ABS Thursday Notes- November 19, 2015

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                        November 19, 2015




Conference Days- November 20- Early Dismissal

                        K-4 Dismiss at 11:45

                        5-8 Dismiss at 12 noon


How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


Wake up, Jacob, Day’s a-breakin’!

Peas in the pot and the hoecake’s bakin’.

Early in the morning, almost day;

If you don’t come soon…gonna throw it all away.”

-Cook’s Wake-Up (Traditional American)


Fifth graders lie on the ground, cowboy hats tipped over their closed eyes, imagining a time when only the sounds of nature and the occasional snoring comrade were heard at night. Suddenly, their repose is shattered by the banging of spoon on frying pan, and the “Cook’s Wake-Up”.  With a big “Yahoo!” we’re off on another day of the “Cowboys” unit that kicks off our Romeo and Juliet on the Border project.

The unit is built around historic folk songs, works of art, and frontier history of the cattle drive era during the American “Wild West”, dating from the end of the 19th century. Students learn about the direct connection from the Civil War to the cattle drives and the industry’s role in Reconstruction. They explore cultural changes taking place in the west during that time, how economic factors pushed the cattle onto the prairies, and how technology and over-grazing brought an end to the iconic era. Daily “rodeos” help students maintain learning about a diverse group of topics including the prairie biome and its creatures, star constellations, African American cowboys and women, influence of Mexican culture, the railroads, supply and demand, transportation, and social customs.

We focus on these questions:

– How do social factors impact economic ones?

– How do folk songs and visual art serve as primary sources to teach us history?

– Who were the cowboys and cowgirls of the American Wild West?

Meanwhile, 5th graders are learning historic American cowboy and Northern Mexican folk songs for the show. They are learning about Shakespeare, and the plot of this important story that draws them directly into conversation about fear of the “other” and how negative stereotyping appears again and again in human history. Soon they learn audition techniques, recognizing that these skills translate directly into job interview skills. How do you carry yourself when you walk into a room? Do you smile? Make eye contact? Do you deliver a strong voice and a firm handshake? Each of the sixty 5th graders has sung private auditions, and the acting auditions take place in December. When theater and history converge, we’ll have us a wing-ding!


Talking with your Kids


After recent events in the news it can be difficult to know how to answer questions our children ask.  Here are some tips from Common Sense media that might be helpful.

Tips for all kids

Reassure your children that they’re safe. Tell your kids that even though a story is getting a lot of attention, it is just one event and is most likely a very rare occurrence. Remember that your kids will look to the way you handle your reactions to determine their own approach. If you stay calm and considered, they will too.

Tips for kids under 7

Keep the news away. Turn off the TV and radio news at the top of the hour and half hour. Read the newspaper out of range of young eyes that can be frightened by the pictures. Preschool children don’t need to see or hear about something that will only scare them silly, especially because they can easily confuse facts with fantasies or fears.

At this age, kids are most concerned with your safety and separation from you. They’ll also respond strongly to pictures of other young children in jeopardy. Try not to minimize or discount their concerns and fears, but reassure them by explaining all the protective measures that exist to keep them safe. If you’re flying somewhere with them, explain that extra security is a good thing.

Tips for kids 8-12

Carefully consider your child’s maturity and temperament. Many kids can handle a discussion about threatening events, but if your children tend toward the sensitive side, be sure to keep them away from the TV news; repetitive images and stories can make dangers appear greater, more prevalent, and closer to home.

At this age, many kids will see the morality of events in black-and-white terms and are in the process of developing their moral beliefs. You may have to explain the basics of prejudice, bias, and civil and religious strife. But be careful about making generalizations, since kids will take what you say to the bank. This is a good time to ask them what they know, since they’ll probably have gotten their information from friends, and you may have to correct facts.

You might explain that even news programs compete for viewers, which sometimes affects content decisions. If you let your kids use the Internet, go online with them. Some of the pictures posted are simply grisly. Monitor where your kids are going, and set your URLs to open to non-news-based portals.

Tips for teens

Check in. Since, in many instances, teens will have absorbed the news independently of you, talking with them can offer great insights into their developing politics and their senses of justice and morality. It will also give you the opportunity to throw your own insights into the mix (just don’t dismiss theirs, since that will shut down the conversation immediately).

Many teens will feel passionately about events and may even personalize them if someone they know has been directly affected. They’ll also probably be aware that their own lives could be impacted by terrorist tactics. Try to address their concerns without dismissing or minimizing them. If you disagree with media portrayals, explain why so that your teens can separate the mediums through which they absorb news from the messages conveyed.

Additional resources

For more information on how to talk to your kids about a recent tragedy please visit the National Association of School Psychologists or the American Psychological Association.


K-Kids Sponsor Canned Food Drive

The K-Kids are sponsoring a school-wide canned food drive for Crisis Control between now and December 11. Please bring cans to your classrooms for a grade-level display in the hallways. Boxed foods and cans are acceptable, but no glass containers. Help feed the world!


Lost and Found

Please check lost and found for items you may have forgotten.   All items not claimed by November 20 will be donated.

Parent’s Afternoon Off  Friday, Nov 20

This Friday, November 20 we offer an afternoon of movie fun (Inside-Out and Aristocats)!  Kids dismiss early that day (11:45am and 12:00pm).  For $5 kids can stay until 2:30pm.  Snacks will be sold as well.  Signed forms and payment are due by TODAY, Thursday, November 19th.  Forms and payment will not be accepted after November 19.  Have questions or interested in volunteering, please contact Lindsay Beane (LGBeane2@aol.com).


Around Town…

K-Kids would like to encourage everyone to attend the Roll and Stroll Tanglewood Festival of Lights Fun Ride and Walk, benefiting Arts for Life, an organization that shares art with seriously ill children in four hospitals across North Carolina.  The event is this Friday evening, November 20, starting at 6 pm.