We’re “Batty” for First Grade!

One of the things the firsties learned about this week is BATS! We read several nonfiction books and articles about bats and watched a short video clip of the largest bat colony in the world to see how bats swoop and glide. We created bats and learned about all of their parts. Many firsties were surprised to learn that a bat’s wing is really like one large hand with thin skin stretched in between each finger! We learned all about what bats eat, and that although different bats have different diets, none of them like to drink human blood – a few firsties thought they did! Did you know that a bat can eat approximately 600 mosquitos in an hour? The firsties worked in groups to count out 600 mosquitos and serve them up on dinner plates. 🙂 We recorded our learning throughout the week on our bat chart, and used the information we collected to write about bats.

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Last quarter we learned about community helpers, and since October was also Fire Prevention month, we scheduled a visit to the fire station! We’re so blessed to have a station right across the street. 🙂 We got to tour the entire fire house, and learned so many things about these men and women who serve our community! Inside, we got to see their office, kitchen, weight room, lockers, and bedrooms. Did you know that they sleep and eat in the fire house? Did you know that all the food and other staples they buy to share at work is purchased out-of-pocket? We learned what to do in a fire, not to be scared of the uniform in case of an emergency, and that we should all know our own home address so that emergency responders know where to go! Finally, everyone got to hear the siren and sit behind the wheel of the truck and pretend to drive. Our visit was SO much fun!

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On Friday, we practiced following a recipe and writing instructions for others to follow. We made “Franken-snacks” out of rice krispie treats, icing, and sprinkles, and then wrote about the process. Check out our delicious learning!

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Farmers Market Field Trip

The second quarter was all about Ox-Cart Man, during which we learned all about economics, money and trade, 18th-century and modern farming methods, the science behind food growth and preparation, animal life cycles, sustainability, and trust in the Lord. To round out our learning, we traveled to the Virginia Beach Farmers Market where we got to experience some of these things first hand!

Our guide, Ms. Mary, helped us make connections between our book and all of the things we experienced that day. Check it out! Some of the things we did included visiting the market and gardens, grinding corn into meal, sprouting seeds, touching different animal coverings, textiles, and fabrics, sorting fruits and vegetables by kind, priming and pumping water into a basin for washing clothes, hand-washing laundry and hanging it to dry, milking a fiberglass cow, churning cream into butter, and visiting a real butcher shop, bakery, and creamery, where we got to sample fresh ice cream!

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Field Trip: Virginia Beach Farmers Market

So, after two consecutive snow days, I’d say our first day back was pretty awesome.  We went to the Virginia Beach Farmers Market to celebrate and wrap-up our Ox-Cart Man quarter.  When I spoke to our guide on the phone while planning this trip, I thought maybe she’d talk to us about how the market works, show us some vendor stalls, show and discuss antique farm tools and help us make connections to the book, let us take a tour of the grounds, etc.  Certainly, I expected a great trip chock-full of learning opportunities.  I had also originally planned our trip for an earlier date in December (you know, when it was almost 60 degrees outside – not 20!), so I was a little nervous about how we would weather the temperature today.


First, we were just about the only people there.  The VA Beach Farmers Market is a rather large place, and I imagine that during the warmer season, when there are tons of vendors out, it must be PACKED.  Today, it felt like the whole market belonged only to us!  When we arrived, Ms. Terri met us at the agriculture center and invited us inside.  Yes, that’s right – INSIDE.  Where there was HEAT!  Praise the Lord!  The children were given a large carpet to sit on, and the adult chaperones were granted comfy chairs.  We realized that we were immersed in farm culture from the salted hams hanging from the beams to the antique farming equipment displayed on the walls.  From there, Ms. Terri taught us all about the different stages of plant growth, and showed us examples of seeds (strawberries), roots (potatoes), stems (asparagus), and flowers (broccoli) that we eat every day.  The firsties were shocked to discover that even bananas have seeds!  She showed us several vegetables that many firsties had never heard of, such as artichokes and beets, and discussed the different parts of agriculture, including fishing (we got to see and touch real oyster shells) and textile production (the firsties enjoyed searching for the seeds in bolls of cotton).

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Next, Ms. Terri explained that farm children often had many responsibilities each morning before they could go to school.  The firsties enjoyed six different stations, representing the chores that children might have had to do.  At one station, firsties practiced milking a (fiberglass) cow, working the udder to produce streams of “milk” into a galvanized bucket.

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At another, firsties used a washboard and washtub to scrub dirt out of pieces of cloth.  Usually the wet clothes would be hung on an outside clothesline; however, due to risk of FREEZING, Ms. Terri kindly set up a drying rack for the cloths to dry.  Check out the vintage Maytag with manual ringer in the background.  After watching the firsties do laundry today, I sure feel blessed by my LG Frontloader!

