Early Elementary - Classroom Updates

Building FUNCTIONAL dwellings!

This week at Math Vitamin, Early Elementary students have been busy building FUNCTIONAL dwellings for Roz's friends! They built nests to protect the gosling eggs using base ten blocks. As they built nests, they thought of the value of units, rods and flats and recorded their equations! Next up, they will spend some more time building bigger homes for Roz and the gosling who is now growing rapidly. They will continue to build their facility with base ten blocks!

Ada Twist Grand Finale

The Early Elementary Students enjoyed a festive send-off to "Ada Twist, Scientist" several weeks ago with a morning of science experiments and play. Check out the UCDS Facebook page for a video of our grand finale explosion of soda and mentos. It's not to be missed!

Since then, we've delved into our theme of FUNCTION through a different lens—through our first chapter book read aloud, "The Wild Robot," about a robot named Roz whose crate mistakingly washes ashore onto a wild island. We've spent the past few weeks hearing about her adventures in which she explores the ecosystem (with frequent mishaps!), learns about how animal groups function, and tries to adapt to her new surroundings. Our conversations, journal reflections, and Math Vitamin story problems have deepened our connections to her unique situation. Stay tuned for what happens next when she discovers an abandoned gosling egg that is about to hatch!

First Week Functions!

We've started the year off with some really great FUNCTIONS! We had an Invention Convention with the whole Labyrinth where kids got into mixed classroom groups to explore a mystery object. They worked together with a teacher to decide its function and name. Some really great inventions that were presented were "The Everything" "The Mystery Shell" and the "Yo Yo Tape Measure"!

We also want to thank everyone for coming to Parent Night. We hope a greater understanding of our programs and schedules was accomplished and you got a better picture of your child's days here at school.

Design Thinking: Dream Jar Exchange

Slippers, stuffies and pajamas filled the Labyrinth on Friday, May 27th. This special day celebrated the conclusion of the Early Elementary’s design thinking project. The day began with creating a paper dream jar for their stuffy as well as presenting the dream jar they made to their dream jar buddy. Many thanks were exchanged for the jars, followed by a “Dreamigation” across the Labyrinth with activities including fort making, stuffy clothes designing, and snacking on cinnamon toast.

Kelsey Creek Farm

On May 12th the EE ventured to Bellevue to visit the beloved Wilbur and Charlotte at Kelsey Creek Farm. During our day there, each class had a tour of the farm, met horses, cows and pigs and had the opportunity to pet baby animals. The day concluded with a picnic lunch and field games such as, soccer, Frisbee golf and parachuting.

Design Thinking

The EE has been digging deep into our Design Thinking project, each student thoughtfully creating a BFG-inspired "dream jar" for a buddy. Teachers paired each student with a buddy from a different class--someone they probably hadn't crossed paths with much during the year. Partners interviewed one another to find out likes, dislikes, passions and interests. They played together on the playground, explored in the classroom, and built and shared prototype designs. After sharing their feedback with one another, the students are hard at work creating their final dream jars to present to each other in the coming weeks. Imagination abounds!


We are having so much fun with the BFG (Big Friendly Giant). Just in time for students to dive into a study of currency, the BFT (Big Food Truck!) arrived in the Discovery Area! After examining the menu and gathering their dollars and coins, students calculated the cost of dining at the BFT, made adjustments based on how much money they had, and finally were able to make delicious purchases at the beautifully designed BFT.

The Big Friendly Giant and Sophie!

Labyrinth students have just begun an exciting adventure with their new pals, The Big Friendly Giant and Sophie! During Math Vitamin, students used both standard (rulers, centimeter cubes and inch tiles) and non-standard (cars, animals and markers) tools to measure the items in our classrooms. We wondered how small our tables and chairs might look to the BFG! As well as reading the classic story written by Roald Dahl, EE classes will be attending The BFG at Everett's Village Theatre Tuesday, March 1st.

