A Short & Sweet Peek at our Week

To wrap up our learning about community helpers, we were visited by our very own principal, Mrs. Stephens, who talked with us about what a principal does all day and answered all of our burning questions. She also shared a hilarious book with us: The Principal from the Black Lagoon. 😉 We learned that although children are not bad, sometimes they make wrong choices and need help solving problems during the day. The principal is a helper who supports us when we need to solve problems, pray, or simply take a break and talk things out.

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Recess is a foundationally important part of a child’s day; in fact, pediatricians say recess is as important for young children as math or reading! Taking a learning break allows the brain to process the information it has taken in during the day, much like sleep. Children simply need downtime in order to do their best. Although recess is necessary for the development of physical gross motor skills, it also deeply affects social, emotional, and cognitive development as well. Unstructured play gives children the opportunity to develop conflict resolution skills that they otherwise would not. Then they’re ready to come back to class, able to learn and focus on challenging material. At CCA, we protect recess time as a valued period of free play. In the Patience Fruit Stand, the firsties devise their own games and activities, and are able to use the playground freely to swing, run, climb, slide, pretend, and even build or create.

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Remember the pumpkin we began investigating last week? This week we used the seeds we scooped out to practice making and counting sets of 10. Each group of students was given a large sheet of butcher paper and a plateful of pumpkin seeds. They grouped the seeds by 10s, circling and labeling their work on their butcher paper as they counted. Finally, we collected each group’s data and added each group’s number of seeds together to find the total number of seeds inside our pumpkin. We discovered that our pumpkin had exactly 300 seeds inside!20151013_115445 20151013_115500 20151013_115721

After counting all those seeds, we’d worked up an appetite! We followed a pumpkin seed baking recipe step by step, measuring out the necessary ingredients and setting a timer so we’d know when they were done.

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Most of us enjoyed our final taste test!

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We let our pumpkin sit for a week after opening it to collect the seeds. Finally, it was time to investigate what happens to a pumpkin over time. The photographs do not begin to truly show the full “ick” factor, y’all. Our friends thought the strings of moldy yuck looked like cat hair. Shudder. There were “eeeeeeewws” all around! In general, we try to remember that scientists don’t say “eew,” but in this case, it was warranted!

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We learned a lot about the natural process of rot and decay. Now our pumpkin rests outside, by the fence on the edge of our playground so that we can continue to observe its changes over a long period of time!

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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Just a little glimpse into Week 7

Our social studies learning this quarter has revolved around communities inside and out. This week we were blessed with the opportunity to experience a little of what it might feel like to serve the community as a firefighter!

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While the helmet is authentic, the coat is a little snug. I’m also not sure how flame-retardant it would be. These firefighters should talk to their rep about new uniforms! 🙂  Almost everyone said they noticed how heavy the helmet is, and how difficult it would be to wear it while running in and out of a burning building. One firstie even exclaimed that they were “sure glad there’s firemen to keep us safe so we don’t have to worry.” Exactly.

We also began a new scientific investigation into pumpkins. The firsties measured a pumpkin’s height, width, weight, and circumference! Ask your firstie how to find circumference of round items at home!

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To weigh this pumpkin, we had to do a little computation. We weighed our friend by herself and then again holding the pumpkin, then subtracted to find the difference! Ask your firstie to tell you how much our pumpkin weighed and whether or not they made a good estimate.

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We also used our five senses to make scientific observations about the pumpkin. We noticed the way it looked, smelled, felt, and sounded. Did you know that pumpkins have ribs, just like we do? Some of us even tasted the pumpkin’s inner flesh by licking spatters of pumpkin off our fingertips after scooping. We will continue our pumpkin investigation next week by determining how many seeds our pumpkin has and then doing a little pumpkin taste test!

Through writers workshop, the firsties have been learning how authors and illustrators use size, shape, and color to tell stories. They read and re-read The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear to study the illustrator’s use of color, shape, and size. The firsties then applied their learning in their own illustrations, remembering to create  5 Star pictures.

