Minnehaha Academy Blog

Sixth Grade Poets: Hope, Healing, Humor

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Apr 17, 2020

Our sixth graders just finished learning about poetry.

"We asked the big question: 'Why read and write poetry?' " said Middle School English teacher Ms. Ulferts. "We looked at a variety of poems and found that they are often centered around hope, healing, and humor-which is the approach we took as we began to write some of our own."

Some of our sixth grade students wanted to share their poems with the community. Listen to their poetry below:


  • Gabi: 0:00
  • Naszir: 0:43
  • Maximillian: 1:13
  • Nevis: 1:52
  • Dalton: 4:13
  • Luka: 4:56
  • Cosette: 5:38
  • Adelyn: 6:37
  • Emmett: 7:02


Topics: Middle School, Online Learning

Staying Mentally Healthy During Covid-19

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Apr 16, 2020


Middle School students have spent the week learning how to stay mentally healthy. Our Middle School counselor Sarah Rothstein is virtually visiting them in health class to teach about mental health and provide mindfulness exercises. The students watch the presentation and then participate in a live discussion.

The intent of the lesson is to recognize and acknowledge what students are feeling, give students a place to talk about it and know that they are not alone, and give them tools to use in order to destress.
Middle School Phy Ed classes are also starting each day with a "mindful minute" exercise. Students were given a list of brain break activities to use throughout the day, many of them not in front of a screen. While Minnehaha counselors always are available to provide student support, they are especially focused on giving students simple things that they can do to lessen anxiety and worry, and also fill times of boredom and frustration.  
Check out the presentation as well as the mindfulness exercises below.

Mental Health During a Pandemic 



Mindfulness Exercises

1. Breaking Down our Thoughts Activity

Write down something that you may be worrying about. Then ask yourself…

  • Is my thought based on a feeling or an actual fact?
  • Is it possible for my thought to come true?
  • What’s the worst that can happen if it does come true?
  • Will it still matter to me tomorrow or in the future?
  • What can I do to handle the situation in a positive way?

2. Deep Breathing Exercise

Inhale 4 seconds, exhale 4 second, and repeat.

3. Clenching Fist Exercise

Arms down at your sides, clench your fists as tight as you can. Hold, then release. Repeat 2-3 times. You can do both hands together, or one at a time.

4. Gratitude Exercise

Option #1: Start by observing. Notice the thank yous you say. Just how habitual a response is it? Is it a hasty aside, an afterthought? How are you feeling when you express thanks in small transactions? Stressed, uptight, a little absent-minded? Do a quick scan of your body—are you already physically moving on to your next interaction? Pick one interaction a day . When your instinct to say “thanks” arises, stop for a moment and take note. Can you name what you feel grateful for, even beyond the gesture that’s been extended? Then say "thank you."

Option #2: I’m grateful for three things…

  • I hear
  • I see
  • I smell
  • I touch/feel
  • I taste

5. Coloring Exercise

Find a favorite coloring book, or download and print these coloring sheets.

6. The Connection Challenge

Instead of social distancing, we physically distance together. For the next week, try to connect with someone (same person or seven different people) every day virtually through texting, email, or social media. Check-in and ask them how they are feeling and share how you are feeling, then challenge them to do the same!

7. Someday Soon Jar

Keep a list with your family of things you will do when social distancing is over. Turn frustration into anticipation!

Topics: Middle School, Online Learning

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

First Day of Online Learning

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 31, 2020

The first day of online learning is in the books at Minnehaha Academy. Students from preschool to Upper School met with teachers and classmates to embark on the adventure of distance learning. 

Classes prayed together, sang together, and shared with each other.

In challenging times we are grateful for our strong community and our faith in God. We are praying for each of our students, families, faculty, and staff.  


Topics: Online Learning

A Letter from a Student

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 30, 2020

Untitled design (5)-1We are continually blessed by our students on a daily basis in big and small ways. The letter below was sent by an Upper School student last week and provided encouragement to us all. Especially in times like these, acts of kindness do not go unnoticed. May this be an encouragement to us all to show kindness and grace to those in our lives. It matters.

To the teachers, staff, and faculty of Minnehaha Academy,

I hope this email finds you well in this crazy time in history. I also hope that you and your families are all healthy. For those who I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, my name is Rebecca from the junior class. 

I know this is a very unprecedented time for everyone, which frankly no one has control over. I wanted to write personally, and informally to everyone to try my best to lift some spirits. Not to brag, but many of my hockey teammates have looked up to me for positive energy. Many of us have differing opinions on just about everything in today’s world, which you can add this pandemic to the long list. However, I’m here to find the middle edge of a coin and shed some positivity. 

As educators, you all were given an extreme challenge, one that is very frustrating, stressful, overwhelming, and seemingly impossible. I cannot imagine the stress and pressure that has been put onto you these last three weeks. In saying that I would not trust anyone else in the world to help the students get through this than the current faculty and staff of MA. I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the most passionate teachers I’ve ever had, and have come to know many of you on a more personal level these last three years. The amount of resiliency and determination I have found in this staff alone is overwhelming. 

