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Monday, September 30, 2013

Then and Now

As you are all aware, we worked like social scientists and gathered data about our family in the past by interviewing our grandparents. We shared what we learned with each other and then wrote out one of the most important or interesting things that we learned. We recorded our thoughts in a presentation using the 30 Hands app for the iPad. Our presentation and a photo of our work in below. (If you get this post by email, you will need to go directly to the blog to view the presentation.)

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Review counting collections of coins and practice telling time to the hour.

Important Dates
Crew Pictures ~ today (Yes, it was a bit crazy and the stories you are hearing are probably true.)
Pupil Enrollment Count Day ~ Tuesday, October 1st
Bootcamp ~ Friday, October 4th
Fall Break ~ October 7th through October 21st

Friday, September 27, 2013

Gifts from Australia

The crew was so excited to get a package from our Twitter friends from Australia.  Mrs. Price's class sent us pictures and stories about themselves along with Australian flags, banners, stickers, books, brochures, balloons and little stuffed koala bears. We enjoyed looking through the package and immediately began thinking of ideas for things we can send them. Enjoy the pictures below. Click on the pictures to see a larger image.

Tools for Reading

We have been learning that readers and writers need to be brave when they are reading and writing and try to figure out words that they don't know. We have talked how we need to have a toolbox of things to try when we come upon a word that we don't know. We can't just ask someone to tell us the word every time and "sounding it out" doesn't always work. We have been learning a list of other tools (strategies) that we can use when we come upon a word that we can't read.

We try to think like a detective and look at clues that will help us figure out what the unknown word might be. Sometimes we have to use several clues to figure out just one word. We have our toolbox of strategies posted above the whiteboard in our room so that we can refer to it if we need help. I will be emailing a more detailed copy of this list to parents, too, so you can help your child use these tools at home. (Please remind me if I happen to forget.) You can click on the picture to see a larger version.

 Can your child:
  • count by 2s, 5s and 10s?
  • tie his or her shoes?
  • write his or her last name?

No homework for the weekend. Enjoy some good books with your child and check to see how many things on the list above your child can do. These would be great things to work on this weekend, too.

IA (Integrated Arts)
Our IA next week is Art.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Writer's Workshop

One day last week, I looked up during Writer's Workshop and noticed that we had turned a corner and we were working like first graders during our writing time. The crew was all so engaged in what they were doing that I just felt like I had to stop conferring with kids for a minute to capture it on video. They are really becoming writers. (Full disclosure: I did take 3 thirty second videos because on my first two tries kids looked up and saw I was filming and waved. I wanted to show them working not waving so I tried again. It was very cute and they went right back to work. I never told the kids I was filming, though.) You will see some students working at their desks and others on the computers. During this work time, Ms. Wendy and I move around the room to confer with different writers - this is their one-on-one teaching/learning time. (If you get this post by email, you will need to go directly to the blog to view the videos.)

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 2.13 Counting Money

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Learning about the Denver Mint

Last week, Ms. Wendy brought in some items to help us learn more about how coins are made at the Denver Mint. We have been learning about pennies and nickels and interesting facts about them including the pictures that are on them, what they are made of and where they are made. It turns out that Ms. Wendy's husband works at the Denver Mint so Ms. Wendy was able to tell us more about how coins are made. She brought in some of the cloth bags that the coins are shipped in, a photo of her husband at work and a video that showed the machines that make the coins. It was very interesting.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 2.12 Telling Time

We have library tomorrow. Please help your child remember to return his or her library books.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We Are Family Case Study #1 Our Own Families

We learned so much about how our families were similar and different during the first case study. We acted as social scientists and gathered data about our families. We have graphed some of our data to make it easier to see it all at once and to analyze it. We graphed the type of homes we live in, we graphed the cities we live in, we graphed the number of people in our family and we graphed the favorite dinners of our families. We have also gathered data about how our families have changed over time by thinking about how the lives of our parents and grandparents are different from our lives today. We have learned so much as you can see in the pictures below.

