Fairytale study: Little Red Riding Hood

In the first weeks of school, the class began reading a series of fairytales.  These stories have a lot of relevance to children as they often embody psychological themes present in a child’s life.  Bruno Bettelheim and Marie Louise Von Franz have written about the underlying themes in fairytales.

The first story they wanted to read was Little Red Riding Hood.  They decided to perform it, so they created the performance themselves.  Every step along the way, from writing the script to allocating roles, to designing the set, was done by the children.


This interactive approach to literature expanded further with the children narrating the story as well as creating alternate versions.  They use drawing and invented spelling to communicate their thoughts.


In the first few weeks, the children were asked what they would like to know more about.  They came up with some wonderful ideas, and all of them agreed that the beach was something of great interest.

The school’s progressive project-based learning method was used here.  The children first brainstormed about what they wanted to know more about.  Then they came up with the questions they had about this topic:

They then came up with more questions


Their study leads into many areas – science, literacy, art, math:



And then…a trip to the beach!!



The children spent the morning running from the waves, digging holes and trenches, and building sand castles together. Later on, they collected seashells, rocks, questionable crab legs, and sand samples to bring back. They also collected some ocean water together. Some used magnifying glasses to look more closely at the sand, and others drew in their beach notebooks. It was especially windy at the beach and they did some amazing drawings representing the wind blowing sand everywhere!

It was such a valuable experience to be out of the classroom spending time together. Children have been working hard experimenting and researching to answer their questions about the beach, but to actually be IN their project having first hand experience together is the most important “research” they could possibly do.


music from Kristen Dimitriades on Vimeo.


Making Jewelry

The children began a series of lessons in jewelry making. There are many different approaches to this craft, but children began by working in a method called Lost Wax Casting. Everyone got their own piece of wax. Using carving tools, the children got to draw on, pierce, and file their pieces of wax into a pendant they each created on their own.

In the weeks to come, they will learn how to properly sit at a jeweler’s bench and how to use a saw frame to cut out shapes for their pieces. Eventually they will get these pieces cast in real metal and learn how to clean them, polish them, and make them ready to wear! The children are excited to  work on their own pieces in multiple different mediums and can’t wait to see how they come out in metal!

Governor’s Island playground

To quote Jack on whether to go to playground or Coney Island, “”If you’re going on a hot day you might want to go to Coney Island because you can cool off in the ocean BUT if you want to use REAL hammers, REAL nails and REAL saws then you’ll want to go to Governor’s Island.”

Children are encouraged to play together – once a common activity in childhood – without adult supervision.  They created their own goals, learned how to work together, and really enjoyed the freedom to be children together with other children.

At the end of the day, Jack had an exciting report for his parents!


A very important part of our school program is emotional work.  After the trip, teachers asked important questions and allowed the children to talk:

  • Was anyone upset today?
  • Why?
  • Let’s listen to each other

The children were really eager to talk about times they were upset with each other.

Child A:  I was  angry because child B would not stop sawing a house I was playing in.  I was scared the roof was going to fall on me.

The class talked about how when people are afraid, sometimes that fear turns into anger

Child C: Child A kept asking child B to stop but it wasn’t working and the anger escalated.

Children understand the word ‘escalated’ from our emotional workshops.

Child B: I wasn’t listening at the beginning because I was just thinking about what I wanted and I wanted to keep sawing because it was fun.

Child C: That made me angry that B wasn’t listening

Child B:   I started to feel bad because A was still upset, so I changed my mind to do what she wanted.

After this conversation, all of the other children wanted to share what happened at the playground to make them upset, scared or angry. They shared narratives of the situations, how they felt, and how they came to be resolved.  There was a sense of joy, and peace, it was clear that the children were happy to express feelings and go over areas of conflict.

In the process, they came to hear and understand how both children were feeling – B was not deliberately trying to bother A, but was focused on his own activities.  When he finally realized that he was causing a problem for A he knew he should stop.

It is very interesting to observe that children were relieved and happy to understand what each other were thinking, there was no rancor or bitterness, no sense of lingering anger because they were allowed to say how they felt.  The teachers were happy to provide a safe space where these kinds of feelings can be expressed.  At our school we firmly believe that these conversations prevent misunderstanding and preempt bullying which is all too common in some places.



Many shells are formed in spiral pattern.  Our study of Fibonacci began with a child noticing the shape of a spiral shell and asking how it was created. The growth of these shells follows a pattern found everywhere in nature! The Fibonacci sequence, named after it’s inventor, is 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13….each number in the sequence is the sum of the two before it. Flower petals, pinecones, shell spirals, sunflower seeds, apple seeds, radicchio, celery and lettuce heads are just a few things in nature that we have investigated that follow this sequence! Of course, at this age, our aim is not for a full mathematical understanding  of a number sequence, but rather to notice that nature follows the patterns of math. The children have been so excited to notice Fibonacci patterns everywhere, and they have led to some beautiful art projects in our room!












Fishkill Farm trip October