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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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

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.

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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!

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!

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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