A Marvelous Mid-Week Meander

As my Granny used to say, “Well, foot!”  Ha!  I never got around to posting anything about last week.  Since I’m super stoked to share about our field trip on Monday, I’m going to give a little mid-week update and a glimpse into what’s coming up.

We’re five weeks into the first quarter, people.  FIVE WEEKS.  I think each year goes by a little faster than the one before.  I think each year is a little busier than the year before.

Speaking of busy . . .

I know I usually post a LOT about our literacy learning, because hey, “that’s my THANG, y’all!” but I wanted to take a moment to put a little spotlight on math.  In first grade, we do a lot of workshopping.  It works, because it teaches children to be independent and take responsibility for their own learning.  It’s also great because it allows me to continually assess individual children and meet their diverse learning needs, often one-on-one or in a small group.  It also gives students repeated exposure to concepts that “spiral,” or build upon one another, gradually increasing in difficulty.  Not only do we workshop our learning for reading and writing; we workshop for math, too.  Here are a few photos of our work over the last week:



On Monday of this week, the whole school took a field trip to Atlantic Shores Baptist Church in order to hear Ken Ham and Buddy Davis present a Biblical perspective on dinosaurs.  It was such a great overview of how the Bible explains the existence of dinosaurs and the mystery of their extinction.  I found this video that gives a nice little summary of all the things your child learned on the field trip.  Obviously, Mr. Ham and Mr. Davis gave their presentation using really cool videos, catchy music, and interesting visual-aids, but this will give you a general idea.


If you’re looking for something a little more in-depth, check this out:

Coming up, the firsties will be diving into all things Fall.  I can’t wait to get started on the science of apples, pumpkins, trees, and (always a firstie favorite) bats!  My house smells like pumpkin pie (not because I’m actually baking; I just have a delicious-smelling candle burning) and I’m looking forward to my fourth pumpkin spice latte of the season tomorrow morning.  I love this season!


Beth Moore: Grace



On Saturday, I went to the Living Proof Live Simulcast to hear Beth Moore speak on grace.  I can’t really articulate exactly how blessed, encouraged, and broken I was by the Word she brought to us.  I think as teachers, we work so hard to try to meet every single need of every single student and every single family, but the truth is that not only can we physically not do that, we don’t have to do that.  We are free to be the best we can for our students and to allow God to do the rest.  A lot of my personal struggle stems from my sinful desire to be perfect and my “head-knowledge” that I’m not and I can’t be.  I fail each and every day, but it’s okay, because God has given me a place to be drenched in His perfection, to be consumed by His grace in a way that allows me to simply serve in this amazing ministry.  To live out Ephesians 4:32 and just “GRACE PEOPLE.”

Did you know that God is never disappointed with us?  Never.  Disappointment comes from an expectation that has not been met.  God does not have expectations of us.  Disappointment is a human emotion.  He is only ever displeased, and only then with our lack of faith!  We are called to obedience, and the number one obedience is that of faith.  If I’m not doing that in my practical life; if I can’t relinquish that control over my students’ learning, then there is really no room for God to move, for God’s grace to abound not only in my own life but in the lives of my students.

Well.  No longer.

Romans 5:1-2




















Kevin Henkes, Dr. Seuss, Listen-to-Reading, & an Alligator’s CHOMP

It was another busy week in first grade!  We focused on authors and illustrators, and read several new books by our September Author-of-the-Month, Kevin Henkes.  We discovered that he likes to write using animal characters, and his stories usually have a lesson about how we should treat one another.  We learned that writers write stories that are near and dear to their hearts, so Kevin Henkes must think treating others kindly is important.  As writers, we can also write about things near and dear to our hears.  So far, we’ve read Chrysanthemum, Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse, Wemberly Worried, A Weekend with Wendell, and Kitten’s First Full Moon.  The first graders made lots of observations about Henkes’ illustrations, and how he uses color to help tell the story.  We learned that in first grade, we’re all authors and illustrators and should always do our best work.  We read a story together called The Boy on Fairfield Street, which is a biography of Dr. Seuss and how he became a famous writer.  Ask your child if they can remember Dr. Seuss’ real name!

boy on fairfield st

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Here are some Reader’s Workshop pictures from this week.  The firsties have been doing a great job building stamina each day!  We introduced “Listen-to-Reading” this week, which helps us to build fluency and interesting vocabulary.

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Also, if anyone has any old Walkman tape players that the Lord is just laying it on their heart to donate to the first grade classroom, we will gladly take them.  I had two players bite the dust last week.  (Please note that the awesome yellow one featured in photo 8 is legitimately retro.  It belonged to my dad in the 90s, and is still working like a charm!)

Last week, we learned about Cain and Abel in Bible.  We discussed whether or not Cain made a good choice when he killed his brother, and came up with ideas of other choices he could have made.  We realized that God always gives us a choice in every situation, and we have the power through the Holy Spirit to make a good choice every time, even when it’s hard.  We made a list of good choices we can make at home, ways we can be helpers to our families, and wrote them on paper flowers we then “planted” into paper cups.  Our good choices and fruitful actions can bloom from our integrity, planted in humility, grown from the seed of the Word of God.

