Elementary Happenings
Ms. Merike’s & Ms. Smith’s Classes

June Happenings ~ Macbeth Presentation

On Wednesday, June 3rd, at 3:00pm, the elementary students presented Macbeth to staff, family and friends.

The students worked very hard over the past few months, and it has been wonderful to see the growth as they memorized their lines and really got into their parts! They could be heard reciting favorite parts throughout the day. The sets and props were also created by the students, and showed a great deal of creativity and ingenuity. We hope that everyone had a chance to see the performance!

Middle School student, Christina Roman, filmed the play as well as several of the dress rehearsals. She, along with other Middle School students, will edit the footage to produce a final video which will be available in the next week or so. More information will be forthcoming!

Click the link below to see still photos:

May Happenings

It is May and finally warm and sunny, and the Elementary students have, of course, shown an interest in spending time outdoors! They enjoy spotting the leaf shapes in nature that they have learned about in the class as well as drawing compound or simple leaves, looking for complete or incomplete flowers and identifying the parts of flowers.

Our class is full of various plant experiments taking place throughout every part of our classroom. These include how stems carry water to the leaves, how leaves need to breathe through the tiny air holes called stomata, how leaves loose water, and how leaves make food for the plant by way of photosynthesis.

The Upper Elementary children have worked on multiple topics ranging from biomes and the capitals of the world, constellations and black holes and the French Revolution–complete with a miniature guillotine machine!

As the songbirds are back and singing sweetly, so too our students have been welcoming the season with lots of music! The Upper Elementary children were excited to sing rounds of melodic canons switching off from boys vs. girls to 6th years vs. 4th and 5th years, etc. We have been practicing the songs we will perform during the End of Year Festivities on Friday, June 12th. The Lower El’s are learning to write musical notes and 2nd year student, Lucas, has even written a couple of his own songs!

We look forward to Ms. Tammy’s return to our class. We have missed her while she has been recuperating from surgery at home. We thank Ms. Jennie for filling in for her!

~ We will see everyone at the End of Year Festivities! Ms. Merike, Ms. Smith, Ms. Tammy and the Elementary students.

Classroom Photos:

The photos below show some of the work the students are doing each day.  Click on a photo to begin the slideshow.

Science Fair – Thursday, April 30th

Students, staff, parents and visitors were amazed and entertained by the wide range of scientific exhibits on display at last week’s Annual Elementary Science Fair. Elementary students researched, built and tested out their entries at home and in class in preparation for the event.

Exhibits subjects included Density, the Solar System, Magnetism, Viscosity, Cymatics, Hot Air, the Crossbow, Submarines, Siphons, Volcanoes, AM Radio, Biothermal Energy, Uses of Dry Ice, Crystals, Slime and even “Eggsperaments”–cool things to create using an ordinary egg! Afternoon Primary students opened the Science Fair before parents and visitors arrived at 3:00pm. A high point for exhibiting Elementary students, was the attendance of the Middle School students–many of whom had exhibited when they were in Elementary!

Click below to view the photo gallery from this year’s Science Fair.

We would like to extend a special thank you to Ms. Calen Nichols, (Finley/Ms. Assunta’s class), for her help and guidance in troubleshooting and critiquing student’s projects.

April 2015 Happenings

The Elementary students have been enjoying the return of warmer weather and are once again eating lunch outside–whenever it is not raining. The students have all been doing their part with a bit of spring cleanup, picking up branches and rocks that were hidden under the snow throughout the winter. We celebrated Earth Day last week, by walking through the neighborhood and Conrow Park and picking up litter that we found. With the warmer weather upon us, we have enjoyed a number of walks along our nature trail and are discovering that there is a great deal to see, especially on our slower, quieter walks!

A small group of enterprising students were inspired to raise money for the environment. They created a variety of items that they then sold. The money earned will be used to purchase a tree, which will be planted in a suitable location on the campus.

