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Rachel's Room (Lower Elementary)

Rachel's Update 9-11-19

posted Sep 11, 2019, 10:27 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Beginning with a bang!


This Thursday will begin with a bang… a big one!  The first great story, the story of how the universe began and the beginnings of an Earth that can support life is a time-honored Montessori classroom tradition that paints a rough picture of the beginning of the known universe, enticing children to dive deeper into the great mysteries of life.  Be prepared for big questions and equally big enthusiasm!


As for the beginning of the school year, our class is already off to a great start.  Children are excited to begin working in the classroom and are quickly making new friends.  Kindness is blooming and we are blasting off together!


On the horizon


Stay tuned for news of our upcoming events.  A planetary fashion show? A field trip? As plans are solidified and dates selected we will send a follow-up email.




Please check your child’s backpack regularly.  Packets are sent home with important information regarding school events.  Picture day forms, T-shirt order forms, and student info forms should be returned to school promptly.


As the weather turns wet and cold, please remember to bring appropriate outdoor clothing.  We are having an outdoor recess unless the weather is extreme. Writing your child’s name in items of clothing will help ensure that items are not lost.


Volunteer opportunities


Several volunteer opportunities are available.  Email me if you would like to:


·      Wash our classroom cups (take home on Friday)

·      Wash our classroom laundry (take home on Friday)

·      Bring fresh flowers for the classroom each week


Other volunteer opportunities will become available as the school year continues.


Mark your Calendar:


Sept 12: 6:00 – 7:00 Rachel’s Class Meeting


Sept 13: 6:00 RCO Movie Night – The Muppet Movie


Oct. 11: No school – inservice day


An important school-wide announcement:


The year is just beginning and it is a great time to build great habits!  Being in school, on time, every day is important. Good attendance is strongly linked to academic, social, and emotional success.


We believe that students and families that feel they are included in the school community are more likely to show up consistently.


We believe that good attendance will allow your child to fully contribute to and fully benefit from the classroom community. 


We believe good attendance will not only build strong academics, but also build strong socially and emotionally capable humans.


Thank you for learning and growing with us!

Eric's Update 6-13-19

posted Jun 13, 2019, 11:36 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Wed Field Day
Thu Classroom cleaning
Fri Pancake/Movie Day
The last week


This is my last Bear Brief! You haven’t seen a lot of them this year, but I want to use this one to thank everyone for the past year, the volunteers who have helped with classroom activities, the kindnesses and generosity you have shown, and just your general support.

Please know that our building is not very effective at resisting heat, as our roofline is completely exposed to the afternoon sun. This means that by 10:30 or 11:00 we are feeling the effects of the warming weather on a hot day. I will do all I can to limit the effects of our expected weather and will encourage students to stay hydrated.

Be aware that on the last day of school I will be providing a pancake breakfast for the students. This is a 16-year tradition in the class and the students usually stuff themselves to their gills! It’s one of my favorite activities of the year because I get to feed them something yummy and watch them laugh, discuss their plans for the summer, and generally have a sticky good time. If your child prefers to pass that is fine, too. If there are special dietary needs just send in your alternative mix and I will cook up the pancakes they are used to eating. I will provide syrup, jam, peanut butter, whipped cream, and butter. Classroom volunteers are invited to join us, as the students are used to seeing you.

Normally on the last day of the year, we walk to the park and play for an hour or so. Tugman Park is our usual choice, but it’s under construction and the smaller park nearby will be in use by another class and it will still be very hot. We have opted for a G-rated movie and will enjoy it with some popcorn.

Finally, look for a summer work packet to come home in the days ahead. This is a combination of DML and writing work. This is intended to maintain or slightly build on existing skills so they are ready to go in the new school year.

Eric and Emily

Eric's Update 4-22-19

posted Apr 22, 2019, 11:51 AM by Cynthia Friedman


Monday, 4/22-24            Amazon Presentations

Tuesday 4/23                Project Fair                      


Past weeks…

These past weeks we learned that life in the Amazon jungle can be pretty interesting and if one is clever, can find everything necessary for survival.  Naturally, there are some things trying to survive off of you as well (like lots and lots of flying bugs).  In Central America, we looked closely at the Olmec and tried to discover some of their well-hidden secrets like how to move a 20 ton block of stone over soft ground and then carve a head in it without using metal tools.  This lesson was followed by turning our attention to Mayan culture, architecture, and art.   

