It's hard to believe that tomorrow is already the last day of school!  We have had a full and exciting year, and it has been a distinct privilege to spend this time with your children.  Thank you for sharing them with me!

I have a few notes to share with you in this final post of the year.
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Congratulations to C.C. on the April Star Citizen award.  Mrs. Fulkerson stopped by this week to present his award in front of the class. Don't you love that smile?

The children will be able to login to ReflexMath.com over the summer, using their current username and passwords.  When a student achieves 100% fluency, I will receive an email notification.  Then I will be able to change your child's assignment from addition and subtraction to multiplication and division.  I will check my email over the summer, but less frequently of course. 

I have included ideas for summer enrichment in the last few posts.  Here are two more options to consider.  The Loudoun library is sponsoring a summer reading competition.  Please visit the library website for a full description.  http://library.loudoun.gov/

Also, Mrs. Hatton, one of Mill Run's reading specialists, sent this message:  
        "Here is a list of possible summer reads for your students...   This is a great resource for you to share w/ your parents as the year is coming to a close.    Enjoy!     http://blog.readkiddoread.com/readkiddoread-summer-reading-list-2013/"    

Finally, please enjoy the slideshow above of the children during field day yesterday.  It was a beautiful day, and you can see that the children had a lot of fun!

Best wishes for a safe and relaxing summer!  Take care!

 
 
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Our super students earned a special reward via the ongoing positive behavior incentive program in the cafeteria.  Upon collecting 40 Mountain Lion Loot "dollars" the children vote on a special activity, like an extra recess or lunch in the classroom.

Our class voted to have an extra iPad session!  Thanks to the generosity of our PTO, our school has a cart of 30 iPads that we share.  The iPads are loaded with a variety of educational apps, including sight word review, math facts, and geography skills.  I love seeing how the children dive into learning with this technology.  Two students above are working collaboratively on a high-speed literacy game that involves a spinner and taking turns.  One child was playing a geography game and actually left her seat to look for a needed answer on the globe.  Please see the slideshow below.  What fun!

Please mark your calendars for these events coming soon:

Friday, May 31 at 1:00 - First Grade Awards Ceremony  
      All students will receive an award!  Please visit our Flat Stanley museum in the first grade hallway at the conclusion of the ceremony.  You are welcome to take your child's Flat Stanley home at the end of this event.  

Monday, June 3 - Field Day  
  •   Students should wear green to show our team spirit.  Our class field trip shirt will be perfect, if it still fits.  Boys may wear swim trunks instead of shorts.  Girls may wear a one piece swim suit under their clothes.     
  •   There are many water activities, and the children usually get very wet.  Students should bring a labeled plastic bag with a complete change of clothes, including socks and shoes.           
  •   Students should bring a beach towel to use on field day.  We will keep the towel at school until the last week for other events such as Beach Day and watching the kickball game on the last day.
  •   Students should bring a full water bottle, labeled with their name.     
  •   Please apply sunscreen to your child before he/she arrives at school.
  • The rain date for field day will be the next day, Tuesday, June 4.

Wednesday, June 5 - Beach Day
        Students may wear beach-theme clothing that is still appropriate for school.  Hawaiian prints and shark t-shirts work well.  The children will sit on their beach towels in the cafeteria for lunch.

Thursday, June 6 - Last Day of School
  Our class party is from 1:00 - 2:00.  All are welcome!  

Please Note:  Students should continue to bring backpacks every day until the last day of school.  I will begin sending items home on Tuesday, so that the children do not have too much to carry all at once.  You may enjoy using some of the unused workbook pages for summer enrichment.  

Summer Enrichment Ideas:  Here's an idea from the Virginia Department of Education, "To get a jump start on the next school year, encourage your students to check out the resources available through Virginia is for Lovers … of Summer Learning. Discover fun activities and resources related to reading, mathematics, science and history that can involve the whole family."


 
 
There are many special events coming soon for our first graders!  Please mark your calendar for the following:

This week will be the last homework packet with a word study component.  Math homework will continue until May 24.  After Memorial Day, we encourage the children to continue reading every night.

There is no school on Monday, May 27 for Memorial Day.

On Thursday, May 30, our specials will run on a Monday schedule, so we will have P.E. but not library.

On Friday, May 31, at 1:00 pm Mill Run will hold the First Grade Awards Ceremony.  We will send an invitation with more information very soon.

Field Day will be on Monday, June 3, with the rain date being Tuesday, June 4.  Stay tuned for more information.

