Minnehaha Academy Blog

Art During Distance Learning

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Apr 15, 2020

20200406_092053Learning about the color wheel can be a fun activity when it involves a color scavenger hunt at home!

Lower School students searched for objects in their homes that represented different colors in the color wheel, then they assembled their wheels. 

Here's how you can make your own found object color wheel:

  1. Get a brown paper bag or a laundry basket and collect items from around the house that are a close match to the 6 different colors of the color wheel. Try for at least 2 items of each color. Look at your toys, pieces of clothing like socks, hats, fruit and veggies, etc.
  2. Now, find a clear place on the floor or on a table, place the color wheel so it will be in the middle, and then arrange your items around the color wheel in order. 

Extra challenge: Sort the items into two groups -- WARM colors and COOL colors. What do you notice about the colors now?

Watch the video from our art teacher to hear more about the color wheel lesson.

 

Topics: Lower School, Fine Arts, Online Learning

Music Class During Distance Learning

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Apr 15, 2020

Lower School students experience hands-on music lessons, even while distance learning.

Music teacher Ms. Benson has developed creative lessons for students using simple materials students have in their home. 

In this lesson, students were introduced to four different mallet instruments and their unique sounds. Afterwards, students were instructed to make their own "water xylophone" using glass jars or water glasses and different amounts of water. First, students checked their empty vessels to see what pitch they made. Then students added water to one or more glasses to create three different pitches. They ordered them from low to high and created a tune with their instrument! Through this activity, students discern differences in pitch and decide if they're lower, higher or the same pitch.

Watch the lesson from Ms. Benson below, then view second grader Maverick's submission!

 

Topics: Lower School, Fine Arts, Online Learning

Top 8 Tips for Online Learning

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 17, 2020

2020-US-Students-Online-MinnehahaAcademy-Minneapolis-Minnesota-4 copyAs teachers and students plan for online learning, we wanted to share these top eight tips that will help set students up for success during online learning (or distance learning).

  1. Attend class: This may seem like a basic tip, but the best way to get the most out of online learning is to treat it just as you would a school day. Show up to class on time and ready to learn.
  2. Complete assignments: Assignments given during online learning are just as important to complete as assignments given during a more typical class experience. By completing your assignments on time and with care, you'll keep up with your studies and be ready to hit the ground running when you are back in the classroom.
  3. Create a workspace: Set up a special spot for you to complete your classwork and join online class discussions. Having a set spot for your learning will ensure you have the tools you need to do your work. Think about what you'll need for your class (pencils, art supplies, paper, books, digital device, headphones, etc). 
  4. Set a schedule: Your teacher will most likely provide a daily schedule for you during the school day. Keeping a schedule will help you stay on track with your work, will remind you to take breaks, and will help you create a rhythm to your day. It's also rewarding to look back at your daily schedule and see all of the amazing things you've accomplished!
  5. Reduce distractions: Working from home can be quite distracting. When you set up your workspace, find a quiet space to sit. Remember to shut off the TV, music, and eliminate social media distractions- just as you would if you were in a classroom. 
  6. Think about how you learn best: When do you do your best work? Is it in the morning or afternoon? Plan on doing work that requires creative energy and thought at those times.  Also, consider how you learn. Do you learn best through listening, reading, or doing? Work with your teacher to determine ways you can learn the material using your preferred learning method. 
  7. Participate: Just because you aren't sitting next to your classmates and teachers doesn't mean you shouldn't join in on the learning. Chime in on class discussions and set up times to chat with classmates to work on group assignments.
  8. Take Breaks: Remember to step away from your desk to stretch, take a walk around the block, play a game, or spend time with your family. It's important to take breaks that will leave you feeling refreshed. It can be easy to sit in front of a screen all day, but remember that you'll do best by stepping outside for fresh air or a conversation with family.

We've also included this Online Etiquette Guide for online learning created by our Middle School science teacher Emily Firkus with her students.

Google Meet Etiquette white background

 

Topics: Middle School, Upper School, Lower School, Academics, Online Learning

Sled Dog Rides for Preschoolers [Photos & Video]

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Feb 7, 2020

The snow was fast as Minnehaha Academy's 3-year-old preschool students and their parents zipped along the beautiful West River Parkway via sled dog!

These special visitors came on Alaska Day. Alaska Day celebrates what students have learned about the state of Alaska over the last month. 

 

Our young learners have spent the month learning about the Alaska's various animals and fish, modes of transportation, its geography, and other interesting facts. 

Before they took the ride, preschoolers learned that the dogs are working dogs and that they love to run! When the dogs had their harnesses on, they couldn't wait to do what they do best...speed along on the fast snow.

See photo gallery.

