Little Gardeners, a creative after school program

Calling all young creatives!

We are excited to offer a new after school program called Little Gardeners.  Little Gardeners spans over the course of January for four fun-filled classes of exploring and creating nature-inspired artwork.  Tessa’s young gardeners and artists will learn about the life of a plant and have the unique opportunity to create two ceramic pieces.  Here’s what each day will look like:

Week 1: Leaves, Textures, and Clay

Students will use natural objects while learning how to imprint leaves directly onto clay surfaces.  The clay slabs that we imprint onto will then become small plates and trays for each student to take home at the end of the program. 

Week 2:  Pinch Pots

On our second class we will learn a new ceramic technique to make small pots that will later become planters.  After the pots have been constructed students can then use different natural materials to create imprints and designs on the clay surface. 

Week 3: Adding Color

On our third class we will add some color by painting our ceramic projects from the previous classes.  The rest of the class will be spent preparing for what is to come in our final class: growing a plant!

Week 4: Sowing the Seed

On the last day of the program each student will get all of their finished ceramic work and we will plant a seed in the pinch pot.  We will then learn about how to take care of the seed and help it grow into a strong and healthy plant. Students can then bring both projects home that day.

What Else You Should Know

The Little Gardeners program is a very unique opportunity for your child to engage in a new artmaking processes and create quality ceramic pieces that will be fired at an off-site ceramic studio.  All materials are included in the fee and all pieces created are made with non-toxic glazes and are food safe.    

Register here.

Hour of Code

The Hour of Code is a global movement with students participating in 180 different
countries.  The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education
Week. The 2019 Computer Science Education Week will be, but you can host an Hour of
Code all year-round. The purpose of the ‘hour of code’ is to get students to learn about
computer science for one hour.
This week Tessa students participated in the “Hour of Code” it was a great time where all our
students in each classroom were introduced to this new beginning concept of coding
through games, a new “window of learning” in which they can explore (movement, direction,
and location) with fun interactive (and hands-on) age appropriate activities.
What is coding? Coding (or programming) is the basic language of the digital age. It involves
the process of creating step-by-step the instructions a computer understands and needs in
order for its programs to work. Coding gives children the ability to understand how to “tinker”
and shape their digital world.

Early coding or precoding, offers children experiences that integrate communication,
thinking, problem solving and opportunities for interaction and collaborative learning are 21st
century skills that are valuable for children’s future and success in our digital world. Also, they
are aligned with our school’s mission.

Communication: through the precoding activities children are involved in directional
language, such as up and down, backward and forward, left and right.
Thinking: Coding helps children develop new ways of thinking and takes the fear of
making mistakes or failing. 
Problem Solving: Students can consider multiple paths to get to a solution and
choose the most efficient strategy. It teaches persistency in finding a way to solve
your problems. In these activities, planning ahead is the key to success.
Collaborative learning: children understand the value of working with others and the
importance to contribute with their thoughts and bring support to others and learn

Children became confident with early coding and each classroom used it in different ways to
complement other learning opportunities in the preschool classroom.
Coding games through the stories: Teacher used children’s favorite story and read-
aloud in the class as the base for coding games. This helps children develop
vocabulary and a greater comprehension of texts.
Robot Mouse: The mouse comes with different attachments that move it in different
directions.  Children can attach the different segments together to create a unique
path for the mouse to move and find the cheese.
Unplugged coding activities: Teachers introduced coding without using a computer.
They created a fun printable game that used the same concept of directional cards,
one per space on the grid, to move the pirate to his treasure; the fish to the lake; the
boy to his house and the octopus to his friend the dolphin.
Apps: Children were exposed with a limit of time to “Code Kart” and “Coding Safari”

“Hour of Coding” was a great experience for teachers and students and not only helps
improve their mathematics but also gives them valuable skills in life.

In this link you can find a variety of fun activities to do at home.

Lights on Our After-School Program

After-School Program at Tessa 

Tessa strongly believes that providing an effective after-school program to our students is to give them the chance to develop new skills and confidence. Fortunately, Tessa parents have a wide range of creative activities when it comes to choosing high-quality after-school activities for their children. As of today, more than twelve after-school activities, ranging in age from Pre-K through Grade 8, are available in various areas including language, music, art, theater and sports. Out of all of them, after-school language classes in French, Mandarin and Spanish are the pioneer programs at Tessa. The goal is to give all children a meaningful foundation in the language through games, songs, art and more. This entire program is led by dedicated teachers who understand the necessity to teach from an early age and strive to provide the best education. 

