top of page

Upon Reflection: Literacy, Arts and ESS
November 2021

Greetings, ESS Families! Welcome to a new month of resources to enjoy reading and the arts together as a family as we seek to build a more inclusive community and promote creative expression. In this edition, we recognize Native American Heritage Month and the holiday of Diwali, celebrated to welcome the lunar new year by Hindu, Sikh, and Jain people around the world.

Remember: Your child can take part this month in Reflections, an exciting competition sponsored at the local, county, state, and national level through PTA, encouraging more than 300,000 kids each year to express their creativity, with the potential to win prizes and recognition. Read more below in our second edition of Upon Reflection: Literacy, Arts and ESS.  



This year, the student-selected theme for Reflections is: I Will Change the World By… . Students are encouraged to create submissions of original art responding to the theme in one or all of six genres: Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography, and Visual Arts. There are no limits regarding submissions by genre. The new ESS deadline for submission is Monday, November 29, and all submissions, including visual art work, must be e-mailed  to reflections@esspta.orgSubmissions from ESS in each genre will be selected to advance to the county level, and from there, select works will advance to the state and then national levels. Winners are recognized with prize monies and opportunities to participate in travelling exhibitions, as well as the distinction of being in a juried competition. ESS judges will be drawn from the local artistic and literary community and announced later this month, and work by all participants will be exhibited by ESS online.

We can’t wait to experience your creativity, Pandas! Download application form, explore submissions by last year’s awardees, and watch a video to learn more


Questions? E-mail our Reflections Chairperson, Mark Sylvester, at




November is Native American Heritage Month. The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. We recommend the following books to celebrate our indigenous people.  


Kunu’s Basket

by Lee DeCora Francis (Author), Susan Drucker (Illustrator)


We Are Water Protectors

by Carol Lindstrom

November is also a month in which millions of people celebrate Diwali, a festival of lights (take a look). We recommend the following books to learn more about this holiday.


Amma, Tell Me About Diwali!

by Bhakti Mathur (Author) and Maulshree Somani (Illustrator)


Lights for Gita

by Rachna Gilmore (Author) and Alice Priestley (Illustrator)

Take a look at this month’s Reading Benchmark topics and essential questions, with thanks as always to our Ms. Pace, ESS’s Reading Specialist, and Ms. Madden, ESS’s Media Specialist.

Unit 2: Character

Unit 3: Life Science

Essential Questions:

K-How are characters different?

1st-How do we learn about characters?

2nd-What can we learn when we face problems?

3rd-How do our actions influence our lives?

4th-How do we reveal ourselves to others?

5th-Why do we value certain qualities in people?

Recommended Books for Unit 2

K - Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

1 - Exclamation Mark! By Amy Krouse Rosenthal 

2 - King for a day by Rukhsana Khan 

3 - The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S. K. Ali

4 - American as paneer pie by Supriya Kelkar

5 - Look both ways: a tale told in ten blocks by Jason Reynolds

Essential Questions:

K-Why do living things have different needs?

1-Why do living things change?

2-How do living things get what they need to survive?

3-How do living things adapt to change?

4-How do we respond to nature?

5-How do we decide which resources we should develop?

Recommended Books for Unit 3

K - Flight of the honey bee by Raymond Huber

1 - We planted a tree by Diane Muldrow 

2 - Over and under the pond by Kate Messner 

3 - What if you had animal teeth? By Sandra Markle

4 - Rachel Carson and her book that changed the world by Laurie Lawlor

5 - I am farmer: growing an environmental movement in Cameroon by Elizabeth Zunon

Plus, Literacy & Arts Committee Parents’ recommend a special book to consider as we move into a season of gratitude:


Last Stop on Market Street, Words by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson, Winner of the Newbery Medal, A Caldecott Honor Book, A Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book


Want more suggestions for children’s books that feature diverse characters? Follow @theconsciouskid and @brownbookshelfteam on social media platforms, and, and expand your child’s lens! (And, @diversespines is great for parents, too!)

And, take advantage of our local Montgomery County libraries, which carry these titles and more. Get your free library card anytime!



We acknowledge that East Silver Spring Elementary School occupies the land of the Piscataway, Nacotchtank, and Anacostan peoples, who have stewarded this land for generations. In honor of Native American Heritage Month, explore cultural traditions through the lens of Native artists, language, and artistry.



Watch and learn about Native American dance, accompanied by traditional Native American singing and music-making from the Kennedy Center’s Milliennium Stage. This performance by the Native Pride Dancers features artists and educators who represent many different tribes from across our land.


Who was Maria Tallchief?

Born in Oklahoma and a member of the Osage tribe, Maria Tallchief is remembered as one of America’s most celebrated prima ballerinas -- “At the height of her career she was considered to be the most technically brilliant ballerina the US had ever produced.” (The Guardian). She was a muse of (and later married to) the great choreographer George Balanchine. Learn more about her life and hear Ms. Tallchief -- who broke boundaries for Native Americans in the world of dance and the performing arts -- talk about her artistry and watch her in one of her signature roles in Stravinsky’s Firebird.



Discover the gifts of Carlos Nakai, in a selection of works for Native American Flute. Mr. Nakai is a Native American of Navajo-Ute heritage and works to preserve and share his Native American heritage through his music-making. His work has been honored with 11 GRAMMY nominations, including recognition for collaborations that blend genres and musical traditions. The Library of Congress has more than 30 of his recordings preserved in the American Folklife Center.

Did you know that 2019 was the International Year of Indigenous Languages, a United Nations observance in 2019 that aimed to raise awareness of the consequences of the endangerment of Indigenous languages across the world, with an aim to establish a link between language, development, peace, and reconciliation. Enjoy this beautiful rendition of The Beatles’ Blackbird sung in Mi'kmaq, the native language of then-high schooler Emma Stevens, who lives in Eskasoni, Cape Breton, Canada.



We are so lucky that the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian is right here in Washington -- and it is always free to visit, Wed - Sun from 10 am - 5:30 pm! Or you can peruse the rich collections online from your own home 


This month, we also invite you to explore some of the resources that they have created to share Native American traditions for Giving Thanks and to present a more accurate history of the First Thanksgiving, that incorporates Native American perspectives.

bottom of page