Blog Archive:

Alpha Journal January 27-29

 Alpha’s Weigh Anchor…

We started the week talking about the smallest living things in the ocean: PLANKTON!


We watched a video about plankton.

Alpha’s learned that one teaspoon of ocean water can contain over one million plankton! We learned that out of all the plankton in the ocean 90% is phytoplankton.   Alpha’s already knew a lot about plants- we get the air we breathe from them, but they were surprised to learn that we get over half of our air from those microscopic plants in the ocean! Alphas also knew what all plants need in order to live: water, sunlight and nutrients, but they weren’t so sure how phytoplankton got its nutrients, because phytoplankton just float around in the water!


Waves stir up nutrients that feed phytoplankton!

Alphas thought phytoplankton must like to live in shallow water, because, they figured, that’s where the waves would be.

Alphas create their own Ocean Depth Maps...

Alphas create their own Ocean Depth Maps…

They realized that the areas phytoplankton lived would also be areas where humans would be too- with their trash and their chemicals flowing into the ocean from rivers and streams…One student exclaimed during circle, “So guys, that means: don’t litter- or there won’t be enough oxygen and you’ll die!”

We also did a demonstration about sunlight and water and discovered that even very clear water blocks out the sun.




Just a bit of sand…

Less sunlight...

Less sunlight…


Alphas realized that phytoplankton could only grow in the most sunlit part of the ocean- the top 30 feet!


Alphas measured off 30 feet…Over half of the oxygen on the earth gets made near land, within the top 30 feet of ocean water…!


Tracing phytoplankton for our Ocean Installation!


A 3-D version of plankton!

Not only do we get over half our oxygen from plankton,  it is also the base for all life in the ocean…Alphas liked playing the food chain game…

Orca-Mara sits at the top of the ocean food chain today!

Orca-Mara sits at the top of the ocean food chain today!

Alphas enjoyed sharing their journal-work with their peers. We went on a gallery walk in order to find inspiration for our  ocean-animal-research-project…


Closer to Home…

Thanks to Alexa, we got to host a visit from Dowser Dan!  20150127_134407_HDROur fellow Beta and Gamma friends got to watch a performance about water conservation.  Dowser Dan was surprised AHB students knew so much about water in our area…

Dowser Dan in a Q&A with his audience...

Dowser Dan in a Q&A with his audience…

We learned a lot about things we can do around our homes to conserve water and keep the ground water clean and healthy!

Watch out for the Oil Blog!

Watch out for the Oil Blob!

Alpha Practice…

Ms. Jennifer taught us handwriting tricks with the "magic letter "C"!"

Ms. Jennifer taught us handwriting tricks with the “magic letter “C”!”


Sorting coins by attributes...

Sorting coins by attributes…

Math Pentathlon!

Math Pentathlon!

Building compound words...

Building compound words…

Using a graphic organizer to describe a main character...

Using a graphic organizer to describe a main character…our beloved “TACKY!”

Doing "The Tacky-dance..."

Doing “The Tacky-dance…”

Here’s the author reading from one of her books!


Alphas have lots to share!

Sea creatures...

Sea creatures…


All the way from the Atlantic Ocean!



...more stories...

…more stories…

...even MORE stories- this one with sound effects!

…even MORE stories- this one with sound effects!



Displays of flexibility...

Displays of flexibility…

...and cheer...

…and cheer…

And on THAT note…

Kudos to…

Thanks to all of you who showed up to the Spring Parent Night- We appreciate your insight and support!  We LOVE our team!! What a wonderful community!

Thank you Alexa for connecting us to Dowser Dan!

Thank you Gabi for your amazing cleaning skills! Oceans can wreak havoc on a classroom…

Thank you Gabriel for all the library support!!!

Upcoming Events…

  • 2/5- Shipe Park Make-up Day!
  • 2/12- Friendship Day
  • 2/16-Presidents’ Day- No Monday Camp
  • 3/5-End of Q3

That about wraps up another week in the amazing world of the Alpha Class! We hope you all will have wonderful weekends and we look forward to seeing everyone next week!

Kim & Eliza

Filed January 30th, 2015.

Alpha Journal January 20-22

Where does sand come from?  



