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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Winter Voyage Part 1

What a great day! Enjoy the slideshow below and have your child tell you all about it. I split my time between the two groups/patrols in our crew and ended up not going sledding with either group. So  I don't have any pictures of the sledding. I may get some from the camp later. If so, I will share them with you. Remember that we have a day of rest tomorrow. If you get this post by email, you will need to go directly to the blog to view this slideshow. To view a larger version of this slideshow, click here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Soothing Strategy

It won't come as a surprise to you, the parents, that occasionally we need to find a way to sooth our jangled nerves and calm down a little bit. We use various techniques to help us do this including but not limited to: getting a drink of water, doing hand massages, taking a body break or a brain break, and many more.

The strategy that works the best for us as a crew is reading a great book. Last week we had "one of those days" with lots of tired, cranky crew members and lots of hurt feelings. So we settled in to read a good book and even some of the crew noticed how quiet and calm everyone got during the story. Thankfully the books we read were fascinating stories with amazing illustrations and thankfully we had more than one. It was a "three book" day that day. We all ended the day feeling better and had lots of great stories filling our heads as we went home. Below are a some of the books we particularly enjoyed.

Just one of the beautiful illustrations that took us away from all of our worries.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Play a fun math game.
Gather the gear you need for your daypack including a water bottle, 2 snacks and a sack lunch.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Math Games

Here are some fun games to play with your child to practice basic addition facts and coin counting.

Addition Top-It

The game is played with a deck of number cards, 4 cards for each number 0-9. As many as four children can play, but at first, children should play the two-player game.

1. Shuffle the deck and place it on the desk with the cards face down.

2. At each turn, players turn over two cards and call out the sum. Players should check each other's sums.

3. The player with the higher sum takes all the cards. In case of a tie, players turn over two more cards and call out the sum. The player with the higher sum takes all the cards from both plays.

4. Play continues until there are fewer than 4 cards left in the deck. The player who took more cards wins.

Race to $1.00

You need: a partner, collection of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and a dollar bill, two dice.

Players take turns rolling the dice and taking that many pennies. On their turn, players may exchange 5 pennies for a nickel, 10 pennies for a dime, 2 nickels for a dime, etc.

Play continues until one player has collected enough coins to exchange them for a dollar bill. To make the game easier, use only one die or choose a smaller amount (50 cents) as the winning amount. As you play ask your child: How much money do you have now? Who has more money? How much more?

Tric Trac

You need: a partner, 20 pennies, a piece of paper for each player with the numbers 0 - 9 written on it, 2 dice
Take turns. When it is your turn: Roll the dice. Find the total number of dots. This is your sum. Move 1 of your pennies to cover your sum. OR move 2 or more of your pennies and cover any numbers that can be added together to equal your sum. Play continues until no more numbers can be covered on your gameboard. Your partner may continue playing even after you are finished. The game is over when neither player can cover any more of the numbers on his or her gameboard. Find the sum of your uncovered numbers. The player with the lower sum wins.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.

Math ~ Test tomorrow - Review place value (tens and ones place), counting Base 10 blocks, name collection boxes,  <, >, = using money amounts, measuring in cm, addition facts and turn around facts, counting groups of coins.

Read Family Letter

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fact Triangles

Hopefully by now you have seen some fact triangles. We use our fact triangles for a few minutes each day at the beginning of math to practice our basic facts. We each have our own set. Your child should be compiling a fact triangle set to use at home, too. Recent Home Links have had some triangles to cut out and add to the at-home set. When using fact triangles, your child gathers all of the triangles together in a stack with the number with the dot next to it organized so that "dot number" or sum appears at the top of the triangle. Then your child should hold the stack with his finger or thumb covering that number and proceed through the stack calling out the answer to each addition fact.

Your child can also practice subtraction facts by covering one of the numbers without the dot and moving through the stack again only this time calling out the answer to the subtraction fact.

Our goal is to be able to go through the stack and get each answer correct. Once we can do that, our new goal is to increase the speed that we can move through the stack.

