Our BWS World Tour goes to Latin America. We started in Mexico which is technically in North America but shares more culture with South America. Just after Halloween, Dias de Los Muertos is celebrated. The Day of the Dead is a joyous time that allows families to remember those who died. Parades, songs, dances, good food, flowers and an Ofrenda full of tokens from the past keep the memory alive every year. Even our youngest scholars wished to share memories of those who died in their family. We had our own fiesta by shaking maracas and eating pan dulce. Reading about traditions in other cultures also introduced a different language.
Next we packed our virtual bags with novels about South America as an introduction to this huge continent. With 12 countries in all, we had to focus our travels on just a few . The topography first informed us. Bolivia has a capital that is miles high atop the Andes mountains. We studied the flora and fauna of these, the second highest mountain range in the world.
For the youngest, lilies and llamas were featured both in folktale and fact books. Llama, Lama Red Pajama holds new meaning when you learn of how these animals work so hard carrying loads up mountains and by giving their wool for clothing.
Through the books in our BWS Library, older students learned more of the Spanish colonization and destruction of amazing civilizations such as the Mayans in Peru. We felt some of the culture by sampling Bolivian street food from a new shop in DC, wearing an alpaca poncho and trying to make music from Peruvian pipes while listening to indigenous tunes.
We came down from the mountains into the Amazon rainforest and the country of Brazil. Students entered the library to the tunes of Bossa Nova. They read about the deforestation of the trees from the rain forest in order to make grazing ground for the cattle that get sold to the US for hamburgers. They saw satellite photos of the vast Amazon river and forest that covers the width of a continent. And they sampled an unusual tropical treat called Dragonfruit shipped here from Ecuador.
The youngest scholars encountered stories and fact books about the unique animals such as the Sloth, Poison Dart Frog and Jaguar, not mention the millions of insects.
Mrs. Ochmanek continued her library skills instruction with 4th grade with a Starburst candy challenge to find and describe different subject areas in the Library nonfiction collection. This is an opportunity to fully understand the organizing structure of any library in the country- using the Dewey Decimal System. While she reads a challenging story at the start of library time, the scholars must prove their knowledge each week before moving to the next category. Then they get to choose up to 4 books to read for pleasure.
A study of water and oceans informs the 3rd grade social studies curriculum. Mrs. O adapted her stories to match that study. One example is the biographies of marine biologists and the deep sea diver Jacque Cousteau. The class is continuing the Accelerated Reading Program by selecting one book at their exact reading level to read and take a comprehension quiz every week. We have seen readers maintaining and progressing in their reading abilities. This is a cooperative effort between Ms. Clark and Library staff.
We ended the month focusing on the origin of our Thanksgiving feast and how South America harvests fill our tables. Produce from roots and vines fill pies and casseroles and the Wild Turkey is very American-both South and North. In the end, we were very grateful.