Here are some highlights for the January – April term:

Woodworking – Tuesdays, 4:00 – 5:00

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The Woodshop afterschool program will focus on learning the use of manual woodworking tools such as sanding blocks, clamps, hammers, screw drivers, small saws, manual drills to build projects out of wood. Students will plan, measure and build their projects while learning concepts in math, geometry, engineering and physics. Each student will learn the safe use of hand tools, measuring and level aids, woodworking techniques as well as wood protection and the use of natural finishes. Handling real tools increase fine and gross motor skills, hand eye coordination and spacial reasoning.

This year we will concentrate on a curriculum of engineering projects such as pulleys, levers, cranes, wheels and axles and other projects with moving functional parts. Students will build each project during a course of a few weeks and take them home when finished. Each semester students will bring home 4 to 5 finished projects.

Little Gardeners and Artists – Wednesdays, 3:30 – 4:30 pm – January only

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Join us for 4 fun weeks of STEAM activities where we will learn about the life of a plant while using our creativity to make nature-inspired artwork. Activities involve artwork with leaf impressions and making our own ceramic pinch pots that we will grow our own plants from. Fee includes materials and firings.

TessaPrep – Russian – Thursdays (registration will be available soon)

If you have already enrolled your child in Tessa after-school program then you made the right decision, if not we are waiting for you! Enroll now. 

What Are the Origins of After-School?

To understand where the after-school program comes from, it is necessary to go back to several social and economic events throughout history.  First of all, the presence of more and more women in the workforce, especially during the World War II had a considerable impact. Indeed, as women became the main source of labor, they had no other choice than leaving their children unsupervised after school hours. Then when the child labor law was enacted, forbiting child hiring for all factories, children got more free time without parents. With the economic development of the United States, more and more urban areas were built, so children had to play often out in the streets which led to health and safety concerns. Therefore, after-school programs were presented as a way to minimize exposure to such negatives influences and start receiving many sources of funding. Nowadays, after-school program has evolved and is no more a matter of safety but a booster of academic performance for the children of working parents.

Today more than 10 million children in the US so nearly 1 in 4 families currently has a child enrolled in an after-school program.

The Benefits of After-School Programs

Parents across the United States agree: after-school programs are vital to a child’s success. 

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Effective after-school programs can bring a wide range of benefits to youth, families and communities. They can boost academic performance, reduce risky behaviors, promote physical health, and provide a safe, structured environment for the children of working parents.

Thanks to these programs, children can develop strong social skills, they get the chance to know different kids than those they see at school so the program can give them a chance to connect with familiar kids in a different environment and so avoid social issues.

These programs can also improve classroom behavior, school attendance, and can lead to higher graduation rates thanks to teamwork, leadership and critical thinking skills learned during the program.

After-school programs can also play an important role in encouraging physical activity and good dietary habits. After-school sports will additionally help your kid to develop their competitive spirit as well as their focus, stress management, and mindfulness. 

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Thanksgiving at Tessa

At Tessa International School, we love celebrating holidays! Thanksgiving is one of our favorites. Every class is doing this differently, but basically the idea is to give thanks to those who have helped us throughout the year.  This can be clearly seen in Ms. Pooja’s and Ms. Patricia’s class:

What does Thanksgiving Day celebrate?

When it comes to Thanksgiving, there are legends and there are realities. Though the truth of the original meeting is far from what we idealize, today, Thanksgiving is all about putting aside our differences and giving thanks. Though not a religious holiday, some families choose to commemorate thanking God for the harvest. It is often a day to celebrate the family.

When is Thanksgiving celebrated?

In the United States Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday in November. In Canada it occurs on the second Monday of October.

What do people do to celebrate?

The day is a national federal holiday in the United States. Most people have the day off as well as the Friday following, making a long weekend for travel and holiday.

The way most people celebrate this day is by getting together with their families and having a large meal. Many people travel all over the country for large family gatherings on this day.

Many cities have large parades on Thanksgiving Day. Perhaps the largest and most famous parade is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. 

Another popular way to spend the day is watching NFL football. There are generally a number of football games on even though it is Thursday. The Detroit Lions are a traditional team that plays a game nearly every Thanksgiving.

Traditional Food

The traditional food for the Thanksgiving meal includes a turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, vegetables, and pumpkin pie.

Fun Facts About Thanksgiving

  • Each year a live turkey is presented to the President of the United States who then “pardons” the turkey and it gets to live out its life on a farm.
  • Around 46 million turkeys were eaten in the US on Thanksgiving in 2010. That’s around one fifth of all the turkeys eaten for the entire year.
  • Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird instead of the bald eagle.
  • Around 88 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving.
  • The Pilgrims sailed to America from Great Britain on a ship called the Mayflower.
  • The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday. It is the biggest shopping day of the year.
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What does an International Education truly mean?

From November 18th to November 22nd, schools across the United States will celebrate the International Education Week. This upcoming event had us reflect upon our connection to this and how we try to promote cultural and language exchange.

