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Popcorn Words

Please read these weekly Popcorn Words with your K-Kid each night!

*I *it *run *help *away
*a *in *jump *down
*is *we *one
*am *big *two
*to *for *make
*the *this *get
*go *red *play
*me *like *find
*see *my *funny
*and *come *look
*can *up *blue
*you *not *yellow
Sunday, May 21, 2017

Salutations From the Farm!

The students are really into our farm unit! They get excited to fill out their farm journals, where we investigate questions, take surveys, complete chit-chat messages, and answer true/false questions (the overwhelming favorite activity!) This week we discovered that a rooster will boldly attack any animal or person that he thinks is messing with his flock of hens. They asked so many follow up questions after learning this little factoid, and we spent several minutes making hypothesis about whether roosters would scare away various animals, such as bears, dogs, humans, wolves, and even sharks. Of course, we had to watch a little video of a rooster attacking a human who got too close to the other chickens. It was a big hit! The K kids were equally fascinated with the idea of herding dogs when we learned about sheep. I love how they become swept away with little nuggets of information, and suddenly the original discussion I had been planning is tossed aside, and we have an impromptu deep dive into a much different topic! They have such scientific minds!!
Language Arts:
We kicked literacy stations into high gear this week, focusing on end of the year reading and writing activities while using farm manipulatives. Most of the materials we are using now are really gearing us up for first grade and we are getting more and more excited since we went to the first grade classroom this week to speak to a panel of first grade experts- the first graders themselves! Our K kids asked a lot of questions, and the first graders provided a lot of answers for them!

Along with literacy work stations, we've also kicked our math work stations into full gear. We have really dialed up our math skills as well, working a great deal with number sense, and competency in all math areas that will serve as a strong base while we move forward. We focused this week on number bonds and part-part-whole story problems. It's been pretty easy for us to solve an equation like, 5+3=__, but it's much harder to solve __+3=8. I am encouraging the kids to look at these number bonds to help them create fact families, as well. For example, from the number bond relationship between 8, 5, and 3, you can create four equations! 5+3=8, 3+5=8, 8-5=3 and 8-3=5. I have loved watching the K-Kids come up to those A-ha! moments with this concept.

                                                                 Writer's Workshop:
This week we continued our Fiction Writing Unit using a story planner to better lay out our stories. We were able to identify our character, setting, problem, solution, and 3 different events (or details) to add to our stories. I also continued to encourage the K-Kids to stretch their writing to 'fill the page.' I am so impressed with how far the K Kids writing has come this year and I cannot wait for you to see the whole year of writing at the end of the year!
Sunday, May 14, 2017


We had a very busy week beginning our Farm Unit. The K-Kids loved starting one of the best stories, Charlotte's Web and are making some fantastic predictions as we dive deeper into Wilbur and Charlotte's tale. They really seem to be connecting to Wilbur’s character and are quite worried how he is going to get out of his current predicaments.

Literacy and Math Workstations
We returned back to our normal literacy workstations this week! We've also been working on our own Farm books, which we use while researching farm animals.  We've also been starting our own little farm out in the hallway. Check out our pig and cows, as well as 2 awesome tractors, and keep on the lookout for the newest animals that we will add to our menagerie this week! In math workstations we continue to play a variety of games to help strengthen our number confidence. This week a few of our stations helped us solve different equations by filling in a part of the number sentence that was missing. Finding the answer to 5+7= __ isn’t so bad, but when you have __ +7 = 12, we have to figure out what strategy to use! This is tricky!!

Writer’s Workshop
This week we started our 7th writing unit of the year! This unit is all about Fiction Writing, and provides a new challenge to the kids. Sometimes it is so much easier to write about yourself than it is to make up new characters! We worked on taking stories from our past and putting silly or outrageous characters in the place of people. It has been such a joy challenging this group of bright kiddos, and I am so impressed with how quickly they internalize various lessons. I am now seeing many digraphs, long vowel sounds, and even r-influenced vowel sounds (that silly bossy r) in much of their writing.  Their stories are so creative and hysterical. I wish I could publish them all!

