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A Closer Look

2012/2013 school year

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Junior Kindergarten.............................................................................................................................. 3 Kindergarten........................................................................................................................................... 4 First Grade............................................................................................................................................... 6 Second Grade.......................................................................................................................................... 7 World Languages & Cultures............................................................................................................... 9 Third Grade............................................................................................................................................ 11 Fourth Grade......................................................................................................................................... 12 Fifth Grade............................................................................................................................................. 14 Sixth Grade............................................................................................................................................ 16 s t. p a u l c h r i s t i a n a c a d e m y

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manipulatives such as M&M’s, Skittles, pumpkin seeds, and counting bears. Through the daily routines of calendar time and line order, the children have begun to understand that math is all around them.

Junior Kindergarten Reading & Writing In Junior Kindergarten, the children have been focusing on the letters of the alphabet and their sounds. Fun, creative, multi-sensory activities were used to reinforce each letter. Some examples include painting with ketchup for the letter K, making prickly potato porcupines for the letter P, and hammering nail noses for the letter N. The children practiced writing the letters by using Play Doh, wooden pieces, Magna Doodles, and dry-erase boards. They also sang songs and listened to stories to reinforce the sounds that each letter makes. Our Junior Kindergarteners are learning important language concepts that will enable them to develop strong reading comprehension and writing skills. Math Junior Kindergartners have been working on counting, number recognition, sorting, and graphing. To solidify these skills, the children played various theme-related games using

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All of these experiences help students to enjoy numbers and become life-long mathematical thinkers.

Hoe Down To conclude our study of farms and to celebrate autumn, the Junior Kindergarten students enjoyed our annual Hoe Down, dressed in their best western attire. Highlights of the Hoe Down were Stick Horse Races, Pin the Chick in the Barnyard, and The Chicken Dance. Art Junior Kindergarteners started the year exploring colors. They magically mixed colors with finger paint. The children have been busy using the illustrations from stories we have read to inspire creations. We used watercolor paints, tempera paints, crayons, buttons, construction paper, oil pastels, and pipe cleaners, along with different tools to help us create our masterpieces. Each child masterfully expressed his or her vision in each of our projects while they continue to develop their fine motor skills. Music Junior Kindergarteners love music. They learned that movement is an important way to experience music by walking to the “walking music” and listening for when the music changes to “jumping music.” They also learned that patience is an important skill in music as they waited to play their instruments at an appropriate time during a story. The basic music concepts of high/low and fast/slow were taught to Junior Kindergarteners as they moved scarves high and low, and fast and slow, whether pretending to be leaves falling or wild geese flying

A Closer Look


Science Our budding Junior Kindergarten scientists started this semester experimenting with bubbles. They had to determine which of the two soaps produced the largest bubbles! They followed this lesson by moving into the study of life science. They really enjoyed learning about kangaroos and “Marsupial Sue.” P.E. Junior Kindergarteners began the year learning about personal area movement throughout a large space such as our gym. Developmentally, these students are still learning about spatial awareness. Our goal during these formative years is to extensively work on their abilities to understand their personal space while learning locomotor movement skills. Our parachute unit was a great team-based activity because it required everyone to work together. Be sure to ask your child about the clubhouse we made with the parachute! Library Your children have become library explorers as they are encouraged to look

expectantly for fun with stories and word play. Learning how to use book tools, scanning their library cards, and navigating the book shelves kept them very busy in the library. They became expert observers of illustrations and loved to get lost in the stories told in pictures. Recently we read Peter Reynold’s The Dot. Through the story, the students were inspired to make their marks on creativity, even if it is just a dot.

Kindergarten Reading Who knew reading could be such fun? Students created their own unique book boxes for their pre-decodable, decodable, and leveled readers that are brought home each week. Engaging activities such as Gummy Bear color-word graphs and sight-word stamping were enjoyed each week to reinforce reading skills. As we use our Open Court Reading program in partnership with Guided Reading, our Kindergarteners are learning the skills they need to read with fluency and understanding. Math Kindergarten celebrated the 50th day of school on October 24th. The children wore 1950’s attire and enjoyed activities centered around the number 50.  The students counted to 50 by 1s, 5s, and 10s, discussed place value, and wrote 50 tally marks. They also enjoyed 50’s style coke floats. An important element of our Everyday Math program is using math skills everyday in ways that are fun and engaging.

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STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) As an introduction to our study of pumpkins, Kindergarteners went on a field trip to Honeysuckle Farm. Children enjoyed learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin. After returning from our field trip, the children engaged in science and math activities. Students counted seeds in groups of ten, weighed, measured, and tested the hypothesis of whether a pumpkin sinks or floats. Art Kindergarten students have been busy reading stories and using the illustrations to inspire creations in art. We used watercolor paints, tempera paints, crayons, buttons, construction paper, oil pastels, and pipe cleaners, along with different tools, to help us create our masterpieces. Each child masterfully expressed his or her vision in each of our projects, while building fine motor skills, following directions, and expressing their ideas. Music The highlight of the first semester has been Pointing Pages. Pointing Pages are visual, music-fluency tools that offer every student the opportunity to interact with various aspects of a piece of music such as steady beat, rhythm, melodic contour, phrase, form, etc. Each one highlights a specific musical building-block. Pointing Pages have really increased the Kindergarteners’ engagement and have kept them involved and excited about learning music concepts. Kindergarteners who have had a birthday this semester have also enjoyed playing the Birthday Gong.

