This was an exciting week for us, and we have a lot of news to share.  As you can see, our painted lady butterflies emerged and were stunningly beautiful.  We released the butterflies on Wednesday, and the children did a great job sending the butterflies off to stretch their wings.  Though some of the children were sad to see the butterflies fly away, we all knew it would be cruel to keep them in their net too long.  We were very fortunate to have the butterflies in our classroom so we could observe the last three stages of the butterfly life cycle.

Ms. Bohn, our technology integrator, introduced us to a second grade class in North Carolina, U.S.A., who also recently completed the butterfly life cycle science unit.  Our class asked and answered questions via Skype, and the children did a fabulous job.  They were fascinated to learn about the similarities and differences between the butterfly experiences in both classes. 

We are continuing to prepare for our concert on June 12th.  Thank you for remembering to send in a white t-shirt.  We will paint the shirts on June 4th and 5th, so you still have plenty of time to send one in if you haven't already.

Friday, June 1st will be the elementary school's field day.  On this day, the children are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes for a variety of potentially active (or wet!) outdoor games and activities.  Applying sunscreen at home before school is a great idea, and we encourage the children to wear a sun hat and bring a water bottle.  We will have our picnic lunch in the classroom and finish the day with quiet learning activities in the room.

Today the children took home the last homework packet for the year.  However, we will continue to add words to our word wall each day, and the children will continue to have take-home reading as long as possible in June.

Today the children also had the opportunity to visit a second grade classroom.  They were so excited to meet a second grade teacher and practice  their best school manners.  The second grade teachers who receive these students next year will be incredibly fortunate. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

It is hard to believe that we are nearing the end of the school year.  Rest assured, we have plenty of learning ahead to keep us busy right up to June 15!  Here are a few notes for you.

Next week, I will be working with each student individually to assess their reading progress using the Developmental Reading Assessment.  While the fall baseline screening was done with a private appointment, the spring assessment will take place during our normal school day.  The children do not need to do any special preparation for this.  It is simply helpful to make sure that your child has a good night's sleep (something you're doing anyway) and has a healthy breakfast (again, something you're already doing.)  Also, when you are reading together, please take a moment to engage your child in a conversation about the text.  The questions on the green bookmark in your child's reading log are a perfect place to start.   You might ask your child to tell you how the setting is important to the story, how the main character feels at the beginning and at the end, or how the character solves the problem in the story.  It is always good practice for the children to make a connection to their reading. 

I know you can't miss our recent emphasis on insects and spiders.  The name of our current science unit is "Minibeasts," and we will continue researching and learning about these small creatures until the end of the year.  One important event will be the first grade musical performance on Tuesday, June 12 at 2:30 pm.  Immediately following this concert, please plan to return to our classroom so that your child can show you their research project about a minibeast. 

As a special remembrance of first grade, we will be making special minibeast t-shirts to wear for the concert.   We are asking each child to bring a plain white t-shirt to school by May 31, so that we have plenty of time to prepare them before the concert.   Thank you for your help with this!

Finally, now is a perfect time to help your child clean out his/her locker.  Please help us the next time you are in the building by taking home any remaining snow gear.  It would be terrific for the children to have their lockers organized  so they don't have to take those items at the same time as their school work and journals at the end of the year.

Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend!
We were tremendously honored to start this week with a visit from a published author, Helena's mom!  Izabela shared her love of writing with the children and described the process of writing from getting an idea all the way to publishing.  It was a perfect opportunity for the children to connect to their own 'how to' books, since Izabela's latest book (the title roughly translates as 'Something from Nothing') focuses on turning discarded items into useful or beautiful creations.  We are so grateful to Izabela for taking the time to visit the class and for  bringing such a fun project for the children to complete.   Please see the photos below of Izabela and the students as they present their "how to" books.

Now the children are transitioning to another form of nonfiction writing:  all-about books.  This week, we have studied a variety of examples, and we have begun to play with some ideas.  I am hoping that some of the children will ask you for help in finding materials related to their topics over the break.   Writing nonfiction is helping us build our strategies for reading nonfiction, too.  We are paying close attention to text features such as the table of contents, headings, the index, a glossary, captions below pictures, and various styles of teaching pictures (charts, diagrams, etc.)  Writing an all about book is a huge undertaking, and the children will have the chance to write more than one to develop their skills throughout the process.

Finally, as we prepare to run outside and enjoy this incredible sunshine, I would like to share with you some of the answers the children gave when I asked, "What did you learn this week?"  You will see a continued emphasis on insects and other minibeasts in the next several weeks, and we will spend a lot of time on pebblego.com.  In case you have extra free time this week, your child has the username and password for pebblego on the homework packet.  Enjoy!

Earthworms have five hearts. AC

Snails keep their eyes in their long tentacles.  ZS

Insects have six legs. MD

Bees have a yellow black yellow black pattern.  AK

Spiders have eight legs.  HZ

Earthworms have a special ring for getting married. TB

Some snails are poisonous. AC

Some spiders are poisonous.  MD

Snails have thousands of teeth. SM

Snails use their one big foot to move.  AC

Earthworms don't have eyes.  ZS

Earthworms live in the dirt.  MD

As always, thank you for sharing your children with us.  I hope you all have a lovely spring break, enjoying the  time with your families.  We'll see you in May!

Today we celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday.  We are so grateful to Dewey's mom for sewing a Cat in the Hat style hat for each one of us!  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!  We received so many compliments as we wore our hats to the library and during the day.  And they helped put us in that special Dr. Seuss mood. 

At the library, Mrs. Matter read a Dr. Seuss story to us, and she showed us the website:  www.seussville.com.  I put a link to Seussville on our Useful Websites page, too, so it will be available to you anytime.  Mrs. Matter also told us an interesting fact about Dr. Seuss' real name:  Theodore Geisel.  You might want to see if your student remembers.  We finished our day with time with our third grade reading buddies.  The children read some of their just-right books with their reading buddies, and we enjoyed listening to Green Eggs and Ham as a large group.

We also put the finishing touches on our Matter unit for science this week.  As a special treat, we conducted a fun experiment in each of the three first grade classrooms.  In our classroom, we conducted an experiment to answer the question:  What can happen when you mix a solid and a liquid?  Results vary, of course, depending on the materials.  In our case, we used baking soda and vinegar to inflate a balloon.  The procedure and your child's observations are included in the science journal that was sent home today.  When our students visited Ms. Dickinson's room, they explored different aspects of surface tension and characteristics of liquids.  In Ms. Berton's room, the children experimented with the non-Newtonian substance commonly called, "Oobleck."  This is a nice connection to Dr. Seuss this week, as we read Bartholomew and the Oobleck prior to the science rotation.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support of your child's learning.  The children are growing in independence, and I am so pleased to help them celebrate their daily successes. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

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!