Once A Beaver, Always A Beaver!

Our last day was truly bittersweet (a word we discussed at some length at Morning Meeting, and which we all agree is the perfect word to describe the end of our school year).  For the sake of posterity, we did some of the usual activities – Garden outside, Morning Meeting, singing songs – but we also provided some opportunities for closure (for the students AND the teachers!)

We had a special snack of … Compost!  But not the kind you’d expect.  Using chocolate pudding, crushed Oreos, and gummy worms, the Beavers created one last compost stew to enjoy at the end of the morning.

We also had a Collaborative Work Auction.  Over the course of the year, the Beavers have been prolific.  We gathered all of our collaborative projects on the rug (murals, the puppet theater, classroom charts – to name a few) and drew names for selections.  The Beavers were “easy breezy” about their choices, understanding that everyone was getting a special part of our classroom.  They cheered their friends on as they chose artwork that truly represents the work we’ve done together over the course of the year.  The Beavers exclaimed, “Good choice!”, and, “I love that piece!” as each student gleefully brought their selected piece to their locker.

Choice Time was a bit different this week.  After a discussion about all the learning, exploring and fun that has taken place during this favorite time of day, we opened the entire room up and all of the classroom materials, for our first ever Open Choice.  During this period of time, the Beavers were able to play, explore and create in any of their favorite areas of the classroom.  We loved watching their ownership over our classroom as they made special requests for favorite materials to be put out.  After our final Choice Time the Beavers reflected on their favorite aspects of Choice. Ask your Beaver to share with you their thoughts.

To close out the year, we empowered your children to help us get the classroom ready for the next year’s group of students.   We spent time stuffing cubbies with work from the year, organizing shelves and materials, counting puzzle pieces and game pieces, taping ripped pages in favorite books, testing markers and bagging donations for Ndonyo Wasin.  A favorite clean up job was the job of the “sparklers.”  With wet towels in hand your children scrubbed surfaces, chairs and tables to make our classroom shine! We loved seeing the Beavers in action caring for a classroom they love so much.

We had our last summer birthday celebration!  Happy Birthday to this summer Beaver!


I remember when we…


Vivian: …had birthday celebrations

Elfie:… played with Hollow Blocks, especially the basketball arena

Pearl: ….played Jingle in the Garden

Téa: …had Field Day with everyone, and had all the birthday celebrations, and really played at Garden with just everyone!

Charlotte:…. had Denisse’s baby shower

Asher: …..when we played with the friends and I love to play games with them in Garden

Harper: …..when we had Denisse’s baby shower

Steelo: ….when we first went to Library

Harry: ….had Denisse’s baby.

Jalen: ….we went to Yankee Stadium

Alex: ….me too!  Yankee Stadium!

Lucia: …..Had denisse’s baby shower

Ruby:….. went to see the statue of the girl who first saw Packer in the Chapel

Kaleem: …. made our video and I got to see what a superstar each Beaver was!

Milo: …..crunched up together

Arjun: …..played Dragons and Chickens

Carmen: …..had all of our Birthday celebrations at Packer

Jake: …..made the Eye of the TIger movie!

Cate: …..had the baby shower!

Ava: …..had Choice Time, and playing in Hollow Blocks

Emerson: ……went to the Met and the fun playground after.

Erica: ….when we first came to school on the very first day.  There were some old friends and new friends! It’s amazing to see how well we know each other now.  You really learned to love and respect each other this year.

Sara: …… when we had our first trip together, and made vegetable soupl!  And then the teachers added too much pasta so it was more like pasta stew with a little bit of veggies, but we all loved it because it was our recipe.  

Thank you to all of the Beaver families for an incredible year.  We have cherished coming to school each day to warm waves, hugs and smiles from your adorable children.  We have learned alongside the Beavers, sharing in discoveries, overcoming challenges, and investing in ideas.  It has been our honor to call ourselves the Beavers’ teachers.  They truly were a special group!

We wish you a wonderful summer and we look forward to seeing you next September! Please remember…. ONCE A BEAVER, ALWAYS A BEAVER!!!

Lots and Lots of Love,

Erica, Sara, Kaleem and Denisse

Last Full Week in the Lodge… :(

The last full week of school kept us busy!  We filled the week with fun, celebratory activities, taking advantage of every minute together.

We kicked off the week with a preschool-wide Pool Party in the Garden. Complete with blow up pools, water squirters, beach balls, and inflatable rafts (thanks Awad family!) the day was one for the books!  After an afternoon spent splashing each other, and SOAKING their teachers, the Beavers enjoyed time in the sunshine picnicking with their friends. We left school at the end of the day, tired, sun-kissed and soaked, with huge smiles on our faces, and memories that will last a lifetime!