A Closer Look


Science The Kindergarten classes eagerly started this year in life science learning

about mammals. We discussed their characteristics and discovered people are mammals too! Kindergarteners spent several weeks investigating kangaroos, opossums, monkeys, apes, and farm animals. Prehensile tails have been a hot topic. After a discussion about cows, we had fun making and sampling homemade butter.

P.E. As Kindergartners continue to develop spatial awareness, we work to better understand personal space while practicing locomotor movement skills. Using skill-based centers, children routinely practice their motor functions, such as throwing, catching, and jumping. Our parachute unit was a great team-based activity because it required everyone to work together. Be sure to ask your child about the clubhouse we made with the parachute. Library Kindergarteners really got into exploring the library this semester. They were

encouraged to look expectantly for fun with stories and word play. They became expert observers of art and love to get lost in the stories told in pictures. We recently read Peter Reynold’s The Dot. Through the story, the students were inspired to make their marks on creativity, even if it is just a dot. They also spent time in the C.S. Lewis Library navigating the book shelves, selecting books, using book tools, and scanning their library cards.

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and learn from each other. Skills learned through these activities continue to build a strong foundation for our students in preparation for higher-level mathematical concepts. Just as there are many different ways to recognize complements of ten, there are many different ways to solve other math problems!

First Grade

Art First Graders have been busy reading stories and using the illustrations to inspire creations in art. We used watercolor paints, tempera paints, crayons, buttons, construction paper, oil pastels, and pipe cleaners, along with different tools to help us create our masterpieces. Each child masterfully expressed his or her vision in each of our projects. In each project they attended to small details and followed multi-step directions.

Fantastic Fridays We went “batty” in First Grade as we Music The highlight of the first semester has been Point-

spent a day learning about bats! Each class rotated to the other First Grade classrooms and heard interesting facts about bats. We learned about different types of bats and the important roles each play in nature. First Graders read stories about bats and even invented their very own bats: ”Rainbow Bat,” “Super Bat,” and “Camo Bat.” Throughout this science unit, our First Graders were developing their creativity!

Language Arts In language arts, First Graders learned

about word families, a group of words that share the same ending pattern like cat, pat, and mat. We learned to see word sounds in chunks and patterned groups, and to recognize parts of words faster so that our fluency improves. We accomplished this through a variety of creative projects that involved writing, drawing, and storyboards.

Math In Everyday Math, our goal was to recall and recognize complements of ten. Playing the Penny Plate and Two-Fisted Penny addition games allowed our students to work together s t. p a u l c h r i s t i a n a c a d e m y

ing Pages. Pointing Pages are visual, music-fluency tools that offer every student the opportunity to interact with various aspects of a piece of music such as steady beat, rhythm, melodic contour, phrase, form, etc. Each one highlights a specific musical building-block. Pointing Pages have really increased the First Graders’ engagement and have kept them involved and excited about learning music concepts. First Graders who have had a birthday this semester have enjoyed playing the Birthday Gong.

Science First Grade scientists began this year in life science

discussing the human body. They learned the importance and functions of our vital organs and the skeletal system. We treated our taste buds to a variety of tastes. We also tricked our brains with optical illusions! In addition, October is always a perfect time to review fire safety. First Graders did an outstanding job of recalling the importance of stop, drop, and roll, never playing with matches, and having fire safety plans at their homes.

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P.E. First Graders have had a great first semester. We continued to work on motor skills

such as throwing and catching. In addition, we played team-based and cooperative games. As these children progress, we want to build their foundations of motor-skills through focused centers. These centers give students opportunities to challenge themselves and progress individually, as well as work together with partners and in small groups. We are excited to watch them grow and progress throughout this year!

Library: First Grade students have enjoyed a variety of activities in the library. Most recently, they contributed their Fall-Ish drawings inspired by Peter Reynold’s books Ish and Dot. Students explored the concept of individual creativity and its importance in the creation of stories and use of imagination. They studied genres of literature and literary devices such as alliteration, rhyme, and idioms. In the book I Am Here, Peter Reynolds conveys loneliness, friendship, existence, struggle, and joy through the main character’s utterance of the simple phrase “I am here.”

Second Grade Math Second Graders spent time reviewing skills and working on math fluency. Building a strong foundation and learning math strategies to solve addition and subtraction facts will benefit them greatly in the future when they move on to more difficult math problems. Using fun ways to build math fluency, the children engaged in Everyday Math games, such as Addition Top-it and Coin Top-It. While interacting with friends, they built skills that will serve them well as they move on to more difficult problems. Reading One of the exciting books that

we read this semester was If I Sailed on the Mayflower. It is a chapter book describing historical events of the Pilgrims’ journey across the Atlantic and their lives after they landed in Plymouth. Each student chose one character in the story and lived vicariously all of his or her adventures aboard the Mayflower. They wrote letters about their experiences and kept journals describing what happened during the first year in the new world. Second Graders researched the Mayflower’s structure, Plymouth Village, and learned about

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the Native Americans. For the culminating event of this unit, we dressed up as Pilgrims, enjoyed a feast of thanksgiving together in our classrooms, and played some games that the Pilgrim children played. It was a treat to see how children lived and played in a different time!

