One key part of Morgan Park Academy’s global curriculum is a school-wide Global Week each March. Upper School and Middle School students and teachers come together outside the classroom to share a broader range of learning experiences focused on language and culture, service, and sustainability. Lower School students explore the world’s countries and cultures closer to home.
This year’s experiences included trips to Central Europe, the Bahamas, southern Arizona, Gulf Coast Florida, and New York City; and local explorations of art collections, cooking, martial arts, and mosaic art and screen printing from March 19-23.
Budapest, Vienna, and Prague
History, Culture & Service
MPA students and teachers explored three of Eastern Europe’s most historically and culturally rich nations: Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. Starting in Budapest, they visited the Great Synagogue and the border of the Budapest Ghetto and paid tribute to local victims of World War II at the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial. They competed in a scavenger hunt around the Chain Bridge, connecting Buda and Pest, to find links to the Hapsburg and Roman eras in the city.
In Vienna, they toured the 12th century gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral and got to know the sites of the center of the city and got a bird’s eye view from the country’s iconic Giant Ferris Wheel. They got a sense of Baroque style at the Schonbrunn Palace and at Belvedere Castle. They got a taste for the rich musical history of the city at the State Opera House and at the home of Wolfgang Mozart. Students got dressed up to watch an orchestra accompanied by vocalists and dancers interpret the works of Mozart and Strauss and even took a waltz dancing class.
Students also spent time at a refugee center in Vienna playing with children, cleaning, painting and helping out wherever needed. The group then traveled to Prague and took an in depth walking tour through the historic districts, the Prague Castle and Charles Bridge. A little outside the city, they had the sobering but impactful experience of visiting Terezin Concentration Camp. In each city, the group had the chance to enjoy local cuisine and check out the shops for souvenirs! They returned tired but filled with experiences to last a lifetime!
Andros Island, Bahamas
Island Ecology & Culture
MPA students studied the ecology on Andros Island, the largest island in the Bahamas. Because it does not have a deep-water port or a large airport, Andros is inaccessible to tourist ships and large jets. Undiscovered by tourists, much of the habitat remains in its pristine natural state.
The island also possesses a unique local culture, and the third largest coral reef in the world is a short boat ride from where our group stayed. They studied and observed the plants, fish, invertebrates, geology, art and culture of Andros Island. They swam in blue holes, snorkeled over coral reefs, hunted for shells, starfish and sand dollars, and learned to weave baskets from palm leaves.
At Forfar Field Station they stayed in cabins located about one hundred feet from the beach. Meals were in the Forfar Dining Hall except for Thursday night, the cook’s day off. On that evening they sampled the local cuisine at a nearby restaurant. Each evening, they heard a lecture about one of the above topics of study and then the next day went into the field to actually observe what we learned about the night before.
A zero-waste, off-the-grid adventure, this volunteer trip was a natural learning experience that placed students in the foothills of the Patagonia Mountains in Arizona, where they discovered the “Me to We” low-impact, environmentally friendly lifestyle at the Windsong Peace and Leadership Center.
Students visited the Mexican border to talk with Border Patrol Agents, Mexican-American students, and leaders of the community to get a cross-cultural perspective on immigration and the impact that stereotypes have played in the U.S. They worked with community centers to help increase awareness back home and prevent these myths from spreading.
This service learning trip included:
• meaningful service, as students worked side by side with locals, gaining insight into the challenges they face building communities;
• community development, as they lived near the communities they served and learned about local issues; and
• leadership skills development through activities and workshops.
Key West, Florida
Gulf History & Ecology
Students spent five days and four nights in Key West, Florida, studying the history and culture of Key West. Trip highlights included visiting Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas to learn the impact this area had during the Civil War as an area controlled by the Union troops and to snorkel in the pristine waters and reefs surrounding the Dry Tortugas. Students explored the many unique aspects of Key West, including an eco kayak tour off the coast of Key West. Students saw many endangered species of sea life, including the sand turtle, while enjoying the sunny weather.
Students learned about the impact of Key West as a Union stronghold during the Civil War, as a hub of immigration, as booming business and tourist area, as a center of literature, which all came to a halt with a deadly hurricane and the Great Depression. Examining this entire period of history, students saw how Key West has made a slow but steady recovery.
