A Look Back At Our Year At The Lower School

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From the desk of Sandra Fritcher, Lower School Principal:

Wow!  What an exciting year 2013-2014 has been at the Brook Hill Lower School.  New students, new teachers, and a new principal have worked with returning students and teachers all year, enjoying learning in various ways.  New and creative approaches have been combined with traditional and usual methods to provide experiences that included higher order thinking, as well as thinking outside the box.  Students and teachers extended classroom learning to places outside the classroom. Technology was used to connect traditional learning to 21st learning in a meaningful and purposeful way. Each grade level has experienced highlights that define this year.  Here are a few of them.

Pre-kindergarten students experienced several wonderful activities during their first year at Brook Hill.  While studying the five senses unit, they observed a real octopus. The students looked at the octopus, touched it, and smelled it. They learned the octopus does not hear. They even tasted some cooked octopus. In November, they dressed as pilgrims and enjoyed a tasty Thanksgiving feast. During Rodeo and Cowboy Day, they participated in different stations, experiencing life like cowboys used to experience. They even branded pieces of wood, using a real branding iron.

Kindergarten students were visited by community helpers, learning just how these workers help people in our community. They also learned about animals that hibernate.  Each student chose an animal that hibernates, read about the animal, made a poster showing the information, and then presented the information to the class. When studying precipitation, each student ended the lesson by making ice cream in a bag, learning about liquids changing to solids. Walking to the pond located on the Brook Hill campus enabled the kindergarten students to experience God’s creation while having a scavenger hunt looking for insects.  In order to reinforce the kindergarten students’ knowledge of retelling a familiar story, they went on a field trip to Cowan Center to see a play about the book Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day.  They identified the elements of the story and then used a Venn diagram to compare/contrast the book and the play.

First graders participated in several fun activities to reinforce what they were studying throughout the year. The Christmas pajama party was a great success. The children brought new pajamas and books to share with underprivileged children. The Texas Round-Up was a culminating activity after studying Texas. Students wore western clothes and made different crafts about Texas history. Students also did research on animals and then hosted an Animal Showcase to share information they learned. Another special day was the annual Mothers’ Poetry Tea. The children entertained their mothers and grandmothers with cookies, punch, and poetry readings of poetry written by the children.

In second grade, students selected a great American to study and then wrote a research paper. They worked with the librarian and created a Power Point presentation for parents. Each student then dressed up as his/her famous American and presented the information to the school in the style of a wax museum. At Christmas time, students studied countries around the world and the different traditions in these countries. Food representing each country was brought for a feast to enjoy during the presentations of the traditions. They also collected toys and delivered them to St. Paul Children’s Foundation in Tyler. Our students were able to see the clothes closet and food pantry where families come to collect things they need. Another second grade highlight was when one class used Google Earth to see real satellite images of the journey that Moses and God’s people took out of Egypt. They also learned more about maps and directions by searching for their own towns and the school.

Taking an imaginary cross-country trip to learn about the United States enabled third graders to be actively involved in social studies. They created a travel journal to describe the experiences of the trip.  Third graders also created their own newspapers and held elections for class presidents. They hosted bake sales during lunch to raise money for their service project with the SPCA. During the year, there were board races for multiplication, egg experiments in science, and book commercials for parents. A culminating and very special activity for third grade was attending a naturalization ceremony at the courthouse in Tyler. There they saw thirty-nine new American citizens take the oath to pledge allegiance to the United States of America.

Science instruction in fourth grade included trips to Pine Cove Christian Camp and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas. At Pine Cove, students participated in activities such as teambuilding, learning about horses, orienteering, archery, earth science instruction, and zip lines. At the Perot Museum, they toured the multi-floor museum and also saw a traveling exhibit called Animals – Inside and Out. The American Freedom Museum on the Brook Hill upper school campus provided an excellent resource for their study about Texas history. Students also participated in juice contests, an all-school book parade, and a Spring Spectacular Variety Musical. Service projects included writing letters to military personnel. These letters were added to care packages for the Operation Gratitude program.

Fifth graders traveled to Houston to visit the NASA Space Center. There they learned about the history and future of America’s participation in the space program. Fifth graders also studied about amazing Americans who have made significant contributions to the USA and the world. They shared this information during a chapel presentation. A culminating activity for fifth grade was traveling to Dallas for the Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament. Teachers had taught a mini-unit on medieval history before the students embarked on this great castle experience, taking them back to the 11th century.

Our Cadet Singers—a select choir of third, fourth, and fifth graders—performed with Christian concert artist Michael W. Smith, and they also performed a special salute to veterans on Grandparents Day. We had an all-schoolFine Arts Extravaganza where various genres of art and music were highlighted.  Spanish classes participated in a canned food drive to help a Spanish mission. Quarterly character awards were presented to all third, fourth, and fifth graders. All students received individual character awards from their teachers during classroom receptions.

Yes, there is no question.  This has been an amazing year. Everyone at the Brook Hill Lower School is ready for a fun and relaxing break.  Happy summer to everyone!