We are sprouting Hyacinth Bean Vines from seeds harvested at the end of last fall. Look for them to grow along the fence this summer and next fall!

Students continue our learn about the properties of air, and how these properties affect the Earth. We have discussed the “blanketing effect” of the atmosphere, and its importance in maintaining a temperature range that is conducive to life on Earth. We also talked about the way the temperature differences, created by the directness of the sun’s rays, are responsible for the existence of global winds.

As you know, we had the opportunity to see a production of Macbeth, at the Arden Theatre, last month and despite being the only elementary students present, the students were able to formulate excellent questions about the technical aspects of the show! This gave the students many new ideas for costumes and props, which they are looking forward to utilizing when we have our own Macbeth performance on Wednesday, June 3rd. More details about our performance will follow, but for now remember to save the date!

Lower Elementary students received a lesson on triad analogous, complementary and split-complementary colors. They finished their second color wheel, (secondary and tertiary colors), and used this to find the complementary and/or analogous of their favorite colors. We also talked about abstract artist, Piet Mondrian and viewed his work with straight lines. The children then were inspired to make their own “Mondrian Art”, now on display in the Elementary hallway. The students completed their projects on ancient China. We hope that you had an opportunity to see the projects when they were on display in the Elementary hallway.

~ Ms, Smith, Ms. Merike, Ms. Tammy and the Elementary students.

March 2015 Happenings

It has been an exciting year thus far in our Elementary classes. Our class finished their Sumerian project by visiting the Penn Museum’s Sumerian exhibition. Thank you to all the parent chaperons!

We have started the work with yet another ancient river culture, this time it is the Yellow River Civilization in Ancient China. We have read about the Great Wall of China and the Silk Road. The students learned that China is the oldest continuous culture and that many commodities we use today were invented in China. For example: paper, paper money, kites, gunpowder, etc.

As the river has been the source for most of the ancient cultures, we talked in detail about the river and its parts; as well as that the job of the river is to carve, carry and deposit. Upper elementary students had a lesson on erosion by rivers, rain, waves, ice and wind. See their art work on this subject in the elementary hallway.

Several students have been learning about and practicing Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. More than simply putting flowers in a container, Ikebana is a disciplined art form in the philosophy of developing a closeness with nature, utilizing materials such as living branches, leaves, grasses, and blossoms. At its heart, is the beauty resulting from color combinations, natural shapes, graceful lines.

Upper elementary students made maps of the most famous rivers and mountain ranges in 6 of the continents. In addition, we have been studying nomadic cultures from around the world and seeing the ways that they function in modern society.

Lower elementary students made their color wheels of primary and secondary colors. Students started by making the 6 wedges on paper plates by using a compass to mark off the appropriate width and then mixed colors to obtain the secondary colors.

Some students explored the use of vanishing point and object size to indicate perspective. Upper elementary children worked with Ms. Steele to make their Alexander Calder inspired mobiles–see their art work in the elementary class and hallway.

Several students have been learning about and practicing Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. More than simply putting flowers in a container, Ikebana is a disciplined art form in the philosophy of developing a closeness with nature, utilizing materials such as living branches, leaves, grasses, and blossoms. At its heart, is the beauty resulting from color combinations, natural shapes, graceful lines.

For the past 2 months, the upper elementary students have also researched and written several reports about the various chemical elements, (see photos of projects below), and familiarized themselves with the periodic table as well as the 4 basic forces, (or interactions), in the universe: The Strong Force, The Electromagnetic Force, The Weak Force and The Gravitational Force.

The students have become more involved in working on projects in and around our classroom environment. Their most recent project was working with Mr. Frank to add grout to the decorative tiles in the hallway.

As spring is upon us, we are looking forward to more “going outs” and Nature Walks!

Happy spring from Ms. Merike, Ms. Smith, Ms. Tammy and the students in the Elementary classes.