Another highlight from the week was an end of the year collaborative art project. After Ms. Po brought in a huge tree branch she found on Clinton Street, the Beavers shared ideas about how they wanted to repurpose this found material. After a group discussion, they conducted a vote and decided to work together to paint the stick, using paint colors they had mixed.  As we painted, we spent time remembering all of the group projects we have shared this year. We reflected on how much we have learned about what it means to work together and the immense pride we take in the community we have built. When our branch was completed, we talked about our legacy and how the branch might serve as a symbol of our time together. When Milo suggested hanging our branch somewhere in the school, as opposed to our classroom, the Beavers agreed this would be some place we could always visit (no matter what class we’re in) to remember our time together. Next week, we will decide where we plan to hang our branch and hold a small celebration to honor our work and time together.

Another culminating event that took place this week was a surprise farewell assembly for Ms. Po, The entire Lower School and Preschool (380 students all together!) gathered in the Pratt Theater to shower Ms. Po with love and best wishes.  Mr. McCauley presented a book all classes created together, and the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade classes sang an original song in Ms. Po’s honor.  Ms. Po will be missed dearly!

After a year of writing, drawing and creating, the Beavers have accumulated LOTS of scrap paper. As you’re well aware, your children have become quite the environmentalists! When we explained to the Beavers that they could repurpose their scraps to create new paper, they were ecstatic! We spent the week learning the process of paper-making. First, the Beavers sorted their scraps into warm and cool colors, ripping the paper into small pieces. Next, with just enough water to cover the scraps, we blended the paper to make pulp. Pouring the pulp into a large tupperware bin full of water, we created our slurry from which we would make our paper. Using a mesh screen (much like panning for gold) and a wood frame (to mold the paper), the excess water drips out from the screen and you are left with wet paper mush.  Laying a piece of newspaper on top and squeezing out the remaining water, you then lift the screen to reveal the wet recycled paper. After drying overnight, you will have a beautiful, usable piece of paper, each in an individual hue (every batch is different!). The Beavers loved learning this new art technique and by the end of the week, were very independent with the process. If you are interested in purchasing a paper making kit, we love the Paper Anew kit, available on Amazon! This is a great summer activity, one which we know your Beavers would love!!!

Speaking of summer, the end of the year is days away. We spent the week visiting kindergarten classrooms, to help ease the transition and allow your children an opportunity to familiarize themselves with their new classroom settings. For the past couple of weeks, we have very informally, been discussing the idea of our moving on. Transitions always bring up mixed feelings, therefore, the kindergarteners and the current kindergarten teaching team, spent time showing us their classrooms, fielding questions about your children’s nerves, wonderings and enthusiasm. While we are still very much in the present, it was fun to see the Beavers get excited about all that they have to look forward to next year!

Field day was a huge success!  Thank you to everyone for finding time in their busy schedules to partake in such a glorious afternoon.  Babysitters, Nannies, Cousins, Aunts, Parents and Grandparents alike all joined us at Cadman Plaza Park for a picnic lunch and some fun and games.  The Beavers taught the grown-ups how to play “What Time Is It Mr. Fox?”, a Mother-May-I inspired classroom favorite.  We then played Four Corners, followed by wheelbarrow races and a three-legged race for the adults in the group!  Of course, time outside with the Beavers wouldn’t be the same without some good, old-fashioned digging and playing with natural materials!  The entire excursion was a real treat, and an incredible way to end the year with your children.  We loved watching everyone enjoy the “play” just as much as the kiddos! The Beaver grown ups are most definitely young at heart!

After our Field Day activities, we returned to the classroom for the world premiere of … THE EYE OF THE TIGER!  Friends, family, and faculty gathered together to watch this labor of love – a true representation of the hard work, dedication, and passion that your children bring to every moment of their learning and classroom endeavors. We are brought to tears watching them in action and we feel so lucky to have been able to share in their joyful process.  The pride we have in this project is immense. The way the Beavers rally around an idea and work together to see it through is unique. From the creation of their costumes to the choreography of the dances, and to everything in between, we are honored to work with students who engage so deeply. Videos are available on our Google Photos account and we hope you’ll enjoy watching this video, as much as we enjoyed making it!

A HUGE thank you to everyone for the beautiful books.  They are a wonderful keepsake of your children’s adorable faces and kind words.  They will be treasured for years to come!


Three more Beaver birthdays!!! Happy Birthday to our summer babies!!!

Coming Soon To A Classroom Near You…

This Week In The Beaver Lodge…

Today, we had our second dance party with DJ Sary, as well as some very special guests … our Buddies!  The energy and excitement in the air was palpable as the Beavers and their Fourth Grade Buddies embraced and danced to their favorite songs.  Shining in the light of the strobe light, all of the students were quite literally glowing with joy!

A huge thank you to the Awad family, Alicia, and our Buddy Class for dedicating their time to help organize such a special event!

We also celebrated another summer birthday this week!


Have a great weekend everybody!

Behind the Scenes

The week was a scorcher! Suddenly, it truly feels like summer is fast approaching.  We took the opportunity to spend lots of time outside, including having two picnic lunches and extended Garden time.

Some of that time outside was spent filming our *top secret* special project, code name: Project ‘Paw of the Leopard’.  On Monday, the Beavers created their costumes, complete with homemade tiger masks, tails made from stuffed socks, scrap fabric, and donated t-shirts.  It was truly a collaborative effort on the part of the Beaver families, the students, and the teaching team, so thank you to all for providing the materials!

