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Learning By Doing

While much learning takes place in the classroom through teacher instruction using books and articles, videos and games, and manipulatives and props, Gilman’s faculty loves to take advantage of opportunities where students get to learn by doing. The last few weeks have been especially busy for the Lower School with regard to experiential learning activities.


Pre-K T-Ball Game

On Thursday, May 4, the youngest Greyhounds got to get out of their seats and step up to the tee at the annual pre-k T-ball game. “The game is a great way to introduce healthy competition,” said pre-k teacher Kailee Hefner (formerly Martin). “The boys not only learn how to play T-ball but we also discuss how to be a good sport and how to show the Gilman Five on the field.”

Pre-K T-Ball on May 4, 2023

Pre-K T-ball Game

Prep-One Class Play

On Friday, April 28, students in prep-one performed in their class play based on Lynn Cherry’s book, “The Great Kapok Tree,” a story about rainforest conservation told through the eyes of the animals who live in the tree. Prep-one teacher Sarah Heegan described the learning process leading up to the performance. “This was a culminating activity for our rainforest unit, and it really tied in all of the research they completed in class. The boys worked to create their costumes and the scenery and to memorize their lines. We also visited the rainforest exhibit at the National Aquarium as part of this unit. The boys felt proud to share their knowledge with their family and friends and spread the word about rainforest conservation.”

Prep-One Play

Second Grade Measurement Olympics

For good measure, second graders took their math lessons to the Old Gym on Friday, April 28, where they engaged in physical challenges that also had them doing calculations of time, weight, distance, and volume. “The Measurement Olympics provide a hands-on approach to reinforcing math concepts, allowing second graders to explore and discover through varying measurement challenges,” said second grade teacher Caroline Way. “By engaging in these hands-on activities, the second graders develop a deeper understanding, appreciation, and use for measurement in their day-to-day lives.” 

Fourth Grade St. Mary's City Field Trip

Fourth graders hit the road on an overnight trip April 27-28 to Historic St. Mary’s City, a former colonial town that was Maryland’s first European settlement, now an outdoor living history museum. The classes took a private tour with head archeologist Dr. Henry Miller; they met Margaret Brent, a 17th century woman who was the first woman in the New World to request the right to vote, and they visited the site of the Lead Coffins Project, and that was just on day one! “The students were in awe of the lead coffins that have been discovered there, which contain the remains of Philip Calvert, one of the founding settlers of Maryland, as well as his wife and child,” said fourth grade teacher Kim Radle. “This trip brings to life the social studies unit of study on how Maryland began.”

Kindergarten Kindy 500

Kindergartners were off to the races on Thursday, May 4 for the annual Kindy 500 with their handcrafted race cars. But before the main event, boys moved through four stations where they participated in related activities, like a stop at the "Department of Motor Vehicles" (complete with a vision test and driving course), a car wash, a matchbox car tunnel, and a build-your-own track set-up. “This event was a great example of building community on our campus. The kindergarten students worked collaboratively with their eighth grade big buddies to create a unique boxcar,” said kindergarten teacher Erica Hudson. “This project encouraged creativity and allowed the students to feel a sense of belonging and connection with one another. The Kindy 500 was an event that demonstrated fantastic teamwork.” Following the races, the group celebrated with a family picnic and barbeque.

First Grade State Fair

During their study of geography, first graders were each assigned a state to research. They designed posters to display what they learned and to present to their families at the State Fair on Friday, May 12. “My favorite part of the State Fair was when the whole first grade sang a song called ‘Fifty Nifty!’ In the middle of the song, we sing all 50 states,” said first grader Joonsoo K. “My second favorite thing was drawing my state flag on the poster. I loved the project!”

First Grade State Fair on May 12, 2023

First Grade State Fair

Third Grade Day of Discovery

“Day of Discovery is a key component to our study of Lewis and Clark,” said third grade teacher Jen Reiter. The boys spent Friday, May 5 at various stations all over campus to explore the Corps of Discovery. In the woods, they built a shelter with found materials and tested it against rain and hail. On the Alpine Tower, they climbed our version of the “Rocky Mountains.” They practiced reading animal tracks, orienting themselves with compass readings, and using their sewing skills, just as the explorers would have done in the 1800s. “The day was a perfect way to wrap up our third grade year that has focused on cultivating an explorer’s mindset and experiencing all that the outdoors has to offer,” Reiter said. “The boys were fully engaged and really got into the role-playing aspect. They displayed enormous teamwork and camaraderie as they worked together and cheered each other on.”

Third Grade Day of Discovery on May 5, 2023

Third Grade Day of Discovery

Fifth Grade Jamestown/Yorktown/Williamsburg Field Trip

On April 27, the fifth grade took an overnight trip to Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg, known as Virginia’s Historic Triangle. The boys got to experience the culmination of their social studies curriculum, which covered the Colonial Period up to and including the Revolutionary War. “The trip was a true example of place-based education, and the fifth graders were thrilled to see the sites they had been studying all year,” said fifth grade teacher Elise Altschuler. “As we traveled through these three places, we worked with skilled guides who continuously commented on our boys’ abilities to synthesize and demonstrate their knowledge of American history.” Now that they have returned, the boys are prepared to begin to gather research for their final writing assignment of the school year, a historical perspectives report.

Fifth Grade Overnight Trip to Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg

article published May 16, 2023