Spanish Immersion from the Viewpoint of our Students

What Our Kids Had to Say

We recently interviewed a few of our Spanish Immersion students to get some feedback on what the immersion experience has been like for them.  Students usually start the program in Kindergarten but can join as late as midway through 1st grade.  By fifth grade, they can conversationally bounce back and forth between English and Spanish with ease.  It is really amazing to experience their mastery of the language!

We’d like to share our conversation with a couple of fifth grade Spanish Immersion students, Abby and Maria.

How did your Spanish Immersion experience start?

Abby – At the beginning, I didn’t know Spanish at all and the teacher spoke Spanish.  She wouldn’t tell you how to say each word but instead just talked to us all the time and we just somehow started understanding her.
Maria –  I didn’t start Spanish Immersion till 1st grade while the other kids had started in Kindergarten or even earlier.  The teachers helped me a lot.

What’s the most challenging part of Spanish Immersion?

Abby – The silent ‘h’ is tricky because you have to figure out if it’s in a word or not.  And learning the accent took some time – if you speak Spanish words in an English accent they don’t sound right.
Maria – But learning how to spell Spanish words is much easier than English.   In English there are many more tricks you need to learn. In Spanish, you can usually sound it out.

What advice would you have for students new to Spanish Immersion?

Maria – Keep trying!  Sometimes you feel like you can’t do it because you don’t understand, but it gets easier.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  I asked a lot and the teachers helped me.
Abby – Keep an open mind.  When I first started I came in the classroom and the teacher only spoke Spanish.  I would sit there and feel a little lost, but it got easier pretty quickly.

Tell me about a time that you were able to use Spanish outside of the classroom.

Abby – We’ve traveled to Florida and were in a situation where we needed help and the people there only spoke Spanish.  I was able to translate between my parents and the staff.  And here at home I will hear people speaking Spanish in a store and sometimes go up to kids my age and speak to them in Spanish.  Every time I do they will be surprised and say something like ‘You speak Spanish? – I do too!’ That’s really fun.
Maria – (Laughing) I sometimes eavesdrop on people in stores but then I can help them sometimes too.

What would you tell parents who are thinking about Spanish Immersion for their child?

Abby – It’s great – they should do it.  I loved that we did lots of songs and games when we learned Spanish that helped us.  And by learning both Spanish to English I’ve learned a lot of root words.  It makes you smarter.  It will also help me get better jobs because I can speak in 2 languages.
Maria – I want to be a flight attendant someday and travel the world and this will make me more able to get this job.

Further Thoughts from the Parents

Maria’s mom gave us some feedback on the Immersion experience at MCS as well.

“It was a rough go for the first few months, but she has grown to love it.  I’m amazed at how she thinks in Spanish. She doesn’t translate, she knows and understands.  Although her Spanish spelling and grammar are almost perfect, her English spelling is a little behind.

We are excited for the opportunities this opens for her. She is already talking about being a translator, teacher or flight attendant someday so she can keep using her Spanish.

I would not say this program is for everyone. I think a family has to be committed to it and see the big picture. I do think it is an amazing program and has opened up something for Maria none of us had, or could even imagine. I often think about kids all over the world learning English and their native language and I love that my child will also be bilingual.  She helps her siblings with their homework regularly. She has recited the Bible in Spanish in church.
My older kids wish they had the opportunity – they are quite jealous of her ability.”

Designing Toys that Reflect The True Meaning of Christmas – A Project Based Learning Experience

Our 3rd grade Spanish Immersion class engaged in Project Based learning by addressing this problem: You are the next toy inventor and you need to design a toy that shows the “true meaning of Christmas” that you could market and sell.  This project was tied into their social studies curriculum where they were learning about economics and research and development. Each child had to first come up with a toy that they designed as a sketch on paper, then work together in groups to discuss ways in which they could combine ideas from each person in the group to make an even better toy.

Maestra Studer shares, “My idea was to have the students stop after the sketches – but they had bigger plans!  They wanted to build the toys they had imagined.  I told them that they should use recycled materials and things that they had at their disposal (ie. do NOT go out and buy supplies).  They could then create their toy as a group and we’d decide as a class on ONE toy to present to the whole school.  God amazed me through the gift of these students’ creativity!  Each of their ideas were pretty well thought out and there was a lot of passion behind what they had come up with.  We ended up creating a ‘Toy Museum’ where ALL their toys were on display for other classes to come and visit and ask questions from the toy designers.”

One group of students worked together to make an oversized travel pillow with a hidden compartment that stored a nativity set (so that you could share the Christmas story where ever you went!).  There were two projectile toys –  “The Star Launcher” and “Jesus comes to Earth” where the goal was to aim at the world with ‘heavenly’ objects.  One group made a game where you raced to build your tower of bricks up the star in the sky; another made a board game where 3 players raced in their “Journey to Bethlehem”.   All games included a recommended age range, price point, and rules of play.