Costumes in hand, we set out to record some B Footage throughout the school.  Locations included Imagination Station, the front steps of Packer, the Kindergarten classrooms, the Garden, and much more.  Although we can’t reveal too much (in the name of preserving secrecy, and all), here is a sneak peak into our behind the scenes action:

A HUGE thank you to Jalen’s Dad, Christopher, who generously dedicated his time and expertise to help us record our very own version of a *certain* favorite song for a *certain* special project.  The Beavers belted it out, and we got it all in one take!  It was so gratifying to hear all of our hard work and practice come to fruition.  We can’t wait to hear the final cut!

In an effort to deepen our learning within our special project, we read some nonfiction selections about tigers.  We learned many interesting facts, including special information about the patterns of tigers’ stripes, how old they are when their canines come in, and at what age tiger cubs leave their mothers to venture out on their own.  We also learned about how tigers are an endangered species, and the Beavers were saddened to learn that much of this is due to the illegal practice of poaching, as well as the destruction of the tigers’ natural habitats.  Being the kind, caretakers that they are, the Beavers have begun the conversation of how to help to preserve the species. They are interested to learn more about Project Tiger, a natural conservation effort to save tigers all over the world.

We visited the International Fair today, and the Beavers were thrilled to see our Buddies in action!  The Beavers enjoyed some international treats, and got to watch the performance of dances from around the world, performed by the Fourth Grade classes.  Bravo to all!

We celebrated three more summer birthdays this week! Two Beavers, and a teacher!

Lastly, a huge highlight of the week was our class trip to Yankee Stadium.  Once again, a HUGE thank you to the Jeter-Martin family for not only organizing the trip, but accompanying us through the stadium.  Thank you, as well, to our parent volunteers.  Here are just a few of the photos from the trip, but please check the Google Photos page, as there are many more to be seen!

Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!


Eye Of The … Beaver

The Beavers fascination with the Underworld has sustained. On Monday, we began to transform our Dramatic Play area to truly reflect the Beavers’ visions and hypotheses about the Underworld.  Looking at our notes of the children’s conversations, as well as or observations of their outdoor play in Garden, we gathered that the Beavers envision the Underworld to be a dark place, full of places to hide, magic, treasures and rainbows.  Using the collaborative murals we created last week, we covered the walls of Dramatic Play.  We then created a tent with a few pieces of fabric, and gave the children flashlights to investigate and explore.  As it is also the first week of our Conserve-A-Thon, we serendipitously have had the lights off for most of the day, so the Underworld was truly a dark space.  During Garden on Wednesday, many friends discovered they could draw rainbows on large rocks with chalk, creating the “rainbow rocks” and “rainbow treasures” they imagined they might discover by continuing to dig and dig and dig.  After many friends volunteered to scavenge for rocks, we set up a center at Choice Time complete with an array of paint colors. As they painted, a dialogue emerged about the powers of these rainbow rocks.  

Steelo: [My rainbow rock] can grant any wish you make. It came from the Underworld.

My next one has all different powers and all the elements -like fire, water …

Ezra: Look at how the colors mix! Mine has the elements too. They’re really great.

Alex: My rainbow rock has a yellow sunflower and the pink is lava.

Téa: My rainbow rocks have special powers -they turn into fairies.

Harper: Mine turn into cats.

Vivian: Mine have volcanoes.

Arjun: Mine has all the special powers in the world.

Ruby: Mine has special powers. It gives people colors like rainbow eyes and skin. It’s from Mexico.

Ezra at sensory table: I’m doing an antidote to help worms.

Cate: It comes from New York. It has special rainbow powers.

Jake: Erica, every time you say rainbow rocks, I think of the My Little Pony movies.

Charlotte: Whenever you look at my rainbow rock, it looks back at you and then you fall asleep.

Harry: It has powers to turn everyone into a lamb.

Ava: Mine is from Long Island and it has special vinegar powers which we have in our body.

Asher: I’m painting my hands first then painting my rock with my hands to give it powers.

Once dry, the Beavers arranged the rainbow rocks in Dramatic Play and the fantasy continued.  With this transformation, Dramatic Play has become a place of discovery and magic, reflecting the Beavers’ own ideas about the Underworld.

Over the course of the year, the Beavers have been lucky to build relationships with our neighboring classrooms in the Garden House.  To provide the children an opportunity to spend more time with the greater school community, we decided to co-host a shared Choice Time with Mrs. Montero and Ms. Copeland’s class, the Kindergarten Trains.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Beavers had a choice of activities throughout the two classroom spaces.  Each center included friends from each of the classes to ensure all children an opportunity to mix with new friends. New activities included sensory play with the compost and the sensory bin, paper-making, the light table, puzzles & games, and building with Hollow Blocks and Unit Blocks.  Over the course of the two days, everyone had a chance to explore each space.  New friendships were made, and it provided an excellent opportunity for the Beavers to work alongside new friends (in anticipation of next year!)  As always, the Beavers proved to be open, inclusive and enthusiastic.  We know they will be so successful in their new classrooms with new friends!

