Gifted and … wired to learn!

Gifted students look quite different from each other but they share a common personality trait—a deep internal drive and inquisitiveness that makes them uniquely wired to learn, lending them the potential to excel in the subjects that interest them most.

Although giftedness manifests in many unique ways, curiosity is the common driver that makes for a gifted mind. Where most children may have one or two ideas about something new they are learning, gifted children often have 10 – or maybe even 1,000! This is why its so important for them to have peers that equally love to explore new questions and ideas.

Giftedness can show up in expected ways – with early verbal abilities, strong interest in math or reading. But it can also show up in more subtle ways, such as abundant imagination, unique perceptiveness, emotional intensity, high energy, or precocious interest in puzzles, calendars, drawing and art. Some develop deep knowledge on topics of interest.

One thing is for certain: When a gifted child is nurtured and inspired, the gift blossoms into a unique genius all its own.


1/2 Students Spread Cheer on Red Nose Day

Our 1/2 class demonstrated the meaning of “compassionate hearts” and a commitment to action in their recent field trip to the Ronald McDonald House and Children’s Hospital.  In support of Red Nose Day, the students toured the Ronald McDonald facility and met some of the families staying there. They also dropped off donated items they […]


1/2 Students Spread Cheer on Red Nose Day

Our 1/2 class demonstrated the meaning of “compassionate hearts” and a commitment to action in their recent field trip to the Ronald McDonald House and Children’s Hospital.  In support of Red Nose Day, the students toured the Ronald McDonald facility and met some of the families staying there. They also dropped off donated items they had collected, including toys, laundry supplies, and household items that are helpful to families who are away from the comforts of home.

After touring the Ronald McDonald house, the students visited Children’s Hospital and performed in the Seacrest Studio. This studio is specially designed to entertain the patients and their families. The class performed several songs from their recent play, “The Lorax,” and were excited to see themselves televised on the big screen. Video of the performances is available here.

Students, teachers and parents agreed that this excursion was a perfect combination of service, learning and fun!



Mack-Boulder Spotlight: Performing Arts

IMG_9479If you were lucky enough to be at one of the standing-room-only performances of the recent Mack-Boulder 5th-8th grade musical “Theseus & the Minotaur,” you are probably still humming some of the catchy and wonderfully-performed songs. It was a stunning production that was the result of many months of hard work by director Julie Chilton, assistant director Tim King, the performers, costumers, set designers, and the stage/tech crew.

While “Theseus & the Minotaur” was polished and even professional, and there is certainly an important place for that kind of a production, there have been many other performances this year of a different nature: work-shares.IMG_6404

Work-shares are assemblies that are an amalgam of a performance, a play, and a demonstration. For each work-share, the performing class developed, rehearsed, and then presented a “show” based on what they had been exploring and learning in their Performing Arts class. The shows usually include singing, movement, drama, and interesting facts the students have learned about music, movement, or theater.

IMG_9679Students were given the opportunity to organize and create their own program, including which songs to present, and how they incorporated movement and/or drama.  Student also wrote their own spoken pieces to introduce the audience to each portion of the presentation. Work-shares allow every student to participate in the discipline of practicing and performing without the pressure of needing to produce a polished play.

In addition to the work-shares in lower grades, the middle school will have had two Middle School Arts Nights by the end of the year. (Join us on the evening of May 25th for the final one of the year!) These are more polished and rehearsed than a work-share but still more casual than a musical production. Arts Nights include Visual Arts in addition to Performing Arts.IMG_6965

Certainly, in all three types of productions, Mack-Boulder students are exemplifying the “risk-taker” IB learner profile while becoming, as Performing Arts teacher Julie Chilton says, “musically literate.”



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Five Reasons that Reading Aloud (Even to Older Children) is Beneficial (Plus a Bonus List of Book Suggestions)

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By Kristi Holmes Espineira, Mackintosh Littleton Director of Advancement

You can’t tell from today’s surprise spring snowstorm, but summer is just around the corner! Mack students will soon go home with their summer reading lists, and solo reading is an important part of nurturing kids’ reading skills over the summer. But have you considered how reading aloud to your child, through middle school and beyond, can be part of your family’s summer reading routine?

If you’re a parent of an emergent reader, you may already have a routine that includes reading aloud. As your children grow and become fluent independent readers, this precious family reading time can fall by the wayside in our busy lives. So we want to issue a summer reading challenge to our Mack parents: increase your read-aloud time with younger children, or rekindle your read-aloud time with the older kids — even pre-teens!

Need convincing? Here are five (possibly surprising) reasons that reading aloud to children is beneficial:

1. Keep their reading enthusiasm high.

When your child learned to read on her own, you may have breathed a sigh of relief and cut reading aloud out of the evening routine. However, research shows that children, especially boys, begin to lose interest in reading for pleasure around fifth grade — the exact time that parents may be backing off on the bedtime stories. By spending time reading aloud to your children, you’re modeling an enthusiasm for and enjoyment of reading that can last throughout their lives.

