Faith, Missions, and a Little Science

This week in the Patience Fruit Stand, the firsties were busy learning another example of how God wants us to honor our families. We learned about how Noah honored God and protected his family through his faith and compared his example to the story of Jacob and Esau. We learned that neither son honored his family when Esau exchanged his own birthright for a single bowl of lentil stew and Jacob cheated his brother out of his blessing by deceiving his blind father. Eesh. We realized that we dishonor our families just like these brothers when we are disobedient, have poor attitudes, or seek to deceive one another. The firsties had many great ideas for ways to honor our families, and brainstormed a list to use while writing and drawing their thoughts. To cap off our learning, we cooked our own stew! Although the Bible describes it as lentil stew, we also added vegetables and meat. We thought Esau, a hunter, would have wanted lots of meat in his stew! 🙂 Ask your firstie how they liked it!

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We continued using apples to explore science this week, learning about its life cycle, the apple’s parts, and the scientific process. Check out our experiment!

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We also cooked up some delicious applesauce. Only 3 firsties didn’t enjoy it. To see who liked it and who didn’t, stop by the graph we created outside our classroom.

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This week was Missions Conference, and the students have enjoyed learning about the different countries each missionary or missionary family will be visiting. At Chapel on Friday, the saints got to ask them any question they wanted! We learned that as Christ-followers, we are all missionaries tasked with spreading the Gospel. We don’t even have to leave our neighborhood; we can share the good news of Jesus anywhere!

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Check out the tiny missionary in the front. Who wouldn’t follow that cutie straight to Jesus?

Finally, a picture from our indoor PE fun on Friday. We couldn’t use the gym because it was set up for Missions Conference or go outside because of the rain, so we did a fun (and educational – we even got to practice our sight words!) exercise and dance video instead!

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Looking forward to next week!

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Kindles, Apples, CHKD, and Officer Appreciation Day

What a busy week in the Patience Fruit Stand!

The firsties were SO EXCITED to start using their Kindles this week! We practiced using them to explore Bible apps, math games, and IXL. We used them this week, along with CD players and audio cassette players, to listen to audio books and the audio-Bible. The firsties learned that we listen to good reading to build our fluency. Listening to fluent reading allows learners to hear expression and good pronunciation, focus on the sounds of words without interruption, develop a sense of narrative structure, and explore varied language. It also allows children to engage with books in a way that promotes reading for pleasure instead of reading for skill. It helps students realize that reading is FUN!

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Another highlight of the week was our study of apples. The firsties enjoyed researching apples and creating charts depicting all they learned. We read many books, including Apples for Everyone and The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree to gather information about apples, how they grow, and what we use them for. At the end of the week, we used our math and science skills to do an apple investigation, estimating and measuring circumference, weight and height, counting seeds, and observing properties such as flotation and color. The firsties decided that their favorite part was tasting the apples! YUM!

seasons of arnolds apple tree apples for everyone.

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In Bible this week we learned about the Tower of Babel and how God used the people’s desire to elevate themselves higher than one another to spread them over the world and differentiate languages. As a challenge, the firsties began working together to build their own towers, and saw how chaos ensued when suddenly they were required to speak other languages and could no longer communicate! Some realized they could not share ideas and decided to build their own towers. The first graders concluded that it would have been impossible for the people to continue to build together when they couldn’t talk to each other about what to do.

On Friday at Chapel we were able to honor members of the Portsmouth Sheriff and Police Departments with cards, books, and gifts to show our appreciation of the hard and often dangerous work they do. The firsties created a banner using their knowledge of straight, wavy, and diagonal lines and filled space.

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Chapel was also the day that each fruit stand’s VA Diner top seller was announced. The saint in each fruit stand selling the most or second-most amount of VA Diner products chose a prize from Little Pot. The Patience Fruit Stand’s two top sellers were Carson and Harper! Hooray! Thanks for all your hard work!

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Friday was also our visit from CHKD On-Tour. We learned all about visiting the hospital and got to take a virtual tour of the places we might have to go when we’re sick, such as the emergency room, patient rooms, radiology, play room, and operating room! We got to see and feel casts and learned how to hold pressure on a sprained limb. One of our favorite parts was viewing X-rays of hands, feet, and even Sponge Bob! We even got to smell some of the flavors doctors use to help us fall asleep before surgery! Now we know some of the things that might happen and understand that doctors and nurses are there to help us and make us feel better.

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Whew! Another busy, but fun, week in the Patience Fruit Stand! I’m excited to see what’s coming next week!

What do readers read? What do writers write?