Valentine's Day

Caring, respectful, friendly, and funny are just a few adjectives Labyrinth students have been thinking about this week! Each class made a Valentine for important people in our school's community. Students look forward to passing out classroom Valentine's on Friday before Mid-Winter break!

Milk and Cookies

The EE this week has been excitedly preparing for Milk and Cookies on Friday! Classes have been finishing "My Father's Dragon" and enjoying time in Wild Island. During Movement rotation last week, students participated in parachute, a cooperative game, and a dance party!

From Wild Island to the Wild Things

This week the EE students visited the Seattle Children's Theater for the exciting and interactive performance of Where The Wild Things Are. In Math Vitamin, they continued their investigation of geometry and mapping as they created maps with color tiles and explored concepts like area and perimeter.

Wild Island

The EE students came back from break to find that the Discovery Area had been transformed into Wild Island, the setting of our new Read Aloud, My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. As they dug into the book, students have been inspired to design their own symmetrical flowers to add to the landscape and create their own stories and games on the island during Investigation.

This week in Math Vitamin, students explored geometry and spatial reasoning as they created maps of their own imaginary island on Geoboards.

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures as we follow Elmer Elevator on his trek through Wild Island!

Milk and Cookies Tomorrow!

This week, students in the Early Elementary turned their attention to the coming winter and activities that can be done in the snow. They used Cuisenaire rods to make pairs of skis and sleds and found a number value for them.

At Read Aloud, classes are neared the end of Charlotte’s Web. We were sad to say good-bye to Wilbur and the other farm animals but the memorable characters and lessons about friendship will stick with us for the rest of the year.

Excitement was in the air as students prepared for our second milk and cookies sing-along of the year.

Accessorizing our bodies

After returning from Thanksgiving break, the students designed accessories for their paper body outlines. They used Cuisenaire rods to design a belt and a scarf. Students discovered different ways to make groups of ten and groups of 12. Later in the week, classes got together for an all-Labyrinth “Tangle Time” on the Tower playground for a chance to make new friends from different classes.

Inspired by Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web continues to captivate our imaginations, as we're learning more about Charlotte's web-writing plan to save Wilbur. Inspired by her craftiness and incorporating the story into Math Vitamin, students also wrote words in webs using base-ten blocks. From names and initials the first day to descriptive words about themselves the next, everyone had the opportunity to build, draw, and find values for how much their names and words were worth. Asking students to describe themselves strengthened their reflective thinking and tapped into their social-emotional understandings; some examples included funny, polite, thankful, playful, cool, artist, and sporty.

We're gearing up for two exciting events next week: Curriculum Night is next Thursday, 11/19, from 6-7:30pm and we going on a field trip to the Woodland Park Zoo on Friday, 11/20.

Thank you!

Thank you so much for the SPOOK-tacular Halloween celebration last Friday! The excited mermaids, bats, superheroes, and all couldn't contain their excitement for the parent-hosted party. Thank you!

In the classroom this week, we began our first round of Literature Circles. Students met together in small groups with five or six students and a teacher to talk about the book they read at home. Lit Circles also give students a chance to practice actively listening to others and building off of peers' ideas. New books will go home on Friday this week and are due back next Thursday.

During our Lit Circle morning, students also participated in Movement where they learned and play a few games: Beanbag Balancing Act, Simon Says, and Zookeeper. Ask your child about their favorite game this week.

Looking ahead to Thursday, November 19th: Curriculum Night! More information is provided in the Weekly. We hope you and your child are able to attend!

Tangle Time!

The EE classrooms are in full swing with a weekly regular time to mix it up socially and make new friends and stretch play activity choices. New friendships are springing up all over the place! Teachers support kids to make negotiations and help the compromising conversations so that the play can sustain for the length of Tangle time! The kids are working together to vary the play choices that show a good variety of Building, Imagination and Artistic activities. Popular choices being opened by the kids are creation station, legos, blocks, dollhouse and babies. Lots of trying new things and introducing new friends to treasured favorites are being explored by all!

Let's give a hand for Handwriting!

