Dear MM Green Families,

We feel it’s fair to say the Blue class had an amazing time on The All-School “Camping” Day Trip. It was wonderful to see the children so naturally and curiously interact with nature, connect with each other in new, meaningful ways, and develop grit and independence along the way. Thank you so much for trusting us with your children on this unforgettable trip. It truly was a pleasure to spend the day with them in nature.

Adventures Galore

Blue class spent our day at Temescal Canyon Park with our buddy class, Olders 5 with John and Madeline.  In the morning we spilt into two groups. An exploring group with Maren, Madeline, and Sunny and a hiking group with McKendree, John, and Evelyn.

The exploring group set up Homebase in a ravine near some massive fallen trees and a creekbed. Here they looked for flora and fauna we researched ahead of time and kept an eye out for the ones to avoid.  Some students sketched, some lounged, and some tossed around a football.  They climbed in twisting trees and splashed in the creek. A giant toe-biting water bug – yes it’s a real thing, and yes it’s huge – with eggs on its back was by far the most exciting discovery!

While the hiking group took a beautiful mile-plus hike along trails, following a combination of Temescal Canyon Trail and Temescal Ridge Trail. The hike was the perfect challenge- some uphill but not too much with fun along the way. We romped in a meadow that we stumbled upon and climbed trees whiles the Olders recited lines from Shakespear in preparation for their performance. At the top, we were rewarded with a  beautiful view of mountains covered in yellow wildflowers.

After our morning adventures, we came back together to enjoy lunch and trail mix in the shade!

“The Campfire”

Towards the end of the day, the whole school came together to sing songs around the campfire.  Favorite songs included Peanut Butter in a CupDown By The Bay, and The Green Grass Grows All Around.

S’Mores are a MUST!

Following “The Campfire,” we met up with our buddy class again to munch on what we dubbed pocket S’MORES. Without an actual campfire to roast marshmallows over and S’Mores being an absolute MUST when camping we had to get creative. Pocket S’Mores were the solution.  We made our S’Mores together at school the day prior and saved them in zip locks. Once at Temescal Canyon, we tucked them in pockets of bags to heat up a little.  The results were deliciously gooey melty S’Mores!


McKendree & Maren



Jet Propulsion and Microscopic!

Dear Blue Families,

We recently learned about Medusa Jellyfish (AKA Alarm Jellies, Atolla Jellies, or Coronate Medusa ) which move by jet propulsion. They contract and relax a ring of muscles around the bell. The muscles open and close the bell, drawing in water and then forcing it out again to push the jellyfish forward. To gain a better understanding of this unique type of movement, we recreated it. First, with a parachute mimicking a Medusa Jelly’s undulating bell. Students were the ring of muscles around the bell that contracted and relaxed to fill the parachute.  Then, with demonstrations using a water balloon in a tank of water to see how jet propulsion pushes them through the water.

Click the links below to see this in action!

Undulating Parachute!
Jet Propulsion in a Tank!


Previously in Blue Class, we borrowed some microscopes to check out Tardigrades AKA Water Bears! Water Bears are microscopic animals that are found in the Midnight Zone with many unique and fascinating adaptations. Read below to see observations made by students about these tiny but fierce creatures.

“One was eating another!” Zeno

“They looked like clear glue with loose green stuff on them.” Jonathan

“They were swimming around!”  Liam

“I saw one cannibalizing another one!” Kelly

“They looked like they were fighting, they were hoping on each other.” Buck

“They moved around alot.” Sidney

“They had little eight legs that move at the same time.” Bodan

“They were crawling around and they got really close to each other, they were about to eat each other so I stopped looking.” Seon

“I was curious about what the little specks around them were.” Max

“When the water bears were fighting it was weird they were almost headbutting each other and then moving away.” Finn

“They looked like clear bear worms walking around.” Skye

“I saw they were pretty slow, it only wiggled around a tiny bit, it was probably conserving energy.” Annie