We explored different kinds of beaches from around the world – pink ones, black ones, white ones. Why were they different – what was in the sand?


Sharing research from PnP

And so our our week started…wondering about how ALL of the sand gets on the beaches. So we looked closely and found all kinds of bits in it – rocks, shells, crystals, & even bone.


Other ?’s we asked this week…

What makes a tide pool a tide pool? What are the creatures in a tide pool? If we make a tide pool how can we make the animals life size? 

We decided that we needed to use rulers and tape measures to help us.

What have we learned about Tide Pools that we didn’t know before?


Some animals are stuck to the ground

Tides are made from the gravity of the moon

Sea anemones can move

Some creatures don’t have brains, but can figure out how to get food

Big starfish eat other starfish

when you touch the se anemone from the spikes it will sting you.

Sun stars can kill the whole coral

We made simulations of wind and waves to understand how the geography of a beach is created. 



And where there’s sand…well, you have to build sand castles…even mini ones.

A couple ways we brainstormed that we could learn about oceans was to research and measure (sizes of animals, how deep the ocean is, etc). Our research included books and the internet to inform us of accurate measurements we would need to create a representation of a tide pool.


Some tide pool crabs are bigger than we thought they could be!




Sea stars are a favorite!



tide pool fish ~ life-size scale


sand and paint mixtures help create realistic models of sea cucumbers

Resource: Measurement around home

elimeasure fletcherfish

making rocks for our tide pool

painting process for rocksrockmakers


Some of our classmates have been to tide pools. Sally and Abbey shared pictures of them in Oregon and New England.


Another excellent resource to learn even more about tide pools:


Daily menus of skill building



Marley and Pavla play “Guess my Number.” They are learning to ask good deductive questions!


choral reading

The Gammas came to read ” Hummingbird” stories they had written about how one small act can make a big difference. 

You can read some of these stories posted outside the Gamma room.

 fess finnevan


What did you notice about the Gamma’s stories?


They had different kinds of colorings

Some did it by computer

Only a few had outlines of erasings

Stories were about fires and hummingbirds

They’re older and bigger and they know how to do it!


Yoga breaks…camel


hmmm…no one had informed us about this before now!

Wild rumpus (a favorite), tents, & games….Rainy Day Fun

20150122_131056(1) 20150122_123126 20150122_123211_HDR


Rock & Circus stars of the future

Dates to remember…

  • 1.24.15 Skate Party at Playland Skate 10-Noon
  • 1.27.15 Dowser Dan visits the Alpha & Gamma classes at 1:30 in the community hall
  • 1.29.15 Spring Parent Night (6:30) – please come for a community conversation about how Projects and Practice is working for your family
  • 2.7.15 Alternative Education Fair upstairs at Whole Foods 6th and Lamar 10-2 – Come visit our booth and talk with families interested in our school!
  • 2.12.14 Friendship Day

Merci Beaucoup

to Gammas for sharing stories

to Alexa for organizing a visit from Dowser Dan of the Austin Water Utility Dept.

to Gabi for sweeping up high tide tidal pool makings!


Filed January 23rd, 2015.

Alpha Tidepool Links


Ranger Kristen from Oregon State Parks

 Our apologies, the second link, Tidepool Reader, is only available on our teacher account – we thought everyone could access it. We’ll share it with the Alphas in class.




Filed January 15th, 2015.

Alpha Journal January 6-8


Our artists continue to awe us with their creativity. Our Q3 warm and cool color self portraits

Water, water Everywhere!

This week we began our study of oceans by just exploring the properties of water. We talked about water as a precious resource, conducted experiments about different states of water, the water cycle, and how our human presence affects the earth’s water.

One team experiment was to create a place where land and water meet ~ some chose to make islands, others beaches and one team made a river.



After we created our land water sites we added “dwellings” (legos) and then sprinkled around waste. We then made rain to observe what would happen to the waste that was on the land….it ended up in the….water. This lead to our conversations about how to keep our waterways healthy.


We created splishy, splashy, wavy, drippy, wet water poems



We actively became water in a performance piece about how a small drop of water becomes a cloud


starting out as a drop…




gathering together to form a rain cloud.