Science Second Grade students became research scientists as they explored animals and their habitats at the conclusion of our plants and animals unit. Each student gathered information online and from print sources to create an informational poster about his or her chosen habitat, complete with written paragraphs, diagrams, and illustrations.  Students then created habitat dioramas using shoeboxes and various materials. The classes enjoyed listening to their classmates present their research, and then the projects were displayed in the Second Grade hallway. Knowledge and creativity came together to demonstrate understanding of the diverse habitats in which animals live. Art Second Graders made watercolor leaves without using any paint. With washable markers and water, the students created works of art that resemble watercolor paintings. The bright, vibrant colors in all of their works are simply beautiful. Second Graders also created city-scapes using rectangles, squares, and triangles. Once the city was constructed, the children used smaller rectangles and squares to make doors and windows, and then they used crayons to draw details on the buildings and in the sky. A Closer Look


Music The highlight of the first semester has been Pointing Pages. Pointing Pages are visual music-fluency tools that offer every student the opportunity to interact with various aspects of a piece of music such as the steady beat, rhythm, melodic contour, phrase, form, etc. Each one highlights a specific musical building-block. Pointing Pages have really increased the Second Graders’ engagement and have kept them involved and excited about learning music concepts. Second Graders who have had a birthday this semester have enjoyed playing the Birthday Gong. P.E. Second Graders continued to improve their motor skills by throwing and catching. In addition, many team-based and cooperative games have enhanced these skills. Second Graders build on their foundations of motor-skills through focused centers. They challenged themselves and progressed individually, with partners, and in small groups. It is a joy to watch them as they grow and progress throughout this year! Library Second Graders have become experts at navigating the whereabouts of their favorite books and then checking them out. Studying the use of symbolism in Peter Reynold’s work has inspired deep thoughts about literature and God. While reading The North Star, one student said, “I like how Peter Reynold’s stories are easy to read because they don’t have many words but he still talks about important stuff.” What a privilege it is to see the story doing its work on them. Concentrating on one writer at a time has resulted in special bonds with these authors, as if they are old friends. After concluding a unit on inspiration and the elements of story, Second Graders also enjoyed a Skype visit with author Kristy Dempsey. Mrs. Dempsey is a missionary, author, and librarian in Brazil and has just published her third children’s book. Students heard how her imagination and real-life experiences inspired her to write Surfer Chick about a little chicken facing her fears and learning to surf, and how she drew from her own children racing through the house on their scooters to write Mini-Racer.

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This year,

Junior Kindergarteners, Kindergarteners, and First Graders are focusing on Kenya, Brazil, Mexico, China, and Japan. We traveled to Kenya and learned Swahili words and phrases, such as “nala” and “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King. We reviewed Swahili greetings each day with the singing of the popular Kenyan song “Jambo Bwana.” We located Kenya on a map, colored the flag, made traditional necklaces worn by tribes in the African country, read the book For You Are a Kenyan Child about village life, and played the African game “Ampe.” Finally, we went on a pretend safari, during which we listened to and looked at all the animals unique to Kenya. We examined the globe to find Brazil. The students read Brazil ABCs: A Book About the People and Places of Brazil, colored the Brazilian flag, and learned Portuguese words and phrases. We studied Christo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer statue) in Rio De Janeiro, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The students immersed themselves in the culture of Brazil, learning about the country’s favorite pastime of soccer and tasting Brazilian food. The unit culminated with a Brazilian Carnival.

Junior Kindergarten


Our global travels also took us to Mexico! We learned vocabulary, studied the culture, and even had a special guest come to talk about her experiences growing up in Mexico. She shared interesting facts about Mexican symbols, money, and jewelry. The students also learned about the Mexican potter, Juan Quezada, and the brilliant methods he First Grade uses to craft his beautiful bowls. Students studied the process of piñata-making, and then created their own. Traveling to Asia, we were able to study the unique cultures of China and Japan. In China, we explored the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers. The students learned greetings in Mandarin and studied how the Chinese characters look in writing. They engaged in dramatic play with Chinese puppets and stuffed animals and dressed in traditional Chinese clothing. The students also enjoyed a video of Chinese dragons and lion dances

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and made dragon wind-catchers. In our study of Japan, students were intrigued about the behavioral expectations for children in the Japanese culture, learning about etiquette in relation to visiting someone’s home, including customs and rules about mealtime. We practiced using chopsticks, picking up various items such as rolled-up paper and Q-tips. We also read a wonderfully engaging book called Where Are You Going? To See My Friend! While reading this bilingual book, we talked about how polite it is in Japanese culture to bring a gift when visiting someone’s home. Fourth Graders began the year in Central America, and the Second Graders journeyed there late in the semester—specifically, to Costa Rica! Costa Ricans (or “Ticos,” as they call themselves) are proud of their beautiful, biologically rich country, and it has been a delight listening to the sounds of salsa, designing our own carretas (oxcart) wheels, and tasting batidos (Costa Rican smoothies), empanadas, and tres leches. Our culminating project was a journey through the Costa Rican rainforest and cloud forest. Your students honed their research skills by choosing a Costa Rican animal to research, and I was impressed with their innovation and creativity in designing and recreating that animal! As we say “adios” to Costa Rica, I am excited to continue exploring God’s beautiful world with your curious, thoughtful students! This semester, Second and Fourth Graders traveled to Russia. The students’ willingness to try pronouncing a very different (and challenging!) language was impressive. It is a delight to hear them say “Zdrastvuitye!” when they walked in the room and “Da svidaniya!” as they left (or “Das Lasagna!” as some of the Second Graders laughingly joke). Russians take great pride in their culture and history, and we admired their rich culture through several projects including making Russian nesting dolls, experiencing Maslenitsa (a Russian blini festival), creating Fabergé eggs, and appreciating Provofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. I love your students’ curiosity and wonder and am excited to keep exploring the world with them!

