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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Pumpkins, Science, and Math . . . Oh My!

Who knew you could learn so much from a pumpkin?

This week, we used pumpkins to integrate almost every subject, but focused on science and math.  We learned a lot about the things good scientists do, like asking questions, collecting data, recording findings, and using smart thinking!  We approached our study of pumpkins very scientifically. First, we started developing our schema. We did lots of thinking about things we already knew about pumpkins and compared that schema to what we had learned about apples. To help us confirm our previous knowledge, dig deeper, clear up misconceptions, and add new schema, we read From Seed to Pumpkin, Apples and Pumpkins, Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin PieThe Pumpkin Book, and Pumpkin Pumpkin.

seed to pumpkin apples and pumpkinsseed sprout pumpkin piepumpkin book pumpkin pumpkin


We recorded the things we already knew, wanted to learn, and new learning to a chart. We made observations of the exterior of our class pumpkin using our five senses. We discovered that we could learn a lot just by thinking about what we could see, hear, smell, and touch (we didn’t do any pumpkin tasting, at first). Then we recorded all of the great descriptive adjectives we used to describe our pumpkin.  We used what we’d learned to create a life cycle project in which we recorded what we learned about each stage of a pumpkin’s development and its order.

On another day, we began collecting scientific data about our pumpkin. First, we estimated how much our pumpkin weighed. We learned that an estimate is a “smart” guess, or our “best” guess, and uses information we already know to be true.  We had some pretty interesting estimates!  We learned that a scale is a tool that can be used to measure weight, or how heavy something is. After making our estimates, we tried weighing the pumpkin on our scale, but it wasn’t quite sensitive enough. So, one of our firsties volunteered to be weighed both holding the pumpkin and without holding the pumpkin. We subtracted to find the difference, and found out that our pumpkin really weighed 10 pounds!


Our next pumpkin investigation allowed us to collect data about our pumpkin’s height, weight, and circumference. We learned that a ruler is a tool that can measure objects from a starting point to an endpoint. We could use a ruler or yardstick to measure vertically to find height or horizontally to find width. Once we found our measurements, we recorded our data on a chart and individually on recording sheets. We next wanted to find out our pumpkin’s circumference.  We learned that “circumference” is a fancy math word for “distance around.”  First, we discovered that we needed a new tool. Our yardstick just wasn’t flexible enough to go around the pumpkin! It might break!  So, we brainstormed other ideas until deciding that we could use a piece of yarn, wrap it around the pumpkin, and then measure it with our yardstick to see how long it was. Great! Before that, we made estimates by each choosing a length of yarn that we believed would wrap around the pumpkin without overlapping or having any gaps. We checked and sorted our estimates in groups, and labeled them “too short,” “too long,” and “just right.”


Finally, the moment the students were anticipating: time to cut the pumpkin! We used our senses again to see, hear, smell, and touch (again, no tasting, yet) the pumpkin’s insides. Some of us thought this experience was “so disgusting!” but we learned that scientists are brave and “never say ‘ew;'” instead believing that getting a little messy is worth it, in the name of science!

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While we made observations about the inside of the pumpkin, we also learned about and labeled the parts of a pumpkin and thought about ways they were similar to and different from apples. Both apples and pumpkins have seeds inside, but apples have flesh and pumpkins have pulp (or “plup,” as one firstie called it!), and apples have skin while pumpkins have a rind.

After scooping out all of the pumpkin’s insides and separating the seeds from the pulp, we learned about volume. We discovered that “volume” is a fancy science and math word for “how much water something can hold.” We wondered how much water our pumpkin could hold! We took turns measuring out cups of water and pouring them into the cavity of the pumpkin, keeping track of the number of cups we poured in each time.

Once we had the pulp and seeds separated, we wondered how many seeds were inside our pumpkin (any question that allows us to collect data, right?). The firsties worked together to create groups of ten seeds, counting, circling, and recording as they worked. Once finished, we counted all of our groups of ten, then combined leftover groups into ten, and finally counted by tens to figure out that our pumpkin had  473 seeds inside!

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We wanted to use our pumpkin for one last bit of learning about the scientific process. This project is an ongoing one, and likely won’t be completed for a while. We wondered whether or not a pumpkin plant would grow inside of another pumpkin. We already knew that scientists ask good questions, but learned that when trying to answer those questions, scientists make a hypothesis. After a vote, we hypothesized that a pumpkin plant would grow inside a pumpkin plant, if given soil, water, and sunlight.

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On Friday, we enjoyed a little baking activity as we read and followed a recipe together to roast the pumpkin seeds we’d saved. YUM!


I can’t wait to see what happens with our experiment!

It’s May!