We created a 'Schema' chart to show all of our previous knowledge about pigs and cows, before completing some further research on each animal. Did you know that cows have 32 teeth, same as humans, and pigs have 44?? The K-Kids were also amazed to hear that pigs are actually quite clean animals- they only roll in the mud to cool down, because they aren't able to sweat. The mud also protects their skin from sunburn.   As we began our study of cows, the K-Kids were amazed to hear that they have 4 parts to their stomach. They spend up to 8 hours a day chewing on cud! Ew! We had 2 awesome cow-centric science projects this week. We learned how to "milk" cows by hanging pink latex gloves filled with water mixed with white paint. On Friday, our classroom smelled so yummy, as we baked farm bread! Of course, fresh baked bread needs to be slathered with yummy butter, and, thanks to cows, we were able to make our own butter! Each table got a little jar that we poured some heavy cream into. Then we turned on their new favorite song (Sesame Street The Number of the Day) and the kids shook the cream to the beat, and soon enough they made their own butter! Your city kids may have some country in them after all!

I am so excited to continue our Farm unit next week! (Pictures will be uploaded tomorrow).
Sunday, April 30, 2017

We Stand Against Racism!

I'm sure you are all so proud of your little activists! On Friday we stood with Evanston residents to show that we Stand Against Racism, and it was beautiful! The kids were SO into it, shouting "Stop Racism! We Stand For Love!" They put so much thought and effort into their signs, and I was tearing up watching them stand together, and announce to people what their signs stood for. You are all raising outstanding humans!
This was the last week of our Flat Stanley unit. I'm going to miss our flat friend! He traveled to so many countries, saw so many sights, and had incredible adventures. I hope the kids remember him for years to come!
Thank you so much to all the parents who joined us recently!
Erin's mom came in to talk about Jewish culture, and share some traditions with the kids. We learned where in the world Erin's family originated from, and how they traveled to America. We got to taste matzo, and some challah that Erin and her mom baked!
Killian's mom talked to us about a few aspects of Chinese culture. Killian taught us how to count to 10 in Cantonese, and we read a story about dim sum. Then we got to sample some homemade dumplings and scallion pancakes! The kids loved it, especially the little fruit jello/jelly cups Killian gave them to try as well!
Emily's mom joined us to tell us about Georgia. We saw photos of Stone Mountain, and watched a little video of an amazing laser show they have on the mountain. We saw photos of baby Emily at the Coca Cola factory, which everyone loved! We got to sample delicious peach cobbler, and Emily sweetly gave everyone their own mini peach pie to take home!
Xavier's mom and aunt came in to talk about Jamaica! The kids are really into islands, so they really appreciated talking about that. Xavier's aunt recently spent time in Ethiopia, so she showed us photos of her experiences there. Our students asked a lot of thoughtful questions, and were very interested in the cultural differences! Xavier passed out his favorite snack to everyone to take home- plantain chips! I think we have a lot of plantain fans in our room now!
Alex's mom gave us a great preview for our upcoming farm unit. She came in and talked about life growing up on a farm, and the kids were mesmerized! It's a much different life than the one our city kids live! We got to see photos of Alex's mom's farm animals, and ribbons from the state fair. It was really cool!!
Henry H's mom joined us to talk about Sweden. We learned a lot of interesting facts, including that the store with the "fancy furniture" Ikea is a Swedish store! (Love that Ikea is considered fancy!) We sampled ligonberry jam and ginger cookies. The kids loved it!
Next week we will be working hard on some special top secret projects! ;) Then we will begin our fun farm unit!
Sunday, April 23, 2017

Happy Earth Day!

This week we followed Flat Stanley to see his adventures in his furthest destination yet-  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia!  Our little Stanley has really become an extremely well cultured fella!
A big thank you to all of the parents and family members who took the time to come in to talk to the K kids about their families grew up this week.
Lorenzo's grandma joined us to talk to us about Austria. She brought in beautiful posters so that we could really get a sense of how pretty the landscape is there. We learned that Mozart was from Austria, and sang some songs! She treated us to some homemade apple strudel, as well as pencils that say Austria!
Bronx's dad came in all the way from Mexico to talk about Mexico! We saw photos of the ancient pyramids, popular Mexican cuisine, and people surfing at the beaches. Several kids requested that we take a field trip to Mexico, however, when they learned there might be sharks in the ocean there some of them reconsidered! Bronx's dad brought everyone some candy from his hometown to sample at home as well!
On Friday we worked on an Earth Day project. We talked about ways that we can help the Earth, and discussed the 3 R's- reduce, reuse, recycle. We practiced sorting trash into different recycling bins, and saw what new items can be made from recycling old objects. Then we wrote about how we can love and take care of the Earth, and made cool happy Earths!

On Wednesday, we went to the dress rehearsal performance of the Lion King that the Lower School put on. It was fantastic!! The K kids were an excellent audience. We loved the music, and acted starstruck when we saw the actors in the hallway later!!

It has been so much fun to learn about so many of our friends' cultures, and we look forward to welcoming more visitors this week!!
Monday, April 17, 2017

Me on the Map!

This week we followed Flat Stanley to see his adventures in Brazil, New York, Maine, Indiana and more! We had several more Flat Stanleys return that we will get to open this week as well! Flat Stanley is becoming quite the world traveler and we have loved learning about all of these new places. In our adventures, we are also doing a little exploring of the landscape, customs, and people who live in these areas, and it has been fascinating!
A big thank you to all of the parents and family members who took the time to come in to talk to the K kids about their families grew up, and different cultures. We started a new keepsake journal called "Where in the World Are the K Kids From?" Each time a family comes in to talk to us, we have filled out a page to record the city or country, distance from Illinois, and our favorite interesting fact that we learned.
Leo's dad came in to talk about French culture with Leo's mom and grandma. We learned about some French landmarks, got to sample delicious chocolate croissants, played a French card game, and Leo even gave each of us a Tour de France model bike! The class's overwhelming favorite fun fact was that French cuisine includes frogs and snails!
Zoha's dad came in to talk about India. We saw pictures of the Taj Mahal, looked at beautifully colored saris, and tasted samosas! Of course, the thing that stuck with the kids the most was that there are cows that wander on the streets and walk alongside people in India!
David's dad, mom, and sister joined us to teach us about South Korea. We saw photos of all of the countries that David has traveled to, discovered that Illinois is 2x the size of the whole country of South Korea, watched a video about Seoul, and the kids recognized many famous brands that come from Korea! They also asked many questions about taekwondo, and were extremely impressed to learn that David's dad is a black belt!
James' mom came in to talk to us about the place where James was born- Michigan. We used Google Maps to look at James' first home, and then talked about the car industry, which the kids were fascinated with. We watched some videos about how the car companies test for safety features, saw how car assembly lines work, colored pictures of a Corvette that James brought in for us, and sampled some of Michigan's famous fudge in ice cream form!
At the end of the week, William's grandma came in to talk to us about what it's like to grow up on a farm. William's parents and grandma helped each kid plant their own tomato sprout in a pot! How are your sprouts faring at home? As a special treat, William gave everyone a "dirt cup" (chocolate pudding) to eat as well.
It was exciting to learn about so many of our friends' cultures, and we look forward to welcoming more visitors this week and next week!!

One topic that continues to confuse many of our K Kids is the aspect that we all live in a neighborhood, in a city, in a state, in a country, on a continent, on Planet Earth. This is a complex topic, which we will continue to explore as a class in the next two weeks. This week we made Me on The Map projects, to pinpoint exactly where we belong on Earth. We added our Flat selves to the project, and they look adorable!
Sunday, April 9, 2017

Flat Stanley's Adventures!

As we ventured back to our normal schedules and routines, the K-Kids loved beginning our Flat Stanley unit. Throughout the next few weeks our normal routine will be a tad different, since we have so many visitors coming to our classroom to take us away on different adventures. A huge thank you to Bertie's mom, Heidi, for coming in to talk to us about the U.K., and allowing us to soak up some British culture with a tea party! It was a lot of fun! We are looking forward to many other guests joining us this week. Please contact me to schedule your time in the classroom, if you haven't already! 

As we explored many of the places Flat Stanley has already visited, the K-Kids loved learning new facts about each place. This week we watched Stan as he traveled to China, South Korea, LA, San Diego, St. Louis, Switzerland, Austria, Dubai, Florida, Wisconsin, England, Atlanta, Hilton Head! Can you imagine his frequent flier miles?! We have a large stack of Stanley adventures still waiting to be opened, and more keep arriving each day. It is so uplifting to see how many people have been participating in this project! The kids have been thrilled to mark each new destination Stanley has been to, and they have been keeping a travel journal of his adventures. We record the city/state and country he visits, calculate how many miles away it is from Evanston, discuss what he did on his trip, and note which classmate sent him there. The journal will be an awesome keepsake, and it has also created a lot of fun discussion for us about cultures around the world, and allowed us to compare distances and understand a little about the geography of our world!

Of course, we couldn't forget about some of our normal routine! We did complete reading groups throughout the week, and I was even able to assess many of the kiddos this week. I am definitely not ready to send them to first grade emotionally, but academically they are going to be extremely well prepared! We are also working our way well through the math curriculum, which continues to challenge us in many ways while we all work to build a strong and automatic number sense.

Next week we will continue to keep up with Flat Stanley's adventures, and welcome parents into our classroom. We will also talk a little bit about ourselves, and where we belong on a map.
Sunday, March 5, 2017

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!!

We have had a blast working on our mini Dr. Seuss unit this past week. We read some of the lesser known stories of the 48 books that Theodor Geisel wrote, many of which were new stories for most of our friends! For a Fun Friday Dr Seuss treat, Mrs. Massey made some green eggs and ham for the JK and K kids to try. Almost every single student gave the bright green eggs a big thumbs up, and asked for seconds! Wow!

Language Arts:
Clearly our Author Study of Dr. Seuss lends itself very well to many language arts skills.  We started new literacy stations this week, focusing greatly on Dr. Seuss throughout our different activities. We have begun talking about the basic parts of speech and all of the kiddos enjoyed completing a variety of noun sorts and trying to create their own lists of nouns. We also learned what an adjective is, and how it makes our writing juicier by describing nouns. We read Horton Hatches an Egg, and everyone appreciated that when the egg hatched, an elephant bird appeared. We had a great time creating our own animal hybrids! First, we cut out and decorated eggs, and then we got to crack them. We reattached them using a brad, and hid our secret animal inside. Finally we wrote what sort of animals we hatched, and then our brilliant K kids had to use at least 2 adjectives to describe the animals. Check them out in the hallway!

We also started new math work stations this week and some of our guided math groups even finished up their first math book! I have been so impressed with the progression of math skills and the depth we have been able to go into each subject. The K-Kids have really been strengthening their number sense, mental math, and I have been pushing them to try and use different strategies (other than their fingers) to solve addition and subtraction problems. When completing math activities at home, try to encourage them to: count on, draw a picture, or use manipulatives!

This week we started our Personal Narrative-Small Moments unit in writer's workshop. We began by discussing how to write stories about moments that happened in real life. We are working on writing personal non-fiction stories and working hard to zoom in and focus on one small moment for each tale (we describe this as slice of pie moments vs the whole pie). We are working on telling the 'who' and 'what' of each story right away. We also learned how to use thought and speech bubbles to enhance our writing!

                                                                 Coming Up Next:
We will be beginning a two week long collaborative Dinosaur unit with the first graders! We are really looking forward to working together, and have many fun activities planned!