Upper Elementary - May 20 - June 17, 2016

Dear Families:

In the last month we had a calculus lesson on the Fibonacci numbers taught by Greg Lindenfelser, planted seeds at the Regional Food Bank farm, went to miSci to build with the Kapla blocks, visited Re4orm Architecture for a lesson on what an architect does, hiked the Platterkill Preserve, wrote nominations for torchbearers, created the programs and practiced for the Olympic Opening and Closing Olympic Ceremonies, performed in many Olympic events, headed off for our RR Camping trip where we built Inukshuks together with our school community, learned about the Hudson River School of Art from Peter Jung and painted our own Lake Taghkanic School of Art pictures. We also learned how to start a fire as a survival skill from Julian Foster.

Beginning Monday, June 6 our elders spent the morning in the middle school classroom in preparation for next year. Our last Taco Tuesday was the 7th and guest speaker Peter Johnson visited our class on the 8th to teach us about solar power for our RiverRun school design. We finished up our Olympic simulation Friday morning with the pentathlon competition, and team medals were awarded before the Closing Ceremony in the afternoon.


Our books that we made with the Primary students were bound, and we read a few aloud each day in Maureen’s class. And…just yesterday, we went out to lunch at the Union Café so that we could practice our computation skills for figuring out tax and tip. This last activity was also a great reason to dress up, take a walk on a beautiful summer day, eat good food and spend a special time with our classmates! Whew! With all of this activity, we still did our math, reading, and writing.

Hope your summertime, family time, is all that you want it to be,

Debbie & Architects  

Primary - June 10, 2016


It is been a RiverRun Olympic week! We have had 5 events, this week, including cooperative games, throwing balls, running (a short and a longer distance, for which all children chose to run more than 1 lap), long jumping, and a hula hoop rolling relay. Children received certificates for these events, along with a certificate for participation and team work. Of course, their gold medals brought the most smiles and cheers! It has been wonderful to see all the children participating and their excitement to work together as a team and school! At the RiverRun Olympic Closing ceremony, the primary Kenya team shared some Swahili with everyone, by counting to 10 and singing a short peace song in both English and Swahili. The children did very well with this and will be giving an encore performance at Moving Up. Thank you to all parents who helped with and attended athletic events, our award ceremony and Opening and Closing Olympic ceremonies. We very much appreciate your support! We’ve also enjoyed a few “big” works this week, as scrubbing bins and chairs, hammering real nails into a stump, grasslands animals puzzles, and a 100 numbers puzzle. Have a restful and enjoyable weekend.

Peace to all ...Maureen, Cyndy, Leah and Devi

Primary - June 3, 2016

Hello Families, June 3, 2016
A week of treats and special events, from sampling a few sweets from Puerto Rico (thank you to Rose, Ava D’s mom) to spending Friday at Lake Taghkanic for the start of the RiverRun Camping Weekend. We appreciate Leah and Devi joining us through June, lending their support during recess, lunch and the afternoons. Welcome! Have you seen our other “new members” of the class? We are counting down the days to their hatching. In about 10 days, we’ll be hearing peep-peep-peep! One morning, Leah read aloud, Elmer, a story of an elephant and his herd learning to accept each other for themselves. The children colored paper elephants and had a parade. Thank you, Leah! Excitement was strong as we approached Friday for a day at the campground at Lake Taghkanic. We began by forming mixed age groups and building Inukshuks. As we remembered from our Polar studies, these large human forms were built of rock long ago by Inuit people of the far North. They could communicate forms of guidance and support in a harsh environment, even a sense of community. Cooperation and understanding that all parts of the structure and the builders too are central to its balance, purpose and messages. As with the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, our Inukshuks were emblems of friendship and welcome to all in our community, as we went on to share discoveries on a bug hunt, nature walks, art activities, and more. What a great start to our community weekend!

