Our Students Deep Dive into Lit, Music, and Latin America

by Natalie Jackson
Our first Deep Dive of the year finds the students learning in-depth.

First Grade Dives into Waiting
First grade has been participating in an author study of Kevin Henkes' books; analyzing central themes and ideas throughout the stories. These themes include being kind to others, listening to and respecting all, learning how not to worry all the time, and more! Kevin Henkes has written many popular children's books, including some you may recognize: Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse, Sheila the Brave, and Chrysanthemum. During their Deep Dive, first grade chose to focus on the book Waiting.

Waiting is one of Henke’s newer publications, 2015, and won a Caldecott Medal which recognizes the most distinguished American picture book for children during that year. This book is about 5 friends: an owl, pig, bear, puppy, and rabbit all waiting on a window sill for something to happen. Waiting represents imaginative play, seasons, friendships, surprises, and patience. Waiting is something everyone has to do, but it can be especially hard for children, which is why this book makes such a great focal piece for our first graders.

Ms. Alli Flores, Art Specialist at Jacksonville Country Day School, has chosen to recreate the characters in the book through ceramics with first grade students during their time in art this week. Ms. Flores demonstrated to the students how to carefully sculpt their animals of choice and then let them create their own figurines. This project is a fun hands-on activity that, like the book, will take patience. Although it only takes a few days to sculpt, it takes several more days for the projects to dry, to be fired in the kiln, to dry again, and then be cooled. When the wait is finally over, first graders will have animal figurines they can sit in their own window sills at home just like in the book Waiting.

Third Grade Deep Dives into Latin America
Third graders have been studying Latin American countries leading up to their Deep Dive. To prepare for their week with Señora Leonard our students learned the geography of these regions through labeling and coloring Central and South American maps. They also recognized and labeled the major bodies of water surrounding these countries while learning about the biggest, tallest, largest and smallest countries, peaks, rivers, deserts, and waterfalls.

“The children found it fascinating that the highest waterfall (Angel Falls) and the second-longest river (Amazon River) in the world are in South America” said third grade teacher, Ms. Cannington.
During their Deep Dive Señora Leonard began by having the students learn all 21 of the Spanish speaking countries and their locations in the world. After teaching them more fun facts about each country, students began their Latin American booklets! 3rd graders chose a country out of an “ancient well” and used their research skills to learn some interesting facts about the Hispanic world. 

“It (this deep dive) ties beautifully with Hispanic Heritage month which started on September 15th,” said Señora Leonard. 
Students looked up the best attractions, holidays, fun facts, food, animals and other information relevant to each country. At the end of the deep dive they present their knowledge to the whole class so everyone can learn more about each country in detail.

Fifth Graders Discover "A New World"
During their Deep Dive, 5th graders are working on a music presentation called "A New World" that includes songs that promote character development and cultural awareness. Cultures highlighted include the regions 5th graders will study this year, such as Africa, Egypt, and India; the musical also highlights China, France, and Haiti.

“We are excited because this is the first show that will use the new sound system and lighting and also a performance that we have not done yet. Additionally, some students are extra excited as they are from some of the regions our songs are about, so they get really into it!” said Jessica Barker, JCDS Music Specialist.

The performance is a great segue into the 5th graders' curriculum where they will learn more in depth about different cultures and regions. This past week, in Ms. Kenny’s geography class, students began their study on India; they will learn about the food, the entertainment, religions and education. During this unit, 5th graders will be able to participate in a Zoom call with students of Paul George Global School located in New Delhi, India. The 5th graders will chat with students similar to their age and have the opportunity to ask questions about their culture and growing up in India.
“It brings India to life! Allowing our students to make connections across oceans and continents and rejoice in their similarities and become curious about the world in which they live” said Tricia Finkenberg, JCDS Learning Design and Curriculum Coordinator.