January 2015 – February 2015 Happenings

As Valentine’s Day approached, a couple of our elementary girls came up with the idea of having a Valentine’s Day Dance Party in school. They received permission and presented the idea to the rest of the elementary students. The majority of the class voted “FOR” the party, so they began planning! Tomorrow, Friday, February 13th, after the noon dismissal, the party will take place in the Elementary suite from 1:00 to 2:30pm. We thank all of the parents who volunteered to chaperon and those who will be donating snacks, juice and paper products. The students have been busy making decorations. Please remember to arrive by 2:30pm for a prompt pick-up. We welcome help in cleaning up after the party from the attending students and their parents.

In addition to planning for Valentine’s Day, we have covered many topics already this month:

The Human Body: students wrote reports covering almost every body system including digestive, circulatory, endocrine, etc.

The Periodic Table of Elements: the upper elementary students have chosen their topics of interest and are following up with presentations, building dioramas or creating models of different elements or forces.

Macbeth: Most of the students in elementary, including all upper elementary students, are involved with our production of Macbeth. This is currently a work in progress so look for more news soon!

In the beginning of February, our class started the introductory work with yet another ancient civilization, the Sumerians. This study is now in its third and final stage. The students have chosen their fundamental “need” group, (i.e. spiritual or material: nourishment, housing, transportation, defense, clothing), and are starting to write their final reports and projects this week. The students have also had to refresh their memories as to the country names and their locations in Asia; as well as the Babylonian Hanging Gardens, one of the ancient worlds’ Seven Wonders, and the Codes of Hammurabi.

An interesting by-product of this lesson has been our various conversations about current situations in the ancient Mesopotamian area—mostly what is happening in Iraq–and how the Pennies for Peace Organization is trying to make a difference by building schools in the region. We hope to have a representative from the organization visit our classroom in March.

Ms. Smith has been guiding interested students in embroidery and sewing. Several students have now completed small, embroidered decorative pillows.

~ Happy Valentine’s Day from Ms. Merike, Ms. Smith, Ms. Tammy, Ms. Veronica and the Elementary students!

December 2014 Happenings

The month of December began with many elementary students studying Ancient Egyptian history and culture. They showcased what they had learned with in-class presentations to fellow elementary students, as well as presentations to the office staff and the primary and toddler classes.

December was also a busy month as students prepared for the holidays of Hanukkah and Christmas. Tuesday, December 16th marked the beginning of the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, and the students were joined in class by Dana Master, (Astrid/Elementary & Emmett/Middle School), and Rebecca Schwartz, (Sara/Elementary), who directed students as they prepared traditional Hanukkah treats of Potato Latkes with Apple Sauce and Sour Cream and Fig Newton “Dreidels”.

The students played with dreidels and enjoyed a presentation by Astrid and Sara who explained the history of the Hanukkah celebration and the miracle of the oil which lit the lamps for 8 nights, ending with lighting the Menorah.

On Friday, December 19th, the students performed the annual Elementary Christmas Pageant, this year for the first time under the direction of Ms. Michele, our Elementary Chorus and Gym teacher, as well as Middle School Music Appreciation teacher. The show was a resounding success with the students acting out and narrating the story of the birth of Jesus. They sang many familiar Christmas and Hanukkah songs as well as a few that were brand new to them.

Dana Master videotaped the Christmas Pageant and we will be making that video available for parents to view once it is edited and complete. Any parent who would like to share their own video footage or photos is asked to contact Dana at for more information.

Throughout the month, Ms. Veronica worked with students as part of their Spanish studies to create festive Piñatas by covering balloons with paper maché strips and once dry, decorating them with brightly colored tissue papers and streamers. In Mexican culture, Piñatas, filled with candy and treats, are a popular part of family celebrations throughout the year, such as birthdays, Christmas and New Years.