“I was excited to see the passion my students shared as they explained their games with other students and shared how their toys shared the Christmas story”, concludes Maestra Studer.

To learn more about Project Based Learning at MCS, click here!

Third Graders Move Their Classroom to the Museum!

The BIG Lesson

Every year,  Muskegon Christian School third grade students are able to use the Lakeshore Museum Center as their classroom for an entire week.  Last week, Miss Hall’s third grade class experienced The BIG Lesson, spending their week learning about the Native Americans that first settled in Michigan and the fur traders who came later. Students were able to learn about what life was like for the Native Americans before and after the Europeans came.  They  practiced grinding corn, made clay pots, and learned other Native American traditional skills like using hot rocks to boil water. Then they became voyageurs, ‘paddling a canoe’ and experiencing what it was like to be a part of the fur trade. They were able to see the different furs that the traders were trapping and trading (like mink and beaver pelts) that would end up in the closets of fashionable Europeans halfway around the world.

They ended the week with a wax museum for parents.  Students were transformed into either a Native American before European contact, a Native American after European contact, a French Fur Trader or a British Fur Trader.  They shared their point of view with parents who ‘pressed their button’.  After the official program, students were able to explore the museum exhibits with their parents and share some of the knowledge they had gained over the week as well.

A Partnership That is Loved and Lasting

The BIG Lesson is a wonderful yearly tradition and great resource for our school.  I am so thankful for this opportunity to engage with our curriculum in partnership with The Lakeshore Museum.  I’m also thankful that Jane joins our class every year to help out,” 3rd grade teacher Erika Hall shares.  That ‘Jane’ is Jane Thomasma, a retired MCS teacher who taught here for decades – and was Erika’s 2nd grade teacher as well!   Jane was actually the one who introduced our school to The BIG Lesson experience at the museum 11 years ago.  Jane still volunteers at this event every year and is so valuable as a resource and helper.

What did the students take away from this experience? “I learned how to make fire with two sticks -it’s really hard!” said one student.  “My favorite part was making the clay pots.  The Native Americans used them to hold their food” explained another.  They all came away with a better understanding of life in early America.

ABC Fashion Show! Exploring the Alphabet in fun new ways at MCS

Mastery of the alphabet is the key to reading and writing, so Kindergarten teacher Kari Bonnema began this school year with a fun, interactive ABC Bootcamp for her students.  For the first 26 days of school, Kari’s students focused on one letter each day.  “Training” each day involved charting pictures for each letter, exploring sounds and actions to pair with the letter, practicing writing each letter, and engaging in fun alphabet games.   Students were also encouraged to bring 1 item from home that started with the letter of the day.

Parents were able to celebrate their child’s ‘graduation’ from ABC Bootcamp at a fun program that began with an alphabet fashion show!  Each student walked individually down the “catwalk” modeling a paper vest pasted in different pictures reflecting their letter.  They then pointed to and named items on their vest  – ‘Trumpet’, ‘T-Rex’,  & ‘Tray’ for example – while striking a pose.   At the end, students joined together to sing and act out the full alphabet.  They demonstrated that they both had mastered the letters and had fun doing so!  Parents and children closed the program by reading their alphabet books together and enjoying a snack.

“I want my students to open their eyes to the alphabet that is all around them and have fun discovering it,” Kari explains.  Learning should be fun at any age, but especially in Kindergarten!

 

Grandparents Day is Friday, October 13th!

Grandparents Day is one of our favorite days of the year at MCS!  We invite all Grandparents or special friends of students Kindergarten – 6th grade to join us at 1pm on Friday, October 13th as we celebrate the theme “MCS Grandparents – Blessing Generations”.

Our program will begin at 1pm in the Three Oaks Gym (aka the old WMC gym) followed by coffee and cookies in the MCS gym.  At 2:15pm, Grandparents will be invited to visit their grandchildren in their classrooms, have their photos taken together, and visit the Scholastic book fair together in the gym!

Come early for the best seats and parking.  We plan on a full gym!

More Than One Week – Spiritual Emphasis at MCS

At MCS we can celebrate:  He is greater than i!

We just concluded our Spiritual Emphasis Week at MCS today and kicked off a year of exploring ways to apply John 3:30 – “He must become greater; I must become less” – to our lives.  This past week, every day began with a Praise service in which different speakers shared ways that we can make God greater through the choices we make.  Every day of this year, we plan to help students live out and grow in their faith and in their walk with God.