Big Ideas

· The cultures of my family and other families are similar and different.
· Families change over time.
· People around the world live in families.  These families are similar and different.

Guiding Questions

· What is a family?
· How is my family the same and different from others in the classroom?
· How are families the same and different in the past and present?
· How are families the same and different in other places in the world?  
Some of these big ideas and guiding questions will be addressed in our second case study which we started yesterday and is about families in China.

If you are viewing these photos directly on the blog, you can click on each picture to enlarge it.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two. Practice retelling the story to someone at home.
Math ~ Home Link 2.11 Nickels and Pennies

Monday, September 23, 2013

We Are Family Expedition ~ Case Study #2

Today we launched the second case study of our We Are Family Expedition with a silent gallery walk. We saw so many fascinating artifacts. Tonight we will be thinking about what we saw and trying to figure out what we might be studying next. Feel free to discuss this with your child but if you know our next topic, please don't share it yet. This is part of our Mystery Piece and wondering about what we will be studying will increase our engagement in the study. Enjoy the photos below.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 2.10 Pennies and Nickels

Friday, September 20, 2013

Character Trait ~ Beneficence

Beneficence means doing kind things for others without expecting anything in return. We are all very good at showing beneficence. We read several books about characters who showed beneficence such as Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deeds and Reach Out and Give. Ask your child how he or she has been showing beneficence and encourage them to notice when someone at home is showing this trait. During our closing circle, we often talk about ways we saw crew members showing beneficence during the day.

No homework for the weekend. Enjoy some great books with your child.

Register for Bootcamp!

Check out our Kidblog page. Every crew member now has at least one post up - some have many posts. Feel free to share our crew blog or Kidblog page with your child's grandparents.

Our IA next week is PE. Please help your child remember to wear appropriate footwear.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Brain Breaks and Body Breaks

Throughout our day, we squeeze in a few brain breaks and body breaks. Sometimes these are silly games or motions like Jack in the Box, Walking the Tight Rope, Penguin Walk, Swimming, Squeezies, Hand Massage, Mirrors, etc. At other times, we do regular exercises like crunches, push-ups, lunges, squats, bicycle crunches, arm circles, chair push-ups, mountain climbers, etc. Mr. Doug approved all of these exercises for first graders. You can see how active we are in the photos below and taking these breaks helps us all focus better.



Maker Station
You may have heard already about our popular new Exploration Station that we are calling the Maker Station. You may even already have some projects from this station decorating your home. Your donations of recyclable items have been put to good use. Feel free to continue to send those small items. We are really using our imaginations and fine motor skills at this station.

Sloan creates an "ice cream sundae" for her dad. Sam builds a rocket ship.

Ellison designed a trophy.

David and Caroline choose their materials.

Luke makes a space station.

Emma makes a card.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
math ~ Home Link 2.9 Counting by 5s

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ways to Help Your Child with Reading and Math

I ran across these infographics online the other day and thought that you would like to see them, too. Click on the graphic to go directly to the article that the infographic came from.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 2.8 Nickels -the Home Link asks you to send in coins but you can ignore this. We already gathered all of the coins we will need this year in that first bag.

We have library tomorrow. Please help your child remember to return his or her library books.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


This post is especially for Mrs. Price's class in Australia. One of the things we have been talking with them about on Twitter has been recess. We wondered what each others playgrounds looked liked. Below are some photos taken over the last couple of weeks of the crew on our playground.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 2.7 Ordering Numbers