“You can see them move their legs to swim around, but not very fast.” Elsen

“Well some were very still but one was wiggling.” Connor

“They had green inside their bodies, maybe it’s their blood.” Oliver

“They are clear and could only move an inch in like a week.” Nate

“They don’t really move that much and they had green stuff inside.” Doanie

“They were see-through with little green bits in them, but the dead one I saw the green bits were gone, I bet the green bits are needed to live.” Parker

“The dead one was really creepy, I could see where the skin was ripped.” Everly

“The water bear was really still it was staying in one place.” Ever

“I saw a little water bear crawling around, I also saw a dead water bear and a line of bacteria, then I saw a really still water bear it wasn’t in a tun just really still.” Grace

“I tiny tiny microscopic water bears, they looked like they had slime on them and they had tiny claws.” Lennox

“It was clear with green in it, it was not moving much, there was one that had been eaten and you could see where it came apart.” Remi

“The dead one felt like all of the pieces of its body had come out.” Rileigh


McK & Mar

Midnight Zone Animals and Adaptations

Dear Blue Families,

Blue students are ‘diving in deep’ into the study of the midnight zone and all of the strange creatures that inhabit it! We began our study of this zone by learning about the unique factors that govern it including, no light, and extremely high levels of pressure that we humans could not withstand. They are fascinated to learn that we actually know more about outer space than the deep depths of the ocean. So far we have learned about narwhals, angler fish, ghost sharks, giant isopods, giant squids, and sea pigs. 

Midnight Zone Animal Classification Chart

For each animal we study, students investigate its: description, adaptations, food chain, and fascinating facts. Students also complete an experiment or art project for every new animal. (Wait till you see what we have planned later this week for Sea Pigs!)

First, they read and gather key information to take notes about some basic stats of the animal: its classification (ex. mollusc), weight, size, and lifespan. Sometimes students will complete guided drawings which they label to make into detailed diagrams. 

Giant Squid Diagrams WaterColor


Next, students learn about the structural and behavioral adaptations by reading and synthesizing the information into note form. Often for this component, students will create watercolor pictures of the animal and write structural adaptations next to the body part that they correspond to. 

Giant IsoPod Structural Adaptations Watercolor


After, students look at the animal through an ecological lens by exploring its food web. They create a food web for the animal, indicating the direction of energy from one organism to the next. They also identify whether each organism in the web is a producer or consumer (herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore) and if each animal is a predator or prey. 

SEa Pig notes outside!

Finally, students learn some fascinating facts about each creature. Here are some favorites: 

  • A narwhal’s horn/tusk is actually a tooth!
  • Male angler fish are much smaller than females. They are actually parasites to female anglers whose blood they solely survive on!
  • Ghost sharks have been gliding through the depths of the ocean since long before the dinosaurs!
  • Giant Squids can be as long as a school bus!
  • Giant Isopods are related to rolly pollies and pill bugs!
  • Sea Pigs can breathe out of their bums!

We’re very excited to learn about the rest of the mysteriously strange animals you can find in the midnight zone.

Giant IsoPod Student Notes

💙 McKendree & Maren


PS Important Dates

  • President’s Break: February 21st – 25th
  • Return Reading Log: Tuesday, March 1st


Worth a Thousand Words

Dear Blue Families,

They say a picture is worth a thousand words; please enjoy a visual journey of our latest learning adventures.

Ghost Shark Watercolor Diagram

Students drew a diagram labeling a Ghost Shark with different structural adaptations.  Students determined where on the body the adaptation label belonged.  Then thinking like a scientist students added color to their diagrams with watercolor.

Anglerfish Lanterns

Students drew various types of Anglerfish on paper then wrapped them around recycled coffee cans.  Next students poked holes to let light through to simulate the bioluminescence of angler fish.  Finally, they added a little glow-in-the-dark paint and a blue LED tea light to complete the lantern.

Warm Fuzzies

During a Circle Time focused on community and thankfulness students made “warm fuzzies” from the book ‘Warm Fuzzy Tale,’ using yarn and googly eyes.  Then, students wrote a compliment to the recipient of their “warm fuzzy.”

