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  • Melissa Laurie

September at GAP School!

Updated: Oct 7

Yellow Snakes & Green Goblins



English Language Arts with Julie & Emily

In K-2 ELA we have been getting to know each other and what helps us learn! It’s been an amazing first month of school with name games, read alouds, DEAR time, nature journals and phonemic awareness. We have discussed how to honor ourselves, our friends and our school while also talking about what our school looks, sounds and feels like. We wrote letters to our future selves and made a “what is friendship?” word wall. They have been (re)introduced to the alphabet, how letters become words, and words become sentences that say important things. They are loving the ELA rotation stations where we get to use playdough, legos and nature to learn our letters.

We wrapped up the month with Mask Making, and learning about how and where masks can be used. Group scavenger hunt photo to come!


Kindergarten (Cardinals): The first four letter sounds, pictures and formations were letters A, M, F and S. We have read and discussed two Leo Lionni books; The Alphabet Tree and Frederick.


First Grade (Sparrows): We have done story comprehension and sequencing. First grade has been reviewing letter formation, recognition, and sounds as well as writing detailed sentences of their own and in their nature journals.


Second grade (Ravens & Hawks): We discussed what it means to be a knowledge seeker and what they love to learn at school and how to put in our best effort. The first eight letter sounds, pictures and formations we have been practicing were letters A, M, F, S, C, T, D, and G. We started the book Dragon Defender by James Russel, about a family who lives alone on an island with dragons. Second grade has been reviewing long and short vowel sounds and digraphs through games and some detective work. It’s been an amazing first month back at school!


Math with Kyle


In September we got into the groove of school! We started out with Ubuntu cards to get to know each other. Ubuntu is a Zulu word that means “I am because we are!”


Learners explored the relationship of dollar bills, pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to acclimate using money for maker days through playing store. We used the Virginia SOL's to set math goals for the year. Some learners want to get better at addition, learn more about money, or know how to count to 100!


The Cardinals are practicing counting up to 20 as well as learning how to write the numbers. The Sparrows are practicing counting to 110. The Hawks and the Ravens are getting more familiar with place value.


In math, we also counted all of our hickory nuts we store in the NEST. We estimated the number in the bucket then counted them through the use of base ten. We counted ten nuts, circled it then made more piles of ten! The total number of nuts came out to 707!


To cap off September, we did math stations to review concepts and are looking forward to October and the changing of the leaves!


Science with Naomi


The month of September brought a multitude of engaging opportunities in Science class. We began by honing our observations and investigating the characteristics of nature organisms in our environment. We used the study of the leaf to introduce a “thinking routine” - “I notice, I wonder, It reminds me of”. Each child then created beautiful leaf rubbing designs in their science journals, and we noted their various vein patterns, lobes and toothed edges. Finding two unique leaves lent itself to some practice making comparisons - noting similarities and differences.


We also familiarized ourselves with the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) to get an idea about what the state would like us to learn - we used our “thumbometer” to indicate how much we know and understand the topic. The kids were also invited to express their own interests and hopes for Science and we created a poster that depicts both the SOLs and their curiosities. SOL Themes for Science for the first 9 weeks are time, temperature, weight and length. Some of the interests of the class include volcanoes, sharks, the periodic table, the solar system and rainbows. We will find ways to incorporate all of these into our lessons over the course of the fall and winter. Finally, we kicked off our first all-school project, with the driving question, “How do we honor and contribute to GAP culture”? In Science, one way we do this is by valuing, studying and utilizing the gifts of the natural world on our campus. The final unit of study in September centered around a special plant called Jewelweed, which grows alongside the creek at “Water Chicken Way” and blossoms in the fall. We studied the leaves, flowers, stems and stalk, location and uses - Jewelweed is well known as an antidote for poison ivy and other skin ailments. The kids harvested and processed the plants, preparing it for infusion with oil (we used castor oil and olive oil) that would then be melted with beeswax to make a healing salve. We were careful not to pull it up by its roots, but also Jewelweed is self-sowing and replenishes itself by shooting off seeds any time it is disturbed - thereby ensuring its future availability. Use this naturally anti-inflammatory / anti-itch salve when exposed to poison ivy, poison oak or to relieve the skin from any bug bite or rash. Each student took home a small container of salve and each class has a supply as well.


Silver Foxes

with Corrie, Sarah, and Tara


The Silver Fox Learners and Educators spent September defining and creating a class culture through collaboration and shared experiences. We adopted a motto inspired by a set of cards called ubuntu, a Zulu word that translates to I am because we are. Over the past month, Learners and Educators reflected on the ways our individual actions and mindsets contribute to our group habits, routines, and culture. We discussed the ways that traits like curiosity, gratefulness, and compassion shape the Silver Arrows’ experience for all of us.