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Second Grade

Third Grade

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Third and Fifth Graders traveled to the southern hemisphere, visiting Brazil. Brazil’s culture is very diverse, influenced both by its rich geography and the blending of numerous other cultures with the native Brazilians. We explored the Pantanal and were amazed by its unique creatures (like anacondas, capybaras, tarantulas, toucans, and caimans). We tasted brigadeiros, sweet Brazilian candies, and learned more about Rio’s famous Cristo Redentor, a statue of “Christ the Redeemer” that overlooks the city. Our unit concluded with a look at Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, which captures the rich diversity of Brazil’s culture through colorful costumes, dance, music, and ceremonies. Your students made beautiful Carnival masks and learned to samba! It has been a delight sharing your children’s excitement and wonder-to each of them I say, “Obrigada!” (Thank you!) Third and Fifth Graders said “Bonjour!” to the beautiful and fashionable country of France. French words can be a bit challenging to pronounce, and I am so proud of your students’ willingness to try conversing in French. France has a history rich in art, beauty, and elegant design, and our study of France included exploring her stunning cathedrals and meeting some innovative French artists. I was delighted with the gorgeous stained glass windows and detailed pointillist paintings your students created! Our unit concluded with a project in French

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design. Your students established their own “fashion houses,” designing shoes and clothing and invented their signature fragrances. Tasting crêpes was also a wonderful treat! Your students’ work this quarter?—C’est magnifique! The Sixth Grade World Languages & Cultures experience is unique. Instead of visiting different contemporary cultures, we have stepped back in time to the root of many modern world languages by studying Latin and Greek. This semester, your students began learning the grammar of Latin with a focus on Latin verbs, and they began to translate Latin sentences and compose their own. In addition, we connected Latin and Greek roots to modern English derivatives. Students made notecards of Latin and Greek words that included the definition of those words and a number of English derivatives. These cards will continue to be helpful to them throughout the year and even beyond St. Paul! I have been so impressed with your students’ enthusiasm as we explore an ancient yet relevant language. They loved picking their Latin names and are energetically competing against each other to learn the “Pater Noster” (“Our Father,” the Lord’s Prayer) first! Your Sixth Graders will bring a special element to the Christmas program as they are also learning several traditional Christmas carols in their original Latin!

A Closer Look


into each story’s characters and plot. Our goal through these exercises was for our students to understand verbal reasoning skills that they could use to analyze any book, story, or article.

Third Grade Math As we searched for the importance of math in our everyday lives, we learned many new ways to solve math problems. Using our classrooms and sometimes ourselves, we focused on understanding standard measurements. We measured just about everything in our room from bulletin boards to the height of doorknobs. This exercise helped us gain a better understanding of distance as our little measuring mathematicians became skilled estimators too. Reading Reading is thinking! In the Third Grade we did much of both. By learning reading strategies like story-plot components, character traits, and summarizing, we learned how to think about what we were reading. We used visual tools such as story-plot mountains and storyboards to sequence events of each book that we read. Breaking down the components into beginning, middle, and end allowed our readers to dig deeper

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Social Studies We traveled through a significant amount of history in Third Grade! We began talking about the community in which we live. We then studied Tennessee history, U.S. documents, symbols, and monuments. We concluded the first semester by learning the regions of the United States. Dressing up for Monument Day and presenting facts about a specific symbol or monument made these important elements in our history come alive! Art Our Third Grade students study Tennessee history, so in

art class we related a weaving project back to a historical art form. We discussed how the first settlers in Tennessee made all of their thread and cloth by weaving. Weaving is a long process that took five weeks to complete, and the students enjoyed every minute of weaving their works of art!

Music Third Grade students had fun and learned all sorts of new things in music! During the first month of school, our Third Grade friends learned about time signatures and measures. During the past few months, they learned rests and how important they are in music. They were taught the dotted half note and ties. We also delved into conversations about dotted quarter notes, eighth notes, and the eighth rest. Most important, Third Grade musicians read music notes on the treble clef staff. They played many instruments such as the xylophones, glockenspiels, metallophones, wood blocks, shakers, triangles, guiros, and more. Their new knowledge was applied to instrumental pieces as well as songs they learned to sing.

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Library Third Graders enjoyed a combination of technology and library skills. Students learned techniques such as scrolling, understanding URLs, and how to bookmark sites in order to launch into their first comprehensive library research project: Tennessee Time Travelers. Students divided into groups and began the collaborative process of researching a figure from the 19th century, gathering facts, and sharing their findings through a creative presentation.

