Also opening in September 2018: Lower School playgrounds!

Last Wednesday, during our afternoon faculty meetings, Lower School teachers developed some guiding principles for refurbishing the outdoor playscapes that will be open for business next September:

  • Our outdoor playscapes should reflect our Lower School values and support the development of the whole child—their physical, social, emotional selves—fostering joy, collaboration, creativity, imagination, problem solving, and safe risktaking.
  • Our playscapes should aim to be as flexible as the indoor spaces have been designed to be, so that as our needs and programs evolve—and the ideas of the children grow the possibilities—our spaces can evolve along with them.
  • The opportunities for play should be multifaceted, providing children with the freedom to be playful and to move and explore in wide and varied ways: climbing, swinging, sliding, hanging, sledding, digging, running, investigating, creating, building, designing…
  • Our playscapes should use natural materials and encourage connection and good stewardship of the natural world and the environment.

The faculty then participated in a design challenge. Each pair of teachers was given a bag of six items and asked to :

  • Design something that is representative of our playscape planning guiding principles.
  • Use at least three items in the bag.
  • Complete the challenge in 15 minutes.

Moving forward, the Lower School faculty plans to visit outdoor play spaces in the area to further inform our process. Later in the spring, students will also be involved in the re-visioning and planning for the playground areas surrounding our new building.

Now it’s your turn! Do you have ideas that you would like considered? Have you seen a playground that you think is exemplary that you think should be a model for the Waynflete playscapes? Have you imagined a playground element or structure that your child would love? Share your thoughts now!

Click here to submit your ideas

Thematic studies in 4-5

Thematic studies are designed for interdisciplinary immersion in an age-appropriate, high-interest topic. Students acquire and employ skills in a wide range of disciplines and have many opportunities to extend and enrich their learning through open-ended exercises.

4-5 students were recently immersed in the thematic study of the westward movement of people in the mid-to-late 1800s. Students learned about the Native Americans who lived out west (and the impact that settler movement had on those communities), about our country’s geography and landmarks, and the ecosystems of the West. Using historical fiction novels, students learned about the culture of the time period and grappled with the real-life questions of the time. “What does it mean to make a new beginning? What are the challenges that people face when leaving the familiar and moving to the unknown?” Geography, history, reading, writing, physical education, art, technology, and physical and social sciences were all incorporated in the experience.

Continue reading “Thematic studies in 4-5”

Welcome to the Wire!

Welcome to the Lower School section of the Waynflete Wire, where you will find snapshots of day to day in the Lower School. I hope that through these glimpses you will see how your children engage with the program, one another, in the community, and in their learning. These snapshots aim to exemplify how our school’s mission comes to life in their lives. Enjoy!


Anne Hopkins

Math Lunches in 2-3 and 4-5

Math Lunch is an opportunity for students who are interested in mathematics to get together with other math enthusiasts to work on math challenges. Most 2-3 and 4-5  students have participated in a math lunch over the past three weeks. Lower School Director Anne Hopkins, Math Department Chair Lisa Kramer, 2-3 Learning Specialist Heather Tanguay, and all 2-3 and 4-5 advisors have supported the Math Lunch program and participated in the numeracy fun.

Math Lunch problems are designed to be accessible to all students (i.e., it is important that everyone who is interested in participating is able to understand the problem of the day). At the same time, we choose problems that allow for extension and challenge for students who have stronger number sense and computational fluency. Pebble Math required students to place “pebbles” within five zones whereby the sum of each two adjacent zones was a given number. Pebble Math encourages students to solve the problem using actual pebbles—in our case, mini pasta shells—allowing for quick engagement with the work. Most children worked with a guess-and-check approach, placing a few pebbles in a zone and then adjusting as the numbers indicated. Students immediately started noticing patterns, developing theories, and making predictions based on experimentation. Pebble Math was a big hit in 2-3.

We recently introduced 4-5 Math Lunch students to Ken-Ken, a popular Japanese arithmetic/logic puzzle that was designed to be an instruction-free opportunity for problem solving. Ken Ken problems can be found in many newspapers alongside the Sudoku and Crossword puzzles as well as on the Ken Ken website. Ken Ken problems are leveled by size and difficulty, allowing children lots of opportunities for fun and challenge.

Managing technology use in the digital age

Parents across the country are entering into conversations about the role of technology in their lives and the lives of their children. Regardless of family values or family policies regarding access to technology—the digital age is here to stay and all parents are grappling with the implications, which include:

  • the fact that technology both helps users connect but also can interfere with making human connections;
  • the significant differences between watching a story or book unfold on a screen and reading a book;
  • the impact of everything being immediate in life;
  • how we are technology role models for our children; and
  • the fact that ongoing conversations and considering and reconsidering our technology policies is essential given the changing nature of the digital world.

Staying connected and talking with one another has always helped parents navigate the myriad stages of their children’s development. Parents supporting one another around their children’s technology use is no different.

Below you will find links to some articles and resources that I hope you will find relevant and interesting.

How (and When) to Limit Kids’ Tech Use
Link to article

“Teach your children to use technology in a healthy way and pick up the skills and habits that will make them successful digital citizens. From 2-year-olds who seem to understand the iPad better than you to teenagers who need some (but not too much) freedom, we’ll walk you through how to make technology work for your family at each stage of the journey.”  – Melanie Pinola in NYT Smart Living

Mindful Technology
Link to article

Erica Marcus, educator and wellness instructor from Wise Minds, Big Hearts, shared her  blog and resource page including a”personal investigation” exercise along with her book recommendations.

The Art of Screen Time: How your Family can Balance Digital Media and Real Life
Link to book

Anya Kamenetz us all to “enjoy screens; not too much; mostly together.”

Some other articles to consider:

Why Social Media Must Be Taught

Focusing in a Tech Connected World

Why Banning Cell Phones Misses The Point

Distinguishing Addiction From Habit

Good Digital Parenting Is The Challenge Of Our Age

What Kind Of Screen Time Parent Are You?


Photo: Magnus Hagdorn