The Children's School at Stephens College

Because big dreams start early.


September 2016

Ancient Cultures

We have invited Aztecs, Incans, Romans, hunters and gatherers into our classroom! We are inquiring about their society, achievements, government, and more.

In Miss Alissa’s inquiry group, are learning about the Aztecs. Today, they spent the first part of inquiry going over the map of the Aztec Empire. They labeled several places on the map, including the capital city, Tenochtitlan. Then, they created a KWL chart to write what they knew about the Aztecs and what they want to know about the Aztecs. They spent the rest of their time exploring all of our books.


In Ms. Vonder Haar’s inquiry group, they began learning about hunter-gatherer tribes. Ms. Jenn came in to work with the group, and read the book The First Drawing by Mordecai Gerstein to kick off their discussion. Together, they explored the problems with different homes a tribe might choose: they acted out the problems with living in water (we can’t breathe in water) and in trees (we wouldn’t be protected from the elements), before realizing that a cave would protect us from weather, would keep us warm, and would allow firelight to stay bright. Then, they created tableaux–frozen, silent pictures–of stories people might need to communicate to each other without words: directions to good food, and warnings about dangerous plants and animals. We finished class by taking those stories and drawing them on our “cave wall” sheets.

Great empires are being dissected in Ms. James’ inquiry group. They began our discussion today with the quote, “Today’s empires are tomorrow’s ashes,” and interpreting what that means to our study of the Incan Empire and the Roman Empire. Each group is focusing on the government, religion, achievements, politics, economy, society, the rise and the fall of their empire.

Exploring with Clay

The students have become experts with Play Doh and love to create, cut, and roll it out.  This week, we got out some air dry clay for students to begin exploring. The texture is harder and it takes more strength to roll and create an object. We began by learning some basics movements to help us warm-up the clay — using two hands to roll out a snake shape or rolling it into a small ball. The students also tried out some different tools such as a rolling pin, cookie cutters and other items that made neat prints. They really enjoyed the challenge of creating something out of this new material!

A Visit from the Columbia Fire Department!

We had some special guests join us today in preschool to wrap up our fire safety week. Firefighter Derek, Captain Neal, and Engineer Kale from the Columbia Fire Department came to visit and to tell us how to be safe during a fire. The students got to see all of the gear a firefighter would wear during a fire and how to shout out so a firefighter could find them in smoke. The students also got to climb aboard the fire truck and look around the inside. The students really enjoyed getting an up close look at their uniforms and loved when they turned on the lights!  The firefighters were very excited to see our students demonstrate stop, drop and roll and to listen to a song the preschoolers had practiced!

Hello Osmo!

We have a new friend in the elementary classroom named Osmo! Osmo is an educational app for the iPad that fosters creative thinking. The Juniors and our students explored with the app today. Students got to play games involving words, numbers, coding and tangrams.

Detective Scavenger Hunt

To wrap up our study of police officers, students participated in a scavenger hunt to find the missing gold necklace!  Ms. Jenn, one of our Arts Integration Specialists, truly engaged students, making them feel like police officers and detectives as they found clues around the school.  The clues were in poem form and the student’s had to listen for rhyming words to know where to find the next clue. The mystery was thrilling for the students and they worked hard as a team to solve it together. In the end, we learned that a little hedgehog had stolen the necklace and placed it in Mr. Sean’s office!

All In the Craft

As we are in-between genre studies, teachers  are immersing students in different authors including Wallace Edwards, Barbara Lehman and Georgia Heard. The focus is on how authors craft their writing or illustrations. Students are delving into crafting bold leads, looking at pictures to see how the illustrations tell the story, and creating a peer editing and revising station.

Students have also created a publishing company where authors can become illustrators or collaborate with another artist. In addition they have created a Literacy Choice area to work and manipulate words.


All Different Shapes and Sizes

For every age, the study of Geometry looks very different! Our youngest mathematicians are exploring pattern blocks. Using these manipulatives to see shapes within shapes, sorting, and counting the blocks.

The students working with Ms. James are exploring 3-D shapes by drawing them, recognizing them in our real world and describing their characteristics or attributes.

The students working with Ms. Vonder Haar began a tesselation project to explore regular and irregular polygons.



We began our week with a focus on Needs versus Wants. One of our students, Mack, shared his personal experience helping the homeless in our community. He chose to ask for donations for the homeless rather than receiving gifts for his birthday. These pictures below show off his experience sorting items to go into bags. This was a real-life connection to show classmates ways we can help others along. Mack gave examples of real needs of people in our community and ways to help people receive these basic needs.

Ms. James continued showing ways of helping others and their needs through the example of her parents helping in her hometown of Kansas City. They manage a food pantry that helps families in their community twice a month and they help provide snacks and toiletries to a local elementary school. Below is a photo of what the pantry looked like in 2014 before they took over and photos of what the pantry looks like now. Students filled out pantry requests forms to experience and see what clients do at the food pantry before they receive their food and toiletries. They discussed how some families may not have access to the items they have access to in their homes such as microwaves, can openers, running water, food and toiletries.

2014 – Before


Memoir Celebration

This morning was filled with classmates reading and sharing their memoirs with each other as we concluded our genre study of Memoirs in literacy.

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