I understand I am only a seventeen year old girl who hasn’t lived much life yet. As cliche and cheesy as it sounds, I have full faith that everyone can make it out of this. You will need to work harder than ever before to help your students get through this too. But, like I said before, I don’t trust anyone else more than I trust you. It is absolutely going to be hard, but welcome to delayed gratification. I know you have all been through so much so far, but I’m asking you to keep going. Keep planning, keep re-writing those lessons, keep answering emails, keep re-working schedules, keep making selfless sacrifices, keep finding that small thing in life that keeps you going. You have worked so hard already and I just want you to know that there is at least one student who sees that. I am forever grateful for everyone who makes Minnehaha what it is. Lastly, I love you all. I hope this helped a little. 

Something that has helped me through this is a prayer I say everyday: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. 

From Junior,


Topics: Upper School, Caring Community, Online Learning

Blessing Jar: A Family Activity

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 24, 2020

IMG_5111 copyMany of us now have more time with our families and are looking for activities to keep our kids busy. One activity we recommend is creating a blessing jar. Not only is it a fun daily activity for families, but is also a good way to teach children to look for blessings and things to be thankful for, despite the circumstances. A blessing jar can be a daily reminder of what we do have. 

How To Make A Blessing Jar

  1. Find a jar or container.
  2. Cut up paper into small strips.
  3. Pick a set time each day (perhaps at a meal) for each family member to write down one blessing from the day on a small piece of paper.
  4. If they'd like, each person may share what they wrote with others.
  5. Write the date on the paper.
  6. Place the paper in the jar.
  7. Continue doing this each day.
  8. When you need a reminder of your blessings, reach in the jar and read a few of the notes. 

IMG_5089 copy

Send me information about Minnehaha Academy!

Topics: Caring Community, Online Learning

Spring Staycation: 7 Museums to Tour from Home

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 19, 2020

2020-US-Students-Online-MinnehahaAcademy-Minneapolis-Minnesota-5 copyIf your spring break is now a staycation, we wanted to show how you can travel the world without leaving home. One of the best ways to do this is by virtually touring museums. Here's a list of the best virtual tours of the museums from around the world: 

British Museum

Check out this fascinating Museum of the World. Exhibits are on virtual display that showcase items from around the world throughout history. Travel through time and history in this interactive experience.

Guggenheim Museum

Walk through the Guggenheim, and get up close to a wide range of art work. 

Musee d'Orsay

With a click of the button you'll be in Paris taking a virtual tour of the famous Musee d'Orsay. Check out works by Impressionist painters!


Walk your way virtually through this beautiful building, housing masterworks from the Dutch Golden Age. 

Van Gogh Museum

Experience the work of Vincent Van Gogh as you walk through this museum in Amsterdam. 

Uffizi Gallery

This museum was designed to house the works of the powerful Medici family in 1560. Don't miss the gilded works of art in this spectacular Italian collection. 

J. Paul Getty Museum

Take a trip to Malibu and virtually visit the J. Paul Getty Museum. The Getty collection features art from the 8th century to the 21st century. 

Discover More!

Google Arts & Culture provides an endless amount of interactive stories and information to discover as you staycation this spring. For even more interaction, download the app and discover new ways to play and learn.

Send me information about Minnehaha Academy!

Topics: Fine Arts, Online Learning

Online Discussion: 5 Tips for Creating Constructive Conversations

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 18, 2020

2020-US-Students-Online-MinnehahaAcademy-Minneapolis-Minnesota-3 copyConnecting through the internet has never been more critical than it is right now. We are thankful for this technology that can bring us together when we can't safely be together in person. We can support each other, learn from each other, and create meaningful connections with classmates, colleagues, friends, and family if we approach our conversations in a mindful way.

Upper School Sacred Studies teacher Dr. Crafton has created these guidelines for participating in constructive online conversations.

"Our online conversations can never duplicate face-to-face conversations," said Dr. Crafton. "So much of our communication is embedded in non-verbal elements: context, tone, timing and rhythm, facial and body language cues, and most importantly personal presence. However, with some effort we can create effective replacements. My hope through these guidelines is to move toward that goal."

Online Discussion Guidelines

  1. Speak your ideas online as you would in the classroom. Imagine that you are having a conversation in person with your classmates and your teacher when you write. 
  2. Respect your classmates and teacher. The same rules we have when face to face apply online; and please remember that it is easier to fall into bad habits online than it is when face to face. Here are some ways you can show respect:
    • Actively engage with your teacher and classmates by considering what others are saying and by contributing your own ideas.
    • Discuss rather than argue or debate; respond to ideas, don’t attack people.
    • Make sure that you understand what others are saying before deciding whether you agree or disagree.
    • Be honest and genuine in what you say; earnestly seek after truth.
    • Assume the best of others.
    • Snarky or derogatory comments are not allowed; be careful about using humor – it is much harder to interpret humor appropriately online than it is in person.
    • Observe confidentiality; you are encouraged to talk about ideas outside of the context of the class, but not about people who are in the class.
  3. Write in full sentences or phrases using good spelling and grammar; don’t use the shorthand typical of texting. And DON’T WRITE IN ALL CAPS – it’s annoying and sends the wrong message.
  4. Add to the communal conversation; simply posting “I agree” or “good idea” is not enough. Say why you agree or disagree.  And don’t simply repeat what someone else has said.
  5. Be brief and on point — remember that the other members of the class will be reading and responding to you, too.

Topics: Middle School, Upper School, 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

Subscribe to Email Updates