Fall in Full Swing

Over the first two weeks of the first quarter, the firsties have jumped right in to seeing how patience grows.

They’ve been studying “how to” writing by reading (both good and bad) written instructions and attempting to follow them, and kicked off their inquiry through creating and writing about a snack mix! They used their new skills to create and write about a Frankensnack.

On Thursday, students learned about different branches of the US military and what it means to be a veteran. To thank those who have served our country, the firsties wrote letters either to service men and women they personally knew, or unnamed veterans who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms. You can check them out in the main hallway.

In math, the firsties have been practicing measurement using non-standard items, such as blocks, paperclips, and linking cubes. They’ve also continued to review and practice place value concepts, like expanded form, and graphing meaningful collected data.

After learning all about bats in science last week, during reader’s workshop, the firsties have been engaged in a character study of one of our favorite story characters: Stellaluna. They’ve learned how characters change, how one little event can start a series, and all about point of view.

We’ve been studying Moses in Bible, and how no matter how little faith the Istaelites had, God continued to keep his promises and take care of his peoole. The firsties weaved paper baskets like the one that held infant Moses in the river, created their own version of the burning bush using paints, wrote and illustrated their own books about the 10 plagues of Egypt, and created a depiction of Moses bringing the 10 Commandments.

It’s been a busy 2nd quarter beginning, and we still have so much to learn! Can’t wait to see where the quarter takes us!

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!!

A Day in the Life

It’s hard to believe that we’re three weeks into the school year already, but here we are! If you’re wondering what it’s like to be a first grader, we thought we’d give you a “day in the life” experience as a guest in the Patience Fruit Stand.

Upon entering the room, firsties quickly and independently take care of administrative tasks. They greet their teacher and friends, put away their snack or lunch and GO Book, hand in any money, and choose a lunch chart option: packed or school lunch. They then immediately check their finish up folder for any unfinished work from the day before.

Flexible seating options allow firsties to choose the most comfortable area for them to work, whether they choose to stand, use a table and chair, table and pillow, or clipboard and carpet, yoga mat, or circle chair.

After all unfinished work is completed, they then make a morning tub choice. Morning tubs are inviting collections of blocks, shapes, tubes, and cubes for constructing, as well as journaling prompts, sound and letter activities, and problem-solving challenges. This time has quickly become precious to the first graders, as it is fleeting, and they work hard to make sure they can get the most out of their time!

At morning meeting, students have been learning to greet one another in foreign languages. This week, the saints learned to say “Good day, my name is . . . ” in Portugese, Sweedish, and Icelandic. We always start the day with a greeting and a prayer. This sets the tone for the day, helps build our classroom community, and reinforces important skills, such as active listening, taking turns, oral language, and respect for others.

During Readers Workshop, this week the first graders have been learning to read to a partner. They have been working to build their stamina and read for longer and longer periods of time. Ask your firstie to explain how to sit “EEKK,” what it means to be a good coach, and how to solve a problem with a partner.

Throughout the day, the first graders enjoy several “brain breaks,” moments of music and movement that allow the brain processing time and the body to release any pent-up energy! Koo Koo Kangaroo and the Zumba Crew are some of our favorite choices! Ask your firstie to tell you their favorite song and teach you their favorite dance!

During Writers Workshop this week, the firsties have been learning several different strategies for writing the sounds they hear in words. They know how to “stretch out” a word in order to identify all of the sounds, and know to make sure they write a letter (or letters) for each sound. They know if they skip a sound, the word doesn’t make sense! While stretching words, they can use their ABC charts in their writers folders to see how to form each letter correctly. Sometimes they might come across a word they recognize from a book, or one they’ve spelled so often they know it “in a snap,” as we say. In that case, we can write the word from memory, or check the word wall to see if it’s a sight word we have collected. We can also use patterns or chunks we already know to build new words. Today, the firsties realized that knowing the word “like” also helps them know how to spell words like “bike,” “Mike,” and “hike!” With “pot,” they can spell “hot,” “not,” and “cot!” Words are amazing! We added a middle and end to our class story this week while each student completed stories of their own.