It would be great if you could go through these fact triangles with your child for a few minutes each night as part of their homework. It will really help them learn these facts and improve their speed with answering them, too.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 6.11 Fact Triangles

Important Dates
2/26 Belay Training 11:00 am - 12:30 pm in the gym
2/27 Winter Voyage Part 1
2/28 Day of Rest
3/5 Life is Art Artist Edition 4 - 7 pm at the school
3/15 Life is Art Adult Fundraiser 6- 10 pm
Week of 3/17 to 3/21 Student Led Conferences - more information coming soon
Week of 3/17 to 3/21 Spring Climbing  in P.E.

Life is Art Auction Items
Take a look at this beautiful piece that our crew made as our item to auction off at the Life is Art Fundraiser. I think it is beautiful (the Life is Art committe came up with this idea, not me). You will surely want to bid on this item!

My Teacher Time auction item will be a Bedtime Story and Tuck In. I have so much fun visiting students at home and getting to read them a bedtime story. I always anxiously await to hear who I will be reading to each year.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Looking For a Good Book?

If you are looking for a good book for your child, check out my Pinterest pages. I just updated several of the book pages with lots of great new book ideas. Just click on the picture below to go to the pages.

Click on this picture to go directly to view all of my Pinterest boards about books.

One of my Pinterest pages is only about Book Series for Primary Grades. These books range in level from mid first grade to third grade so you might need to try out a few before you find a good fit for your child. If you click on the picture below, you will go directly to the Book Series page. Once there, you can click on any book to see a larger version of the book cover. If you click on that book cover one more time, it will take you directly to the Douglas County Public Library page of that book and you can put it on hold - a fast and easy way to pick out books. Then you will just need to go and pick up the books you select when they are ready.

Click on this picture to go directly to the Book Series page.

If you would like some guidance in determining which books might be just right for your child, you can visit the Book Wizard section of the Scholastic website. Once there you can enter a title of a book to find out what grade level is it recommended for or you can ask the Book Wizard to find similar books to the one you type in. This is great if your child already has a favorite series and would like to find more like it.

Click on this picture to go directly to the Book Wizard site.

As the crew improves in their reading, we have to work at keeping them supplied with books that they will love and that they can read on their own or with support from an adult. Hopefully these pages will help you help your child find some great books - those that they can read on their own and those that you can read aloud to them. Let me know if you need any help finding good books.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Realistic Fiction

We have started a new unit in Writing. We are now trying to write realistic fiction stories. We had fun creating a character for our story and then thinking of what problem or issue our character would face in our story. It is fun to write this kind of story because it is like playing pretend games only instead of acting them out, we write them on the paper. We still need to have a beginning (that introduces the people and the place/setting), middle (that tells about the problem the main character faces) and an end (that tells how the main character solves his or her problem) just like when we were writing stories about our lives. I can't wait to read all of the finished stories.

No homework for the weekend. Enjoy a few good books with your child.

Our IA next week is PE. Please help your child remember to dress appropriately.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Critical Thinking

On Tuesday, we learned more about another one of the 4Cs - Critical Thinking. We talked about what critical thinking is and then created another chart for our room to help us remember what we need to do when we need to think critically about a problem or situation.

Our ideas included:
  • tell the problem in your own words
  • ask questions
  • make predictions
  • explain ideas
  • gather proof or evidence
  • talk about parts and the whole

While we know many things about collaboration and critical thinking, we know many more things about communication. We talked about how we will use these 4Cs for our whole life and that some are more important at different times. Communication is very important to first graders!

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 6.10 Time at 5-Minute Intervals

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


We finished the book we were reading, Andy Shane and the Very Bossy Delores Starbuckle and have started a new chapter book. This one is from the Ready Freddy series and is called Ready Freddy: Tooth Trouble. The book has us naturally making predictions about what we think will happen next and this is exactly what reading skill we are working on. In this book, Freddy is the only one in his class who hasn't yet lost a tooth and this makes him feel very left out. It is a very funny and engaging book and the crew groans when we stop at the end of each chapter - they want to keep reading. (This is also exactly what you want to happen when you read a book aloud.) At the end of each chapter, we talk about what we think will happen next or make predictions about the rest of the story. There are lots of other books in this series if you are looking for some good books to read aloud to your child at home.