Thursday, June 6 is the last day of school.  We will have an End of the Year party from 1:00 - 2:00 pm.

Please have your child bring his/her backpack to school every day until the last day, since we will send materials home a little at a time during the last 6 or 7 days of school.  It's too much for the children to carry if we save it all for one day.

In academic news, we will finish our math unit on computation strategies this week.  This week and next, I will be giving several five-minute timed quizzes to assess the children's ability to recall addition and subtraction facts to 18.  I will also check ReflexMath to supplement these grades.  Thank you for reviewing math facts with your child.  Confidence is so important!

We are continuing with reading testing this week and next.  The children do not need to study to prepare for this.  Simply continuing healthy eating and sleeping habits is tremendously helpful.  As mentioned before, I will provide a summary of your child's scores in the fourth quarter report card.  They are doing quite well so far!

In Social Studies, we will finish the year with a study of Australia, Alaska, and Hawaii, focusing on geography and wildlife.

Finally, the LCPS Math Department recently sent a newsletter to teachers with some summer math activity suggestions.  I thought I would share them with you, so that you can explore these links at your leisure.  Enjoy!

Summer Math Activities!
Check out these interactive and engaging math activities to share with students and parents!
Click each title to link to the website.
At Home With Math  
http://mixinginmath.terc.edu/materials/athomewithmath.cfm
The ten everyday math activities on this site build math into the things most families already do—ordinary routines such as figuring out ways to save money, to share fairly, or to get somewhere on time. With these activities, children practice adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and using other important math skills while doing tasks that are a regular part of life. Available in English and Spanish!
Math Playground  
http://www.mathplayground.com/
Give your brain a workout with Logic Games, Number Games, Thinking Blocks for word problems, and much more!
Math in the Home Activities  
http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/parents/Math/index.html
Math in the Home, Math at the Grocery Store, Math on the Go, and Math for the Fun of it—activities to engage students in problem solving, communicating, and reasoning about mathematics!
As


 
 
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Words cannot express the depth of my gratitude for your thoughtful generosity this week.  Thank you, all, for such a tremendous week!  

Pictured at right is our beloved art teacher, Mr. Browning.  The children presented Mr. Browning with his gift on Specialists' Day, and he was absolutely delighted!  He mentioned how happy he would be to take his wife out for a special date, and he sends his thanks!

As you can see below, the children are thrilled with our new collection of recess equipment.  I'm sorry I wasn't able to capture every child in the class in action, but these few shots should give you an idea of some of the ways they spend their free time outside.  The children do a great job playing with many friends during recess, and they switch easily between activities.  This is a sign, I think, of their confidence and friendly disposition.  It's such a pleasure to see.

The school supplies and inside recess games are much appreciated, as well!  Thank you!

I am incredibly grateful to all of you.  I will enjoy your kind gifts, remembering your thoughtfulness as I use them.  Most of all I will treasure the cards and notes from the children.  Your sons and daughters are the sunshine in my day!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

 
 
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Yesterday the children participated in Mill Run's annual "Planting Day."  We are so grateful to the moms who came to help!  Special thanks to:  A.G.'s mom, E.G.'s mom, R.K.'s mom, and J.B.'s mom!  While small groups of students were taking turns planting, the rest of us were in the classroom working on a sunflower craft (pictured at right.)  Thank you all so much!  The children had so much fun, and I know they are proud to have helped make Mill Run more beautiful.

This week we also sent our Flat Stanleys off to visit our friends and relatives.  Please see the slideshow below.  Again, we couldn't have started this project without your generous help!  I will keep you all posted as the Stanleys return to us in a few weeks.  We will mark their destinations on a map and review their adventures together.

In classroom news, I will be in the building but away from our class on Tuesday for professional development.  I will have limited time on Tuesday to check email, so if you have an urgent need, please contact the school office.

We have slowed the rate at which we add words to the word wall.  At this point, the children should be able to read and write the current word wall words independently and with confidence.  This is a good time of year to review the word wall words again at home.  Thank you!

On Wednesday, we will begin the spring round of PALS testing, followed shortly by DRA testing.  All of the reading test components occur within the school day, so it will take several weeks to complete this process.  I will include your child's scores in the fourth quarter report card comments, but if you are concerned, please send me an email.  They all have achieved so much this year;  you will want to celebrate their success!

In math, we are returning to addition and subtraction strategies as well as practicing our math fact fluency on ReflexMath.  In science, we are studying plants and seeds.  