Bible this week has been all about Noah. The firsties explored one of the most beautiful illustrated books about Noah after reading the Biblical account. Many were surprised to learn that even dinosaurs were on the ark! They memorized Genesis 6:8 and discussed what it means to “find favor” in the eyes of someone, then quickly concluded that it’s not important to impress others; only God’s opinion matters. This is why Noah was able to ignore his hecklers and follow God’s instructions, even though they might have seemed strange at the time. They were given a few materials and asked to construct arks of their own. The firsties will finish up these amazing projects next week.

At P.E. today, the firsties and second graders played “Noodle Tag,” an exciting game that invites zigging and zagging, ducking and reaching as some children chase others to tag them with noodles. Once frozen, the “un-freezers” tag the frozen to release them.

Our math workshop continues to show firsties how to rotate through learning stations efficiently. They are learning that voice level matters! It’s hard to think when friends are loud, although sharing ideas and talking about math thinking helps our brains to grow and develop. They worked on journaling in math, using number puzzles to create 100s charts, made 2D shapes using geoboards, compared numbers, identified numbers that appear before and after, played number guessing games, and developed addition and subtraction skills. They’ve also become calendar time experts. One of our favorite calendar activities is for the helper to ask the group questions, such as “how many more days until Tuesday?” or “What month will it be in 30 months?” These questions, posed by students, are not only wonderful glimpses into what they’re wondering about, but also a peek into their developing minds and understandings about time, numeracy, and problem-solving skills. And yes, one of the firsties was able to figure out what month it will be in 30 months after we discussed how 12 months are in a year. Once they saw groups of 12, they were able to count from 24 to 30. These kinds of investigations help children see numbers as flexible groups of other numbers, which builds the foundation for higher-level math and critical thinking later in life.

Our science investigations have continued to center on understanding what science actually is. This week, students learned about molecules and how they move, conducting their own discovery of capillary action. They also learned that science exists to answer questions about the physical world, but is limited to what we can physically observe. Today the firsties asked “who can build the tallest marshmallow tower?” and designed prototypes and tested their designs to see what worked and what didn’t work. They didn’t realize they were exploring physics and other engineering-related tasks while executing their challenge!

Today, the first graders also attended their first Chapel of the year. They learned the purposes of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Pledge to the Christian Flag, the Pledge to the Bible, and the Honor Code Pledge. They heard the story of Little Pot and how the Potter has designed all of us to be fruit pots, growing and sharing the Fruit of the Spirit with others. The firsties collected the most fruit and brought Fruit Pot back to the Patience Fruit Stand with them. They also worshiped through song and dance!

At the end of the day, the firsties counted their happys and saddys and realized that they’d earned a treat. Our daily routines and procedures are much more familiar now, and learning to follow directions quickly, raise their hands, and make smart choices, is paying off!





Spring Has Sprung!

The last few weeks in the Patience Fruit Stand have been incredibly busy! We’ve been getting our hands dirty (literally!) through several investigations. My blog space is completely full, which means I can’t upload pictures; however, I can embed links, so I created a quick photo video! Enjoy!


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!


The first week of Fall, y’all!

I love fall. Crunchy leaves. The orange, yellow, red, and brown colors everywhere. Pumpkin spice lattes (yes, I know there’s no pumpkin in them – don’t ruin it for me). Apple cider. Jeans. Sweaters. Scarves.


Things were just as seasonal in the Patience Fruit Stand this week. We wrapped up our science learning about apples after completing an apple investigation that integrated art, poetry, writing, math, and science. Ask your firstie whether apples sink or float, and if they can name all the parts of an apple.  We capped that learning by making home-made applesauce in the crock pot. Firsties took turns cranking the apple peeler and watched in amazement as the apples spiraled out into perfect apple slivers. They got to measure out and add the water, sugar, and cinnamon, and mash it all up.  Our room smelled like Fall all day! The funniest firstie comment: “Why is it brown? Why isn’t it yellow like real applesauce?” Gotta love it! At the end of the week we finished thinking about apples and moved into pumpkins. The firsties were very surprised to learn that pumpkins are a fruit! They also couldn’t believe that pumpkins are not always orange, and learned that they can be white, red, striped, or even blue! They learned about the life cycle of both plants, and did “thinking like scientists,” using their five senses to make observations and collect data.

In reader’s workshop we learned how to do Word Work. Students are given a “must-do” task that reviews recently learned phonics skills to complete in their word work notebook. Once that task is finished, they may choose a “can-do” activity, building words with wikki sticks, play-dough, magnetic letters, letter stamps, or dry-erase boards/markers to further practice word-solving and spelling patterns.

