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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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!

Beth Moore: Grace

 

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On Saturday, I went to the Living Proof Live Simulcast to hear Beth Moore speak on grace.  I can’t really articulate exactly how blessed, encouraged, and broken I was by the Word she brought to us.  I think as teachers, we work so hard to try to meet every single need of every single student and every single family, but the truth is that not only can we physically not do that, we don’t have to do that.  We are free to be the best we can for our students and to allow God to do the rest.  A lot of my personal struggle stems from my sinful desire to be perfect and my “head-knowledge” that I’m not and I can’t be.  I fail each and every day, but it’s okay, because God has given me a place to be drenched in His perfection, to be consumed by His grace in a way that allows me to simply serve in this amazing ministry.  To live out Ephesians 4:32 and just “GRACE PEOPLE.”

Did you know that God is never disappointed with us?  Never.  Disappointment comes from an expectation that has not been met.  God does not have expectations of us.  Disappointment is a human emotion.  He is only ever displeased, and only then with our lack of faith!  We are called to obedience, and the number one obedience is that of faith.  If I’m not doing that in my practical life; if I can’t relinquish that control over my students’ learning, then there is really no room for God to move, for God’s grace to abound not only in my own life but in the lives of my students.

Well.  No longer.

Romans 5:1-2