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In readers workshop, the firsties learned and practiced several reading strategies to help them when they come across unfamiliar words while reading. Ask your child to teach you how to check the picture, get your mouth ready, and think about what might make sense. The firsties practiced each skill by reading and re-reading Flower Garden, by Eve Bunting.

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In math this week we reviewed composing and decomposing numbers, place value, and measurement, learned how to write addition and subtraction equations in fact families and count coins. The firsties played games independently, used IXL to practice skills, wrote about the skills in their math journals, and worked with their math groups through guided math.

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Next week is our last week before Fruitful Event week. The firsties have learned so much this quarter! I can’t wait to see what’s next for them!

Communities of the Past, Present, and Future

This week in the Patience Fruit Stand the firstie saints were busy extending their first quarter learning about communities into ideas about past, present, and future. They created timelines and imagined what their homes might have looked like in the past and in the future after reading The House on Maple Street. 9780688120313_xlg

They drew and wrote about themselves as babies, today, and what they might be like in the future. We learned all about schools of the past, and created our own hornbooks to show what learning to read and write was like decades ago, and compared their learning tools (chalk, slates, quill pens) to the ones we use now (crayons, pencils, SMARTboards, Kindles, document cameras).

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We also imagined how learning might be different in the future. Most students believe that school will be completely virtual and we’ll learn from holograms, or alternatively, that schools will float in the air. 🙂 We thought about Uncle Jed and the ways in which his community is different than ours, but also about the ways they are the same (people still take care of each other, families often make sacrifices for one another). We will continue to explore some of these ideas further into the next few weeks! On Friday the firsties were very excited to think about some of the stuff people used in the past. We got to see an early video game system: The Atari! We examined how the console and controller are similar to and different from the systems we already know and love, like the wii, Playstation, and Xbox, then viewed a few short video clips of example games, comparing the music and graphics of each. I’m not sure our firsties truly appreciate the struggle that was “Frogger!”

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Our Reader’s Workshop is fully off and running. Students are engaged in a variety of literacy learning choices, including independent reading, independent writing, word work, partner reading, and listening to reading. This week, students focused on the idea that reading is thinking, and that good readers think while they read. We made connections between our lives and the books we read, such as family vacations during The Relatives Came. They also began thinking about reading strategies and why they are important, using Shh We Have a Plan and Froggy Plays T-Ball to examine the strategies each set of character used when they encountered problems, much like applying the strategies students are learning to problems encountered during word-solving!

relatives cameshhh  froggy

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Some friends like to create phrases or sentences using the letter beads.
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Look at her expression! Reading is exciting!
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During Work on Writing time, students create cards, letters, poems, or even recipes, such as this one about making pizza.
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Saints use many different materials to make words, including play-doh, which is excellent fine motor practice and strengthens the muscles that make handwriting possible.
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This saint creates a wordle using all the words she can find in the room.
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This student explores word families in her Word Work notebook.
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Firsties love to read books created by past first grade classes!

A few more peeks into Readers Workshop:

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In Writer’s Workshop, the firsties continued practicing writing stories near and dear to their hearts and wrapped up their first author study of Kevin Henkes. They also began thinking about how illustrations can help tell the story. Ask your firstie to explain how to create a 5-Star illustration! The firsties are applying their ideas about strategies to writing, too, as they brainstorm writing ideas and plan story sequences. They enjoyed reading Draw Me a Star, Jamaica’s Blue Marker, and Author: A True Story to see how these ideas could be applied in their real-life writing.

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Although they practiced many numeracy, measurement, and addition skills this week, the firsties’ favorite project this week in math was learning how to write secret messages. It is a tricky skill, requiring logical thinking, planning, and sequencing skills. Ask your firstie to write you a secret message and see if you can crack the code!

These firsties practice writing double digit numbers using expanded form.

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He looks less-than-thrilled because my camera wasn’t working and he had to pose through about 5 attempts. Hilarious!

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Our Bible learning centered around the story of Joseph. We learned that his family, and ultimately his employer (well, his employer’s wife), did not treat him very well even though he followed God, yet God was always with him and always provided him a way out of his desperate circumstances. Next week we will learn what Joseph does with the power God grants him, and whether he abuses it for revenge or uses it to do good!