Grooming Patience through Community, Waiting on God, and the Order of Numbers

Last week, the firsties groomed patience through the Biblical account of Joseph. They learned that although life may seem like a roller coaster, God is ALWAYS working for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Joseph experienced many hardships throughout his life: his brothers sold him into slavery, his boss’ wife slandered him, and he was tossed into prison an innocent man. Although things probably seemed impossible to overcome, Joseph never relinquished his faith. He trusted that through the good and the bad, God was with him, divining a larger purpose for him. He was patient, and waited on God to provide for him.

In art, we completed a collage to illustrate the beginning of Joseph’s story. Each child created their own colorful coat design using tissue paper!

Through readers workshop, the firsties practiced word work. A “must-do” activity allows them to practice word building and solving skills at their own developmental level as they progress through more challenging skills. They can then make a “can-do” choice, including reading, writing, and stamping pattern or sight words, finding, reading and writing words they see around the room, building words with magnetic letters or letter beads, placing words in ABC order, attending to one letter at a time through rainbow writing words, and rolling dice to construct words using an onset and rime. Word Work is the final independent workshop choice first graders learn; next week students will begin rotating through multiple work stations each day! The firsties also focused on identifying and using fiction and nonfiction texts and began using their schema to make connections to the books they are reading.

The firsties are continuing to work on their personal narratives during writers workshop. Last week, they learned to work with a partner to plan their stories, checking for beginning/middle/end, beginning capitals, ending punctuation, logical spelling attempts, and sufficient details. They read one another their stories and used rubrics and checklists to ensure the inclusion of every important part. Students will continue writing and editing their personal narratives while many are publishing stories!

Math Workshop gave the firsties the opportunity to apply what they have learned about decomposing numbers to solve and illustrate word problems, use place value concepts, and demonstrate building and writing numbers in both standard and expanded form. This solidifies their understanding of our base-ten numerical system as well as place value, setting the foundation for working with much larger numbers in the future. They are also continuing to track the days of the year, reinforcing place value concepts by bundling straws in groups of ten and regrouping coins by 5s and 10s. The most popular calendar time activity is still allowing children to create their own difficult questions about the passage of time. What month will it be in 80 days? Do you know? The firsties figured it out last week!

In music, students practiced good singing posture and learned about their diaphragm. They learned that when breathing correctly, their lower abdomen should expand while their shoulders stay still. Take a deep breath. Notice what your chest does. Notice what your shoulders do. For proper breath support, your chest and shoulders should stay relatively still! Is your abdomen moving? If so, good! You’re breathing correctly! The firsties loved pretending to be Hayden’s snooty and proper audience members when listening again to the Surprise Symphony. They learned all about his life, then practiced being surprised when the dynamics changed.

Just like Uncle Jed, we are all part of a community, not only at school but also in our neighborhoods, cities, state, and country. The first graders listened to a story about a little house that was happy living in the country, but as time passed and the city grew around it, it noticed all the changes that were happening that made life different. The firsties compared and contrasted three types of communities: rural, urban, and suburban. They watched video examples of each and described what made each unique. They began working on projects to illustrate each type of community, which will expand into next week, when they will begin the research they need for their class project.

The firsties experienced what they called their favorite PE game on Friday. Ask what happens when you get hit with a rotten egg!!

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Patience Gives

This quarter in the Patience Fruit Stand, the firsties are investigating what it means to serve. We’re looking at those who serve in the Bible, and reading and studying Miss Rumphius. How did she serve? Who, in the Bible, is she most like?

We learned that Paul and Barnabas traveled far and wide to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We wondered, how is that an act of service? What acts of service could we perform for others? How could we be the hands and feet of Jesus?

In writers workshop, we have been reading and writing narratives, more specifically, realistic fiction. We’ve been reading LOTS of example stories, called mentor texts, we use as models for good writing, allowing us to write stories with details about characters’ actions and mood, setting descriptions, realistic problems and solutions, and most importantly, stories that make sense from beginning to end!

