Am I normal?
By Ellen Sanchez, Human Development Consultant
When approaching the time of body changes and the onset of puberty, the number one question on children’s minds is, “Am I normal?” For 8 -12 year olds, the changes in their own bodies and those they see around them provide a full menu of questions, concerns, fears and confusion. For this reason, talking about bodies and how they change should begin, at the latest, by the time children are 7 or 8.
The goal is to offer children honest and accurate information BEFORE they experience the changes of puberty, so they know what to expect and have a chance to think through strategies for managing those changes, both physical and emotional. By doing so, we can help make the experience a positive one, an exciting metamorphosis from child to young adult, and one that encourages confidence and provides opportunities for learning how to keep their bodies healthy and themselves happy.
It’s best when the conversations about bodies include settings with their peers. Having these discussions in the classroom is ideal, as the teacher facilitating can set the tone for acceptance of differences that can prevent hurtful teasing about this sensitive topic.
What do we want to communicate?
Everyone grows at their own pace, at exactly the right time for them. Each person has their own body clock that will start the changes when it’s right for that person and move through puberty at just the right pace for that individual.
There are many books that can help get the conversation started and provide the vocabulary that’s right for the age group. Here’s a short list of a few I rely on:
Amazing You! by Gail Saltz
What’s the Big Secret? by Laurie Krasny Brown
It’s so Amazing! by Robbie H. Harris
What’s Happening to My Body for Girls, by Lynda Madaras
What’s Happening to My Body for Boys, by Lynda Madaras
It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robbie Harris
Group Six Campout Preparation
By Danielle, Naomi, Shelby, and Gus
The prep was mostly at Westland. The reason it was mostly at Westland was because we didn’t have the right materials at the campsite. We also wanted to be organized and not miss any activities. It all started in Science when we made the snacks. We made trail mix that had pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, m&m’s, and dried fruit. Then we made puffed rice bars with melted vegan marshmallows, dried fruit, puffed brown rice peanut oil, and honey. Then there were the granola bars, which had granola, honey, butter, vanilla, salt, almonds, oats, ground flax seed, brown sugar, and sunflower seeds. We made all the snacks with Julie and Ella.
Next, we went down to the basement to get our supplies. We had coolers, water jugs, bins, burners and tents. We brought up the supplies and washed them to get all the dirt out. We did not want contaminated food. Each student then got their own personal list of things to bring on the campout. Everyone was responsible for their own supplies and carrying them.
In Science, we broke into meal groups. Each group was responsible for their meal, and for the equipment that their meal needs. The groups individually went into the kitchen to pick out their pots, pans, and utensils.
The next step was to load everything onto the bus, with the help of parents and teachers. When we arrived at our campsite we had to unload everything from the bus, so that’s what we did. First, we took our bags and put them in a big pile. Next we took all of our equipment from the bus. And finally we took everything down the stairs. Then we unpacked our sleeping supplies and set up the campsite.
Campout Meals Survey
By Ngozi, Luke, Oliver, and Cira
At the beginning of the campout planning, Julie, our Science teacher, had us sit down and raise our hands for allergies, intolerances and dislikes. Julie then asked who was vegetarian or pescetarian. She then proceeded to take all of the allergy information and came up with meals options that would work for everyone. For dinner, our options were tacos, baked potatoes, stir fry, tacos and grilled cheese. For lunch, our only option was sandwiches. For breakfast, our options were pancakes, bagels, and hash browns.
Julie created a packet with meals and their possible sides. We circled the foods we would eat, and then rated the meals with one to five stars, depending on how much we liked the meals. We then counted the stars to see which of the seven meals was most favored by the class. For dinner, grilled cheese, stir fry, and baked potatoes were tied. So the teachers who were coming with us helped decide which meals we were going to eat. We ended up having tacos and baked potatoes for 2 dinners. For 2 breakfasts, we had hash browns and bagels. For lunch, we had sandwiches one day and leftovers on the last day.
Nutritional Values and Calculations
By Issa, Cass, Emma, and Sawyer
Once we knew what the meals were and were split into committees, we went to a website called Nourish Interactive (http://www.nourishinteractive.com/) which has a meal planning tool. We typed in the name of each food included in the meal, and it gave us the nutritional values and calories of that food. Nourish Interactive also told us how many calories and nutritional values (grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and proteins) we needed in each day. Afterwards, everyone took a survey to decide what elements of the meal they were going to be eating. Then each committee calculated an average of the nutritional values that would be eaten during the meal. We typed the averages into a spreadsheet.
