We have happily been back to school for 5 weeks so thought that I would share an update.
So excited to welcome our new student. She joined us just a few days after school started. Her mom was so happy to see that our school is open 5 days a week. Our $350 a month school fees was also a positive. Pioneer Junior Academy is just what they both needed. She is such a delight. Everyone is getting along really well together. Lots of wonderful, inclusive classroom activity and outdoor play are going on. Our grade three girl would be happy to welcome another girl! Mrs. Pimentel and the other boys are fun to spend recess with, however a young girl in Grades 1-5 would be great! Know of anyone?
School is going well. We are getting into comfortable regular routines.
Each of the students are focused on their work and working well together. There is a happy hum of student activity and interaction. Each of the students is learning to take ownership of their own learning. Seeing mistakes as an opportunity to learn something a different way until they get it. What fun we had creating STEM rubber band powered cardboard cars. From initial design to creation all of the students were engaged, experimenting and then implementing their ideas to see if their car could travel 6 ft on the linoleum kitchen floor. With a tweak here and an adjustment there two of our students were able to get their car to travel 4-5 ft. Someone even thought of adding a little friction to their wheels to see if better traction would help the car to go further. It worked!
Social distancing is going well too. We have plenty of space so everyone has been able to spread out and not feel hemmed in by the social distancing requirements. The children have been conscientious and protective of each others personal space. Some days I need to remind them to take off their masks when they are social distancing at their desks or outside in the playground. It’s like they forget that they have their masks on. One day, when I suggested that they take off their masks, some of them said, “I’d like to keep mine on…it makes me feel warm and cozy.” Most days we take them off at every opportunity we can. The students are taking mask wearing in their stride.
During our PE class we have had fun trying out new games and activities that encourage us to get moving outside in the fresh air. Some of the old favorites are back… for example relays, and sack and egg races. We also purchased three "swing ball” sets. Social distancing football and soccer are also fun. When there is a will there is a way to play and still be socially distanced. Each of the students also have their own tote filled with PE equipment. Fitness circuits are also a fun way to improve each of the students physical fitness also. Prior to recess or PE common equipment is sanitized. At the end of the day all shared equipment is also sanitized one more time. Once a week the students also sanitize their tote of personal PE equipment.
We love to eat lunch outside as often as possible! The parents and children are getting quite creative with the kinds of lunches that they bring to school. With as little microwaving as possible we are quickly outside where we enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.
MAP testing went well. MAP testing is a new form of standardized testing that our school system has adopted this year. This new testing will enable planning of lessons based on what each student is ready to learn. Both the students and myself loved the fact that the tests were not timed. Each of them were able to be a little more relaxed and to put their effort into doing their personal best. One of the parents even noticed that her children were coming home less worn out after testing than previous years.
Normally at this time of year we get to enjoy “Outdoor School” at Camp Lawroweld in Maine. Due to social distancing challenges we were unable to go there this past week. “Outdoor School” is a wonderful opportunity for our students to explore, in depth, the different habitats at Camp Lawroweld in Maine. Being out in God’s creation is not something that we don’t want to miss out on so we went on a “PJA Canoeing Expedition" on the West River, VT. on Tuesday, October 6, 2020. It was a day trip with our parents and friends of the school. We all loved being on the water, seeing birds, plants, and especially the fall leaves. Our study on Ecosystems was taken to the next level by actually being on location and observing living things out in nature. We are enjoying our own “Outdoor School” adventures.
On Thursday, October 8, 2020 we also went exploring along the Rail Trail that is up behind our school. We gathered leaves and other small samples of fall colors along the way. It was a beautiful sunny day with a gentle breeze. Everyone had fun trying to see who could find the the largest acorn as we walked along. The fall colors were beautiful. On the way back we went down to see the stream and granite tunnel. The water was trickling through so everyone had the opportunity to walk through the tunnel without getting wet. Exploring our own backyard environment and ecosystem was a definite highlight of the week as well.
As a follow up art activity we are planning on dipping the bright colorful red, yellow and orange leaves in paraffin wax. We will use a double boiler and clothespins to help dip the leaves in the wax. Once the paraffin wax dries we will make a simple garland to hand across our front window. Hopefully with the sun will shine through and help illuminate their beauty. Perhaps you might be able to see them hanging from our classroom windows.
With just a few more weeks of warmer weather we will take folding plastic tables and chairs outside to do some of our classwork. The plan is to sit in family groupings outside to complete our Math, Language, and Handwriting lessons. Hopefully the weather will be cooperative! If not the windows will be open wide with plenty of fresh air and social distancing in the classroom.
We are busy learning our 2 - 4 times tables. We enjoy singing some really fun skip counting songs. Then we chant our times tables out the old fashioned way. We are amazing ourselves at how quickly each student is able to recite their times tables. Parents are more than welcome to practice and drill their times tables along with their children at home too.
In Bible class we are learning all about the gifts that God has given us…He created our beautiful world with so much variety; He also has given us the gift of freedom of choice. With that gift He also gave His one and only Son to give us the gift of salvation and eternal life. Each of these special “gifts" are symbolically displayed on our bulletin as gift bags with examples of items that represent each concept. The students are eager to see what is in each new bag. As the clues are pulled out of the bag they work together to see if they can discover for themselves what each new gift from God is going to be. Our first gift bag was gold, the second was silver, the third gift bag was red. Can you guess what the up coming white gift bag might represent?
In Reading we had a fun time this week with “Reader’s Theater.” It was a great opportunity for everyone to practice reading with expression and learn how to follow along in the text so that they would be ready to quickly jump in when it was there turn. It was so much fun. The story really came alive. We are eager to start the upcoming new chapter this week.
In Social Studies we are learning all about “Basic Human Needs” and “Culture.” We are exploring and discovering our very own family culture this week in preparation of comparing our own culture with that of another countries culture. This mini research project will help our students to be more sensitively aware of each persons similarities and differences. In reality we are more alike than different when we take a closer more accepting look at each others lives.
We are happy, safe and enjoying school. If you know of anyone who is struggling with hybrid learning or would really like their child to be in school five days a week please share our school phone number 603-399-4803 and website www.
Yours in His service,