Saturday, October 31, 2009

Harvest Party

We had a great Harvest Party yesterday! Thank you to everyone who contributed towards the planning, decorations, and the wonderful snacks! I read a few Halloween books to get things started, then we sang some pumpkin songs, worked on a variety of projects, and ate a delicious snack. It was a fun way to end a BUSY week!

Seasonal Math

I tried to integrate the "fall spirit" into our math time this week. Students seemed to enjoy it!
Using non-standard units of measurement is a skill we practice in first grade. Candy corns fit the bill! We have also worked with standard units of measurement, such as inches!

How many candy corns long is a crayon?
Roll-a-Skeleton was a popular activity!
Oops! This wasn't part of math, but we did enjoy watching a performance of "Where's My Mummy?" by the Colchester High School Theater Company on Friday.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Art and Literacy

To end our day today, students learned and practiced a version of the popular song/poem, "Five Little Pumpkins." Everyone received a printed copy of the poem, and they then created an illustration to go along with the words. There were a variety of art materials available: Many students chose to cut shapes out of paper and glue them onto a spooky background and others decided to illustrate using construction paper crayons. The results are great! Students will recite this poem during our Harvest Party tomorrow (2:00-3:00) and they can then their wonderful artwork home!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Estimation

Students have explored estimation this week. I explained estimation as making a reasonable guess, and we have discussed how to come up with reasonable estimates. On Monday, students completed a pumpkin investigation book to help them try their estimation skills. They were asked to estimate three things about our classroom pumpkin: its weight, its height, and the number of lines on it. We then measured the actual weight, height, and number of lines on the pumpkin and compared it to their estimates. Finally, I asked students to cut a piece of yarn to show their estimate of the pumpkin's circumference. We charted our results today, as seen in the photos below.
Some estimates were too long, some too short, and some were JUST RIGHT!
Students checked their own estimates and then put the yarn in the appropriate place on the chart.
Some students wanted to know if their yarn would go around a different part of the pumpkin, if it didn't quite fit around the standard way.
If time allows, I hope to cut open the pumpkin on Thursday or Friday and have students estimate and count the number of seeds inside it. We can then count them, roast them, and eat them! :-)
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I am completely impressed by how well children did at the vaccination clinic today. All of the students in our class who went to the clinic received the shot, and they did it without a fight. Wow! Maybe it was the "worry stones" that helped them ease their minds, or maybe it was comfort from one of the many great adult helpers from UMS. In any case, they did great and deserve lots of praise!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another successful field trip!

I wish we could go on a field trip every month! Thank you to the Colchester Center firefighters who volunteered their time to give us a great tour today. Students were able to see many parts of the fire station, some of which are pictured in the slideshow below. We saw the fire fighters living quarters for times they stay overnight, the infamous pole they can slide down to get to the garage, and, of course, the trucks! Thank you also to the many parent chaperones who were able to attend. The more helping hands, the better! Ask your child his/her favorite part of the trip, and enjoy the slideshow!

Word Crowns

This week we have three new Red Words that can be quite tricky: are, is, and his. Yesterday and today, some students had the chance to be either the "Whiz of Is" or the "Star of Are." These headbands are a way for students to constantly be looking at our new and difficult words. This week, the boys and girls will take turns wearing the coveted headbands!

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Field trip reminder

Just a quick reminder that we will walk to the Colchester Firehouse tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday, October 27th). We will leave school at 12:45 and return by 2:15. Parents are welcome to join us! If you are late, just meet us at the firehouse (on Route 2A).

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Four Winds

Students enjoyed our second Four Winds session this afternoon. This year's theme is Earth and Environment, and there are lessons every month that center around this theme. So far, students have learned about the the sun and how it affects the earth, and today's topic was erosion and weathering. Each session begins with a puppet show (a student favorite) and then students break into smaller groups to do hands-on activities that relate to the day's topic.
Today, students experimented with dropping water from a baby bottle onto mounds of dirt and flour from different heights to see how rain can cause erosion. In the photos below, students observed how water in our rivers, oceans, and lakes affects rocks. In one jar, the rocks just sat in water, while the rocks in the other jar were shaken vigorously. Students saw how the jagged rocks would break into smaller pieces over time and eventually become smooth. Thank you, Kathy, for a great Four Winds session!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine

It appears that most students in our class will receive the H1N1 vaccine at the clinic on Wednesday, October 28th. We will go to the central vaccination location for our district--Malletts Bay School--via bus during that afternoon that day. Our scheduled time is for both Porters Point and Union Memorial School students. There will be activities both before and after the shot is administered to help children stay calm. We will also have many familiar adults on hand to help comfort children. Parents are asked NOT to come to Malletts Bay during the clinic, as overcrowding is a concern.