As writers, the firsties began learning about the writing process. This week, they learned how to write a first draft of a story and began learning how to revise and edit their own work. This is many firsties’ favorite time of day. Some have already written several first drafts of stories, and will begin editing and revising them in order to move onto second drafts. I am loving the stories I am seeing so far!

In math workshop, students have been working on composing and decomposing numbers, graphing, building numeracy skills by identifying a myriad of ways to represent a number, place value, and reviewing rote-counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s. They are noticing and using patterns in the 100s chart to strengthen their understanding of how to build and use numbers. One firstie noticed that numbers in the “2 column always has a 2 at the end!” They should be able to explain how to use a hundreds chart and what happens to the numbers as you move up, down, left, or right.

Our favorite book this week was probably Big Chickens, by Leslie Helakoski. Ask your firstie what made it so hilarious!


We also loved Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, The Snatchabook, From Seed to Pumpkin, and The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree, among others. Ask your firstie to tell you their favorite parts.

In Bible we learned all about Joseph, who, as one firstie described him, was a “dreamer.” We learned about how he did the right thing by forgiving his brothers, who sold him into slavery in their own jealousy. The firsties even designed their own multi-colored “fabric” using markers and water mist on coffee filters to create “coats” for Joseph.

We made our own textured paint in art to paint our own pumpkins. We added flour and salt because the firsties thought that pumpkins are often rough and bumpy. They decorated the pumpkins they designed themselves with stems, vines, and tendrils.

All in all, it’s been a fabulous week. It’s been very, very busy, but we’re fully in the swing. I love each and every one of these firsties already!

It’s great to be back!



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!


Spring Has Sprung!


FINALLY! We are loving the Spring weather! The butterflies are so chase-able, the grass is so inviting for rolling, and the warm sun on our skin just feels like a sweet hug after this crazy, cold winter.

I had that terrible stomach flu last weekend, and I didn’t get a chance to blog about the great stuff we did, so I’ll do a two-for-one today.  🙂

In Reader’s Workshop, we’ve been digging into how readers determine what’s important while they are reading. One way to do that is to look at how a text is structured. We read many, many books and dissected their beginnings, middles, and endings to see where authors are putting their messages. We also looked at the point-of-view of each story to see who’s perspective we were getting as readers, and thought about how stories might be different if they were told by someone else. We identified other important story elements, such as the setting, supporting characters, and important plot points to see what we thought the most important part, or main idea, was of each book we read.






Our writing has driven us to think about why authors make the choices they do when writing. We looked at many different books and asked whether or not the author made good choices when thinking about the titles of their books. We re-titled several books with both great and not-so-great titles to see if it made a difference. We have been learning that great titles let the reader know a little of what the book is about while not simply labeling it and also being interesting. For example, for the book Be a Friend to Trees, a non-fiction text exploring many facts about trees, we came up with some “label-ish,” boring titles, such as “Facts about Trees,” “How Trees Help Us,” and “All You Need to Know About Trees.” Yawn.  The firsties decided the phrase “be a friend to trees” was much more inviting to a reader, and led them to imagine all the ways humans and trees interact and rely upon one another.

We’ve also been thoroughly enjoying our April Author of the Month, Mo Willems. His silly stories about that crazy pigeon and the adventures of Knuffle Bunny have had us dissolving into the floor with laughter. I think there was a Mo Willems pack in this month’s Scholastic order form . . . you can still order online!  This author’s books were a definite crowd-pleaser! We compared and contrasted his stories among themselves and against other books we’ve read together. Some children adopted his dialogue-rich writing style for some of their workshop stories. Such great stuff!


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In Bible last week we talked about ways we are tasked to be good stewards of the many gifts God’s given us. Children came up with their own ideas of ways to give back to the Lord and we briefly discussed tithing. This week we’ve focused on the elements of Easter: Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Good Friday, and Christ’s Resurrection. We’ve been working on individual books that retell the most important parts of God’s salvation story.  Ask your child to tell you about each part!