When all of the meals were typed into the spreadsheet, we saw that the calories were too high (by 900) and all of the nutritional values were also off. During the campout, we would be eating lunches that we brought from our homes. The next class, we took our lunches into science to see the calories, nutritional values and proportions that we normally eat. We saw that the proportions we had planned for the campout didn’t match the calories we normally consume. So we re-calculated the averages with the updated proportions, and they matched our nutritional needs. Once we knew the portions that people were going to be eating, we could make a shopping list.
Shopping Trip to Trader Joe’s
By Philip, Romy, James, Emma P.
Group 6 went on a shopping trip to get food for the campout. Before we went shopping, we created the necessary quantities of food products for the shopping list in Science class. After we figured out how much people wanted to eat, we added 10 to the first amount of food we needed. (for example, 4 slices of bread + 10 = 14 slices of bread.)
After we finished the shopping list, we got into carpool groups and the parents drove us to Trader Joe’s. When we got to Trader Joe’s, we split up into our shopping groups, which were also our cooking teams. Once we went in, the groups looked at their shopping lists and went looking for the ingredients. Some of the ingredients were not found at Trader Joe’s. When we could not find the item we were looking for, we would circle it on the shopping list. Later Crystal went to Whole Foods and bought all of the ingredients that we could not find.
Some of the groups split up into smaller groups in order to make it go faster. When we got to a certain aisle, we looked on our shopping list to see if there was an item we needed in the aisle. If there were multiple choices, we had to think of the rest of the group and who might like what. An example would be, “There are a lot of hot sauces. Which one is good for the group? Is this one too hot or is it not too spicy?” While we were shopping, we wanted to find Bruce, the stuffed shark. When we found him, we would go to the front desk and tell the employee’s that we found Bruce. We got free lollipops!
When we were checking out, we had to make sure that none of the items were missing or if there wasn’t enough of the actual item. When we got back to the school we had to put the groceries in the classroom and the kitchen.
When we got into groups to write this blog we first talked about how awesome the experience was and how it felt like we were really in charge. We also thought that the parents weren’t really involved, and we liked that. It was also a lot of weight on our shoulders, knowing that if we forgot something we wouldn’t be able to eat it on the campout. But it all worked out and food on the campout was awesome!
By Loretta, Maggie, Paige, and Bella
Group Six produced an estimate of ten meals for campout in Science, including all desserts and snacks. We had two breakfast groups, one lunch, and two dinners. We had to cook about eight of the meals.
For the hash browns we didn’t need to prep much. All we had to do was put out the condiments, and we had oatmeal and hot chocolate. So we only had to cook the potatoes and meat and veggie sausages.
For the sandwich group we did not have to do any cooking. We put out the cheese, vegetables and meat on platters so that we could make our own sandwiches. We also put out the condiments, which included jam, peanut butter, mayonnaise, salsa, hot sauce, and hummus.
The puffed rice bars were hard to make because the marshmallows wouldn’t melt quickly. They were vegan marshmallows. It took almost an hour to melt and make them. Then we put dried strawberries, blueberries, and puffed rice cereal all together in a glass pan and let it cool.
Taco dinner was a bit different from the other meals. There was a bit more cooking involved at the campsite. We cooked beans, both meatless meat and beef, Mexican rice, and grilled vegetables. Making the taco dinner was a very valuable experience.
For the banana boat dessert, it was all cooking, and prepping. We cut the banana, added the chocolate chips and marshmallows, wrapped it in tin foil, and placed it on the fire. It was in the fire for less than five minutes. The s’mores in a cone didn’t work as well because we burnt some of the cones. So we made new ones, but we didn’t cook them to make sure they didn’t burn again.
Cleaning was hard. We had to scrub pans, our plates, and everything else we used. It involved lots of teamwork and sore fingers. Scott, our Head of School, was there to help for the taco dinner. Overall this experience was very helpful and gave Group 6 the opportunity to prep, cook, and serve 21 kids.
The Iditarod Trail
As a part of the Alaska study, Group Three took on an extended exploration of the geography of Alaska. They examined the southwest section of the state, focusing on the Iditarod Trail route which runs from Anchorage to Nome.
In Science they worked to build scale models of the mountain ranges in this area of Alaska, including the tallest peak in North America, Denali. This was a great extension of their explorations of scale begun in the City study where they used their clothespin people to gauge the scale of their city businesses.
First, Group Three learned to make grids with equal cells. Partners had to plan and organize which tools they would use and how they would create their grid.
Afterwards, they spent time finding locations on grids. They drew cards and built the unifix towers indicated in the location on the grid. They also found locations in a large grid on the science room floor.
Next, Group Three divided into committees and moved into the auditorium. Each committee was responsible for recreating a mountain range to scale. The scale was 2 blocks for every 1,000 feet.