TNCS Summer “Move It!” Camp Gets Kids Moving and Learning!

TNCS's new Kindergarten teacher/first-grade teacher also taught the Move It! summer camp

TNCS’s new Kindergarten teacher/first-grade teacher Teresa Jacoby also taught the Move It! summer camp

At The New Century School‘s Move It! camp, campgoers learned all about movement—how their own bodies move as well as some of the physics of how other things move—and they also moved, a lot. This ages 3–K 2-week summer camp emphasizing learning and physical activity through art, music, movement, and play was led by Teresa Jacoby, TNCS’s new for the 2014–2015 academic year Kindergarten/first-grade teacher. Mrs. Jacoby brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to the classroom, and TNCS is pleased to welcome her!

A former 3rd- and 4th-grade science teacher in the Baltimore City school system, this “self-proclaimed scientist” gears even her reading and art lessons toward science, and Move It! camp was no different. She designed the camp curriculum herself, and it becomes not just about expending some pent-up summertime energy but also a thoughtful way to incorporate scientific thinking into having fun. “The kids are so naturally curious; it’s nice to discuss [science] with them, and they like to talk about it,” said Mrs. Jacoby.

A typical class discussion starts with something the kids can relate to—their own bodies—and moves progressively outward from there to the world beyond. “We talked a lot about, ‘what is movement?’ and ‘what can we move on our bodies?’. I get the typical legs and arms response and then ask, ‘what about our faces?’ Do we move anything on our faces?’,” she recounts. She invites them to blink their eyes, smile, wiggle their eyebrows, etc. She also talks a good deal about deep, yogic breathing, which has the dual benefit of teaching them how to calm themselves while still continuing the exploration of body movement. “I teach them how to listen to their breath hit the back of their throats and fill into their lungs. They really worked hard to get this right and made a lot of progress,” said Mrs. Jacoby.

As the light starts to dawn and they begin to see that movement really is a continuous, perpetual process fundamental to life, she expands the perspective, and they talk about what we use our bodies to move, such as picking up objects and carrying them from one place to another. “We talk about what’s hard to move and why and what’s easy to move and why,” said Mrs. Jacoby. Next, the line of inquiry widens farther still. “What do we see outside that moves?” she asks. “Cars. Well how do cars move?” This leads into a discussion of wheels and how it’s easier to move something on wheels than to push it. The kids really benefit from this inquiry-based, hands-on approach. They are learning about movement while moving, which reinforces the learning but also makes it applicable and more real. Relevant knowledge is learned more effectively and efficiently.

But hang on—this is summer camp, and fun is supposed to be an integral part of that. Move It! camp cannot be accused of skimping on the fun! With the particular focus on physical activity built in to this camp’s theme, Mrs. Jacoby really gets the kids moving with ample time either in the outdoor playground or on the Gerstung equipment and Imagination Playground located in TNCS’s gym, The Lingo Leap. Campgoers also get “water play day” every Friday, which includes playing with water toys outside and running in the sprinkler. Weather permitting, campgoers might also take neighborhood walks.

At TLL, Mrs. Jacoby sets up obstacle courses with the Gerstung equipment that the kids navigate while carrying balloons, to develop an extra layer of skill. “They do such a great job,” she said, “and it’s delightful to see how hard they work to walk on the balance beam, for example. It’s really fun to watch them practice those gross motor skills.” She also incorporates the parachute into movement time, which she is again able to tie back to physics, with observations about how the parachute behaves differently under different circumstances, such as with fast versus slow movements.

This camper has a lot going on! He walks across the balance beam without falling off, while delicately carrying a balloon between two rackets without popping or dropping it! What skill!

This camper has a lot going on! He walks across the balance beam without falling off, while delicately carrying a balloon between two rackets without popping or dropping it! What skill!

Other fun ways to get them moving include playing badminton with balloons and learning and performing funny songs and dances. Songs like “A Tooty Ta Ta,” a hipper, updated take on the “Hokey Pokey,” get them isolating one movement at a time, then building progressively on each movement until by the end they are wriggling in time to the music with thumbs up, elbows back, knees together, feet apart, bottoms up, and tongues out! (Picture playing Twister to “Gangnam Style,” or similar.) “The kids did a fabulous job getting all that together while singing along and turning in a circle with their eyes closed!” said Mrs. Jacoby. See below for the lyrics to “A Tooty Ta Ta”—your kids will be thrilled to do this with you!

“I really, really enjoyed camp Move It!,” said Mrs. Jacoby. “I got to meet some of the students I’ll have next year, which is so nice. This camp has been a lot of fun.”

