Every year, our classroom researches a holiday celebration. This year, we will learn about the Festival of Lights. There are many to choose from, and we are in the midst of selecting the festivals we will research. This research is an exciting time in our classroom and one you could talk with them about at home. Your children may come home sharing about these in the coming weeks. 

Our hearts are filled with warmth and the anticipation of a beautiful time spent with our families when we will have time to breathe and focus on one another. 

Thank you for being so supportive at Horizon Books Day! We have so many excellent new books for the children to explore. I am grateful to have a classroom full of incredible humans and the families that support them. 

I'm sending a heart of love, gratitude, and thanks for a beautiful beginning to a wonderful year. 

 

11/3/23

Hello Willow Families,

A penny's worth one cent, a nickel's worth five, a dime's worth ten cents, a quarter 25. You might hear your students coming home with this song on their minds. We have just wrapped up our initial work with money, and a classmate shared this timely song with us today. 

We have recently been exploring several timelines. We have discussed the hand timeline through the time humans began writing, then we explored the BCE/CE timeline, and located the Egyptians, Romans, and Sumerians on it. Most recently, we learned about the first timeline of human beings. The Timeline of Humans was an impactful story about all that early humans did to make life a little easier for us today. We thanked our ancestors, these unsung heroes, for paving the way for our lives today.  

We've been learning about Ruby Bridges lately and all the positive changes she has brought about in our country. When the time came to decide on our class project for Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day, your students brainstormed ideas, voted our vast collection of worthy causes down to two, and finally decided that they would like to raise money to help animals. Almost every student wanted to participate on the committee, so we had to draw five names, and our Ruby Bridges Committee will create the plan to present to our class and then to our adopted primary classroom, Fern. 

Thank you to all the parents who made Pumpkin Fun Day such a blast. It was a delight to see your children's happy faces and fun fall creations on Tuesday.  

I look forward to seeing everyone at conferences next week! 

10/19/23

Hello Willow Families, 

We are taking advantage of the perfect fall weather to explore all the beauty we have at our fingertips. We have analyzed leaves, learning about their parts and classifying them according to their veins and margins. We have taken a nature walk to look at many of the stems on our campus and discussed their main function. We learned about a genre of art called land, Earth, and ecological art and decided to go out and create some of our own. 

The children had to collaborate to decide the shape of their art and how they would arrange and use each resource they found on the ground. There were many ideas, but eventually, they had to agree, which meant letting go of exactly how they would do it and leave space to create something as a group. Both groups did a beautiful job, as you can see in the pictures below! Many children mentioned going home and making this art in their backyards.

This year we were able to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in a special way.  Eric Hemenway, an Anishinaabe/Odawa and Director of Repatriation, Archives, and Records for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians of Waganakising, visited our school and spoke with the children. He told the story of the birch tree and shared memories of harvesting an ash tree to help his mother make a basket.  Ask your children what they remember from Eric’s visit.  

Many children worked hard on their committees to make the fall festival successful. I appreciate all the parents working with them to make it a fun event. The children had a great time, and the food was delicious! 

We just started our new read-aloud book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. The children let me know they had read the book last year, so I offered a different book, but they decided they wanted to hear it again and give our first years the experience of this book as well. 

We started reading buddies with Maple Classroom (upper elementary). They read together every Friday afternoon during silent reading, taking turns reading to one another for 15 minutes. It went beautifully and was so fun. I had several children remark how it was AMAZING!

We are lucky to have a master knitter among us! Jana has begun knitting lessons. She started by offering to the 2nd and 3rd years who had already had lessons last year to clear the cobwebs and get them started. Next on her list are the 1st years!

We look forward to having you all visit next week so your children can share their work with you. Parent Visiting Days are Tuesday, October 24th and Wednesday, October 25th from 9am - 10am (see email). 

I hope you are reading Waypoints each week and have synced our Family Calendar with your personal calendar so that you stay up to date on everything happening here at school, especially our learning opportunities that are designed for you. 

willow_101923.jpg

10/5/23

Hello Willow Families, 

We freed Brittany! Brittany (our butterfly) emerged from her chrysalis, dried her wings, and was released outside our classroom last week. We were fortunate to experience most of the life cycle of a monarch butterfly first-hand. 

The children contributed to the creation of our classroom creed. We began by brainstorming about how we wanted to feel in our classroom. Then, we brainstormed and acted out how to develop the environment we all hope for. Finally, we took all the ideas and created the following creed, "I will treat everyone and everything with love and respect."  We talked about the meaning of the words "loving" and "respectful" and what treating people in that way looked like. 

We have had moments of asking each other the question, "Am I being loving and respectful right now?" "Was I being respectful to my classmate or the adult I was talking to or interacting with?" Discussing this with your child and using similar language at home helps solidify the concept at school. 

Our classroom is bustling with songs, lessons, studies, science and botany experiments, an exciting ending to our first read-aloud book, and many budding curiosities. I know that sometimes elementary students don't share the ins and outs of their day, hopefully, these little insights give you a place to start a conversation. 

"Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence." --Maria Montessori

Warmly, 
Jaime Janiszewski

9/21/23

Beginning this new school year with your children has been a joy. I am delighted to get to know them and to experience this new journey together. I revel in the squeals of delight as they greet their friends in the morning, the chatter about their evenings or weekends, and the questions and stories they share with me throughout the day. 

You might have heard about the special friend hanging around our classroom. The children were able to experience first-hand a caterpillar creating its chrysalis (they watched it happen), and we have been on a daily countdown to see how many days our caterpillar will take to emerge from its metamorphosis into a Monarch Butterfly.   

During one of their favorite times of day, read aloud, I delight in hearing their reactions to our fascinating book, Voyage of the Dogs. It tells the story of a diligent team of dogs accompanying their humans on a deep space voyage to establish a new outpost far across the galaxy. Ask them to share what is happening! We experience cliffhangers most days, and I smile at the groans as they have to close their sketchpads and prepare for lunch. 

One of the children's favorite trips of the year is Camp LOC, and this year did not disappoint. I was honored to share this tradition for the first time along with our first years. Set to the backdrop of perfect weather, blue skies and a blissful breeze, we had a ball! Friday is our first of four trips to Brown Bridge Quiet Area, where Birch and Willow classrooms will observe and experience the same spot throughout the four seasons. 

We learned about our first artist of the month, Jacob Lawrence, and his famous 60-panel series, The Great Migration. Lawrence wrote an accompanying children's book to explain each of the panels. I'm sure you've heard the songs we've been learning! I take a lot of joy in hearing their voices and seeing them act out all the parts! We are working on our peace songs for International Day of Peace this week and will enjoy singing together as a school.  

We've invested energy in creating our Classroom Creed. We brainstormed about how we want to feel in our classroom and the environment we want to experience daily. We have role-played the way NOT to do something and the way TO do something, which has elicited some giggles and a better understanding of the expectations in our classroom. 

I enjoyed sharing the first two Great Stories with the children and teasing that there is always more to come! Soon, we will learn about The Coming of Humans. There has been a bustle of activity and lots of lessons. I genuinely enjoy spending my days with your lovely children. They give me the gifts of laughter, smiles, joy, and fun every day.