As always, please contact me with any questions!  Thank you!

 

Coin Games

4/18/2013

 
We have been using several games to practice recognizing coins and practice finding the value of a group of coins.  A number of the children have asked me to share the games with you, so you can play together at home.
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One of my favorite games is called "Show Me the Money."

Players take turns rolling two dice and showing that amount with coins.  We use a one hundred chart as a game board, but you could play without one.

The player who rolls decides which cube will represent the tens place and which will be the ones.  You can see we have one home-made number cube to provide larger numbers.  

This example shows 37 cents.  If both players agree that the coins and the dice match, they clear the board and it is the other partner's turn.  Both players win. 

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Another game is called "A Dollar Wins."  The goal of this game is to accumulate one dollar's worth of coins.

The first player rolls two dice, adds them, and puts this amount in coins on the board.  The example on the right shows six cents.

Then it becomes the second player's turn.

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The second player rolls the dice, adds to find the total, and adds this amount to the board.  Players must swap lower value coins that can be combined to trade for a higher value coin whenever possible.

In this example, player two rolled an 8 and added a nickel and three pennies to the board.  The two nickels were then traded for a dime.  The current total is now 14 cents.  Players continue taking turns increasing the total until they reach $1.00.  Both players win.

I hope you will enjoy playing one or both of these games at home.  Not only do they provide great practice for mastering coin recognition and finding the value of a collection of coins, but they also reinforce place value and addition strategies.  

Do you remember learning how to count the value of coins as a child?  

 

We Won!!!

4/10/2013

 
With 668 Box Tops, our class sailed away with first place for the March Box Tops contest!  Whoo Hoo!  Thank you so much to all of our families for your diligence in checking for Box Tops and sending them to school.  The children will all receive a coupon to CiCi's Pizza from the Mill Run PTO to mark this momentous occasion!

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The character trait for April is responsibility.  We have been discussing what it means to be responsible, including doing what you are supposed to do without being told.  Please discuss your expectations for responsible behavior with your child.  Since we are also celebrating Earth Day this month, this is a perfect opportunity to link to how we can be responsible with our trash.  

In a recent guidance lesson, Mrs. Fulkerson was able to congratulate both our star citizen for February, R.K. (right) and for March, N.T. (below).  Well done, girls!

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We have begun a math unit focusing on money.  You can help your child practice identifying a penny, nickel, dime, and quarter.  You can ask your child to tell you how much money you have with a small collection of change.  You could also give your child an amount, and ask her to show which coins you would have to equal that value.  Please encourage your child to find different combinations of coins to equal the same amount.  Yesterday, the children found two solutions to this problem:

I have 6 coins in my pocket that equal 50 cents.  What coins could I have?

In science, we are learning about natural resources.  We will be focusing on the three Rs:  reduce, reuse, and recycle.  The children are pretty comfortable with reusing, since we use scrap paper quite often in the class.  They also help with recycling.  However, the concept of reducing the amount of trash we produce is a little more difficult.  Thank you for discussing this at home.

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Finally, I thought you would enjoy this shot of R.K. and a friend getting ready for a ride in a limo with our three principals.  R.K. won this prize at Mill Run's Carnival auction.  How fun!!!


 

It's Spring!

3/26/2013

 
I hope that you are all enjoying your spring break with your families!  I'd like to share a few notes with you about our work last week as we wrapped up the third quarter.

First, thank you all so much for helping us with our force and motion construction project.  The students explored the concepts we researched in our force and motion unit, for example:  friction, types of surfaces, speed, and motion along a straight, zig-zag, or circular path.  In addition, the children had the opportunity to work as a member of a small team.  They had to compromise, take turns, and use their words to solve problems together.  I wish I had taken a picture of their faces when I first explained the assignment.  Their excitement was priceless!
Here is the link to the March Motion Science Project video, in case it doesn't appear above:  http://youtu.be/fIt7O8HU6tE

Second, the children celebrated their work as writers in small sharing circles.  With a class our size, it is not reasonable to ask the children to maintain their attention so that all students have a turn to read to the class.  However, it is important that the children do share their writing aloud with others.  Small sharing circles is one way we celebrate our work.  Please enjoy the slideshow below of our sharing time.
As you can see, our sharing circles took place on "Wear Green" day.  We had 96% participation, so our class had the best showing among all the first grades!  Hooray!

