It’s hard to believe that we’re three weeks into the school year already, but here we are! If you’re wondering what it’s like to be a first grader, we thought we’d give you a “day in the life” experience as a guest in the Patience Fruit Stand.
Upon entering the room, firsties quickly and independently take care of administrative tasks. They greet their teacher and friends, put away their snack or lunch and GO Book, hand in any money, and choose a lunch chart option: packed or school lunch. They then immediately check their finish up folder for any unfinished work from the day before.
Flexible seating options allow firsties to choose the most comfortable area for them to work, whether they choose to stand, use a table and chair, table and pillow, or clipboard and carpet, yoga mat, or circle chair.
After all unfinished work is completed, they then make a morning tub choice. Morning tubs are inviting collections of blocks, shapes, tubes, and cubes for constructing, as well as journaling prompts, sound and letter activities, and problem-solving challenges. This time has quickly become precious to the first graders, as it is fleeting, and they work hard to make sure they can get the most out of their time!
At morning meeting, students have been learning to greet one another in foreign languages. This week, the saints learned to say “Good day, my name is . . . ” in Portugese, Sweedish, and Icelandic. We always start the day with a greeting and a prayer. This sets the tone for the day, helps build our classroom community, and reinforces important skills, such as active listening, taking turns, oral language, and respect for others.
During Readers Workshop, this week the first graders have been learning to read to a partner. They have been working to build their stamina and read for longer and longer periods of time. Ask your firstie to explain how to sit “EEKK,” what it means to be a good coach, and how to solve a problem with a partner.
Throughout the day, the first graders enjoy several “brain breaks,” moments of music and movement that allow the brain processing time and the body to release any pent-up energy! Koo Koo Kangaroo and the Zumba Crew are some of our favorite choices! Ask your firstie to tell you their favorite song and teach you their favorite dance!
During Writers Workshop this week, the firsties have been learning several different strategies for writing the sounds they hear in words. They know how to “stretch out” a word in order to identify all of the sounds, and know to make sure they write a letter (or letters) for each sound. They know if they skip a sound, the word doesn’t make sense! While stretching words, they can use their ABC charts in their writers folders to see how to form each letter correctly. Sometimes they might come across a word they recognize from a book, or one they’ve spelled so often they know it “in a snap,” as we say. In that case, we can write the word from memory, or check the word wall to see if it’s a sight word we have collected. We can also use patterns or chunks we already know to build new words. Today, the firsties realized that knowing the word “like” also helps them know how to spell words like “bike,” “Mike,” and “hike!” With “pot,” they can spell “hot,” “not,” and “cot!” Words are amazing! We added a middle and end to our class story this week while each student completed stories of their own.
Bible this week has been all about Noah. The firsties explored one of the most beautiful illustrated books about Noah after reading the Biblical account. Many were surprised to learn that even dinosaurs were on the ark! They memorized Genesis 6:8 and discussed what it means to “find favor” in the eyes of someone, then quickly concluded that it’s not important to impress others; only God’s opinion matters. This is why Noah was able to ignore his hecklers and follow God’s instructions, even though they might have seemed strange at the time. They were given a few materials and asked to construct arks of their own. The firsties will finish up these amazing projects next week.
At P.E. today, the firsties and second graders played “Noodle Tag,” an exciting game that invites zigging and zagging, ducking and reaching as some children chase others to tag them with noodles. Once frozen, the “un-freezers” tag the frozen to release them.
Our math workshop continues to show firsties how to rotate through learning stations efficiently. They are learning that voice level matters! It’s hard to think when friends are loud, although sharing ideas and talking about math thinking helps our brains to grow and develop. They worked on journaling in math, using number puzzles to create 100s charts, made 2D shapes using geoboards, compared numbers, identified numbers that appear before and after, played number guessing games, and developed addition and subtraction skills. They’ve also become calendar time experts. One of our favorite calendar activities is for the helper to ask the group questions, such as “how many more days until Tuesday?” or “What month will it be in 30 months?” These questions, posed by students, are not only wonderful glimpses into what they’re wondering about, but also a peek into their developing minds and understandings about time, numeracy, and problem-solving skills. And yes, one of the firsties was able to figure out what month it will be in 30 months after we discussed how 12 months are in a year. Once they saw groups of 12, they were able to count from 24 to 30. These kinds of investigations help children see numbers as flexible groups of other numbers, which builds the foundation for higher-level math and critical thinking later in life.
Our science investigations have continued to center on understanding what science actually is. This week, students learned about molecules and how they move, conducting their own discovery of capillary action. They also learned that science exists to answer questions about the physical world, but is limited to what we can physically observe. Today the firsties asked “who can build the tallest marshmallow tower?” and designed prototypes and tested their designs to see what worked and what didn’t work. They didn’t realize they were exploring physics and other engineering-related tasks while executing their challenge!
Today, the first graders also attended their first Chapel of the year. They learned the purposes of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Pledge to the Christian Flag, the Pledge to the Bible, and the Honor Code Pledge. They heard the story of Little Pot and how the Potter has designed all of us to be fruit pots, growing and sharing the Fruit of the Spirit with others. The firsties collected the most fruit and brought Fruit Pot back to the Patience Fruit Stand with them. They also worshiped through song and dance!
At the end of the day, the firsties counted their happys and saddys and realized that they’d earned a treat. Our daily routines and procedures are much more familiar now, and learning to follow directions quickly, raise their hands, and make smart choices, is paying off!