Carol McCleary will visit our classroom to teach some self-calming/relaxation techniques that can help your child cope with this stressful experience. I will also help answer children's questions on the days leading up to the clinic. I will, of course, also attend the clinic with students, so I can help comfort and reassure them (and since I'm getting the shot that day too I can show them that it isn't SO bad). :-) Your conversations at home about getting shots will also help your child feel more comfortable about this unique experience! Feel free to contact me or Kathy Kelly (our school nurse) with further questions.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Apple Pie Smoothies!

We had our second cooking program activity today, and it was a hit! Thank you, Maura, for coming in and treating us to the delicious apple pie smoothies. Students helped with the process and, of course, they were able to drink their creations after they helped to make them! After everyone had visited Maura's station, they sat down to draw and/or write about the steps of making these smoothies.

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Spooky Spiders!

OK, maybe they're not that spooky...but they were a challenge! I asked students to do their best to read the directions (posted on the green chart in the background) to create the spider project. Since students will be writing "how-to" books later in the school year, I am trying to immerse them with this type of writing in as many ways as possible during the school year. Procedural writing is all around us, and it can help us learn to do so many things!

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A peek at our math stations!

Students have been working on the difficult skill of telling time. This week, students have been working on a class book to go along with the story, Time To... by Bruce McMillan. Yesterday and today, we rewrote the story so that the daily schedule would more closely match what our days look like. Students had to show the time in writing, in analog form, and in digital form. Then they painted illustrations that matched what the words said they were doing.

We have now started Unit 3 in math, which involves looking closely at patterns in our world--including, of course, patterns in numbers. For the past two days, students have been learning about even/odd numbers and what that means. Ask your child about the "Even and Odd Bingo Song" and how students lined up during our Math Meeting to determine if various numbers were even or odd. They discovered that a number is even if it can be paired and is odd if there is an "odd one out." In the photo above, students are counting "beans" and determining if the number is even or odd. Some students did this by checking the digit in the ones place, and some students paired the beans to see if they could all be paired or not. Mrs. Isham helped at this station!

Students practiced the concept of even and odd in their math journals, as well as completing "Math Boxes" (journal pages that help students review skills from earlier in the school year). Mr. Carter comes in twice per week to help.
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Monday, October 19, 2009


Hi everyone!
You've probably already noticed, but there will not be any math homework this week, and there is not a new SWR skills list. Students will take the SWR Proficiency Test #1 on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and the practice list for that test has already been home. Students will bring home books from the classroom and/or our volunteer reading program to read at home. There will be no other formal homework. Have a great week!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Drum roll, please... :-)

Students were EXTREMELY excited (to say the least) about the opening of our loft today! Officially called our "Upstairs Library" or "Loft Library," everyone agreed that this will be a great place to enjoy books alone or with friends. We discussed safety rules and rules about what is allowed in the loft (quiet reading, in a nutshell). Students practiced getting up and down the stairs safely and tried it out as a cozy reading place. I think it will be a very popular spot! Next week, Loft Library joins our Literacy Station rotation and will be available to students during other times of the day as well.

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October is Fire Safety Month

We began a mini-unit about Fire Safety this week. Students shared what they already know about this topic (a lot!) and they learned two new songs and enjoyed some fire safety-related books during read aloud. Students made a "Fire Pup" hat at the art station during literacy station time this week. They had to follow the directions on a chart to construct the hat. They LOVED showing off their creations!
A field trip to the Colchester Firehouse on October 27th will be our culminating activity for this unit. Please check your child's green folder tomorrow for more details and permission slip.
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Mathematicians at Work...

We are very lucky to have math helpers in our classroom each day. Mr. Carter (in the photo below) is a Title I math teacher who helps out in the classroom on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Mrs. Isham, a general assistant, works in our room on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for both Math and Writing Workshop. We are so lucky to have such great helpers!
Today, Mr. Carter worked with students to help them develop strategies for calculating the total price of items at a "school store." They also figured out the difference in price between two items, determined if they had enough money to buy certain items, and more. What great math problem solving!
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Thank you!

Dear Families,
Thank you SO much for the kind words of congratulations and well wishes for my family! We are very excited about the new addition! I will keep you posted about any news related to my leave, but as it stands right now, I'm due on March 5th and will take 6-8 weeks of leave. The children were extremely sweet about my news, and they seem to understand that it's not going to happen for a while. 4-1/2 more months is a long time in the scope of a six- or seven-year-old's mind!

Thanks again for the congratulations, and please contact me with any questions!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yum, Cookies!

Thank you, Hilarie, for being our very first 1st grade cooking volunteer! The pumpkin spice cookies were DELICIOUS, and it was a great way to kick-off our upcoming study of pumpkins and the pumpkin life cycle. This is my first year of trying the volunteer cooking program, and the children's enthusiasm about it is contagious! We have a volunteer coming just about every week between now and our December vacation. Thank you!

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Friday Free Choice!

Most Fridays, we end our day with free choice time. Students can use many materials in the room--the main rule is that children are safe, kind, and calm. I took out several new activities last Friday, and students really seemed to enjoy exploring with these materials!
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