First Grade STEAM Project #10 – Chinese New Year

[Each week Ms. Darea’s first grade class has a STEAM lesson that crosses the curriculum and lasts all week.  Here is what Ms. Darea had to say about Project #10.]

Our STEAM project this week revolved around Chinese New Year!  First, we talked about the Chinese zodiac and read what the different animals mean.  We talked about how the Chinese zodiac is similar to astrological horoscope signs.



Then, we decided to sort the animals according to color.  After sorting, we talked about the five major groups of animals (fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds-we very briefly talked about invertebrate).  With a little guidance, the kids actually came up with these on their own!  Then, we sorted the creatures of the Chinese zodiac into the appropriate groups.  Someone started to put the dragon under reptiles.  We talked about how dragons are actually fictional, but we all agreed that if it were an animal, it would probably be a reptile because of its scaly skin.  After sorting them, we made a line plot of the animals represented in the Chinese zodiac and analyzed the results of that.  Next, we sorted a variety of other animals into the same five categories.  I threw in some insects to try to throw them off and then we discussed invertebrates in a little more detail.  We then compared two animals from the Chinese zodiac using a Venn diagram.  The students were then given the instructions for their project.



The students had to secretly pick their favorite creature from the Chinese zodiac and make a mask to represent that creature.  Each group was given a variety of items to use in creating their masks.  We wore these masks in our Chinese New Year parade.

When we returned to the classroom, we took turns guessing what creature each person made and recorded these on another line plot.  When the line plot was finished, we analyzed the data and concluded that the tiger was the most liked creature of the Chinese zodiac in our classroom.


The Learning Center! Charter School Announces a Musical Production


Yes, at last, here at The Learning Center! Charter School we are attempting our debut into the performing arts with a late spring production of The Princess and the Pea, a Traditional Tale Told Anew for Unison and 2-part Voices by Andy Beck and Brian Fisher. Some have already called us crazy. However, as Director of The Learning Center! Charter School working alongside those have been involved with the initial phases of getting this undertaking off the ground, I can assure you that we are very excited about this opportunity for our Learning Center students and the larger community that we are hoping to impact.

Our predominant goal here at our school is to provide our middle school students  with educational opportunities that develop basic skills for and an appreciation of the performing arts.  Additionally we are extending an invitation for some of our area homeschoolers to participate in this rich experience. Opportunities will be available in acting, singing, set design, tech support and costume design.

I have also extended an  audition invitation to two talented older youth that have been a part of our Learning Center student body in the past.  Candy Cook is additionally in communication with Dr. Hendley from TCCC to discuss interests from the Early College Students drama students. Some may ask why we are involving older, more experienced students if the focus is predominately on offering performing arts education to the middle school students here at The Learning Center. In the research that I have done prior to finalizing our plans for this undertaking, I have been encouraged by others to include a “padding of experience” when working with students that are middle school and below in order to provide a production experience that is positive for the younger students as opposed to possibly being totally frustrating. We look forward to accomplishing much through these combined efforts.

Please note the following dates. Depending on how these dates apply to you, please add to your calendars accordingly:

·         Friday, February 3, 2012, 12:30-2:55: All homeschool 5th-8th students who are interested in being a part of the upper-grades production of The Princess and the Pea should sign-in through The Learning Center! Charter School office no later than 12:20 in order to be in the Dining Commons for the organizational meeting of The Princess and the Pea Production Elective. (If high-school students are interested in auditioning for parts or working in other aspects of the production, please attend this organizational meeting also to know more about the process.  AUDITIONS WILL NOT TAKE PLACE AT THIS INTRODUCTORY MEETING. Additionally, we welcome adults who may be willing to volunteer in a behind-the-scenes capacity.) *Copies of parts for auditioning will be available for older students who cannot attend this meeting. Please request parts by emailing Candace Cook at

·         Friday’s in general from 12:30-2:55 (If there is a change in this schedule you will receive notice in advance.), The Princess and the Pea Production Elective, Grades 5-8.

·         AUDITIONS FOR PRINCESS AND THE PEA AT THE HENN THEATRE: FRIDAY, FEB. 17, 2012, 12:30-until finished. (Depending on the part for which you are auditioning, we may ask you to arrive at a more specific time during this time frame.)

·         Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 6:00 at the Henn Theater/ Dress Rehearsal for The Princess and the Pea. Guests will be by invitation only to people who make up the Art Community. A reception will be held immediately following the production to introduce our players and staff to the Art Community guests. (more details to follow)

·         Thursday, May 24, 2012, 6:30 at the Henn Theater/ presenting The Princess and the Pea. Open to the public with advance sale of tickets.

·         Tuesday, May 29, 2012, matinee performance for Learning Center students ONLY at the Henn Theater.


I have decided to use email for the majority of the communication. I will be counting on each of you to spread the word of this exciting undertaking in the area of the performing arts. Please, do not hesitate to stay in communication with me as the details of this production unfold. The school office number is 828-835-7240. Kelly , our receptionist, will direct your call. Emailing me is probably more effective and less frustrating than trying to reach me by phone. I also encourage those of you who are not yet aware of our website:, our blog: www.tlcgrowzone/blog or our presence on Facebook to spend some time with these information resources, for they truly capture the heartbeat of our school.



