To celebrate a fun and successful first semester of our Halford program this year, the Big and Little Sisters went ice skating at Winter Lodge. For many Little Sisters, this was their first time ice skating and the Big Sisters loved teaching them! After many laps around the rink, we enjoyed pizza and hot chocolate around the fire. In order to celebrate the holidays, the Big Sisters gave their Little Sisters a goody bag with one of their favorite books, candy, snap bracelets, and some holiday themed school supplies. Each Big and Little Sister pair also exchanged holiday cards with each other, sharing some of their favorite activities from first semester and looking forward to more time together second semester.
Our science activity of 12/3 was creating a candy model of DNA. We used different colored gummy bears and toothpicks to represent the base pairs and used redivided to represent the sugar phosphate backbone. The girls had a lot of fun learning about why DNA is important and how to visually represent a scientific concept. For the second half of the session, we talked about bullying and what it means to be a bystander, up-stander, etc. The girls made bullying scenario skits in response to prompts we gave them. After performing the skits, we all discussed the different ways to deal with bullying.
This session was right before Thanksgiving, so we started out by discussing what we’re grateful for. Family, friends, and food were some common themes! Next, we began reflecting on the meaning of identity, and, more specifically, who we are and what matters to us. We explored these concepts through individual identity maps. The science activity focused on “oobleck,” a substance known as a “non-Newtonian fluid” because it’s hard to categorize as a solid, liquid, or gas. We followed up with a discussion about those phases of matter and other examples of non-Newtonian fluids (ketchup, quicksand, etc.) At the end of the session, we sat in a circle and participated in a confidence-building activity. Students in the middle of the circle were given prompts -- “Tap someone who is adventurous,” for example -- and tapped the heads of people who they felt exemplified that trait. At the end of the activity, the students described feeling pleasantly surprised by the qualities their peers saw in them.
During our third Halford session, the 4th grade sisters practiced improving their confidence while public speaking through a fun activity. Each 4th grader was given a random trinket, something like a small coin purse or a stuffed animal. They had to give a speech to the other Little and Big Sisters about why they loved the item more than anything, even though they didn’t necessarily actually feel that way. The little sisters then went around and gave feedback and constructive criticism on their presentation skills, like eye contact, excessive movement, and vocalization. The 5th grade Little Sisters analyzed magazine advertisements and deciphered how women are portrayed in the media. Each 5th grade sister received an advertisement and, along with their big sister, filled out a handout that asked them to describe the piece they had received and whether its portrayal of women was positive or negative. If negative, they were asked to draw a new advertisement that would depict women in a more empowering way. For our science activity, all the Little and Big Sisters were asked to build a structure that would contain the egg and make sure it didn’t crack when being dropped off the balcony. They had to make the structure from only cotton balls, newspaper, foam cups, and tape.
On Saturday, November 5th, the fourth graders and their big sisters practiced public speaking through fun activities. We began by going over the principles of public speaking: standing tall and confident, staying still, eye contact, and projecting your voice. For the first activity, each fourth grader picked a random object from a bag and was asked to go to the front of the room and speak about the object for 45 seconds. While they were speaking, they were recorded. After each girl spoke for the first time, they each watched the recording of themselves, and had to say one thing they did well and one thing they wanted to improve on. For the second round, we had the girls pick a random question and answer the question for 45 seconds. We emphasized that they try their hardest to work on whatever they thought they needed to after watching their recording. Afterwards, we had the audience comment on things each girl did well. We noticed significant improvement from each girl, and their confidence levels seemed much higher the second time through.
On October 8th, the Halford Big and Little Sisters met at Castilleja for the first Science Saturday of the year. The day begun with an introduction activity where the 4th and 5th-grade girls were given a fun fact about their Big Sister. Then, the Little Sisters used said fact to determine who their 10th, 11th or 12th-grade buddy was. Upon finishing this task, the newly-formed duos created bright and colorful name tags for one another using a wide array of art supplies. After concluding this activity, the group conducted an experiment that shed light on the concept of atoms and the process of dissolving. This was done through the use of milk, three drops of food coloring, and a small splash of dish soap. Once these science endeavors came to an end, the Little and Big Sisters established norms for the year and conducted interviews. For the grand finale, each student presented the findings of their interview to a small audience. Overall, the Little and Big Sisters enjoyed the days' activities and are excited for their next encounter!
This Wednesday the seniors took a break from studying for APs to spend some time with the little sisters at Castillega. It was an extra special meeting as Ms. Halford came to visit! The girls were so excited to meet the person the program was named after and to share some of their favorite aspects of being a part of Halford. Next, some of the senior sisters led a lesson on confrontation, striking a balance of teaching when to avoid it, and when you need to stand up for yourself. We broke the sisters up into different groups and each focused on creating a skit about a specific strategy for dealing with confrontation. Then, we all came together to perform our masterpieces. Hopefully, the girls left Castillega feeling more confident not only in themselves, but also in how to handle various conflicts.
This Saturday, as our senior sisters began to make final decisions about college, we thought it would be fun to head over to Stanford and teach the little sisters a little bit about what universities are all about. After breaking into groups, we started a scavenger hunt. Little sisters dug deep to find the courage to go up to Stanford students and ask about daily life and various traditions at the school. Some questions were so tricky that not even all the Stanford students could answer (who knew Stanford didn’t have a mascot?). After taking time to explore campus, we all regrouped at Fraiche to share what we had learned. All in all, it was a nice day in the sun filled with laughs, trivia, and some frozen yogurt fun!
This week, to mix things up a bit, the sisters all met on the Castilleja campus. Down in the Bourne Lab, big sisters helped clear up the mysterious ways of the brain. Then, we split into groups to write iPad books on everything we had been taught. From learning about the cerebellum to the spinal cord, we all learned something new. Finally, we had a chance to practice our public speaking skills as we showed our new books to the entire group. With both Halford sisters and Castilleja’s STEMx club present, it was quite a crowd. We had so much fun and who knows, maybe there’s a new neuroscientist in our midst!
Months and months of preparation and excitement finally came together in the best Castilleja arts show yet! Arts with a Heart: The Future’s So Bright was a success by any standards. Halford sisters big and small put on three stellar sold-out performances. Decked out in colorful costumes, the girls danced and sang beneath bright stage lights. Each girl inspired the audience and everybody’s hard work helped to raise crucial funds for Building Futures Now. With these donations this organization will continue to thrive, providing opportunities for these girls and making the futures truly bright.
Visit artswithaheart.org for more information about the show.