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Our investigations in science have been all about plants over the last two weeks. We’ve read stacks of books about flowers, seeds, gardening, and plant parts and processes, have begun a germination project of which we are making careful, scientific observations and recording them, created schema charts, done observational drawings of plants, and collected and analyzed data about our favorite plants. Here are a few photos I remembered to take!  🙂









We also did a little science experiment for April Fool’s Day last week. We used lemon juice to write secret messages to our families, then took them home to heat up and see if the messages appeared. Apparently, the joke was on us, because the juice didn’t turn. Well, that’s science! Sometimes our hypotheses just don’t work out. You could always try to repeat the experiment at home over Spring Break. If you do, let me know if it works for you!


Our math learning focused on time, fact fluency, problem solving strategies, and counting money. When you’re hanging out at home, keep practicing those fact triangles, or name a fact (like 3+4=7) and ask your student to name the “turn-around fact,” (IXL calls them “related facts”). This will help make connections to fact families. Ask your child to tell you when it’s quarter-’till, quarter-after, or half-past the hour to reinforce that time-related vocabulary. Tell number stories (word problems) or have your child tell you one, and figure out what number sentence would describe that story. Fill in name-collection boxes for all sorts of different numbers. Look for your child to find many different ways to show a number, such as collections of objects, number sentences, ten-frames, dice, dominoes, tallies, money, etc.  Ask your child how to play “top-it” (like the card game “War”) or make coin exchanges to find equivalent sums of money. Coming up, we’ll be getting into geometry through a 2-dimensional shape review and introduction to 3D shapes and symmetry.







Here’s a little peek into the outside fun we’ve been having:




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Finally, just because it’s Spring Break and there’s no assigned homework, don’t stop reading!


Enjoy the break, firstie families!  When we come back, we’ll be jumping right into achievement testing.  Don’t panic – these smart cookies are very well prepared. Just make sure they get good rest and eat a good breakfast every morning. The rest is up to those brilliant brains. 🙂

Have a happy Easter. He is risen! If you’re looking for a church home, I’d love to see you at Point Harbor Community Church this Sunday and for Easter, of course!  There are lots of services to choose from on Easter.  We’re having services Saturday, April 19th, at 5:00pm, and Sunday, April 20th, at 9am and 10:45am. We’ll also have a service at Cinemark (yep, the old movie theater that looks vacant – we’re movin’ on in!) at 10:30am. Come check it out! You just might see a familiar first grade teacher with the worship team Easter weekend . . .

A Peek at Our Week

This week in the Patience Fruit Stand, the firsties were busy determining importance while reading. They were encouraged to ask, “what does the author think is the most important thing in this book?” and to find details to support that idea. They asked, “what’s the author’s message? How do we know? How does that help me understand what I’m reading? Which details are really important?” We did that through each and every story we read aloud this week. Ask your firstie what the most important thing was in The Other Side, A House for Hermit Crab, or Big Al, and how they know it was the most important thing.

Big Al

The Other Side

A House for Hermit Crab



In Writer’s Workshop, we talked about how good writers choose great titles for their stories. We read several books throughout the week without disclosing the titles and had students suggest title ideas. We learned that the best titles give the reader an idea of what the book will be about without giving away the ending. We shared books from the library and talked about whether or not they had titles that matched the stories inside. We also worked on making sure our stories have good organization; each one should have an interesting beginning, a problem in the middle, and an ending that solves the problem. While reading Never, Ever, Shout in a Zoo! we realized that without organization, a story could become chaotic! Stories should have great endings, too. Some of the firsties wrote books and stories this week with surprise endings!

Our Bible study this week centered around Christ’s building his Church. Students started the week by discussing what makes a strong building: a good foundation, sturdy walls, and a strong roof to protect whatever is inside. They brainstormed ways that members of the church are like a strong building, and concluded that the pastors, teachers, missionaries, and families that make up Christ’s Church all have special roles to play in bringing people to Him and bringing about God’s Kingdom. They now understand that the Church isn’t just a building we go to to worship; it’s a living, breathing body of believers that work to serve Jesus.  This week we build churches out of blocks and graham crackers (YUM) and shared what made working as a team hard or worthwhile.

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In Social Studies, we wrapped up our learning about mapping. Children learned the differences and similarities between maps and globes, and their different uses. They learned the differences between continents, countries, states, and cities, and worked on a week-long project to show that understanding. Check them out on the wall across from the Patience Fruit Stand!  They learned to identify our own continent, country, and state, including our state capital, how to read and navigate maps, how to use a map legend, and how to use a compass rose.  Ask your firstie the silly phrase they learned to remember the cardinal directions!  😉

In math, we reviewed and built on many different skills, including addition, subtraction, measurement, and counting money. Students played games in their math tubs to reinforce these skills while I worked with each small group.  Ask your firstie about their favorite math tub activity this week!  I failed at taking pictures during math tubs this week (sorry!), so I’ll leave you with this little “brain break” gem instead:

Have a great weekend!


