First graders have been working on their fairy houses in The Outdoor Learning Center busily since school started this year. This ongoing project affords rich educational opportunities for these young students.
Imaginative play, self-directed skill building, sharing spaces and cooperation, engineering and construction, are just some examples. Plus, Ms. Emily is always sure to include science as part of the exploration.
This spring these students have been learning about Earth materials. They have used the opportunity to go to the woods check on and repair their fairy houses. Students are finding granite to use as countertops and floors. They have also found interesting organisms like gobs of slime growing on sticks.
You might remember prior posts describing how Kindergarten students have been cooking “around the world.” As part of their social studies, they have invited guests to cook native foods from different parts of the world.
Most recently, a special guest made Finnish cinnamon rolls with the class. She read them a Finnish story, taught them how to say hello and good bye in Finnish, talked about the geography of Finland and answered lots of curious questions from the students.
Recently, students in 4th grade hunted for four leaf clovers as they learned about variation and adaptations in science. The students love learning science in The Outdoor Learning Center (TOLC) where they explore natural processes in the woods and learn agriculture in the gardens.
Second grade teacher at The Learning Center Charter School, Stephanie Hopper, wrapped up a cross curricular unit on insects with her class earlier this month. Found online, Eddie the Entomologist sent the class friendly letters each day that included clues. Using the clues, the students then guessed what creature was the bug of the day.
Hopper was able to bridge the study of insects across all subjects in her class. In science, students learned about insect life cycles. Numerous books and interactive online reading texts were used by students for research and reading comprehension. Plus, the daily letters from Eddie allowed the class to review and reinforce what they had previously learned about the composition of friendly letters.
In math, students used measurement standards to compare different types of insects as well as jumping distances. Additionally, students put their STEM skills to use when tasked with designing and building their own insects.
Plus, these industrious second grade students wrote acrostic poems using descriptive words to describe insects, wrote a sequence paper on the life cycle of an insect, made terrariums with appropriate habitats for insects to live and did a drawing activity where they were guided, step-by-step to draw, label and color a realistic bumble bee and butterfly.
At the end of the all encompassing insect unit, students earned an “Entomologist Expert” badge from Eddie.
Hopper said, “These students could hardly wait each day to read the letter from Eddie and use the clues to figure out the bug of the day. Using their excitement about bugs across all of our studies engaged them thoroughly in each subject.”
In celebration of Earth Day back in April, Tony Ward of Hiawasee River Watershed Coalition (HRWC) guided the studets on a walk of Murphy’s Riverwalk and explained the difference in native and non-native species. Students also explored why it is important for plants to grow on riverbanks to prevent erosion as the kids learned that dirt is the number one polluter in our rivers. Students learned about many local trees and shrubs and how they all had different methods of spreading their seeds.
On April 6th, third graders at The Learning Center Charter School held their own Poetry Lounge. Modeled after poetry readings where an open mic is available for anyone wanting to share original or dramatic readings of poems, the class enthusiastically enjoyed the event.
Students were given the option of performing a poem that they wrote themselves or read a poem of their choosing. Topics ranged from wolves to dirt bikes, love poems, poems about video games, and concrete poems.
Third grade teacher, Kathleen Shook, introduced the Poetry Lounge idea as a way to reinforce lessons learned in language arts. However, she found ways to incorporate poetry both in math and art class. Plus, students got valuable practice in listening skills while their peers performed.
True to standard poetry reading etiquette, the class ended each performance with the classic “snapping” applause. The piece receiving the most “snaps” was probably Shel Silverstein’s self-performed version of “The Crocodile’s Toothache.”
Shook said, “Poetry is magical in that it has the power to make even the most reluctant reader become interested in reading. The sing-song beats and humorous themes turn words into games instead of work.”
Making nests, drinking white pine tea and building solar ovens was recently the order of the day for fifth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School. That’s because field educators from Muddy Sneakers® took the class on a two day expedition into the outdoors.
The Muddy Sneakers program exists to enrich the standard course of study through experiential education in an outdoor setting where students connect with the land, become more active, and gain self-confidence while improving science aptitude. Muddy Sneakers began as a pilot program in the spring of 2007 with Brevard and Pisgah Forest Elementary Schools in Transylvania County and has grown each year to now serve 36 schools across 12 counties and 13 school districts in the Carolinas.
Muddy Sneakers Field Instructors, Dana Bradley and Jace Besold, visited the charter school for two days in March. They took students to the Hanging Dog recreation area to learn about energy. They will be back again to teach the 5th graders about both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Fifth grade science teacher at the school, Jay Ward, said, “The students loved the trip not just because it was fun, but because they were divided into small groups and were really able to focus on what the instructors were teaching. I loved seeing the kids so involved with the activities and enjoying the outdoors. They really did get muddy sneakers!”
Graced with the presence of poets, so it was at the opening night of Oh Horror! It’s Murder at The Learning Center Charter School on May 4. That’s because North Carolina Poet Laureate, Shelby Stephenson, attended and provided intermission entertainment.
Stephenson grew up on a farm in Benson, North Carolina and says that most of his poems are a product of that environment. He has written many poems about the farm, the foxhounds his father hunted and the streams, fields and trees of his childhood home. He graduated from the University of North Carolina and went on to study law at University of Pittsburgh and University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2001, the state of North Carolina awarded him the NC Award in Literature. He has gone on to receive the Bellday Poetry Prize, the Oscar Arnold Young Award, the Zoe Kincaid-Brockman Award, the Brockman-Campbell Award, the Bright Hill Press Chapbook Prize, and the Playwright’s Fund of North Carolina Chapbook Prize.
He has also produced a poetic documentary titled, Plankhouse as well as numerous books of poems including Middle Creek Poems, Carolina Shout!, The Persimmon Tree and Possum. He and his wife, Linda, have also recorded four musical CDs.
Mary Ricketson and Joan Howard with Ridgeline Literary Alliance and North Carolina Writers Network-WEST accompanied Stephenson to the annual spring musical at the charter school.
Stephenson shared with the school’s Executive Director that during this year marking the 50th Anniversary of the North Carolina Arts Council, what a pleasure it was to see firsthand that the arts are alive and well in the far west at The Learning Center Charter School.
The school will host Stephenson on its campus again in the fall as a guest assembly presenter.