P.E. Early this semester, Third Graders worked on cooperative games that used relays and scooters to reinforce working together towards a common goal. Recently, we spent an entire week learning about our hearts: how big they are, how they pump blood through the body, how to check one’s pulse, and the way our bodies use oxygen. The students enjoyed getting their hearts to pump faster during exercise! Life Skills We recently spent time exploring the gifts of fear in Third Grade. We began discussing the first gift of fear: fear warns us and makes us aware of danger. We also discussed our body’s automatic fight-flight-freeze responses to fear, which are designed by God to protect us from danger. Students are learning that fear can be both helpful or hurtful, depending on what one does with it. We are made for relationship, and when we allow ourselves to feel our feelings and reach out to others for help, we are able to experience the joy of a heart fully alive.

Fourth Grade

dents were able to carve pumpkins and think about how they looked, smelled, tasted, felt, and sounded. They then used the sensory details of the pumpkin carving experience to develop descriptive paragraphs. It was one messy writing class they will never forget!

Math Have you ever been in a bind and not known how long a decimeter is? Fourth Graders won’t be in that position anymore. They sought out personal references for centimeters, decimeters, and meters for when they are “on the go” and don’t have a ruler handy. Working in partner groups, students used their iPads to notate their findings along Kuyper Hall’s second-floor hallway. Seeing these common objects along the hallway allowed them to estimate lengths by giving real-world examples beyond our classroom walls.

Science We explored several aspects of earth and space science. Our units included topics such as the solar system, space exploration, weather patterns, air, and wind. During our solar system unit, students used their iPads to have up-close, interactive views of several spacecrafts used in space exploration. Utilizing an augmented reality (AR) application called “Spacecraft 3D,” students obtained close-up views of various rovers and satellites to see how they move and learned about how they expand our knowledge of the universe. It was exciting to see the students’ fascination grow during science class as they learned more about the intricate details of God’s creation.

Language Arts This semester in language arts, we became

Geography Our primary focus was on developing map skills.

poets. We read the book Love That Dog by Sharon Creech and wrote original poems inspired by each of the ones we read in the book. We took a fun, hands-on approach to learning our vocabulary words and built Wordly Wise words with Legos. We “acted out” different nouns and verbs in class in order to make physical connections to the written word. It has been a meaningful and exciting semester.

Writing This semester we focused on developing several well-

written paragraphs by using the POWER (Planning-Organizing-Writing-Editing-Revising) writing process. We reviewed skills such as identifying the main idea in a sentence and forming topic, detail, and concluding sentences. We also worked on developing word choice and variety in sentence structure. The most exciting activity that we did this semester related to descriptive writing. With the help of parents and teachers, stu-

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Students learned to read a map by using map keys and symbols, scales, latitude and longitude coordinates, and geographic grids. They then applied these skills by measuring routes and distances on a map. One of their favorite activities during geography class was using the Google Earth App to find various locations in our world. Next semester we look forward to exploring the customs, cultures, and landforms of various countries around the world!

Art Fourth Graders started the year by creating mosaics. This

project takes time and concentration. When they saw their finished products, they were so proud of their hard work and determination. Each student cut out his or her mosaic pieces first and then began to design and glue them. Fun Fact: there are approximately 380 mosaic pieces that go into just one of these works of art. That is over 19,000 pieces in the entire Fourth Grade! A Closer Look


Music The Fourth Grade students reviewed concepts such as

time signatures, rhythms, and clef reading, and were introduced to 16th notes. Each week, they read faster and more efficiently. Students also broadened their music vocabulary and understanding of concepts in music such as rondo, coda, syncopation, theme and variation, 1st and 2nd endings, counterpoint, harmony, and more. This semester, students also learned about intervals. They loved playing exciting “Music Math” games each week. Fourth Graders busily prepared for our Music Chapel by singing and playing Orff instruments.

P.E. Fourth Graders spent time learning the game of football including evasion skills, passing, punting, and basic terminology. Though not all of our students will go on to play football competitively, there are great, long-term benefits to enhancing hand-eye coordination by throwing and catching a ball. Please ask your child to explain how we teach throwing and catching a football (hint: think about standing on a skateboard). Library The Fourth Grade students were

treated to a series of writing workshops in the C.S. Lewis Library this semester. Author and creative-writing teacher Jennifer Trafton brought imagination in a box with word tickets and games. By selecting one adjective and one verb from the scads of word tickets, the children crafted wacky nicknames for themselves like “Pickle Stealer” or “He Who Runs with Chipmunks.” Mrs. Trafton then charged the children with listing as many words as they could to describe a tree. Once they created an exhaustive list, Mrs. Trafton had

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them write a paragraph describing the tree with the caveat that words from the original list were off limits! After the students recovered from the shock, they got busy inventing new ways to describe a tree. Students were able to delight in word play, taking ordinary things like trees and names and seeing them with fresh perspectives. Mrs. Trafton will visit the Fourth Graders intermittently throughout the year to supplement our study of creative language, rich character studies, and excellent fiction for independent readers. Her book, The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic, will also be one of the selections offered for our winter book club. Our goal is to invite our Fourth Graders into the literary world by having them actively participate in creative expression and develop an appreciation for words and stories.