Team Challenge

This week’s team challenge was to figure out how to draw 4 self-portraits on one piece of paper in…2 minutes!

sky blue table20150106_105129

20150106_105159_HDRgreen table

Even getting the final 4-way Self Portrait back to circle for Reflection was a collaborative effort!



If your child wants to register for the Math Pentathlon Meet do so NOW!

We investigated coin money, began a deeper study of story problems, learned strategies to help one another read when being a reading partner, and short a vowels and c-v-c-e words.

20150107_10464320150107_10465020150107_104738 20150106_102053_HDR      20150108_10095220150108_110914

monkeybars backwards

Estee going backward on the Monkey Bars!


A read aloud of “Kitten’s First Full Moon” by Marley


Class X-tra Helper, Jack, pulls the Choosing Stones for community sharing


A parliament of Owls!

Dates to Remember…

  • January 13 – Mid-Year Survey Closes 1.13
  • January 12-15 – Civil/Human Rights Week
  • January 19 – Martin Luther King Day (no Monday Classes)
  • January 22 – Shipe Park Day
  • January 24 – Skate Party at Playland Skate
  • January 29 – Spring Parent Night

Merci Beaucoup

  • to Gabriel for her on-going librarian services to keep fresh books and stories available for our Alphas!
  • Gabi for Thursday clean-ups – lots of sand this week wasn’t there, Gabi?!
  • All of the wonderful support creating our Alpha’s owls and books – they were amazing & they’re so proud of them!


Filed January 9th, 2015.

Alpha News December 9-11

Upcoming Events…

  • 12/15-18 – WINTER FAIRE! Bring your handmade items to sell at the fair
  • 12/16 – Alpha Portfolios on Parade Presentation @ 1:30pm in the Community Hall!!
  • 12/17 – Alpha Games & Art Day
  • 12 17 – Alpha Pajama & Snow day
  • 12/22 – 1/2- WINTER BREAK!

** Please remember to submit the Parent Portfolio Pick by Tuesday morning so that your student can place it in their Portfolio for POP. **


The Amazing Alexander Calder 

was the focus of our art study this week. We started our exploration with a video from the Whitney Museum in New York City which houses the artifacts from Calder’s Circus. Here’s the video we watched and discussed:

to lean more about Calder:

We talked about the jobs mentioned in the video including Art Historian, Conservator and Archivist. We also thought about where artists get their inspiration. And then our room was transformed into an art studio where our sculptors created every afternoon.


Multi media materials on hand. You may want to consider keeping a tray or small table set up at your house with wire, wire cutters, pipe cleaners, buttons, beads, big flat rocks, sticks, hot glue gun, bottle caps, etc. for your Alpha. It’s fun for the whole family!

Watch this video about the Author, Illustrator Lois Ehlert on her life as a child and how she became inspired to be an artist: 



Sculpting helps to develop our fine motor muscles.


Oma (Mara’s grandma) assists in teaching us how to use wire cutters and other materials – all with sparkly fingernails ;-)

omahelps cutting

sanisculpture 20141209_135013


Balance was one of the concepts we used to create our own circus sculptures that can move

Sometimes we turn into sculptures!


Language Arts

We have been practicing Reading to Ourselves through the whole first semester. We started with 1 minute and are now reading for 15 minutes a day! Our skills and focus have developed so well that we’re now ready to Read with a Partner, if we choose. We had a lot of fun pairing up to share books and stories.




Studying the difference between short and long i


Handwriting with Ms. Jennifer: We’re focusing on capital letters for a few weeks, just to make sure we’re all making them the from the top. To begin, we air wrote our letters F, E, P, B, N, M starting at the top and frog hopping back. It’s good review for everyone.


Since we were focusing on the fine art of sculpture some of us explored how to create 3-D shapes. We found there were different ways to accomplish this and made comparisons.

 20141209_112240 abbeyshapes

Other Happenings

Taking time to talk about the artistic mural treasures we found around Austin ~ one family may even get to interview one of the mural artists!



Sharing nature art


Yoga with Ms. Stacie on Thursday mornings


We had a wonderful visitor all week. Sophie, a friend of Ms. Kim, is an education student who came to assist and learn in the classroom. If she didn’t already, she has a fan club now!