Another fun exchange between the Beavers and the Trains came when the Trains new compost bin arrived!  We felt great pride knowing that our composting initiative had officially impacted a classroom to join our environmental efforts!  Given the learning curve, the Beavers knew that there was lots of knowledge that they could share with the Trains.  After seeing their new wormies and helping them as they set up their bin, at Choice Time, many friends decided to make an “instruction” book for the Trains.   They worked together to decide the most important composting facts and got to work! Next week, we hope to finish and present their guide to the Trains.

On Thursday morning, the Beaver teachers and the teachers of our Buddy Class coordinated a surprise date for the two classes.  Our Fourth Grade buddies met us in the Garden for some quality time running, playing, and some “Scatterball” – a new game that the fourth graders taught us that has quickly become a class favorite!  The Beavers loved the extra time outside and always enjoy an opportunity to play with their Buddies.

As we approach the end of the year, a sense of nostalgia is all around.  The children have started to reflect on their dwindling days in the Beaver Lodge and this realization has brought up many questions about some favorite traditions. After finishing another round of Teacher of the Day, the Beavers wondered: Is there enough time left for us to start another cycle? Always concerned with fairness, they thought:  Will everyone to have a turn?  As a class, we looked at our calendar and assessed how many days really are left in school.  After talking about the need to eliminate the last week of school and our field trip days, we counted the remaining number of days that were possible for a Teacher of the Day turn: 12 days is all we have….. Sigh!  Given that there are 21 Beavers, we posed the question: How can we proceed with Teacher of the Day to ensure that everyone has a turn and there are the same number of teachers on each day?  In order to figure out this problem, we turned the issue over to the Beavers.  Highly motivated to determine a solution, the Beavers were given a bag of twenty one manipulatives (dinosaurs or bears) and a partner to help them problem solve.  We gave the Beavers the following challenge: make groups of bears or dinosaurs so that every group has the same number of manipulatives.  After experimenting with different groupings and different organization methods, we regrouped on the rug to share our discoveries.  The class quickly noticed that the only way to divide the 21 manipulatives evenly was either in 3 groups of 7, or 7 groups of 3.  We voted on which Teacher of the Day scenario they preferred, and will officially launch our new round next Tuesday.  On Monday we will discuss what this beloved tradition will look like with 3 friends sharing the duties!  Watch the videos of the Beavers in full counting and dividing action in the “Videos” folder on our Google Photos page!  When posed with an authentic math problem, it is amazing how far children can stretch their thinking.  

Much of the week was dedicated to continued work on our *mystery project*.  In half groups on Wednesday, we listened to lyrics, sharing ideas of what they mean.  We then listened to music and did some interpretive dance.  The Beavers danced as a group, and also had the opportunity to show their solo dance moves in the middle of the circle.  In Dance class today, they choreographed whole group movements to certain parts of the song.  Make sure to check Google Photos for documentation of their killer moves!  And stay tuned for more!  But, shhhhh – not a peep out of you!

Lastly, we had our first summer birthday celebration!  We enjoyed cupcakes and a read aloud for this Beaver’s 4 year and 11 month birthday.

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Check Google Photos for many more photos from the week, as well as some amazing videos!  Have a great weekend!

Exploring the Underworld and Other News

On Monday we spent some time learning more about your children’s ideas about what lies beneath us. Responding to the prompt, “If I dig and dig and dig…”  the Beavers gathered to brainstorm and generate language of what we can discover through excavation.  They then shared their ideas about this act of discovery and their theory of what lies beneath.  Using chalk, gel markers, and a choice of black or brown paper, the Beavers then illustrated their ideas.  Here are their hypotheses:

Milo: I’ll find lava.

Harper: I will find worms!

Arjun: There’s the underworld and I got trapped in it, and the Hulk comes and saves them.  There are lava and booby traps in the underworld, and a deflector shield.

Ezra: The underworld, and there’s booby traps everywhere, that’s the white dots.  And there are monsters!

Jalen: I will find treasure.  Coins and treasure.

Carmen: I will an underworld.  The underworld will become a world of new things.

Lucia:  I will find golden necklaces and rings.

Pearl: You’ll find a puppy and bunny land.

Téa: You’ll find gold sand with a treasure chest in the middle!

Harry: I can find some worms!  This is a picture of the outside and inside, with a rainbow in the sky.  And there’s a rainbow underground.  

Ruby: A long worm, another worm, a root, rainbows, and that’s all!

Ava: I will find an underground rainbow shop.

Asher: I’ll find a baby magnet!

Steelo: Two plastic rings with red plastic gems.

Cate: I will find worms.  I drew these lines because I think I’m gonna find them in different spots.

Jake: I would find a pirate ship with the pirate inside.

Vivian: I will find mud and dirt.

Alex: Maybe I can find some old cookies!

Charlotte: I think I will find some history.  It could be!

Emerson: I will find worms and creatures and insects.