New Stations
We started two new stations today. One using magnets and one using packing materials. Both were big hits today.
Building with magnets.

Building and creating with packing materials.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 6.9 More Counting Coins

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Wow! What a day! Today we did the mystery piece for our Science Expedition. We came into the classroom after recess and on our tables were containers of dirt. We began to gently dig in the dirt and guess what we found - worms! It was very exciting. After checking out the worms, we created a worm farm for some of the worms to live in. The rest of the worms will live in small containers and will be used in various experiments throughout the Expedition. We are already very excited to dig into this Expedition.  Enjoy the photos below.

We have so many questions about worms - and this is exactly what should happen when we do a mystery piece at the beginning of an Expedition. We want to leave them eager to learn more and find the answers to their questions. Check out our list of questions below.

Today was our last day of this round of the Maker Station. We will come back to it again soon. As we have had this station longer, the crew has gotten more detailed in their work here. Below are some pictures from today. (We have plenty of recyclable items for our next round of the Maker Station. Thanks for sending in so many items. They have been put to good use.)

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 6.8 Counting Coins

Important Dates
2/27/14 Winter Voyage to Douglas County Outdoor Education Center in Larkspur
2/28/14 Day of Rest 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Day Party

Since tomorrow is a professional development day for teachers and we don't have school, we had our Valentine's Day party this afternoon. Everyone had a great time. A few pictures are below. Thanks to all who helped make it such a big success.

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

Our IA next week is Music.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

All School Meeting

All School Meeting
Our crew led the All School Meeting today and did a fantastic job. My heart melted watching them up there. It was such a big accomplishment for so many of them.

To get an idea of how the meeting looked this morning (although nothing compares to the live version), check out these links:
Communication Slide Show
Our Sign Language Performance (filmed earlier in the classroom on Monday)

Here is a message from one audience member:

Dear Ms. Jill's Crew,
Wow! What a magnificent job you all did leading All School Meeting. You were all so poised, confident, prepared and professional!
One of the things that great presenters do is capture the attention of the audience. You did this so well! Could you tell?
We all LOVED your song that you did with sign language. I was so impressed! It must have been a big challenge to learn to do that!
I'm wondering if maybe you could think about what you did to prepare for All School Meeting that made your presentation so enjoyable for the audience? Maybe you could share a few tips that you learned so that I could share those with other Crews?
Thank you for your generosity in sharing songs, information and your sweet selves with our whole school Crew!
Ms. Deborah

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 6.6 Measuring in Centimeters

Bring your Valentine's Day cards and a container to collect them in tomorrow.

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

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Collections

As you may know, I bring in various book collections from the public library to share with the crew. I hope that over time they will all find some books, authors or series that they love. I haven't been very good at sharing what these collections are with you this year and knowing some of these titles might be helpful when you are at the library with your child looking for good books. So below are some recent collections.

We just finished looking at the Katie Woo series of books. Katie Woo is a series of early chapter books about a first grade girl who has many of the same adventures and problems that our crew has - being bossy, losing a tooth, going camping, having the flu and more. To learn more about the Katie Woo series of books, click here.

We also just finished looking at books by author/illustrator Marla Frazee. Her illustrations are so detailed that you can spend a long time just noticing little things in each picture. They are also great stories.

This week we are taking a look at one of my very favorite series of books - the Henry and Mudge series. This series about the adventures of a boy and his dog are so sweet and have lots of appeal to first graders (and their teacher).

This week we are also looking at books by the illustrator Jim LaMarche. His illustrations are soft and beautiful and make you linger on each page. Again, the stories that go with the illustrations are great, too. You should take a look.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 6.5 Fact Routines Practice