Our Founder, Ms. Georgie also came to visit. We presented her with a crazy sock garland that she says she’s going to hang in her office! We love you Ms. Georgie!

            Merci beaucoup…

to Gabi for coming to our classroom on Monday to give it a deep cleaning. She scrubbed shelves, door knobs, window sills and sucked up all the bits leftover from our flurry of activities into the vacuum. And then she came and gave it her loving touch again on Thursday!

to ALL of you parents who donated supplies for our multi-media art, including Hannah G. who donated last week for our Mural.



Filed December 12th, 2014.

Nature Art PnP for Thanksgiving Break

What can you make from Nature?

Use these pictures from other artists to inspire you. Take photos of your art or bring in your artistic creation to share after the break.

One of our favorite artists, Andrew Goldsworthy invented the concept of landart. He creates all of his art from natural materials.

Standfoto RIVERS AND TIDESnatureart3



See more of Goldsworthy’s art and ideas:

Art inspired by Goldsworthy:

AG artEchoes-of-Memories

andrewgoldsworthy3andrew goldsworthy2


other NATURE ART ideas:



pumpkin seed art

Painting rocks


Leaf Art





Filed November 21st, 2014.

Colorful Alphas

If you haven’t seen it already ~ please go to our other post

**Alpha Color Projects & Links **

for PnP ideas for this week

 Upcoming Events

11.15.14-  BREWFEST!! (Bid high and often :) )

11.20.14-  Shipe Park Day

11.24.14- Start of Thanksgiving Break!

 our week was…an EXPLOSION of color…


in just 2 days! We’ve been learning about primary and secondary colors and how to mix them. Bridget came to Alpha on Thursday to demonstrate the science of blending colors.



transforming primary colors into secondary ones

ready to mix…

IMG_1219.JPG IMG_1221.JPG

Using our color mix charts to create the color magic we want in our illustration projects

IMG_1216.JPG IMG_1226.JPG

We continued our discussion of “value” as we talked about color.  We read “Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People,” and explored each of the illustrations to inspire us as we learned new ways to incorporate wax resist (with white crayons) and watercolors of a special time in our lives. We played with color intensity/value by adding or leaving out water.




Teacher’s Corner

Language Arts…

Some of us discovered what makes the letter “g” sound like a letter “j!” 


 It’s important to provide students with opportunities to find patterns and relationships on their own- but by setting up the lesson as an opportunity to practice their “de-coding” skills, students are raring to do the detective work!


The Fact Family Gauntlet has been thrown!  Alphas are beginning to work their way through their fact families. Fact families help students recognize relationships between numbers, this helps build computational fluency and will help build stamina.

We’ve learned 2 Math Pentathlon games now…Star Track & Hex-a-gon


“What do you know about codes?” Adding Art to STEM helps engineers problem-solve like an artist:


sweeping up…

Merci Beaucop to…

Gabi for her weekly wizardy transforming our end-of-week Alpha messes into a lovely ready-to-go-for-next-week room!

Jennifer for starting a weekly Handwriting Without Tears workshop in our classroom – we appreciate the years of expertise and practice she brings with her – thank you, too, for the cool mechanical pencils!

Hannah Guidry for coming every Tuesday to help in the afternoons

Angela for the fascinating links on color

Bridget for showing us the magic of mixing colors & for coordinating the Alpha Brewfest basket &

to all of the parents for contributing!

Everyone who made our Teacher Appreciation so special including Don Juan below ~ who says this is one good way of giving flowers :)


Filed November 14th, 2014.

Alpha Color Project Ideas & Links


Look through these ideas and links to see if any of these projects spark your creativity &  inspire you to learn more about color.

We’re excited to see what your artistic visions will be!

Can you make an animal mosaic or a wall sculpture from cardboard tubes?

Isnail mural paper tube collage

Ways to use paper painted with water colors to make mosaics

painted shapes landscape mosaic

Found objects collage

found object maosic found obect mosaic

 Paper mache bowls and rolled paper/tubes mosaic

bowls tube mosaic

The colors of nature & printing with apples (or lemons, bell peppers, etc.)

artleaves apple art


Filed November 12th, 2014.