A Day at Breakwater - Toddler through 8th

Often, we’ll hear a wonder from parents, grandparents and even teachers - about what kind of person they might have become had they been lucky enough to be a “Breakwater Kid.” Breakwater’s special blend of academic, social emotional support and curriculum, hands-on child-centered learning, outdoor education, emphasis on arts and humanity, community and connection is pretty unique. We know that the effects are far reaching after speaking with alumni about how Breakwater had a hand in their confidence, continued love of learning, academic goals and the ability to weather through challenges. (Stay tuned for an alumni spotlight coming soon!) We are limitlessly proud of the learning community that we build together. In case you don’t spend your days at Breakwater (and even if you do!) we wanted to share what a typical day might look like for our students. These adventures and activities all took place yesterday, November 7, 2019 for all our students - toddler through eighth grade. Enjoy!


Students in the toddler classroom enjoyed a hike to the Fore River Sanctuary. They chose walking sticks, climbed hills laced with leaves and mud, adventured through towering trees and over stones, sang songs, listened to Señor J.’s Spanish words, and marched heartily to a good walking beat. Others spent time on their playground, painting with natural items, interacting with life-size scarecrows they built by hand, and constructing with building materials. They then had lunch and fell asleep for rest time on that cozy, rainy November day with adventuring and playing in their tired bodies (and probably in their dreams, too).


Preschool students spent time with their third and fourth grade learning buddies, reading together, running and climbing together and spending time in the garden. They checked on the baby seedlings in our new hoop house, challenged each other in running and chasing games, dug in the dirt together and made confectionary delights from mud, leaves and sand. (The sand was sprinkles, not spices - we were told).


After some big questions were generated from children after reading some books, Kindergarten spent the afternoon making art based around concepts of diversity and inclusivity. They read, “Shades of People,” by Shelley Rotner, “The Colors of Us,” by Karen Katz and “The Other Side” by Jacqueline Woodson. They spoke about different skin shades and colors and used paints to determine their own personal shade. There were several valuable conversations and insights about the different shades of people, and what it means to be an inclusive member of a community.

First and Second Grade

In art class, students in first and second grade studied the work of William Mize and his use of line and shape in his art. Students had previously been studying shapes in art class and are moving now to lines. To demonstrate, they used marbles and paint in a box to create lines from the spheres. They will then use the resulting art to add to their individual monster pieces to demonstrate an understanding of shape and line.

Third and Fourth Grade

Recently, students met with a neighbor to discuss their study of the history of Nason’s Corner Park. They have been fascinated by the change in land, buildings and neighborhood. They learned so much from that visit including stories that revealed how Jewell Falls got its name, why our neighborhood is called Nason’s Corner and city rules about why our field must always remain a field. Yesterday, they spent time doing more research on our neighborhood and Portland’s history. They worked in four research groups: Farming, Wabanaki History and Culture, Trolley Cars and Canals. Julie Larry, from Portland Historic Landmarks, came to speak about this important work. During Showcase Week, they will share all the knowledge they’ve gained through their research with our community.

Fifth and Sixth Grade

Fifth and Sixth grade students spent the morning at Portland’s Gulf of Maine Research Center to learn more about climate change and the Gulf of Maine. They learned how scientists use certain indicators to learn about even a slight change in temperature, like the presence of black sea bass. Students broke up into groups and visited learning stations to collect data and then organized that data so that they could interpret it and make conclusions. They then were able to share their work with Marissa, a marine biologist, to see how closely their findings compared with hers. Each research group used information taken from their digital field notebooks to make a video. These videos will be shared with students and families at home so that students can share and reflect their study.

Seventh and Eighth Grade

Seventh and eighth grade students climbed White Horse Ledge in North Conway, NH.

A note from Fitz: “In order to help us recognize and face challenges in our lives the 7/8 embarked upon a difficult climb to the top of White Horse Ledge in North Conway. The weather worked against us as we blazed our way forward. In the end we all sumitted together, enjoyed each others' company and the views for lunch. Afterward we stumbled, at times literally, back down the trail. We all left in high spirits, confident that we can face the challenges and adventures ahead.”

It was a wonderful day at Breakwater - full of so many of the elements we love and thrive on here: Learning outdoors, multi age discovery, overcoming challenges and taking risks, inquiry based learning and research, and care and compassion for the people you are growing and learning with. It’s good to be a Breakwater Kid!