(November 2021)—On Wednesday, November 24, students in the Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen’s Howell Road Elementary School celebrated Thanksgiving by engaging in fun activities that also incorporated critical thinking and creative skills development. “Howell Road is a community that is dedicated to working together to create fun and engaging lesson plans for our students,” said Howell Road Principal Frank Huplosky. “Thanks to the creative and innovative talents of our wonderful teachers, our students had a great time celebrating the holiday while also coming away with new skills and understandings.”
Preschoolers were given an opportunity to express their creativity and artistic sensibilities by decorating their classroom doors with large turkey graphics, adorning the turkey feathers with their names. Each student’s feather was a one-of-a-kind art creation, adding a festive look to the school’s hallways.
Fourth grade students in Ms. Danielle Dodge’s and Ms. Kelly Wilcha’s classrooms were presented with a STEAM challenge. The students were provided with toothpicks, straws, popsicle sticks, rulers, mini marshmallows, cranberries, candy corn, and rulers as supplies to design and create a table to hold a Thanksgiving turkey. The class also created a big paper turkey and each student wrote what they were thankful for on the turkey’s individual feathers.
Fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Ferrara displayed a new Greg Tang Math puzzle outside her classroom, giving students from other classrooms as well as her own an opportunity to solve the problems and crack the puzzle. Student reaction and participation was enthusiastic, with Mrs. Ferrara,
exclaiming, “I’m hearing such fantastic thinking as students of all grade levels walk by. They’re discussing their solutions with classmates throughout the day and popping in to share their answers.”
Ms. Lisa Ellis’s sixth graders were tasked with saving Thanksgiving. Students created a STEAM device to transport corn to the turkey coop by using supplies such as popsicle sticks, tape, paper clips, and straws.
Creating opportunities to engage students in critical thinking, incorporating STEAM-based activities in the daily curriculum, is at the heart of the educational experience in the Valley Stream Union Free District Thirteen.