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Topics: Lower School, Preschool

A Spectacular Revival: The Minnehaha Fundraiser

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Jan 25, 2020

The Spectacular Revival was a spirit-filled evening of fun and fundraising for Minnehaha Academy. 

Thanks to all who attended, donated items, and gave their time to make the evening a wonderful event. 

People stepped under the tent for revival-style music and festivities.

Following a delicious picnic-style dinner, Brother Blake and David Hoffner performed an entertaining skit written by Nathan Stromberg. Attendees spoke up and gave testimonies on how Minnehaha has blessed their children and families.

Then Auctioneer Dan led a live auction of fantastic items donated by our community.

Following the live auction, Rev. Dr. Harris led the group in a gospel song.

A great time was had by all. 

 

Topics: Middle School, Upper School, Lower School

Selfless in a Selfie World

Posted by Amy Barnard on Jan 7, 2020

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It’s mid-September. Through the floor-to-ceiling windows of Mr. Sauer’s third floor classroom you can see the first flickers of fall color speckling the green canopy below. Class is over, and senior Peter Shaffer grabs his books, ready to move on to the next class.

"Shaffer," Mr. Sauer stops him. "I have something for you."

Kris Sauer, English teacher and assistant cross country coach, slips a white envelope into Peter’s hands. "I don’t know what’s in it," he says.

Peter looks at the envelope, confused. It’s a letter from former cross country and track teammate, Chris Schold, written four years earlier and filed away in Mr. Sauer’s cabinet for safe keeping. Today Chris studies economics at St. Olaf and is preparing for his upcoming position at Optum, but during these four years the letter made a trek from the rubble of the old building, to Mendota, and finally to Mr. Sauer’s new classroom.

"What is this about?" Peter wonders.

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Peter Shaffer just before qualifying for State.

Later that evening, when Peter opens the letter at home, he understands. Mr. Sauer often gives his students the opportunity to write a letter to their future selves. Four years after they graduate, he mails those letters back to the students so they can see and remember the wishes they had for themselves on the cusp of leaving MA.

Chris Schold, however, chose not to write to himself, but to write to Peter, who was just in eighth grade at the time.

Now a senior, Peter opens the letter to find words of encouragement and an exhortation to continue forward in excellence. "I was surprised at how much he noticed about me in seventh and eighth grade, and that he thought to write to me about it," Peter shares, adding that he felt humbled to be on the receiving end of such a gesture.

For his part, Chris considered just doing the assignment and writing to himself, but, "I started to think about how this assignment could actually be used to bring greater good to the team."

Letter from Chris to Peter copy

Peter's positive attitude and willingness to "stick with it" when things got tough impressed Chris throughout their time in cross country. "I wanted to let him know that he was a great student and athlete and it was a pleasure to get to know him. It seemed like a good way to finish out the year and make an impact on someone else."

Chris’s decision exemplifies a key value that staff and faculty at MA hope to nurture throughout the community: Considering the needs and feelings of others, and how you can be part of making someone else's life better.

In a world where popular media and culture often glorify self promotion, faculty continually challenge students to consider how their actions and choices impact not only themselves but also those around them.

Class Constitution

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Each teacher has his or her own way of offering this challenge throughout the school year. If you step into fifth grade teacher Nichole De Haven’s class early in the year, you might catch her working on the Class Constitution with her students.

"How do you want others to treat you this year?" she asks her students. "What are your hopes for the ways others do or don't interact with you?"

The students brainstorm a list together that goes up on the whiteboard.

"Do you notice anything interesting about this list?" Ms. De Haven asks the group.

Inevitably students start to recognize that their peers hold similar hopes and values (kindness, truth telling, etc.) as themselves. This revelation plants seeds of empathy and nudges students to consider how their words or actions may impact their peers.

Fifth grader Katie Jane shares this realization: "It’s important to hear other people’s ideas and what they have to say. I don’t want someone to ignore me when I’m talking, so I should respect them when they are talking."

As they work through these values, the students develop a Class Constitution—a series of agreements they make for how they want to treat each other.

"It’s really helpful to have their wording, not just mine," says De Haven, noting that the process gives the students a sense of ownership. The class then agrees as a community to "uphold the Constitution" that they’ve created.

Random Acts of Kindness

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Middle School Counselor Sarah Rothstein also works hard to reinforce the community values on campus. Herself a transplant to Minnehaha with experience in two public school districts, she shares that she’s witnessed firsthand the uniqueness of the Minnehaha culture.

"I’ve never worked in a school where for the most part kids tell you the truth, and when they make a mistake and they own it," she says.

Rothstein is quick to clarify that Middle School students at MA aren’t perfect, and they definitely aren’t immune to the many quirky friendship dramas and behavior issues adolescents are famous for, but, she says, "As a whole the kids here really want to do the right thing. Although they make mistakes, they own them; although they have friendship troubles, they want to work them out."