Life Skills We recently spent time explor-

ing the gifts of fear. In Fourth Grade, we explored two types of danger about which fear warns us: danger to our bodies (physical) and danger to our hearts (emotional). Fourth Graders also learned the second benefit of fear: fear helps us reach out to others for the help we need. Scenes from the film Soul Surfer illustrated ways that fear teaches us to depend on God and others and to discern who is safe to help us when we are afraid. Students are learning that fear can be both helpful or hurtful, depending on what one does with it. We are made for relationship, and when we allow ourselves to feel our feelings and reach out to others for help, we are able to experience the joy of a heart fully alive.

A Closer Look


Fifth Grade Science The highlight in Fifth Grade science this semester

has been our study of atoms, elements, and the periodic table. During this unit, each student “adopted” an element, extensively researched it, created an advertisement poster for it, and finally created a 3-D model of an atom of his or her specific element. In addition to this project, we learned how to use the periodic table, drawing atoms of each element. This began an introduction to chemistry that we will continue throughout the year. The Fifth Graders are quickly becoming true scientists.

Study Skills When they are not learning new vocabulary in Study Skills and Wordly Wise, students have been taking steps to evaluate their learning. They have been using metacognitive processes to decide which learning style best fits them and have assessed their own learning environment where they complete their homework and study for tests. As we worked on test-taking skills and overall organization, it was exciting to see the students grow into more independent Fifth Graders. Bible Perhaps the dynamic I want to counteract most as I teach Bible is the ease with which any of us can get tricked into thinking that we understand something simply because

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we know facts about it. Just because I know that Jimmy Buffett was born on Christmas Day of 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, has released twenty-six studio albums, written three best-selling books, and opened a successful restaurant chain does not make me a genuine Parrothead. In the same way, I want our students to know a great deal about Jesus, but, more importantly, I want to help them actually know Jesus. This is why we do projects. If done properly, doing something we love in response to Scripture can add understanding to knowledge so that it spreads from the head to the heart as well. And frankly, I have been awed by what my students have created during the first semester. From artwork to videos to songs to Legos, they put their souls into their projects, and my great hope is that God has made Himself more present to them as they respond to his Word creatively.

History Despite the fact that we have spent much of our first

semester studying the earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, the most essential work we have done has involved trying to understand what history is, the questions a historian asks, and, perhaps most important, how we study history from a Christian worldview. I have been impressed with how well the students have grasped these concepts. We started with the fundamental statement that “all truth is God’s truth” and proceeded to discuss how God is the author of history. We considered our need to acknowledge humbly that we do not always fully understand God’s plans and discovered that studying history with a Christian worldview can give us a sense of hope in the face of tragedy. Finally, we learned to avoid easy demonization of history’s villains while at the same time avoiding easy sanctification of history’s heroes in light of the fact that all human beings are simultaneously creatures of our God and also hopelessly fallen without His grace. So, it might be interesting to quiz your son or daughter on how a Christian worldview helps us understand history. Perhaps you will be pleasantly surprised by the articulate response you receive.

A Closer Look


Language Arts Students grew more comfortable and con-

fident as they were challenged to expand their writing and expression of thought in well-defined and creative ways. Phrases such as “five in fifth” (five paragraphs), “writing well” (applying grammar skills), and “what if ” (critical thinking skills) have now become quite familiar to them. We dove into the world of survival adventure and explored the meaning of courage through two award-winning classics, Call It Courage and Island of the Blue Dolphins. The culminating activity for each book included a close look at the individual growth of each main character followed by a five-paragraph essay comparing and contrasting the courage of each main character. We have had a busy, challenging, and powerful first semester in language arts, and I look forward to leading students through our next literary selection, Number the Stars, which explores historical facts about World War II and the importance of integrity and friendship.

Math Several times throughout the year, students encounter an “Estimation Challenge.” These challenges develop effective estimation strategies to solve problems where finding an exact answer is difficult, time consuming, or even impossible. The spirit of the challenge is one of open inquiry, and students are given several days to think about the problem and figure their estimates in small groups. Our first challenge took students back to ancient times by asking them to estimate how much time and how many footsteps it would take to travel from school to Franklin, Tennessee. Using watches, yardsticks, and laptops, students calculated the time and length of their average strides and used that data to create their estimates. It was quite a stretch of their math skills, and, in the end, everyone was proud and surprised by their findings. We all look forward to the next Estimation Challenge in math. Art Fifth Graders created cities using oil pastels. This is a

favorite at St. Paul as many students, faculty, and parents love it when the cities are displayed. Students used black paper on which they drew their cities, then went over all their lines with glue. Once the glue dried, it was like a coloring book and they have to color inside the glue lines. Everything then has a black outline and it looks like a cityscape at night. Students chose to color their cities as realistic or as unrealistic as they wanted. Many of the cities had tie-dye buildings, purple streets, and green sidewalks. I love to see their imaginations run wild in the designs of their buildings and in the colors they chose. Fifth Graders are currently working on optical illusions where it should look like their hand is 3D on the paper; we are all excited to see how those turn out!

Music This year is such an exciting year in music. In addition to learning to play Orff instruments, Fifth Graders are learning to play the guitar! This semester, students explored music theory and history and showed great comprehension and interest in learning these new concepts. Students also studied s t. p a u l c h r i s t i a n a c a d e m y

intervals and chords related. Fifth Graders prepared for our music chapel where they played and narrated a story, as well as led the student body in singing “Seek Ye First.”

