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Family Engagement - March 2020

March exposes the History of Communication and Math; the Exploration of Inventors. March is also a month of celebrations – for the Irish and for basketball fans. And our celebration too: OUR FIRST SPIRIT WEEK!

COVID-19 At-Home Learning: Per Governor Cuomo, all schools in New York including The School House are to remain closed until further notice is given. Please see updates to your Digital Learning Plan schedule In LEARNING AT-HOME SECTION OF TSH PARENTS

March 27th (Extension of Closure Due to COVID-19): Individual Digital Learning Plans were sent by educators. While Family Engagement used to be a supplement, now you are no doubt fully engaged!  I’ve augmented these a bit to include some things that have worked really well over the last two weeks in terms of Learning at Home. Whether you use these to augment your DLP or whether you’re simply taking a break from home school to get some of your own work done, I hope you enjoy!

1.  Here is a step-by-step guide to Letter Writing.  This is a great activity for several reasons.  It allows children to practice concentration, writing, reading, penmanship and creativity.  It is mostly self-directed.  And there is a potential response from the person to whom you are writing.  Almost everyone writes a child back.  We wrote to a producer in Paris a few weeks ago and the response from him was the highlight of my son’s week.

  • First, prepare the environment the night before.  Lay out paper (blank cards), envelopes and stamps as well as a good pen for them to use.  

  • Ask them who they’d like write a letter to… this could be anyone on the planet.   The President of a country or company.  A documentary producer or a toy maker.  An athlete or an author.  The principal?

  • Look up where they live and where you are mailing the letter to see how long it will take to get there. 

2.  Home (Standards) Scavenger is also a self-directed “assignment” that covers so much and is very engaging.  It can be fun for both parents to set up after the kids have gone to sleep.  

- Try to come up with 20 tasks.

- Each task is a Standard.  For instance, measure the distance between the front door and the steps; count how many plant leaves are inside; write a poem about our pet; find 12 things that are blue and write them down.  Read your favorite book… how many “the” words can you find… did you know that “the” is most used word in the English language?  Find something from another country in our house and write three facts about that country.  And so on and so on!  We went for two hours last Wednesday...

3.  Book Scavenger Hunt.  This is also called a book report but WAY more fun.  Write out the 10 questions you’d like them to answer… for instance: What year was the book written and who publishes it; to whom is it dedicated; who is the protagonist, the antagonist; what is the moral of the story, etc.  They can pick any book in the house.  You can then do this for board books, chapter books and picture books.  If they write these answers in a journal (or stapled “book”) they will have more pride in the work.

4.  For littles try the Brush Work. Find all the brushes in your house.  They can collect these while you have coffee!  Give them a basket.  Afterwards, work with them to lay all the brushes out: toothbrushes, hairbrushes, work brushes, paint brushes.  Ask them questions about them - bigger, smaller, rough, smooth.  They can put them in order from big to small and you can write out labels for each one for some word work.  Also, this is great for sensory work as they run their hands over them.

5.  Don’t dismiss the education inherent in House Work at any age.  Organization and finding categories for things is a big part of the human brain.  Having to remember more than three steps is great cerebral work out for Learners as well.  Give them the steps for the laundry (written or verbal) and see how far they get.  What is the best use of space in a closet?  

Family Activities Continued:

Please continue to ask your children about investigating household machines and objects in your home.  Work with them to research when they were invented (most probably during the Industrial Revolution which we are studying now).  When you do research with them, have your child read a paragraph (or if they don’t read yet, read it to them).  Then, ask them questions about that paragraph.  Reading comprehension is difficult for most people let alone children.  Once you’ve finished these paragraphs, then they can go about writing… see if they can do so without the material, but if they can’t they can absolutely refer to it.  Remember I’ll be reading these at Provocation this week.

Learner Expectations as an expansion on our Three School Rules: Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Each Other and Take Care of Your School.  As part of Family Engagement, please review these rules with your child.  Ask them what they mean to him/her and how each Learner can better uphold the rules of the school.  


This is the time of year when there are a lot of different birds in New York who begin passing through.  Please try not to stay inside in the early morning and late afternoon.  Instead look up the birds that live in New York year round and those that may be migrating.  It’s a crazy great game to see how many they can find that are “just visitors” and you can also track them to where they are going and where they spent the winter.

