Drinking Gourd Elementary School

Quail Class

Levels: Kindergarten - Grade 1

One more day of school and we will have a new ten!Working independently within a guiding structure

The Quail Class is an active and busy place! During much of the school day students move freely around the room working together at tables, reading in the loft or pillow pit, painting at the easel, writing and learning at the computer, creating imaginary scenes on the small carpeted stage or building with blocks on the large carpet.

“Menu and Contract Time,” a favorite period of the day, gives Quails a chance to work independently within a guiding structure. “Menu” kids choose from a menu of activities. When an activity is completed, the student cleans up independently and gets teacher verification before moving on to the next activity. Using the menu process teaches students to be responsible for their own learning. When students are ready for a more challenging program, they move on to a “Contract” system, learning to organize their time and to keep track of their own work and assignments.

Hands-On Mathematics

Do we all agree on this solution?All Quail students have a daily calendar job which is done as soon as they arrive. Through these jobs, Quails learn about the days of the week, reading a calendar, a thermometer, and a rain gauge, roman numerals, tally marks, even and odd numbers, counting by 2, 3, 5, 9, and 10, and dictionary skills. Each child reports their findings to the whole group.

These calendar jobs are part of the hands-on math experiences which form the basis of our mathematics curriculum. The students develop a solid understanding of beginning math concepts through investigation, problem solving, mathematical games, and study of patterns. Students move ahead through a sequence of mathematical concepts at their own rate of understanding.


Learning to read

We use and enjoy our large collection of books every day. Learning to read is one of the most exciting subjects of study during these years. Beginning with simple phonics, students are able to read short books independently as soon as they know basic letter sounds. All students add a link to our class “book chain” for each book they have read, amid much applause and congratulations. Quails achieve many such successes built into our reading program, which helps to create within them a love of books and reading. Most students become avid readers outside as well as inside the classroom.


This pumpkin bread we made sure smells good!Writing projects

Writing goes hand-in-hand with reading in the Quail Class. Students begin by dictating stories for the teacher to write. They are proud to see their words in print and learn to develop full stories with many details. Soon students are easily writing independently. All Quails take part in the Family Letter Book project, writing a letter each Friday to a family member to tell about something that occurred at school that week. Creating articles for the monthly Drinking Gourd News, writing letters to lawmakers to express their opinions, making puppet shows and plays, writing simple poems, making books, and creating stories to read to the group during Writer’s Workshop are all Quail activities that give us real reasons to write.


Spanish is integrated

Spanish is woven into classroom directions, songs, books and games. Focus is on becoming familiar with the language as well as learning basic vocabulary (colors, numbers, classroom objects, etc.) and phrases that can be used at school (I want.... I have... Where is the...?, Please answer the phone.)


Making pan de muertos is a yummy Mexican tradition.Social studies explores many cultures

The social studies program helps children to explore the many cultures and people that make up our world, understanding common human needs as well as the wonders of diversity. Children explore social studies and science through integrated theme units. The focus in science is on the natural world, caring for our earth, and the relationships among all living things. Common science themes are habitats, the ocean, outer space, plants and organic gardening.


Social behaviors

Important social behaviors learned in the Quail Class are using words to express needs and feelings, sharing, empathy, and learning to think about the effect of our actions on others. In addition to Class Meetings and lessons in conflict resolution skills, the children learn from the experiences of our set of Kids Like Us dolls. These dolls come to the class for help with their problems, which gives the students a chance to practice identifying feelings, problem-solving and using critical thinking skills. Through the lives of the dolls the children learn to reject stereotypes, harmful teasing, bullying, name-calling, exclusion, prejudice and other biased behaviors and beliefs. They also practice skills for standing up against bias and making choices in difficult situations.


That hoop sure is high.Free play and other activities

The full school day also includes 45 minutes of free play outdoors, lunch time (outdoors as weather permits), a rest-and-reading period, and, during some school years, a once-a-week gymnastics or roller skating class. Every student has a pair of rain boots at school so we are able to go outside to play nearly every day.