Sharing & Giving

Sharing is hard. Right? And it can be hard for everyone, not just little ones. For example, as parents, we find ourselves sharing all that we have with our children. We share our food, our stuff, our bed space, our time, and our love. Sometimes, as a mom, I want to not share (especially my food and sleep – ha!). I want those precious hours of uninterrupted REM to myself, or to simply eat a peaceful meal without hearing “Mommymommymommymommy” 100 times in a row, but ultimately we do share the things we have because we love our children unconditionally and want to put them first. Even when our energy is low, our plates are nearly empty, and our patience is wearing thin; we give.

How much more does our Heavenly Father give to us? In the Patience Fruit Stand, we’ve been learning about the ways Jesus shows us how to live. When he fed the 5,000, the Bible says he was originally headed to a place to rest. He was tired. He’d been traveling and teaching, and honestly, he probably just wanted to grab a nap and some food. But when the people found out where he was going, they went there too, and suddenly Jesus was in the presence of a huge crowd of people. Did he turn them away? Did he remind them of his busy speaking schedule and retreat into solitude? Matthew 14 tells us that he had compassion on them. He put them first. He healed their sick. He gave.

This past week, we learned about the widow in Luke 21. Many people were going to the temple to give to God out of their finances. The Bible says that the rich gave “out of their abundance,” meaning, they had so much that their gift was no great sacrifice. Contrast this display to the widow who only gave two small coins. It doesn’t sound like much, but to this widow, who had very little, it was everything she had. We can imagine that the big gifts from the wealthy were what people were watching. Probably no one noticed the widow and her seemingly inconsequential gift. But Jesus noticed. He said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.” Her gift was a gift of proportion. The widow demonstrated sacrificial giving.

The Bible shows us over and over again how God gives this way to us. He gave His only Son, after all, and as our Bible verse this week described, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

The Bible doesn’t tell us the widow’s fate. Did she go home, her last means of self-support gone, to wither away and die? I don’t think so. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure [ . . . ] will be poured into your lap.” In other words, you reap what you sow.

Here are some of the clay coins the firsties designed to help them remember this moment in Biblical history, to remember to give to others, even when it means missing out on something they want.

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I noticed many examples of sacrificial giving during the week, moments where a student put another first. One washed another’s paint-covered table after art without being asked. One helped a friend tie his shoe. One waited patiently after being called on when a friend bumped his knee and needed a teacher’s immediate attention, giving up her turn. One shared a part of her snack when a friend forgot his at home. One passed a friend the last piece of white paper, even though she was planning to use it herself.

These little moments might not seem like much. They might even go unnoticed by most.

Jesus notices.

 

 

The firsties share their attention with this week’s Star of the Week as he shares about himself, reads a story, and demonstrates his talent.

 

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The firstie saints devote focus to an assortment of scientific research and writing projects throughout the week.

 

The firsties give one another respect and grow patience while taking turns during math workshop and calendar.

We’re “Batty” for First Grade!

One of the things the firsties learned about this week is BATS! We read several nonfiction books and articles about bats and watched a short video clip of the largest bat colony in the world to see how bats swoop and glide. We created bats and learned about all of their parts. Many firsties were surprised to learn that a bat’s wing is really like one large hand with thin skin stretched in between each finger! We learned all about what bats eat, and that although different bats have different diets, none of them like to drink human blood – a few firsties thought they did! Did you know that a bat can eat approximately 600 mosquitos in an hour? The firsties worked in groups to count out 600 mosquitos and serve them up on dinner plates. 🙂 We recorded our learning throughout the week on our bat chart, and used the information we collected to write about bats.

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bats
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Last quarter we learned about community helpers, and since October was also Fire Prevention month, we scheduled a visit to the fire station! We’re so blessed to have a station right across the street. 🙂 We got to tour the entire fire house, and learned so many things about these men and women who serve our community! Inside, we got to see their office, kitchen, weight room, lockers, and bedrooms. Did you know that they sleep and eat in the fire house? Did you know that all the food and other staples they buy to share at work is purchased out-of-pocket? We learned what to do in a fire, not to be scared of the uniform in case of an emergency, and that we should all know our own home address so that emergency responders know where to go! Finally, everyone got to hear the siren and sit behind the wheel of the truck and pretend to drive. Our visit was SO much fun!

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On Friday, we practiced following a recipe and writing instructions for others to follow. We made “Franken-snacks” out of rice krispie treats, icing, and sprinkles, and then wrote about the process. Check out our delicious learning!

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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.

Flower-Garden

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.

draw me a starjamaicaauthor

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!

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!

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!

A Busy Week, but SHHHH . . .

Our literacy event is coming up, which means that any and all extra time we have is devoted to preparing. Things are very hush-hush around here. Which means there’s not a lot I can tell you. Ha.

I will share a few photos of the unrelated-to-our-event math we’ve been working on.  🙂

In addition to reviewing and practicing elapsed time and fact families (we’re working up to 20 now – woo hoo!) we’ve been working with money!  Equivalencies are a tricky skill for children. Knowing how to make a certain amount of money using the smallest number of coins (or a specified number – even trickier!) takes the combination of several processing and numeracy skills.  This week, we practiced making even trades using pennies and nickels.  We started by trading pennies for nickels, and then moved to counting sets of coins, counting and comparing sets of coins, and then moved on to counting a set of combined coins and creating an equivalent amount of money using a smaller number or specified number of coins. We worked both individually and in groups to build and practice these skills and played LOTS of money games!  Favorite firstie quote of the week: “Money is my favorite thing to learn!  It’s so FUN!”  Check us out!

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I can also share a little about Junie B. Junie B. Jones is our current favorite character. She’s a little sassy, and often gets herself into trouble through her words and actions, perfect object lessons for us on behavior and showing the Fruit of the Spirit!  🙂  Our firsties are currently OBSESSED with her and her author, Barbara Park, and many of us are choosing to read her chapter books in our reader’s workshop time while listening to her during read-alouds as well.  Some children are even choosing to write stories about Junie B., colorful turns-of-phrase and all!  😉  Here is one of our firsties sharing his latest Junie B. creation after Writer’s Workshop:

20141017_140612 20141017_140645                              What cracks me up about this is that he was laughing so hard while he was reading his own writing that he could barely get through the story! We were all in stitches.

We can’t wait to share our learning with you at our literacy event.  So exciting!

See you soon!