Those breathing exercise sure work some relaxing magic!

Those breathing exercise sure work some relaxing magic!

A Tooty Ta Ta

Thumbs up

A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta!
A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta!

Thumbs up, Elbows back

A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta!
A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta!

Thumbs up, Elbows back, Knees together

A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta!
A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta!

Thumbs up, Elbows back, Knees together, Feet apart

A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta!
A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta!

Thumbs up, Elbows back, Knees together, Feet apart, Bottoms up

A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta!
A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta!

Thumbs up, Elbows back, Knees together, Feet apart, Bottoms up, Head back

A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta!
A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta!

Thumbs up, Elbows back, Knees together, Feet apart, Bottoms up, Head back, Tongue out

A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta!
A tooty-ta, a tooty-ta, a tooty ta-ta! 

Excitement and Creativity Build at TNCS Lego Camp!

Play Well!

Chretien Mayes, aerospace engineer and Play-Well TEKnologies instructor.

Chretien Mayes, aerospace engineer and Play-Well TEKnologies instructor.

“We teach kids engineering using Legos,” said The New Century School‘s Lego summer camp leader Chretien Mayes simply and succinctly. Mr. Mayes, an aerospace engineer, and co-camp leader Chris Miller, an industrial engineer, are on loan to TNCS from Play-Well TEKnologies, the company that designed these “LEGO-inspired engineering classes for kids K–8.” Play-Well is made up of instructors who are by and large either engineers or scientists of various stripes. “The beauty is,” says Mr. Mayes, “each instructor brings his or her own particular flair and expertise to each camp.”

Now in 23 states, Play-Well has built quite a following from their establishment in California in 1997. TNCS, however, has the proud distinction of being the first Baltimore school to host a Play-Well Lego camp, and Mr. Mayes says that’s not surprising because of the particular TNCS resources, the staff, and the students. “The New Century School has a philosophy and a culture of being hands-on with kids in small classes. That’s us, too—we can provide individual, personalized time with each kid. Basically, we can foster whatever each child is into. Some kids like to build buildings; some prefer to make things go.”

Everything Is Awesome!

Mr. Miller hands out Lego people to each child who can correctly answer a question about engineering, such as "What is Lego glue"? (Answer: Overlapping.)

Mr. Miller hands out Lego people to each child who can correctly answer a question about engineering, such as “What is Lego glue”? (Answer: Overlapping.)

Instructors are there to teach basic principles of engineering and physics and then to turn the kids loose to follow whatever interlocking whims they choose. The instructors weave in and out among groups of builders, answering the questions that spring up all over like geysers. A frustrated, “Why isn’t this working?”  is met with a patient but no less technical answer, and the child is encouraged to try again, applying the new information to her whirligig—but not before proudly demonstrating her “wiggly tooth.”

Transmissions are a fundamental “building block” in engineering and get a lot of play at Lego camp. They start with a simple pull-back transmission (think of the toy cars that you pull back, hold, and then let fly) and progress from there to gear transmissions and all of the different things that can be done with those. Three or more gears touching makes a “gear train,” which can ultimately produce anything from cars to spinning tops to gondolas.”Overlapping” is another principle and also what the camp instructors teach the kids is like “glue for Legos”—stability and strength are derived from the shared surface area of overlapping bricks. With that concept entrenched, they can design houses, construct bridges, etc. An important point is that no fancy or specific kits are required here, and this is largely so that kids can replicate what they have learned at home. A common complaint about Legos in general among parents is that once their kids put a kit together, they no longer seem to know what to do with the individual pieces or are unwilling to “think outside the box.” “Our thing is,” said Mr. Mayes, “is that we focus on the basics, and then kids can go anywhere from there.” Starting with a simple gear, for example, kids might end up with anything from a monster truck to a ski lift. “Once we get to the level of gear train, you can do this, you can do that—you can do anything you want with it,” Mr. Mayes says he tells kids.

Everything Is Cool When You’re Part of a Team!

Thus, Lego camp boosts kids’ confidence, their creativity, and, importantly, their ability to collaborate. We always aim for individual or group projects that we can mesh together at the end,” says Mr. Mayes. The collaborative project for this camp was a vast, interconnected arch bridge. “Every kid made one and then we put them side by side, covered them with bricks to link them together, and put a road on top. It was probably 5- or 6-feet long by the time we were done,” said Mr. Mayes. “And then the kids sent all of their cars across.” Imagine the sense of accomplishment—not to mention sheer fun—that must have engendered! “And hopefully, the idea is, that we’ll create some future engineers!” said Mr. Mayes.