Finally, please allow your child some time on the computer to log in to reflexmath.com to get some practice with math fact fluency.  When your child has demonstrated measured progress with a certain fact, the small circle in the top right corner will turn green.  This green light indicates that your child can exit the program without losing any progress.

Thank you, again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the break!
 
 
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Happy St. Patrick's Day to all those who celebrate Irish heritage!  Many thanks go to S.L.'s grandparents for visiting our room and sharing some Irish joy with us.  S.L.'s grandpa read a story, and her grandma and grandpa gave each student a lucky shamrock and pencil.  Thank you!

It is hard for me to believe that we are already at the end of the third quarter.  The end of each grading period is a wonderful time to consider how much we have accomplished.  I am delighted, of course, with the children's progress, and I am eager to share more specifics with you in the third quarter report card comments.

This week, we will finish several projects.

In writing, the children will put the finishing touches on their favorite piece from the last two weeks.  One skill we have been working on is revising our writing with descriptive words.  In first grade, we do not erase a boring word.  We simply cross it out and write a more descriptive word above it.  This gives evidence to the student's thinking during revision.  We have practiced crossing out boring words like "said" and replacing them with more interesting words like "whispered", "shrieked", or "exclaimed."  

In reading, in addition to practicing comprehension strategies for both fiction and nonfiction, we are also practicing alphabetical order.  Last week, the students each had a turn alphabetizing words on the Promethean board during our reading stations.  This week, we will add to this skill by practicing dictionary skills.  

In math, we are continuing our work with addition and subtraction.  The children will practice skills with story problems and a variety of manipulative games.  Please feel free to boost your child's confidence by practicing doubles facts at home.  Knowing all the doubles up to 10 + 10 can definitely help your child be successful with related problems.

In science, we will review pushes and pulls, ways things move, sound, and we will wrap-up our unit on force, motion, and energy with a construction project, building on our research.  Thank you for the tremendous help you have provided by sending in so many recyclable materials!  We are in good shape now with boxes, but we will continue to accept any toilet paper or paper towel tubes that you can spare.  Also, we will happily use donations of duct tape or masking tape.  

We currently have more than 500 box tops - wow!  This is looking good!

Wednesday, March 19 will be Green Day.  Please help your child wear as much green as possible on Wednesday.  Thank you!


 

Magnificent March

3/10/2013

 
We are in need of several items in the classroom.  We have almost depleted our pencil supply for the year, so any donations of pencils are most appreciated!

Also, for an upcoming project, we will need an abundant supply of items that might be in your recycling bin.  Please send in any paper towel tubes, toilet paper tubes, various-size cardboard boxes (like cereal boxes, cracker boxes) and clean yogurt or tofu containers.  We will also be grateful for any donations of clear tape, masking tape, duct tape, and string.  If you're looking at something made of thin cardboard or plastic, and you're not sure, please send it in!  I promise to recycle any materials that come in that we don't use.  :-)  I don't want to spoil the surprise of why we need so many materials, so please stay tuned to the blog.  We will use these items the week of March 18.  Many, many thanks in advance for your help!!

We have already collected more than 400 box tops, so we are getting very excited about our chances to win the March contest.  Thank you to everyone for your help with this.  Every box top helps raise money for our school!  

In academic news, we will be finishing our math unit on fractions and moving into addition and subtraction.  We will build on strategies we practiced in the second quarter to solve harder problems and story problems.  We will also write our own problems.  When solving a story problem, students will be asked to show their thinking in pictures, numbers, or words.

We are also wrapping up our unit on matter and beginning a unit on force, motion, and energy.  Most likely this unit will continue into the fourth quarter, but we will begin by focusing on types of motion and pushes and pulls.

In reading, we are continuing to practice comprehension skills for fiction and nonfiction.  In nonfiction, we are paying attention to key vocabulary, the author's purpose for writing, and formulating questions that can be answered in the text.  In fiction, we are continuing to build fluency by reading in the character's voice, and we are thinking about our reading by visualizing what is happening and making inferences.

In writing we are finishing writing small moment personal narratives.  We have begun to work with a writing partner to help plan our writing and revision.  We are focusing on adding details to our writing to make our stories more vivid.

Coming Soon:

*  Picture day is Tuesday, March 12.  

*  Wednesday, March 13, we will attend an assembly provided by our wonderful PTO.  Wednesday is also "Wear Red" day for Youth Art Month.

*  The Mill Run Carnival is Friday, March 15.  By all accounts, this will be a fun family event.  "Just chill!"