The EE students have begun a deep dive into strengthening hand muscles, honing pencil grips, and practicing precise letter formations. They are working in small groups based on their current skills and are actively engaging in fun activities like play dough, beading, geo-boards, jewel mancala, as well as learning font formations in upper and lower cases. Ask your student what they did today in Handwriting Groups!

Zuckerman's Farm

This last week the EE kids were very busy filling slop buckets to feed animals at Zuckerman's farm and helping Charlotte build her fantastical webs during Math Vitamin. While deeply involved in web design and feeding routines, the students worked with Base Ten blocks and practiced their counting skills and getting to their own personal BIG NUMBERS! For some that meant working hard on keeping track of each block that was counted and for others building and trading with units, rods and flats!

Fun on the Farm!

Students in the Labyrinth are enjoying the new Read Aloud, Charlotte's Web. Math Vitamins had us counting, adding and multiplying as we filled pens with creatures, fed animals and counted fruit on the trees in orchard's we created. We were even surprised last week by a visit from REAL FARM ANIMALS!

The Discovery Area was transformed into a petting zoo and small groups took turns getting to visit many animals that are featured in Charlotte's Web. Many children took the opportunity to hold bunnies and chickens, pat goats and brush pigs. We even met two rat cousins of Templeton and a Tarantula cousin of Charlotte, who was gentle enough to shake hands with!

Edmund Visits!

We had a very special visit last from our Read Aloud friend, Edmund! We knew he was getting closer and closer to Seattle each day on his cross-country adventure, so we decided to make signs celebrating and welcoming him to UCDS. Classes were excited to discover a large ball or yarn outside each Labyrinth classroom door. As we followed the string down the stairs to the Interconnection, the chants, "Edmund, Edmund,..." grew louder and louder.

We gathered around a small box and who did we find snoozing inside?... Edmund! Once he woke up, he zoomed all around the circle, greeting all of his friends. He even brought us copies of a new Read Aloud book, Charlotte's Web. Reading about Fern and Wilbur have inspired us to create animal pens and count livestock on our own imaginary farms. We are excited to find out more about Wilbur and his friends on the farm.


Our first week of school was a giant ball of fun! In addition to meeting up with new and old friends at school, we also met a new friend from the book.

Edmund is popping up in Math Vitamins, Sign ins and writing! We've been following him as he travels across the country (he seems to be heading toward the West Coast!) In Math Vitamin, we used pattern blocks to make Edmund some new friends, things to travel with and even vehicles to travel on.

Just as Edmund is enjoying his adventures, we are enjoying the adventure of a new school year. Last Friday we got into small groups made up of kids from all the Labyrinth classes and got to know a little about each other. Our community is becoming friendlier and more familiar with each new day.

An Illuminating Year

We are wrapping up this ILLUMINATING year by studying animals! The Labyrinth visited Northwest Trek earlier this week. We road trams and observed animals native to the Pacific Northwest such as: elk, deer, beavers, and coyotes. Even though it was a rainy day, lots of animals were out; we even learned that drizzly days appeal to animals.

All of this nature lead us to the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden where students learned about different layers of the forest. We explored the garden, made mini forests (which students brought home) and built magical fairy homes!

Burke Museum

Have you noticed the museum of mammal skulls and furs set up in our Discovery Area? This interactive exhibit, generously loaned by the Burke Museum, has given EE students a chance to explore nature in preparation for our visit to North West Trek. Students have sketched and recorded observations in their Bright Ideas Journals, developing hypotheses for the identity of each specimen. As the year is wrapping up, students are reflecting on the collection of hard work they have compiled throughout the year. Observing and discussing the highlights of what they have learned, students think about what their strengths are and what they are still practicing. They are excited to illuminate their hard work with a grown up at Portfolio Share next Friday!

DASH and Guest Head of the Labyrinth

Dash week for the EE continued with an action-packed Thursday! The morning was spent viewing Storybook Theater’s musical production of The Ugly Ducking. Students and actors laughed alongside each other through songs about identity and valuing what makes us different. We ended the day with an exciting performance by magician Joey Pipia. Students were cheering and chanting at his comedic show with silly tricks and teacher volunteers on stage.

