Class Highlights

School Year 2023-2024                    


1st graders have been practicing routines in Garden Arts and finding their creative voice.  They are just beginning to explore the structure of community gardens. We are reading City Green, by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, a story about  a community that works together to build a community garden in a city lot.

2nd graders are connecting their experience in Garden Arts to their Body Systems unit by learning about how artists use gesture drawing to communicate bodies in movement.  They are practicing designing in a limited drawing space and using mark-making techniques that indicate bones, joints and muscles.

3rd graders  are connecting to their Cultures Unit by exploring harvest celebrations from around the world. They are also practicing their life drawing skills in preparation for a harvest vegetable blockprint project.

4th graders are learning about crops that were exchanged during European exploration.  They explored an interactive map that shows the origins of many crops.  The information in the map is guiding them to design recipes that would be possible to make using only the limited crops available in one region of the world. 

More Photos coming soon!

5th graders are learning about the motivation to create Victory Gardens and War School Gardens during WWI and WWII.  They are just starting to design posters promoting Victory Gardens. Check back for more photos of their progress.  

2nd -5th graders are learning all about compost and getting ready to start sorting their food waste during lunch.  We've cleaned up the garden and planted fall seedlings. 4th graders got to sample Balcom Laoshi's paw paw harvest.

School Year 2022-2023


PreK 4 - Students are connecting with their "How the World Works" unit in Garden Arts and inquiring into  How materials change?  We are beginning  the unit with color changes in different materials.  We read Mouse Paint a color-mixing adventure and learned how to say all of the primary and secondary colors in Chinese including the word for Primary colors . We made new colors with oil pastels and finger paint. We also read Leo Leoni's Little Blue and Little Yellow and experimented with mixing colors with dough.

2nd Grade is also investigating materials and how they can change states of matter.  We brain stormed a list of art materials, described their states and came up with ideas about how we might cause a change of state.  We began with sidewalk chalk, a solid, and students came up with ways to change it into a liquidy paint, next we learned about chalk in it's natural state and made a mixture in order to create a solid piece of sidewalk chalk.

3rd Grade-Last month we learned about different traditions and celebrations around harvest time.  We used the harvest vegetables as our subject matter for a still life and transferred  the still life onto a rubber block.  We learned about the process of printmaking and the principles of design that go into making a strong print.   There is also a photo below from Friday team planning day when 3rd graders got to a talk to a City Planner and collaborated on their own city designs.

Xie Xie 3rd Grade!!

3rd graders did a service project this month and collected leaves for our compost.  We are now well stocked with Browns for quite a while.

4th Grade is making connections with their unit "How We Organize Ourselves"  Students are working on research and informative posters that tell about the goals and actions that DC is doing to help keep our city Green.  In teams they are focusing on one of the sustainability topics from sustainable.dc.  Some classes had a chance to check on and taste the seedlings they planted last month. They also harvested some hot peppers to take home.  I can't wait to hear about how they used their peppers.

5th Grade is working on panels that illustrate each of the elements of art.  This project is a culmination of a lot of what they have learned about the language of visual art throughout elementary school.  


 PreK 3 has been learning about and exploring different textures through the sense of touch.  We went on a walk and collected natural materials that have different textures like crunchy leaves, scratchy pine cones, and smooth stones. We used the materials to create a nature collage.

PreK 4 is reading a silly story called "Too Many Pumpkins" by Linda White. The students are showing how knowledgeable they are about how plants grow by making predictions about what will happen when a harvest truck drops a huge pumpkin that gets smashed in the main character's yard.  They also created fall-colored paintings and are helping to collect leaves for the compost.

2nd graders (left)practice gesture drawing- making connections with the body unit about how artists communicate bodies in movement and how our understanding of body structure; bending joints and muscles can be expressed through line drawing.  

3rd graders are practicing observational drawing.  They began with some warm-ups to work on hand-eye coordination such as drawing with their non-dominant hand and creating blind contours, where they could not look at their paper while they were drawing.  They'll continue their drawing skills next week to make a drawing that they will use as the subject for a block print.  

In recognition of Indigenous People's Day, 5th graders started class with Land Acknowledgement statements and talked about what it means to be a steward of the earth.  2-5th graders were introduced to the work of Indigenous Canadian Artist, Norval Morrisseau, aka Copper Thunderbird. They created drawings inspired by his work and by traditional indigenous art

Drawings inspired by Norval Morrisseau

Hispanic Heritage Month was so much fun, Gracias to all the parents who came out and shared with our 3rd and 4th grade classes!  We learned about sugar cane, cacao, coffee, black beans, and salmorejo (a tomato spread from Spain).  We got a little bit of history, geography, climatology, learned some new Spanish words and heard some fantastic family stories.   What a great way to connect to our community and explore our unit WHO WE ARE.