What season is it, anyway?

As my family left church this morning, and my own little ones gave their suggestions for ways to spend this gloriously warm 70 degree afternoon, I got a buzzing notification on my cell phone.  It was my weather app. Apparently, we’re in for somewhere between 3-4 inches of snow and ice tomorrow. WHAT!? Of course, I started thinking about all the ways that would be horrible. Traffic. Scraping more snow and ice off my car. Driving over sheets of ice. What if we have to miss another day of school? How are we ever going to get everything finished this quarter?  I turned around to see my children laughing hysterically in their car seats over who could hold more Goldfish crackers in their mouth while making howling wolf sounds. (Safe, I know.) I couldn’t help but join in their giggles. Then I thought, why let the possibility of a bad day ruin this perfect moment?  I think that’s what God does. He gives us these little gifts, like 70 degree weather, in the midst of what is technically still winter, so that we will truly enjoy them when we have them. So I’ve decided not to panic. I’m not going to dread the possibility of snow. Instead, my littles got to go to the park and play outside, spending every possible moment soaking up the sun so that there might still be a little left shining in their memories tomorrow, when I just might be hearing, “do you want to build a snowman?” (Raise your hand if you sang that line . . . haha). God just loves us crazy like that.

So, what did we do this week?

We continued our investigation into asking good questions while reading. We discussed and shared examples of ways asking questions actually helps us better understand what we’re reading. Students chose passages from their own books and talked about what kinds of questions they asked. We are learning that some questions are easy to answer if you just look back into the story. We call those “thin” questions. Some questions are more difficult, and require research or inference. We call those “thick” questions.  We wrote down questions that children had before, during, and after reading stories, and analyzed whether they were thick or thin questions. We will continue to encourage question asking, especially asking thick questions, to encourage deep critical thinking throughout the year!

We did many activities that got us thinking about choosing powerful words. Some students were asked to share their writing, so that others could give them feedback about how to use powerful words in their writing to make it better; others shared their own examples of using powerful words in their stories. We are REALLY developing our vocabularies!  One student used the word “tenacious” while writing a poem. He then gave us an accurate definition! Color me impressed!

We learned more about Jesus’ ministry on earth this week in Bible. We talked about the story of the men who lowered their friend through the roof to be healed by Jesus. Talk about steps of faith! This also led to a discussion about friendship, and what we should be willing to do, through faith, for our friends. Each student chose a friend to write about and created an acrostic poem using describing words or phrases (another opportunity to use our powerful words).  Of course, we also discussed the fact that Jesus is really our “best friend.”  Anyone start humming “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” just now?

In social studies, we continued our study of great leaders Benjamin Franklin and George Washington Carver. The firsties were shocked to learn about all the things you can do with peanuts and sweet potatoes. In science, we focused on the desert habitat. We learned about many of the animals and plants that live there and did some research practice to answer questions about them. We also chose our favorites, polled our friends, and graphed the data we collected.

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We used our study of the desert to springboard our cactus art projects. We created cacti, labeled the parts, and used mixed media to add details to each one.


In math, we studied “name collection boxes,” which are simple a tool we use to think more deeply about numbers. Each student was given a large sheet of paper on which to collect as many “names” (ways to show) that number as possible. For example, I could draw a hand with five fingers, five tally marks, a 1 & 4 domino, a 5-dot die, a nickel, or 0+5, 1+4, 2+3, 3+2, 4+1, and 5+0 to show the number 5. Students were given double-digit numbers, however; since they’ve been working with this idea informally since the beginning of the school year. We also looked at patterns in the fact table and used rulers to compare measurements in inches and centimeters. Keep practicing those fact triangles at home!

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I’m looking forward to another fabulous and fruitful week in the Patience Fruit Stand, even if we do get some wintry weather.

If you haven’t already, please send in your child’s third-quarter binder. I’m starting to fill them up with incredible first grade work!

Check out the hallways.  The firsties have projects up everywhere.  See what you can find!