We also learned about the layers of the ocean, solar energy, and the biotic sequence. In Botany we looked at different kinds of roots and discussed the functions and advantages of the different kinds.  In Functional Geography we discovered that oblique and perpendicular rays from the sun create the warm and cold regions of the earth. 

Next coming week and beyond…

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday students will share round 2 of their Amazon Basin research.  I have been enjoying the clever ways each student has shown their respective animals to the class this year. 

By Tuesday I expect the room will be a regular South American animal preserve with both our current and most recent past presentations lining our walls and hanging from the vines draped throughout!

This is just in time for our Project Fair that is coming up Tuesday April 23 (3:05-4:05pm and 6-7pm).  In our class we tend to show off the presentations we have worked on and offer that information to those who wander through the classroom.  Each classroom has projects to show.  Some are science based and others are history based.  Each room will have a flavor all its own so feel free to come in and look around.


Eric and Emily


Eric's Update 3-11-19

posted Mar 11, 2019, 11:05 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Sunday, 3/10 Daylight Saving Time. Spring forward 1 hour.
Thursday, 3/14 Pi Day
Wednesday, 3/20 Spring Equinox
Mon. 3/25-Fri. 3/29 Spring Break

Past weeks…
Due to the snow days last week and the resulting squirrelliness of the kids this week, we didn’t cover as much material as I would have hoped since my last Brief. We did finish our last Native American presentations, and I feel the students have learned a great deal over the last few months. We also were able to learn about the layers of the ocean, microscopic sea life and the general web of life found in the oceans. Most students finished their handmade totems and NW art projects.

Next week and beyond…
In the coming days we will have an introduction to the South American pin maps and political boundary maps, look at the Amazon River Basin, ancient South American cultures (just the beginning of a 3-month process) and solar energy. I’m very excited about our upcoming studies in the Amazon Basin. This remarkable place is where the kids will be doing their research in the coming weeks and months.

Our very first detailed look at ancient South American cultures will be the Olmecs. There will be a clay art project related to this.

Eric and Emily


Eric's Update 2-22-19

posted Feb 28, 2019, 1:14 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Thursday, 2/21 Board Meeting 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Friday, 2/22 Pasta Dinner 5-7 p.m.

Friday, 2/22 Direct Donation Drive Kick-Off

Monday, 2/25 Site Council Meeting 6-7:30 p.m.



This week

Once again, I want to thank all those who sent in goodies for our Chinese New Year celebration.  Since we had a fine outpouring of goodies, we have continued to have the extra goodies here and there.  The kids think I’m being a nice guy, but it’s really been you.

Valentine’s Day was also fun with many participants, treats, and smiles.  I always enjoy this day in the classroom because it’s very rewarding to see such joy in the faces of the students as they give and receive little bits of happiness.

In the past days, we looked closely at the artwork and design of the Northwest tribes of the US and Canada.  Their artwork is immediately identifiable due to the unique shapes, colors, and medium.  The students had a chance to try their hand at creating totems and masks using the forms found among these nations.

As part of Black History Month, we looked into the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, efforts to move beyond the old ways of segregation, and the bravery of those who faced people hostile to change.  We will continue our discussions next week.


Coming up

In the coming week, we will have our final presentations on the Native American tribes of Canada, the US, and Mexico.  The schedule will be as it has the past four cycles.  Just before we head off to South America and the Amazon Basin, we will look at the Modoc War, where the Modoc kept the US Army at bay for a long time before choosing to simply walk away from the fight.  As we begin our studies in South America, research projects will primarily focus on geological features and animals.  



Eric and Emily                               



Eric's Update 12-17-18

posted Dec 17, 2018, 11:26 AM by Cynthia Friedman


Friday, 12/21 Last Day of School before Winter Break -regular Friday release time.
Tuesday, 1/8 Classes Resume

This week…
We just finished a nice round of Native American presentations, and as always, your kids taught me many new things. Thank you for helping them with their projects as needed. Today the students picked their next research assignments based on the Plains Indians and those projects will be due the week of January 14th. Their choices are at the bottom of this update.

