Sunday, April 29, 2012


Hello First Grade Families!

I hope you had a lovely weekend.  I did.  I have been trying to keep up walking more for exercise and it has been fun.  The image above is a rock I found on one of my beach walks this weekend.  Cool, eh?

Next weekend is our class park day!  Please check your email for this information.  I hope to see many of you out on Saturday!

I left school Friday feeling lucky.  THANK YOU to all the families who have been bringing in donations to the class recently.  (See images at the end of this post!)

Henry and Jenna's families have sent in plants, seeds and mystery fruit.
Joey, Ocean and Silas' families have donated lots of books and magazines.
Silas' family donated a cool microscope tool.
Taylor and Bridget's family loaned and donated some neat geologic artifacts. 
Peyton's family found and donated a neat cactus skeleton.
Bridget's family built our arbor, our second planter, and donated lots for our beautification project, as well as curious mystery animals.
Elliana's family donated new finger puppets and baby preying manta.
Ryan's family donated many things we still use daily: the Prisma pencil set and animal skeleton slides.
Hannah Eileen's family has been giving us lots of building advice and labor.
Ocean's family loaned us a great big light table.
And so many families donated books from the book fair!
I'm sure I will walk into our class tomorrow morning and realize there was someone I forgot on this list.  If so- SORRY!  So much giving to keep track of- amazing!

Thank you, also, to the families who have been bringing in cut flowers, doing our class laundry, dusting and filing!  Homework is another form of giving to the class because it inspires us all.  Thank you so much to those of you who continually bring in work from home.  It is neat to see what you are up to as a family or by yourself at home. Thank you, to each of you, for making our class so rich!  

Last week was full of beautiful experiences.  I am posting lots of images so that your child can tell you all about it.  First up, coin practice.  The kids are getting faster at sorting and organizing the coins so that they can count them in easy ways: by twos, fives, tens, which ever is best according to their worth.  Keep up this practice at home.  Practice is what makes it permanent knowledge!

I think a penny might have fallen off the table before the photo was taken for one of these...  Other math concepts we are still investigating are time and clocks, which has lead us to thinking about how simple machines work.  We will be looking into this more next week!

Last week we took advantage of the beautiful weather and got out to nature.  There is a nice little park with lots of labels for the plantings up the street from school.  The students thought it was interesting to hear the common and Latin names.  But how do we know how to pronounce Latin?  We walked up and made it a botanic walk by trying to learn some new names of plants.  Can you name any of these?

Our animal research continues.  Below you see the organization style that the class agreed upon: habitat location.  We had a discussion on the agreements that the students created for the project.  The seven questions the students agreed everyone would answer have proven to be hard for many.  This has been a great learning experience about how to design class agreements.  Due to the nature of many books and websites, it is not always easy to find answers for the specifics we came up with. The students discussed their difficulties and came up with new project expectations.  Now each student will find 7 interesting facts about their animal, plus the length or height.  The students can use the previous questions as jumping off points, but can write about other interesting things they learn.  This was a great learning moment and the project is on a roll again.  

Here are a few of their illustrations and below are images of our measurement wall.  This wall has brought up some neat discussions from each person's disbelief or amazement in realizing the true size of an animal!

Thank you for reading and discussing this with your child!

Enjoy your week, Jennifer

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hello First Grade Famililes!

Happy Earth Day!  I hope you enjoyed your weekend and took a moment to think about what you can do to help our environment this year.  Every year I try to take on something new, consistently using reusable grocery bags one year, changing away from the use of plastic another year.  This year we planted more edibles so that some of our food isn't being trucked or shipped from so far. I can't wait to harvest. I hope you are having conversations at home about what can be your family's part.  Please email me and share!

We have also been using the word gratitude lately.  With our class councils we share appreciations for friends, things others did that made our week work.  These are specific to each person, but the concept of being grateful is a little different.  The class calendar we have this year shares little paragraphs of people from around the world and this has been making us realized things we have and may have not noticed to appreciate: warm water for showers, being able to turn on a tap for water, having a doctor readily when you need one.  We have begun using the concept of what we are grateful for, or feel lucky to have in our life, for our morning share.  It has been lovely to hear what students are aware of.  What are you grateful in your life?

The homework keeps coming in!  The class was very interested in Silas sharing a family project of making a marionette from scratch.  He showed how this special puppet moves and the class asked many questions as to how it was made.  We have been curious about how things come together to move or work, so this was very interesting.

Last week we also went on a hike with our 8th grade buddies.  It was nice to have a moment smelling the trees and seeing lots of greenery.  The 8th graders brought a yummy treat- watermelon!  We had a nice time together and also noticed lots of cool plants.

Another interest that we have been spending some time on are clocks and how to tell time.  We began by journaling about these two questions:

This work takes time.  It can be hard to remember which hand does which job and all the nuances of what the numbers represent, since each number on the face of a clock represents more than one thing.  For example, depending on which hand is pointing to the 3, it can mean 3 or 15.  That's confusing!  We have been using this time lapse (below) to remind us how these two hand work together and also stopping it at any given point to test if we can figure out what time it is.  This is a great activity at home: What time is it?  What makes you know that you are right?

Clocks are also machines and we are simultaneously investigating how they function.  We looked at two videos this week about grandfather clocks to investigate this special time piece.  The students were amazed that it doesn't run on batteries or electricity, rather on gravity.  We will continue to investigate how simple machines, like the pulleys in the grandfather clock, can help things work.

Two of the projects we have been focusing on most this week are our settings and animals.  I plan to put more examples of their work up soon, so stayed tuned!  Here are photos of the rest of the posters from last week.  We had a great discussion about deadlines, how they feel and how to keep yourself on track to get work done in a timely manner.  The posters were a great example of this.  After the deadline of Friday, friends shared strategies that work, like keeping a list of tasks so you don't do things you didn't mean to do, sitting alone and telling others you need to work.  This is an important life lesson that we will continue to realize.  What deadlines do we have each day?  The students could name a few, all in the time before you get out the door to go to school!

Thanks for reading and thank you for sharing your creative students!  Love, Jennifer