P.S. 63 and WHEDco ( Women’s Housing Economic Development Corp.) collaborated for a five week shared vision for summer learning focusing on community and citizenship.   This initiative was sponsored by Fund for Public Schools (FUND), NYC Department of Education (DOE) and NYC Department of Youth & Community Development (NYCD) to prevent the phenomenon of summer slide, learning loss that typically occurs during the summer vacation.  Under the supervision of P.S. 63’s Assistant Principal, Phyllis Berkofsky, and WHEDco’s Director, Chris Nieves,  students became Living Green Detectives as they learned about reducing, reusing and recycling during an 8:30 – 6:00 day.

Shaylee, a Living Green Detective

The days began with reading nonfiction text, in line with the Common Core Learning Standards, on pollution, recycling, littering, waste and nutrition.  While guided reading groups were conducted, students partnered to read eBooks on iPads.  Writer’s workshop continued with another nonfiction text supporting the reading lesson and children wrote an analysis of their interpretation of living green and how they can be productive and contributing citizens to their community.

The kindergarteners learned to communicate more effectively as they internalized new concepts and were required to write about them in order to record and create their own Audacity (MP3) file.  Please click students’ names in bold to hear their Audacity file.











Fekou and Maria









Naquan, Dayanra and Brandon

Additionally, technology was integrated when students began creating a class Prezi that showcased their interpretation of living green.  Unfortunately after two weeks at the hosting school,  web access was unavailable due to overheated servers and the technology component suffered.  Approximately a third of the class was able to partake in Prezi ( http://prezi.com/l7rbedugfya8/living-green-detectives/ ) creation.

Mr. Torres, the principal of the hosting school, P.S. 55, connected us with Suzie Charlop, who taught students the basics of planting in the garden dedicated to her aunt, who was a teacher at P.S. 55.  For science, the children planted seeds and seedlings and maintained a community ornamental and vegetable garden.   Due to the time constraints of a five week program, the seedlings enabled students to visualize and understand different stages and the life cycle during the planting and growth process.  Harvest time at P.S. 55 has been slated for October with the participating students to return on a field trip to see the fruition of their efforts.

Susie Charlop teaching Summer Quest students how to plant and maintain the garden.

Jaysen watering the ornamental garden.

Maria tending to the vegetable garden.

An enjoyable segment of the academic day fostered creativity as students learned by doing.  The concept of participatory learning was effectively put in place as children used materials to develop creative, hands on projects.  Students repurposed materials  like magazines rolled into beads for necklaces, newspaper paper mache globes, toilet paper roll maracas, cardboard picture frames and wall plaques.

Magazine paper rolled beads

Necklaces students made from magazine beads.

Recycle plagues made with cardboard packaging, grocery store bags and paper clips.

WHEDco complimented P.S. 63 by providing academic arts based enrichment activities.  Students participated in organized recreational activities after lunch.  They were then able to explore a variety of creative interests like drama, art, music and dance, all revolving around the Living Green Detective theme.  Children learned the fundamentals of producing, performing and appreciating music from different cultures.  Dance workshops included a blend of jazz, Latin, African, hip hop, popular and classic styles.  Students wrote skits incorporating waste, pollution and recycling.  The arts enrichment broadened students’ creative, cultural and artistic knowledge while fostering an appreciation for cultural differences.  The scenery and musical instruments were made by students using repurposed materials.

Water bottle and cardboard bowl maracas.

Painted water bottle flowers.

Scenery made using recycled donations from Materials for the Arts.

Fridays were field trip days.  WHEDco engaged students and supported learning by utilizing community resources and cultural institutions like New York Hall of Science and New York Botanical Gardens. Students went to Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. to compare and contrast a historical community and better understand the significance of earth’s resources.  The Bronx’s Children’s Museum Mobile Discovery Center came for an on site visit and Carnival Day was held on the last day.

The moving Bronx Children’s Museum.

Just like the Magic School Bus!


Students feeling a beaver’s fur.

Inside the bus resembles a river habitat.

A beaver in his home.

Intrigued students observing habitat.

Different stages of lifecycle.

Providing children at an early age with maker spaces  established amazing opportunities for synergy in a new classroom learning environment.  Digital environments help guide and shape successful 21st century learning environments for today’s students.  The Summer Quest initiative promoted multiple literacies and enabled students to become more fluent, articulate and reflective across the curriculum and with respect to themselves, society and their contributions to their communities.  P.S. 63 and WHEDco fostered student creation in authentic context in multiple disciplinary areas.  Rather than just being taught to consume content, Living Green Detectives became creators of technology and environmentally artistic projects.  Children were led in guided inquiry into topics so that they were able to communicate, collaborate and create with the new knowledge that their individual contributions truly do make a difference and matter.

Shaniya and Fekou on planting day.

Brandon at breakfast.

Areanne caught in reflection.