Saving the Rainforest, One Colorful Magnet At A Time

In exploring relationships between homes and habitats, and how animals adapt to their environment, our K/1 class spent the year learning about rainforest systems. We read books, researched facts and wrote informative reports. We also wrote a book sharing our learnings and mailed it to our friends at our partner school, Palms Elementary. Likewise, they wrote and mailed us a book where we learned about the Ocean Systems. It was a nice collaboration of systems thinking, and it allowed for our students to see what other K/1 kids are learning.

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Some of the learnings shared are:

“It makes me sad that people are cutting down the rainforest, and indigenous peoples’ homes.”

“The rainforest has four layers. I didn’t used to know that. And the trees are very tall, because the trees by my house are not that big.”

“I like the music of the rainforest because the trees sing like a concert.”

“The trees give homes to animals and deforestation is bad because you’re actually making it hard for the animals to survive. And if you keep cutting down trees, you’re actually making the glaciers melt.”

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Our little ones also made a short video highlighting their favorite facts about the animals they researched. We shared it at our end of the year breakfast and the parents loved it!

In addition, for our service learning project our students created magnets. They drew them, colored and painted them. Here are a few!

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We sold these colorful magnets to raise money for rainforest conservation efforts. Our little ones raised $255 and the money was donated to the Rainforest Foundation US.

 

 

Literacy, Books & Advocacy: Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California

 

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I love books. The smell of books, picture books, fashion books, yoga books, and tear your heart out books. This school year, when planning for our year long social studies unit, Friendships & Schools, I immediately thought of literacy. Not knowing if our K/1 class would be able to grasp this big concept, we went ahead and tried.

As we wrap up our learnings, we are blown away by the discussions we have had with our little ones. We investigated the book system, the library system, the literacy system, the friendship system, the school system, and how they are interconnected. Our little ones said:

Books let you travel the world.

Books are my friends.

I can learn about animals because I care about them.

Without books there would be no understanding.

Books teach you about other cultures, and how we are both different and the same.

Books teach you about the Life Skills.

In learning that books and literacy help support one’s overall well-being, our K/1 class took a walking field trip to the local library. The children’s librarian thoroughly shared the many systems found in the library. They were in awe when they saw the vast assortment of books. Then we wondered, “What about the communities where access to books and libraries is limited?”

Kids designed cozy reading spots during BlockBuild.

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imgres-2.jpgWe gathered inspiration from the picture book, Waiting for Biblioburro, by Monica Brown. The book is based on Luis Soriano, the Colombian teacher/librarian who brings books to children in the countryside of Colombia. We discussed that we, as community members have a responsibility to rebuild systems that are broken or unbalanced. In the spirit of Biblioburro, our students partnered with Reading is Fundamental of Southern California (RIFSoCal). Our little ones purchased one new book with the money earned doing various chores. They washed cars, swept the floors, helped with laundry, and even scrubbed handprints off the wall. They also went through their personal at home libraries and chose 3-4 books to donate. Our class then beautifully decorated book bags and used them to store the books. We will be donating the book bags, and the books, to RIFSoCal in an effort to support their mission of literacy and learning in school communities. A big bravo and love hug to our little, yet mighty advocates!

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
―Jorge Luis Borges

 

 

 

Student Made Alphabet Cards – via School Systems

Literacy is…the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential. -Kofi Annan

We are beginning our year long social studies unit of study, Friendships & Schools. Our K/1 students will explore the various school systems in our own community, as well as schools around the world. Students will investigate the impact of literacy on their self-development, how it impacts socio-economic levels, and overall well-being in their communities. Moreover, I hope that my little ones will come to deeply understand the power of literacy and books, and how being an informed citizen gives them the tools to make their community a better place.

 

Essential Questions:

1. How do systems at school help us become good friends and community members?

2. Why is literacy important?

3. What are the benefits of literacy?

4. How can literacy benefit one’s personal development?

5. How do literacy rates affect socio-economic levels in a community?

6. How does literacy impact the well-being of a community?

7. How do libraries support literacy?

 

To begin with, we brainstormed some of the systems at school and used them to create student made Alphabet Cards. They are posted on the wall as a literacy resource, as well as conversation starters as we delve into our unit of study, Friendships & Schools. I love the drawings, coloring and painting used to express their ideas. I’m truly excited about this project and I look forward to sharing our learnings as the year goes on.

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Wrapping Up Maslow Study in our K/1 Class

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Over a month ago, I wrote that our K/1 students were beginning to learn about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and how this relates to our year long unit of study, Families & Homes. After much delving, sharing, drawing, reading and writing, our littles ones have an impressive understanding of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. While I wish you could spend an afternoon with my class, discussing their learnings, I’m hoping you see via some of their documentation, how their appreciation for their families has deepened.

Basic Needs (food, water, air)

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My mom always gives me healthy foods.

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I go outside and get air.