Today, we welcomed Thomas Gust as Head of the Labyrinth! For his special day, he treated everyone to ice cream sundaes and a special All-Labyrinth investigation. What a fun celebration!


In just the past week, Early Elementary students have had the pleasure of viewing two theatrical performances. On Friday, the Labyrinth headed to Northwest Puppet Center for What the Moon Saw, a creative spin on Thumbelina and The Ugly Duckling. Infused with playful references to original author Hans Christian Andersen and featured exquisitely designed puppets and scenery.

As part of DASH (Days of Arts, Science, and Humanities), the Labyrinth joined tower students in the Interconnection for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The play was performed by Book-It, a traveling theatre troupe that acts out classics and other tales, reciting the text verbatim. With impeccable timing and use of space, just three actors delivered the magic of Alice. Their minimalist, "blackbox" style of staging and props invited students to add elements from their own imagination, essentially co-creating our own Wonderland right here!

"What shall we paint on the Rainbow Road this year?"

"Stuff that illuminates!" was an answer that rang out among the buzz of excitement as the Tower-ready students met to reflect on how our theme, Illuminate, has guided our studies this year. Each spring at UCDS, we celebrate the graduating kindergarten class with our tradition of re-painting the Rainbow Road with images that highlight that year’s theme.

Oohs and ahhs followed suggestions of the sun, stars, guiding lights, lighthouses, and luminaries. More abstract ideas, like illuminating friends, served as a reminder of how we have lit others up with caring words and gestures, from invitations to play to designing fairy houses for one another.

Students chose sixteen (!) categories that will become our sub-groups for sketching and then painting the designs on the Rainbow Road. There is an overwhelming sense of honor among the kindergartners as they prepare to inspire life on the Labyrinth playground next year!

Theme Fair Preparation

Students have been springing into action to get ready for Friday's Theme Fair, Illumination Celebration: Highlights of the Year! With the four theme groups of Lighthouse Land, Space Jam, Caring for the Community (Cat City), and Fairy Factory in mind, students journaled about which topic they would like to illuminate for others. Students were placed on one of the four project committees and participated in class meetings to decide on interactive activities to prepare and share with our community. Get ready to see all of their hard work and bright ideas in action on Friday!

Dr. Jane Goodall

This week we were honored to welcome Dr. Jane Goodall to UCDS! After reading books and watching videos about Jane and her accomplishments, students were finally able share their ideas with Jane and ask her some questions. Jane shared inspiring stories from her life and work with chimpanzees and taught us a chimp call used in the jungles to let other chimps know: “I’m here.”

On the Labyrinth playground the bamboo garden has been transformed into a fairy village complete with miniature fairy houses and pixie dust. To welcome the newest friends of UCDS, students have been bringing in flowers, leaves, sticks, and other natural materials from home to build even more fairy houses!

In Math Vitamin students are learning about money and coins through explorations such as observational drawings of different types of coins, writing equations for mixed coins, and grouping coins into dollars.

Busy Week

We had a busy and exciting week before Spring Break! In continuing our exploration of our Read Aloud book, The Night Fairy, students used the constructive feedback received from their partners to make adjustments in the designs of their fairy homes. After adding the finishing details each student presented a personalized fairy house to their Labyrinth neighbor and received one in return.

Free Day offered an afternoon of entertainment with fun spaces to explore in the Labyrinth including a dance and party room, Day of the Dead art room, and lots of bedtime themed activities! Students also had the opportunity to travel to the Tower to visit rooms dedicated to candy, movies, and the Seahawks.

With their special guests in the audience, students showed off their hard work on stage during Grandparents and Special Friends Day. After the incredible performance students and guests visited the classrooms and worked together to create fairies fit to take up residence in the newly finished fairy houses!

Trickster Tales and Fairy Homes

We started the week traveling to Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Theatre to see the production Trickster Tales. Box Tales Theatre Company entertained students and had them participate in the production of stories, including the southern U.S. tale of Brer Rabbit and Brer Alligator and the Mexican tale Tio Conejo.

