making a mesaSome years ago (these sweet children are about to graduate from college!) my first grade class was engaged in a study of waterways. This was a year-long investigation and adventure that we took together with our 4th grade buddies. We visited the pond in Prospect Park, the Gowanus Canal, and the ocean at Breezy Point. Along with the 4th graders, we took an exciting ride on the MetroNorth train, and followed the Hudson River all the way to the Croton Reservoir.

Along with a representative from the Department of Environmental Protection, the children did water-testing experiments in class, took a walk around the neighborhood to observe how water is tested at various water-checking stations located on different streets and we also visited the water control center at the reservoir in Central Park.

Our “big bang trip” was a boat ride in Jamaica Bay with five instructors from the New York Aquarium. The instructors set up five different exploration stations and the children spent time at each one.

colin on the boat

Our assistant principal, Richard Goldstein a former science teacher, spoke to the children about different landforms and how they interact with and form the various waterways. He helped the children make mini-landforms in small plastic boxes. The next day at the suggestion of the children, we followed this up at Choice Time by creating various landforms in our sand/water table, mapping the landforms and then pouring down “rain” creating rivers and islands.waterway #1

waterway mapwaterway-process descriptionSometimes there was a disagreement about how the landforms should be constructed , but the children were encouraged to do some research to settle their disputes!


Collaboration, sometimes conflict, creativity, research…all taking place at one center during Choice Time in a first grade class!

2 thoughts on “DO MESAS HAVE SPIKES?

  1. marlene star

    Here are a few kindergarten memories from my oldest child, who is 25 now: At first Amanda had trouble adjusting to kindergarten and I remember feeling angry at you, Renee, for being too authoritarian! Perhaps this is because Amanda came to PS 321 without a formal nursery school background. She only went to Hugs for two short afternoon sessions per week. I also remember her love for music and how fond she was of Mr. McGarry. ( Come to think of it, so were some of the moms, but for a different reason!) I remember being horrified at the way she would spell things but I will admit that the creative spelling did encourage her to write a great deal. She ended up majoring in English at McGill University – maybe that played a small part? Finally, I remember the poetry reading that took place toward the end of the year being a lovely event and the cute little friends she made in the neighborhood.

    1. Renee Post author

      Hi Marlene. Oh I’m so sorry that I was authoritarian! I’d be curious to know how this played out in the classroom, but in any case, many apologies!


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