A Peek at Our Week

This week in the Patience Fruit Stand, the firsties were busy determining importance while reading. They were encouraged to ask, “what does the author think is the most important thing in this book?” and to find details to support that idea. They asked, “what’s the author’s message? How do we know? How does that help me understand what I’m reading? Which details are really important?” We did that through each and every story we read aloud this week. Ask your firstie what the most important thing was in The Other Side, A House for Hermit Crab, or Big Al, and how they know it was the most important thing.

Big Al

The Other Side

A House for Hermit Crab



In Writer’s Workshop, we talked about how good writers choose great titles for their stories. We read several books throughout the week without disclosing the titles and had students suggest title ideas. We learned that the best titles give the reader an idea of what the book will be about without giving away the ending. We shared books from the library and talked about whether or not they had titles that matched the stories inside. We also worked on making sure our stories have good organization; each one should have an interesting beginning, a problem in the middle, and an ending that solves the problem. While reading Never, Ever, Shout in a Zoo! we realized that without organization, a story could become chaotic! Stories should have great endings, too. Some of the firsties wrote books and stories this week with surprise endings!

Our Bible study this week centered around Christ’s building his Church. Students started the week by discussing what makes a strong building: a good foundation, sturdy walls, and a strong roof to protect whatever is inside. They brainstormed ways that members of the church are like a strong building, and concluded that the pastors, teachers, missionaries, and families that make up Christ’s Church all have special roles to play in bringing people to Him and bringing about God’s Kingdom. They now understand that the Church isn’t just a building we go to to worship; it’s a living, breathing body of believers that work to serve Jesus.  This week we build churches out of blocks and graham crackers (YUM) and shared what made working as a team hard or worthwhile.

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In Social Studies, we wrapped up our learning about mapping. Children learned the differences and similarities between maps and globes, and their different uses. They learned the differences between continents, countries, states, and cities, and worked on a week-long project to show that understanding. Check them out on the wall across from the Patience Fruit Stand!  They learned to identify our own continent, country, and state, including our state capital, how to read and navigate maps, how to use a map legend, and how to use a compass rose.  Ask your firstie the silly phrase they learned to remember the cardinal directions!  😉

In math, we reviewed and built on many different skills, including addition, subtraction, measurement, and counting money. Students played games in their math tubs to reinforce these skills while I worked with each small group.  Ask your firstie about their favorite math tub activity this week!  I failed at taking pictures during math tubs this week (sorry!), so I’ll leave you with this little “brain break” gem instead:

Have a great weekend!


What season is it, anyway?

As my family left church this morning, and my own little ones gave their suggestions for ways to spend this gloriously warm 70 degree afternoon, I got a buzzing notification on my cell phone.  It was my weather app. Apparently, we’re in for somewhere between 3-4 inches of snow and ice tomorrow. WHAT!? Of course, I started thinking about all the ways that would be horrible. Traffic. Scraping more snow and ice off my car. Driving over sheets of ice. What if we have to miss another day of school? How are we ever going to get everything finished this quarter?  I turned around to see my children laughing hysterically in their car seats over who could hold more Goldfish crackers in their mouth while making howling wolf sounds. (Safe, I know.) I couldn’t help but join in their giggles. Then I thought, why let the possibility of a bad day ruin this perfect moment?  I think that’s what God does. He gives us these little gifts, like 70 degree weather, in the midst of what is technically still winter, so that we will truly enjoy them when we have them. So I’ve decided not to panic. I’m not going to dread the possibility of snow. Instead, my littles got to go to the park and play outside, spending every possible moment soaking up the sun so that there might still be a little left shining in their memories tomorrow, when I just might be hearing, “do you want to build a snowman?” (Raise your hand if you sang that line . . . haha). God just loves us crazy like that.

So, what did we do this week?

We continued our investigation into asking good questions while reading. We discussed and shared examples of ways asking questions actually helps us better understand what we’re reading. Students chose passages from their own books and talked about what kinds of questions they asked. We are learning that some questions are easy to answer if you just look back into the story. We call those “thin” questions. Some questions are more difficult, and require research or inference. We call those “thick” questions.  We wrote down questions that children had before, during, and after reading stories, and analyzed whether they were thick or thin questions. We will continue to encourage question asking, especially asking thick questions, to encourage deep critical thinking throughout the year!

We did many activities that got us thinking about choosing powerful words. Some students were asked to share their writing, so that others could give them feedback about how to use powerful words in their writing to make it better; others shared their own examples of using powerful words in their stories. We are REALLY developing our vocabularies!  One student used the word “tenacious” while writing a poem. He then gave us an accurate definition! Color me impressed!

We learned more about Jesus’ ministry on earth this week in Bible. We talked about the story of the men who lowered their friend through the roof to be healed by Jesus. Talk about steps of faith! This also led to a discussion about friendship, and what we should be willing to do, through faith, for our friends. Each student chose a friend to write about and created an acrostic poem using describing words or phrases (another opportunity to use our powerful words).  Of course, we also discussed the fact that Jesus is really our “best friend.”  Anyone start humming “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” just now?

In social studies, we continued our study of great leaders Benjamin Franklin and George Washington Carver. The firsties were shocked to learn about all the things you can do with peanuts and sweet potatoes. In science, we focused on the desert habitat. We learned about many of the animals and plants that live there and did some research practice to answer questions about them. We also chose our favorites, polled our friends, and graphed the data we collected.

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We used our study of the desert to springboard our cactus art projects. We created cacti, labeled the parts, and used mixed media to add details to each one.


In math, we studied “name collection boxes,” which are simple a tool we use to think more deeply about numbers. Each student was given a large sheet of paper on which to collect as many “names” (ways to show) that number as possible. For example, I could draw a hand with five fingers, five tally marks, a 1 & 4 domino, a 5-dot die, a nickel, or 0+5, 1+4, 2+3, 3+2, 4+1, and 5+0 to show the number 5. Students were given double-digit numbers, however; since they’ve been working with this idea informally since the beginning of the school year. We also looked at patterns in the fact table and used rulers to compare measurements in inches and centimeters. Keep practicing those fact triangles at home!

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I’m looking forward to another fabulous and fruitful week in the Patience Fruit Stand, even if we do get some wintry weather.

If you haven’t already, please send in your child’s third-quarter binder. I’m starting to fill them up with incredible first grade work!

Check out the hallways.  The firsties have projects up everywhere.  See what you can find!