Maureen, Cyndy, Leah and Devi


Lower Elementary - May 27, 2016

Dear RiverRun Families,

We have experienced a lot over the past two weeks. Our trip to Patroon Farm was very productive. We planted a lot of beets and onions. I think the children have a better idea of the work that goes into providing food. Thank you to all the parent volunteers.

The Authors’ Tea was amazing. The children wrote some really fun and interesting stories. The illustrations were well done and they read their books beautifully. I am sure you are enjoying re-reading the books.

As part of a good-bye celebration for Rachel, Tatiana made Onigiri, which are Japanese rice balls with fillings. Tatiana provided mango for the filling. I made some Soba noodles with a typical Japanese sauce. We shared food and well wishes together.

On Friday we had the opening ceremonies of the RiverRun Summer Olympics. Brazil put on a nice performance for us and we started the games with biking. Medals were given to the top performers.

All of these experiences are what sets RiverRun apart from other school experiences. We hope they are making lasting impressions on the children. We look forward to the rest of the Olympic Games. See the Olympic letter to refresh yourselves on the upcoming events.

Best Wishes,

Amy & Tatiana

Primary - May 27, 2016


Our focus now is the grasslands, specifically those of Kenya and East Africa. From locating Kenya and the grasslands on maps, to learning about Kenya’s flag colors, some Swahili, and marching in the RiverRun’s Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies, we’re taking off. Waving our flags, marching into the ceremony, and seeing examples of sports our Olympics will cover was fun, as was learning about Rio and Brazil, the history of the Olympics, and seeing the cycling awards ceremony. Also, we’ve talked about how biomes have no clear boundaries, and are taking a closer look at soil, starting with some Cyndy brought us from the Sonoran desert. We began to see how soil and water interact, and will learn and experiment further. We also said goodbye to Rachel, who has supported our class in the afternoons. Children clearly enjoyed working with Rachel and hearing stories she shared or read aloud. Thank you, Rachel, for everything; our best wishes to you! On to our Olympic sports events!

Peace to all, Maureen, Cyndy and Rachel

Lower Elementary - May 20, 2016

RiverRun Families,

The children are looking forward to sharing their stories with you this upcoming Wednesday or Thursday. You are invited to come on both days if you wish, although your child will only read on the assigned day.

This week the children have been working hard practicing their skills. By this time of year they are working independently with confidence. On Monday during art some of the children were making kites as a final activity on our study of China. So far we have assembled the frames. Kites are a part of the Chinese culture. The Chinese may have been early inventors of kites according to some books we have read. We are moving on to learn a bit about Japan since they will be hosting the next Olympic Games. On May 27th the cycling event will be held. Not all the children want to participate. If your child expressed interest I sent home a permission slip and information with them. If your child has not brought in a folder please check their bags for information.

We will be picking torch bearers for the Opening Ceremonies. The children have been asked to nominate a member of the community based on positive qualities they notice. We talked about qualities one would admire in a person and have a list for them to refer to when filling out their nomination forms.



“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.”


Have a Beautiful Weekend,

Amy, Tatiana, Cyndy & Rachel

Primary - May, 20, 2016

Hello Families,

Variations of favorite works and some new ones filled our week. We watched a 10 minute video on desert animals adaptations to their habitat, which provided some wonderful photography as well. Variations of blocks for inside and outside play has been fun, as well a more exotic work, cactus tasting. We tried the center of a prickly pear cactus leaf. After much work removing some spines on a thin pad (leaf), we were only left with a couple of very small tastes. One child said it smelled and looked like honeydew melon. Cyndy noted it reminded her of cucumber. We applaud all children for tasting the cactus alone, or with some jam. In the afternoons, elders are making large numbers on the bead frames (an abacus for four digit numbers) and learning more puzzle-sight words. Everyone has done some writing of first or last names and lowercase letters. Clock work has also been popular this week. Due to family illness and needs, Thursday was Fatima’s last day for this school year. We so appreciate all her time and support of our school and classroom, during lunch and rest/nap time, and hope to see her again next year. Thank you so much for everything, Fatima!! See you at the Albany Symphony’s Tiny Tots Concert Tuesday.