We noticed that in many of your children’s theories there were similar themes about the Underworld and its existence beneath the mud.  We asked them how they thought we might bring their ideas to life to further explore them.  Through discussion the Beavers agreed that they would like to transform our Dramatic Play area into “The Underworld.” To start this process we began painting some murals that will hang in their Underworld.  They grouped together their ideas to create 4 distinct murals. Pearl, Vivian, Emerson, Carmen and Arjun worked on a mural that included “Greek Gods,” “the bottom of the Earth,” “lava”, and “a world filled with puppies and bunnies.”  Harper, Jalen, Lucia, Téa, and Ezra worked on a mural that included: “a pink treasure chest,” “golden coins,” “dirt,” “worms,” and “litter.” Ruby, Harry, Asher, Elfie, and Cate created a mural with “old planted roots,” “mud and wet mud,” “worms,” and “baby chicks.” Jake, Ava, Charlotte, Alex and Steelo made a mural with “mud,” “buried treasure,” “a pirate ship,” “a treasure box,” and “a ring.”  Throughout the planning process there was lots of discussion about how when digging you will always first go through the layer of worms, mud, and litter before you will arrive at the Underworld filled with magical creatures and treasure.  Dramatic Play is still under construction and next week we anticipate planning the next stages of development.  

May Day was this week!  Congratulations to everyone involved, including older siblings.  Although the Beavers were not *officially* a part of the performance, the excitement and energy of the event carried over into our classroom.  We attended the dress rehearsal on the Thursday before the originally scheduled May Day, with the Beavers literally dancing in their seats as they watched!  On May Day itself, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to join the Puppies on the fire escape to watch the performance.  The Beavers have been so involved in the excitement and wrapped up in the May Day energy that the entire soundtrack has become a classroom favorite.  You may have heard your child singing the classic 80s tune “Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor, or “Hula Hoop” by OMI.  We have been having daily dance parties to these songs, and today in Dance, Alicia dedicated her entire Movement soundtrack to the songs of May Day.  

On Wednesday, we had a very special author’s visit.  Kara Van Kirk Levin, a family friend of the Mannix’, and a local author, came in to share her self-published book “Soldier.”  The book tells the story of a special porcupine who cannot be hugged because his quills stand up, and of all the woodland creatures that come together to solve this problem.  The Beavers joined the Kindergarten Trains in their classroom to hear a reading of the book, as well as to engage in a question and answer session with Kara.  The reading was captivating, and the entire experience was a delight.  Thank you to the Mannix family for connecting us with Kara!

With the turn in the weather, we took every opportunity to spend time outdoors this week.  On Thursday, we had outdoor Snack, picnic style!  The Beavers sat in groups in our drop off area, chatting over pretzels and clementines.  It was such a delightful experience that we took our Choice Time activities outside as well – in the Puppet Theater, the Beavers got to work creating cards for Denisse (who we all miss dearly!) and writing in Writer’s Notebooks.  Seeing as how so much of our indoor curriculum has reflected outdoor exploration, it was a great way to bring our learning outside the walls of our classroom in yet another way.

Have a great weekend!





Digging Deeper…

Despite the dreary weather, the Beavers managed to fill our days with their sunshiney smiles! Always looking on the bright side, the Beavers thought the rain made for some excellent mud play.  On Monday, we went excavating to further explore our Garden’s treasures.  Common themes were: if we dig and dig and dig, we will find treasure or the “underworld.” To provoke further conversation about this idea, we set out lots of “treasures” at the Playdough table.  Additionally, we brought the mud from outside, IN! We continued to “dig deeper” with the Underworld idea, asking them to think about how they could expand upon this idea in their play.  We read them Roxaboxen by Alice McClerran and Barbara Cooney.  In this book, the characters create  a town called Roxaboxen made of mud, sticks, stones and found treasures.  We were curious to see how a reading of this story may shape or influence the Beavers play.  While reading, the Beavers talked about games they play and where they always play them.  Steelo mentioned a table in his house that he always pretends is an island.  Téa shared about a tree in her neighbor’s backyard that has a canopy that feels like a fort.  The Beavers agreed that the mud they have been digging in felt like an underworld or a place where buried treasures might be.  We will further explore these ideas next week.

Another highlight from the week was visiting the Book Fair.  Before heading over we discussed what it means to shop with a “budget.”  We talked about how they had $5 to spend and it was up to them how they wanted to spend their money.  We used this as an opportunity to explore combinations and the various ways to make 5.   When we arrived at the Book Fair, your children were very deliberate with their choices, making decisions about books to purchase based on price and their interests.  When they had finished shopping, ON THEIR OWN they then traveled over to the cash registers to pay for their books.  The cashiers could not resist the sweet shoppers, and your children couldn’t have been prouder of their independence as they paid for their books.  
While shopping, a few friends mentioned that they felt sad that Elfie was missing our visit to the Book Fair because she was sick.  We asked them what they thought would be a nice surprise to her upon her return and collectively, they decided to pick out books for her! They had lots of conversation about her interests and all that they know about their friend. They ended up choosing a book about the Tooth Fairy (as Elfie has been losing lots of teeth lately!) and a book about dogs in Hollywood (as they know she loves dogs!) Time and time again we are touched by the caring and empathetic nature of your children.  This sweet anecdote is one of many. They have developed such tight bonds and really look out for each other.  Our Beaver community is like a family and we feel so lucky to be a part of it.   

