Spring Has Sprung!

Germination

FINALLY! We are loving the Spring weather! The butterflies are so chase-able, the grass is so inviting for rolling, and the warm sun on our skin just feels like a sweet hug after this crazy, cold winter.

I had that terrible stomach flu last weekend, and I didn’t get a chance to blog about the great stuff we did, so I’ll do a two-for-one today.  🙂

In Reader’s Workshop, we’ve been digging into how readers determine what’s important while they are reading. One way to do that is to look at how a text is structured. We read many, many books and dissected their beginnings, middles, and endings to see where authors are putting their messages. We also looked at the point-of-view of each story to see who’s perspective we were getting as readers, and thought about how stories might be different if they were told by someone else. We identified other important story elements, such as the setting, supporting characters, and important plot points to see what we thought the most important part, or main idea, was of each book we read.

20140408_093851

20140408_093842

20140408_093817

20140408_093808

20140408_093801

Our writing has driven us to think about why authors make the choices they do when writing. We looked at many different books and asked whether or not the author made good choices when thinking about the titles of their books. We re-titled several books with both great and not-so-great titles to see if it made a difference. We have been learning that great titles let the reader know a little of what the book is about while not simply labeling it and also being interesting. For example, for the book Be a Friend to Trees, a non-fiction text exploring many facts about trees, we came up with some “label-ish,” boring titles, such as “Facts about Trees,” “How Trees Help Us,” and “All You Need to Know About Trees.” Yawn.  The firsties decided the phrase “be a friend to trees” was much more inviting to a reader, and led them to imagine all the ways humans and trees interact and rely upon one another.

We’ve also been thoroughly enjoying our April Author of the Month, Mo Willems. His silly stories about that crazy pigeon and the adventures of Knuffle Bunny have had us dissolving into the floor with laughter. I think there was a Mo Willems pack in this month’s Scholastic order form . . . you can still order online!  This author’s books were a definite crowd-pleaser! We compared and contrasted his stories among themselves and against other books we’ve read together. Some children adopted his dialogue-rich writing style for some of their workshop stories. Such great stuff!

knuffle2bbunny

Leo jkt FINAL 1/5

pigeon_up_late

In Bible last week we talked about ways we are tasked to be good stewards of the many gifts God’s given us. Children came up with their own ideas of ways to give back to the Lord and we briefly discussed tithing. This week we’ve focused on the elements of Easter: Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Good Friday, and Christ’s Resurrection. We’ve been working on individual books that retell the most important parts of God’s salvation story.  Ask your child to tell you about each part!

14 - 102

Our investigations in science have been all about plants over the last two weeks. We’ve read stacks of books about flowers, seeds, gardening, and plant parts and processes, have begun a germination project of which we are making careful, scientific observations and recording them, created schema charts, done observational drawings of plants, and collected and analyzed data about our favorite plants. Here are a few photos I remembered to take!  🙂

20140411_075939

20140410_123326

20140411_075946

20140410_123256

 

20140411_083057

 

20140411_080004

We also did a little science experiment for April Fool’s Day last week. We used lemon juice to write secret messages to our families, then took them home to heat up and see if the messages appeared. Apparently, the joke was on us, because the juice didn’t turn. Well, that’s science! Sometimes our hypotheses just don’t work out. You could always try to repeat the experiment at home over Spring Break. If you do, let me know if it works for you!

20140401_115042

Our math learning focused on time, fact fluency, problem solving strategies, and counting money. When you’re hanging out at home, keep practicing those fact triangles, or name a fact (like 3+4=7) and ask your student to name the “turn-around fact,” (IXL calls them “related facts”). This will help make connections to fact families. Ask your child to tell you when it’s quarter-’till, quarter-after, or half-past the hour to reinforce that time-related vocabulary. Tell number stories (word problems) or have your child tell you one, and figure out what number sentence would describe that story. Fill in name-collection boxes for all sorts of different numbers. Look for your child to find many different ways to show a number, such as collections of objects, number sentences, ten-frames, dice, dominoes, tallies, money, etc.  Ask your child how to play “top-it” (like the card game “War”) or make coin exchanges to find equivalent sums of money. Coming up, we’ll be getting into geometry through a 2-dimensional shape review and introduction to 3D shapes and symmetry.

20140403_142304

20140403_142242

20140403_142203

20140331_141605

20140331_141553

20140331_141507

Here’s a little peek into the outside fun we’ve been having:

20140402_120030

20140411_120210

20140411_120029

14 - 29

14 - 49

14 - 51

14 - 60

14 - 62

14 - 63

14 - 82

14 - 87

14 - 94

14 - 100

20140411_120222

 

Finally, just because it’s Spring Break and there’s no assigned homework, don’t stop reading!

8690_MD

Enjoy the break, firstie families!  When we come back, we’ll be jumping right into achievement testing.  Don’t panic – these smart cookies are very well prepared. Just make sure they get good rest and eat a good breakfast every morning. The rest is up to those brilliant brains. 🙂

Have a happy Easter. He is risen! If you’re looking for a church home, I’d love to see you at Point Harbor Community Church this Sunday and for Easter, of course!  There are lots of services to choose from on Easter.  We’re having services Saturday, April 19th, at 5:00pm, and Sunday, April 20th, at 9am and 10:45am. We’ll also have a service at Cinemark (yep, the old movie theater that looks vacant – we’re movin’ on in!) at 10:30am. Come check it out! You just might see a familiar first grade teacher with the worship team Easter weekend . . .