Turkey Time Rewind, Some Buzz About Bees, and a New Class Pet

As usual, the firsties in the Patience Fruit Stand have been incredibly busy! We’ve been building and stretching our schema in many areas.  In Reader’s Workshop we’ve been learning about how we access and use our schema to understand what we read. We make connections to things we’ve experienced (text-to-self), to other things we read about (text-to-text), and to things we see happening in the world around us (text-to-world). We’ve been practicing using our schema before we read books, during reading, and after we read to help us comprehend different texts. During the week of Thanksgiving, we made connections using many different books about Thanksgiving. We read the following books, among others, not only to allow us to use our schema and practice making connections, but also to learn about the history of Thanksgiving and what it means to be thankful!

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The firsties have also been busy in Writer’s Workshop. There are many more published stories displayed with pride on our writing wall!  Students are so excited to publish a story each time, and often look forward to writer’s workshop as a favorite time of the day!  Ask your firstie whether or not they have published yet, and have them tell you their stories. This not only builds their oral language skills, but also helps them to practice and confirm appropriate sequencing in a story. We’re continuing to practice recognizing when a full sentence has been formulated and ensuring correct punctuation and capitalization, including for proper nouns!  n addition to working through the writing process, some of our other writing connected with other projects, for example, when students completed their “Disguise A Turkey” projects at home, they wrote a story from the perspective of their turkey explaining why they couldn’t possibly be a turkey, and were instead _________ (a firefighter, a Naval officer, a princess, etc.).  This required the very difficult task of perspective-taking, the art of persuasion,and the skills required to create and add lots of descriptive details! We also wrote a description of the turkey glyphs we made during math tubs, wrote for our “I Know an Old Lady” activity, and authored and illustrated large books about what we learned about the first Thanksgiving!

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We’ve been busy with a new author study: Jerry Pallotta. He writes alphabet and counting books, which are both informative, interesting, and great examples of nonfiction texts. Ask your firstie to tell you about The Underwater Alphabet Book or The Icky Bug Counting Book or The Icky Bug Alphabet Book! We’ve learned that alphabet books are often anything but simple!

One of our books actually inspired our new class pet. While walking through the hallway last week, I happened to run into Mrs. Alberson. She stopped me to ask if I knew what was sitting on her drinking cup. Looking closer, I noticed there was a small, tan-colored insect perched on the edge. I have to be honest; I’m pretty freaked out by bugs. I’m pretty sure I shuddered and backed away. I had no idea, at first, what I was looking at, so we asked our resident expert: Mrs. Outlaw. She knew instantly that we’d discovered a baby praying mantis!  If you really want a shiverfest, ask her to tell you about her mantis Christmas tree. Goosebumps just thinking about it! Because we’d just read about this awesome insect in The Icky Bug Alphabet Book, I knew we had to keep it. I happen to have a few critter habitats on hand, so I (gingerly, with great trepidation and much inner squealing) transferred it to one. After observing the little creature, we voted on a name and hunted for a few pieces of nature to help it feel more at home. It now resides on several leaves and a stick for climbing. We also did a little research and learned that they only eat live prey, which meant Mrs. Rhodes needed to take a shopping trip. Now the mantis is happily munching on flightless fruit flies (which have underdeveloped wing muscles, in case you were wondering).  Meet Long Legs! Praying Mantises live for about a year, but are quite vulnerable little creatures. Hopefully it’ll be with us until it’s warm enough to release!  (I just love the expressions of our scientific researchers in the following photographs!)

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Also in science, we’ve been integrating our study of Ox-Cart Man with a study of honeybees! Ask your firstie to tell you all about the three types of bees and their functions. They can also tell you all about the different types of cells within a honeycomb, the number of eggs a queen can lay, the different kinds of hives (both ones found in nature and man-made) and what different bees eat!

During Thanksgiving week, we made a bracelet to help us remember the story of Thanksgiving, and most enjoyably, completed an edible project – a “quirky turkey!” Students were required to use their given materials to follow a recipe, creating a yummy treat! This prompted many “favorite teacher” comments from my sweeties – LOVE!

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I almost forgot!  Remember our pumpkin experiment? Our students hypothesized that if we added soil, water, and sunlight to our pumpkin shell, a pumpkin plant would begin to grow. We added all of the items to our large pumpkin, the one we’d gutted and removed the seeds for counting. No plant grew. We discussed what else our shell needed, and added seeds to our necessary materials. We added water, sunlight, and soil to a pumpkin that had not been gutted and still had all of its seeds. Look what happened!

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Ta da!  We also observed that even if we rotated the pumpkin, the sprouts always leaned toward the window, evidence that plants always seek out the sun. God even made plants smart! Eventually our little plant began to attract gnats (I should have kept it near the mantis habitat, I guess) so we recycled it into the earth to nourish the soil near the playground, next to the rotting flesh of the original pumpkin. There should be some extremely good soil over there!

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