Junior School: Week Without Walls Adventures 2018
At Linden, Week Without Walls brings excitement, curiosity, and joy to the members of our community.
By Ellen Fowler, Lori O’Leary, Melody Barclay, Molly Evans-Stocks, Savannah Barker, and Tonja Armstrong-MacInnis, Linden Teachers
Week Without Walls Photo Gallery
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On Monday our focus was storytelling in the city. Our junior students went to the Young People’s Theatre and the Royal Ontario Museum. The youngest students, our Early Learners and Grade 1/2 class, kicked off learning where we live with a workshop on Indigenous teachings of the land we call Turtle Island. After our trek on the TTC (for some children it was their first time being on the subway), we settled in for some storytelling. Our two workshop leaders dramatically shared their stories, music, history and dance with us and our students were captivated. After listening, we split in two groups and became actors and performed for our peers. The excitement did not stop there: the girls played games as animals and learned some words in the languages of our First Peoples — miigwech (thank you) for reading. Students in older grades participated in a workshop on improv where they picked daisies and avoided pterodactyls flying overhead!
In the afternoon, we took the subway over to the Royal Ontario Museum where we visited the First People’s exhibit. The girls made sketches, drew diagrams, and made notes about interesting facts that they learned. They made connections to their past learning and the artefacts displayed.
When asked about their favourite part of the day, some of the students responded:
“Going to the ROM and to the Indigenous exhibit.” — Francesca, Grade 6
“Going to YPT and learning about Turtle Island.” — Milo, Grade 2
“When we did improv.” — Zayin, Grade 6
“I liked looking at the exhibit at the ROM.” — Grace, Grade 1
“Being at the park.” — Cleo, Grade 2
On Tuesday, with a focus on playing in the city, our students learned about Toronto’s architecture and took a look at biodiversity. In the morning, students took a trip to the tallest building in Toronto and along the way learned a few cool facts about Toronto. Looking out from the top of the CN Tower, we hoped to see as much as we could; however, we found ourselves in a cloud! Even trapped in a cloud, the students had a great deal of fun exploring the different levels of the CN Tower — including the glass floor! Did you know the glass floor can hold 21,835 kg? After lunch, we hopped on the TTC and went to Allan Gardens Conservatory where students explored the greenhouse, investigating a variety of plants, fish, and turtles as well as sketching some of their findings. It was a great day learning in the city!
Creating in the city was Wednesday’s focus, with art connections planned for our morning on the Linden roof! We were joined by community arts ceramicist Danica Drago and their bicycle-powered pottery wheel. Danica introduced their machine, how and why they built it, and showed us a video about other bicycle powered machines that husk corn and make shampoo! Danica shared their knowledge of repurposing materials, and while one student hopped on the bike to power the wheel, another student would “throw” their clay and make a small bowl with Danica’s assistance. Other students had the opportunity to be hands-on with clay and build, making shapes and structures. There were a number of found items and materials such as screws and bike chains and spiralled wire for the students to make interesting and creative shapes and imprints with. The group enjoyed moving to various stations making painted rocks, unique clay creations, and colourful mandalas. The girls were encouraged to be creative and explore whatever medium they were using.
In the afternoon we all went to PACT Urban Farm at John Polanyi Collegiate Institute. There the junior students impressed the workshop leader with their facts and knowledge of plants, farming, and the care that is needed for our environment. After taking a tour of the farm, and safely trying veggies, fruits, and edible flowers like nasturtiums, we collected ingredients to create a wild, edible kale salad! The freshness danced in our mouths and left many of us wanting more (even more bitter sorrel). After our salad enjoyment, we walked over to the compost. We were told about the different stages needed and the production that goes into composting our waste. We also learned that the farm is the home to many in the community who bring their waste and are given coupons to use for their own choice of produce from the garden. What a way to build community and stewardship! To end the day, we all ran, rolled, and played on the huge freshly mowed football field.
On Thursday we explored in the city by travelling to Castle Frank subway station and started our day with a snack and a hike using the Milkman’s Run trail to take us to the Brickworks. Younger girls learned about water through a game like octopus where salmon had to swim up the stream and avoid predators, while older girls learned about biodiversity in games like Wolf Pack and a version of Rock, Paper, Scissors with organisms that are part of a food chain instead. During the afternoon, students in older grades hiked up to the highest peak of Evergreen Brickworks where they learned the story of it and some Toronto history. They also built habitats, keeping in mind symbiotic relationships. After a great day of fresh air and hiking, we caught the bus and headed back to Linden to wish the Grade 6 girls good luck with their sleepover on the roof!
On Friday, the final day of Week Without Walls, our group moved in the city — all the way to Variety Village in Scarborough. Variety Village is an inclusive fitness, sports, and life skills facility that offers incredible adaptive sports and programming. We had the opportunity to experience five new sports and activities throughout the day: pillow polo (similar rules to hockey but with a foam bat/stick), balls and pins (combination of bowling and dodgeball), seated volleyball, communication games, and wheelchair basketball. In each sport we learned how to adjust the rules of the games so that they are inclusive of people with differing abilities, such as no speaking, using a non-dominant hand, wearing a blindfold, and travelling with a partner. In addition to all of these great activities, the highlight of the day for many of the students was the pizza lunch!
Thanks for a great week Linden!
Photo Credit: Ellen Fowler, Lori O’Leary, Melody Barclay, Molly Evans-Stocks, Savannah Barker, and Tonja Armstrong-MacInnis.