Thank you everyone!

Maureen, Cyndy, Rachel and Fatima

Middle School - May 13, 2016

Dear Families,

In math we have been working with various types of rate problems because they a great gateway to algebra problems. This theme brought us down to the Mohawk on Tuesday where we gathered data to calculate the rate at which the water at the river’s edge was flowing. The class designed their own method and tool for doing this. We took a small section of blue swimming noodle and tied some waxed string through it, making a knot to indicate where the 3 meter mark was. Grace would gently toss the noodle into the water and let Benjamin, or timer, know when the line ran out so he could stop the clock and let Maddy record the number of seconds. In large part due to the wind blowing the noodle about we found that the times were extremely inconsistent (5-28 seconds to travel the 3 meters) so we scrapped our original method and devised something better on the spot. We had noticed lots of gooey globs of algae floating by the dock and were excited to determine that the sections of the dock just happened to be the same 3 meter length as our waxed string. So we could independently pick out a glob and time it during its travel along a single section of the dock. This method yielded more consistent results, though it won’t help us measure the speed of the water in the middle of the river which we hypothesize might be differed than the water along the bank.

While down at the river we learned that the Boat House was open for the season so we came back on Thursday to go kayaking. We explored up stream and were so thrilled to be back on the water that we explored beyond the island where we have stopped in the past. Our paddling took us up to a railroad bridge where we saw an Amtrak train heading north towards Montreal. We also saw where they are building the casino in Schenectady. There were many animals out and we were especially excited to see beavers swim rather close to our boats.

In the classroom everyone has been working on the outlining for their paper comparing the hero journey of Huck Finn to that of another character in literature. There has also been art work and research related to the upcoming RiverRun Olympics. One seventh grader is on each of the three country teams Greece, Brazil, and Japan where they and the other older students can serve as leaders.

Upper Elementary - May 13, 2016

Dear Families:

We began the week with an excellent presentation by Abi on global warming. As she read her research, she showed pictures on a Power Point relating to her facts. At the end of her presentation, Abi shared a poster she made of Albany, New York with all energy coming from wind, water and solar sources!

We had our 6th successful Taco Tuesday, and we started reading Mr. Tucket by Gary Paulsen for literature circle. We are learning how to find the surface area of cubes, and rectangular and triangular prisms, and we started to work on the map and ceremonies for the RiverRun Olympics.

Next Monday, we will have guest mathematician, Greg, Emma & Grace’s dad, present the Fibonacci number pattern to the members of our calculus enrichment class. Greg will be our last guest this year, and we certainly thank all of the members of our families who came to school to share their knowledge with us.

Have a great weekend,

Debbie & Architects

Lower Elementary - May 13, 2016

Dear RiverRun Families,

We are finally ready to present to you our Authors’ Tea stories.  Throughout the year we have Writers’ Workshop in the afternoons.  Lessons are given on techniques writers use and the children are able to spend about half hour writing; trying out the techniques taught, using their imagination and putting to use the language lessons given on grammar and sentence mechanics.  Because we have 18 children in the class it would be hard to sit for that period of time to listen to all the stories the children have written at once.  Also, we do not want too big of a crowd to limit the noise in the room and lastly the children may feel less nervous with a smaller number of people in the room.  Therefore, we have split this event up into two days, May 26th and 27th.  Chris has sent out a note asking if anyone has a conflict on either of these days that we can try to accommodate.  We will start first thing in the morning on both days.  Each child will sit in a chair in front of you and read their story and show you their illustrations.   You are welcome to come on both days, but your child will only be presenting on the assigned day.  I will send out the list by Tuesday, so if you can’t come on one of the days let us know before then. 

