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!

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