Among the various sites visited were the Truman White House — where President Truman spent several months during and after his time as president — the Hemingway Home, Shipwreck Museum, Key West Aquarium, Key West Customs House, and Lighthouse Museum. The trip also included a nighttime tour of the various parts of Key West that are allegedly haunted and some free time to relax in the sun and enjoy a sunset celebration at Mallory Square.
New York City
The New York City Experience
Students had the unique opportunity to build a personalized experience by immersing themselves in New York City culture, from sights to city navigation. Meeting twice monthly during their lunch period, students coordinated and planned the events of this trip as a team. Participants directed the focused arts, athletic, cultural, and social events while simultaneously educating themselves on the historical and present significance of New York City as an epicenter in our global community. They assisted in reservations, planning, and mapping out activities.
The trip included visits to New York University, Columbia University, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Madison Square Garden, Ground Zero Memorial, Empire State Building, Central Park, Theatre District, and much more.
Although guided by the chaperones, this experiential journey was designed to be collaborative so that every student had an investment in the day-to-day activities.
Art Collections in Chicago
Chicago is home to some of the finest art collections in the world. This project focused on exploring the wealth of art and architecture featured in our local public and private collections. At the Art Institute, the University of Chicago Oriental Institute, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Hellenic Museum, the Smart Museum of Art, the National Museum of Mexican Art, the Frederick C. Robie House, and Millennium Park, students experienced the beauty, variety, and depth of artwork and learned how an institution acquires and maintains works of art.
Participants explored history of art, lives, and works of Chicago artists and public art on University of Chicago campus. The course was driven by close looking, discussion, and critical and creative thinking, with tours enhanced by expertise of lecturers and curators.
From a world-renowned French Impressionist collection to American art favorites like Grant Wood’s American Gothic and from ancient civilizations of the Middle East to modern masterpieces by Dalí, Matisse, and Picasso, the museums’ collections had something for everyone to experience the irresistible magnificence of art.
Breakfast to Dinner Cooking Camp
Students learned how to cook simple foods and put them all together to create sophisticated menus that they can continue to cook and refine at home. No more relying on vending machines or Kraft mac and cheese! They spent four days at The Chopping Block, learning prep skills, cooking skills, and menu planning from experts. They began the week with a lesson on knife skills–what makes a good knife, how to care for one and how to use one for the many different kinds of cuts needed. From coq au vin to risotto empanadas, homemade pasta to egg rolls they covered many skills and cuisines. The best part was sitting down to eat delicious meals — sometimes twice in one day.
Taekwondo and Hapkido
Students went through a four-day study of Taekwondo and the more aggressive martial art of Hapkido at Family Martial Arts studio in Mokena. They learned to count in Korean as they participated in both anaerobic and aerobic workouts and learned self-defense techniques. They engaged in relaxation and meditation exercises and breathing control, and learned throwing and falling techniques. Students also focused on mental and ethical discipline, etiquette, and justice with an emphasis on respect, honesty, self-control, self-protection, and self-confidence.
Mosaic Art and Screen Printing
Novices and experienced artists got creative by making two custom pieces of art, traveling to the Hyde Park Art Center for a four-day workshop on the styles of mosaic art and screen printing. At the end of the week, students brought home their very own custom-designed and hand-crafted mosaic pieces and T-shirts with original screen printing designs.
Eighth Grade – Washington, D.C.
As a culminating experience for their middle school program, students visited our nation’s capital, seeking to understand the role of an American citizen in a global world. In Washington, students learned how the definition of “citizen” has evolved over time; history came alive as they visited major landmarks and museums of our nation’s past. By this time in their curriculum, students have begun to see themselves as an important participant in the timeline of history.
Seventh Grade – Heifer Ranch, Arkansas
Students learned about global issues like poverty, hunger, and environmental degradation. They spent the night in a Global Village, experiencing lifestyles from around the world. Participants also engaged in service work, community building, and hands-on educational learning activities. They learned about hunger, sustainable development, caring for the earth, and how livestock can help change the lives of people everywhere.
