Spring in the Lower School is a time for exploration and meaning-making both in and out of the classroom. To help students build the depth of their knowledge, many grades take field trips to cultural institutions in the area.
As part of their study of narrative nonfiction in reading, Grade 3 students learn about biographies as a specific type of literature in this genre. Students think about telling another person’s story, considering facts about that person’s childhood, achievements, obstacles faced, and personal qualities that helped them along the way. The Grade 3 field trip to the National Portrait Gallery helps students understand that art can also be considered a way of telling a person’s story in a visual medium. On a special tour before the museum was open to the public, students looked closely at paintings and sculptures of notable historical and contemporary figures, observing symbols and styles artists chose to include in their work to communicate a message about the subject of the portrait.
This month, Grade 5 students traveled to the National Museum of Natural History to explore artifacts from early humans in preparation for their culminating social studies project for the year, “The Dig.” For this unit, students learn about the components of a successful civilization, including how people meet their basic needs and create and support a culture rich in tradition and meaning. Each Grade 5 homeroom will soon invent its secret civilization and then generate and bury artifacts for another homeroom to excavate during The Dig. Then, students will analyze what they have unearthed and create a museum display featuring their artifacts and learning.
Kindergarten students traveled to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to view “One With Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection” and visit paintings by Alma Thomas, a former DC-based Kindergarten teacher and artist that are part of the museum’s permanent collection. Kusama and Thomas use color and mark-making to evoke emotion and reference nature in their work. Kindergarten students studied Kusama and Thomas as part of their curriculum. They spent time sketching, observing, and interacting with the art they saw in the museum galleries and outside in the sculpture garden.