TVC Lower School Novemebr Newsletter 2023

November 13, 2023

Mossy Rocks – Kindergarten and 1st Grade

Academic Engagement – What We’ve Covered So Far


Character Development – Hands to Work

At the end of each day, we complete hands to work in K/1. The school as a whole participates in this process. It’s important that we do these jobs to help our class and school community. We remove trash and recycle, spray down tables, sweep floors, sharpen pencils, and do whatever else needs to be done. Each task is essential to keeping a tidy classroom. The students enjoy helping out and always ask for more jobs when they’re finished. Every week, we switch jobs so children can work in different parts of the classroom. Even if you don’t like a job in K/1, you eventually adjust and appreciate the process. Often, when we a child is resisting a job, it’s because they don’t understand what to do or fear failing. Some concrete instructions and positive reinforcement can go a long way! Hands to work also encourages students to take care of their own spaces throughout the school day. Teachers prioritize this time because it helps us out, and because we see the positive impact it has on children. Do your children participate in chores at home? It is remarkable how much they can truly contribute when given opportunity and practice. Young children are natural helpers who want to participate in anything the grownups are doing. Use this to your advantage and get them involved in chores at home! They are certainly capable of making a dent in the to-do list!

Community Focus – Visitors from Bhutan

This year’s Murie Spirit of Conservation Award went to the Kingdom of Bhutan! Bhutan prioritizes Place Based Education because it contributes to their happiness goals. Eight Bhutanese educators who were in town for the event came to the Teton Valley Campus for the
day. They joined us for community meeting, where they shared about their favorite foods, pets,
national dress, mountains, and schools. Children sat in awe as they listened to these engaging
educators. You could hear a pin drop in the Main house. Later on, the educators joined us for a
snowy, slushy Harvest Party. We truly felt love and joy when meeting these new friends. When
we think about community focus, concentric circles come to mind. We have our family
community, friend community, school community, Teton County community, Idaho community,
USA community, and world community. As we get farther out, it takes more intentional
planning to meet, understand, and grow empathy for people, cultures, and nature in farther
away circles. At Mountain Academy we take every chance we can get to introduce children to
cultures they don’t regularly encounter. Our responsibility is to help children become global
citizens who see the value in diversity, rather than shy away from it.

Student Corner – Tell me about the woods:

Tell me about the woods:
“It was fun and I liked being silly with all my friends.” – Naomi
“It was rainy and it was cloudy and fire-y and yummy because we drank hot chocolate.” – Sloane
“It was not good because it was so cold and I got so wet and my socks got wet.” – Dani
“It was fun but freezing cold and wet. You should wear very warm clothes and change after.” – Vera
“Well I liked playing ninjas and drawing with the charcoal and putting out the fire and making it smell like rotten gas.” -Vinny
“It was cold and my hands got cold. Me and Rowan and George went in a muddy place and then we putted mud on the trees.” – Buzby
“I played animals and I had fun on the bus and I had fun finding blue jays in the rain.” – Hayden
“We played devils and it was really fun. We got really wet and it was really fun in the rain.” – Wren
“Well it was mostly a lot of fun and I liked wearing mittens on my hands and being near the warm fire.” – Grayson
“I liked that I got to be really wet and it was fun. Friends were really brave because they got wet but didn’t cry.” – May
“It was so fun because I loved it because it was so much fun and I loved hanging out with Buzby.” – Jhett
“It was good. We made a fort made out of a tree. Make sure you wear snow pants or rain pants and a snow jacket or rain jacket.” – Annie
“It was really fun. I’m not really used to rainy woods days though. But that was still really fun.” – Crosby
“So first we got to the campsite and we left our backpacks on the bus and then we played and had hot chocolate.” – Rowan
“I got really cold but I was okay and I played with Crosby and May and Buzby and Rowan” – Billy
“It was wet but we all had so much fun especially me and Vinny where we warmed our hands up at the fire. It was really fun.”- George


Mountain Lions – 2nd and 3rd Grade

Academic Engagement

3rd grade Mountain Lions ventured off on an exploration into crafting opinion pieces. Having worked on introductions and topic statements this pack of felines have been trying their hands at crafting three separate paragraphs complete with evidence and detail to support their arguments. Meanwhile, their 2nd grade friends are practicing writing topic statements and pulling pieces of evidence (not meat..get it..mountain lions) from texts that they read. 

Character Development

Part of the Mountain Lions’ journey over the pass in Jackson consisted of participating in the Jackson Campus ropes course in collaboration with Field Education. The Mountain Lions worked on communication, both verbal and nonverbal, to successfully navigate a series of challenges. They capped off the day by successfully boarding everyone onto a seesaw without it touching the ground for 30 seconds!

Community Focus – Fall Journey

The Mountain Lions were brave and engaged as we embarked on our first Journey together as a class. We ventured to the Jackson Campus for a scientific observation activity with Alex, the JC art teacher. We took these new skills into the field as we explored Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. How lucky are we that we live in such a beautiful place! After a “restful” night on the Jackson campus, the Mountain Lions put their teamwork to the test for the Doug Walker Challenge Course. This pack were able to communicate effectively to successfully accomplish multiple different challenges.