 In our classroom we have a clear box filled with different objects we call the Estimation Box.  The children estimate how many of the objects are in the box.  Michael’s dad, Alex, suggested we have the whole community make estimations then add up all the numbers, divide the sum by the number of people who submitted an estimation and see if the answer is close to the actual number of objects in the box.  Amazingly this worked.  We had 49 erasers in the box and the average came to a bit over 49.  Below you can see the materials we used to work out this problem.  We added using the Dot Board and divided using the Stamp Game.  One of our Elders is working out the division in the picture below. 

The First Years have been asking to learn about the preposition.  They have been doing well at parsing The Noun Family and the verb so this week they had the first lesson on the function of a preposition in a sentence. 

 “We teachers can only help the work going on as servants wait upon a master”, Maria Montessori

 Best Wishes,

 Amy, Tatiana, Rachel & Cyndy

Primary - May 13, 2016

Hello Families,

From our Zen garden peace work, to musical instruments, playing in warm sunshine, geometric solids works, cooking, an afternoon rhyming game, and learning about other desert animals as camels, we've been explorers in many ways. Sitting quietly, placing stones and lightly raking the sand in the Zen garden can be a restful time for each of us during a busy morning, or a way to refresh after a more challenging work, as a lesson with the binomial or trinomial cubes. Though physical representations of algebraic equations, we look to solve these puzzles by organizing the cubes and rectangular prisms into the larger whole cubes. Chopping and measuring vegetables, and having an unexpected delicious soup with pizza was another engaging hands-on work for many children. Our new afternoon game involved selecting an object model and finding which rhyming card around the room it went with. Yet, there is nothing like music to bring us together, with smiles and sharing, whether playing a drum, tambourine, maracas, a pair of spoons, or other instruments from around the world. P.S. Did you know that camels store fat in their humps (not water)? If the fat was stored across their bodies, it would over heat the camels in their desert habitats. What a fun week!

Peace to all......Maureen, Cyndy, Rachel and Fatima

Upper Elementary - May 5, 2016

Dear Families:                                                                                                                          

This week was very exciting! Many kids finished their environmental projects. Dylan, Nadia, Olivia, and Sean’s presentations were very interesting. They all had great power points with wonderful pictures. We have started to watch them a second time around so we can talk about what we liked and if there were any small mistakes. Dylan did his presentation on acid rain, and we all liked how it really showed that acid rain doesn’t just cause a couple of small things; it causes everyday things from asthma to destroying monuments. He also had a picture of the United States that showed where the acidity levels in rain was the worst and where it was more basic. In Nadia’s presentation about PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls) in the Hudson River, she included a power point and a poster. We haven’t had a chance to look a second time at Nadia’s presentation, or Sean’s, but we plan to do that next week. Sean’s presentation about deforestation was, “Awesome,” as the whole class said when I asked. Olivia presented her project about air pollution on Monday.  Her presentation was well organized, and we liked all of her pictures. In fact, we spent some time talking about which one was our favorite.  Everyone said the fortune tellers with air pollution facts were the best! This week we also had another guest mathematician. Julian, Sean and Ben’s older brother, came and talked about an infinite pattern. We taped two yard sticks to the wall and used a soccer ball or a tennis ball for the experiment. One person from one of the three teams would hold the ball at the top and drop it. Most of the balls bounced from 11 to 15 times before they were still. We recorded the length left the ball would have to drop to get to the ground after the first bounce. The example one Julian did bounced 32 inches in the air on the first bounce. The math sequence we tried had exponents and fractions. In the end, we couldn’t figure out the problem, but we’re still working on it! All the grades have been moving along in math. The sixth years are almost done with the super hard 6A book and will hopefully be on book 6B by next week. This week Debbie has also been starting to take out the torch and the country flags for the Olympics this year. We will have three teams: Japan, Brazil, and Greece. The medals she ordered came in, and we caught a sneak peek at them. We saw warm colored bands like red and orange, perfect for the Rio De Janeiro Olympics. This was a very productive week. Happy Mother’s Day!