Educational researcher Lucy Calkins writes, “How do we teach reading—the heartbreaking, soul-searching kind of reading, the reading that makes you feel as if you are breathing some new kind of air? How do we teach the kind of reading that makes you walk through the world differently because a light bulb is no longer just a light bulb; it’s filaments and electricity and the industrial revolution and all that tumbled forth from that? How do we teach the power of reading—the way it allows us to see under the words, between the words, beyond words? How do we teach the intimacy of reading—of belonging to a community that has a shared vocabulary, shared stories, and shared petitions and projects?” Our readers workshop focuses on the fact that reading is, first and foremost, a process of making meaning from a text. Reading is thinking, not merely decoding words. This week, in the Patience Fruit Stand, we focused on why readers read and why writers write. We first discovered that all people read by thinking about our own families and the people around us. Later, to inspire our thinking, we read Read Anything Good Lately? and brainstormed all the different things that people read. Readers read stories, of course, but also ingredients on cereal boxes, newspapers, websites, magazines, lists, letters, cards, emails, text messages, signs, maps, recipes, instructions, jokes, calendars, and dictionaries. We realized that reading is everywhere! We also shared some of our favorite books after reading Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book and listed all the different kinds of books we could think of, then sorted them into fiction/non-fiction categories.

Bulletin Board Reading is Everywhere

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Why do writers write? We learned that all writers have something to say. Writers might write because they just love to write, they want to tell about something that happened, they need to persuade or teach, or just share their feelings. We practiced writing in different forms, including cards, lists, postcards, letters, poems, stories, and recipes. Regardless of what we’re writing, we are developing our own voice through choice. Writers choose to write about topics that are meaningful to them; they choose their own writing topics. This means that each individual student is at a different stage of writing. This allows the teacher to meet with each student at his or her own level and provide individual instruction, encouragement, or motivation as needed. Some students are working on using a single complete sentence correctly while others are beginning paragraphs. At all stages, we worked on writing using correct letter formation so that our messages are readable for others. We also practiced building writing stamina so that we can write the whole time without getting tired, and thought about what to do when we think we’re done with a story. We learned that “when you think you’re done, you’ve really just begun!” Good writers always re-read their own writing, check their spelling and punctuation, and add details to the story or illustration before moving on to their next piece of writing.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into our readers and writers workshops. I am excited to see what develops next week!

Do Your Personal Best!

This week in the Patience Fruit Stand the firsties continued to develop their understanding of what it means to do their personal best. They wrote books, drew pictures, and sorted stories to illustrate their thinking. The firsties learned what it means to give their “4-Star Effort” every day!

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They also learned about what it means to be a good citizen, not only in our classroom but also in the outside world, and began to investigate what it means to be an American. Ask your firstie to tell you about some of the American symbols they learned about or the fancy word for “freedom.” We also introduced the idea of voting and that presidents are elected while choosing a class mascot. As your firstie to tell you about Crocky and Fluff Ball and which one we chose! Don’t be alarmed if your child won’t tell you who they voted for. We learned that voting is serious business, and no one should ever have to share their personal choice if they don’t want to! 🙂

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The firsties have been working on building stamina in readers workshop. They learned this week how to read to a partner. Ask your firstie to tell you what it means to sit “EEKK!” and how to stop, think, and check for understanding. At home, practice choosing “just right” books with your first grader by using the 5 Finger Rule. As your child begins independently reading a text, have them put up one finger for every unknown word. If they read through the page with 4-5 mistakes, that book is too difficult. If they only put up 1 finger, that book is too easy. If they read through and put up 2-3 fingers, that book is “just right,” that is, challenging enough to allow your child to build reading skills while not causing your child to become frustrated or give up.

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In writers workshop this week the firsties have been focusing on writing “small moment” stories. In first grade, many children write stories that sound something like this: “One day I woke up. I brushed my teeth. I got dressed. I ate my breakfast and we drove to school. At school I played and painted. After school I did my homework and ate all my dinner. After that it was bedtime. The end.” Sound familiar? I call these “list stories” because they simply list everything the child could think of to add detail to the story or lengthen it. Instead of writing list stories, writing about a “small moment” invites the child to choose one small part of the day or event, focus on it, and expand it. For example, instead of writing about every single thing I did when I went to Busch Gardens, I might choose to write about riding one roller coaster. I would add details describing what I was thinking, feeling, and seeing as I prepared to ride, rode, and disembarked. This type of writing allows children to practice adding 5-senses details and explore a singular topic in-depth. To help your child develop this skill, instead of asking, “how was your day?” you could tell them to describe their favorite part of the day and then ask more questions inviting them to give details. How did that experience feel? What did it make you think? How did others react? It takes time for writing to develop these qualities, and we will be using a variety of children’s literature to demonstrate and model this kind of writing.

We have been practicing using many different math tools over the last week to help us learn to use them properly, use “math talk” while working, and review familiar concepts, such as patterning, comparing amounts, number formation, addition, and counting to 120. The firsties have been working independently, in partners, and in groups as they practice the skills they will need for our workshop rotations. They are almost ready to begin our full workshop time! It is important for children to be able to work both independently and in cooperative groupings for skill and social development, and so that I can also work with small groups to assess learning, challenge deep thinking, and provide intervention and remediation for those that need extra help with difficult concepts.

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We read Fireflies! by Julie Brinkloe and began an artistic response piece. These multi-step pieces are beautiful, and almost complete! Look for them in the hallway soon!

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This week we also learned about Cain and Abel and wondered whether or not each of them gave their personal best to God. Ask your child which brother gave their personal best and which one gave his leftovers. We learned that even when we don’t give our personal best, God (and our parents, too!) still love us, care for us, and want to protect us. Ask your firstie to share with you how God did that for Cain!

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I can’t wait for next week!