We absolutely love fifth graders.
They are fabulously goofy, excited to learn, still love their teachers, and are on the cusp of such big changes in body, mind and spirit. They are very young children one moment, family-centered and concrete in their thinking, and pre-adolescents the next, gravitating more towards friends and able to understand more abstract thought. As the year progresses, they are ready for increasing amounts of independence and responsibility, and take pride in being leaders of the Lower School. We prepare them well for their transition to Middle School and take it as a good sign that they visit us often during their sixth grade (seventh, eighth and so on …) lunchtimes to tell us the latest about friends, sports, dances and academic gains.
Our social studies focus moves from pitchfork to plate, helping students understand how food moves from farms to farmer’s markets (and the science, economics and shipping of food), to food processing and packaging facilities, to supermarkets, to preparing a 150-mile lunch and to cooking our own food together at school, and to restaurants.
Pitchfork to Plate Field Trips and Projects
- Wilson Farm – “it’s all about the dirt” – learning about the importance and science of good soil and compost, eating produce straight from the vine, bush and tree.
- Aprovecho – four-day class camping trip to a sustainability center in Cottage Grove. Memorable moments – making a “lasagna” garden, pressing apples, churning butter, tracking animals in the forest, creating a shadow puppet play based on Native American legends, telling stories in front of a bonfire
- Farmer’s Market – small groups are given a budget to buy a picnic lunch and interview farmers about choices they make.
- Wheat Marketing Center – studying the science, trade, shipping and economics of different varieties of wheat.
- Norpac-- food processing and packaging facility on a huge scale in Salem.
- New Seasons Market – shopping for and cooking a 150-mile Valentine’s Day Lunch.
- Hot Lips Pizza or Justa Pasta – what decisions do restaurant owners make when purchasing food, designing menus and serving the public?
- Community Action Project – two past projects include the “blue plate special,” helping the school move from disposable to reusable plates, and the One Ounce Campaign, which challenged each person on campus to reduce daily waste by one ounce per day to meet the school’s “zero waste” goals.
- What the World Eats World Fair – focus on researching another country’s approach to food production and consumption; project integrates math, graphing, writing, art and presentation skills.