Category Archives: Creativity

Exploration Day

By: Meridian Third Graders

Exploration Day is a day where you pick a topic you don’t know much about, and you explore, research and learn all about it! First, we find articles and resources and we gather information. On Exploration Day itself we give a presentation about all that we learned. Some of us create poster presentations, and some of our classmates create scaled models and displays. You can use charts, diagrams, dioramas, and you can compare and contrast to really demonstrate your learning! We are exploring things like the difference between black holes and worm holes, why the Titanic sank, how robins build their nests, the invention of the lightbulb, and sharks!

Since this is a one day event, we have essentially the whole day (except recess and lunch) to work on our projects. It’s a pretty exciting thing, because we get the freedom to pick a topic that interests us, and we can figure out what we can make with the materials we have available. This project makes us a little nervous because it takes a lot of work and we have to present our final results to everyone! But it’s good because that will make it even more satisfying when we are finished.

The expectation at the end of the day is that we learned more about our topic and feel confident presenting to our parents and friends. It’s really fun because it doesn’t have to be just about things you would normally learn in the classroom, we can learn about things we are truly interested in, which makes the research a lot more engaging. We can’t wait for the next Exploration Day!

Global Studies Museum Day

As global structures and systems evolve due to changes in cultural and social ideologies, politics, the environment and technological growth, teaching and learning about the world also needs to be dynamic and relevant for students. At Meridian, we want our students to gain an understanding of how global social and natural systems interact and progress. We also want our students to realize and act upon the notion that: “Thinking Globally and Acting Locally” impacts and creates change for local and global communities for the betterment for all. Our Global Studies program is one way we engage our students in this level of learning, thinking and doing.

Throughout the year, students across all grade levels participate in an extensive regional study of one of the continents.  This year’s focus was the region of Oceania. Our Global Studies program is enhanced by partnerships with local organizations, visits from local experts, and programming during Friday Morning Meetings and classroom workshops. Classroom studies are celebrated on our much anticipated Global Studies Museum Day. This past Friday, our classrooms transformed into exhibits and students embraced their role as museum docents, eager to share their acquired knowledge and research projects with museum visitors.  One or two representatives from each grade level volunteered to sharing their reflections (included below)!


Global Studies was SO MUCH FUN! If we had to choose a favorite part, it would probably be the Museum Day at the end and seeing the projects everyone created. Kid museums are the best. It was our first time doing a project like this, which made it kind of hard. But it we were able to do it because we made a group plan.

We learned a lot almost by accident, it felt like we were just building things, writing books and doing activities. One of the most interesting things we learned was about how ocean currents and winds carry seeds all the way to far off places like islands! It makes sense how all the islands have plants growing on them, since seeds can travel without people. We can’t wait to do Global Studies again!

First Grade

In first grade, our big idea is “how does where you live affect how you live?” We studied things like how people can make boats out of the trees in their environment, and we also learned about different problems that people have, and how that affects their lives (like global warming and rising sea levels). One question we talked about the most was how our relationship with the environment here in Seattle impacts our lives, and we thought a lot about how the impacts are different or similar in Oceania.

Some of the favorite things we learned were how to throw a boomerang and how to perform the haka, a traditional Māori dance! We also learned that there’s a type of tree kangaroo that you actually call the cuscus, which we liked a lot, and we got to meet a real, live wallaby!

Second Grade

In second grade, we focused on two different topics. In Ms. White’s class, our topic was how people and cultures share their stories. In Ms. Spring’s class we focused on how where you live tells a story about you as well. It was quite a different process in second grade compared to what we did in Global Studies as first graders. We still built things, but there’s a lot more research involved. We think it’s a good transition. It’s funny, because some of us like making displays and models, and others liked the typing part the best!

There were a lot of specific interesting parts about the projects. We learned that the hula isn’t supposed to be with grass skirts! That was surprising. We also learned that a 15 year old girl designed the flag from Papua New Guinea. It was very inspiring to think that maybe we could do something that important one day!

Third Grade

In third grade, the main focus of Global Studies was finding solutions to climate change, because global warming, pollution, ocean acidification, coral bleaching and rising sea levels are affecting people living on islands in the region of Oceania. All of our projects were around the idea of people getting involved and solving real life issue. Our proposals aren’t real solutions right now, but they could be in the future. We all went through a really long, sometimes pretty hard, design process to come up with our solutions. We used classroom time, did research during library class, and developed, changed and improved our designs in the Creativity Lab! It was a lot of fun.

Some of our favorite parts were the things that we learned. We didn’t realize how quickly global warming actually happens. It is crazy to think how much we can actually do it change it, and how little changes can make a big difference! Some of our favorite parts were making all the models in our presentation. We really got to let our creative side go wild, and were able to take our minds to the limit. This meant we could brainstorm solutions that weren’t necessarily possible for us to create, but could maybe work if we had professionals or more resources, or maybe just made sense. One other favorite part was learning about chemistry. A few of us really enjoyed it, and are excited to learn about it more as we get older!

Fourth Grade

The main focus of Global Studies was understanding the history of Oceania and all the island nations inside of it. Really understanding how they are the same, different, and how they fit together and create an entire region. Our individual projects were about zooming in on one nation, or environmental or cultural aspect. It felt like a natural progression from 3rd grade, doing more research on a different topic, and really getting detailed facts. We had to have more detail than we’ve had in the past, which made it harder to do!

