Happy Halloween, Y’all!

This week in the Patience Fruit Stand we were oh so busy getting right into the swing of our second quarter of learning.

This week we started using math tubs in our math workshop. Children rotated through stations in order to review addition, graphing, using tally marks correctly, analyzing data, comparing numbers, and recording ways to show a number. We also focused on creating fact families this week.

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In Bible, we started working on a collaborative project called “The Spy Project.” Ask your firstie to tell you about it!

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In Science we’ve been learning all about matter. Ask your firstie to tell you the three states of matter and their properties!  We also began investigating the difference between a mixture and a solution.

Of course, because it’s Halloween, today we made delicious caramel apples and learned a little about dental health. Ask your firstie to tell you what a cavity is and how they are caused.


Stay safe at “Trunk or Treat” or trick-or-treating tonight!  And take care of those teeth!  😉

A Busy Week, but SHHHH . . .

Our literacy event is coming up, which means that any and all extra time we have is devoted to preparing. Things are very hush-hush around here. Which means there’s not a lot I can tell you. Ha.

I will share a few photos of the unrelated-to-our-event math we’ve been working on.  🙂

In addition to reviewing and practicing elapsed time and fact families (we’re working up to 20 now – woo hoo!) we’ve been working with money!  Equivalencies are a tricky skill for children. Knowing how to make a certain amount of money using the smallest number of coins (or a specified number – even trickier!) takes the combination of several processing and numeracy skills.  This week, we practiced making even trades using pennies and nickels.  We started by trading pennies for nickels, and then moved to counting sets of coins, counting and comparing sets of coins, and then moved on to counting a set of combined coins and creating an equivalent amount of money using a smaller number or specified number of coins. We worked both individually and in groups to build and practice these skills and played LOTS of money games!  Favorite firstie quote of the week: “Money is my favorite thing to learn!  It’s so FUN!”  Check us out!

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I can also share a little about Junie B. Junie B. Jones is our current favorite character. She’s a little sassy, and often gets herself into trouble through her words and actions, perfect object lessons for us on behavior and showing the Fruit of the Spirit!  🙂  Our firsties are currently OBSESSED with her and her author, Barbara Park, and many of us are choosing to read her chapter books in our reader’s workshop time while listening to her during read-alouds as well.  Some children are even choosing to write stories about Junie B., colorful turns-of-phrase and all!  😉  Here is one of our firsties sharing his latest Junie B. creation after Writer’s Workshop:

20141017_140612 20141017_140645                              What cracks me up about this is that he was laughing so hard while he was reading his own writing that he could barely get through the story! We were all in stitches.

We can’t wait to share our learning with you at our literacy event.  So exciting!

See you soon!

Just a few highlights

This week in the Patience Fruit Stand the firsties were immersed and engaged in all kinds of learning.  Here are a few highlights!

In reader’s workshop, we learned that good readers use their schema to make connections. We reviewed that schema is all the sights, tastes, textures, smells, and sounds we’ve ever experienced.  Using schema requires good readers to think (and after all, reading is thinking!) about all the things they know, want to know, or learned from a text. We used familiar objects, sounds, and textures to determine what we had schema about, and used those things to make connections to the books we read.

In writer’s workshop, we’re working through the stages of the writing process. Students are working at their own pace and building the skills they need the most during small group or one-on-one writer’s conferences. This means that some students are working on revising and editing drafts, rewriting final drafts, or illustrating their work. Several students have already published their first stories, which are hanging on the wall in our classroom for others to read.  They are so proud of themselves and their progress!

In Bible, we’ve been learning all about Moses, the 10 Commandments, and Moses’ experience leading the Israelites through the desert. The firsties have been working hard on creating a book in which they write and illustrate each commandment throughout the week.  To culminate our learning, we cooked our own version of manna, the special food God sent from heaven to nourish His people. Of course, we know that what we made isn’t true manna – that can only come from God – but we found a recipe that approximates what it might have been like (sweet like honey, fine and flaky). Reviews were mixed.  Some of us “totally love that stuff!” while others were less enthusiastic. “Manna is disgusting!”  Ha. Considering the major ingredients were olive oil and flour, I can see why some might have been less-than-thrilled.


Pretending to catch manna falling from the sky 🙂

In math this week we focused on finding patterns in numbers, measurement, using math tools cooperatively, elapsed time, and fact families. Although students are finding elapsed time a challenging concept, it is their current favorite calendar activity!

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Social studies this week centered around past, present and future. We learned about timelines and how they show measured time.  We even illustrated and wrote our own timeline about our lives. We started learning about schools of the past and compared them to our own school experiences (another opportunity to use our schema!). Ask your firstie what they know about horn books!

We finished our fall tree art project, which turned out beautifully. Look for them on the walls next week!