During Christmas Recess, the Elementary After School students spent their days together baking, reading, creating a “light show” with snap-circuits, building marble runs and a K’Nex roller coaster! They also enjoyed playing outdoors in the fresh air quite a lot. On New Year’s Eve the students and Ms. Tammy celebrated the end of the year with a special luncheon complete with party hats and noise makers!

Welcome to 2015! Wishing you all the best in the New Year ~ Ms. Merike, Ms. Smith, Ms. Tammy, Ms. Veronica and the students of the MANJ Elementary classes!

November 2014 Happenings

On Thursday, November 13th, several elementary students went on a “Going Out” to explore the Esther Yanai Preserve, a beautiful 34-acre preserved open space property on Garwood Road in Moorestown.

Mr. Frank Burkhauser, (Augie & Juel/Elementary), led the expedition to search for an animal skeleton he knew to be present and to observe the natural environment of this primarily wetland area. Their intention was to re-discover the skeleton of a deer, however along the way, the students came across two more entire skeletons! The group discussed what to do with their find, and decided to collect the specimens and bring them back to the school for further study.

The students were incredibly drawn to the bones and during their recess, placed them on a table for further investigation. They discussed the parts of the bones and how they fit together and observed how the nerves, blood vessels and muscles interacted with the bones. They were fascinated with how this all related to their own skeletons!

The young explorers shared their specimens with their classmates who had not attended the Going Out. Those students spent their lunch and recess period eagerly exploring the bones. They went on to arrange them by type and to then label them—indeed this was a special “Montessori Moment!”

Mr. Burkhauser also visited the classroom to read a narrative to the students about pond life. The wetland area the older students visited that day includes vernal ponds. A vernal pond is a depression or basin that is not permanently fed by ground water. Generally, these depressions fill with water with the rising water table of fall and winter or with the meltwater and runoff of winter and spring snow and rain. They contain water for a few months in the spring and early summer. By late summer, a vernal pool is generally (but not always) dry. The students learned that because of its periodic drying, vernal pools generally do not support breeding populations of fish. This allows many organisms to evolve using this temporary wetland which will dry but where they are not eaten by fish.

Special Thank You goes out to Mr. Burkhauser for his help with this Going Out.

Historical Presentations – Thursday, October 30th

On Thursday, October 30th, the elementary students presented biographical speeches, written and delivered as if they were the actual historical figure of their choosing. An annual favorite of students, staff and parents, this years presentation truly reflected each student’s hard work researching their chosen subject and developing a costume and–for many–capturing the true persona of their subject with both dramatic flair and satirical humor!

Middle School student, Nicholas Roman, volunteered to video tape the performances. We will provide the link to enable parents to view the video once he has completed the final edit. Click the link below to see photographs of the students’ performances:

Click the link below to begin the slideshow:

October 2014 Happenings

Now that it is October, certain weekly routines have developed in the elementary class with each day having its own focal point that the children can anticipate:

Monday – We begin each new week with our flag raising ceremony while we sing our National Anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner”.

Tuesday – A group of 2-3 children go out with a parent volunteer to purchase vegetables for the
Wednesday pizza fundraiser (if you are interested in volunteering on a certain Tuesday, please contact Ms. Bev at in the office)

Wednesday – Pizza Day: children chop and distribute the vegetables to each participating class, order the pizza and make sure that every student who ordered gets their pizza.

Thursday – Upper elementary students are cooking for the elementary classes, using leftover vegetables. The children come up with a recipe to prepare, and so far we have never had leftovers!

Friday – Chorus, gym and yoga add flavor to our Fridays, in addition, to lowering the flag (most Fridays)

On Monday, October 20th, however, our week had an entirely different beginning with the field trip to Crystal Cave, near Kutztown, PA! This may well end up as the high point of the month! The students, staff and chaperons had a great time on our trip, despite the long bus ride to and from. We learned about stalagmites, stalactites, and the columns that they sometimes form. We also learned about the conditions that create different formations.

Our tour guide explained about the damage that early visitors to the cave unwittingly caused and we all got to experience, first hand, the darkness in which those early visitors would sit, if they were unfortunate enough to drop their lantern!

