Our Stories

Multidisciplinary Exploration of Rock Creek Park

January 28, 2022 by Ronit Greenstein (Faculty and Staff)

First grade proudly shared the extraordinary final projects from their in-depth and multifaceted learning of Rock Creek Park this week. Parents and guests at Chagigat HaLomdim (Celebration of Learners) also got a window into the learning process and the children’s journey over the course of their semester-long exploration. The hands-on project ignited the children’s curiosity and immersed them in the fields of ecology, biology, literature, mathematics, fine art, Hebrew and more. 

Research & Scientific Thinking: The children engaged in scientific thinking as they studied the flora and fauna of Rock Creek Park. Field trips offered invaluable opportunities for primary research and engagement. The first graders documented their observations of the natural world through writing and sketches, and developed skills related to interviewing (asking questions, listening, summarizing information, communication) through their conversation with a park ranger.  Students then had the opportunity to choose their own animal to research, write about, draw and sculpt. They used books and internet resources to conduct research about their animal’s appearance, habitat, diet, family, and other interesting facts. 


Creative Writing: Students also got to flex their imaginations and hone their creative expression skills in connection with the Rock Creek projects. First graders wrote charming animal fantasy stories with their fauna as the main character. They used skills they learned during their Reading block and knowledge gained from their research for their fiction writing. They began by brainstorming the characteristics of their fauna, and then cultivated stories with a beginning, middle, and end. They were so proud once they put the whole story together – and read it aloud to share with others!

See videos of first graders sharing their animal fantasy stories.



Fine Arts: The children sketched their fauna using the multiple draft process; they gave each other feedback and worked towards a final draft, iterating and strengthening their collaboration and communication skills throughout. They dove into the fine art aspects of the project with tremendous enthusiasm. They learned how to use oil pastels – to mix, smudge, and blend colors – in creating realistic representations of their fauna. In their most anticipated studio project of the semester, students also created a clay representation of their fauna. And, after delving into the relationship between flora and fauna, the students used their expert watercolor skills to paint scenes featuring the flora and surrounding habitat of their fauna. 


Math: First graders used the math skills they developed over the semester in some of their Rock Creek Park artwork. Their “math in nature” art reveals trees or flowers in which each petal or leaf showcases a learned math skill, i.e. tally marks, tens frame, number bond, addition or subtraction sentence, and more. See examples of math trees:


Hebrew Language: Students also had an opportunity to share their Hebrew skills. The children described the different parts of the tree in Hebrew, and shared imaginative answers in Hebrew when asked what a bird or bee might love about a tree, flower or plant. 

Enjoy videos of first graders conversing in Hebrew about flora and fauna.

Roots to Fruits: First Grade on the Parts of a Tree

What I Love about Trees 

Judaic Studies: Every morning, the students begin their day with tefilah. We love hearing the children sing the prayers with feeling, fluency, and enthusiasm. Enjoy this video compilation of the sweet, beautiful voices of the first graders at tefilah.