Sixth Grade – Nature’s Classroom Institute, Wisconsin
Students immersed themselves in the natural environment for ecosystem exploration and study, working together with their peers and learning about their role as a citizen of the earth from an environmental point of view.
Fifth Grade – Brazil
Our week was filled with delicious food, global excursions within our city, and giving to those in need.
Monday we started off with learning about culture and cultural norms. We explored cultural norms in our country and compared and contrasted them to those in other countries. We started our research on Brazil and broke off into groups. We enjoyed lunch from La Fiesta and began an art project on contemporary Brazilian artists.
Tuesday we spent the day in Chinatown learning about Chinese culture and traditions. Many themes and characters from Where the Mountain Meets in the Moon were found along the way. We ate lunch at Triple Crown and practiced using chopsticks! No trip to Chinatown would be complete without a little shopping. Many thanks to Mrs. Perry, Mrs. Fifer, and Mrs. Sheppard for chaperoning.
Wednesday we continued to working in our groups to prepare for our Brazilian presentation at the hostel. We also baked cookies with Mrs. Arnold that we donated to Pacific Garden Mission. Thank you to those who brought in clothes for the homeless. The shelter was very appreciative of our donation. We enjoyed an Indian lunch from Shakira. Chicken Masala was a huge hit! We ended our day with an in-school visit from an African Troupe from Senegal. We learned more about the continent of Africa. They got the students up and moving! It was a great way to end our day.
Thursday was the most anticipated day of the week. In the morning, we put the finishing touches on our Brazil presentation and made Carnival masks. We had a Greek meal from D’Masti before leaving for the Hostel. Before our Cultural Kitchen began, we spent some time in Millenium Park checking out the Bean and playing at the playground. The Cultural Kitchen was an amazing experience! We were so proud of how hard each of the students worked. They cooked a delicious meal that impressed all of the guests at the hostel. The recipes and cooking list can be found on our homeroom bulletin board page. Their presentation was flawless and we even had a young women from Brazil in the audience. She was impressed by how much our 5th graders knew about her country. After a big clean up, they enjoyed some “free-time” in the common area.
On Friday, we had breakfast at the hostel. The students were happy to learn that they would not have to do the dishes! We debriefed as a class and reflected on the hostel experience. We headed back to MPA, enjoyed pizza from Beggars and said tired goodbye to our classmates.
Fourth Grade – Ireland
We had an exciting Global Week! Our class studied the country of Ireland. We began the week learning about Ireland’s land and climate. Students used watercolors to create a map of the country. They labeled the capital, major cities, surrounding bodies of water, and popular landmarks. We discussed the various landforms and rich farmland. Students also learned what peat bogs are and how they are useful.Next, we learned about the Flag of Ireland and what each band of color represents. We explored Ireland long ago and made comparisons with Ireland today. We watched a short video on St. Patrick, too. Did know he was not born in Ireland?Traditional Irish food is often described as plain but filling. Popular ingredients are potatoes, beef, mutton, fish and cabbage. Each day, students enjoyed a special treat native to the Emerald Isle. Some of these include Colcannon, Boxty and Irish Soda Bread (the class favorite). On Friday, we enjoyed some Irish chocolate, Crunchie and Flake bars.Throughout the week, students worked in pairs to research a landmark or topic they were interested learning more about. They worked on the iPads and in the Computer Lab to gather their research. Afterwards, they typed their reports and presented them to the class. Some of the topics researched were the Gaelic Language, Croke Park and the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association), the Cliffs of Moher, Ross Castle, the History of Irish Dance, and the Poulnabrone Dolmen. They presented their reports to the class on Friday.Storytelling has always been an important facet of Irish Life. We listened to many fairy tales that included leprechauns, fairy folk, banshees, and the pooka. Students wrote their own limericks and illustrated an “Irish Blessing” which are abundant in the Irish culture.While soccer is the most played team sport in Ireland, hurling caught the interest of our 4th graders. It is so different from the sports we are most familiar with. We watched a video explaining the rules of the game.We ended the week learning about the music of Ireland. We learned about the Uilleann Pipes, Celtic Harp, Bodhran, tin whistle, bagpipes and Irish Fiddle. We listened to classical Irish music each day and identified what instruments were used.Irish music often gets folks clapping, tapping and Irish dancing. We watched clips from Riverdance and even learned the steps to the Irish Jig with the help of fourth-grade student Sarah Fitch.