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Memories of the Fall Voyage

As I have been reflecting on this year's Fall Voyage, I have thought of several stories about the trip that you might enjoy hearing, too. While I am sure that there are many great stories that I missed, below are a few stories that I thought I would share with you.
  • On the bus on the way to Camp Elim, both first grade crews spontaneously burst into one of the chants we have learned in math. It is: "2, 4, 6, 8, first graders are really great". They were so exuberant while they were chanting that you couldn't help but smile. It seems like math has bonded the entire first grade.
  • The look of surprise or shock when we told the kids that we were going to eat lunch on the bus on the way up was priceless. The littlest things mean the most to them. One boy even shared that as his favorite part of the whole Voyage during our closing circle.
  • Just as all of the girls were beginning to settle in at night, one girl popped up and said, "I don't want a top bunk anymore." Within a minute, another girl popped up and said, "But I do." So began the bed shuffle and starting the settling down process again.
  • One boy was having trouble sleeping and another boy came over to comfort him and help him fall asleep. He kept glancing at the chaperone to see if it was okay. The chaperone thought it was very sweet.
  • During the obstacle course, one boy began to cry as he tried to climb up and over the "A-frame" so he came down and finished the rest of the course. He came back later and triumphantly climbed  the "A-frame" and immediately ran around to do it one more time. Perseverance paid off him. He was so proud.
  • I saw so many of the crew practicing good stewardship while we were hiking. They would see a piece of trash and pick it up and carry it until we reached a trash can. (Yes, we did wash hands before every meal.)
  • As we were packing up on Thursday morning, one girl became the sleeping bag stuffing expert and helped almost all of the girls in her cabin stuff their sleeping bags into the sacks.
  • While hiking two girls were constantly on the prowl for "perfume" (sage).
  • After our campfire and closing circle on Wednesday night, I read a Henry and Mudge book to the crew. I love how calm they get when they listen to a story. It felt like a little bit of school while we were away.
  • During our closing circle on Wednesday night I felt like the crew was not "right" so I had them do a count around the circle. It turned out that one crew member was missing and then I remembered that he was with his dad so all was good. However, this prompted one crew member to bring up Harry so we talked about my FaceTime chat with Harry from the night before and how he had a chance to do some painting with one of the nurses. It felt nice that Harry was part of that closing circle.
  • On the bus on the way home, it was so relaxing to just sit amongst the crew and watch them be children. There was lots of pretend play with stuffed animals and animal crackers, storytelling and writing numbers on paper. Nothing big but they were all very content and having a great time.
  • As we got closer to the school, one boy asked if the bus could just drop him off at home since it was on the way and he was sure that his parents would appreciate it since they might be busy.
  • The crew was totally flexible and went with the flow for the entire Voyage. They really didn't know what day it was or what time it was. Even after eating dinner on the bus, one boy was surprised to learn that school was already out for the day when we got home. He was wondering if we would do another closing circle when we got there.
  • Finally, I would like to say a special thanks to Wendy for helping to keep things running smoothly. It was great to have her to lean on.
Be sure to check out the information and slideshow on the previous blog post for more details about our Voyage.
Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 2.6 Telling Time to the Hour
Expedition ~ Interviews with Grandparents are due tomorrow.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fall Voyage

Our Fall Voyage was a big success and lots of fun for all. Below is a slideshow of photos from our trip. You can either just hit play and watch this slide show or you can use the arrows at the bottom of the pictures to move more quickly or to go backward and forwards. Have your child watch it with you so they can tell you all about each picture. Below the slideshow are some facts, stories, etc. about our trip.


Why do we have a Fall Voyage?

We have a Fall Voyage for many reasons.
  • We take voyages to push students just a little bit out of their comfort zone. Real learning occurs when you are pushed out of your comfort zone and are challenged to try things you have not done before. For some first graders the biggest challenge is simply being away from home for a night and learning that they can trust other adults and themselves. For others the challenge is being responsible for themselves and their gear instead of counting on mom or dad to keep track of everything. Most are challenged in some way by the activities of the voyage. They must learn to work together, show perseverance when trying to find solutions to challenging problems, push themselves physically, and start to show independence in an age-appropriate manner.
  • I love the voyages because I get to see the students in a completely different environment and see other strengths that they have that might not show up in a classroom.
  • The voyages are also a great place for the students to practice the character traits that we have been working so hard to learn in class. Students also bring back some of the confidence and new skills that they learned on the trip and are able to apply them to academic learning.
  • We also all form tight bonds as a crew and are able to work very well together for the rest of the school year.