On Friday, to celebrate fire safety week, we received a visit from the fire department. The fire fighters reviewed important fire safety information with us, such as what to do if you or your clothes catch on fire, and how not to be afraid of the masked fire fighters if they need to come into your house to rescue you.


I’m looking forward to another great week in first grade!

Pumpkins, Science, and Math . . . Oh My!

Who knew you could learn so much from a pumpkin?

This week, we used pumpkins to integrate almost every subject, but focused on science and math.  We learned a lot about the things good scientists do, like asking questions, collecting data, recording findings, and using smart thinking!  We approached our study of pumpkins very scientifically. First, we started developing our schema. We did lots of thinking about things we already knew about pumpkins and compared that schema to what we had learned about apples. To help us confirm our previous knowledge, dig deeper, clear up misconceptions, and add new schema, we read From Seed to Pumpkin, Apples and Pumpkins, Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin PieThe Pumpkin Book, and Pumpkin Pumpkin.

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We recorded the things we already knew, wanted to learn, and new learning to a chart. We made observations of the exterior of our class pumpkin using our five senses. We discovered that we could learn a lot just by thinking about what we could see, hear, smell, and touch (we didn’t do any pumpkin tasting, at first). Then we recorded all of the great descriptive adjectives we used to describe our pumpkin.  We used what we’d learned to create a life cycle project in which we recorded what we learned about each stage of a pumpkin’s development and its order.

On another day, we began collecting scientific data about our pumpkin. First, we estimated how much our pumpkin weighed. We learned that an estimate is a “smart” guess, or our “best” guess, and uses information we already know to be true.  We had some pretty interesting estimates!  We learned that a scale is a tool that can be used to measure weight, or how heavy something is. After making our estimates, we tried weighing the pumpkin on our scale, but it wasn’t quite sensitive enough. So, one of our firsties volunteered to be weighed both holding the pumpkin and without holding the pumpkin. We subtracted to find the difference, and found out that our pumpkin really weighed 10 pounds!


Our next pumpkin investigation allowed us to collect data about our pumpkin’s height, weight, and circumference. We learned that a ruler is a tool that can measure objects from a starting point to an endpoint. We could use a ruler or yardstick to measure vertically to find height or horizontally to find width. Once we found our measurements, we recorded our data on a chart and individually on recording sheets. We next wanted to find out our pumpkin’s circumference.  We learned that “circumference” is a fancy math word for “distance around.”  First, we discovered that we needed a new tool. Our yardstick just wasn’t flexible enough to go around the pumpkin! It might break!  So, we brainstormed other ideas until deciding that we could use a piece of yarn, wrap it around the pumpkin, and then measure it with our yardstick to see how long it was. Great! Before that, we made estimates by each choosing a length of yarn that we believed would wrap around the pumpkin without overlapping or having any gaps. We checked and sorted our estimates in groups, and labeled them “too short,” “too long,” and “just right.”


Finally, the moment the students were anticipating: time to cut the pumpkin! We used our senses again to see, hear, smell, and touch (again, no tasting, yet) the pumpkin’s insides. Some of us thought this experience was “so disgusting!” but we learned that scientists are brave and “never say ‘ew;'” instead believing that getting a little messy is worth it, in the name of science!

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While we made observations about the inside of the pumpkin, we also learned about and labeled the parts of a pumpkin and thought about ways they were similar to and different from apples. Both apples and pumpkins have seeds inside, but apples have flesh and pumpkins have pulp (or “plup,” as one firstie called it!), and apples have skin while pumpkins have a rind.

After scooping out all of the pumpkin’s insides and separating the seeds from the pulp, we learned about volume. We discovered that “volume” is a fancy science and math word for “how much water something can hold.” We wondered how much water our pumpkin could hold! We took turns measuring out cups of water and pouring them into the cavity of the pumpkin, keeping track of the number of cups we poured in each time.

Once we had the pulp and seeds separated, we wondered how many seeds were inside our pumpkin (any question that allows us to collect data, right?). The firsties worked together to create groups of ten seeds, counting, circling, and recording as they worked. Once finished, we counted all of our groups of ten, then combined leftover groups into ten, and finally counted by tens to figure out that our pumpkin had  473 seeds inside!

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We wanted to use our pumpkin for one last bit of learning about the scientific process. This project is an ongoing one, and likely won’t be completed for a while. We wondered whether or not a pumpkin plant would grow inside of another pumpkin. We already knew that scientists ask good questions, but learned that when trying to answer those questions, scientists make a hypothesis. After a vote, we hypothesized that a pumpkin plant would grow inside a pumpkin plant, if given soil, water, and sunlight.

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On Friday, we enjoyed a little baking activity as we read and followed a recipe together to roast the pumpkin seeds we’d saved. YUM!


I can’t wait to see what happens with our experiment!