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At a third station, firsties ground corn into cornmeal.  Ms. Terri demonstrated how the corn would be shucked manually from the cob, but due to the blades inside, firsties could not complete this part of the station.  Once shucked, the pieces of corn were poured into a grinder and firsties turned the crank to grind the corn!  We also learned that the most finely ground bits of the meal are fed to baby chicks.  Awwwww!

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At a fourth station, students used a glass churn to churn cream into butter.  Ms. Terri was surprised to learn that we churned our own cream into butter in class during our Ox-Cart Man study, and then enjoyed it with homemade waffles and maple syrup.  Using the churn was MUCH faster (shaking the cream in a jar required about 460 shakes – we counted).

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At the fifth station, students pretended to shop a farmers market by choosing different fruit and vegetables (both pretend AND real) from a stand and weighing them on a scale.

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The sixth and final station allowed students to germinate a soybean seed using water, a cotton ball, and the children’s own body heat.  That’s the necklace your child was wearing around his or her neck when he or she got home today.  🙂

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Once each child had a turn to try everything, we headed out of the station room and over to the shops.  Ms. Terri showed us a huge platform where farmers and local merchants drive right up in their trucks and display their products.  We walked just a little farther and entered (heat!) my favorite shop – the bakery.  Oh. My. Word.  There were cakes, cookies, pies, roasted chickens, freshly baked breads, rolls, and tarts.  I think I drooled a little.  The baker introduced himself, and his wife, and chatted with the firsties about the ingredients he most often uses in his baking.  We were surprised to learn that he uses a lot of sweet potatoes!  We also toured an old fashioned candy store which was located inside the bakery (I think the firsties drooled a little) and then headed out to our next stop.

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At the butcher shop, which REALLY smelled a lot like raw meat – gag – the firsties learned about where the meat we eat really comes from.  We also learned that this particular butcher sells some unique items, so if you get a hankering for ostrich or kangaroo, this is where you need to shop.  😉

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Our last (and best) stop was the creamery.  At the creamery, workers sell fresh milk and cream, and make delicious, homemade ice cream.  We each got to taste a scoop, and WOW.  There is just nothing better!  What a perfect end to our trip!

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Overall, we learned a lot and had a great time.  It was a fabulous way to wrap up our Ox-Cart Man study.  Ms. Terri gave us a parting gift of a set of coloring books, fitness and nutrition information, and smarties (from the candy shop).  One firstie asked if we could “come back tomorrow.”

If you would like to check it out, I highly recommend you do.  Tomorrow they are salting hams.  Many firsties were extremely interested!  




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:



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.


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!


Field Trip to the Virginia Living Museum & the Weekly Wrap-Up

To wrap up our study of habitats, the firsties and second graders went on a field trip to the Virginia Living Museum. Ohmyword. It was amazing!

I can’t tell you how many times a student said, “that’s just like what we learned!” or “I just wrote a story in Writer’s Workshop about that!” They were using a lot of the great vocabulary we learned, like ‘predator,’ ‘prey,’ ‘coniferous,’ ‘deciduous,’ ‘omnivore,’ ‘herbivore,’ and ‘carnivore!’ Of course, we were all asking a million questions about all the things we were seeing, building and expanding our schema as we observed God’s precious creatures. I have so many photos but they’re on my phone, which is dead now from taking so many pictures! I’ll get them up soon.

Some of the students’ favorite animals were the otter, the bees, the jellies (my personal favorite!), and the wolves. It was so cool to see the habitats we’d learned about come to life!

Now for the Weekly Wrap-Up!

This week, we learned about Martha and Mary. We learned that although both sisters loved Jesus very much, and wanted to show Him their love, Martha chose keeping busy instead of listening to Jesus’ teachings. Mary, however, chose to sit and spend time with her Lord. We talked about how a lot of times, we get so busy that we forget the better choice, spending time with the God who loves us!

In Reader’s Workshop, we learned about how asking good questions during reading helps us to connect and build comprehension.

In Math, we reviewed place value, time, and practiced our math facts to build fact power.

In Science, we learned all about the Rainforest. Ask your child about their favorite Rainforest animal, and what animal is currently hanging around our classroom! We also hung up our forest mural from last week. Hurry and see it – the animals will come down before the literacy event so they can be placed in binders!

Reminder – the literacy event for Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie is on Wednesday at 1:30 in the chapel room. If you would like to volunteer to bring in an ocean-themed snack or drink, please let me know as soon as possible (no seafood, please).  We can’t wait to share our learning with you!

Also, please remember that the habitat projects/animal reports are due MONDAY the 25th!  They will be on display outside our classroom for literacy event week, and will be sent home with your child, graded, on Thursday.  I have been hearing lots of details from the firsties about their projects.  I can’t wait to see them!!

Enjoy the sunny (but chilly!) weather this weekend!