Fourth Grade – Madagascar
This has been a very exciting week jam packed with various activities. We learned all about Madagascar! We have learned about their culture, economy, geography, government, education, and abundant amount of wildlife.
Monday we started off with a little Madagascar intro. We had a storyteller come to the theater and tell us a fun story that originated from Madagascar. We learned about all of the different types of lemurs and made a ring tailed lemur out of paper. We figured out how many ariaries we would have to spend when buying food from the market and converted USD into Madagascar Ariaries. Students finished off the day working in pairs and reading about an endemic animal. They read an article and painted their animal. Once they finished painting they made a mini version of their animal out of clay, which is on display in our “Mini Madagascar.”
Tuesday we finished up our paintings and clay models. We then watched the Madagascar movie! We discussed how lions, giraffes, and hippos don’t live in Madagascar, but the other animals in the movie (lemurs and fossa) are endemic animals. Students were able to point out specific lemurs in the movie and spotted the giant Baobab trees which are also special to Madagascar. We finished up the day making tamarind balls! We had a lot of fun making them. Some kids loved them, some kids thought they were a bit too sour.
Wednesday we went to the computer lab to research Madagascar’s history, culture, economy, education, government, and wildlife. We returned to the room and used an app called Seesaw which the kids loved! They made videos of themselves with the research they found online. They created different pictures to represent Madagascar and uploaded several pictures of animals and the flag. We watched everyone’s videos together and everyone added in their own comments. After we were finished with that I read a book called The Tree of Life which was all about the Baobab tree. Students learned a lot of animals and people rely on the Baobab tree for its bark, fruit, and water. These trees have giant trunks and can be up to sixty feet tall! Students then created tree mosaics of the Baobab tree, they turned out really great! We ended the day watching an African Troupe from Senegal perform. They played drums and the kora and taught us how to dance.
Thursday we started off the morning with a Malagasy breakfast! I made Malagasy pancakes/waffles for the students who were willing to try. Instead of drinking coffee with them we had some hot chocolate to go with. Students finished up their mosaics and after that they wrote persuasive letters urging people to donate money to Nothing but Nets. It helps provide mosquito nets for children, since Malaria is such an issue in Madagascar. We then made our own Jeopardy game with knowledge of Madagascar to quiz the other 4th grade class on. The other class came to me so I could teach them about Baobab trees and we switched to learn about Ireland. We ended the day making our own orchids that represent us on Seesaw. They named them, described their color/shape, and why/how they represented them. Madagascar is home to 1,000 different species of orchids and 85% are endemic!
Friday we watched our Seesaw orchid presentations. We then made paper orchids and assembled them. We watched a documentary on Madagascar and really got to see the people and their culture. We ended the day having the other 4th grade class come in and play the Jeopardy game we made about Madagascar!
Third Grade – Peru
Monday: We drank Inca cola and sampled roasted, giant, Inca corn. We learned how to use Peru worry dolls and took a set home to see how well they work.
Tuesday: Today we played an adapted version of the Peruvian game Sapo. Players have to toss a coin into the frog’s mouth. We sampled one of Peru’s favorite sweet treat, Alfajores. We discovered the mysterious geoglyphs in Nazca and then made our own.Wednesday: Today we sat on the floor and beaded, Peruvian style. We practiced making patterns with beads and painting. We sampled dried plantains and sweet drink called Chicha Morada.Thursday: Today was all about weaving. It was a challenge at first, but we soon got the hang of it and made amazing patterns with yarn while watching a Disney story about the Inca civilization.Friday: Today we learned the process of making chocolate from the tree in the rainforest to the candy and bars we are used to. We also presented our country research to the class. We finished the day with a small feast of quinoa and blue corn chips.
Third Grade – Thailand
“Saw-wah-dee” — hello from Thailand! We made flags, read stories, sang songs and ate lots of food. They tried and loved Thai fried rice, Pad Thai and Panang Chicken Curry. We also had fruit each day like coconut water, mango, jackfruit, dragon fruit, pomelo, and chocolate covered bananas.