In Social Studies, we learned that part of being a good citizen involves making decisions, and often members of communities make decisions through voting.  We use voting all the time in first grade; sometimes we use them to set reasonable goals (how many minutes can we build stamina today?) or to decide on the name of a class story we’re writing.  We also learned that adults use voting to make really big decisions for our country, as when electing our leaders.  Some students thought it wasn’t fair that only adults get to vote for the President of the United States, and we discussed why that might be the rule.  Most children concluded that “grown-ups know more stuff” and “are older” so they are “better at making good choices.”  Thank goodness these precious ones have such faith in us!  🙂

Last week we worked on building our number sense in math.  We played games that reinforced “before and after” concepts, used number lines, played “penny-dice” (a counting and trading game) and “top-it” (the player with the larger value card wins the round), practiced counting forwards and backwards, used tally marks and made mathematical predictions.  We also compared numbers using math vocabulary (greater than, less than, equal to) and learned how to read number sentences.  The firsties LOVE watching and making the hungry “alligator mouth” chomp-chomp-chomp the larger number!  We’ve been practicing counting by ones, twos, fives, and tens, and learning which numbers are even and which are odd.  Ask your child how to know whether or not a number is even.  They should be able to tell you two different ways!  🙂  We’re collecting weather data each day and graphing our findings, and keeping track of the number of days of school on a number line, hundreds chart, straw collection, and by using coins to make and write each day’s value.

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This week, the firsties will be adding Wilson Fundations homework.  There is a daily assignment that allows children to practice the phonics concepts we’re covering each week, but please feel free to have your child adjust that schedule according to your family’s needs.  As long as the assignments are complete by Friday, your firstie can complete them at their own pace.  Each child has been given a sight-word assessment, so they will not have to practice sight words they already know.  Wilson calls these words “trick words.”  In the GO Book, you will find your child’s “trick words” list.  The words highlighted in pink are words your firstie already knows.  Choose the first un-highlighted word at the top and move left-to-right along the row when choosing words to learn each week.  Students should learn two new words each week.  As children demonstrate mastery of the words, I will highlight them on that sheet for you, so you will know whether or not that word needs more practice or has been mastered.  Please keep the sheet in the GO Book so that when I assess your child periodically, it’s there for me to highlight words.

Also, please send in a cardboard shoe box (please label on the bottom with your child’s name) by Thursday.

I am so looking forward to another awesome week!

Week Two . . . check!

Somehow, short weeks are always the most chaotic.  There is so much to do!  The week FLEW by, but we were still able to stuff in LOTS of learning.

This week, the firsties learned how to read to someone in our reader’s workshop.  They are still building reading stamina, and today they read for 27 uninterrupted minutes with a friend!  That is pretty amazing for the second week of school!  They practiced three different ways to read to their partner.  The first, we call “Check for Understanding.”  That means two partners share one book, one partner reading while the other checks for comprehension.  They hold a little check mark (everyone gets their own!) that has comprehension prompts on it.  DSCN1410For example, they might say, “I heard you read . . .” and fill in with a question word (who, what, when, where, why, how).  The reading partner would answer their question.  They also might “I Read, You Read.”  In this scenario, the partners share one book and take turns reading.  Finally, they may choose to read two different books and check for understanding together.

The first graders also learned a lot about writing this week.  They collected information about the tools writers use, for example, whether it’s better to write with a crayon, pencil, marker, or colored pencil.  After a few attempts, the children came to the conclusion that for writing words, a pencil is better.  It is easy to see and fit little letters within little lines.  They realized they could write more if they used the right tool, and make their illustrations better as well.  They also realized that more colorful illustrations are more beautiful illustrations, and that they should use the other tools of writing (colored pencils, crayons) for that purpose.  As a result, the firsties are writing some really great stories in their writer’s notebooks (still a favorite time of day) and making very nice, relevant illustrations to go with them!

DSCN1413(Milo and Otis: Once upon a time there was a cat and she lived in a farm and she was about to have kittens)  This student wrote four more pages to this story, and has already decided it will be the first story she will publish.  🙂

In Bible this week we reviewed Creation and learned about Adam & Eve.  The children drew amazing pictures depicting what they imagined the Garden of Eden looked like both before and after the Fall.  We also learned a lot about names, and that Adam was tasked by God to name all the animals He had created.  The students learned the meanings of their own names and created beautiful artwork to show their names and their meanings.


In Social Studies we are still focusing on citizenship.  We read many books to help us learn how to behave both at school and at home, including My Mouth is a Volcano, Lucy Walker Nonstop Talker, and The Way I Act.  Now, all I have to do is say, “volcano!” and watch each student “bite their words” and breathe them through their nose.  Ask your child to tell (and show!) you the four first grade rules!  It was also the first official week of classroom jobs.  We’re still training, but they were SO excited to get busy working!


In art, we learned about primary colors and how they mix to form the secondary colors.  We started on a project that we will finish next week.  🙂

Overall, it has been a fun and successful week.  These littles are LEARNING!  They tell me all the time, “Mrs. Rhodes, I worked hard on building my stamina today!” or “Please can I write in my writer’s notebook, Mrs. Rhodes?” or “That is not peacemaking behavior.  We can fix it though.”  LOVE.LOVE.LOVE.

Lastly, don’t forget to SELL SELL SELL those yummy peanutty goodnesses!  VA Diner is a major fundraiser for us, and every little bit helps!  Family, friends, neighbors; everyone wants to support your precious child and their school!  🙂

Also, we have brand new, beautiful car magnets!  They’re only $1.  I’ve already snatched up four.  Get ’em while they’re hot off the presses!