Library After an energizing start to the year with a visit from

author N.D. Wilson, Fifth Graders enjoyed surprise visits from local author and creative writing teacher, Mrs. Jennifer Trafton. Mrs. Trafton is working with the library program to expand its offerings by adding a creative writing emphasis for fourth and Fifth Graders. Our goals are to teach students literary discernment through discussion and book talks and to engage them in creating their own stories which help them to develop their own voices and passions. Mrs. Trafton intrigued them with a mysterious locked treasure box and a backpack full of curious objects. Students eagerly discussed what kind of character would carry around a rope, a guide book, and a souvenir camel, and what could possibly be in that jangly, locked box! Their imaginations were piqued as students began to ask the “what ifs.” Those questions turned into ponderings which led to creative plots that birthed rich stories: What if an elf buried a secret ring in the treasure box and lost the key? What if the girl used the rope from her backpack to escape from an evil stepmother? What if a mouse started leaving messages in the box that told of buried treasure? Students turned their inspirations into creative stories working from a series of writing prompts. Mrs. Trafton encouraged the students to write what they care about and to experiment with different voices and perspectives. Students continue to gain an appreciation of literature through group discussion, book talks, and writing prompts.

P.E. Fifth Graders played cooperative, problem-solving games like Radioactive River. This game focused on the challenge of creatively transporting an entire team from one side of the gym to the other using limited props without touching the surface of the gym. We recently celebrated Heart Week and spent five days learning about the structure and function of the heart.

Life Skills We recently spent time exploring the gifts of fear. In Fifth Grade, we discussed a third gift of fear: fear helps us plan ahead and prepare. Scenes from the film, Akeelah and the Bee, show how fear of failure and fear of rejection can motivate us to reach out for help, find the strength needed to achieve great things, and experience the joy of friendship and accomplishment. Students are learning that fear can be both helpful or hurtful, depending on what one does with it. We are made for relationship, and when we allow ourselves to feel our feelings and reach out to others for help, we are able to experience the joy of a heart fully alive.

A Closer Look


Sixth Grade Language Arts One morning, students entered class to find

their desks arranged in a circle to facilitate roundtable discussion. Having read the first chapters of C.S. Lewis’ final work in the Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle, students embarked on a literary discussion. After talking through a few opening questions, the class analyzed the relationships between characters by acting out scenes from the story. This provided a way for students to connect with the novel, and it offered moments of comedy as well! The tone became more serious as we turned our attention to Scripture to find parallels between Lewis’ work and the Bible. This led to an enriching discussion about friendship, pride, and truth, themes that students examined in the character analysis they composed at the novel’s end.

History This semester, students practiced the 21st Century skills of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity while studying the tools of history, archaeology, cartography, and geography. In one such opportunity, our students excavated the “ancient civilization of the Andonians” beneath the St. Paul playground. Student teams carefully recovered artifacts and recorded their findings. As budding archeologists, the students worked to determine what inferences could be made about the civilization based on the artifacts left behind. Lively class discussion took place as we pieced the puzzle together. By the end of our project, we knew a surprising amount about life among the ancient Andonians. Bible Jim Rayburn, the founder of Young Life, was known

Math We had a great time exploring mean, median, and mode. Learning to compute statistics is a fun way to see how we use math in our everyday life. School, sports, and shopping were some of the areas where the students recognized they use statistics everyday. Computing the mean, median, and mode of different data has been a great way to strengthen our basic math knowledge and continue to develop our pre-algebra skills. The students enjoyed putting together a project demonstrating the mean, median, and mode of the snacks they would need to take on a pretend backpacking trip. It was great practice and also a fun way to be creative in math!

for saying, “it is a sin to bore a kid with gospel.” I agree wholeheartedly and have infused Mr. Rayburn’s good advice into our theology-rich Bible classes in Sixth Grade. This class is focused on discovering our corporate and individual answers to the question of what it means to be a Christ-follower. Through Scripture, film clips, excerpts from literature, and popular music selections, we have attempted to weave a tapestry of the identity of our God that is filled with truth, built on grace, and imbued with wonder. More than anything, I want my students to move from understanding God as a concept to knowing Him as their Creator, Friend, Redeemer, and King. After nine weeks on sovereignty, we moved into our study of sin by considering the ways that it influences and damages our relationships with God, one another, the creation and ourselves. These are tough but necessary lessons, and I am proud of the spiritual hunger and the evidence of growing faith that I encounter each day as I lead and learn from Sixth Graders.

Science We have been studying life sciences. We learned to

Library Sixth Graders kicked off a very literary year, enjoying

define life and classify it and its smallest unit, the cell. We researched projects and developed presentations on the parts of a cell as well as understanding different processes of the cell.  One process we focused on in detail was mitosis.  We created stopmotion, claymation videos about the process of mitosis. The three videos made by the different homerooms can be seen on the St. Paul Vimeo site which you can access on the SPCA homepage.We hope you get to see and enjoy them!