We celebrated Loi Krathong, the floating lantern festival on the last full moon by making floating lantern boats. We made kites as we celebrated the international kite Festival occurring March 23 to 25 this year. They made longboats called ruea hang to sell pretend goods on the floating market. Lastly they loved celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year’s celebration referred to as “water days”. Thailand’s New Year’s takes place on April 13, 14, and 15 with ceremonies, parades and the ultimate water fight. Tradition is to blast friends and family with super soakers, hoses and buckets. We used squirt guns on the playground!
They painted and colored elephants, since they are so important in Thailand and had monkeys hanging in the room. Thanks to Ms. Block the Middle and upper school Art teacher who worked with them this week and Mrs. Pagliaro, the middle school Science teacher, who did fun projects with the class. Also, they had a short trip to Peru in Mrs. Barnicle’s classroom on Friday.
Second Grade – Australia
We traveled around the world and back again. Over the past week, we experienced the song, dance, literature, poetry, arts, crafts, games, food, and other cultural aspects from our target country, Australia.
We learned of the many wondrous physical features of the continent, read myths and legends of animals and Dreamtime, met the Aboriginal people via literature, and studied some very unique animals of the country. Creating an animal riddle book helped them distinguish between amazing Australian animals. Fun, fiction books added to our knowledge of animals from the land of Down Under. These included Wombat Stew, Koala Lou, Edward the Emu, Edwina the Emu, and Diary of a Wombat. Following Grandma Poss’ and Hush’s journey in Possum Magic, students sampled lamingtons, a delicious cake dipped in chocolate and coconut.
We also snacked on an Australian fruit flag, Pocket Power Snacks, pavlova, and other Australian treats. After researching All About Marsupials, we sorted fact from fiction, and then came up with our own myths to answer, “How the Kangaroo Got Its Pouch?”
We compared the Aboriginal people, the first people of Australia, to our Native American Indians. We talked about Dreamtime, when the native people believe the world was created. Students also made their own versions of the Aborigine paintings using a dot technique to fill in patterns.
We focused on the eucalyptus forest and the Great Barrier Reef habitats. Students were amazed to find that the koala bear obtains all its nourishment from eucalyptus leaves. The children enjoyed making their own eucalyptus trees, complete with their marsupial friend. While studying the Great Barrier Reef, students discovered the symbiotic relationship between the clownfish and the sea anemone and made their own model to represent these pals.
Math concepts even had an Australian twist. Word problems were comprised of all things Australia. Building on their knowledge of polygons, students discovered a hidden friend as they shaded in various shapes.
The second graders thoroughly enjoyed traveling to the Field Museum to discover artifacts from Australia and around the world. They loved all the dinosaur tie-ins with their science unit. Other cultural highlights during the week included Monday’s storyteller from Crooked Door Storytelling and an African dancing and drumming performance on Wednesday.
Second Grade – Greece
Monday: Ya sis (yah Soos)! Mrs. Halvorsen’s class studied Greece this week. We started the week by learning where Greece is located. We studied some landmarks like Mount Olympus and the Parthenon. The students made Greek flags. The class loved seeing the homes with the white walls and flat roofs. The students tasted hummus and pita chips. The children discovered the similarities and difference in the Greek language vs. English, school in Greece vs. the United States, and Greek traditions vs. our traditions. In the Tech lab, Ms. Terry helped us to do research on Greece. Check out the National Geographic Kids website. There is so much information there. Lower school attended an assembly featuring a storyteller. She told us stories all the way from Ireland and Thailand to Greece and Madagascar. Second grade was excited to learn that Aesop was Greek. In class we read more Aesop’s fables and learned what a “moral” in a story is.
Tuesday: We continued our adventure by tasting Kalamata olives. Half the students loved them, the other half not so much. Tuesday we learned what “came” from Greece. Organized schools, math (fractions and geometry in particular), inventions (clothes iron, maps, and catapults), sports (olympics, boxing, the marathon), Democracy, and Medicine. The students learned some modern day words like alphabet, bicycle, gymnasium, hippopotamus, and rhinoceros came from the Greek language. We did some online research about Greece and learned about the endangered animals in the area. Students created crayon resist paintings of some of those endangered animals. We learned all about the first Olympics and tried our hand at throwing a discus during recess. The students made olive wreath awards to celebrate their successes!