Holiday Pickles!

Students made ‘Holiday Pickles’ for their families.  Each student made their own jar of pickles and wrote a corresponding recipe.  Students first sliced cucumbers, then added vinegar, water, sugar, and spices of their choosing to their pickles.   Finally, they designed a pickle jar label!



McKendree & Maren

Social-Emotional in Blue

Dear Blue Families,

Children come to school to grow their academic and social-emotional competencies. Both of these areas are of great importance and need to be fostered through a well-balanced curriculum. Since we weren’t together physically as a group for over a year during distance learning, some of the social-emotional learning that happens organically was limited. After coming back to in-person learning, we have focused on restoring this balance by prioritizing building various social-emotional competencies.

During goals, students are working in small groups on teaching and learning different skills (mixed sports, parkour & art). Every few weeks, students make a detailed written plan of what they will be teaching and how. This helps develop their self-management skills, particularly with goal setting and organizing. In their groups, students take turns leading and following in order to develop communication skills and respect for others.

Students also have explicit social-emotional lessons in small quarter groups every week and alternate between meeting with either McKendree and Maren or Genevieve. In McKendree and Maren’s group, students focus on community-building activities and are often paired with one other classmate each time to help build connections, appreciate diversity, and build empathy. This is also a time students learn problem-solving techniques, often through role-playing using real-life scenarios. Students practice using i-Messages, active listening, and giving meaningful apologies. While meeting with Genevieve, students have been focusing on learning the core competencies of CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning). They have been participating in activities to build self-awareness and their emotional vocabulary. Identifying emotions through check-ins, the mood meter, and expanding “feeling” words through books and activities. 


We also focus a lot on developing self-management skills. Every day after lunch, children come back into class and follow along to a short guided mindfulness video. Topics of the videos include meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and other self-regulation activities. In addition to helping students transition from a busy lunch recess back into the classroom, these activities also provide strategies students can use throughout their day to help their bodies and minds calm down. The ‘Chill Spot,’ which is our student-named calm down corner, is another self-regulation tool for students. Here, there is a “wheel of choice” that they can spin with a number of calm-down strategies, such as mind jar, rainbow breathing, and drawing.

We’ve seen Blue students grow incredibly in their social-emotional competencies over the last few months! We look forward to continuing to foster and witness this growth throughout the remainder of the year.


     Bundle Up!  It is getting chilly outside but in order to follow COVID protocol,   we still need to keep the windows open and the fans running.  We suggest sending your child with layers, including a jacket and a beanie.

    Waterbottles Please send your child each day with a reusable water bottle.  Staying hydrated is so important to their health and learning!

Important Dates:

Friday, December 17th: Noon Dismissal

Monday, December 21st-Monday, January 3rd- Winter Break

Tuesday, January 4th- School Resumes



Dear Blue Families,

The one and only thing we miss from our zoom days is seeing all your sweet pets! All the cute creatures were such a welcome presence on zoom meetings and we would love to sneak them into our classroom. We would like to invite you to send in pictures of your family pet/s.  Feel free to send in a physical copy (labeled with your child’s name on the back so we can return it) or email us one to print out. Pets can span a wide variety from dogs to frogs but if you don’t have a “typical” pet we welcome pictures of surrogate pets, pet rocks, and stuffed animals too. We cant wait to get our Pet Hall of Fame Up in the room – thanks for your help in making this happen!

Meet our pets


Math Mania!

To kick off our unit ‘Numbers and Operations in Base 10’ – understanding value vs. digits, counting and skip counting, and reading and writing multi-digit numbers based on place value, and in expanded form – we started with Legos.  Students were introduced to Counting Collections by collaborating on an all-class Lego count.  We dumped all of our Legos on the floor and discussed strategies to count them together as a class.  The group settled on snapping together 10 Legos at first and then grouping 10 sets together to make a group of 100.  Once this was underway and we had several hundred counted the class noticed they could group 10 sets of 100 together to make 1000.  This cooperative counting, grouping, and regrouping continued for a couple of math sessions until all the legos we accounted for.  