In English Language Arts, the Silver Fox exploration of GAP school culture and creation of our class community continues. Learners have set personal ELA goals and brainstormed personality trait adjectives, to introduce themselves and get to know one another. Silver Foxes reviewed the difference between fiction and nonfiction texts. The class also conducted a scavenger hunt to look at the features of nonfiction texts – like index, table of contents, and labeled diagram. These tools will be useful in their research across all academic subjects, all year long! Silver Fox Learners have discussed the genres of biography, autobiography, and literary nonfiction. After studying an example of literary nonfiction, Learners wrote a very short personal narrative essay about a human-wildlife encounter, incorporating sensory details and figurative language. Ask your Learner about the "How To Stewardship" posters they made, which provided an opportunity to practice procedural writing by selecting precise action verbs and directional/positional language. The Silver Foxes are having fun with riddle poems as Learners also note the poetry tools at work in them. Currently, Learners are writing scripts for and filming segments of a GAP Campus Video Tour, which is a reminder of the role each space plays in GAP culture.


In Time Travel Social Studies, Silver Foxes are developing a sense of just how briefly humans have inhabited Earth, compared to the age of the planet and the length of time it has supported life. As they practice thinking like historians, Learners are coming to understand that this means being a storyteller, a scientist, and a debater all at the same time! The Silver Foxes have investigated the Achomawi Nation of Northeastern California (whose creation myth features a Silver Fox!), the Bog Mummies of Northern Europe (inspired by visits to our own Swamp), and the Lascaux Cave Paintings of France (discovered accidentally by young people exploring). Be sure to check in with your Learner about these excursions through time and space!


While thinking as mathematicians, the Silver Fox Learners defined the concept of math as a subject that includes: operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), data and graphing, geometry, as well as fractions, decimals, and percentages. They explored measurement tools, manipulatives, and games utilized at GAP school throughout the year during math lessons, Projects, Maker Day, or Nature Journals. Next, Learners used these subjects and tools to write their beginning-of-the-year math goal. Additionally, we studied and practiced place value conventions, operation strategies, and different ways to represent the value of numbers.


During Nature Journals, the Silver Foxes discovered many organisms ranging from fungi to larvae to Toothless (our bearded dragon). We practiced observing academic writing conventions, using precise descriptors, recording metadata, measuring using units, and many other important Nature Journal habits to set Learners up for an awesome year observing and recording the local ecology. Recently, we tested samples of water on the property in four different locations. This experience provided us with the opportunity to learn about collecting data like pH, turbidity, depth, and temperature.



Ask your Learner…

  • What does ubuntu mean to you?

  • What are your daily routines as a Silver Fox?

  • What are your learning goals for this year?

  • Where did you test the water at school? Tell me about the findings.

  • Which human-wildlife encounter did you write about?

Projects with Adrienne


September Projects have wrapped and what a month it's been!


We started our first week of school off building and decorating our own paper houses in K-2 and Personality Islands in 3-5. Learners had the chance to explore each others interests, families, and personalities. During our second week of GAP school, learners decorated cubbies, really letting their true colors shine. We wrapped up the month with Mask Making, and learning about how and where masks can be used.



The Maker Mansion opened in our third week, showcasing all the amazing materials learners have access to when creating projects. Opening the mansion went hand in hand with our first Maker Days. The Learners are busy experimenting with different materials, planning & creating projects, and reflecting on their work.


Music with Rachel


We welcomed back our GAP Learners this year with a (re)introduction to ukuleles! For our first year GAP Learners we kicked it off by learning some ukulele basics such as expectations, how to hold the ukulele, a bit of ukulele history, the parts of the ukulele, and we even played our first song together! For our returners we got back into the swing of things by reviewing expectations and basic skills and seeing what we remembered from the past. We look forward to seeing how our learners dexterity, love of music, and ukulele skills grow through the rest of the school year!


Knowledge Seekers with Max


We began the month continuing to learn about each other and our classes through get to know you games and hikes where learners practiced sharing with each other about their lives such as "What does a perfect day at school look like to you?". As the month progressed we jumped into the first all school project that asks the question, "How do we honor and contribute to GAP culture?" Learners explored their own understanding of what the word culture means to them by first reflecting on their "family culture" through food, traditions, and decorations around their house. We then explored a definition of culture and how that might apply to our school community. As the month wrapped up we explored traditional technologies such as fire by friction with bow drills and acorn processing to make flour. These traditional technologies are examples of tools and knowledge used in cultures around the world. Every week in Knowledge Seekers we also play "brain games" to practice exercising our minds through games that encourage focus, remembering multiple steps, or using our senses. You can play at home too! Ask your learners about "Find the Honey Pot" (the one with the bell), grab something that makes noise and try at home!



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