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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Fall Break!

Dear Crew,

I hope that you are having lots of fun on your Fall Break! I definitely am! I have read lots and lots of books. I also went on a road trip with my husband to visit our daughter and then we drove on to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. It was all so beautiful! Now I am home and beginning to think about going back to school. I would love to hear how your break is going and see some pictures of what you have been doing - especially if they show you reading a good book. ;) I am thinking about making a display of pictures in our classroom so we can all see all of the photos.

I will be working on a blog post for you soon to let you know about some of the great things we have to look forward to when we get back to school. I can't wait to see you and get back to school. I have missed you all so much!

Enjoy my photos below. Remember that I would love to hear from you and see a few pictures of you, too.

Ms. Jill

Showing our daughter that we were drinking enough water. :)

Friday, October 5, 2018

RAD ~ Renaissance Adventure Day!

What a fantastic day! I will let your child tell you all about these pictures. Thanks to all of you for your donations, for volunteering to work at events, and for supporting our day in general.

Have a great Fall Break! See you back at school on October 23rd!

RAD Photo Album

Thursday, October 4, 2018

We Are Family

As I mentioned earlier, our first Expedition is called, We Are Family. Our first case study is a study of our own families and how they are alike and different. We have been using our math skills to create graphs with information about our families as you can see in the picture below. So far we have graphed the number of people in our family, where our families live and what our families' favorite dinners are. We also learned a little bit about maps when we talked about where our families live. Last week we took a look at our grandparents lives to see how their childhood was similar to or different from ours. We are learning that we are part of a family and part of our family history.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Incidental Learning

I mentioned earlier that learning is messy and not all divided into clean content areas. There is also a lot of incidental learning that takes place during a child's day. While I am calling this type of learning incidental, it is definitely not insignificant. Much of what we learn happens by accident or as a side effect of other learning. Some incidental learning that has happened in our classroom lately includes:

  • We read a book about graphs and ended up making a human graph with our bodies that showed our favorite kinds of berries.
  • We read a book about diagrams and learned about Venn diagrams and cut-away diagrams.
  • While looking at a cut-away diagram of a watermelon in the book mentioned above, one student shared with us how that diagram is similar to a cut-away diagram of the Earth and made the connection between the rind of the watermelon to the Earth's crust, the meat of the watermelon to the Earth's mantel and the seeds of the watermelon to the Earth's core.
  • We learned a few things about a couple of presidents while learning about pennies and nickels.
  • We learned the word "startled" when we had a fire drill because the alarm really startled us.
  • We learned about the number of hours in a day and am and pm when learning to tell time to the hour.
  • We have learned a lot about gender, race and world cultures while reading books.
  • We learned how to make a tornado in a bottle from a book we read.
  • We are learning recording skills and tech skills as we create posts on our Seesaw Journals.
I am sure that the list could go on and on but I will stop here. Children really are soaking in new learning all the time whether it is intentional or incidental. It is amazing to watch.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Sight Word Activities

Last week, I sent home an electronic copy of the sight word booklet that we are using in class. (It became hard for some students to remember to bring the booklet back and forth so we are keeping our school booklet at school and you can make a home booklet if you would like.) I mentioned then that I would send home some ideas for you to try at home as you practice sight words (also called high frequency words).

There are a couple of commercially made games that help provide practice with sight words like the games below but I know that they are many others that you could play on family game night:

There are several different levels available of this version.

You can also make up your own games with cards you make using index cards with the words your child is learning written on them. You could play Memory Match (Concentration), Go Fish, or other cards games. Here is a link to a large collection of games you can play with just index cards with the words written on them:

You can also make the words using play dough, wikki stix, pipe cleaners or magnetic letters.
You can draw them on your driveway with sidewalk chalk and have your child jump on the word you call out or you could make a hopscotch board with the words in each box. Your child could write them on the driveway with chalk or with water and a clean paintbrush.

There are also many apps and online games that will help your child learn to read and write sight words.

You can make up your own games, too. Anyway that you can make playing with these words fun and engaging is great!

After practicing them for a bit you might have a scavenger hunt and try to see how many of the words you can find in a book or see how many times you can find each word in a book. This will help your child see the words in context as well as in isolation.

Once your child can read the words, you can help them learn to spell the words.

Do this as much or as little as works for your child and for your family. We always want to keep any practice sessions light and fun. We want to encourage a love of reading and never want to make a child dread it. So if these games aren't fun, stop and go play outside. 

Important Dates
10/5 RAD ~ Renaissance Adventure Day
10/8-10/19 Fall Break
10/22 No School - Teacher Work Day
11/6 No School - Professional Development Day for Teachers
11/21-11/23 No School - Thanksgiving Break
12/24-1/7 Winter Break

Friday, September 28, 2018

Then and Now - Grandparent Interviews

We have all had a chance to interview our grandparents and share with the crew what we learned. Below are some of our thoughts from before we interviewed our grandparents and things we learned during our interviews.

Before Interviewing Our Grandparents, We Thought….