Whaaaaat!?  How is it possibly already MAY?  Didn’t we just start this school year a few days ago?  I feel like I was just putting up bulletin board boarders and labeling book boxes with my sweet firsties’ precious names!

Well, after a week of Spring Break and two weeks of achievement testing, we’re finally back into the swing of our regular routines and schedule. Homework will start back up again and we’ll start learning about a new Author of the Month!  Information about this quarter’s project went home this past week and I can’t wait to see everyone’s creative ideas for serving others.

I think my pregnancy brain is blocking my ability to remember to get out my camera to capture what we’re up to, so here’s a little of what we’ve been doing outside of our testing time.  You know, when I remember to take pictures!!!  😉

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Anthony explains what happens when soil is sieved while Jehlani demonstrates the process.20140502_142447 20140502_141131 20140501_140315

Kayla and Olivia discuss how to write how much money we’ve collected since the beginning of the school year using both a cents symbol as well as dollars and cents notation.20140501_135719 20140501_115825

Kylie, budding florist.


The “mouse bouquet” given to me by a sweet firstie!


Lena and Kylie organize number cards with different number representations on them. Are they equal or not equal?


Madilyn and Jehlani use a number card and find the numbers that are one more, one less, ten more, and ten less and record them on a dry-erase board.20140428_142427 20140428_142321

While playing a game to reinforce geometry skills, James creates a shape creature and records it on a piece of paper.

Anthony solves a number story problem in his math journal, coming up with at least three different ways to show his answer.


Brennan explains to me why he thinks these pennies were tossed evenly as heads and tails in a probability experiment.20140428_141952 20140423_142000

Olivia sorts everyday objects by shape type using the SMARTboard.20140423_141113

Anthony matches shapes and their geometry names.20140423_135918 20140423_135934

Lena reviews shapes and number concepts with her firstie friends!


Love is . . .

Whew! Valentine’s Day is so much fun in the Patience Fruit Stand, but I could tell there were some sugar comas approaching by the end of the day. Maybe myself included! Ha! A special thank you to all the families that worked hard to help make today special by volunteering to bring in treats. Thank you as well to everyone for sending in Valentines for all the children. Delivering their special treats to their friends was the highlight of their day, and watching them open and enjoy some of them at the end was so much fun! As a mom, I know how time-consuming it can be to prepare treats for the whole class. All of your contributions were greatly appreciated. Thank you!

20140214_110507Each student delivered valentines to their friends’ special, handmade mailboxes.


In Reader’s Workshop this week we learned about how asking questions while we read makes us better readers. The firsties helped me think of questions to ask before, during and after reading, and then practiced using this strategy during their independent reading. We also brainstormed lots of ways we could ask questions all day, every day. We learned that asking questions is the best way to learn new things, and that we should always ask questions when we’re curious about something.

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Students use the SMARTboard to identify “Bossy R” words, or words with r-controlled vowels.

We are fully in the swing of our February author study. This month we’re focusing on Leo Lionni. Ask your firstie about their favorite Lionni story we’ve read thus far! The first graders noticed many things that Leo Lionni does well as an author and illustrator. They observed that they can use some of his strategies to make their own writing better, by using more details, writing “five-senses” descriptions, or by drawing more intricate pictures. We also discussed Lionni’s use of torn and cut paper artwork to create realistic images for his books.

alexander and the wind up mouse biggest house inch by inch

In Writer’s Workshop we’ve been thinking about how to choose more powerful words. We looked at several examples of writing and decided which ones were exciting to read and which were a chore. We learned that we should use words that help us to make a mental image of what we’re reading and reflect the five senses. Ask your child how many stories he or she has published so far. Our writing has gotten more detailed, longer, and better (as far as use of conventions) each quarter! Woo hoo!

In Science we’ve been studying the weather and beginning our habitat studies. We learned all about the different types of clouds, how to recognize them, and the types of weather with which they are associated. We’ve also been learning about and reviewing the water cycle. Ask your child what they know about the Arctic and the Antarctic. We thought the cutest Arctic animal was the ermine. I mean, look at this thing! Winner of the Most Darlin’ Lil’ Weasel Award! You might be surprised to learn that they are considered one of the fiercest predators in Alaska. Crafty, swift, and silent, they easily creep into the dens and burrows of their prey, where they target the unlucky animal’s neck, targeting the spinal column. I digress.


They all wrote and illustrated books about their learning this week. Next week we will begin thinking about a new habitat. So exciting!


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A student records words he knows about polar habitats.

Students work to recreate the aurora borealis (the Northern Lights) over the Arctic Ocean using watercolors.

Students create a snowy city landscape using a flick art technique.

