On Monday, November 20th, Diane and Mark’s class and the other 5th and 6th grade class, Louis and Jeri’s class, went on a field trip to The Crefeld School. Crefeld invites the 5th and 6th grade at Miquon every other year to their presentation of pioneer life on Pioneer Day. The students at Crefeld set up stations in the auditorium, gym, and outside. They talked to us about the general idea of pioneers and then we split up into small groups and went around to the stations.
At the first station my group visited, we learned how pioneers baked bread in mud domes and then we each got a turn to split wood. After that my group went to the games station. We played marbles and jax, wich are games that pioneer children played. Next we went to the church dolls station. Pioneer children didn’t always go to school, but when they were sent to church, their mothers made them a doll out of cloth so they could play in church without getting in trouble if they dropped their doll. We all got to make a church doll. When that station was finished, we went to the embroidery station and started embroidering flowers. Then we went to the calligraphy station. We wrote with ink! It was tricky, but fun. We went to the potato station next. Pioneers ate a lot of potatoes. We had some delicious, warm, buttery potatoes with salt. Then we went outside to the hardtack station. We learned about hardtack, and they told us that sometimes pioneers would build a structure out of sticks and put lots of leaves in the bottom and sleep in it. We all tried hardtack, which is rock hard dough, and some sweet tea made with herbs. The last station we went to was pulling taffy. Part of making taffy is pulling and stretching it before eating it. We all got to pull our own taffy and take some home.
Afterward we had a feast of foods pioneers would eat. We ate: chicken soup, duck, pork, mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, biscuits and apple butter, and other yummy dishes. I had gingerbread for dessert. It was a wonderful meal and a wonderful field trip. I hope the next 5th and 6th graders will have as wonderful a time as I did.
This November, Diane and Mark’s fifth and sixth grade class started a study on America’s pastime: baseball. During this study we learned about baseball and its predecessors (town ball, base ball, etc.). One of my favorite things that we did as a part of this study was learning Finger baseball.
Finger baseball, or fingerball, is a game very similar to Rock-Paper-Scissors in the way that hand games usually played between two people, and each player simultaneously forms shapes with their fingers. Unlike rock-paper-scissors, finger baseball has multiple levels of complexity, starting with a very basic version of the game that is played like this:
- Start by choosing who is pitcher and who is batter first; this can be decided by a game of rock-paper-scissors.
- The pitcher gets to choose from six different pitches.
- The first pitch is thrown by pointing your index finger.
- The second is your middle finger.
- Third is your ring finger.
- The fourth pitch is thrown by pointing both your index and middle finger at the same time.
- The fifth is a combination of your middle and ring fingers.
- For the sixth pitch, you point all three fingers at once.
- When you’re batting, you have all these same choices.
- If you match the pitch with the swing it’s a hit.
- If the pitcher throws a any single finger pitch, and you swing with one finger and these fingers don’t match, you get a strike.
- If the pitcher throws a multiple finger pitch and you swing a multiple finger swing, but the fingers don’t match you get an out.
- If you match a single finger it’s a single, two fingers it’s a double, and three it’s a homerun. There are no triples.
And that’s only the most basic version. There are even more complicated ones.
We Are The Ship
“We are the ship, all else the sea” is a famous quote by Rube Foster, founder of the Negro Leagues. The Negro Leagues were founded because Major League Baseball wouldn’t let African-Americans play in the league from the turn of last century to April 15, 1947 (when Jackie Robinson broke the color line). “We Are The Ship” is also the name of a fantastic book by Kadir Nelson that Diane and Mark’s Group finished just before winter break.
This book is completely non-fiction and has a lot of first-hand interviews and quotes from Negro League players of the time. The book makes you really understand how the players and managers felt. The Negro Leagues had some major differences from Major League Baseball: they pitched faster, they ran faster, they even invented the batting helmet. The Negro Leagues had a generation of baseball stars that don’t get much recognition, such as: Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, and many more.