Since the last update, we have studied volcanoes, layers of the earth, the rock cycle, water cycle, and erosion. We also looked at the skills Native Americans needed to have in order to survive and thrive in their respective climates.

Next week and beyond…
In the coming weeks, we will learn about Lewis and Clark, Sioux warriors, layers of the atmosphere, the carbon cycle, and zones of the earth.

Our next field trip will be to Dorris Ranch and the details will be forthcoming. This trip will supplement the Native American studies taking place in the classroom and research projects happening at home.

We wish you a safe and happy winter break full of memories and laughter.

Eric and Emily

Eric's Bi-weekly Update 11-16-18

posted Nov 19, 2018, 11:14 AM by Cynthia Friedman


Friday, 11/16 Barnes & Noble Book Fair 6-8pm

Tuesday, 11/20 Bring vegetables to slice

Wednesday, 11/21 Stone Soup - bring bowl & spoon

Thursday, 11/22 NO SCHOOL - Thanksgiving

Friday, 11/23 NO SCHOOL - Thanksgiving Break

Saturday, 11/24 Tree Sales Begin

Wednesday, 11/28 Picture Re-takes (return your picture packets)

Wednesday, 11/28 RCO Service Project 6-7:30pm

Past two weeks…

We finished our presentations last week and then chose new Indian nations to research. You may have seen the new presentation sheets come home.  The new research assignments are due the week of December 10th. 

Our last field trip was a big success.  I would like to thank all the volunteers who came and kept the students safe and on task while we scouted for pumpkins. 

In the past weeks, we have looked at the names of various geological features and made a booklet to help us remember the names and shapes.  We saw how Native Americans made birchbark canoes and learned about the layers of the earth and why our planet is so unique.  This included learning about the life-saving gift of a magnetic field to protect us from solar winds and radiation, and the forces that operate deep beneath the surface of the earth’s crust.

Next week and beyond…

As part of our America studies, we will take a close look at Alaska, Canada, and Greenland.  We will discover how the older inhabitants of these areas lived in the sometimes-harsh climate, and how the natural resources there are used today.

Later we will look at the rock cycle and the active volcanoes through North America.

Our Stone Soup celebration will be on Wednesday but on Tuesday all students are invited to bring herbs or vegetables to be cut up for use in the community soup pot.  Please see the eNews for more information.

We also have the unique opportunity to hear from Richard Sempala, from Uganda.

Richard is the founder of the Africa Life Youth Foundation – an organization dedicated to improving the lives of young people, including orphans, street children, civil war victims, etc.  Richard is only in town a short while and I think his insights could be important for children to hear.  He will visit on either the 19th, 20th or 26th of November.  I am still working on the details.


There will be no school on Thursday and Friday. We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Eric and Emily



Eric's Weekly Update 10-19-18

posted Oct 22, 2018, 12:03 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Calendar:   Coming up: Picture Day, Curriculum Sharing, MOD Pizza, Conferences


This week…

We managed to cover everything in my lesson book this week, and I am both surprised and happy!  We learned about some of the early explorers that came to America, had an interesting discussion about ecology and biomes in general, and revisited the lifecycle of stars as we began our studies in functional geography.

In addition to learning about the early explorers to North America, we looked at the original 13 colonies.  Soon we will discuss the influence those early colonists had on the shaping of the United States, with the briefest of discussions on the Revolutionary War and eventually the War of 1812.  More details on these two wars will be available as students move into the upper grades.

Finally, we looked at Newton’s Laws of Motion, which is taught to all students for mass effect.  Get it?

I shared information with the class about how to prepare their presentation boards, with some pictures of boards from last year.  They were just examples, and we talked about how presentations could be a Power Point, a diorama, a video of themselves if they don’t want to stand in front of the class, and many other options.

Next week and beyond…

In the coming days we will play some colonial games, enjoy colonial style music, and discuss the foods typically found in an early American home.  We will also look at biomes in more detail, and discuss the fundamental needs of humans.  We will also revisit the Sun’s Family, and look closely at the characteristics of the moon.