We are so blessed to have a school where we can share our testimonies with each other and lift others up with prayer.  Thank you to those who make Christian education possible in Muskegon and help us to raise up the next generation of servant leaders!

Great things are happening at MCS this Fall!

We have welcomed over 270 students to MCS this fall and we LOVE seeing our school halls filled with children after the summer break!
We have a number of events coming up at MCS that our community members are encouraged to take part in.
The MCS Parent Powered committee is kicking off our annual fall fundraiser. This year we will be selling subs from Great Lakes Market as well as Wesco refillable popcorn buckets. The sale starts September 15 with orders due by October 6. All profits will help fund teacher grants, field trips, and special projects at MCS.
Save the Date for our Grandparents Day on Friday, October 13th at 1pm. Grandparents and special friends are invited to join us in the Three Oaks gym next door (the old WMC gymnasium) at 1pm for the formal program followed by coffee and cookies in the MCS gym afterward and classroom visits.
Spiritual Emphasis Week is coming up September 18-22.  We’ll begin every day of this week with a Praise service!  A different area pastor will share a message with us around this years’ theme HE>me based on John 3:30.  We invite friends and family to join us every morning this week at 8:30am in the MCS gym.
We will host our Scholastic Book Fair from October 9-13.  The Book Fair will be open from 2-3:30 during Grandparents Day as well.  Books make a great gift for students (hint: Stock up for Christmas)!
These are just a few things happening at MCS in the upcoming month.  Check back regularly for more updates (e.g. we’re starting to plan a Fall Fest in later October).
Do you want to learn more about any of these events and opportunities?  Contact us!

 

Seeing Stars: MCS Alum Shares His Stargazing Passion with Students

MCS alum Jim Malda takes his star gazing hobby pretty seriously.  In fact, when the total solar eclipse occurs next Monday, August 21st, you won’t find him in Michigan.  Jim plans to get the full experience by camping out with a friend (and his traveling telescope) somewhere between South Carolina and Oregon along the total eclipse path.  “We’ll go wherever conditions are optimal,” he explains.

Earlier this spring, Jim took time to share his passion and knowledge with our students.  He set up his telescope on the playground on a sunny morning.  Students were able to safely examine spots on the Sun’s surface and learn more about how a telescope works.  Most students had never used a telescope like this before.

Jim plans on taking plenty of photos of the eclipse on Monday.  Along with his telescope, he is bringing along cameras and a computer that will be synchronized to allow him to follow the path of the eclipse.  That should result in some amazing photos  – and Jim has offered to share some with us soon after the event.  We plan to post them on our Facebook page. Stay tuned!

Jim’s advice to all those students viewing the eclipse: “Make sure to take the proper precautions when looking at the sun – and then have fun!”

Thanks for inspiring students with your love of astronomy, Jim!

 

MCS Students Who Serve

Preparing for a Lifetime of Service

Muskegon Christian School students enjoy sharing God’s love through service in our community!

Students decorated more than 1,000 lunch bags that were to be distributed by Kid’s Food Basket in Muskegon with uplifting messages and artwork.  Half of the fifth grade students spent an afternoon raking an elderly neighbor’s property, while others assembled snack bags for Kid’s Food Basket.

Mrs. Morrison’s 6th grade class was able to travel to International Aid  in Spring Lake for an afternoon to prepare product for their hygiene kit ministry. The students quickly unwrapped 6,144 toothpaste/toothbrush boxes and taped 3,852 bottles of shampoo.   They exhibited great teamwork and had a great time of fellowship too!

We also encouraged students to pray for and minister to others around the globe through a fundraiser.  Our students raised over $300 through “Fun-raiser Fridays” in May.  Water balloon tosses (involving our awesome teachers) and popcorn snacks were offered for students to purchase.   The funds raised went to two causes:  famine relief efforts in Africa (through World Renew) and hygiene kits sent by International Aid to people who lives are torn apart by disaster, illness or poverty.

We are always looking for new ways for our students to engage in our community!  MCS strives to create opportunities for our students to participate in Christian service in our community as part of their educational experience. Please share new possible opportunities with us by contacting us.

Which Auction Items Will YOU Bid On?

The MCS Auction Book is ready!

It’s time to print and start marking up your MCS Auction Book so you can be ready to make your bids this weekend!

The Muskegon Christian School Auction is scheduled for this Saturday, May 6th from 5:00 – 8:00 P.M. and from the looks of the jam-packed auction book (see link below), our delicious catering menu from Ryke’s and the beautiful venue, we’re going to have a BLAST!

So if you haven’t yet, please SAVE-THE-DATE and join us at the CIO Building.

CLICK HERE to find a link to the official MCS Auction Book. 

See you there!

The MCS Auction Committee