What is the International Education Week?

Let’s start with a bit of background. The International Education Week is an initiative from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, created to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. It is an annual celebration of cultural diversity and international opportunities.

International Education at Tessa

A truly international education is a combination of various factors. Here at Tessa we focus on three main criteria to prepare our students to become bilingual, adaptable and active citizens: Bilingualism, Interculturalism and Diversity.


Bilingualism is maybe the first element educating our students towards a better understanding of our globalized world. Several studies and researches indicate that bilingualism has many benefits on the brain and opens unique life opportunities.


The importance of intercultural communication and understanding is often underestimated. We tend to assume human beings behave similarly in given situations. The reality is that depending on our social background, family and country, we all have different customs, standards, social mores, and even thought patterns.

At Tessa, Interculturalism is at the heart of our curriculum, and we believe immersing our students in not only one but several different cultures is a key factor in their development. At Tessa, children are introduced to other languages and cultures as soon as 2 years old. Such an exposure enhances their cultural awareness; they quickly become bilingual and culturally adaptable.


What makes a cultural immersion possible at Tessa, is the amazing diversity among our team and families. It is a big part of our identity as a school, as well as a community and we take much pride in it.

Teachers get to share their country of origin traditions during celebrations or before holidays. We also love to welcome parents at school; they explain their own traditions to the students, how they celebrate it at home and what it means to their family. With its parade and various booths, our United Nations Day celebration was as well a mean to learn from each other.

We recently started mapping that diversity among our community and it simply looks amazing!

We believe that giving your children the gift of an international education will benefit all of us as they will have a lot to offer growing up.

Learning and Teaching at Tessa is a celebration

Learning and Teaching at Tessa is a celebration.

At Tessa, we celebrate each of our transdisciplinary themes.  It is a celebration to the Learning and Teaching of approaches to learning, inquiry, concepts, language and the learner. 

The transdisciplinary model inherently promotes student agency. It encourages the integration of many ways of knowing, and perspectives from all members of the learning community, to make sense of a world that has become “too big to know.”

Our transdisciplinary themes or units last for 8 to 9 weeks. Last Friday, November 1, we had our first End of Unit Celebration on “Who We Are” unit. Parents are invited to come and see the final projects of their child. The celebration is in respective classrooms and could be presented in a performance or documentation of what the student learned throughout the exploration of the central idea, lines of inquiries and key concepts. 

In each unit, teachers at Tessa incorporate the importance of approaches to learning skills. These are a set of skills that we use when we are involved in learning. They come grouped into five sets: Thinking, Social, Self-Management, Research and Communication skills. They naturally have growth mindset occurring within them, since they cover many different behaviors, self-control as well as thinking and communication strategies. 

In other words, the Learning and Teaching celebration invites the learning community and the learner to present a summative assessment of the essential skills, concepts of inquiry to show the progression of sub-skills. Some examples of sub-skills such as critical, creative thinking, listening, speaking, emotional intelligence and mindfulness. In each transdisciplinary theme, the learner gets to improve in all these skills in the wholeness of Learning and Teaching.  

PSPE at Tessa, a “Whole Child” education

Greetings from the land of PSPE & Yoga. I first want to state that this year has unfolded as a challenging yet fulfilling constant state of engagement.  Students are working in tandem with me to create consistent routines while building their hand/eye coordination, explore capabilities in knowing their bodies and what they are capable of, learning new content each class, threading consistent movement with the new and more difficult body exploration, connecting, and evolving daily. 
As an educator, the IB/PYP approach to movement and strengthening for students at every grade level is both a breath of fresh air and fascinating. Personal, Social & Physical Education (PSPE) spans the scope of what I have personally described as  “Whole Child” education. The breadth, scope & connection in terms of academic enrichment, the emotional child, the social environment provides both the educator (myslef) as well as the student (your precious child) a safe space to reach beyond limitation.

Though I work in movement with the students, there is a commitment to folding academic inquiry and grade level curriculum into our weekly practice. This perspective (from a physical education standpoint) is cutting edge, supportive, challenging and rewarding for creative minds.  It feels like a perfect fit for me here at Tessa as it is both conducive to my passion and wildly exciting for me personally.  
I am always willing to speak with parents about student challenges, gifts and growth throughout the year.  I wholeheartedly belive in this approach to teaching and learning.  Thank you for the opportunity to teach, learn and adapt to the needs of the “whole child” as the PSPE/Yoga teacher.

Tessa Goes Green

Though we all may come from different neighborhoods, cities, and even countries, there is one place that all of us call “home” – Earth! Now more than ever, citizens from around the world have been paying extra attention to taking care of our planet and reducing their carbon footprint. Here at Tessa, we are proud to have joined the cause. 