Student Corner – Harvest Party (plus Kingdom of Bhutan)

The Mountain Lions participated in the annual TVC Harvest Party, yet this year we experienced an added twist – members from Bhutan’s Ministry of Education joined us for this chilly (and sleety) celebration.

The Spuds – 4th and 5th Grade

Academic Engagement – The Spuds visit spuds!

The Spuds had an amazing journey to a century old potato farm last week! This journey was a great connection to many facets of our academic work and helped to solidify some prior knowledge while also answering many questions and sparking new inquiries for the class. In just one afternoon the Spuds learned where potatoes come from, how they are grown, how they are harvested, processed, stored, and transported. Woah, that’s a lot of potato talk! During this potato exploration the class was led by the family who has been working on this farm for the past five generations. It was amazing to hear about how agricultural technology has changed over the years and how potato farming has become more efficient. Perhaps one of the most “eye” opening moments was when the class learned that potatoes are grown from other potatoes called seed potatoes! All they need is at least one nub called an eye and to be put back in the soil and another potato plant can grow next year. Students also learned that when potatoes are not ready to eat they will have a greenish color under their skin which comes from a chemical compound called solanine. If you eat too many unripe potatoes the solanine can make your stomach hurt. There is no doubt that this journey was fully connected to Place Based Education, but the really cool thing is that it was also connected to the history we are learning about in literacy. Students have been learning about how land in the West was inhabited way before American homesteaders. It has been very interesting to compare the Native American way of life to the way we live and to acknowledge this land has changed because of white settlers. Thank you so much to the Hill family for making this connection to the potato farm and for suggesting the journey. If you have any learning opportunities you’d like to share please consider filling out this Parent Survey. Thank you!

Character Development – Two Parts to Communication

The Spuds have been working on their communication skills this fall and have found that the key to good communication is not just about talking. During our low ropes course on the Jackson Campus, our leaders Meg and Cooper taught us that there are two parts to communication – listening and speaking. This was quite possibly a mind blowing moment for many Spuds! Throughout the day the class worked to both listen to others and also share their ideas as they were challenged to work together in order to succeed as a group. The class as a whole took huge strides on this day – waiting their turn to talk, quietly listening to each other’s needs, and speaking clearly and calmly when it was their turn to speak. Later that same week we practiced communication again and this time with our Grandfriends! Students and their partners worked on many silly artistic prompts that forced students to listen, speak clearly, and use eye contact. The Spuds are well on their way to better communication using all their senses this year!

Community Focus – Makerspace Projects

This year 4/5 has a new class added to the schedule and it seems to be a big hit among the Spuds! In Makerspace the class is challenged either as a group or individually to complete a creative design and build task related to our place, project, or other subjects in school. We began this year with our first task of designing and creating a crane that was displayed at the Crane Festival and auctioned off to help the Teton Regional Land Trust continue to care for and protect migrating cranes through our valley. This was a group project which required a lot of compromising and flexibility to bring this one crane to life. Next, the class was challenged to make a scarecrow to represent Mountain Academy in the Victor business Scarecrow competition. Teams of students were given a budget to collect the items that they needed for their scarecrow at 2nd Act Thrift shop and then a timeline to get their scarecrow out on display before the town voting began. You can still vote for a scarecrow in Victor by following this link. Our current makerspace project is in correlation to the Trash Bash put on by Teton Valley Community Recycling. This time individual students are asked to create an outfit or accessory completely out of trash or recyclable materials. Students are then encouraged to attend the Trash Bash on November 4th from 5 – 8pm wearing their creations and participating in the “Trashion Show.” Proceeds of this event go to helping TVCR with all they do for our community. After this maker task is completed, students can look forward to making a hunted greenhouse, and then making something that could improve our Winter Celebration and Project Walk in some way.

Student Corner – Why do we do Learning Team Conferences?” What do you like about Learning Team Conferences? What is the most challenging part of Learning Team Conferences?

SAGE: We do Learning Team Conferences (LTC) because it gets us time to show our parents what we have been learning and what we need to learn.

WAVERLY: What I like about LTC is I can show my parents what I have done and my parents and my teacher can talk about what I can do better.

PETER: We do LTC to learn about the school and for our parents to know how we are doing. 

JOHNNY: The most challenging part of LTC is that you don’t know what your teacher is going to say.

WESTY: What we do in LTC is we talk and show our parents our stuff and what we’ve worked on and done better. 

ZOE: I like LTC because I get to share all my stuff with my parents and find out how I’m doing.

COLBY: We do LTC to let our parents know what we are doing in school.

ROWAN: I like LTC because I like sharing with my parents and how I can do better and showing them all the amazing work I’ve done.

HARRIET: I like LTC because it lets me learn about how I’ve grown and look back at my work and to show my parents the classroom and what we’ve been working on. It’s really fun.

THEA: I like LTC because you can say any problems you’re having out of school time and being able to fix those problems. 

MILES: I like LTC because I get to tell my parents how I’m doing in school, like math and Wit and Wisdom.

BEEZIE: What I like about LTC is you can talk with your parents and teacher about what you have done and what you need to work on.

JOSEPHINE: I find LTC challenging because I have to share my weaknesses with my parents. 

CHARLOTTE: I like LTC because I get to talk to my parents about what we do in school and the good thing and things I’m still working on.