Strong Minds. Kind Hearts.

Click above to watch "Community" for a look inside the Lower School Constitutional Convention. You can read more in the related article from the Ocotober Edition of our Monthly E-Letter, Among Friends.

Spotlight on The Lower School

A few weeks ago some special visitors joined our gathering to talk about their organization, Birthday Wishes Long Island. This special organization provides birthday parties for children living in homeless shelters. We then began to make crafts that we would sell to each other to raise money for Birthday Wishes. Last Wednesday, we gathered on the Quad with the opportunity to shop for a good cause.

In total we raised $1,000!

The Lower School Art Show on Thursday, May 10 was a stunning combination of showcasing process and product. The art pieces were beautiful and well crafted. The artists all spent a great deal of time thinking about and understanding their process in creation. This became particularly clear if you were lucky enough to have 3rd grade docent as your guide. Later that evening we were treated to the 3rd-5th grade concert. This included band, orchestra and choral performances. It truly was a joyful performance.

On Friday, May 4 our 5th graders entered the workforce! They played out a variety of business roles at Commerce Plaza, the Children’s Business Center of Long Island.  During the full-day field trip experience, students had the opportunity to put into practice what they learned in the six week preparatory period in the classroom with Mrs. Weinstein, essentially bringing Commerce Plaza to life.

With the support of local businesses, Capital One Bank, Hofstra University, Sandwire IT Tech Solutions, and United Way of Long Island, students can choose from a variety of industries including banking, news media, and public service.While they were immersed in the business community, instructors facilitated and guided the students through their experiences, ensuring they successfully applied their knowledge and put their skills to practice!

Learning is at its best when it is interdisciplinary. For example, 3rd graders learned all about families with Mrs. Cassara in Spanish class. They discovered the terms for family members and pets as well as for the relationships within a family. They then read “The Family Book” by Todd Parr and discussed different kinds of families. The students then worked in small groups to create a family. They wrote in Spanish about each family member. Then, with assistance from Ms. Stott and Mr. Grella they utilized Makey Makey and SCRATCH as coding tools to add their own voices to introduce the family members.

Last week we kicked off our book fair with two great events. First, Mitali Perkins, author of a number of books for children, met with 4th and 5th grade. She talked about how books are a window into another place or another culture. She has written two books intended to be an open window into her parents upbringing in small villages in Bangladesh. She was skilled at connecting to the students and inviting the children in through the open window!

We also hosted a LS PJ story our last Monday night. The students were came dressed all cozy and read stories by “the campfire.” Many students books that they wrote and illustrated themselves. It was heartwarming to see our children so proud of their literary creations.

Friends Academy gives kids many opportunities to learn with students across the campus. For example, 9th graders joined kindergarten for math workshop last week. The students played “tens frames” card games which reinforced their adding skills (for both the younger and older students!) The connection between kids is heartwarming. Kindergartners and 9th graders then say “hello” to each other-what a great way to make our community a little closer.

4th graders have been studying historical immigration to the United States. In collaborative groups they created and wrote about a family who immigrated to NY in the early 1900s. Right before the vacation they visited the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Last week they created an apartment for their created family-1”=1’ using a floor plan from an existing building. The year they were asked to design for was 1909 which meant making sure they didn’t include computers or other modern conveniences in their apartment! The integration of math, language arts and social studies showcases the depth in our new social studies framework which they shared with their families on Friday at their learning celebration.

If you are a fifth grader, you walked into science class last week and Mrs. Stott presented you with the following challenge – “create a climate zone, complete with flora and fauna out of the materials in the Makerspace. Be imaginative-use electronic resources and books in the science library to better understand the climate of your assigned biome.” And... do it in 30 minutes.

This was a creative way to kick off the next unit in which the students will dive deeply into learning about biomes. They will also develop an understanding of our human impact on biomes.

Last Wednesday families joined our first grade class as they celebrated their social studies learning. They spent the fall and winter investigating Locust Valley as a community, asking questions like what kinds of stores are there, what are the services offered and what kind of transportation do people use. They then built the town in the block area as well as made murals of important buildings (two sided so you can see what the people are doing inside the building!) Our first graders are Locust Valley experts!

In our 5th grade classes, the students have recently been given a journal to reflect on their learning experiences, explain their understandings, choose and articulate preferred methods as well as ask for teacher guidance. They are finishing a unit on multiplying and dividing decimals with a focus on understanding. That is when multiplying by a decimal the number gets SMALLER (different from what they have previously learned about multiplication. This provides a strong foundation for them as they move to work with fractions, (which are also part of a whole like decimals – just written differently!)

These connections are imperative for them to deepen their understanding, rather than just following a process. They continue to apply real-world examples in math – as fifth graders prepare for their upcoming learning celebration, they are explaining how math is used in the sport they recently chose to write about in Language Arts.