Wednesday: What is that? Students started the day by predicting what some ancient Greek artifacts were. They were very creative! They tried Feta cheese and grapes during snack time. The Feta cheese was quite the hit. Students learned about the Trojan war and the story of the Trojan Horse. The class learned about Greek pottery, and did a project with Greek patterns and the Greek alphabet. It was challenging trying to write our names using the Greek alphabet. Ms. Pagliaro taught us science and did a lesson about some of the insects that live in Greece. Did you know cicadas live in the olive trees? The day ended with an special performance by an African Dance Troupe from Senegal. The students were saying it was the “best week ever” and it was only Wednesday!
Thursday: Thursday was our Field trip to the Field Museum! The Museum itself is an example of Greek architecture with its Ionic columns. The students also noticed olive wreaths on the front of the building. Students explored the Underground Adventure exhibit where they were “shrunk” to the size of an insect. Groups had time for free exploration. The students also visited the Crown Family Play Lab. The PlayLab, with its real artifacts and specimens, encourages young explorers to discover the wonders of nature and learn about diverse cultures. The big hit was exploring a pueblo home and seeing how families lived in different times and places. Many students played African drums and danced to a Latin beat. Second grade scientists uncovered dinosaur bones and identified them. Thank you to our chaperones, Ms Wells (Caileigh’s mom), Ms. Ross (Lea’s mom), Ms. Hatley (Grace’s grandma, and Ms. Lane (Nadia’s mom). On the way out we saw one of the endangered animals we studied…the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. We can’t wait to go back to the Field Museum.
Friday: Today the students illustrated and wrote postcards home about their experience at the museum. The children explored the ancient Greek plays: tragedies and comedies. They created masks. Their snack was frozen Greek yogurt. Ms. Pagliaro came back to teach us about arachnids in Greece and the students completed spider projects. It was fun to hear stories of Greek mythology and to watch the movie Hercules. Global Explorer’s Week was something we will never forget!
First Grade – Czech Republic
We learned that the Czech Republic is known as the castle capital of the world. Their President lives in Prague Castle! Prague is called the “City of 1,000 Spires” as seen on the tops of churches and buildings throughout the city. Their most popular sports are ice hockey and soccer. We loved watching Little Mole (named Krtek), a famous children’s cartoon from the Czech artist Zdnek Miler. We ate strawberry kolach, apple strudel, sweet houska bread, and cherry kolache cookies. The Czech Republic loves marionettes, seen in theaters and with street performers. Their flag has the same three colors as our U.S. flag, though its design is different. We had a blast learning about the beautiful country of the Czech Republic!
First Grade – Italy
Wow what a busy week! The students certainly enjoyed our trip to Italy during Global Explorers’ Week! Many of our main highlights included songs, literature, poems, crafts, and a taste of Italian desserts.
The students discovered many fun facts about this wonderful country. They were fascinated to learn that on a map Italy looks like a high heeled boot. They also discovered that many things in our everyday lives were invented in the country of Italy, from many of the yummiest cheeses we enjoy today to the invention of eyeglasses. Some of our main highlights were learning about The Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Mona Lisa painting by Italian artist Leonardo Da Vinci, making a gondola and the Italian flag, reading fiction stories and watching Italian folktales, learning an Italian poem, and hearing about what a typical school day is like for an Italian child. Of course our Italian visit would not be complete without sampling Italian dessert. Snacking on the Pizzelle, the Italian Waffle Cookie was a treat enjoyed by all.
Kindergarten – Haiti
We had a fantastic visit from Schneider’s mom, who introduced us to the land where he was born. We found Haiti using Google Maps, and talked a bit about the geography of Haiti. She brought pictures, artifacts and a wonderful story about a trickster. We had a storyteller the same day who told us a folk tale about Haiti and relayed stories from other countries. The students loved it.