In addition, students have continued explore Read Aloud, The Night Fairy by creating fairy homes for one of their neighbors in the Labyrinth. Each student interviewed their Labyrinth neighbor, asking questions like “What is your favorite color” and “What are some of your fairy house needs?” After designing fairy home prototypes, students revealed their creations to their Labyrinth neighbor and gathered feedback, such as “What is something your partner liked [about the fairy home]? And “What is something your partner suggested you change?”

Students are still exploring measurement during Math Vitamin and recently played a game where they traveled across a Night Fairy themed game board using inches and centimeters.

So long, Pockets!

Our friend Pockets from the Space Taxi Read Aloud bid us goodbye recently. Before signing off however, he introduced us to the folks who work and volunteer at Cat City. Cat City is just one part of PAWS (Progressive Animal Welfare Society) and the staff works to care for and house cats while searching for families to adopt these furry friends. Jessica, from Cat City visited the EE students and illuminated the important work being done by Cat City and Paws to help our animal neighbors.

We recently began a new Read Aloud, The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz. We are inspired by Flory, the main character who had an unfortunate encounter with a bat and is now unable to fly. As this night creature adapts to living in the daytime, she is learning about what it means to be a true friend. Her adventures around the Giant's (people are giants to her) Garden is providing us with more opportunities to think about measurement, area and perimeter.

Also, here is a blog entry for this week:

Literature month is in full swing! The EE celebrated with a special visit from Joan Bransfield Graham, the author of Flicker Flash. Students prepared for the visit by writing their own concrete poems. After deciding on a topic, the students brainstormed descriptive words and then wrote them in the shape of their subject.

At Math Vitamin we have continued our study of measurement. The students used a variety of manipulatives to discover their own height in centimeters, inches, and feet.

New Characters in the Labyrinth!

So long, Pockets! Our friend Pockets from the Space Taxi Read Aloud bid us goodbye recently. Before signing off however, he introduced us to the folks who work and volunteer at Cat City. Cat City is just one part of PAWS (Progressive Animal Welfare Society) and the staff works to care for and house cats while searching for families to adopt these furry friends. Jessica, from Cat City visited the EE students and illuminated the important work being done by Cat City and Paws to help our animal neighbors.

We recently began a new Read Aloud, The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz. We are inspired by Flory, the main character who had an unfortunate encounter with a bat and is now unable to fly. As this night creature adapts to living in the daytime, she is learning about what it means to be a true friend. Her adventures around the Giant's (people are giants to her) Garden is providing us with more opportunities to think about measurement, area and perimeter.

100th Day of School

This week we celebrated the exciting milestone of the 100th Day of School! After coming together to build a number line with 103 Labyrinth students, we celebrated with a 100 Day All Labyrinth Investigation that included book reading and writing, paper-chains, an exercise circuit, games, necklaces and, or course, a dance party! Be sure to check out the 100 Museum in the Labyrinth hallway to see all the interesting collections of 100.

Diving Deep Into Measurement

Early Elementary students have been diving deep into measurement by calculating area and perimeter. Inspired by our Read Aloud, Space Taxi: Underwater Planet Rescue, Labyrinth mathematicians have been using color tiles to create rectangular buildings for the fictional planet of Nautilus. Bakeries, dentist offices, airports and more have been taking shape! Ask your student about his or her design!

January Fun in Snow and Space!

The EE continues to explore Space with a new Read Aloud. Pockets and Archie's adventures continue in a new book, Space Taxi, The Water Planet Rescue. We even have our own space taxi in the discovery area that we can use to travel to Catopolis, the Cat Planet and Sector 9, The Pink Planet. We had a blast at Bellevue College, visiting the Planetarium and hearing about different kinds of stars. It was almost as much fun as blasting down a snow hill on a huge rubber tube...

