Our last two months of school were probably the busiest of the school year. We had the rising first years visiting us for a couple of days from Primary and on the same days, our full cycles went to visit Rockwood. We also had a few prospective students shadowing in our classroom. It was fun and exciting to get to know future members of our class.
Full cycle students took the Iowa Standardized Test over a period of three days. To relax after such hard work we had two days of fun, together with Rockwood’s third-year students; we went on a fun hike to Reimers Ranch followed by a day of fun collaborative work at Rockwood, just for the full cycles (Rockwood 4ths and 5ths years were out). We celebrated Earth Day and watched a fabulous documentary on National Parks.
In the classroom, we had an explosion of abstraction, both in math and art! In Math, many students learned how to do different operations (long division, long multiplication, complex subtractions with zeros in the minuend, etc) without materials. It was really awesome to see the children conquer these great milestones. Other students are very close - my recommendation for the summer is to try to practice addition and subtraction (if your child is a rising 2nd or 3rd year) and long multiplication and division for the rising 3rd and 4th years. FOR ALL, practice math facts throughout the summer, whether it is a fun game, flashcards, chanting while on a road trip, etc. Children who practice over the summer come back ready in August to keep going where they left off; in contrast, when there is no practice, children tend to forget and it takes them about 4 to 6 weeks to catch up to the level they were at before they left for summer break. In Art, children made some beautiful abstract pastels. We combined their masterpieces in a frame and gifted them to Ms.Sarah. In the middle of the abstract pastels was an amazing Ode to Sarah. (See the Pictures below)
In Language, there were many lessons on writing, grammar, and spelling that translated into amazing stories, persuasive notes, and compare/contrast paragraphs. Some children also learned how to write a descriptive paragraph and we had fun listening to and reading their amazing stories. Students who love doing research about animals or places learned to apply the skills learned in those writing lessons to their reports. Editing their writings led to lessons on punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and grammar.
Remember the play the children performed back on the last day of October to raise money for the Black Strip material? Well, we finally got the Black Strip, the children had the lesson and they loved it! The Black Strip tells the story of the formation of Earth. It shows the children, in a very visual way, how short of a time that human beings have been on earth in comparison with how old the earth is.
There was a lot of study on the early Human Beings this year. To close out the year we had an amazing visit to Pioneer Farms last week. We got to see how Texans lived in the 1800s; the children were very surprised to learn how bathrooms used to be, and how kitchens used to be built outside the homes to avoid the heat inside the house.
In Biology, we continued to learn about different vertebrates and invertebrate animals. We studied the seeds and their function and we got to plant a few seeds and see how their internal parts became the root and shoot of a little plant.
In Geometry, we went deep into polygons and triangles, classifying them according to their sides and angles. Another group of students learned the concept of equivalence, congruent and similar figures and had fun building tangrams.
Mid and Full cycles had some very cool lessons in Geography, such as understanding how the Earth traps heat and how the air in the atmosphere works like layers of blankets. You can ask your child “Why is it cooler on the top of the mountains?” Beginning cycles learned the hottest and coldest parts of the day and the effect of day and night.
It was an intense year in Mountain Laurel, especially the last semester when our class grew. I’m honored and blessed to have such an amazing group of children. I enjoyed teaching them and listening to their stories. Thanks for trusting me with your children! I wish you all, especially your children, a summer full of fun, enjoying the outdoors, climbing trees, swimming in pools and lakes, playing with friends and family, riding their bikes, scooters, etc. most importantly a summer where you all can recharge and rest from the fast-paced daily routines we all live in.
Mountain Laurel Cottage