There is always something happening at Pono! Read about our field trips, visiting teachers, classes, and special events.


Come and Follow Me

I’m in the mood for gardening, mosaics and face painting… hey, how about you?

This week on Monday, aka “Poppy Day,” Poppy showed the children how to take a big aloe plant and replant smaller sections of it into a new home. Poppy demonstrated how to carefully lift the bigger plant out of its pot while preserving the roots. Each Pono friend then chose some leaves to put into a glass container they had filled with pebbles and soil. They added more soil and more pebbles and in some cases, even molted skin from our corn snake Brian Greene. Voilà, one plant becomes many! The children made their glass pots bright and cheerful with colored paper they decorated with their names and other designs. Through the windows, icy white Marcus Garvey Park reminded us it’s still winter, but the lively green plants on our windowsill made us feel like springtime.


Later that day, Poppy invited all of the Pono friends to watch a beautiful slideshow about the ancient art of mosaics. From antique to modern, far away to NYC’s own subway stations, in all sizes, colors and shapes (even a dress at an Alexander McQueen fashion show!), the kids looked at pictures to inspire their own creations. The children then made more tiles, this time using a baker’s tool to section the clay into pieces. We can’t wait to see what’s next!


Tuesday, we learned that even fairies get sick! We missed Samantha the Fairy but enjoyed an impromptu face painting session with Heather. The children sketched their ideas, and Heather then applied their designs to their cheek or hand. Each design was gorgeous and colorful, not to mention inspired. The children drew inspiration from a variety of sources, including nature, Central Park, a beloved teddy bear, and the emblem of the imaginary country Manizao. Takota drew clouds full of rain on top of trees on a hill. Every so often Evan breezed by and weighed in about the paint colors. Heather felt charmed by each living canvas and looks forward to the next time we can face paint!


Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

It’s… a girl! And another girl! And a boy! And maybe another girl! Well, they’re too small to tell their genders, but there’s one thing we do know: congratulations are in order to the (growing) family of gerbils. A great reminder that despite the big Pono friends’ best efforts to keep the gerbil population manageable, life wants to live!

In other news, this week’s Pono-staffed classes were the best kind of classes. They had so much variety and were full of play, too.

Kate led a rousing game of Spanish Bingo with the older kids. Match the tile with the picture on your game board and learn to identify and pronounce Spanish words. El gato, anyone?

With the littlest Pono friends, Kate made Spanish the focus too. The children learned farm animal sounds while reading a book about Clifford. After the story, the kids painted wooden animals and practiced the names of the animals and their sounds in Spanish. Kate instructed two such well-crafted lessons with patience and loads of encouragement.

Upstairs, Mufeeda taught all the Pono friends how to make gluten-free (henceforth known as GF) Blondies. The older children took turns writing down the fractions on a dry erase board to see how theoretical numbers turn into real life measurements. The littlest friends got to pour and mix their own batch, too. Mufeeda skillfully maneuvered through yet another cooking class, and even made the recipe extra healthful by including chickpeas.

Dr. A came this week with awesome lessons about the natural world. She brought her collection of glass-encased animals to share with the littlest friends. The kids studied them earnestly, separating them into ones that fly and ones that walk. When they got to the millipede and Dr. A pointed out how many legs it has, Lila was moved to take off her socks and count her own toes.

The older children studied DNA earlier this term and this week’s class explored questions they had recently asked Dr. A. In this lesson, they studied pictures of different animal skulls on Dr. A’s computer and talked about Charles Darwin and his theory of natural selection. The children practiced walking around the room like different primates while everyone volunteered ideas as to why we don’t use our knuckles to help us walk. The conversation turned to the pelvis, or what Julietta termed our “inder” bones, the bones that hold up our inderwear. Dr. A left cool skeletal diagrams for the kids to look at whenever they feel inspired. As an aside, if you have never seen Dr. A teach, the kids often start the lesson in a semi-circle a few feet around her but by the end, they are practically in her lap because she is so engaging and spontaneous and receptive to them.

Speaking of Julietta, the kids were once again invited to literacy and one-on-one time to explore reading and writing, all taught using clever and highly individualized techniques. Julietta’s steady presence provides the perfect setting for learning for each and every Pono friend.  

This week’s student-led class was inspired by Towa’s interest in kinetic art. The kids spent time brainstorming the best way to approach these projects. Should they work together or individually? Maysaa helped guide everyone through the possibilities. Some of the kids worked on a kinetic structure together and others worked alone. The room was alive with inventions! Pono friends used all of the materials they were provided to create their homage to Rube Goldberg: ramps, marbles, tracks and all kinds of support structures. The kids will take what they’ve learned into this coming week’s second venture into kinetic art.


Here We Go, Pono, Here We Go…

Wednesday, we hopped on the subway and went to 23rd street to visit MoMath, aka the Museum of Mathematics. After 1pm when all of the other school groups had to leave, the downstairs of the museum transformed into the “Pono Rec Room.” Two floors of dozens of interactive exhibits kept all of the Pono friends interested and engrossed for hours. This is the museum that lifts math to the level of art. The children created “human trees” by projecting their images onto a screen, played with logic puzzles and decoded messages on a Hagelin M-209 cipher machine. They also joined the “Robot Swarm” by strapping on backpacks programmed to interact with brightly lit robots underneath their feet. There was even a square-wheeled tricycle to take for a spin!

Afterwards, we walked through Madison Square Park to look at artist Paula Hayes’ “Gazing Globes,” a striking exhibit of 18 crystal balls filled with ephemera such as electronic parts, glass structures and fairy dust. Someone said they looked like “futuristic cities.” Most all of the kids noted that “Frozen” must have inspired the artist.


It’s Showtime…

This week’s behind the scenes quote comes from one of the Pono players, Sulaf:

“My friend Dinna, who is a fashion designer, and Poppy, who is our art teacher and a Pono parent, helped us prepare for the show. I helped Dinna make the costumes. My friends helped too. With Poppy, we had a conversation about scenery. She drew pictures of what she had imagined the scenes could look like. We looked at the sketches Poppy had drawn and we talked about the materials we were going to use. We gave her suggestions about the scenes. Most of the props came from our homes or were at Pono. While Dinna was sewing the costumes, Poppy was very busy combining materials to make what was on the sketches. At the end of the day, we tried on the costumes and they fit perfectly!

There were a lot of challenges in putting "When Times Get Tough" together, but I know that if you believe in yourself anything you want can happen, and anything is possible.”


Well said, Sulaf.


 Have a great week, everybody.