I beg your pardon for using our blog space to remind you of some newsy items.  This is a very busy time of year for us, so I want to make sure to keep you informed about our special events.

*  Today was the last day for swimming during P.E.  The children were very excited to see their final times which are posted near the entrance to the pool.  Seven members of our class had times in the top ten for either girls or boys - Super!!

*  There is no school for students on Monday, January 30.  This is a professional development day for the faculty.

*  The Elementary Student Council has designated four spirit days, the first of which was today:  crazy hair day.  Next Friday, February 3 will be sports day.  Friday February 10 will be class choice day.  Miss Nina and I will discuss some possibilities with the children next week, and then we'll let you know what the class decides.  Friday February 17 will be pajama day.  These days are optional, of course, but they can be a fun way to show our school spirit and bring a little extra energy to our learning.

*  As part of our science unit on matter, we are building a classroom property museum.  I am encouraging the children to choose an item from home to add to our property museum.  It should be something that they are comfortable leaving in our classroom for all of the children to examine and touch.  The museum will close and all items will be returned on February 17.

*  We will celebrate the 100th Day of School on February 8.  This will be a fun day with 100th day activities built into our learning throughout the day.   Please talk with your student about what he/she could bring to school for the 100th day.  We are asking the children to bring 100 of something (for example:  q-tips, buttons, sticky notes) that will be ok to touch and arrange for our activities on February 8.  They  may bring their collection to school when ready, but please by February 8 at the latest.  Have fun!

*  On Tuesday, February 14, we will celebrate Valentine's Day.   We focus on appreciating all of our friends on this holiday.  Many children will want to bring a valentine card for each of their classmates.  I have told the children that they do not have to bring valentines, but if they do, they should be sure to bring one for each friend.   If you need a copy of our class list for this purpose, please just let me know.

*  Finally, the children have realized that we have quite a lot of words on our word wall.  This is a really good time to review the entire collection of words with your child.  They should be able to read and write these words independently, but it is completely normal for the children to need a little extra practice with some of the words.  You can find the current words on our word wall here:  1H Word Wall.

As always, thank you for your continued support and encouragement!
We kicked off our new science unit on matter with two experiments exploring the same central question:  "Can two pieces (or types) of matter be in the same place at the same time?"

Our first experiment demonstrated that matter takes up space.  In this experiment we filled a cup with water.  We marked the level of the water on the outside of the cup.  Then, we added five rocks, one at a time.  After adding each rock, we stopped to observe the change in the level of the water.  The children reached the conclusion that the rocks pushed the water level higher, because the rocks and the water could not be in the same place at the same time.

You may want to replicate our second experiment at home.  Here are the steps we followed:
        First, fill a large bowl with water.
        Then, place a paper towel in the bottom of a cup.
        Next, turn the cup upside-down and put it in the bowl.
        After that, count to ten and take the cup out of the bowl.
        Finally, look inside the cup.

The children are natural scientists.  They worked together to complete the steps of both experiments, and they bravely entered into our discussion about the results.  Throughout this unit we will be asking questions like:  What do you think will happen?  What happened?  Why do you think this happened?

Stay tuned for more updates!
After three weeks on holiday, the children came back to school last week full of energy and enthusiasm.  Miss Nina and I were expecting to need to remind the children about our classroom routines and being safe, respectful, and responsible at school.  However, the children were ready to go.  They jumped right back into our learning routine without missing a beat!  Nice job!

We are very pleased to announce the arrival of a new student to our 1H community.  Victoria joined our class on January 9, and the other children have done a great job to make Victoria feel welcome.   Victoria has already brightened our class with her sunny disposition and eager approach to learning.  We're so glad you're here, Victoria!

With the new year, we are also starting some new units in math and science.  In math, we have begun working on collecting, categorizing, and analysing data.  In science, we are beginning a unit on matter.  We will focus primarily on two states of matter:  solids and liquids, and we will introduce gases.  I am excited to begin this unit with the children, because I know they will enjoy conducting a variety of experiments. 

We have also opened a new literacy center, the Tell Me A Story center.  At this center, students will work in pairs to use their imaginations and construct a simple story based on a photograph.  I try to find a photograph that will engage the children’s creativity and spark a lot of discussion among the partners.  I ask the children to take turns asking and answering questions with their partner.  This is a great opportunity to practice using all of the ‘wh’ question words, and this provides them with the foundation of their story.

In all subjects, we are highlighting the importance of sequence words.  We use words like “first, then, next, after that, and finally” in retelling a story in reading, in writing a story, and in giving directions in math and science.

Happy 2012!  

I hope you all have enjoyed our luxuriously long holiday break!  I am so excited to see the children on Monday and hear all about their adventures.  We have been doing a lot of reading at our house, and I hope you have also enjoyed some new books over the break.  

Take care, and I hope you enjoy this special time with your family and friends.  We'll see you on Monday!!