In readers workshop, we’ve been looking at non-fiction text features and how they help our comprehension. We’ve been identifying and using tables of contents, headings, photographs and illustrations, captions, glossaries, and indices to prepare us for our next step: creating our own non-fiction texts using the same features!

In math workshop, we’ve been reviewing hour and half-hour time concepts and practicing quarter-hour time. This week we are reviewing money and coin-counting. Great ways to practice these skills at home include asking students to tell the time using analog clocks, then asking what the time will be after some time has passed. For example, if it is 3:00, ask what time it will be in two hours. If it is 12:30, ask what time it will be in half an hour. Students can also count coins at home, or be given a pile of coins and asked to make the same amount a different way.

Science and social studies have us exploring features of the earth and mapping concepts. We’ve been working on a project to develop our idea of location by zooming in to our own home from outer space! We also celebrated Earth Day by creating a recycled book!

TerraNova testing continues this week. Parents, thank you so much for having students at school on time and ready for each day. They are working so hard and doing so well!

Check out these guys who were awarded Oil Lamp and Oil Jar last week for collaboration. What a great example!

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Patterns, Patterns Everywhere!

This week, the Patience Fruit Stand has been filled with patterns! Firsties have been noticing patterns in the world around them, identifying and classifying patterns, extending patterns, discovering patterns in sound, and playing pattern games.

Patterns in numbers

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Patterns in sound

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Patterns in words

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Patterns in writing

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Patterns in reading

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Patterns in color

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Patterns in counting the number of shakes it takes to make butter in a jar . . .

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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.

strawberry mouse bear

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!

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!

What do readers read? What do writers write?

Educational researcher Lucy Calkins writes, “How do we teach reading—the heartbreaking, soul-searching kind of reading, the reading that makes you feel as if you are breathing some new kind of air? How do we teach the kind of reading that makes you walk through the world differently because a light bulb is no longer just a light bulb; it’s filaments and electricity and the industrial revolution and all that tumbled forth from that? How do we teach the power of reading—the way it allows us to see under the words, between the words, beyond words? How do we teach the intimacy of reading—of belonging to a community that has a shared vocabulary, shared stories, and shared petitions and projects?” Our readers workshop focuses on the fact that reading is, first and foremost, a process of making meaning from a text. Reading is thinking, not merely decoding words. This week, in the Patience Fruit Stand, we focused on why readers read and why writers write. We first discovered that all people read by thinking about our own families and the people around us. Later, to inspire our thinking, we read Read Anything Good Lately? and brainstormed all the different things that people read. Readers read stories, of course, but also ingredients on cereal boxes, newspapers, websites, magazines, lists, letters, cards, emails, text messages, signs, maps, recipes, instructions, jokes, calendars, and dictionaries. We realized that reading is everywhere! We also shared some of our favorite books after reading Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book and listed all the different kinds of books we could think of, then sorted them into fiction/non-fiction categories.

Bulletin Board Reading is Everywhere

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Why do writers write? We learned that all writers have something to say. Writers might write because they just love to write, they want to tell about something that happened, they need to persuade or teach, or just share their feelings. We practiced writing in different forms, including cards, lists, postcards, letters, poems, stories, and recipes. Regardless of what we’re writing, we are developing our own voice through choice. Writers choose to write about topics that are meaningful to them; they choose their own writing topics. This means that each individual student is at a different stage of writing. This allows the teacher to meet with each student at his or her own level and provide individual instruction, encouragement, or motivation as needed. Some students are working on using a single complete sentence correctly while others are beginning paragraphs. At all stages, we worked on writing using correct letter formation so that our messages are readable for others. We also practiced building writing stamina so that we can write the whole time without getting tired, and thought about what to do when we think we’re done with a story. We learned that “when you think you’re done, you’ve really just begun!” Good writers always re-read their own writing, check their spelling and punctuation, and add details to the story or illustration before moving on to their next piece of writing.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into our readers and writers workshops. I am excited to see what develops next week!