2. Their “listening level” may be higher than their reading level.

Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook says, “A child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his listening level until eighth grade. You can and should be reading seventh-grade books to fifth-grade kids.” By reading aloud books that are “above their level,” you’re enriching their vocabulary and promoting fluency that they can carry over into independent reading.

3. Tackle the tough topics with parental support.

By reading books that feature challenging issues (bullying, injustice, substance abuse, etc.) with your children, you give kids an opportunity to ask questions about topics they might never raise on their own. You will be able to tune into your child’s concerns, address the issue and communicate your values on neutral ground, without them feeling singled out.

4. Provide space for the child to immerse himself in rich imagination and pure story without the sometimes frustrating work of reading.

Rebecca Bellingham, reading expert and TEDX speaker on “Why We Should All be Reading Aloud to Children” , says, “When we teachers and parents read aloud, we do the tricky decoding work and we free kids to think and imagine the story.” When listening, your child’s brain is free to indulge in visualization and simply go where the story takes her. Isn’t that what we ultimately love most about reading — losing ourselves in other lives and other worlds?

5. Introduce classics that they may not otherwise choose for themselves.

What was your favorite book from childhood? Your kids may naturally reach for the latest well-known titles, but if you can slip in a few classics that have stood the test of time, they may find they love them as much as you did, and new interests may be sparked. Diane Dunne, Mackintosh Littleton Head of School, fondly recalls reading Swallows and Amazons, first published in 1930 by Arthur Ransome, to her son when he was around eleven years old. This tale, about the adventures of two families of children who camp on an island in a lake, sparked his interest in sailing. He went on to become a competitive sailor and then earned a Ph.D. in fluid dynamics. Diane believes that read-aloud classic played an important part in kindling those interests.

We hope you will take advantage of the slower pace of summer to revel in read-aloud time with your children. Here’s a list of book suggestions from our Littleton staff to get you started:


Admissions Director/Asst. Head of School Beth Steklac: Winnie the Pooh has some wonderful subtle humor for adults, while appealing to little ones. We also enjoyed The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, and of course, the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. I love Paddle to the Sea for 6-7 year olds. Kids’ poetry books are super-fun at any time (Silverstein, Insectlopedia, A. A. Milne.) Lastly, I really enjoyed reading Born to Run to middle school students; it’s a very powerful story that needs some editing, so read aloud is best. Love Farley Mowat!

Curriculum Coordinator Sharon Muench: The Princess Bride.

Performing Arts Teacher Kelly Kates: Wonder by RJ Palacio and Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Middle School Humanities Teacher Megan Rich: I may be biased, but I would say anything written by Shakespeare is a great read-aloud. I also love Jabberwocky.

5/6 Co-Teacher Nancy Muhich: Wind in the Willows sounds lovely when read aloud. Personal fave that I never grow tired of: Dr Seuss, Fox in Socks. The Lightning Thief books by Rick Riordan are delightful to read aloud, as are the Harry Potter books.

Head of School Diane Dunne: I would certainly second The Wind in the Willows and add Treasure Island and some books by Farley Mowat – The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be and Never Cry Wolf.

3/4 Lead Teacher Lula Guilbert: Preschool – The Little Mouse, the Red, Ripe Strawberry, and the Big, Hungry Bear. Primary – Tippy-Toe, Chick Go, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Elementary – Wonder, Fish In A Tree, The Hundred Dresses. Middle School – Tuck Everlasting.

3/4 Co-Teacher Heather Thomas: Magnus Chase, The Kane Chronicles, The Lost Heroes — all by Rick Riordan
The Books of Bayern (series) by Shannon Hale
Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Oxcart Man, The Barefoot Book of Fairies (younger)

Kindergarten Teacher Rebecca Blauw: Shin’s Tricycle. Review from Amazon: A beautifully illustrated true story of another family’s experience of the bombing of Hiroshima. Shin’s uncle is able to get him the impossible: the tricycle he desperately wants. He is riding the wonderful, brand-new tricycle when the atom bomb is dropped. Shin is found in the rubble, holding on to his treasure. He dies later that day, ten days before his fourth birthday. The tricycle now sits in the Peace Museum in Hiroshima.

Let Me Hold You Longer: A must read for parents! Review from Amazon: With lighthearted illustrations and a sweet, reflective tone, best-selling author Karen Kingsbury encourages parents to savor not only their children’s firsts, like first steps and first words, but the lasts as well. With the tenderness of a mother speaking directly to her child, Karen reminds us not to miss last days of kindergarten and last at-bats in Little League amid the whirlwind of life. Adapted from a poem in Rejoice, this book allows mothers and grandmothers everywhere to identify with the tenderhearted reflections on these pages.