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My dad packs my lunch.

Safety Needs (shelter, job)

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I have a safe home.

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If people don’t have a job, then you can’t have money, and you can’t pay for insurance to be healthy.

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Health insurance lets you go to the eye doctor, so you can see and you can learn.

Love & Belonging Needs (family, friendships)

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Me and my mom snuggling.

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I belong to my family and my soccer team.

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I belong in my school.

Self Esteem Needs (confidence, encouragement)

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      I am great at handstands.

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Self Actualization – Doing what you love!

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I learned to count.

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I learned to play basketball.

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I learned how to read music.

 

Many of the kids had huge realizations that many, if not most of the things they had already accomplished were a direct result of their supportive families and community.

 

One of the goals of education should be to teach that life is precious.

— Abraham Maslow

 

The Belonging System: A glimpse into the places where children feel they belong.

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In Social Studies, we are continuing our learning on Families & Homes. We have spent the beginning of the school year exploring the various ways families come to be. Some family members are born into their families and other are made with love and appreciation. We have concluded that families are formed through friendships, school communities, religious places like churches or synagogues, work, school and travels.

We are beginning our investigations on where families live and the types of places that can be considered home. We will discuss the types of homes people live in, in our communities and around the world. To start this conversation, we read the gorgeous picture book, You Belong Here, written by M.H. Clark and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. This book takes the reader on a lyrical journey of where plants, animals and children belong.

And the trees belong in the wild wood and the deer belong in their shade,

and the birds belong so safe and good and warm in the nests that they’ve made.

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After we read this book, we brainstormed the various places where we belong. We explained that belonging can be attached to a physical place like one’s home or favorite park. We can also belong to ideas, or places that make our hearts sing, nourish our souls, and ground us. I shared that I belong to words and writing, picture books, and my yoga corner. Using a systems map we asked, “Where do you belong?”  Our littles shared many interesting and heartfelt places of belonging.

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As a follow up activity, our little ones wrote a book where they chose five places using the sentence starter: I belong in / I belong with__________________.

Here are some of the wonderful places where we belong. It was also noted that no matter where we come from, there is always a place where we belong.

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If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.

– Mother Theresa

 

Student Created Alphabet Cards

We have begun our year long social studies investigation on Families & Homes. Through picture books, family shares, systems thinking and essential questions, we hope to guide our little ones to understand how families and homes are inherently similar, while celebrating the unique differences of everyone’s family and home.

 

The three essential questions guiding our discussions are:

  1. How can families be the same and different?
  2. What systems does a family use to work together?
  3. What does a home give a family?

 

When asked, “What is something that you do with your family that warms your heart?”, students eagerly listed various activities particular to their families. Using their ideas, students created their own alphabet cards that will be posted in the classroom. Their ABC cards nicely link their use of systems thinking to their personal lives, their school and the learnings around Families and Homes. They are also adorable and extremely creative!

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We are only four weeks into our year long investigation, but our little ones have already concluded that the most important part of a family and home is love. Another recent comment is that family members aren’t necessarily those that you are born to.

I am looking forward to what I will learn from their conversations and how their wonderings will steer our investigation.

 

I sustain myself with the love of family. –Maya Angelou

 

Shine A Light On Modern Day Slavery: 5th Grade Project

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Shine A Light On Modern Day Slavery Installation

Social Justice was an integral part of my formal education at the University of San Francisco and Loyola Marymount University. From my vantage point, the role of an educator is to not simply teach reading, writing and math, but to provide students the opportunities to think critically, think outside the box and to be agents of change. Today, I witnessed how powerful teaching can be when educators go beyond the basics and truly delve into subjects that some might think are too difficult for students to grasp. Our little ones were given a tour by the 5th graders showcasing their research/art project: Shine A Light On Modern Day Slavery. They were knowledgeable and passionate as they shared what they had learned about modern day slavery. I took some pictures and I hope they convey how amazing and important the 5th graders’ work is.

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How Design Thinking, Making & Systems Thinking Give 5th graders Agency Over a Social Injustice.

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Help Slaves Be Free

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Fair Trade Certified

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Freedom

 

The 5th graders also handed out a pamphlet providing ways we can help stop modern day slavery.

  • Be a conscientious consumer! Find out where and how products that you buy are made.
  • Reach out to your elected representatives to let them know that fighting slavery is important to you.
  • Join or support organizations that are committed t ending modern-day slavery.
  • Donate funds or needed items to an anti-trafficking organization to in your area.
  • Stay informed, ask questions and be aware!

 

It surprises people that there’s actually a very large number of slaves in the world today—our best estimate is 27 million. And that is defining a slave in a very narrow way; we’re not talking about sweatshop workers or people who are just poor, we’re talking about people who are controlled by violence, who cannot walk away, who are being held against their will, who are being paid nothing. 

– Kevin Bales

 

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. 

-Mother Teresa