Students loved a game called “Make Ten!” It can be played as make any number but we started with ten.  Partners lay cards with the numbers 0-10 (and a Wild Card) in a 3-by-3 array.  The partners then take turns picking up combinations that make ten, for example, 4 + 6 or 2 x 5. After each turn whatever cards in the array were picked up are replaced and the next partner takes their turn.  Partners are encouraged to check the math of those they play with.  Partnerships can also determine how cards can be used i.e. only as single digits or in combinations to form larger numbers, for instance, a 4 card and a 6 card become 46.  The object is to pick up as many cards as possible, and thus crazy combinations are created 4 2 + 2 9 + 1 8 + 8 + 3 = 100 ÷ 10.  

To familiarize themselves with how many ones, tens, and hundreds make up any given number we did a little measuring.  I know you may be thinking, “Measuring…. um, what?!?” but bear with us. Through measuring with a math tool known as a ten stick or hundreds board students explored the idea of combining groups of tens/hundreds, counting by tens/hundreds, understanding how many groups of ten/hundred comprise a number …and so much more all while practicing measuring distance, perimeter, and area.  

Students measured the length and height of various pieces of tape, and the perimeter and area of various rectangular shapes (you may have heard the kids excited about silly names such as ‘Bob’ and ‘Bab’ we named the lengths of tape and shapes to keep track of them).  Students uncovered the importance of being accurate and precise when measuring; leaving no space between units of measurement, measuring in straight lines, not measuring around corners when working with perimeter, and measuring the full length or area allotted.

All the while students were repeatedly combining groups of ones/tens/hundreds to find the measurements.  They utilized different measuring techniques like combining the doubled length and height to find the perimeter or multiplying.   They also utilized strategies that fit them as mathematicians: they could opt to count by tens, or convert the idea of 18 ten sticks means 180 ones, or multiply the amount of ten sticks measured by 10.  We noticed the trend that when you convert from measuring by tens sticks to single units we add a ‘0’ to the end of the number. For example 20 ten sticks = 200 ones, 9 hundreds boards = 90 tens sticks = 900 ones.  Students recorded their measuring of the various forms.


 💙 McK & Mar

Welcome to Blue Class with Maren & McKendree!

Dear Blue Families,

We have had an excellent start to our school year as we settle into our new classroom community. Blue students come to class with a positive attitude, a sincere desire to learn, and a collaborative spirit. We are particularly impressed by the students’ enthusiasm and cohesion. Over the first few weeks, we’ve been busy with community development activities, establishing classroom values and academic routines, and learning about our identities.

It was great seeing you at Curriculum Night and sharing our program with you. Thank you so much for trusting us with your child’s learning and growth in the coming year. We look forward to working with you and supporting your child!

Growth Mindset

Our most recent topic of exploration in social studies has been growth mindset- the understanding that intelligence can be developed through hard work. We’ve been learning about this topic to understand how our brain works so we can support ourselves and others to develop grit and reach our full potential. We read Your Fantastic Elastic Brain (2010) and compared our brain to an elastic. After reading this book and an elastic band challenge, in which students came up with as many creative uses of elastics as possible, they identified that elastics – like brains – can stretch, be shaped, and do a multitude of things. Next, we learned how the brain communicates messages through neurons. Students created their own neuron models in order to learn about the different parts and how they work together to send messages throughout your body. We then put all of our neurons together and discussed how the connections between them grow the more we practice!

We also examined our mindsets about making mistakes and struggle. We read Mistakes That Worked and watched a video on brain research about mistakes and challenges. Students learned how mistakes actually grow your brain! They learned that the myelin sheath in your neuron gets bigger and it helps the messages get sent better. Most recently, we have been practicing using growth mindset statements to help them through challenges, such as, “I haven’t figured it out YET,” or to push themselves, such as, “Is this my best work?” Students brainstormed their favorite statements and wrote them on speech bubbles to create a class poster for a tool to help with keeping a growth mindset.

Neurons Activity