We learned a lot together when we were doing this research, and it was pretty cool to see everyone’s interactions and what they chose to focus on. One class made videos, while the other wrote non-fiction books, but we all accomplished similar things. A few of us came up with some strategies to get more people interested in our topics right off the bat. One strategy that was successful was finding a few awesome facts to get people hooked. We think we might use that in other projects later on! We were surprised to learn how quickly many of the islands changed and developed. The scale of Australia also surprised us. It’s so much larger than the other islands in Oceania, which we didn’t realize because Australia is the smallest continent.

Fifth Grade

In fifth grade, we are focusing on the history of island nations in Oceania. It’s the most in depth type of research we’ve ever done, and definitely felt like a step up compared to past years. Throughout the year we visited different museums and cultural centers to learn more about communities and traditions in Oceania, and to get a real life interaction and perspective on some of the things we learned about in the classroom. We visited the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, and we even made our own paddles at the Center for Wooden Boats. We decorated our paddles to express our identity, and got to use them in canoes on Lake Union. It was one of the most engaging Global Studies projects!

During Global Studies, we learn how different but also similar cultures are even when they are so far away from us. For example, there is a type of storytelling dance called Fāgogo in the Samoa Islands, and it is a way to tell a story through movement. We learned that they are trying to preserve it, so it’s emphasized to the youth to keep it alive. It seems really different from what we do at first, but if you think about it, it’s really like our families telling stories to each other. It’s just a different way of doing it. When studying the history of islands in Oceania, we also learned about colonization, which can be difficult to think about because some people made awful choices. Sometimes you want to avoid hard topics like slavery, but it is important to realize they are difficult and to have discussions about them anyway.

Overall, it really feels like Global Studies has a good progression throughout the 6 years at Meridian. We feel like every year built on each other, and hope we will continue other forms of Global Studies when we move on to middle school!

Young Designers’ Conference

By Meridian Students (representing all grade levels!)

Young Designers’ Conference was a day filled with “maker” activities. It started off with an all-school presentation by a keynote speaker, and they we go to attend two different workshops, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Everything looked really interesting. There were science classes, technology classes, art classes and more! We didn’t all get to attend our top choices, but we ended up really liking the workshops anyway.

The conference was fun, but also hard work. Some workshops were challenging because we didn’t have teams or groups, but working independently was fun too! We learned a lot more than we thought we were going to. The keynote speaker (Rick Hartman, “Gears of Invention”) was amazing, and his presentation was interesting and insightful!

We loved becoming designers for a day because we like to be creative thinkers and use our imagination. We think it is important to try things that you’ve never tried before. You are allowed to fail when you are designing, which is a good thing! It’s good to fail because it lets you see how difficult some things can be, and helps you discover and learn new approaches. Young Designers’ Conference is also a great way to explore jobs that parents and adults might have to see if we would enjoy that as a career.

It was a really hands on experience, so we got to dig deep into different activities and topics. We loved the whole conference and are excited to learn what the workshops will be next year!

Learning Through Art

Creative juices are flowing in Meridian’s new Art classroom! Guided by our wonderful Art Specialist, Ms. Marika, students are engaged in a variety of projects, exploring different mediums and making connections between Art, Science, Spanish, Global Studies and more. See a list of current projects below, and learn why our 1st graders think the Art room is such a special and important place at Meridian.

Kindergarteners just finished designing matchbook houses, modeled off of their own homes. These projects will be used to create a large display, integrating Kindergarten’s Family Studies Unit, Global Studies, and Art.

First graders have been working on chameleons this week. Their project incorporates an important 1st Grade visual art standard, as they are using primary colors to create secondary colors. They first read the book A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni, and drew chameleons together. Next, students painted 3 sections of their chameleons with their 3 primary colors. The following class they used their own plate for mixing primary colors to create different shades of green, purple and orange. Simultaneously, 1st graders have been learning primary and secondary colors in Spanish class.

Second graders are working on oil pastel and watercolor hearts based on the artist Jim Dine, and third graders are constructing islands using plastercraft! This interdisciplinary project is being led by our Art Specialist & Science Program
Coordinator. Students are studying Oceania as a part of their Global Studies curriculum, and are learning
about the resources needed to sustain life on an island.

Fourth graders just completed a contour line hand
project, and fifth graders are finishing a Gustav Klimt inspired tree project. Next, they will create papier mâché pie and cake slices, based on the artist Claus Oldenburg and his oversized sculptures of everyday objects.

By Meridian 1st Graders

The art room is a really fun place! It’s different this year because we have Ms. Marika, and our Art classroom is right next door instead of in a different building. Last year Art felt different than other specialists because it was in the other building. Now it feels more like home.

When we get to the Art room we sit on the rug, and the first thing we do is read a book about the activity we are doing that day. This week we made chameleons and dinosaurs using all different colors! In Art we get to use pencils, pens, sharpies, water paints, oil pastels, and more. We are looking forward to making planets out of paper mache.

Our favorite thing about Ms. Marika is the things she helps us create. Art makes us feel happy, and when we walk into the art room we are excited! Art is important because you don’t know if you’re an artist if you don’t try, and it would be sad if you never learned that.

Our favorite part about art is painting because it is so fun…we’re not quite sure why! Actually, our favorite part is all of it, because the Art Room is a great place to learn!