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February 19 2008

We have been very busy this month. It’s been exciting with lots of special activities, and it’s been hard because we mostly have not been able to go outside. Please know that we have active play everyday in the small gym when we can’t get out. The children can ride tricycles, tumble on mats, play basketball, play with the parachute, throw balls, run around. We also do races up and down the halls when we can. It’s not as good as going outside, but we do our best to keep cabin fever at bay. As the weather warms, please be sure your child has outdoor clothing: snowpants, boots, warm mittens/gloves, hats, warm coat. We have a mound of extra clothing we’ve collected over the winter in the basket in the cubby area. Please go through that on Fridays to find your child’s lost clothing.

You may have heard about or seen our volcano! Sean had been learning about volcanoes at home with his family and wanted to share what he knew. From that we decided to make our own volcano, with some important differences. We will not have real lava. But we’ve been looking at books to see the shapes and colors of volcanoes. We watched a National Geographic video about volcanoes, and Rikesh’s family sent in a dvd of their helicopter trip over Hawaiian volcanoes!!! It was very exciting! Some of the things we’re learning about volcanoes:

–There are 2 types: exploding and flowing or hot spot volcanoes. Mount St. Helens is an example of an exploding volcano. The Hawaiian volcanoes are examples of Hot Spot volcanoes.

–The ash mixed with mud and rock that results from an exploding volcano is called “pyroclastic flow” (yes, your children are learning this word). It is very hot and deadly and was responsible for the deaths of the people of Pompeii several centuries ago.

–The lava that comes out of a Hot Spot volcano in Hawaii is called “ah-ah” because the ground is so hot when you walk across a lava field that you say “ah-ah” all the way across.

–Liquid rock under the ground is called magma; when it comes to the surface of the earth it is called lava. As lava cools, it turns into rock. Volcanoes under the ocean can make islands, like Hawaii (where a new island is in the process of forming!).

W e hope you encourage your child to continue to learn about scientific events in the world – and don’t be afraid to teach them big words! They love it!

We have also been learning about jazz. Yesterday we got together with Ms. Bethanie’s class and Mr. Jeff’s class and listened to jazz records in the lobby. Yes, I said records – giant cd’s! We listened to Duke Ellington and Dinah Washington while we designed our own records. I hope you’ll get to see them in the hall when we get them up. In the classroom we’ve been listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Miles Davis, as well as some other jazz pieces. We’ll also be listening to Ms. Pickens’ new jazz cd next week. Ms. Pickens is the Ray School music teacher and her cd is on sale around the neighborhood – try 57th St. Books.

We strictly outlaw all commercially-made “Pokeman” cards from the classroom. The children know this and have been leaving their cards at home, but not their love of Pokeman. Sean and Ian have been making their own Pokeman cards and putting them on display for us all to see. Each card has a picture of a character and a name.

Note: There is nothing intrinsically wrong with Pokeman cards. The kids like to collect the cards and trade them, and as such, they are a great math activity. What is hard for us is the competition and single-focus the printed cards engender. We tried them for a while, but we couldn’t get our collectors to do anything else. So collect at home, please, and enjoy this usually short-lived hobby. We’ll try and feed the addiction here in a way that involves a little more creativity.

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Friday, February 29 (next week) is our annual AAHM walk-through where parents and friends are invited to walk around the school and look at the various projects children have done for African-American History Month. We will be showing you some of what we’ve learned about jazz. We’ll have some snacks for you, and perhaps, a small performance in the morning. The walk-through goes from 8-9:00 am and from 5:30-6:30 pm. We hope you can make it to one of these times.

We have a field trip planned for March 13 to go to the Merit School of Music to see Nelson Gill perform. Nelson Gill performs children’s music from the Caribbean and other places around the world. Tickets are $5.00, so please bring that in ASAP along with the signed permission slip that was left in your mailbox. If you would like to go, we have a limited number of tickets for parents so please let us know.

If you can’t make it to see Nelson Gill, don’t despair! We have a number of trips in the planning stages that will require a large number of adults, including the Museum of Science and Industry, the Children’s Farm at Palos Park and finally, at the end of the year our favorite trip to the Little Red School House Nature Center in Willow Springs. We don’t need as many parents to come with us to performances, but we do need you for our outdoor and museum trips. I will get the dates to you as soon as I can.

By the way, our trip to the Little Red School House is special because after touring a small nature center, we get to walk on trails that go through the preserve. We often see wild animals, like turtles (including a snapping turtle one year), birds, and small rodents. After our hike, we drive to a nearby picnic area and enjoy a real picnic. So please try and come to this if you can. It’s a lot of fun!

I’ll be updating the field trip page of this blog as things develop….


Many of you expressed interest in having a time when we can get together and talk about parenting issues. Jeff and I will be there to get things started , but this is a time for you to share insights, ideas and frustrations you have as parents. I hope you can come. It will be on Monday, March 10 from 5-6 pm. The classrooms will be open during this time so the children can play there while we meet. If you need to bring a younger sibling in order to come, let me know and we’ll see if we can get some extra childcare to help.

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One Response to “February 19 2008”

  1. Hello, can you please post some more information on this topic? I would like to read more.

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