An update on composting:

Thank you Uncle Tyler (Téa’s uncle!) for sharing a video from Blue Pepper Farm about his composting efforts.  In response to his video, the Beavers were eager to put together a video about composting in our classroom.  Téa and a few friends got to work to share their knowledge.  As a little plug for Uncle Tyler and his organic farm, you can follow Blue Pepper Farm on Instragram @bluepepperfarm.  They are taking orders now and through the summer for chicken, pork and (Animal Welfare Approved) lamb to be available this fall.  If they drum up enough Brooklyn interest, they can coordinate a delivery to the city from the Adirondacks.  Thanks to the Mannix clan for sharing such a fun part of your family with the Beavers!

Mother’s Day is this weekend and your children were very excited about the opportunity to shower their beloved mamas with some much deserved love.  We hope you enjoy the little something your Beavers prepared for you.  They worked so hard on their presents and cards, making wrapping paper and decoration selections based on things they knew their moms would like.  We wish you a wonderful weekend filled with lots of relaxation and quality time with your children.  They are lucky to have moms like you!
Beaver News Flash!  We have so many amazing videos that we want to share, but our blog platform has limited memory and space.  From this post onward, you can find videos of our goings-on in a Google Drive Folder titled “Beaver Videos” – it has been shared with all of you, and you can view, save, and download as you please.  This is a new mode of sharing information, so please let us know if you are experiencing glitches!  We anticipate this will make video-sharing much simpler and easier.




Exploring Down Under(ground)

This week, the Beavers’ focus went underground.  With their affection and interest in all types of “creatures,” it was no surprise that the discovery of a baby slug and two dead Carpenter bees set the Beavers on an exciting adventure to unearth as many critters as possible.  

To frame their research we posed the question, “Why underground?  What lives down there and why?”

  • Tea – I think we’ll maybe find treasure. I think there might be treasure hidden somewhere in the Garden somewhere, in the Imagination Station because one day i found a plastic ring in Imagination Station on the slide.  There might be a treasure for kids
  • Emerson: If we keep digging in the same exact spot we might get to gems or the underworld or one goddess that lives underworld so we maybe get to that if we keep digging!
  • Arjun: I found treasure this morning, a painted rock.  I think it came from the underworld.
  • Ezra: I think I’ll find more treasure.  I think treasure is leaves.
  • Milo: We keep digging really deep, you know what we might find? Another land, you know the earth is a circle so there is lands under us, there’s not heaven under us, under the south pole there’s actually, there is where people are dead, because that’s the deepest island ever it’s all under everywhere under Earth.
  • Elfie: Maybe we could dig in the same spot and find maybe the Earth.
  • Ruby: We might find a treasure chest with golden necklaces  and a golden arrow.
  • Vivian: We might find a treasure chest with gold coins in them.
  • Jake: So everybody knows under the ground is the bottom of the earth and if we dig that far then we might get to outer space.
  • Harry: Maybe if u dig so deep you can find a brown circle.  Underground is real brown circles you know.
  • Tea: Someone told me one day that there is a world under, some people believe this it might not actually be real, but under the ground there is an underworld that has lots of fire and if you do really mean things you go down, that’s what people believe and if you are up, that’s where the angels live in the clouds.  I think only the angels are true I don’t think that the mean stuff are true.  If we dig and dig and dig i think we might it might actually be real.
  • Alex:  Maybe if the whole people in Packer maybe they will say they’ll help us dig in the same spot so we can dig all the way underground.
  • Jalen: I think we will dig underground because I think we’ll find some treasure.
  • Lucia: We might find a train station.
  • Harry: Another train station!
  • Lucia: Because trains are underground.
  • Charlotte; I’m adding on to Lucia’s idea, i don’t think that’s going to happen because if u dig and dig in the sidewalk that would happen, but since we aren’t digging the sidewalk and were digging in random dirt i don’t think we will find a train station. I think if we keep digging in the random dirt we will find a worm party.

At their core, children are natural researchers.  They wonder about the world around them and construct knowledge as they explore.  As we know, getting your hands dirty (both figuratively and literally) is vital to learning.  Not only is mud play joyful and loved by ALL children, digging in the dirt has many positive effects on the immune system, mood and health.  In an urban environment, we have to work all the harder to find outlets for children to relish in nature.  Countless studies have been conducted to prove just how vital “getting dirty” is for children, including this study conducted by the National Wildlife Federation.  When your children expressed an interest in digging down deep, needless to say, we took the plunge right alongside them.   

A core component of the Reggio Emilia approach is building connections between the natural world and the classroom. With the provocation of a few shovels, (Ezra’s “digging light” as they called it!) a tank and some magnifying glasses, the Beavers set to work.   Over the course of the year the Beavers have constructed lots of prior knowledge about “creatures.”  Beginning first with their interest in imaginary creatures and then transitioning into an interest in “living creatures,” we observed your children’s prior knowledge motivate their interests to a new context.  As we observed, the process of digging and the act of “unearthing” proved to be both about discovery and theories. The following pictures show some of the fervor with which they worked.  