Composting & recycling are happening!

Our MPR is stocked with our new blue recycling bins and compost bins.  The "Green Helpers" this month are Gabe H. and Sofia M. in 5th grade and Abdulay and Linnea in 4th grade.  They will help all the students in their lunch period sort their food scraps and recycling into the appropriate bins.  We are starting to get some interest from staff and families in joining the Yu Ying Community Compost Collective.  If you are interested in helping with composting send me an email:

Falling for Autumn!

Our PreK-ers are having so much fun trecking out to the nature center and observing all of the seasonal changes in Autumn.  PreK- 4 is working on a leaf color audit and noticing more and more leaves turning colors every time we go out. We did some leaf printing and got to see all of the wonderful shapes and textures of leaves that we have on campus, and  we even made a falling leaf collage.


5th Grade is working in teams to create informative posters about composting.  The posters cover different aspects of composting including what to put in the compost bins, how composting works, how to build a compost pile, and the environmental benefits and human responsibility.  Once the posters are complete they will be displayed around the MPR and hallways in order to share their knowledge with the school community.

4th Grade is preparing the garden beds for fall planting.  They are learning about No -Till Gardening a method where the spent plants are cut at the soil line and roots are left in the soil to decompose.  This causes the least amount of disruption to the life in the soil leaving the beneficial microorganisms, fungi, worms, and other decomposers to break down organic matter and build the soil.  They are also learning about Sheet Mulching , a method of adding layers of carbon-based organic matter to build the soil.  Here you can see the students adding layers of craft paper, then compost, and finally mulch.  The layers are watered in and then the beds are ready to be planted with cool season crops.  We will poke holes through the paper when planting our new seedlings. 

cutting out the summer tomatoes

layering paper for sheet mulch

adding a layer of compost

adding straw for the last layer, 

collecting garden marigolds as a special touch for picture day

3rd Grade - is starting to think about harvest times and how different cultures celebrate their harvest.  We watched part of a movie called Pachamama that portrays an indigenous community in the Andes preparing for a ceremony that involves making offerings to "Pachamama", their goddess that is similar to the idea of "Mother Earth".  In the next couple of weeks, we are going to be observing and drawing local harvest vegetables, and we have some special family guests coming to demonstrate traditional recipes for Hispanic Heritage month. Yum!  

pictures coming soon!

2nd Grade -is learning what the phrase "Eat the Rainbow" means and they are exploring how the color of different fruits and vegetables is responsible for keeping different body systems healthy.  R

Early September:

In grades 2nd - 5th, September is super important for practicing how to use the garden area as a classroom, and inquiring into our school composting system.  Last year our outdoor classroom was finished being built in November and the muddy ground was covered with woodchips a couple of months after that so students didn't get to use it much until the spring.  

Pre-covid, Yu Ying composted food waste during lunch and snacks and compost community members brought food scraps from home to add to our 3 bin system.  When school closed in March of 2020, our composting took a long pause.  This school year I am committed to making it active again.  For our 2nd - 5th-grade students who eat lunch in the MPR, that means becoming experts on which of their food scraps can go into the compost bins, and possibly taking a leadership role of "Green Helper" to monitor and support their peers with sorting their trash and scraps during lunch clean-up.  Our 3-bin compost system was built by the Yu Ying community along with the support of DPR in 2016.  Because we partner with DPR, that means that we also provide a place to compost for neighborhood community members.  All Compost community members  ( staff,  families, and neighbors) are trained and participate in monthly 

work days.  In order for our compost system to work efficiently, we need members!!  If you think you might be interested please email me directly.   It's a chance to help our community, get some outdoor time and exercise,  get to know new people, and cover your volunteer hours.

Taking a look in the compost bins

Visual Thinking Routines

Making Observations

Performing skits about compost

Teaching each other

sorting and recording

compost sort relay race

PreK 3&4

This month we are getting used to being together in the garden and practicing our self-awareness skills.  There is so much to see, touch, hear, smell, and sometimes taste.    We are playing games, searching for interesting things making observations, and using art to express ourselves.  We also will be reading The Listening Walk,  by Paul Showers and practicing listening carefully to all of the sounds around campus that we might not normally hear.  

taking a listening walk through the nature center.

we found something very tall in the garden

Recording the colors we observed in garden

First Week of Garden Arts

Our first week was busy with exploring the garden and getting comfortable in our outdoor classroom. We did icebreakers and talked about why we need Garden Agreements.  2nd and 3rd graders made expressive sculptures, 4th and 5th graders started to personalize their new sketchbooks and pre-Kers learned about observing closely with magnifying glasses. I can't wait to start our 2nd week!  Keep visiting for monthly updates.

PreK 3&4

2nd Grade

3rd Grade 

4th Grade

5th Grade