Speaking of snow and tubes... Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the parents and friends who were able to join us on our Snoqualmie Adventure. We had so much fun spending the day together and really appreciate the extra help dragging tubes up the hill and pushing them down!

December Adventures

The EE has been continuing to explore place value in Math Vitamin by calculating groups of satellites and building snowflakes. We enjoyed heading as a school to the Seattle Children's theater to see the performance of Dick Wittington. We also celebrated another Milk and Cookies as the Labyrinth, enjoying both song and treats. Happy Winter break everyone!

Stone Soup Celebration

Our Stone Soup celebration was a success! The Early Elementary students exchanged carefully crafted placemats and enjoyed a delicious meal with their Truddies. Each level prepared a toast. The EE shared about our trip to Oxbow Farm set to the tune of “Old McDonald had a Farm.” After the feast, we had a fabulous time playing and reading with our truddies! We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Field Trip Fun!

After a successful night of illuminating our math program at Curriculum Night, we traveled to the Northwest Puppet Center for a performance of The Green Bird. Our students were introduced to the art of shadow puppetry. The show runs through November 23rd if you’re interested in viewing with your family!

The Early Elementary will be preparing the soup for our Stone Soup Celebration, a UCDS tradition. In preparation for the festivities, we traveled to Oxbow Farm on Wednesday to harvest delicious vegetables. Our students tasted kale and carrots, enjoyed popcorn and cider, and explored their surroundings with a scavenger hunt. We had a fantastic time and now have lots of veggies to chop for our soup! Thank you to all of the chaperones!

Illumination Station! in Outer Space

Each classroom in the EE hosted a different mathematical strand that celebrated our new theme focus ... outer space! The projects included a Space Jam logic game, an Illuminating Space Travels game of probability, Race to Space with number, Suit Up! and measure for your space helmet, Space Station patterns and Tangram Space Toast with geometry. What a blast off it was!

Blast Off!

This week we said goodbye to our Lighthouse family and blasted off into space with a special visitor...Pockets the Space Kitty! Who knew Pandora and Seabold had a cousin from another solar system!? He brought us our new read aloud book, Space Taxi, and a special space treat...astronaut ice cream. As we've been introduced to our new characters, Alex Morningstar and his family, we have also been building our understanding of space by reading non-fiction books as well.

This Thursday we also began our first round of Literature Circles. A new book will come home before the weekend to read and bring back next Thursday.

A final note of THANKS!! to all the volunteers who made our Halloween Party such an amazing success! The kids had a great time and are still talking about it!!

Lighthouses and Tapete Sand Painting

Our trip to the Mukilteo Lighthouse last week was informative and fun. We learned from an historical interpreter that the lighthouse has been there for over 100 years, initially built on a spit of land and used to guide locals in their canoes as they traveled along Puget Sound. The light can be seen from as far away as 12 miles.

In Math Vitamin, we're beginning to delve into pattern, inspired by the lighthouse's unique light and sound "addresses." The Mukilteo light is on for two seconds and off for three; its fog horn blows for four seconds and is off for 12. We're building these patterns (and others!) during Math Vitamin and deepening our conceptual understandings along the way.

Last but not least, visiting artist Fulgencio Lago constructed a large tapete sand painting in the Discovery Area this week. We were able to watch him at work all day Monday. It's fueling our excitement in the Labyrinth for next week's Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos celebrations.

Field Trip Round Up

The Early Elementary students traveled to Seattle Children's Theater this past Tuesday to see "Rikki Tikki Tavi." We partnered up with our First Floor "snack buddies" to ride the bus and sit together at the show. Lots of fun was had by all. The show runs through November 9th in case your family would like to see it together. SCT has also provided a Woodland Park Zoo scavenger hunt of the animals in the show if you're interested in a weekend activity:


On Friday, we have another field trip—this time to Mukilteo Lighthouse Park. We're set to brave the elements and return in time for our first Milk & Cookies. As an FYI, Caroline and Erika's Glow Worms and Elena and Kat's Glow Worms have written and will be performing an original song. Join us at 2pm in the Discovery Area if you're free!

