The Children's School at Stephens College

Because big dreams start early.

Holidays Around the World: Hanukkah

This week in our inquiry study about holidays and celebrations around the world, students focused on Hanukkah. We discussed the importance of knowing about other people’s cultures and traditions even when we do not share their beliefs. Students shared prior knowledge and questions they had about Hanukkah, then went off to research the traditions and backstory of the holiday. Together, we made dreidels, learned how to play the dreidel game, and learned to sing and dance to “O Hanukkah, O Hanukkah.”
We read Patricia Polacco’s “The Trees of the Dancing Goats,” a story about a Jewish family who cares for their sick neighbors by bringing them Christmas trees decorated with dancing goat ornaments they made for Hanukkah. Later the neighbors bring them a menorah to thank them and then they eat latkes together. Our class celebrated the heart of the story by creating dancing goats to hang on our book tree and cooking (and eating!) gluten-free latkes.

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Math Can Be . . .

Math can be dancing, exploring, writing, investigating, collaborating, talking, organizing, drawing and questioning. This week we started our study of geometry in math. As you can see in the photos above, geometry can be taught many different ways.


We Love Literacy!

Our literacy time is the busiest part of our day! We read, write, learn new skills, collaborate, illustrate and talk about literacy. Here’s a peep inside our literacy time this week:

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Exploring Geometry and Glitter

Today, during our afternoon worktime, students were invited to explore shapes and glitter.  First, students chose a shape they were interested in and traced it on a piece of paper.  After tracing their shapes, they went to the glitter table where they added glue and glitter.  Students were engaged in conversations about shapes, colors, and practiced using manners as they ask for the various materials.

Journey Boxes

As students go deeper in their Civil War inquiry, they are representing their knowledge and wonderings through journey boxes. Journey boxes turn a regular shoebox into a mini museum that showcases perspective and learning about a topic. The younger group investigated a plantation via virtual field trip to see where slaves and plantation owners lived and worked. Check out the virtual field trip by Downloading the Google Expeditions App on your device and searching for “Slavery in America.” After recording their findings, students chose an area on the plantation to recreate in their journey box.

The older group has been focusing on confederate monuments around the country. They each chose a state that contains confederate monuments and chose an American Civil War historical figure to study. Their journey boxes tell the story of the lives of the figure they chose using pictures, artifacts and text.

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Preschool Engineering

Students created “Mini-Me” statues. Their challenge was to build a house to fit their “mini-me”. Some homes included steps, roofs, walls, doorways, trampolines, and walk-ways.


Students had to recreate their building on the photo by only using the two different materials provided in each tub. Then engineers could draw their design.  


Sculptures & Simple Machines

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How do artists or engineers create works of art or design to communicate their identity? How do simple machines make moving sculptures easier? In connection with their inquiry study of The American Civil War, the elementary students are  working to answer these two essential questions during Studio and Lab. Ms. Vonder Haar and Mrs. Clifton began by sharing the work of sculpture artists Tara Donovan and Louise Nevelson. They practiced ARTFUThinking by observing the details of this sculpture very carefully. Next they used their body to create a frozen sculpture. Check out the pictures below to see students in action as they envision a design for a sculpture that represents their identity. Students were challenged to create a sculpture that is not assembled using tape or glue and would fit inside of the Size-O-Meter. Upon completion, the students will need to relocate their sculpture using a simple machine, just like some of the Confederate Monuments that are being taken and removed today.

Preschool Engineers at Work

Preschool students have been engaged in a study where they are exploring the people that make up their families.  They have charted the number of people in their families and created paper families.  Today, students were given the challenge to build a house for their family members.  They could choose to build a house by themselves or could work with peers to create a house large enough to fit multiple families.

Students got creative and used many different materials in the classroom: blocks, Magna-Tiles, books, chairs, paper, tape, Lincoln Logs, Play-Doh, and much more!  Checkout the photos below to see the various types of houses built. #BecauseofArtsEd #ArtsEdWeek

Henry built his house out of paper

Finley used blocks for her family

Some students wanted their families to stand so decided to use Play-Doh

Nate used the house building connectors

James, Fletcher, and Kalen decided to build a house together

Skyler used the house building materials

Maddox built a paper house

Ben used blocks

Masato used blocks

Kourtney and Masato decided to work together

Ben’s family fit!

Hard at work

Project complete

Walter decided to help Masato and Kourtney

Fletcher decided their house needed a roof in case it rained

Anna used house connectors

Briji used a variety of materials

“Big House” is complete

They are very proud

Greyson made bricks using Play-doh

Will worked with Magna-Tiles

Quinn used Magna-Tiles

Mariyam worked with our magnetic connectors

Marvel also explored using the Magna-Tiles


If you walk through our hallway, you will see Preschool’s Dot Gallery. During studio time, Ms. Vonder Haar read The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and then the students painted or drew their own dots to display for others to enjoy. Later, students learned that a dot that “goes for a walk” is a line. They have learned about horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. They have begun practicing drawing spiral, straight, wavy and zigzag lines. You can see in the pictures below, students observing their Dot Gallery, drawing horizontal line patterns, using their bodies to walk and balance on different types of lines and tracing lines at our light table.

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