Please remember to get the Lone Pine permission slips in ASAP.  We can take up to 6 chaperones along.  If you are interested please let me know.  On this trip, each participant is required to pay the entry fee:(

Hope you have a grand weekend.

Eric and Emily


Eric's Weekly Update 3-15-18

posted Mar 15, 2018, 11:05 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Monday, 3/19                    Site Council meeting, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, 3/21              Eric’s class to OMSI, 8:15 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Friday, 3/23                       DDD ends

Friday, 3/23                       Yogurt Extreme fundraiser

Mon., 3/26-Fri., 3/30          Spring break

Monday, 4/2                      NO SCHOOL: professional development day

Tuesday, 4/3                     Classes resume

This week


This week we looked at the political boundaries of Australia, learned about some of the amazing seasonal changes that take place there, and even heard some of the words used in Australia that are not used here in the US.  We didn’t get a chance to learn about Nikola Tesla as I had planned, but we did take another turn at exploring electricity courtesy of Popular Mechanics for Kids.

Our Great Barrier Reef art projects are almost done.  We did them in the style of Eric Carle (Very Hungry Caterpillar) and they look great.  I will make colored copies of the originals and bind them in a book to keep in the classroom.  The students will take the originals home.


Next week…

The coming week will be very busy.  Presentations will begin with 3rd years presenting on Monday, 2nd years on Tuesday, and 1styears on Thursday. We look forward to learning all the things your students will share.

In the new week, we will begin a new art project and learn about the aboriginal people of Australia, as well as a final look at the power of invention made possible by electricity.

The OMSI field trip is on Wednesday.  Things look pretty solid now, so hopefully, there will be no surprises. 

Remember: bring booster seats if required, a lunch, and arrive at school by 7:45.  We will depart no later than 8:15. We will return about 4pm.  Updated chaperone packets will go home Friday.

Eric and Emily


Eric's Weekly Update 2-2-18

posted Feb 2, 2018, 2:32 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Tuesday, 2/6 RCO Meeting – “Growth Mindset” by Sharon Martin 6-7:30pm
Friday, 2/9 Fundraising Committee Meeting 8:30am-9:30am
Friday, 2/9 Re-enrollment deadline
Saturday, 2/10 Pre-lottery Information Session 10am
Monday, 2/10 Sibling Lottery Application Available
Monday, 2/12 Site Council Traffic Work Session 6-7:30pm
Thursday, 2/15 Board Meeting 6:30-8:30pm
Monday, 2/19 NO SCHOOL – Presidents’ Day
Thursday, 22 Eric’s class to OMSI

This week…

We were really attracted to this week’s lesson on magnetism. We will continue to look at how the magnetic shield on our earth and that on Mars are different. Some scientists believe that the smaller mass of Mars caused the core to cool faster and then the magnetic shield failed. The result is that the solar winds stripped away the atmosphere and oceans. Our core is going strong but some scientists think our core is changing too.

As promised we saw the Archimedes screw in operation. It’s amazing how many places it can be found once you look for it. As part of our science exploration, we made some polymer worms using an activation agent that turns a liquid into a squiggly, slimy, solid.

Here’s where you can learn more or buy your own kit to make lots and lots of worms!

Finally, over the course of three days, we played Jeopardy, Eric style. I asked questions from the first half of the year to see how much information students retained and to refresh their memories. As a whole, I was very happy with how much the students were able to recall.

Next week and beyond…

You may have heard that we are making some shields inspired by African Zulu warrior shields. We have looked at designs and the materials used to decorate them. Next week we will begin to paint our very own. These will be based on classic forms, and we will use traditional colors or as close as we can get.

If we have time we will make some mini pyramids that can be put together to form a very large one. Beginning with one the size of a paper plate, we will eventually find that they rise above our heads. It will be a group effort, just like the real thing in Egypt!

You should have received an orange permission slip about our OMSI field trip to sign. I know the form is long but please read the entire form. It has important information on it and I don’t want to have anyone miss out on the trip due to a technicality.

Eric and Emily

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