Abi, Debbie, and the upper EL class                                                                                                                                                                                      

Lower Elementary - May 5, 2016

Dear RiverRun Families,

This week in Spanish class the children played Spanish Apples to Apples. It is amazing how many adjectives and nouns the children have learned. They played independently and had a good laugh at some of the choices their friends made to match their stack of nouns to the adjective the judge laid down. I hope these pictures illustrate how engaged the children are in their Spanish lessons and how they are reading and understanding the words presented to them.

The Elders had follow up lessons on multiplication, using three digit multipliers and dividing using two digit divisors. The Middles are working on dynamic division using the Stamp Game and they continue to practice dynamic addition and subtraction along with memorizing their multiplication fact. On Monday I gave the Elders and Middles some challenging sentences to symbolize. We reviewed possessive adjectives and how adverbs can describe adjectives. We also looked at the word with and talked about how it depends on where it is in the sentence or its function in the sentences as we decided if it was a conjunction or an adverb (i.e. I wish I had a puppy to snuggle with).

The First Years have been exploring homophones such as sale and sail. They have been working daily on reading comprehension and spelling. Tatiana gave lessons to the First and Middles on changing words from singular to plural, when to add s and when to add es and when to drop the y and add ies. Some of the First Years are using the Bead Frame to add both statically and dynamically. Others are working abstractly (without materials) when adding.

 Writers’ Workshop is moving along. We hope to send out possible dates for the Authors’ Tea by the end of next week. You are all in for a treat!

 Best Wishes, Amy, Tatiana, Rachel, and Cyndy

Primary - May 5, 2016

Hello Families,

We are busy with more spring and desert biome works. Animal mothers and babies puzzle matching is out, and dressing a baby doll is very popular (involves using snaps, folding clothes, gentle handling of the doll). The children are also exploring our southwestern Sonoran desert and the saguaro cactus with a desert scene of rocks, pebbles, cactus, and desert animals (roadrunners, coyote, mountain lions, jackrabbits, rattlesnakes, scorpions, etc). The Desert Giant wonderfully portrays interconnections between the saguaro cactus, desert animals and their desert habitat, as do other books in the room. Informative desert jigsaws, magnets, and a closer look at bird beaks (their structure and function related to food sources) are among new works. We’ve also started exploring geometric solids and more sounds, with an introduction to a few instruments, as we look forward to going to the Albany Symphony concert. Thank you again for joining us for the production of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood at Proctor’s. It was an exciting, fun time for all!

Enjoy your weekend. Peace....Maureen, Cyndy, Rachel and Fatima

Upper Elementary - April 22, 2016

Dear Families:

This was a very exiting week for us. As you know we went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. First we went to Ellis Island. At Ellis Island we saw a lot of things like the baggage room where the immigrants got asked questions. We saw the divided staircase where you left the island for New York or the western part of the States.If you were told to go down the middle of the staircase, you needed further examination before you could enter our country.  The ranger told us that sometimes the immigration officer would smash or bang his fist on the desk. When the ranger did it we all jumped.Some of us found our ancestors on the wall!

We really enjoyed seeing The Statue of Liberty.  We almost didn’t make it in time to go into the pedestal, so we ran to the entrance.We climbed the steps to the top of the pedestal and looked up through the clear ceiling.  We saw the metal structure that was designed by Gustave Eiffel. The ranger gave us lots of information about the statue.

Today we went to the Naturalization Ceremony for one of our parents.  It was a wonderful experience.

Have a great spring vacation,  
Olivia, Debbie & the Architects

Lower Elementary - April 22, 2016

Dear RiverRun Families,

We hope that you have a wonderful vacation.  Here are some pictures of our week. 

Best Wishes,

Amy, Tatiana, and Rachel