Cuisenaire Rod Lighthouses

Not all lighthouses are tall! It turns out that the location of a lighthouse determines its height and shape. A lighthouse built on a tall cliff is usually much shorter than those built on on islands or land closer to sea level. Using Cuisenaire rods, we explored measurement and putting numbers together. For those new to this manipulative, Math Vitamins provided an opportunity to explore lightouses made from the various colored rods. We practiced lining up centimeter cubes and compared sizes. For those already familiar with the values of rods, Math Vitamins provided opportunities to begin comparing sizes and adding values together.

The start of a new Month inspired our first Calendar Math Vitamin as we filled in an October calendar, learned about the structure of this time measuring device and marked some upcoming special dates!

Pandora gets a companion

Our latest read aloud, The Storm by Cynthia Rylant is giving us insights into the life of a lighthouse keeper. We are learning about the important jobs and big responsibilities of Pandora, the main character. We cheered for her when she saved the life of Seabold, the seafaring dog and are enjoying witnessing this new friendship grow.

We continue to practice building with pattern blocks and exploring symmetry, counting, and recording equations using pattern blocks. Using our Bright Ideas Journal, we are thinking about what we know about lighthouses and asking questions to further our study.

Lighthouse Facts and Tales!

Students in the Early Elementary have been enjoying a wide selection of Lighthouse books, both fiction and non-fiction. One story, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde H Swift inspired us to explore symmetry as we built bridges for Math Vitamin. This story and others inspired us to build bells, horns and boats as we learned about the important ways lighthouses help people. Our latest read aloud continues this journey as we join Pandora the cat, a fictional lighthouse keeper in the book The Storm by Cynthia Rylant. While Pandora loves her job, she is a bit lonely, until a storm brings a surprise. Ask your child about what is happening!

A Bright Start

The EE is off to a bright start! We began the year thinking about many things that make light. One of our first Read Aloud stories, The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle illustrated a few examples, describing a little firefly that flew toward a candle, flashlight, lantern and even animals with eyes that reflect light as he searched for other fireflies. He happily found many friends at the end of the story, a fun parallel to the new friendships that are beginning for us in the Labyrinth! We ended our first week by making fireflies of our own. We then met in small groups made up of students from different classes to share our fireflies and learned what kinds of things made our new friends light up. It was exciting to discover that we enjoyed lots of the same things as our new friends.

We have recently turned our attention to learning about lighthouses and the people and mechanisms that keep them illuminated. We've been busy building lighthouses and boats at Math Vitamin and reading a variety of books to learn about the history of using light to illuminate challenging coastlines.


Even as we reflect on our school year and prepare to paint the Rainbow Road, we've had several special visitors in the Labyrinth this week. On Tuesday, volunteers from the Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society brought their reptilian friends to UCDS. Students were able to see, touch, and ask questions about bearded dragons, veiled chameleons, axolotls, and a Burmese python named Thor! The facts we learned about reptiles and snakes complemented what we've been learning about iguanas in focus groups and from our Read Aloud, Nim's Island.

We also hosted two members of the Seattle Reign in an all-school assembly! Kendall Fletcher and Mariah Nogueira came to UCDS on Wednesday to talk about their experiences playing professional soccer and share some of the lessons they've learned along the way.

Nim, Focus Groups and tide pools

This week in the Labyrinth, the EE further explores money in Math Vitamin by helping Nim buy supplies for her island. After studying Nim's marine environment in science and through Focus Groups, we also take advantage of the low tide by heading out to Carkeek park to explore the tide pools.

Focus Groups

Inspired by Nim's Island, we have delved into studying the island environment. Our six focus groups are investigating iguanas, whales/dolphins, volcanos, plants/coconuts, sea lions, and turtles. We are discussing what we know, what we notice, and what we want to learn more about!

Recently we have also traveled to the Northwest Puppet Theater to see a black light production of SCUBA, enjoyed a production of The Phantom Tollbooth by Book-it theater, and learned about environmental art from Maria Coryell-Martin.