Sharing & Giving

Sharing is hard. Right? And it can be hard for everyone, not just little ones. For example, as parents, we find ourselves sharing all that we have with our children. We share our food, our stuff, our bed space, our time, and our love. Sometimes, as a mom, I want to not share (especially my food and sleep – ha!). I want those precious hours of uninterrupted REM to myself, or to simply eat a peaceful meal without hearing “Mommymommymommymommy” 100 times in a row, but ultimately we do share the things we have because we love our children unconditionally and want to put them first. Even when our energy is low, our plates are nearly empty, and our patience is wearing thin; we give.

How much more does our Heavenly Father give to us? In the Patience Fruit Stand, we’ve been learning about the ways Jesus shows us how to live. When he fed the 5,000, the Bible says he was originally headed to a place to rest. He was tired. He’d been traveling and teaching, and honestly, he probably just wanted to grab a nap and some food. But when the people found out where he was going, they went there too, and suddenly Jesus was in the presence of a huge crowd of people. Did he turn them away? Did he remind them of his busy speaking schedule and retreat into solitude? Matthew 14 tells us that he had compassion on them. He put them first. He healed their sick. He gave.

This past week, we learned about the widow in Luke 21. Many people were going to the temple to give to God out of their finances. The Bible says that the rich gave “out of their abundance,” meaning, they had so much that their gift was no great sacrifice. Contrast this display to the widow who only gave two small coins. It doesn’t sound like much, but to this widow, who had very little, it was everything she had. We can imagine that the big gifts from the wealthy were what people were watching. Probably no one noticed the widow and her seemingly inconsequential gift. But Jesus noticed. He said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.” Her gift was a gift of proportion. The widow demonstrated sacrificial giving.

The Bible shows us over and over again how God gives this way to us. He gave His only Son, after all, and as our Bible verse this week described, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

The Bible doesn’t tell us the widow’s fate. Did she go home, her last means of self-support gone, to wither away and die? I don’t think so. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure [ . . . ] will be poured into your lap.” In other words, you reap what you sow.

Here are some of the clay coins the firsties designed to help them remember this moment in Biblical history, to remember to give to others, even when it means missing out on something they want.

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I noticed many examples of sacrificial giving during the week, moments where a student put another first. One washed another’s paint-covered table after art without being asked. One helped a friend tie his shoe. One waited patiently after being called on when a friend bumped his knee and needed a teacher’s immediate attention, giving up her turn. One shared a part of her snack when a friend forgot his at home. One passed a friend the last piece of white paper, even though she was planning to use it herself.

These little moments might not seem like much. They might even go unnoticed by most.

Jesus notices.

 

 

The firsties share their attention with this week’s Star of the Week as he shares about himself, reads a story, and demonstrates his talent.

 

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The firstie saints devote focus to an assortment of scientific research and writing projects throughout the week.

 

The firsties give one another respect and grow patience while taking turns during math workshop and calendar.

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

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!

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!

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!

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!

A Marvelous Mid-Week Meander

As my Granny used to say, “Well, foot!”  Ha!  I never got around to posting anything about last week.  Since I’m super stoked to share about our field trip on Monday, I’m going to give a little mid-week update and a glimpse into what’s coming up.

We’re five weeks into the first quarter, people.  FIVE WEEKS.  I think each year goes by a little faster than the one before.  I think each year is a little busier than the year before.

Speaking of busy . . .

I know I usually post a LOT about our literacy learning, because hey, “that’s my THANG, y’all!” but I wanted to take a moment to put a little spotlight on math.  In first grade, we do a lot of workshopping.  It works, because it teaches children to be independent and take responsibility for their own learning.  It’s also great because it allows me to continually assess individual children and meet their diverse learning needs, often one-on-one or in a small group.  It also gives students repeated exposure to concepts that “spiral,” or build upon one another, gradually increasing in difficulty.  Not only do we workshop our learning for reading and writing; we workshop for math, too.  Here are a few photos of our work over the last week:

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On Monday of this week, the whole school took a field trip to Atlantic Shores Baptist Church in order to hear Ken Ham and Buddy Davis present a Biblical perspective on dinosaurs.  It was such a great overview of how the Bible explains the existence of dinosaurs and the mystery of their extinction.  I found this video that gives a nice little summary of all the things your child learned on the field trip.  Obviously, Mr. Ham and Mr. Davis gave their presentation using really cool videos, catchy music, and interesting visual-aids, but this will give you a general idea.

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If you’re looking for something a little more in-depth, check this out:

Coming up, the firsties will be diving into all things Fall.  I can’t wait to get started on the science of apples, pumpkins, trees, and (always a firstie favorite) bats!  My house smells like pumpkin pie (not because I’m actually baking; I just have a delicious-smelling candle burning) and I’m looking forward to my fourth pumpkin spice latte of the season tomorrow morning.  I love this season!