Churned Butter, Bridge-Building, and Double-Digit Addition

Danny Stock

First graders may not be eligible for a license for another ten years, but their teachers are already putting them in the driver’s seat when it comes to their learning. The students are leading, creating, and getting hands-on experience throughout the curriculum in math, social studies, and language arts as well as in science, P.E., library, and the arts. 

Kelly Harris’s students paired up to make instructional videos teaching peers and younger students how to do partial sums for double-digit addition. They explained both pencil-and-paper strategies and how to use manipulatives to represent their math. (To protect the students' privacy and learning, we’ve shared only screenshots from this activity.)

Students in all 1st grade classrooms have been traveling back in time and up to New England as part of their ongoing study of the United States to learn about traditional industries of the Northeast. Students churned butter from cream, grinded oats with mortar and pestle, and carved scrimshaw in the classroom. While the ground oats will have to wait for their day to bake, students enjoyed sampling the fresh butter on some crackers and showing off their scrimshaw artwork. Thankfully, they only learned about whaling through reading and discussion.

Students also created art inspired by Jasper Johns’s flag series to create their own bright American flags with various craft materials, many of which were left over from other projects. What a great way to teach the importance of reusing materials while learning about flags, symbols, and collage.

As part of their folk tales unit in language arts, students compared Little Red Riding Hood to a Chinese telling of the story called Lon Po Po (Grandma Wolf) with a sticky-note Venn diagram. After reading The Three Billy Goats Gruff, they created bridges out of paper scraps and tape that would be sturdy enough for billy goats to cross and tall enough for a troll to prowl underneath. Finally, they built homes of straw, sticks, or bricks for the three little pigs before turning into wolves to try and blow down the houses. (Fear not! No actual "huffing and puffing" took place due to COVID precautions and masks stayed on.)

As previously shared in the Earth Day Eve story, students are building model homes from recycled materials and getting out into natural spaces to think about important features of parks.

Be sure to check the gallery below to see the ways 1st graders have been learning experientially this week and last!

  • Lower School