Aspen Elementary students work together to create a class garden.

At Aspen Elementary, 2nd/3rd grade teacher Kathi Byington created a project based learning science unit that encourages her students to work together while enhancing the school environment. 

Here, Ms. Byington receives her grant. Since the project will cost more than the amount of grant, her students will raise extra money through their ongoing recycling project.

As a catalyst to begin the project this fall, Ms. Byington will take her students on a field trip to the Conejo Valley Botanical Garden. As the garden nears completion next spring, the class will visit the McGrath Family Organic Farm where they will meet master gardeners.

To begin, the students have displayed their ideas and design on campus.

Some beautiful elements are already in place!

Ms. Byington wrote: “I believe that students must become actively involved in their learning to make connections from their own personal lives to this learning, thus creating students who are capable of higher level critical thinking, who want to find multiple solutions to a problem, and who can articulate their ideas to an audience.”

Posted in Elementary Schools, Field trips, Science | Tagged

Highlights of 2012-2013: The Gold Rush Comes to Maple & Aspen Elementary Schools

At Aspen Elementary, 4th grade teacher Lori Brown brought the El Camino Real Naturalists’ living history program, “Gold Rush Days” to her students.

Ms. Brown describes the activities:

“Program highlights included: Storytelling, guitar pickin and harmonica huffin’ by authentically costumed historical interpreters, a look at how the journey to California was made and the hardships travelers faced along the way, a comparison of the lives and fortunes of gold miners and merchants, a visit to the general store and gold miners’ camp, & hands-on activities demonstrating a typical gold miner’s day.”

More gold rush activities happened at Maple!  4th Grade teacher Patricia VanOmmeren was awarded a grant to bring the on-site filed”Gold Rush Day” field trip to her students as well.


Ms. VanOmmeren says:

“‘Gold Rush’ on site at Maple provided 64 students including our special education population with ‘hands on’ experiences relating to the gold rush times, culminating with panning for gold.”

Below, students pan for gold, hang clothes to dry, enjoy storytelling, and write letters using quill pens & ink.

Posted in Elementary Schools, Field trips, History/Social Science | Tagged ,

Highlights of 2012-2013: Anacapa Island Trip

At Aspen Elementary, 3rd grade teachers Emily Kneller, Diane Barrett, & Kathi Byington took their 55 students on a very special field trip.

This was made possible by a double grant funded by our generous donors Harvey & Joanie Prince.

Ms. Barrett describes the experience:

“It took us one hour and fifteen minutes to arrive at the dock on Anacapa Island. Let me just tell you I had many students that had never been on a boat before. They thought the boat ride was awesome. My students were wide eyed, excited, and taking it all in; this was quite a sight… Our tour lasted all day. We learned about the life cycle of a sea gull. We saw how both the mom and dad take care of their young. We saw many eggs, and many chicks just born… We were shown different native plants to the island. Our tour guide also told us how the gulls go to Anacapa Island to lay their eggs because they have no predators. We hiked the island and were given many facts about the Chumash Native Americans.  We learned about light houses and what their function is. My third graders were shown how to view and respect nature. After our program was finished we loaded on to the boat and came back to Ventura Harbor. The trip back was beautiful. The Island was spectacular and an adventure  my third graders and I will never forget.”

“Thank you for helping us go on such a special, once in a lifetime trip.” – 3rd grade Teacher Diane Barrett

Posted in Donors, Elementary Schools, Field trips, History/Social Science, Science | Tagged

A Look Back: Projects funded by Cash 4 Conejo Classrooms – Elementary Schools (part 2)

At Aspen Elementary, K/1 teacher Shannon VanWagner used her grant to purchase “Explode the Code” phonics program.

Ms. VanWagner reports:

“…thank you so much for the grant to buy the Explode the Code program… [it] has been a success as it allows me to tailor my instruction to fit the individual needs of my learners. Also, now that I have the teacher editions, there was a phonemic awareness component that is oral for my students that I was not able to offer prior to receiving the grant.”


Aspen elementary 5th grade teacher Amanda Haver bought materials for 38 science experiments!

Ms. Haver’s students worked in pairs to conduct their experiments.  She explains:

“76 students were affected by these science experiments. They were able to ask a scientific question, make a hypothesis, plan a procedure with controlled variables, conduct the experiment(s), record results, draw conclusions, and present their findings to the class.”

“Thank you so much for this wonderful science opportunity!! My students had a blast creating their own experiments, following through with them, learning from successes as well as mistakes, and presenting their results to their classmates!”



It was an African Safari Adventure for Aspen elementary 1st graders when teachers Christy Button & Tammy Farhit took their students on a field trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo!

Ms. Button & Ms. Farhit sent this cute photo montage along with their description:

“Our students had a “growling” good time with all of our activities…our lil’ ‘Firsties’ wore ear-to-ear grins (along with their animal t-shirts) as we wrapped up our unit with an adventure like no other to the zoo!”

“Asante! “ (Thank You, in Swahili) – Aspen 1st graders

Posted in Classroom Projects, Elementary Schools, History/Social Science, Reading/Literature, Science | Tagged

Aspen third graders will go to Anacapa Island in the spring, with the help of grant money and our generous donors!

Aspen third graders pictured with their teachers Diane Barrett, Emily Kneller and Kathi Byington, , say THANK YOU to Cash 4 Conejo Classrooms and ESPECIALLY to donors Harvey & Joanie Prince (center) who funded this exciting grant.

Starting this fall all 3 classes have been busy with fund raising activities such as snack sales and restaurant nights to earn money for their Anacapa adventure.  Thanks to donors Harvey & Joanie Prince this trip will become a reality!  They look forward to a boat trip, docent guided hike, re-planting of native plants, and learning about the ecosystem and native American heritage of this area.

Posted in Donors, Elementary Schools, Grant Winners, Science | Tagged