Kindergarten and first grade are vital years for literacy growth in children. While literacy instruction plays a huge part in our
school day, we also encourage you to make literacy a routine at home. Perhaps the most impactful thing you can do for
your reader is to incorporate “word work” into everyday conversation. Focus on the following skills when you’re speaking
with your child: beginning sounds, letter sound correspondence, ending sounds, number of syllables, number of words in a
sentence, alliteration, and rhyming. You can do these things authentically a zillion times a day. Here are examples:
Beginning sounds: “We’re eating bread. What sound does ‘bread’ start with?”
Letter sound correspondence: “Yes, it starts with /b/. What letter makes the /b/ sound?”
Ending sounds: “Look at all these crayons! What sound does green end with? What sound does red end with?” Then ask
which letter makes each of those sounds.
Number of syllables: “We saw family over break. Let’s clap the syllables in all of their names.”
Number of words in a sentence: “Dad just said ‘Please pick up the legos.’ How many words did he say to ask us to pick up
the legos?” This one is important while learning about syllables because children can get in the habit of mixing up syllables
Alliteration: “Bread starts with /b/. Can you think of any other words that start with /b/?”
Rhyming: “There’s a bug! What rhymes with bug?”
Children can make a competition out of just about anything – who can get to the porch fastest, who can finish math fastest, or who can hold a cat longest. No doubt, we teachers play into this when we say things like, “Who can clean up quickest?” Some competition is healthy, but we’re trying to help children understand the downfalls of competing for everything and teachers have noticed that competition is at the root of many daily conflicts. For example, when we race to the Main House door after recess, our bodies can get out of control and knock others down. And when we worry about finishing a math challenge quicker than friends, we don’t give our own brain adequate time to try hard. We’re working with children to remind them to slow down, think about what they need (ex: to arrive safely on the porch or learn a new math technique), and take a deep breath. We remind them that all bodies move differently and all brains need different things. Our goal for children is to be their best, rather than be the best.
In honor of MLK Day the Coyotes learned about who Martin Luther King Jr. was and what he stood for. While reflecting on
their learning, students observed that MLK stood for peace, for equal rights for all people, and he taught the idea of
peaceful protest in order to make positive change in a community. As a class, the Coyotes learned that MLK Day is a
holiday to celebrate all the peace that he worked towards in the US and the acts of service that helped create the
communities we live in today. As a way for the Coyotes to give back to our own community, the class volunteered to help
the 2nd Act Thrift Store with a few chores. While we were there the students found empty hangers to remove from the
rack, sorted clothing by color, picked up clothing off the floor, found matching shoes, threw away broken toys, and
flattened cardboard boxes to prepare them for recycling. We were probably only there for an hour, but definitely felt joy
and gratitude after completing these bits of service and helping the people at 2nd Act save some time to complete other
productive tasks for this influential nonprofit in our community. When we got back to the classroom students started on
another project for the Teton Valley Regional Land Trust. Although it is too cold and snowy this time of year to help the
Land Trust with any of their on site projects, we learned that they work with many community members in order to
protect and manage natural lands in the valley. The Land Trust sends “Thank You” notes to everyone who helps out. After
hearing about their need for new “Thank You” notes for this year, the Coyotes got to work painting landscapes with
roaming, flying, or swimming native animals to be used as art on the cover of each card that the land trust uses.
“I wonder what they are going to look like in real life when they are swimming in the fish tank?” – Braylon
“Why are the Trout Eggs always so orange?” – Charley
“Why do they have black eye spots when they are eggs?” – Gillian
“How many more days until they hatch?” – Rhea
“What color will they be when they are grown up trout?” – Wesley
“What happens when they leave they yellow eggs and they hatch?” – Iris
“How long will it take them to grow into teenagers?” – Callum
“Why do so many die before hatching?” – Molly
“I wonder when they will hatch?” – Pepper and Zeke
The Huskies hit the ground running in 2023 hungry for adventure and challenge! In literacy, the Huskies began a new adventure in our own backyard examining what life was like in the West for early Americans. They explored how 75 million buffalo used to roam the prairie only to see their numbers dwindle in close to only 50 years in the 1800s! As members of a wider ecosystem, the Huskies recognize the important role humans play in protecting nature.