Kadir Nelson is an author-illustrator that mostly focuses his work on African-American history. This is his first baseball book. All of Kadir Nelson’s paintings are very realistic and do a great job using light and shadow to make his paintings seem real. The illustrations in this 96 page book took Nelson more than seven years and I think it certainly paid off. We Are The Ship is one of Kadir Nelson’s many great books. He also illustrated books such as Henry’s Freedom Box, If You Plant a Seed, and Ellington Was Not a Street.
I think it’s safe to say that this book was a class-wide favorite.
Shadow ball was a warm-up played by players in the Negro Leagues. They would play to the delight of the crowd. Shadow ball is a game that is played with no ball. What! No ball?!? Keyword — shadow. The players would throw around an imaginary ball or pitch one to a batter, and the outfield would pretend to catch it. Some people even claim they heard the crack of the bat. Kids in Diane and Mark’s ⅚ have played shadow ball by calling the person’s name that he or she is throwing to. They would then toss them an imaginary ball, and the the other kid would make a slight gesture and pretend to catch the “ball.” My group watched a short film of shadow ball, which I think started shadow ball in my class.
In art in December we made candles. There were two groups. You would line up and dip your string in wax. The wax would build up, and eventually you would get a really thick candle. The candle smelled good. The candle colors were blue or white. After the candle was made you decorated a paper tube, and we put the candle in the tube. We went home and gave it to our family.
We also we helped the kindergarten make their candles. I helped by helping dip the candle in wax, and cooling his candle.
A Trip to the Mercer Museum
On December 13th, my group went to the Mercer Museum for our study of work and play. The Mercer Museum has a section for both of these. In the play section, it showed how children grew up in different parts of America and what it was like for each of them. There was also a fake boat with luggage. Most of the suitcases were empty, but one had a bag with fake coins in it. We spent most of the time stealing the bag from each other. (At least I did.)
Then we went to the work section. This was a section all about different jobs and how people did those jobs before the Industrial Revolution. There was everything from blacksmithing tools to stuff you would see in an apothecary shops. All in all, I really liked the trip.
The Winter Assembly took place in a church called First United Methodist Church of Germantown on 6008 Germantown Avenue on December 15th. The assembly was about one hour and a half long, and took almost ten to fifteen minutes for every performance, not including solos. Solos took about three minutes to five. Miquon did this because it’s good to show how you’re doing in terms of music in school. All the kids and adults used their voices and lots of instruments. Some of them may not even be considered instruments, like a pig that squeaks when you squeeze it.
There were a lot of people at the Winter Assembly, I would say a little over one hundred. Not only parents came, but friends and other relatives.
At the end of the class performances, all the staff performed a sing along which took ten minutes for all the songs they sang. There were two solos and seventeen songs, not including solos, but all together there were nineteen songs. All of the performances were led by the music teacher, Diego Maugeri, except for the solos and staff performances. The fifth and sixth grades were able to use their new instruments, the clarinet and flute for the first time at an official performance.
Every year each class has a potluck. On the 6th of January both of the ⅚ rooms had a potluck at one of the student’s houses. Everyone brought something very delicious to eat! Everyone had a fun time, although sometimes things could get a little chaotic. Once things were starting to settle down a bit, it was dessert time!! There was so many choices! I knew I shouldn’t grab everything just because it was free food.. so I made sure I didn’t eat too much. If any kids wanted drinks, there was a bar in the basement. The basement was where all the kids were supposed to hang out, so there would be a couple kids behind the bar that could get you a drink like apple cider or something. The potluck was from 6:00 to 9:00. For dinner the kids had pizza. But the adults, had a variety of things to eat. Overall, the potluck was very fun! I hope we will do something like it again!
Fifth and Sixth Grades Make PE History
Miquon’s fifth and sixth grade have finished a cooperation activity that has never been finished before in the history of Miquon. The cooperation activity is there was about six strings, attached to a diving hoop, which was placed on top of a cone. The strings are then pulled outwards to tighten, then we lift the strings to move a ball on top of the cone to another cone. There are three sizes of balls – small, medium, and large. All four small groups finished it on the same day!