How well does Play-Well play at TNCS? “I’ve been to other schools that I can tell don’t invest in technology or that ‘outside-the-box’ education,” said Mr. Mayes. “At The New Century School, the kids get all that. In addition, the staff and program directors are so on top of it, here. It’s a really great school.”

Finally, the burning question: What did a Play-Well TEKnologies aerospace engineer think of the Lego movie? “Awesome. If I could miniaturize myself, I wouldn’t mind playing a character in it!” said Mr. Mayes. Pretty convincingly, as a matter of fact!

TNCS “Pops” the Trash!

“I want to do at least one project a year in which students work with the community outside the school,” said The New Century School art teacher Jenny Miller. “Doing community art is good for them.” Working for and with the larger Baltimore community is also an important TNCS value.

So, in continuing his 2013 “Hack the Trash” campaign, when environmental advocate and photographer Brian Schneider invited six area schools to contribute new trash drums as part of a larger initiative to beautify Baltimore’s parks (called “Hack the Parks”), TNCS was in! Mr. Schneider especially hoped for TNCS’s participation and was thrilled when Ms. Miller requested six cans for her upper elementary class to paint. Said Mr. Schneider, “I’m excited to see what TNCS produced and to have them debut in the park along with the other schools participating: Patterson Park Charter, Highlandtown Elementary/Middle, Hampstead Hill Academy, The John Rogers School, and Christo Rey Jesuit.”

Keith Haring

Keith Haring was an American artist and social activist whose “imagery has become a widely recognized visual language of the 20th century.”

The elementary students studied Warhol's iconic style, recreated here by Mrs. Raccuglia!

The elementary students studied Warhol’s iconic style, recreated here by Mrs. Raccuglia!

Pop the Trash in the Can

Instead of using stencils as has been done in Patterson Park’s existing “hacked” cans, Ms. Miller seized the opportunity to hone her students’ brush skills while simultaneously introducing them to Pop Art. As such, “Pop the Trash in the Can” was born, a project spanning the last 8 weeks of the 2013–2014 academic year. Students created their own designs based on the Pop Art artists they studied—Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Yayoi Kusama, and Takashi Murakami. These artists use imagery from popular culture, simple shapes, cartoon-like images, bright colors, and lots of patterns to create their own special brand of fine art.

Collaborative Art

Another aspect of this fun, educational, multidimensional art project is that students were asked to collaborate on the cans. Working in pairs or trios, they brainstormed their ideas, drew up their designs, and then transferred them onto transparencies, which were projected onto the trash drums on a larger scale for the students to trace and fill in. Incidentally, this is not only how some of the pop artists they studied also work, but also a process familiar to them from their mural creation with the Baltimore Love Project artists.

“It’s been fun just painting the cans,” said Ms. Miller. “They’ve been really into it, making little impromptu adjustments as they go along and see what works and what doesn’t.” Once the basic design had been painted onto the cans, Ms. Miller next had the students add the bold black outlines and clean lines so characteristic of pop art. “Outlining something can make it look better and hide mistakes!” It will also help the cans be seen from a distant across the park. “They really want people to throw their trash in these cans,” said Ms. Miller. “They’re proud of them and really understand the environmental benefit.”

This elementary student works hard at getting his design just right

This elementary student works hard at getting his design just right

TNCS elementary students thoroughly enjoyed “Pop the Trash in the Can.” “They loved working ‘big,’ they loved working for the public and knowing that lots of people would see their work, and they actually liked working together on this,” said Ms. Miller. They worked through disagreements about design, palette, and approach as they arose and figured out how to resolve their conflicts as a team. It was the ideal TNCS assignment, bringing together creativity, investigation, and problem-solving. “They were true collaborators,” said Ms. Miller. “They treated each other’s work with respect and always asked before painting someone else’s side.”

Don’t Throw It All Away!

As the project drew to an end, catastrophe nearly thwarted the students’ efforts when they discovered that their initial  painting did not produce the desired results on the cans. “The paint was thin and transparent and not nearly as bright as they had been anticipating. “Some were very unhappy and ready to abandon their efforts,” said Ms. Miller, “but  they were encouraged to rework some of the areas, and this perseverance has yielded results that they are very proud of. It was a great learning experience.”

We have to agree, Ms. Miller! Don’t forget to look for these cans any day now in Patterson Park after Mr. Schneider clear-coats and unveils them—finding all six would make a great scavenger hunt!

TNCS Elementary Sing in Mandarin in Command Performance!