Mary Jo Dyre, Director

Third grade studies cultural regions of Native Americans


Recently third graders did an in-depth study of the eight cultural regions of the Native Americans- Plateau, Northwest Coast, California, Great Basin, Great Plains, Far North, Northeast Woodlands, Southeast Woodlands, and Southwest.  To finish the unit, the children, along with art teacher Ms. Carrie  and during class-cross curricular activity time chose a Native American mask and created one of their own.  The children used balloons and paper mache to create the shape of the mask.  After it dried, they printed off their mask of choice (from research through the Internet), sketched it out and then painted the mask with acrylic paints.   

It was a very fun project and Ms. Carrie worked very hard with them!


September Stroll Pottery Event at TLC

September Stroll Founder and grandfather of TLC student, Mike Lalone, presenting Assistant Director Karen Brinke with $400.

In conjunction with the Heritage Walk in Murphy over Labor Day weekend, TLC was pleased to host the first annual September Stroll.  This pottery invitational was organized by Roy Bamfield and Mike Lalone.  Portions of the proceeds from this art pottery event were presented both to The Learning Center! Charter School and The Sharing Center.

Mike Lalone and TLC student presenting $400 to The Sharing Center.

TLC! is pleased to sponsor and promote the arts and appreciates this generous monetary donation.


Time for Art – Professor Mark A. Menendez

Last Friday fourth through eighth grade students had the opportunity to meet Mark Menendez.  Mr. Menendez is a local artist and “Professor” who travels through time to meet the great artists.  He learns their techniques and then shares them with others.  In this particular presentation he introduced students to Leonardo da Vinci and showed them how da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa. 

Professor Mark A. Menendez and his time traveling machine!



It is safe to say that students and staff alike learned much about perhaps the most famous painting in the world and about it’s painter.  To find out more about Professor Mark A. Menendez visit

5th grade celebrates International Dot Day

5th graders displaying their dot paintings for International Dot Day.

Ms. Christy’s fifth graders celebrated International Dot Day  last week.  They read the book  The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and then were given the assignment to create their own mark.  Ultimately, they had to watercolor a dot without trying to create a dot.



Visual art and language arts together in one lesson?  Awesome!

Academics & the Arts 2011

Hands-on art fun as part of Academics & the Arts activities

Each spring TLC! celebrates all things related to academics and the arts in a two day event held on campus.  This event, aptly called Academics & the Arts was held May 5th and 6th and included an art show,  hands-on art, lunch time hand-bell concert from the Valley River Ringers, chorus concert at the Henn Theater, grades 2-5 writing contest and a Cherokee County Middle School writing contest.

Art adorning the walls in the Dining Commons as part of the 5th Annual TLC! Art Show
K-2 made fabric quilt squares that will be made into quilts and raffled off to raise money for the TLC! art program.


Students in 3-8 painted tiles to become part of a permanent art installation at TLC!


Best in Show
The Valley River Ringers hand-bell concert at lunch time.
At the Henn!


K-4 Chorus, Strings and Fusion perform the TLC! Spring Concert at the Henn Theater


Writing contest winners


More writing contest winners!

In today’s tough economy, art programs are often the first to be cut from school budgets.  Not true at The Learning Center.  TLC! Board of Directors and school Director Mary Jo Dyre are committed to maintaining all forms of art from musical, visual, culinary and performing arts at our school.  Our community benefits.  Our school benefits.  And, without a doubt, TLC! students benefit from this commitment.

Hurray for another successful Academics & the Arts!

TLC! and Henn Theater partner to suppport the arts

A handshake and a smile was all that was needed to complete a partnership between TLC! and the Henn Theater.
With cutbacks in arts programs across the country, the need is especially great in this community. The Learning Center! Charter school is filling that gap with local community and business support.
“Our parnership with The Henn Theater enables our students to experience drama electives in a stage environment.” Said school director Mary Jo Dyre.
The school, in turn, actively supports the theater by providing volunteers and publicity for events which will range from guest speakers for school fund raisers to chorus programs, fusion ensemble performances, strings elective performances and drama. The school plans to utilize the theater’s back-stage area for set design and for actors to wait in the wings during a performance.
“We are providing our strong force of parent and community volunteers who are eager to promote the arts within our school and our community,” added Dyre.

Eat a Rainbow

Last week TLC eighth graders and fourth graders were lucky enough to be part of a new program from the Cherokee County Arts Council.



The Color and Healthy Food Project is based on color theory.  It describes the principals of primary and secondary colors and applies that knowledge to fruits and vegetables.



Similar to the “eat a rainbow” theory, this program encourages kids to eat all the colors of the rainbow.  In fact, the more color the better!




This program proved to be an art lesson, color lesson, cooking instruction and a feast.


Most importantly, it had the kids reaching for more.