They showed cattle.
They learned in school.
Grandma got lost and found a treasure chest with jewelry.
My grandpa didn’t have any video games. The first one he had was PacMan.
My grandma used to be a teacher.
My grandparents are so old that when they were in first grade there wasn’t a first grade.
There was no TV.
They wrote stories.
My grandparents learned how turtles come alive in kindergarten.
My grandpa’s favorite movie was Lego Jurassic Park. His iPad still has it on it.
When my grandparent was born the water wasn’t running.
When my grandpa’s favorite movie was Ghostbusters.
My grandma learned to tell time in first grade.
When my grandparents were little no girls could go to school.
My grandpa had an electric train set and he passed it on to my dad and he is going to pass it on to me.
My grandma learned to cook in first grade.
My grandpa gave my dad a giant Star Wars ship when he was in first grade.
I think they did math.
I think they read a lot.

After Interviewing Our Grandparents, We Learned…
There were no car seats or seat belts.
There were no fast food restaurants.
They had hot lunch at school.
They played kickball.
They had soup and cheese every Friday.
They wore uniforms to school.
My grandpa liked to eat Mexican food.
Grandma only had 1 friend in first grade.
They weren’t allowed to talk during lunch at school.
They didn’t go to school. They had a private tutor.
They didn’t have toys.
They could only wear dresses to school.
Grandpa worked on 2 farms.
They played tetherball.
My grandpa and his sister cooked dinner. His favorite was meatloaf.
Grandma has 4 friends.
They played kick the can and jump rope.
There were no cell phones, internet or cable.
My grandpa’s favorite animal was a goat.
They could go to school barefoot.
My grandma once punched a boy in the stomach.
My grandma dared her friend to change the time on the clock in order to get more recess.
My grandpa learned to drive a school bus when he was 16.
There was no TV. They had to listen to the radio.
There were no heaters or radios in cars.
There were no backpacks.
They had to bring lunch from home to school every day.
My grandma had two friends named Cora and Carla.
They opened one present on Christmas eve and it was pajamas for Christmas morning.
Holidays were sad because there were no gifts.
My grandpa grew up in Mexico.
My grandma rode a motorcycle when she was a little girl.
The whole school had lunch together.
They loved to go to Dairy Queen.
Doors on stores were manual not electric.
There were no school buses so they walked to school.
They loved the monkey bars.
There was no air conditioning.
They sometimes went to Dairy Queen on Sundays.
They played tag.
My grandma used to be a teacher.
Girls wore dresses and boys wore fancy clothes to school.
Spaghetti and meatballs was my grandma’s favorite dinner.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


We went on a hike today and helped clean up a local trail. We had a great morning as you can see in the photos and album linked below. You will also notice that it wasn't that much of a hike but rather a day to play in nature. Thank you to Mr. G and Ms. Deborah for driving us on the small white buses. The other man you might notice in the photos is Mr. Karl, my husband, a recently retired high school teacher (who was reminded today why he chose to teach high school.)  :)

A couple of funny comments from the day:

  • If you see a tiger on the hike, blow your whistle.
  • After passing out one glove to each child to use to clean up trash, someone said: It's nice to have one hand without a glove so you can fix you hair and make it perfect.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


We are hitting that time of year when students become more aware of what other students around them are doing and not doing. Up to this point, they haven't really noticed when some students are doing different things than they are. There are two reasons for this:

  1. The differentiation techniques that I have been using have not been very easy for a first grader to spot but they are becoming a bit more obvious.
  2. They are becoming more aware of themselves and those around them and how they are the same and different.

I wanted to share with you how I deal with this so it could help you in your discussions with your child at home. I typically begin a crew discussion by asking what day they all lost their first tooth. They will look at me with confusion and explain that they don't all lose their first tooth on the same day and that some of them hadn't lost a tooth yet. I nod and then ask them what day they all learned to ride a two-wheeled bike. By this time a few of the crew will have figured out that I am making a point but others still need to straighten me out and explain things to me. Just to be sure I ask one more question about what day they all learned to walk. Now they all laugh and decide that I am being silly. This is when I talk to them about how we all do things at different times and in different ways and that this is completely normal. I then begin to talk about how this relates to learning to read, write and do math. I explain that we are all going to learn to do those things well but probably not on the exact same day. They usually seem to understand - but understanding something and feeling okay about it are two different things. We will continue to talk about this and how we all have different strengths and weaknesses but that we all continue to learn. You can help by reiterating this at home.

Library is tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Telling Time and Counting Coins

Telling time and counting coins are two math skills that are on their way to becoming unnecessary in our world. However, since they aren't gone yet, we are spending a little time learning these skills. In first grade we will learn to tell time to the nearest hour and half hour and count groups of coins including pennies, nickels and dimes. These are things that you can practice with your child when they come up in your everyday life. Future gift ideas might include a clock or watch or an old-fashioned piggy bank. The crew was very excited and fascinated by my teaching clock that has gears so that both hands move together just like a real clock. They were also very interested in the coins we used today. So if you need a quiet moment, give your child a handful of coins and let them sort and notice to their hearts content.

After our whole crew lesson each day we have small group time. We are so lucky to have several adults - assistants and volunteers - come in and help out in our room at the end of the day. Working along with me, we have Ms. Cate, Ms. Margie and Mr. Bob. Each adult works with a different group each day. The groups that don't have an adult with them work on an i-Ready lesson. We are all really enjoying this time.

Finally, I thought you might be interested to know that , yes, it is true that Princess Hadley was the teacher's helper today.