What Does Happiness Mean To You?
Students in the Forest Class ask members of the community what it means to be happy!

Students in the Forest Class ask members of the community what it means to be happy!

Our study on happiness continued this past week. We took a look at how others perceive happiness. This portion of the project was quite special, as I saw all the girls engaged in such a meaningful topic. To start the week, we created survey questions, three of which were quantifiable. We then spent time interviewing members of our school community and citizens throughout our local community of Stowe. It was amazing to see how well composed all the girls were when we went out into the town and I was so thrilled to watch them in action! On Friday we began creating graphs based on the results and will be reflecting on those results at the beginning of this week. 

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Learning to Look

People learn more than half of what they know from visual information. We are excited that Mountain River school has a weekly program in place  to teach children how to develop visual literacy. Often. the work viewed has interdisciplinary  connections that intertwine with Mountain River School’s project based learning.

In his 1997 article ,Thoughts on Visual Literacy, Philip Yenawine describes visual literacy as: “…the ability to find meaning in imagery. It involves a set of skills ranging from simple identification (naming what one sees) to complex interpretation on contextual, metaphoric and philosophical levels. Many aspects of cognition are called upon, such as personal association, questioning, speculating, analyzing, fact-finding, and categorizing. Objective understanding is the premise of much of this literacy, but subjective and effective aspects of knowing are equally important.”

Students develop their visual thinking skills by participating in group discussions based on works of art. Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) begins by asking three questions of  students: What’s going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find?.

“VTS is a way to facilitate discussions of works of art that develops a set of thinking skills and behaviors that transfer to oral, written, and cognitive skills in other fields. It builds on evidence-based reasoning to examine aesthetic work.”( https://vtshome.org/)

Having the opportunity each week to discuss works of art with children is a pure pleasure, they have opened my eyes to their multiple perspectives and I am amazed at the depth of discussions due to the improvements in their development of their visual literacy skills.

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Forest Food Study

In the coming weeks the Forest (4-6 grade) students will be conducting research based on the driving question, "can food increase mood?". Parents and students have graciously volunteered to participate in a study revolving around this. This week the students created a survey of questions that will be asked for all the participants in the study. They also created the food diary for those that will be adding foods to their diet. An initial baseline survey has been e-mailed out, which we will ask to be filled out three times throughout the first week. The Forest students put a lot of effort into considering time constraints in regards to participants' schedules. They did a wonderful job creating surveys and a food diary that can be completed quickly. We also began researching foods that contain one of 10 nutrients that are said to increase mood. These foods will be compiled into a list that test participants following the "diet" will be able to choose from to incorporate into their daily meals and snacks.

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Introduction to Ice Building

During the week of January 7th students in the Meadows (2nd and 3rd grade class)  revisited the works of the contemporary artist, Andy Goldsworthy. Using some of his ice sculpting projects as inspiration, students were introduced to their next major project, Ice Building.  Students previewed the tools, steps, and timeline for the project and then explored some of these elements on a smaller-scale project. Students were tasked with making a small ice sculpture measuring taller than wider, to prepare for the larger, whole-class project starting the following week.

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How To Make Apple Pie and See The World: Rivers Kindergarten and First Grade Class

As part of our “Food Theme” the students in the River’s Class wanted to know…”Where Does Our Food Come From”?

For our first project we read the book, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, by Marjorie Priceman.

The little girl in the book wants to make apple pie, but the store is closed so she decided to travel around the world to gather ingredients.  She travels to Italy (wheat for flour), France (chicken for eggs), Sri Lanka (bark of a Kurundu tree for cinnamon), England (Cow for milk), Ocean (saltwater for salt), Jamaica (sugar cane) and finally Vermont for apples.  

We were lucky that the store was open for us, but we did travel to Hunger Mountain Orchards in Waterbury, VT to pick our own apples.  

On Wednesday, we made the dough using these ingredients:

Flour-Norwich, VT



The students found these places on the map and connected them to the correct ingredients.  

On Thursday, we made the filling using these ingredients:

Sugar- Brooklyn, NY

Flour-Norwich, VT

Lemon Juice- California



The students found these places on the map and connect them to the correct ingredients.

Finally on Friday we were able to taste our pie!  

Two thumbs up!

Mountain River School