In Math this week, we spent some time wrapping up the unit on story problems, however we will continue applying addition and subtraction strategies throughout the year.  We are also beginning a quick study of repeating patterns.  Our goals in this section (so far) are:  identifying the unit of a repeating pattern, representing a repeating pattern in more than one way, extending a repeating pattern, and identifying what comes several steps beyond the visible part of a repeating pattern.  Your child is bringing home some examples of class work that will show our work.

In content this week we continued our study of dental health.  So you are aware, we have arranged for a dentist to visit our class in May.   This will be a nice complement to our studies.  The children have also been preparing to share their learning about dental health with you during Student-Led Conferences next week.

The  Guided Reading groups are all working on strategies to think about our reading.  Students are making predictions and working to make more meaningful connections to the elements of the story.  This is a critical development for the children, as we need to shift away from literal connections, e.g.  "The main character has a dog, and I have a dog, too." to more thoughtful connections, e.g.  "The main character was worried about keeping her dog safe, and I was also terrified about what might happen to my dog when she ran away."

As a side note, in our morning meeting, we have begun practicing telling time on an analog clock.  This is not an essential part of our curriculum, but it is a really helpful life skill. 

Thank you all for signing up for a conference time next week.  Ms. Nina and I will be here, of course, to support the children as they share their learning with you.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to send them along. 

I wish you a restful and joyful holiday weekend!
First of all, many, many thanks to all of the parents who gave their time and energy to make the First Grade Popcorn Sale such a success!  The children began the week making posters to promote the sale, and they were very excited today to help work and sell the popcorn.  We will find the total amount raised on Monday, but every indication is that the children raised a sizable amount to donate to the Warsaw Children's Hospice.  Well done, students! 

Academically, we are moving forward by leaps and bounds.  As part of our language arts work every day, we read a poem together and then search for various spelling patterns, letter sounds, and sight words.  This week, we took a moment to enjoy our success with this work.  At the beginning of the year, it was much more difficult for us to find words from the word wall or with a certain sound.  Now, when I ask the children to find a word with the long-i sound, for example, nearly every hand is up in the blink of an eye.  It's a beautiful thing. 

In writing this week, our student authors were working on a personal narrative.  The children first planned their stories using a three-box graphic organizer to represent the beginning, middle, and end.  Then the children transferred their ideas into sentences on standard lined paper.  I also asked the children to use a checklist to make certain they completed the expectations for the assignment.  Here are the checklist questions:
     *  Did you give your story a title?
     *  Did you write the beginning, middle, and end of your story?
     *  Did you write the most about the heart of your story?
     *  Did you write 8 sentences or more?
     *  Did you begin each sentence with an uppercase letter?
     *  Did you finish each sentence with a punctuation mark?
     *  Did you spell all word wall words correctly?
     *  Did you write neatly?
Half of the class had the chance to sit in the author's chair and read their stories to the class today.  The other half will present on Monday, and then we will post these pieces on our author's board.  Again, the children are making great progress.  They are creative, resourceful, and growing in confidence.

I would also like to mention our work in mathematics.  Most of the children really enjoyed participating in World Math Day.  Thank you to all of the parents who allowed your children extra computer time at home to practice and participate in the event.  The 60-second mathematics contests in World Math Day were a perfect introduction to our new unit in mathematics.  We have begun a unit called, "Number Games and Crayon Puzzles" in which the children will hone their understanding of addition and subtraction facts, use these facts and other strategies to solve story problems, and practice strategies to find all the possible combinations to reach a certain total.  Many of the games and assignments in this unit build on the work we started earlier in the year.  In fact, I am hoping you will be able to help your child find the copy of the Primary Number Cards we sent home for homework in the fall.  You used them to play Compare and Double Compare with your child.  Please let us know if you can't find the number cards.  There will be more opportunities for you to use them to play games with your child in the coming weeks.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support.  I wish you all a relaxing and restful weekend.
For the second week in a row, we are including a "What's Inside the Cup?" page in the homework packet.  When we play this game at school, we call this game "Bears in a Cave."  There's something fun about hiding our bear-shaped counters beneath a cup and hoping our friend will calculate the correct number.

Both versions of the game start with a total number.  In the next few weeks, we will be expanding our range to higher numbers.  For now, we have been working primarily in the 8-12 range.

Knowing the total number, one partner keeps some number of bears outside and hides the remaining bears beneath the cup, or cave.  The other partner has to figure out how many bears are hiding, based on knowing the total number and how many are outside. 

This is great practice for us in both addition and subtraction, and I encourage you to play at home.  All you need is a handful of buttons, coins, or other small objects and an opaque cup.  As you play, please ask your child to explain his/her thinking.  How do you know? 
Dear Parents,
I'd like to give you an update on some of the work we have been doing in class. 

In reading and writing, we have been practicing writing a simple three-part summary of a story.  This is an important building block for more advanced comprehension exercises that we will address later in the year.  For now, the children need to recall the most important details from the beginning, middle, and end of a story.  This week we have been talking a lot about our families.  This is a nice connection to our Social Studies unit on communities.  One of my favorite books about families is called, A Mother for Choco.  I was very impressed with the summaries the children wrote based on this book.  They took this paper home, so I hope they took the time to tell you about the story.

In math, we are continuing our work in Unit 1:  How Many of Each?  The children have been counting many different objects, identifying strategies to check their counting for accuracy, and comparing two amounts to determine which is larger.  Next week we will apply this work to solve addition problems with a variety of strategies.  We will also practice different ways to show our solution to a problem.

On a non-academic note, we have asked the children to be careful when they pack their snack for our morning snack break.  The children have generally been bringing healthy snacks, but sometimes some of the children bring a full meal which they have trouble finishing in such a short time.  Every child is different, so Miss Nina and I don't want to tell you what your child should bring.  But it would be helpful to us if you and your child pack their snack knowing that our snack break is just 10 minutes long.  The children need to get a quick energy boost and be ready to clean up and jump back into our busy morning of learning.  Thanks so much for your help with this.

Finally, this morning I saw a young child ride his bike across the street without looking, just on the road to the school entrance.  He was nearly hit by a car that was headed out to the main road.  I was so frightened for him.  To make it worse, he wasn't wearing a helmet.  I shared this story with the class, telling them how much I care about their safety and well-being at school and always.  We talked about looking both ways before crossing any street, and the children also promised that they would wear a helmet when biking, scootering, or roller-blading.  We will talk more about general safety tips in the next couple of weeks.

As always, thank you for your continuing support.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to send me an email or stop by the room.  We are on the same team!