As the Beavers explored, many inquisitions emerged.  Children are natural scientists, classifying, sorting and experimenting as they work.  When Emerson suggested that we bring the “creatures” upstairs for further exploration, agreements were made about how best to situate these critters in our classroom.  When Milo asserted, “We can’t put the worms from the Garden into our compost bin because they’ll fight with the other worms,” the Beavers agreed and a decision was made to keep them in their own separate bin.  With materials at the ready, the children set to work to sketching, observing and classifying the creatures they had found.   Theories about what creatures wanted, which creatures were poisonous (don’t worry none of them are!), and how the creatures might interact with one another were abundant.

This idea that different species of worms may fight with one another, kept on emerging.  To test this theory we set up a little social experiment with our wormies. When we asked them how they came to the conclusion that the worms would fight, here is what they said:

  • Charlotte: milo told me they might fight
  • Milo: Well Cate or either Téa told me they fight.
  • Cate + Tea: I didn’t say that, I don’t know

Where did this information come from?

  • Harry : Maybe from the computer

How can we tell the worms are different?

  • Milo: Because one is long and one is short
  • What do you think will happen if we put them together?
  • Beavers: They’ll fight!
  • What about those mysterious creatures we’ve been finding what are those?
  • Arjun: Magnets, they are poisonous.
  • Why do we think they are poisonous?
  • Arjun: Because they play with worms.
  • Ruby: Because they bite, they might bight a worm.
  • Téa: They might be poisonous because they are white, and a lot of white stuff that I have are a little poisonous . Let’s say that one persons is a bug, who wants to be the bug? Arjun! Since he’s the teacher of the day, and let’s say I’m a worm and I’m squiggling through the dirt, and I see something coming up ahead, and whiting goes a little deeper and they might go up and bite the bottom.Vivian: Alex said if you step on it they’ll kill you.Alex: I actually learned that from Arjun.
  • Arjun: It got caught in my brain.

Does anyone think they aren’t poisonous?

  • Steelo: They aren’t poisonous because not all white stuff is poisonous.
  • Ezra : I think because some stuff are also white.
  • Steelo: Like a white cup!
  • Jake: I think they are not poisonous but everybody thinks they’re poisonous but if you touch them they do something. But I touched the magnet and Arjun touched the magnet and they don’t actually make you die.  They just make you a little dirty.
  • Emerson: when I picked one up it bit me on this hand but it wasn’t poisonous because i was holding it from Imagination Station to down the side. Because I was testing it and it didn’t poison me.
  • Elfie: I think when Emerson was holding the thing it bitted her so I think everything doesn’t have to be poisonous if it just bites you.
  • Ezra: Only a rattlesnake is poisonous.

Another context we provided the children to be able to continue their “digging,” was at the Sensory Table.  Filled with our vermicompost, sticks, stones, scoopers, shovels, and plastic insects, the Beavers enjoyed getting their hands dirty in the compost our worms had worked hard to produce.

In other activities from the week….

The Beavers found some dead carpenter bees near Imagination Station.  We set them up in some glass dishes with our light projector for some light provocations.  We provided different materials with which to sketch and sketch onto, such as pencils, chalk, sharpies, corrugated cardboard, and graphing paper.

We also started making terrariums using recycled seltzer bottles.  Layering stones, Spanish moss, charcoal, and our very own vermicompost, the Beavers created beautiful recycled planters.  As the plants grow, we will track the progress!

Some other photos from our work this week … playdough, intricate block structures, and more!

As requested, here is the recipe for “Dirt Playdough”:  Remember, there is no such thing as too much glitter!


Finally, we had some incredible new this week … just two days into her maternity leave, Denisse entered the hospital and had her beautiful baby boy!  Liam Christopher McDermott was born on April 28th, 2016: 7 lbs, 9 oz, 100% Beaver!  Below, watch the video that Denisse sent us to let us know she was in the hospital, as well as the Beavers’ reaction!

We taught your children, “The Green Grass Grows All Around,” which quickly became a class favorite this week. They choreographed some pretty adorable dance moves to this oldie, but goodie!   Here are the lyrics so you can sing along, as your Beaver performs their dance for you!  

The Green Grass Grows All Around

Téa’s family shared an exciting video with us!  Téa’s Uncle Tyler runs a farm in New York State that has a composting site used to keep the plants and animals on the farm healthy.  Here’s the video that he made especially for the Beavers (and that the Beavers watched this afternoon!)


We hope your weekend is filled with lots of time in the digging in the dirt! With a chance of rain on Sunday, don’t miss your chance to rescue some worms!  Happy digging!



SPRINGing Into Action!

It was a wonderful, busy, week in the Beaver lodge!  As always, we were buzzing with activity.  The Beavers relished every opportunity to take full advantage of this beautiful spring weather with lots of time outside.  