What did we do at Camp Elim?

In addition to eating, sleeping, packing, unpacking and taking care of ourselves, we also had time for some learning and some fun. Listed below are the activities we did along with a very short description.

Initiatives (Problem Solving Challenges)
Bag It – This activity had us feeling objects in bags to try to figure out what they were or finding the object we put in the bag without looking. We learned to use other senses rather than simply rely on sight to gather clues and make decisions.

Camouflage Hide and Seek - A unique version of hide and seek that can be played in a wooded area.

Nature Hunt at the Lake - This was a beautiful walk around a lake. We were challenged to really look at, listen to and smell what was around us. We had a list of things to look for and check off as we found them.

Web of Life - During this activity, we learned about how plants and animals depend on each other. We all chose an animal and then made a web (with string) to show how they are all related and what happens to the whole web when one animal is removed.

Recreational Activities

Alphabet Hike - At the beginning of this hike, we were all given a card with a letter of the alphabet on it. During the hike we had to look for things that started with that letter of the alphabet.

Obstacle Course – There were several physical challenges at this station.

Solo Hike – This was a short walk with a stop for a little solo time to reflect on the voyage. The kids chose spots within a set boundary and they sat by themselves just thinking and reflecting about the Voyage.

Chapel Games - There were several fun running and very active games that were played in the large chapel.

Other Items

We had a big campfire with skits and lots of laughter. This was a big hit for most of the crew. I am sure that they will tell you all about the spitting contest between two of the counselors to put out the fire.

The meals were very good. For dinner we had spaghetti, green beans, salad and garlic bread with a cupcake for dessert. For breakfast we had pancakes and sausage. There was also a breakfast bar with fruit, granola, oatmeal and hard boiled eggs. Then for lunch we had pizza, salad and grapes with ice cream bars for dessert.

It really was a wonderful trip. Thanks again to all of the chaperones who gave so generously of their time. Chaperoning is just like parenting or teaching – the toughest job you will ever love.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Crew News September 9, 2013

We Are All Experts
One of my goals as a teacher is to help each child find the things that they are passionate about and to know their own strengths. To get us started thinking about this we talked about the words “passionate” and “expert” during a recent morning meeting. Then we thought for a couple of days about what our passions and strengths might be. Finally, we created the charts shown here. We use these charts to help us remember that we are all good at something. This helps on those days when something might seem particularly challenging. We also use them to get to know our crew members better. We know who to ask if we need help or have a question about something. We can also use the charts to help us recommend good books that we find to others. They are also great conversation starters and have led to some wonderful sharing. We are all really starting to appreciate our differences and similarities and how these change over time. It is so exciting to me to see the crew really show a deeper understanding of each other and our strengths. Click on the picture to see a larger version of it.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 2.5 Clocks and Watches

Bring in your gear for the Voyage.

Important Dates
September 11 and 12 - Fall Voyage for 1st Grade
September 13 - Day of Rest for 1st Grade
October 4 - Boot Camp

Be sure to stop by and check out our Kidblog page from time to time. We have begun to add ShowMes to our blogs. You will enjoy them. The link can always be found on the sidebar of this blog.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Birthday Treats

Wow! We have had so much fun with birthday treats this year. We started off with a great treat from Gabriel of two mechanical pencils - a big deal with first graders. Then today we had two birthday treats in one afternoon. Allison brought in goody bags with dry erase crayons, a notebook and a pencil. She has also invited the entire crew to her pool party at the Rec Center. Joseph ended our day with his birthday treat of a science experiment. We "blew" up balloons using the chemical reaction of vinegar and baking soda. The crew absolutely loved it! Each child brought home a balloon and instructions to do the experiment again at home.

I truly love how these treats are healthy and include all of the members of our crew (regardless of allergies and food intolerances). Thanks to those parents who have started us off so well with our birthday celebrations.