The Creek Project
The Creek Project is something that we have been doing for the past couple of years. We usually start this project right before winter break begins, and we end this project about two weeks after we get back from winter break. It is something that we can use to learn more about the creek and to also learn more about the critters that live there. One of the most important things about the creek project is that we can learn about how healthy our creek is and also if there are some problems with the creek that we need to solve.
The way that this project works is that Kate pairs us up and gives us a few very important things: a mesh bag, fishing line, scissors and a scale. Then you and your partner walk up to the creek. Once you arrive, you have to start by gathering dry leaves and then weigh them to see if there are enough leaves in the bag. Then you tie the fishing line around the bag and the other end of the fishing line to a nearby tree. The last step is to drape the leaf bag into the creek. Then you are finished!
So, who is in charge of the creek project? Well, dear reader, I think that is a very good question. Kate is the leader of the creek project, and Diane and Mark’s group as well as Louis and Jeri’s group participate in this project. This project involves The Miquon School and our beautiful creek. We discuss this project in the science room.
Leaving the leaf bags in the creek allows us to see what kind of bugs are there. Identifying which bugs are in the creek can tell us how healthy our creek is. For example, if we found five mayflies in the creek, this would tell us that our creek was very healthy. The mayfly is a very pollution-sensitive bug. Because of this, if our creek was very polluted, the mayfly would not be able to survive there. Now if we found fifteen dragonflies, we would know that our creek was very polluted because dragonflies are very tolerant to pollution.
(The Man, the Myth, the Legend)
Miquon is a progressive education school. A progressive education school is a school with little to no tests and a slow but steady teaching technique. Me and a majority of the other kids at The Miquon School can agree that, along with the progressive learning technique that we enjoy, the teachers are FANTASTIC. The teachers and educators at Miquon are extremely generous and caring due to INTENSE, DIFFICULT, and HARDCORE TRAINING they go through to reach the top.
Every year, a few teachers in training visit Miquon to learn firsthand what being a teacher is like. [ Ed.: Now Miquon is part of an organization of schools — Progressive Education Lab — offering a two-year program of training.]This year, Diane and Mark’s class has a teacher in training, Matt. Matt Linden is a quick learner; on his first day he managed to memorize most of the schedule and some of our names. Matt is a funny guy, and I’m looking forward to spending more time with him for the next five weeks.
Library Book Club
Diane and Mark and Louis and Jeri’s groups were invited to be in a book club with Amy and Rossana. The book we read was called, The London Eye Mystery. We read this book on Kindles and paper books and then had a meeting in the library. The reason we do book club is so people can have a book to read.
The book is about a brother and sister who live in Los Angeles. They move to London and they see their cousin, Salim. Salim really wants to go on the London Eye, so they wait in line for tickets, and a man walks up to them and asks if they want a free ticket. They give it to Salim and he goes on. They look at his booth and wait until it comes down, and when it does they don’t see Salim…
Our Letters to Authors
Amy, the librarian at Miquon, chose an activity for us that was writing letters to our favorite authors. First we looked up the author’s main website and found the information that we needed for the letters. And then we wrote our letters! Amy started this project in the beginning of December, but it is not quite finished yet.
The Welcome Back Breakfast
When we came back from winter break last week our teachers took the time to make us a breakfast of banana pancakes, regular pancakes, and turkey sausage. The pancakes were cooked perfectly, soft and fluffy, pancakes that tasted even better with syrup. The sausage was juicy and had that taste of sweet at the beginning, but were salty at the end. To drink there was hot cocoa, tea, and orange juice. We made the hot cocoa with hot water and hot cocoa powder packets,then we stirred it together and voile! we got hot cocoa. To make the tea we had tea bags and let them steep in hot water. We poured the orange juice from a carton.
The teachers (Diane, Mark, Louis, and Jeri) planned this breakfast to welcome everyone back from a long winter break. We really enjoyed the breakfast.