Leadership The Sixth Graders have been true servant-lead-

ers for St. Paul this school year as they performed their leadership jobs. On a typical afternoon, Sixth Graders collect recycling, visit with Junior Kindergarten students in their classrooms and assist them in packing up for the day, ensure our campus is well-kept, help Mrs. Rogers in the library, raise and lower the flag, and update the birthday board in the Dining Hall. Seeing students take an initiative to make our school a better place is truly a blessing.

s t. p a u l c h r i s t i a n a c a d e m y

reading new books and being exposed to exciting new series through book trailers. Most recently, we were thrilled to invite N.D. Wilson, author of Ashtown Burials, 100 Cupboards series, and Leepike Ridge to the C.S. Lewis Library to speak of bookish things. He regaled us with stories of big mischief from his childhood, how his favorite book characters influenced his writing, and his philosophy on life. Instead of longing for a fantasy world in a foreign country, he gave voice and vision to many fantastical things in our own world. Many came away talking about how Mr. Wilson gave them different ways to look at the world. The sun is not just the static blot in the sky, but a gigantic ball of fire. The car ride to school is not just a routine experience, but an amazing adventure in a tube that is propelled by a series of explosions. The first wizard duel was not Gandalf and Saruman but Moses and the Egyptian court wizards. He demonstrated what a rich life of the mind looks and thinks like. N.D. Wilson’s visit encapsulated so much of what we see as our mission in the C.S. Lewis Library: exposing our children to

A Closer Look


great authors and stories and letting the books influence them. The mission of the C.S. Lewis Library is lived out by encouraging students to love good books; to become critical thinkers by discerning the why and how of a story; and to better understand the writing process and how their voices and experiences inform their writing. Our goal for Sixth Graders is to inspire them to be book lovers and avid readers among our school and community. Going forward, Sixth Graders will continue to discuss perspective and voice through many great, new books about the immigrant experience.

P.E. Sixth Graders recently focused on the heart. They played fun, team-based fitness games like Ultimate Frisbee. This game provides a great way to raise each student’s heart rate. As part of this unit, we celebrated Heart Week and spent five days learning about the structure and function of the heart.

Life Skills We recently spent time exploring the gifts of fear.

In Sixth Grade, we took a look at the downside of fear, which occurs when we minimize, hide, or deny fear. When we do this, instead of allowing ourselves to admit, feel, and listen to fear, we can experience rage or anxiety. Sixth Graders learned some of the signs of anxiety and learned that while rage might look like explosive anger, it is often charged by unidentified and unacknowledged fear. Students are learning that fear can be both helpful or hurtful, depending on what one does with it. We are made for relationship, and when we allow ourselves to feel our feelings and reach out to others for help, we are able to experience the joy of a heart fully alive.

Electives The addition of elective classes to our Sixth Grade curriculum has been a tremendous success! The first semester provided both new discoveries and the development of impressive skill sets. Below you will see a brief summation of the activities in each elective class. Newspaper Sixth Grade journalists have been working hard

to create and produce articles for our school newspaper. In our first issue, students wrote articles about our current sports teams, introduced our new homeroom teachers, reviewed restaurants and spotlighted Junior Kindergarten. They also created games to entertain students after reading. The first edition of the newspaper was a huge success and is currently displayed on the St. Paul website.

glaze on them and adding some puff-paint details. After that we moved into the “All about Me” project, where students drew all of their favorite things. They are quickly finishing this project and every student says they are ready to do more painting on canvas!

Graphic Design The students in Graphic Design have fo-

cused their attention on learning how to take full advantage of the creative apps included on our MacBooks. They have worked in and produced from iWeb, iMovie, GarageBand, and Pages. Some of our favorite activities include making stop-motion movies, learning how to use a green screen, using “musical typing” in GarageBand, manipulating voices in GarageBand, and mastering the “Instant Alpha” effect that deletes backgrounds of pictures in Pages documents. The students also produced a video that was used for our Veterans Day celebration at the St. Paul Senior Living Center.

Strings The students have learned an

incredible amount since the beginning of the school year. They have studied music theory, how to care for their instruments, proper playing technique, the various orchestral instruments, and music history of composers and time periods. Most important, however, are their new-found abilities to play the violin! In class, we worked on a variety of songs including individual pieces, duets, and songs to be played as a class. Once a week, they composed songs using their knowledge of music theory and the violin. It has been quite exciting observing the progress we have made. As a demonstration of their progress, the students performed The Lord’s Prayer at chapel on October 31st.  

Drama & Forensics C.S. Lewis once said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’” In Drama and Forensics, this idea is the foundation of our study. One of the reasons we write plays or tell stories is that we all want to connect with other people.  We want to find common ground with others in our world.  The students in this class have explored the ways our voices, faces, and bodies can communicate a range of emotions and experiences.  It has been an amazing journey to find scripts and stories and find that we connect with the messages and ideas they communicate.

Art I have really enjoyed my new Sixth Grade elective class. Having the students four days a week and having a much smaller number of students in class means we are flying through projects, but I am excited to see just how much we get to do this semester. We jumped in right away and did a great action painting project. The students each brought in an action shot of themselves, painted it, and then adhered it to a wood board for stability. They were displayed in the C.S. Lewis Library most of the fall. Next, we created painted crosses, putting a hi-shine s t. p a u l c h r i s t i a n a c a d e m y

A Closer Look


A Closer Look - Fall 2012  

A Closer Look, St. Paul Christian Academy