Wanting to reinforce the good she already saw happening as well as broaden students’ ideas about serving and loving others, Ms. Rothstein instituted the Random Acts of Kindness board. Each year she writes out cards that recommend ways to serve others or help others feel safe and included in school. Over the course of a number of weeks, students chose cards from the board and then report back on what they did.

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Some examples include:

  • "I let someone go in front of me in line."
  • "I told someone that I was thankful for her because she always makes me laugh."
  • "I helped babysit for my neighbors."

Serving Others With Our Bodies

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Even in the more unexpected places, like physical education class, instructors work with students on developing an awareness of others.

On a blustery Wednesday morning in October, fourth graders from Jordan Fitch’s phy-ed class toted rakes as big as themselves into a yard just a few blocks from the school. After a brief prayer for their time together and the family who owned the home, the students got to work pushing leaves into piles and then bagging them up.

In all, students served six neighborhood families through raking this fall.

"I’ve been trying to teach our PE students that our bodies aren’t just here to serve our needs alone, but that we are called to serve God and serve others with this gift that we’ve been given," shares Mr. Fitch.

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Students praying for the people whose yards they would be raking that day.

Before raking he shared this scripture to help set the tone:

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." (Mathew 25:35-36)

While Fitch loves sports and loves the growth that comes from learning to be part of a team or to push oneself physically, underneath everything he wants students to connect their faith with all aspects of life.

"I would love students to see everything they do in PE as an opportunity to serve God and to honor Him," he says, reaffirming that a primary way we serve God is to serve others. "Raking was a unique experience to do that."

Full Circle

While these examples are just a few of the many ways faculty encourage students towards an awareness of and empathy for those around them, they typify an undergirding mindset seen in classrooms across campus.

Upper School Spanish instructor Anne Calvin notes, "Ultimately it’s about being the body of Christ. We call out the good in our students but we also name the things that are undesirable such as, 'that doesn’t have any place here.' The desire is to have an environment that is Christ-like, where the Holy Spirit is present. It’s not just a poster on the wall, but it’s rooted in something much deeper and more profound in how we view one another, that we do bear the image of God."

 

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Topics: Middle School, Upper School, Lower School, Caring Community

The Great Gingerbread House Project

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Dec 5, 2019

IMG_82522-1Fourth grade students recently were assigned a challenge - use the skills they had learned in math and group work to meet a real need in the local community. Students were asked by the Becketwood Holiday Decorations Committee to provide decorations for the cooperative living community.

The students began with a brainstorming and research session. They participated in a gallery walk of pictures of Christmas decorations where students noticed and wondered what they had in common. Students shared their ideas and collectively decided to design and build gingerbread houses for the Decorations Committee.

IMG_8255-1The Great Gingerbread House Project began!

The students' work integrated many math standards. Students made drafts and final copies of everything needed to design the gingerbread houses: floor plans, calculations of the area and perimeter, and front and side views of their houses.

Then, they built the houses out of traditional gingerbread materials - graham crackers, marshmallows, frosting, and lots of different types of candy!

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The students installed their houses on December 4th, and met several people who live at Becketwood. Students talked to them and explained the entire process.

Congratulations, students, on work well done!

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Topics: Lower School

Preschoolers Deep Dive Into Ocean Unit [Photos]

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Nov 22, 2019

"It's time for science!" exclaimed one preschooler excitedly as teacher Ms. Van Gordon lifted up an octopus in front of the young children.

The preschoolers had spent a month learning scientific facts about ocean creatures, singing songs about the sea, and reading stories about fish.

Beach Day was a celebration of all they had learned. 

They created shell necklaces, made a fish print on a shirt using a real fish, and then got to get hands on with an octopus. 

  • "Where is the beak?"
  • "What is inside of its head?"
  • "How do the suction cups on its tentacles actually feel?"
  • "Did you know octopus can get into tiny spaces because they don't have any bones?"
  • "I know that an octopus is really smart."

The astute observations and questions from these students made clear all that they had learned about the mollusk. 

The day was a joyful celebration of the excitement that learning new things can inspire.

Topics: Lower School, Preschool

Lower School Book Parade: Celebrating Stories!

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Nov 8, 2019

The annual Lower School Book Parade is so much fun! Each student and teacher dressed as a character from a favorite book, and the creativity with the costumes was wonderful to see. The parade started at the Lower School, went down to Becketwood Cooperative, through the halls of the senior housing, and back to Minnehaha Academy.

 

 

Topics: Lower School

Lower and Middle School Homecoming Pep Fest [Photos]

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Sep 29, 2019

Homecoming Pep Fest at the Lower and Middle School was so much fun! The Homecoming Court led the students in fun games and friendly competitions. Photo Gallery.

Topics: Middle School, Upper School, Lower School

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