Go on a scavenger hunt for all the signs of the season with your Learner.  There are dozens - from new grasses, new birds and small buds to the position of the sun in the sky.

St. Patrick's Day. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, making Irish Soda Bread is a great way to bake with your child.  Baking promotes all kinds of important skills: fractions, patience, fine motor skills, temperature, sequence and mostly just being close to you time!

Practice Truth Telling: This can take up whole hours of role playing and scenario building.

Industrial Revolution:  So many of you have sent in reports about common household objects. Delve deeper into this and include things like oil to heat our homes, cleaning products, vacuums. This has been such fun for the Learners that I intend to surprise them with a book of their discoveries.  Ask you Learner to write a report - with pictures - of things they see around them. A pencil, paper, ice machine… and encourage them to go beyond who invented it.  How does it work?  This alone could fill your whole week, so while a couple of pages a day from your Educator DLP is great, this Learning alongside you or their caregiver is priceless.  And by no means do you need to remain two-dimensional.  I know plenty of Learners who would like to research and then build a vacuum cleaner out of parts, Lego or from natural materials.  They could represent an object through artistic interpretation - can we make a better looking toaster? - while still adding the writing, research and reading parts.

Investigate the Coronavirus.  

Consider this:

In 1666, Cambridge University was closed out of fear of the plague. In any case, Newton went home, back to the farm, and in that miraculous year, invented (or discovered, depending on your philosophical bent) calculus and what we now call Newtonian physics.  Upon his return, he told his professor, Isaac Barrow about his work, and Barrow eventually resigned his chair in favor of Newton. Since he was what we’d now call a Unitarian, Newton had to get special royal permission to accept that position. (Cambridge expected its faculty to hold C of E holy orders.)

It’s facilitating to see what we can discover when we are forced into our own minds and creativity.

Your Learners are very interested in Corona and there is so much to be learned about how viruses work, this history of them and what makes them disappear and re-appear.

Sports. Mr. Jonathan would certainly suggest you toss the ball, set up a yard-based obstacle course, hike, walk on the beach, do jumping jacks and hit golf balls.  Keep moving!

A DPL - Digital Learning Plan - from your Educator.  Please email them directly with any questions.  For instance, Ms. Carissa does have specific groupings (orange, purple, etc.) and she’ll be sending you a follow up email to explain further; Ms. Jade has given most of her instructions to her Learners directly since they are older; Ms. Debbie, Ms. Christine and Ms. Julie are all available to walk you through what you need.

Please send us photos of your homeschool day!  If we can’t be together, at the very least we can “see” each other and learn how each of us is handling these trying times ... usually made lighter by the presence of our children. 

It’s been a long time since all of us have had this much time together as a family and if there’s any blessing in the midst of a crisis, that is certainly at the very top.


So that everyone can remember our lunch time song.  Thank you Little Family!


To hook up with others on the Chess JAM and play.

Dancing from Ms. Heather:  

Preschool and Kindergarten:

- Geometric Shape guessing Game: Have the children think of a shape but don’t share it...they will make the shape with their bodies and other family members have to guess it! They can also do this with letters and numbers.

- Listen to different kinds of music...how will it make you move fast, slow, sharp, smooth? 

- When going on family walks jump leap and twirl freely (especially at the beach) leap over puddles when it rains, twirl in the sand and roll in the grass! 

For Elementary I and II:

- Practice your line dance and teach it to your family! You can sing Yankee Doodle while dancing. 

- Youtube videos for “The Virginia Reel” … this is what our model is for our line dance. Ours is modified but it would be great to watch a more complex version.

- Elementary II has made a unanimous decision that they would like to dive into Hip Hop dance! To prepare they can look up some videos on “Old School Hip Hop” Dances such as the Scissor and Pump it. 

Science from Ms. Anna:

Ms. Anna has included a science Digital Work Plan in each of your folders.  Please have your Learner participate in our school-wide experiment.  It calls for them to collect real scientific data so that we can produce an actual scientific article about the topic.

What to Watch:

If you haven’t already, start SEVEN WORLDS, ONE PLANET.  This is David Attenborough’s new series.  It takes us on a journey to each continent (your Learner does a lot of continent work at TSH) and explores some of the greatest animal interaction I’ve seen on film. 

About Family Engagement: At The School House, family engagement activities in lieu of homework are sent home by our teaching team. These are family-based projects that enhance our weekly, monthly and seasonal curriculum.


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