Tessa’s Efforts for a Cleaner Earth

The Tessa Team is thrilled to announce that we have implemented a recycling program for our students! This program allows students in each classroom to learn firsthand both the proper way to recycle and how recycling benefits the planet. 

If you take a look into our classrooms, you will now see a few different waste bins for different purposes. Our students are being taught to distribute their waste into these bins according to material (paper, plastic, aluminum, glass, compostable materials).  

But what about waste that is not traditionally recyclable? Thanks to Ms. Ana in Spanish Pre-K 3, Tessa is now participating in TerraCycle, a program that strives to eliminate the idea of waste. This program is funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers around the world to help people recycle hard-to-recycle waste. As part of TerraCycle, here at Tessa, we’ve started collecting dental products such as toothpaste containers and floss and are working to add more products to the list!

 How You Can Help

We truly hope that the recycling efforts we are making at Tessa inspire our students and their families to continue these efforts outside of the classroom. If you are already doing your part to recycle at home, on behalf of the rest of the planet, thank you. If you are feeling inspired to start recycling, here are a few helpful tips to get you going: 

  • Reduce your waste! Use reusable coffee mugs and straws as often as you can. Some coffee shops will even give you a discount for bringing your own cup!
  • Be sure to check your refuse provider website. Sometimes things that we might think are recyclable aren’t. Also, often times, certain materials cannot be mixed together. If this happens, the entire collection of recyclables may just end up in a landfill.
  • Rinse food and liquid containers and remove any caps prior to recycling
  • Try to use glass in place of plastic as much as possible. Glass is almost infinitely recyclable!

United Nations Day at Tessa International School

          The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization that was created after World War II to strive to prevent new international conflicts in the future. The world celebrates United Nations day every October 24 to honor the international organization promoting human rights, social progress, and world peace.

          The UN was originally formed by 51 countries.  These countries work together to maintain peace, promote sustainable development, protect human rights, uphold international law and deliver humanitarian aid to people in need.  Today there are 195 member countries!

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The UN at Tessa

The United Nations are especially close to our hearts as our vision for the future is very much in sync with theirs: to contribute to building a peaceful, collaborative world, in which we all can learn from each other. Each year we celebrate with student performances in Spanish and French and other activities related to various countries of the world. Our students and teachers are dressed in national dress representing over 20 countries worldwide.

This event also contributes to raise awareness of human diversity among our students, but also in the city: this year, Mayor Bhalla, will address the assembly! We will also have a performance of Irish folk music / international music by the talented Shan and Dan.

A few facts about the UN

United Nation’s Four Main Goals:

The United Nation’s four main purposes are to:

  1. United Nations maintains worldwide peace and security.
  2. Developing good relations among nations.
  3. Encourage cooperation between nations to solve economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian international problems.
  4. Provide a forum to bring countries together to meet the purposes and goals of the UN.

How to Celebrate UN Day!

          To celebrate, we have to think about many years of history, struggle and achievements. Today is not just a day of looking back in history, it is a day to take note of what the UN is currently doing to build a better life for everyone on the planet, and how it plans to continue like this in the future. Let’s take a moment today to consider the incredible impact that the United Nations has had in every corner of the world for more than 70 years.

Here are some ideas to celebrate UN Day:

  • This day you can wear your national costume!
  • Discuss the importance of cultural diversity with your co-workers, friends or family.
  • Post about this day on social media along with your thoughts about this day.
  • Check out if there are any cultural activities taking place in your neighborhood and attend one.
  • Organize an international potluck to explore the traditional dishes of other cultures.
  • Recycle! The UN is very committed to protecting the environment.

Exploring the biological, chemical and physical aspects of our world with the Liberty Science Center

Good morning from your Liberty Science Center community partners! During this past week’s activities, we worked with your children to continue our exploration of who we are! We did this through investigating the pieces and parts that make up a robot’s body and comparing them with what we have ourselves. For example, we looked at how while robots have batteries, we have a heart. We looked at pictures of the heart according to age appropriate children’s story books and squeezed heart shaped stress balls to investigate how our heart moves inside our body. 

Our investigations eventually led us to noticing that sometimes we have things that robots do not have. We found that while we have teeth to help us eat nutritious food, robots do not have them! Using an extra large toothbrush, your children brushed the teeth of a model mouth to think about how we take care of these special parts of our bodies and how our teeth might look different amongst the members of our family. 

Here at Liberty Science Center, we are dedicated to inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers through the power, promise, and pure fun of science and technology. As we continue our third year together, we are excited to keep bringing STEM learning opportunities that not only align with the school’s program of inquiry but also encourage your children to see themselves as scientists and engineers. We look forward to seeing them again this week!

Tessa International School

Office: (201) 755-5585 | Location: 702 Monroe St. Hoboken, NJ 07030