The highlight of the trip, however, was panning for gemstones. This exciting hands on activity enabled many students to expand individual research into different types of rocks, gems, etc. that had begun in class prior to the trip. Many of the students passed the time on the long bus trip home by busily identifying the contents of their newly acquired collections! Expect much more research and activities centered around the subjects we learned about on this exciting field trip.

We are grateful to Sarah Mantz, (Aidan/Elementary & Torin/ADM), for all of her hard work setting up this trip and coordinating the transportation and chaperons.

We want to remind parents that next Thursday, October 30th, the annual Elementary Historical Presentations will take place in class at 2:00pm. For those families new to elementary or to our school, it has been our tradition for elementary students to stage an informal presentation around the time of Halloween, featuring historic or present day figures, who have made contributions in their own respective fields or beyond.

Parents who are able to, are welcome to attend the presentation. We ask that absolutely no siblings under 5 years of age attend, as it becomes a distraction during an already stressful time for the students. For those planning to attend, parking will be available in the visitor lot on a first come, first serve basis. Additional parking will be available at Conrow Park next door to the school. There will be NO PARKING along the driveway as this will create a dangerous hazard for those parents coming to and from picking up primary children who are not otherwise involved with the elementary presentation. Remember, at NO TIME, may you park on the grass as it will damage the underground sprinkler system.

~Ms. Merike, Ms. Smith and the Elementary students

September 2014 Happenings

Thursday, September 18th

Last week, several Upper Elementary students came up with an idea to perform their favorite Shel Silverstein poems in front of the class. Maddox, Liam, Isabella, Mikaela and Kaitlin memorized some very long and some very short poems, adding their own spin on many of them. The results were entertaining and quite hilarious! Click here to check out the video of their performance.

The Elementary students’ daily art work is now on display in the hallway leading to our class. Please make an effort to come by and take a look. You will find the artwork on display on the cork boards along the outside wall of the second floor hallway.

In the Science area, the students have been enjoying exploring different ways of combining and separating. We looked at the way different liquids settle according to their weights. We are also studying the needs of plants. We learned that lack of warmth had an immediate effect while the other plants are taking longer to show the results of absence of light, water and air.

There has been a wave of crocheting, knitting and fingerknitting sweeping through our classroom. Many students are working on handmade projects. Students who have already received a lesson in knitting and/or crocheting are now busy teaching other students their craft.

While the weather remains warm, Elementary lunch will continue to be outside, but once it turns cooler, or on rainy days, the students will dine inside. Earlier this week, they practiced setting the tables with beautifully appointed tablecloths, plates, glasses and flatware. The students thoroughly enjoyed dining in style!

In other class news: we have acquired new pets. Yesterday the 3 Tequila Sunrise Delta Guppies, Sunburst Wag Platy and Black Mollies joined the lovely Black Tetra in our fish tank aquarium and today, Eli and his parents generously donated a pair of turtles for our previously vacant aquarium. The students are observing their new pets in their specially appointed environments and learning to properly care for them.

Click the link below to see September Photos

Thursday, September 11th

The students in our Elementary classes have wasted no time getting back into their studies this new school year! Several groups of students have already worked on reports and given presentations on various subjects including “Dinosaurs” by Toby, Lily & Jackson, “The Anatomy of Sheep” by Valentine & Sara–inspired by a bone they found!–and “Red Foxes, What They Eat and What Eats Them” by Astrid and Aryana.

Students will often break off into small groups to study and investigate a particular subject. They support their findings with their own illustrations, photos clipped from magazines, and examples and props. They meet with each teacher and the office staff to set up a schedule and then they visit the classes to give their presentation.

Presentations give students the opportunity to research a topic, work as a team, delegate tasks, create and follow a schedule and develop public speaking skills. We are thrilled with the enthusiastic return of Student Presentations!