Each year we welcome grand friends to Lansdowne Friends School on the day before Thanksgiving. Our meeting for worship was followed by a chance for our grand friends to visit classes. We ended the day with a wonderful time in the meetinghouse, where our students shared their voices in song under the direction of Tr. Brenda Rose.
Third and fourth graders at Lansdowne Friends School experienced the natural world in one of their units of study while learning to canoe on one of the many streams in the Delaware Valley. Teacher Alison Levie's students learned canoe safety and techniques launching their canoes in Crum Creek in Swarthmore and paddling upstream as part of their water study.
Water is one of the key science units in Levie's class. Students learn about the physical properties of water, the importance of water for life, the interconnectedness of life and how water aids in those connections, human dependence on water, and about the life cycles of aquatic organisms. As part of their work, her students have done stream studies in the creeks near Lansdowne Friends School.
This week, Levie, a lifelong canoer, teamed up with Tim and Terri James, who directed a comprehensive canoeing program in the middle school at Westtown School before they retired last year. From their canoes, students experienced the physics of water--seeing, for example, why paddling on the left side of a canoe will make the canoe go right, and how ruddering steers a boat. They observed aquatic life in and along the stream. They also tested the pH of the water and gauged the health of the stream by the presence of macroinvertebrates.
Most importantly, they had an experience in nature. Author Richard Luov argues in his book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder that there is a great disconnect between children today and the outdoors. He further argues that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.
"These canoe trips are part of Lansdowne Friends School's answer to nature deficit disorder," said Head of School John McKinstry. "At the same time, students are learning a life-long skill."
The canoeing program also connects students to their own watersheds. The Jameses have had a long connection to Chester/Ridley/Crum Watersheds association, having been part of stream clean-ups and streambank restoration projects for CRC for dozens of years. "It seems like a natural extension for Terri and Tim to teach students how to canoe in the CRC," McKinstry said.
This week's short trip was also part of the prepration for a much longer canoe trip in the spring.
This year students will explore science in the study of water, weather, brain science and the seasons; history and social studies in studying community, the underground railroad, Africa, Japan, colonial Pennsylvania and classical cultures; and becoming authors through our rich literature and writing program. It's all a part of the care, thoughtfulness and devotion of our faculty to the education of your children. We are all so fortunate.
The children have returned with great energy and enthusiasm. In our initial meeting for worship students from the 1st through 6th grade explained what Meeting is and what it means to them.
Lansdowne Friends School is pleased to offer a new scholarship fund for our students! The McKenzie Promising Futures Fund provides tuition grants to students in grades three through six. In February 2014, LFS students will be invited to submit original artwork that celebrates diversity in their own family or community. One or more students will be selected to receive a tuition award up to $2,500 for the 2014-2015 school year. The fund was established by Leon McKenzie, who attended LFS from 1978 to 1984 and who is now CEO of Sure Sports Lending. He named the fund in honor of his father, a first generation immigrant from Jamaica who dedicated 30 years as an educator at academic institutions throughout Philadelphia. Please contact Nancy Werner, Development and Admissions Coordinator, for information on the fund and to make a contribution.
First and Second graders are visiting Japan! Tr. Susie and Tr. Jill gave each student a passport and a boarding pass, and on their flight to Japan students tracked the flight's progress, had a Japanese snack, and watched a movie about two girls who moved to Japan. Students are exploring Japan in lots of ways. They tasted Japanese food. They solved soduko puzzles and counted in Japanese. They read and listened to haiku poems, and then wrote their own poems under the cherry blossoms in Sycamore Park and at the school. They painted paper lanterns to include in LFS's Silent auction and then painted other lanterns to keep. They played Jan Ken Po (Rock, Paper, Scissors) and learned Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes in Japanese.
Did you ever wonder why jellyfish have tentacles? Just ask a pre-kindergarten student. Or did you ever wonder about how a seahorse protects itself? Just ask a first or second grade student. Ask a kindergarten student about the deep dark layers of the ocean outside their classroom and a third or fourth grader about bioluminescence or the food chain. Next time you enjoy calamari think squid and think about our fifth and sixth grade students dissecting a squid and asking questions such as" What is the function of the pen? How do squids reproduce?" The air has been electric with excitement about learning. Walk down the hall and peek into a classroom and you might have seen children quietly writing under a blue underwatery canopy listening to the sounds of the ocean or you might have heard "Como se llama tortuga en ingles? Como se llama esponja en ingles?", or heard ocean songs, or witnessed clam and crab relay games.
For two weeks Lansdowne Friends School has been transformed for the All-School Theme while the whole school studied oceans. Questions have been raised, information has been researched, connections have been made, and hands-on discovery has been offered often and everywhere!
The Pre-K focused on life in the coral reef. Kindergarten studied the variety of life in the ocean. Tr. Susie's 1/2 class explored the kelp forest, coral reef, and deep ocean environments. Tr. Jill's 1/2 class investigated the diversity of life in the ocean. Tr. Alison's 3/4 class learned more about diversity and adaptation and the depth of the ocean. Tr. Deb's 5/6 class studied the relationships among horse shoe crabs, red knots, and people.
The theme has also provided lots of opportunities for class collaborations. All-school collaborations produced a coral reef (organized by Tr. Al), a kelp forest (organized by Tr. Susie and Tr. Jill), and a representation of the human effect on the ocean (organized by Shelley). The gym gradually became an underwater world. Fish, coral, and sea anemones appeared on the continental shelf and the coral reef. Beautiful watercolors expressing seaside experiences, gorgeous clam shells fancifully decorated are artistic and whimsical ways art is integrated into the theme. Drawing skills are being applied to scientific scaled illustrations of horseshoe crabs for a book our oldest students are creating and shop skills are being integrated as they make a diorama of the New Jersey shore including horseshoe crabs and redknots.
Other highlights of the Ocean theme included an all-school trip to the Camden Aquarium, a winter trip to the beach by the Kindergarten class, and the culmination night on which students shared their work with their families.
On Monday, January 21, the LFS community gathered to honor the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. After a soup supper provided by HEAT, we heard the words of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and created a mural together.