In Math we’ve been busy working with place value concepts, comparing and relating numbers (especially in number stories), turn-around facts, and reviewing “rules.” Next week we will begin building our “fact power.” In addition to our usual IXL assignments, I’ll begin sending home Fact Triangle cards for your child to use to practice learning their addition and subtraction facts. We’ve been working with basic facts since the beginning of the year, using games like “two-fisted penny addition,” and tools such as number lines, number grids, dominoes, dice, counters, etc. to help solve addition problems. We will begin using facts tables and these facts triangles to establish the link between addition and subtraction. By the end of second grade, students will be expected to know all of the subtraction facts. Rather than have children simply memorize the facts (we know memorization is NOT learning), we emphasize the relationship between addition and subtraction. When solving a subtraction problem, such as 9-5, children are encouraged to ask “What number should I add to 5 to get 9?” Ultimately, children will be able to solve such problems automatically.

fact triangle

In Bible we’ve been learning about Jesus’ early life and introduced his early ministry. Ask your child about Jesus’ teaching at the synagogue as a child, or about what his words to the woman at the well can teach us about the power of the Holy Spirit. They should be able to tell you that although the woman thought Jesus was referring to physical water, He was offering her something more, Living Water, which would cleanse her heart and remove her sins.
Today our chapel lesson was about love. We read 1 Corinthians 13:4, which says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” The KJV describes “patience” as “long suffering.” In class, we talked about what that means; how do we suffer for one another? We read a book by Eve Bunting and Jan Brett called The Valentine Bears, in which one bear wakes up early from her hibernation to prepare a special Valentine’s Day celebration for her spouse. She goes out in the cold, bathes in frigid water, labors to dig up honey she has stored away, collects special treats, such as nuts, berries, and bugs, and goes through extreme effort to wake her deeply sleeping bear husband. Eventually, when he does not awaken, she attempts to wake him by dousing him with cold water, yet accidentally dumps it on herself! The first graders were able to identify many examples of suffering this doting bear wife experiences while preparing a special surprise. Ultimately her efforts are rewarded when her husband wakes up and surprises her with a gift of his own, and they spend a lovely day together in their cave. The firsties then compared the bear’s love to the way their own parents make sacrifices and suffer for them. The most popular examples were going to work and “slaving away,” as one firstie put it, providing food, shelter, and clothing, and when parents give up their precious sleep to comfort firsties after a nightmare. From their answers, it was clear that these firsties truly feel loved and appreciate all the hard work their parents do for them!


Short and Sweet: Spotlight on Science & Math

Hey, firstie families!  Well, I asked for sun! What a sweet gift this weather is.  We were outside on the playground today and two dear firsties asked if they could sit on the blacktop with me.  One said, “it feels so hot and good.  It makes me happy to just sit and rest with you.”  My heart was just about to burst!  It was warm, and the breeze was cool and gentle.  We soaked it up.  (I maaaaaay have given them an extra five minutes . . . shhhh – don’t tell anyone!)  Who knows how long this kind of fabulous Fall weather will last?

This week has been a super busy week.  It’s always a little hectic when you try to get everything in on a short week, but we did it!  Because next week is Literacy Event week, and we’ve been doing some preparing, I can’t share everything we did.  Here is a little spotlight on our fun pumpkin investigations!

At the beginning of the week we discussed methods of measurement.  We talked about how we can measure distance, temperature, height, weight, length, and even time using different tools.  We looked at a few different ones and discovered which tools would be most appropriate for the different types of measurement.


We then made estimates of each dimension.  This is the chart we made for circumference.  The students each cut a piece of string to the length they thought would be enough to go around the pumpkin.  We measured the strings using a ruler.  We discovered this was a great way to measure circumference when you don’t have a tape-measure!


Each child made an estimate of the number of seeds we would find in our pumpkin.  We recorded our guesses and then cut open and counted each.and.every seed within!  They loved scooping out the piles of “guts” and seeds!  That’s it for this week’s “spotlight on science and math.”  We have to save something for the event.  🙂

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Plants, Plants, Everywhere

Like so many other primary classrooms, the firsties are deeply engrossed in a study of plants!  Check out what we’re learning!

Favorite Plants Graph

We graphed our favorite plants.  Apparently nobody likes trees.  😉



We used our graph to analyze our class data on personal graphs.


Bean SproutBean Sprout

We’ve been germinating green bean seeds on our classroom window.  Check them out!  Some are growing right out of the baggies!  Of course, like all good scientists, we’re recording our observations in our germination journals.

Science Journal

We have investigated the properties and characteristics of soil through a soil dig.  Again, we record and collect our findings.  Some of us thought the wet soil was really gross.  🙂

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Soil Dig3Soil Dig4







As you can see, the firsties have been extremely busy!  There is so much to learn!  Ask your child to share something they learned with you!  🙂