Zhongshan restaurant, located at 323 Park Ave., once the center of  Baltimore's historic Chinatown

Zhongshan restaurant, located at 323 Park Ave., once the center of Baltimore’s historic Chinatown

On Sunday, June 1, 2014, The New Century School elementary students were invited to perform three songs in Mandarin Chinese for the 6th Annual Calvin Chin Memorial Dim Sum Brunch at ZhongShan restaurant in downtown Baltimore. Five children had the honor to sing for an audience consisting mostly of members of the Baltimore–Xiamen Sister City Committee (BXSCC), who hosted the brunch. BXSCC Chair, Fontaine Bell, contacted TNCS to extend the invitation. Mr. Bell and colleagues have regularly asked for TNCS performers over the past couple of years at various functions such as Chinese New Year at Port Discovery, and TNCS is always thrilled to accept. On this particular occasion, performers were treated to a delicious dim sum brunch by BXSCC, and their chaperones were treated by TNCS. “This is a great opportunity of networking and culture enrichment,” said Xie Laoshi.

Who is BXSCC?

Map showing Baltimore's Sister Cities, including Xiamen, China

Map showing Baltimore’s Sister Cities, including Xiamen, China

The BXSCC is an organization dedicated to strengthening and enhancing the relationship between citizens of Baltimore, MD and those of Xiamen, China as well as to embrace Chinese culture here in Baltimore. Their mission is “To promote business, cultural, educational, health/environmental and other cooperation and exchanges between the cities of Baltimore, Maryland, USA and Xiamen, Fujian, People’s Republic of China, and to support Baltimore City’s other activities and programs related to China and the local Chinese community.” This mission aligns very well with TNCS’s own goals, and a fruitful partnership is emerging.

About the Brunch

"Businessman, civil servant, community leader, World War II veteran, advocate, man of the arts, husband, and father . . . Calvin Chin."

“Businessman, civil servant, community leader, World War II veteran, advocate, man of the arts, husband, and father . . . Calvin Chin.”

The annual brunch was established in 2010 to honor founding BXSCC member, Calvin Chin, who is credited with rebuilding Baltimore’s historic Chinatown in the second half of the 20th century. Although he was born in Baltimore, his Chinese roots were always paramount, and he devoted his life to promoting local Chinese business and cultural enterprises. This year’s brunch—the final—also honored, Rudolph S. Chow, Director of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, and Katherine M. Chin, Calvin’s wife and another original BXSCC member. “Mr. Chow spoke about his department’s important role and vision for maintaining and improving Baltimore’s physical infrastructure. Mrs. Chin was honored with Certificates of Appreciation from our Governor, Mayor, City Council President, and the Xiamen Mayor’s Office for her 30 years of service to BXSCC and her even longer advocacy for Baltimore’s Chinese-American community,” according to the BXSCC’s write-up of the event.

Chinese goods collected by the BXSSC during many years' travel between Baltimore and Xiamen were placed up for bid.

Chinese goods collected by the BXSSC during many years’ travel between Baltimore and Xiamen were placed up for bid.

In addition to TNCS’s stellar choral performance, the event also featured an amazing kung fu demonstration by the Jing Ying Institute of Kung Fu & Tai Chi, as well as a silent auction of Asian arts and crafts and a raffle.

Appetizers: Stuffed bean curd skin, steamed shrimp dumpling, steamed pork sao mai, and fried sesame balls. Main Course: Crispy pork, spicy basil tofu with 3-cup sauce, bok choy with Chinese mushrooms, and steamed fish filet with tofu. YUM!!!!!

Appetizers: Stuffed bean curd skin, steamed shrimp dumpling, steamed pork sao mai, and fried sesame balls. Main Course: Crispy pork, spicy basil tofu with 3-cup sauce, bok choy with Chinese mushrooms, and steamed fish filet with tofu. YUM!!!!!

But before anyone performed, the food took center stage! TNCS students were game for trying anything. it was really gratifying to see such adventurous young palates!

TNCS’s Performance

Wen Laoshi and her group of singers (minus one, who had to dash).

Wen Laoshi and her group of singers (minus one, who had to dash).

Arranged by Xie Laoshi and directed and led by Wen Laoshi, TNCS’s choral performance wowed the audience of about 100. With their mastery of Mandarin Chinese and their singing, not to mention their wonderful self-possession and exemplary conduct, TNCS students represented their school beautifully.

First song: 说唱脸谱, “Talking and Singing Types of Facial Makeup in Peking Operas”
Second song: 虫儿飞, “Bugs Flying”
Third song: 蜗牛与黄鹂鸟, “Snail and Yellow Birds”

Wen Laoshi said, “The performance was wonderful! All the children did such a good job, and I’m very happy to see them involved in this.” You can see them perform two of the three songs below!