On Tuesday, we talked about how we get to school and how the children of Haiti arrive at school (mostly long walks on foot). Another popular way to travel in Haiti is a tap-tap. Some people ride and transport things on these colorful buses. We looked at lots of pictures, read a book called Tap-tap, and watched a quick video of how one rides a tap-tap. The kids then designed their own colorful tap-taps.
Wednesday, we talked about homes around the world. We read a fascinating book called “If You Lived Here.” We then looked at lots of different homes in Haiti, from tin homes to the colorful mountain-top homes in the city. We designed our own home using paper bags and colorful paper.
Thursday was all about food! Schneider’s mom brought a special visitor to teach us about different foods in Haiti and brought some tasty Haitian food. We also made a Haitian Orange Cake.
We wrapped up the week on Friday by writing to some Haitian pen-pals. We asked questions to start corresponding. We also learned about a typical day of a student in Haiti and played some games that are played there.
Kindergarten – Japan
We made homemade sushi and green tea mochi as a class. We learned about the cherry blossom festival and made paper sakura trees. We learned about Children’s Day and made fish flags. We talked about Japanese writing and wrote “Nihon” (Japan) in calligraphy. We watched videos and read books about life as a child in Japan.
Kindergarten – Mexico
We began each morning by greeting our friends with “Hola” or “Buenos Dias” as they do in Mexico. Through literature, songs, videos, games, food, and crafts, the children engaged in activities that taught them about the Mexican culture.
Some of those activities included:
- Playing Loteria (a bingo-type game that is played during the holidays)
- Using a Molcajete (stone mortar and pestle) to make guacamole and eating it with blue corn chips
- Dancing our own version of the Hat Dance
- Tasting concha (seashell shaped bread), fruit salsa with cinnamon chips, pineapple/mango empanadas and drinking horchata (cinnamon rice drink)
- Breaking open a pinata and getting loads of candy
- Eating Paleta (chocolate marshmallow candy) and Polvorones (a type of sugar cookie)
- Making maracas, Cinco de Mayo masks, and Alebrijes clay creations
Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated on November 1. People everywhere dress as ghosts, skeletons, or witches. The children discovered that this is not a scary or sad holiday. It is a time for honoring and celebrating families and those who are no longer with us. Our Dia de los Muertos skeletons are on display in the hallway. Check them out!
In addition, our schedule this week included a storyteller of cultural folk tales, a performance by an African dance troupe, and science class with Miss Jeannie. She taught us about the life cycle of the mariposa (butterfly).
PreK-4 – France
Highlights from the week included:
- We heard several short stories from an excellent storyteller!
- We watched several videos about life in France.
- We made mosaic French flags.
- We had a lovely visit from Mrs. Bowles, who told us about her trip to France.
- We made a What We Learned about France chart.
- We read some nonfiction books about France.
- We ate croissants and macaroons.
- We watched a video detailing the book Madeline.
- We learned the song Frère Jacques!
- We played les billes, a popular marble game in France.
- We played French Bingo.
PreK-3 – Spain
What an exciting week we had learning about Spain! The week started off with a discussion on what we would pack in a suitcase if we were going on a trip. Some very interesting items were mentioned…lots of Shopkins and stuffed action figures! I explained to the children that for our trip, we were going to make a special suitcase to fill with things we learn about Spain. We also talked about how you need to have a ticket to fly on a plane and when going to Spain, we need something called a passport. I made each student one for their suitcase and we put the USA and Spain stamps in them. We were off to Spain!
While traveling in Spain, we tasted a few desserts. We tried churros, mantecados and polvorones. They were all a huge hit and several students were asking for seconds! We also learned how to play la goma, carrera de chapas and canicas which are playground games from Spain. Our favorite game was canicas. During our week of travel, the children listen to fairy tales and finger plays from Spain and loved the book, “The Story of Ferdinand”. Finally, we learned what people in Spain do for fun. In gym, the children enjoyed learning the rules and playing soccer with Coach O. We also learned about Flamenco Dancers. The girls especially liked dressing up in the flamenco dress and everyone enjoyed making and playing castanets. To end our week, we talked about and had our very own “Bull Fight” in the backyard. The children took turns acting as the matador, the bull and the fans who wave a white cloth and yell “Hola!” It was an amazing week of discovery and fun!