Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Great Wall of Sugar & Other Adventures: Learning Comes to Life at The Willows!

As with the 3rd grade tipi, innovation, creativity and hands-on participation infuse learning at The Willows!

“We were learning about China and decided to reconstruct the Great Wall out of sugar cubes,” Lower School Director Terri Baird remembers one of her favorites from the early days of The Willows, when she was the teacher in the combined 5th/6th grade classroom. “One of the students, Jared R., '99, was obsessed with the idea of making sure that the entire structure was exactly to scale.”

“Each student brought in one box of sugar cubes, and we got to work,” Terri recalled. The whole thing was built on top of a huge wooden board. As you can imagine, there was probably as much eating of sugar cubes as there was building, but the kids had a blast.”

“The only people who weren’t happy with our project were Vladimir and Solomon [the school’s first custodians], continues Terri. “They couldn’t believe the mess we had made with the sugar! They were convinced that an army of ants was going to invade our classroom.”

Teachers and students at every grade level immerse themselves in activities that tie math, reading, writing, science, history, technology, and the arts together, making learning both meaningful and fun.

Recall these projects?

Superheroes - Developmental Kindergarteners transform into “superheroes” designing superhero costumes and imagining their own superpowers, as part of their study of community heroes.

Vascular Vests - Kindergarteners make “vascular vests” out of brown paper bags, attaching a balloon and straw to demonstrate how the lungs work, as part of their unit on the human body.

Willows Post Office - 1st graders embark on a field trip to the Culver City Post Office and then create their own “Willows Post Office,” designing and implementing a school-wide postal system, from stamps to delivery, as they learn about occupations.

Roller Coasters - 4th graders design and build roller coasters for marbles on the playground climbing structures – and then go to Six Flags to experience g forces first hand! All part of their unit on physics and motion.

Living Museum - 5th graders create and portray a “living museum” demonstrating crafts and trades during the colonial period as they study Colonial America.

Dig Project – 6th graders participate in the “Dig Project” with each homeroom class creating an imaginary ancient culture, complete with art, music, scientific and religious information. “Artifacts” related to this imaginary culture are buried in the school sandbox for the other class to excavate and examine. All part of their archaeology unit.

African Marketplace - 7th graders create an “African Marketplace” sharing cultural information of the various tribes of the African continent with their peers.

World War II Propaganda – 8th graders design their own propaganda posters reflecting the themes of the period, as they learn about propaganda during World War II.

What other hands-on projects do you remember? Add to our list!

No comments: