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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!
Saturday, February 25, 2017

America the Beautiful!

We had an excellent week finishing up our American symbols unit. We explored with great detail the Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, American Flag, and Bald Eagle.  I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that your kids soaked up many facts about these great symbols. They were particularly enamored with the Statue of Liberty, and we ended up researching it more than I anticipated!  

Language Arts:
While we worked to complete different literacy workstations, this week our phonics focus shifted mainly on ways to make the long a and long e sound. Ask your kiddos about these ideas and concepts. They are quite the experts, especially on those magic a words with ay, ai, and 'a' with a magic e at the end. They were very interested in tricky "y", who "steals" the long e sound in 2 syllable words. We discovered that some of our friends have a tricky y at the end of their names, much to their delight! We played a number of fun games to help us solidify these concepts! We also worked on many art projects this week, and created amazing Statue of Liberty drawings, majestic bald eagles created by tracing our hands and feet, and American flags with fingerprint stars!

We are also continuing to strengthen our skills with money. Still dealing only with coins, we are working to add together multiple coins and looking for patterns. During small group guided math, I gave each student a handful of coins to sort and count, which is helping to solidify both coin identification, as well as skip counting. Then they went shopping at my store! The only problem with my store is that I only accept exact change. Some brilliant students attempted to overpay me with several of each coin and told me to just keep the change, but since it's my store, I was able to insist on exact change only! :) The kids had a lot of fun buying ice cream, candy, cats, and toys from the store, and we enjoyed comparing the different combinations of coins that everyone used to make their purchases. It is a fun game to play at home as well. Break open a piggy bank, and make your kids buy their own toys!

Social Studies:
As I stated above, this week we continued to introduce the kids to new facts about many American symbols. We took a trip 'back in time' to see what the American Flag looked like in the past and learned that before the Bald Eagle was our nation's bird, Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our symbol instead! We learned why the Liberty Bell is cracked and why the Statue of Liberty is green! Social Studies was alive and well in our classroom! We ended the week by introducing the kids to one of my favorite childhood memories- School House Rock! The kids loved watching the song Elbow Room, and noting all the changes that America went through as it expanded westward, as well as catching glimpses of our American symbols!

Writer's Workshop:
This week we finished our fifth writing unit of the year! It was so interesting to see the kiddo's Informational Writing from the first day of this unit to now. We are becoming quite the experts on writing to teach our reader a new thing! 

Coming Up Next:
Next week we will enjoy spending some time with some of our favorite Dr. Seuss characters, in honor of the great author's birthday (March 2, also the birthday of Bon Jovi, another national treasure.) (I'm from New Jersey.)  
Friday, February 10, 2017

We Are 100 Days Smarter!

This week was all about the number 100! We looked at some photos of real centenarians, people who are 100 years old. This gave us some insight into what we may look like at age 100, which we used to make our 100 year old portraits. They look amazing! There are some huge smiles on those wrinkly faces! We also wrote about what we thought our lives will be like at age 100. The 100th Day collaborative Museum was a great success! The displays were so unique and creative!! We will keep them on display a little longer next week, so if you haven't had a chance to, please check it out! The week ended in the best possible way- celebrating the 100th day of school! We had so much fun! In the morning we had a 100th day party, with different stations to visit that all had a 100 theme. They could use 100 cups to create structures (a big hit!), build something using 100 Legos, work together to finish a 100 piece puzzle (bonus: it glowed in the dark), make 100th Day crowns, play a race to 100 game (another huge hit!), and create structures using 50 toothpicks and 50 marshmallows.

Language Arts: 
We began a new round of our literacy stations this week, and many of the kids are continuing to be challenged with a variety of complex vowel rules and blends. Although we can read many of these words, we can't always write them. We will continue to complete activities that help us with digraphs (h-brothers like th, sh, ch, wh), two vowel words (ee, ai, oa, oi, oo, ou, etc.), r-influenced vowels (ar, er, ir, or, ur), short and long vowel sounds, magic e words, and others. As you can see we're really 'packing it in' when it comes to teaching a variety of phonics rules and skills. My goal is that each child leaves my classroom confident about his/her reading skills no matter what "level" they may be reading at. 

We also started our newest round of math stations this week, many of which allowed us to continue building our strong number sense as we prepare for first grade. I challenged the kiddos this week to solve number puzzles. We also continue to challenge ourselves with the recognition and addition of coins. This has been a challenging concept for the K-Kids, (why are 3 coins the same color?!) and we will continue to practice for fluency and automaticity throughout the rest of the school year. We are also exploring the concept of measurement and used some special 'love monsters' to measure and graph our data. 

Writer's Workshop: 
We had some fun writing  focused on the 100th Day this week! We talked about what we could buy with $100, and then I gave each kid a "real" (super fake) 100 dollar bill to add to their drawing. They were so excited to get their money, and some kids talked about saving it to use in a store, so we had an exciting bonus discussion about how the lawmakers in America consider it to be an illegal activity to use fake money in a store. Then our law abiding kindergarten citizens glued their $100 dollars on to their drawings! Phew!

Coming Up Next: 
Over the next 2 weeks we will begin exploring American symbols such as the Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, American Flag, and Bald Eagle in great depth. Then we will switch gears a little bit to focus more on some of our country's most important presidents.
Saturday, February 4, 2017

Our Ode to the Ocean!

We officially finished up our ocean unit this week with many art projects and culminating activities. The beginning of the week was focused mainly on creating our ocean mural. I am so blown away by how gorgeous it turned out. It was SO MUCH FUN to create! Each day we focused on a separate zone of the ocean. We'd begin every morning by researching and reviewing which animals lived there through books and online resources, and sharing fun facts. These kids are total ocean animal experts! The K-Kids started by working on the sunlit (or sunlight) zone, drawing and then watercolor painting many of the animals we find in the sunlit zone. Did you know that 90% of the ocean's animals live in the top sunlit zone?! 

Next, we moved onto the Twilight Zone. This is the second zone down, where many interesting animals live. Unfortunately, this zone probably gets the least attention since many animals travel into it, but not many live there. We focused mainly on octopuses, whales, electric eels, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and echninoderms (starfish) that live here. 

Lastly, we worked on the Midnight Zone, which was by far the class favorite. They absolutely loved learning about the almost alien-like creatures that live in the deepest depths of the ocean. They were very interested in bioluminescent fish, who light up their bodies in different ways! They also loved learning about angler fish. We discovered that female angler fish that have a light up "fishing rod" attached to their heads to attract prey, and that male angler fish are much smaller than the females, and attach themselves to the females body like a little appendage! Above all, the class was fascinated with the giant squid. (You may notice the multitude of giant squids dominating our ocean mural.) They were amazed to learn that the only predator that can take a giant squid down is the mighty sperm whale, which swallows it whole, and the squid will use its tentacles to scratch and scar the whale inside it's body! We watched a short Discovery clip showing an epic sperm whale vs giant squid battle, and the kids loved it so much they begged to watch it again all week! I invite you to continue exploring the ocean this weekend at home! 

We finished this week up with two other ocean themed projects. The children worked so hard creating such a beautiful mural, and I wanted them to be able to take a little piece of it home to share with you, so we created mini murals with watercolors and tissue paper. They are awesome! We ended the week having fun learning about compound words. The students had a great time playing a game trying to use picture clues to guess the compound word that was created. Then they made penguins holding two snowballs (a compound word!) On each snowball they wrote and illustrated a word, and when the penguin smashes the snowballs together it forms a new compound word on it's belly. You can have fun this weekend making a list of as many compound words as you can think of!

Next week we will begin our 100th Day/President's Day/Valentine's Day unit!
Saturday, January 28, 2017

Just Keep Swimming!

It was a great second week learning about the ocean! We had so much fun exploring the Shedd Aquarium, and creating the creative and informative Chatterpix! The kids have really been enjoying researching and learning about various sea animals. We will be working on an ocean mural this week as our culminating project. You may want to dress your kiddos in old clothes on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday while we complete these murals dedicated to the ocean and it's vast plants and animals.

Language Arts: 
We have continued our literacy work stations this week, continuing to focus on more complex reading and writing skills/strategies. We continue to talk about magic e's at the end of words and discuss what happens when two vowels go walking. We have also practiced with our 'h brother digraphs,' looking at ch, th, ph, sh, and wh. We also completed a shark and whale venn diagram activity, comparing and contrasting facts about two of our favorite sea animals. Of course, we also spent time working on our Chatterpix projects, in which the students had to research and write down three facts about their chosen ocean animal, and then practice reading those facts fluently so that I could record them. They were very motivated! We screened everyone's "movies" in class, and the kids were so amused with each others' creations, and beaming with pride over their own work!

This week in math we have continued our discussion of even and odd numbers. We also continue to discuss addition and subtraction using our 'counting on' and 'counting back' strategies. You can help your kiddos practice this at home! Remind them to 'put the higher number in your brain!' and keep on counting either forwards or backwards. In our math work stations, the K-Kids continue practicing addition and subtraction skills, number sense work, and different representations of these items. By the time these kids enter first grade it is my goal that they will not only know how to solve a problem but will be able to explain WHY they chose to solve it in a certain way. 

Writer's Workshop:
This week we continued our Informational writing unit. The students have been making great strides in both their writing organization as well as the content. They love to come up with new topics that they consider themselves to be experts in!

This week in science we continued our discussion of a variety of ocean animals and how they interact with one another in the ocean.We discussed the sunlit zone, the twilight zone, and the midnight zone. In the sunlit (sometimes called sunlight) zone, you will find most of the ocean's plants and animals, even though it is the smallest zone. Some of the bigger animals we discussed, like whales and sharks, travel between the sunlit zone and the twilight zone, and once you travel the large midnight zone you will find very few plants and animals. Next week we are going to study the midnight zone in greater depth, which they are very excited about! We will learn all about bioluminescent animals that light up to attract prey and scare off predators.

Coming Up Next:
After we finish up our Ocean unit in the middle of this week, we will begin to prepare for the 100th Day of school, which will fall on Friday, Feb. 10!
Saturday, January 21, 2017

Whales Vs Sharks!

We have taken a headfirst dive right into our Ocean unit. This is such a fun unit to teach since there is so much we don't know about the ocean, which leads to many interesting questions from the K-Kids!

Language Arts:

This week we started a new round of literacy work stations, many of which focus on ocean animals and creatures. We continued to do Words Their Way to help with spelling and phonics skills and the K-Kids have shown a great deal of independent growth now that we have entered into the second half of the year. As a class, we are discussing specific vowel strategies. First, we discussed what the magic e does to other vowels in words like cake, note, and bike. We also talked about what happens "When two vowels go walking..." After looking at some words with this happening, we discovered that "when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking." Interestingly enough, it also uses it's long vowel sound. However, not all of these strategies are apparent all the time, and we keep putting words in word jail when they don't follow the rules! Try to look for some magic e words and two-vowel words when you're reading at night!


In math we are continuing our exploration of how to compose and decompose various numbers. We are also starting to explore measurement, greater than/less than, and even/odd numbers with this ocean unit.  To begin, we talked about using our fingers to look at the numbers in only the ones column, and how even numbers will each have a partner while odd numbers will have an 'odd man out!' Ask your child to explain this to you at home!  We are doing a great deal of our math learning through games and manipulatives, which has helped the K-Kids solidify the skills and their ability to explain their thinking! The kids are absolutely loving the Estimation Jar, and after a few days of it there has been a noticeable difference in the kids' estimation skills, and their ability to guess numbers that make sense!

We continued to pay attention to various text features that authors can use with their informational writing. We focused on using comparisons in our writing, such as "A polar bear weighs as much as ten men." The students particularly enjoyed the comparison example in one of our mini lessons: "A pig weighs about as much as 6 first graders", which was accompanied by an illustration of a pig and six children balancing on a scale.

The ocean unit lends itself very well to science. We started our discussion with an overview of ocean zones, but this week we focused mainly on sharks and whales. First, we created schema charts for each animal. The students shared whatever information that was "already in their brains", and we added it to our chart. Then, as we learned about sharks and whales throughout the week, we added all new information to a separate section on the chart. We also discovered some of our schema was actually a misconception! Then we discussed the differences between sharks and whales. Did you know that sharks are fish while whales are actually mammals? We also explored an actual sharks mouth! Did you also know that sharks don't have a skeleton made of bones? Instead, they are made of cartilage, which allows them to swim through the water with ease. Also, a shark has up to 20 rows of teeth and as they fall out, a new tooth from the next row just pops right in to fill the space! Ask your kiddos to tell you even more shark and whale facts! We ended the week with two fun and adorable projects. The students made orca whales and then wrote 3 facts that they had learned about whales. They also made sharks, and wrote a shark Can/Have/Are sheet. Be on the lookout for these projects hanging up outside our classroom next week!
Sunday, January 15, 2017

Leaders Are Everywhere!

This week, we had a fantastic time finishing up our Martin Luther King Jr. unit. We continue to emphasize being a leader (even when it's not the easiest choice) and I overheard many of the K-Kids reminding each other to "act like Martin Luther King Jr." Transitions became easier and the kids were very focused on "following directions quickly."

Language Arts:
We worked to finish up our language arts centers this week, and the kiddos worked quite hard to ensure that their Martin Luther King activities were finished. We also wrote our own MLK biographies this week. We discussed what a biography is and how to write a story about someone else's life. The biographies were then written to focus on 'early life,' 'family,' 'education,' and 'life's work.' The kids absolutely blew us away! Their interpretation of all of our discussions was so apparent and I was so proud to see this K-level research project take shape. I'm certain that they will be very eager to share with you all of the knowledge they have gained about Martin Luther King Jr's inspirational life.

This week we also finished up our math stations, focusing greatly on addition and subtraction. With all of the K-Kids, we are working on automaticity and number sense. I have been very impressed to see the progress thus far, and addition and subtraction skills have become quite fluent. We also began sending home the Estimation Jar this week. The kids absolutely love looking at the jar and trying to estimate the number of items inside. It is a real challenge for the student who brought the jar in to write down his or her friends' guesses on the board without telling them whether their number is close or not, but they have all done an admirable job at keeping a straight face! Be on the lookout for the Estimation Jar to come home with your child soon, if it hasn't yet!

Social Studies: 

As I stated before, we have thoroughly discussed leadership throughout this Martin Luther King Jr. unit. We did a great deal of role playing this week to figure out how a leader would handle each situation. I knew that the lessons were making an impact as I heard many of The Leader in Me concepts come forth this week during free choice and transition times! 

This week we discussed various text features, and how to incorporate them into our All About writing. We learned the purposes of labeling, captioning, table of contents, close-ups and cut-away illustrations, and maps. The students were challenged to use one or several of these features in their writing, and they did a terrific job! We will continue to utilize these in our future writing. 
Sunday, January 8, 2017

Our Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr

Welcome back to school! This week, we began our Martin Luther King Jr. leadership unit in honor of his birthday, which comes up on January 15. The kids have really taken to this concept of being a leader, and I am definitely using the idea of acting like Martin Luther King Jr. on a daily basis! We started our discussion focusing on what it means to be 'fair' and how it makes you feel if someone treats you 'unfairly.' I am always amazed at the class discussions that come out of this unit, and how injustice in our world can make a 5 or 6-year-old think critically. We will use much of the new information we have learned about MLK to create our first biographies next week! 

Language Arts:
This week we started a new round of literacy workstations. Some of these workstations focused on MLK and his legacy, while others helped us interact with various phonemic and phonological awareness skills. We continue to complete a book study every week, and I have seen a great amount of deep comprehension from the K-Kids lately. It's amazing how a few short months can completely change our discussions about books! 

This week in math we continued our discussion of addition and subtraction, focusing on the differences in the symbols. We also have started working on math equations where part of the equation is missing but we have the answer. For example 8 + ___ = 12. This has been an interesting challenge for the K Kids since it requires such a deep understanding of how numbers work together. We also have been working on coin identification and continue our work with place value. The K-Kids enjoy the extra challenge of playing our 'mystery number' game where one student picks a mystery number and the rest of the K-Kids have to figure out what that number is. 

Writer's Workshop:
We began our information/all about writing unit, by discussing how to think about writing topics that we feel we know a lot about. We discussed that in order for something to be a 'super topic' we need to know 5 things about it. We also brainstormed potential writing topics with writing partners.  I have LOVED watching this group grow as writers. They each have a unique style and Writer's Workshop has definitely become a favorite part of the day. 

Social Studies:
Our Martin Luther King Jr. unit gave us a perfect opportunity to explore many social studies concepts this week. We started with a Brain Pop Jr. video to show much about the life of Martin Luther King and as an added benefit, includes Rosa Parks! We discussed how he became a great leader and how he used nonviolent tactics to fight in a very troubling time. We also discussed how he organized large groups of peoples and talked a great deal about his I Have A Dream Speech. We even watched part of the real speech and the K-Kids were so interested in how there were people of all races in the audience. The kiddos have used Martin Luther King as a fantastic example of leadership this week, something we will continue throughout the year.