Each February near Valentine’s Day, the Mountain Academy community gathers for “Love Your Garden Lunch”, a special day to
celebrate the work we put in all year long by sharing food grown on our campus. Katie Rose has been hard at work preparing for this event and coordinated with Teton Arts to get every class over to make their own bowls for this lunch! The Huskies are looking forward for the fun and meaning that can be had with such a simple act. As we approach the Valentine’s Day holiday, The Love Your Garden Lunch is a good reminder to spread love to the simple things in life, including sharing love with yourself!
Before packing their bags and heading off to Winter Break, the Huskies made a trip to Seniors West of the Tetons (SWOT) to
decorate cookies and have lunch with the awesome folks at SWOT. A big shout-out to Allie Mollenkof for coordinating this awesome visit and for Missy Colyer, Francine Kugelman, Tim Pennington, and Ben Shortledge for supporting this event! The Huskies also came together for Winter Project Night to display all their hard work and partake in some caroling complete with hot cacao!
Huskies were asked what advice they would give in order to have a great 2023. Here is some of their wisdom:
“Try to make friends.” -Johnny Garfield
“Be kind to everybody.” -Charlotte Ahlum
“Have a goal and if you accomplish it set another one. “ Harriet LaBrecque
“Make friends to back you up”.
“Go on trips”. Rowan Zite
“Make new friends and make good choices”. Madeline Fay
“How does a challenging setting or physical environment change a person?” is the driving question of our newest literacy unit. Lots to learn and explore here in the “human” category. But… what about those who live in these settings or
environments that are not human? Thanks to the National Science Foundation and the collaboration of a few Misty Mushroom families, these fourth and fifth graders had the opportunity to find out, up close and personal. In there live Zoom event, “All Things Penguins” Misty Mushrooms joined researcher Jean Pennycook live from the Cape Royds penguin colony in Antarctica. As a seasoned researcher, Jean is part of a team conducting globally unique demographic studies of Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. The study uses penguin-borne sensors to evaluate foraging conditions and behavior and environmental conditions on Adélies. We sat back, listened, observed, asked questions, and saw exactly how it’s done. What an inspirational and fascinating learning experience. Just how we like it!
Whether we like it or not, mistakes are a part of life. Even more unfortunately, facing problems and struggle in general are two of the most effective ways to learn. Go figure! However, there is an important element to this equation that cannot be ignored. Problems arise, struggle and conflict are real. Especially as fourth and fifth graders. These natural learning opportunities are present on our team, but they are supported through researched-based restorative practices meant to help “guide” the way. In some cases, “have you tried problem solving with ________ before coming to me?” is appropriate. Sometimes “What can you do to solve this problem?” is. There are times when extra support is needed. When conflict draws the line between appropriately “handle-able” and the good “hard,” and when adult guidance is helpful. Through things like restorative problem solving, students are put in leadership positions in order to build confidence and strength in to manage conflict and tensions by repairing harm and building relationships. See the links attached for more information on how and why this is a key to our success!
“This was the best day of school in my life, Ms. Carolyn.”
“So we’re coming back next week, right?”
“I have the best and cutest buddy in the world, seriously.” Are only a few of the immediate pieces of feedback given following our first a official 4/5 Misty-Mushroom / PreK Magpie collab. To say it was a hit, would be an understatement. Who knew our rough and tough fourth and fifth graders had such gentle, soft and sweet sides 🙂 Each on our crew matched up with one, two (or even three) preschoolers. PreK sat back, relaxed, ate a snack or two, while the big kids led the way. Yes, this was adorable to watch. I know these soft sides exist in each of our Misty Mushrooms, but to see it in action in this way was such a heartwarming experience. The power of giving back and providing to younger students, those in need, less fortunate, or less experienced in anyway is so powerful for young kids. We need more of this in our future. First stop: PreK. Next stop: The world!
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” -Michael Jordan
Something like a “team” or “teamwork” are simple concepts: concepts that each member of our team has experience with or some level of understanding. They can give me a hard time, truthfully, with my emphasis of addressing them as “team” rather than “class.” It’s true, we don’t look like a “team” you see on the field or the court. But, this is a concept necessary to much of our success. It can sound silly or cheesy, maybe. But, the more we practice, the more we show up together, the more we put ourselves in the vulnerable position to depend on one another, the more we can do. The more “together” we have, the more “ourselves” we can be. I believe it, and I think Team 4/5 is coming around to it too.