Firstly, thank you to all of our parent chaperones who accompanied us on our field trip to Brooklyn Bridge Park!  It was a wonderful opportunity to spend some time outside, exploring one of our local public parks while simultaneously servicing our community.  The Beavers arrived with enough time to explore Slide Mountain (a fantastic playground with lots of places to explore – and lots of slides, of course!)  before beginning our Earth Day activity. Karla Osorio-Peréz, the volunteer coordinator at Brooklyn Bridge Park, gathered the Beavers and our parent volunteers in a circle to lead us through the activity of the day: Mulching!  Karla explained that mulch is full of vitamins and minerals for plants, and that placing mulch around the root of any plant will help it grow bigger and stronger.  The Beavers chimed in, “just like vitamins help our bodies grow!”, and, “We have mulch in our Garden!”  They then eagerly got to work, putting on gardening gloves and grabbing big handfuls of mulch to spread around the base of the trees and plants near Pier 6.  After the activity, we enjoyed lunch at the picnic tables near Pier 5, and finished our Brooklyn Bridge Park excursion with some more play time.  The weather was glorious, and everyone had a smile on their face as we got our fill of the sunny, beautiful day.

On Monday, we gathered all of the data from our compost surveys last week, and observed what the results told us about the current composting situation here at Packer.  During Choice Time, the teachers prepared a large poster to visually represent the data from our surveys.  We called over each child to look at a survey, and to place a dot sticker in the corresponding section to represent an individual’s response.  By looking at the finished chart, the Beavers were able to see that although everyone would like to compost at school, only two people in the Lower School actually participate in composting.  We then posed the question:  If we know everyone wants to compost, how can we help them learn more about the process?  Pearl suggested making posters and flyers to “spread the word” , and thus, a flyer making project began!


In half groups, the Beavers practiced writing some keywords about compost by preparing our flyers.  Each child wrote the words “COMPOST” and “BEAVERS” in the appropriate spaces of our flyers, so the posters read, “A fact about COMPOST, from The BEAVERS”.  We then engaged in a discussion: What are the most important facts our community needs to know about composting?  What do we want people to remember?  How can we convince the Lower School that composting is easy, and can be done in our school space?  After contributing their many ideas, the Beavers and the teachers selected the six facts that they felt were the most important for the beginner-composters in our community to know:

  1. Worms can eat all kinds of peels
  2. Worms can eat garbage to make compost
  3. Vermicompost is better than regular dirt
  4. You can use worms to compost!
  5. Compost does not smell bad!
  6. Worms have five hearts!

During Choice Time the following day, we decorated the flyers to further illustrate these important facts.  On Thursday, in small groups, the Beavers embarked to canvas for our Lower School Compost Initiative!  As they traveled through the hallways of the Lower School, they were eager to engage members of our community in discussions about composting, explaining that we want everyone in our school to compost because “it’s really pretty easy,”, as Cate said.  Téa mentioned, “It’s just best for the earth to make the earth more beautiful”, and Ezra added, “The worms just stay in the bins, they don’t go anywhere.”  All in all, the Beavers contributed a convincing argument in favor of starting a school-wide composting project.  Stay tuned for our next steps in the process!

On Tuesday, in honor of Election Day, the teachers planned an election of our very own.  As many of the Beavers have their own opinions of the presidential candidates (and have already been quite vocal in their preferences for the next presidential candidate), we decided to bring the notion of an election to the whole class.  After discussing what happens during an election, we announced that during Choice Time, we would vote on two very serious platform issues:  More Choice Time Minutes vs. More Garden Time Minutes.  At Morning Meeting, the Beavers had the opportunity to give a statement in order to convince anyone who was undecided.  Below, watch some examples of persuasive debate by the Beavers:

After voting, they received an “I Voted!” sticker, which the Beavers proudly wore all day.  In the end, “More Garden Time” won, 12:7!  

Democracy is an important part of any classroom, and honors the voices of all students.  As the Beavers often engage in voting, and are used to assessing the general interests of our community and classroom through graphs, the teachers feel that it is important to engage them in the rule-making and implementation of rules in the Beaver lodge.  Recently, MagnaTiles has been a highly coveted material during Choice Time.  Since our collection is limited, at times, disputes arise over what to build, who gets how many tiles, and how to take the structures apart.  Given these obstacles, the Beavers unanimously expressed an interest in holding a community meeting to generate new rules for MagnaTiles during Choice Time.  The teachers were incredibly impressed as your children took turns to express their opinions,.  They also showed active listening skills, synthesizing the opinions of their peers and responding to them appropriately.  The conversation was positive, encouraging, and fruitful.  Below, watch a video clip of some of the Beavers expressing their ideas and concerns:


Lastly, we had a surprise visitor during Morning Meeting today.  This morning, a couple of the Beavers found a small mouse near our attendance chart.  Although it was still alive, it was stunned and looked rather dazed.  We placed the mouse in a jar, sent it some kind thoughts, and passed it along to Lynnette Arthur, so the Puppies could observe it as well.  As the children are natural caretakers, they wanted to keep it as a pet.  We explained that city mice are not the safes pets for humans, and we released it outside.  Not to be deterred, the Beavers worked together during Choice Time to create a “mouse habitat”, in case Little Mousie (as it has affectionately been named) decided to make a return.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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