The Bigger Picture
Second-graders recently created artistic drawings in their own Brownsville Cave, a cave system constructed by parents out of brown craft paper, PVC pipes, and packing tape in one corner of the school library, as part of the Art Print program. The program is an art supplement run by parent organizations in every Albemarle County elementary school. Brownsville’s Art Print coordinator Laura Allen oversaw interactive art projects at each grade level, from crafts with Kindergarteners to costumed plays with fifth-graders, all based on artworks that volunteer parents presented in class. “The second-graders studied the prehistoric painting ‘Bison’ from the Caves of Altamira in Spain,” said Allen, “and they’ll be visiting Grand Caverns. With this project they can use oil pastels and charcoal to draw on cave walls themselves,” said Allen.
Second-grader Amelia Hodson said she drew a dinosaur. “I like that it’s not all straight and flat on the inside,” said Hodson, “so that makes it kind of like a real cave.” Her classmate Maddox Nauman noted that drawing was a little tricky without a light, so he was glad there were windows. He contributed a bat and a sun to the cave art. “It’s really cool how everybody comes up with different drawings and they draw everywhere,” he said.
When it comes to nurturing an award-winning school environmental program, Crozet Elementary students don’t just rest on their laurels. After being named a Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education in 2015, Crozet’s green effort has continued to grow. On the school’s Community Day this spring, students and their parents painted stepping stones, accented with colorful images and thumbprints from family members, to surround the rain garden habitat. The garden was created from an existing “bio-fill” area—a landscaped depression that captures and treats stormwater runoff. These days, the garden is bright with flowers planted by each successive class, and is criss-crossed with paths lined with birdhouses, bird baths, and arbors.
“Every year, the second-graders are the caretakers of the garden,” said second grade teacher Barbara Huneycutt. “They do all the weeding and planting, and they sketch, journal, and keep science notebooks about what they see growing there.”
Next year the PTO will be supplying a bridge to enter the garden from one side, and the class hopes to set up a kiosk providing plant identification information. Though the Green Ribbon award recognizes a schoolwide effort, including nature trails, recycling and composting initiatives, and butterfly and vegetable gardens, the rain garden habitat is a special place for the students, said Huneycutt. “This year’s fifth-graders still know exactly where their original flower marker is in the garden.”
Quick! Given the numbers 1, 2, 5, and 9, can you use only addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to get to 24? (Use every number, but only once.) The third, fourth, and fifth-graders from Murray Elementary who competed in the recent countywide ‘24’ tournament absolutely can. With no paper and pencil, competitors use only their quick minds to figure out the right combination from a set of numbers before their opponents do. Differentiation teacher Laura Richardson said the tournament celebrates fluent and flexible math thinking. “We thought of it as the math counterpart to our district spelling bee,” she said. After grade-level competitions at Murray, the top four students in each grade made up the Murray team at the tournament.
Richardson described the team’s emotions before and during play: Third-grader Josel Santugini, who won third place among third-graders at the tournament, said that he was very nervous in the first tournament round. “At our Murray practices, I thought, ‘This will be fun and easy,’ but when I got into the first round I was like, “Whoa, these other kids are GOOD.’” Fifth-graders Jonah Klaff-Laymon and Quinn Reilly said that they felt like a close fifth grade team. Jonah said, “After each round, we would check in and cheer each other on.”
Have you figured it out? ((2+1)x5)+9 = 24 is one solution!