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Welcome back! We have just begun a new year here at St. James Day School. There is a lot of excitement going on in our first grade classroom! We started our school year in a memorable way, with a solar eclipse. Luckily, our head of school ordered eclipse glasses for our whole school. We also made and decorated paper plates to put the glasses through for extra protection. This was such a neat way to start our year and we also got to enjoy a popsicle after it was over! Our class has also really enjoyed getting to be in the lower school building this year. I think our class' favorite room in the building is the science lab. We get to go in there and get our hands a little dirty! Our first unit that we are studying is matter. We have done a few neat experiments to teach us a little more about matter. We got to read the Dr. Seuss book "Bartholomew and the Oobleck" and make some of our very own oobleck, which changes from a solid to a liquid right before our eyes. Then we also did a neat experiment where we took baking soda, a solid and mixed it with with vinegar, a liquid to create a gas that blew up a balloon. It was so interesting that we did it three times! I know that our class is looking forward to more time spent in our science lab learning this year!
The school year has ended, and now it's time for my sweet little first graders to spread their wings and fly. I have no doubt that they will do well as they continue on. They have come such a long way this year! Here are some of the highlights and accomplishments from their time in first grade:
Reading - My students learned how to decipher, understand, use, and refer to the Open Court wall cards. These cards have sound spellings on them and help the students decode words, read, and spell. They are quite a handy learning tool! The dramatic improvement in overall reading skills for the entire class does my heart good and makes me so proud of them. In fact, several of my kiddos are reading fluently by now, and a good number of them are not far behind.
Math - Boy, we were busy in math this year! Not only did we focus on math facts, but we also tackled big concepts, such as place value, the calendar, money, time, counting on from a number, words problems, fractions, and problem solving skills. My students have really improved their number sense, and that will serve them well in the years to come.
Writing - This year, we practiced several types of writing, but we spent the most time on sequencing. We learned that order matters! Some fun sequential writing topics were how to cook a turkey and how to decorate a Christmas tree. Our favorite topic, however, was the marble run. We split up into two teams, competed to assemble the biggest and best marble run, and then wrote about our competition in sequential order. I have to admit, that was probably the students' favorite event, and it certainly helped them to produce their best writing of the year!
Pumpkin Math - We can't forget the day our parents came in to help us carve pumpkins and count the seeds! We did lots of fun math activities that day, such as estimating the weight and circumference of our pumpkins. Thank you again to all of the parents for joining in!
Reindeer food and animal shelter field trip - As a super fun community service project, we made and sold reindeer food at Christmas time. We used our earnings to buy dog food at the Dogpatch pet shop, and then we took that food to the animal shelter to donate it to the animals in need. The students were 100% involved in their service project and thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience.
Spring Musical - The first graders enjoyed dressing up as Dalmations in 101 Dalmations. They put on a great show and performed like rock stars during their first St. James musical!
Field Day - Finally old enough to participate in Field Day, my first graders donned their new tye-dye shirts and headed out to the field for some friendly competition with their partners. Everyone had a great time and enjoyed being part of the experience!
I could go on and on about our good times together. This year was a fantastic year. I will miss this class and really loved watching them grow and learn! To my students, happy summer to all. Stay safe, be happy, and soar like I know you can!
This week we have worked on recording an answer to two-choice survey. Our first question was introduced during our math lesson on Monday and each morning since, there has been a new survey question to answer on the board. Luckily, our first question was asking the students to choose between chocolate or vanilla ice cream. What could be better than to get to eat your answer? So, after each child was called up to record their answer, they got to take and ice cream in that flavor and enjoy a little treat. This has been a fun activity, and everyone has enjoyed learning about opinions and seeing how we don't all like the same things!
Kindergarten has been buzzing with excitement because we just got our caterpillars in! We have enjoyed studying and learning all about the butterfly's life cycle and seeing our caterpillars grow in size and shed their skin. We finally got to see them turn into their chrysalis. Now, we are patiently awaiting the appearance of our beautiful butterflies. we have kept a butterfly journal and each day we document what stage of life they are in. It has been such a fun learning experience!
Oh, my! We have been so busy in first grade that an entirely new season has begun since I last wrote! Where do I even start? After laying a strong foundation throughout the first semester of the year, I have enjoyed watching my students spread their wings and learn to fly these past couple of months. These sweet kiddos have come so far and are well on their way to becoming independent learners!
Each morning, we begin with DOL (daily oral language) and POD (problem of the day). Through this process, the children have learned to recognize and correct grammatical and punctuation errors in sentences, and they have also improved math skills such as pattern recognition and counting money.
In language, the first graders are learning the basics of writing. They complete a “Weekend News” report, or update, every Monday. They also read prompts on the board and respond to them in their journals. They have practiced sequential writing, persuasive writing, and opinion writing and have learned how to take notes, write a rough draft, revise and edit their work, and write a final copy. Their abilities are quite impressive! Also in language, the students have gone from listening to teacher read “big books” to using their very own hardback student anthologies. They were very excited the day these were handed out! It was a testament to just how far the children have come since the early days of first grade. Finally, in language, we have uncovered all but 5 of our Open Court wall cards, and we have learned all but a few sound spellings from the uncovered cards. We do our ABC chant frequently and play Riddle Me This for added phonics practice, but all in all, we are decoding and sounding out words quite beautifully! In fact, the students have made such progress with reading that recently, they read books of their own choosing to the kindergarten classes. They were each paired with a kindergartener and read to their heart’s content. It was a special time for my class and one that made me a very proud teacher!
In math, the students are studying such topics as place value to the hundreds place, using comparison symbols, telling time, skip counting, fractions, patterns, adding with / without regrouping, etc. Our program touches on many topics throughout each lesson for improved understanding and retention. The one constant, however, that never takes a day off, is math facts. If there is one thing I want to impress upon the minds of my students, it is the importance of knowing their facts. Ask any one of my kiddos if he or she ever gets a break from math facts practice, and they are sure to tell you no!
Last but not least, we have had lots of fun with science and social studies lately. After learning about our community, we expanded our learning and studied communities around the nation and around the globe. We compared and contrasted life in these various communities, and we got a glimpse of how we fit in to the big picture of our world. In science, we finished a unit on balance and motion and began a new unit on plants. We planted seeds and are just now beginning to see early signs of growth! We have learned about the different parts of plants and how they all work together to help plants grow. It promises to be a fun unit, and the students are very excited about watching their plants grow.
We began our fun study on rainbows this week. The students have learned how rainbows are formed and the colors in a rainbow. We did some hands-on activities to ensure everyone knew the colors and order of the rainbow. The first activity that we did was we sorted and graphed Skittles in rainbow order. After the graph was complete, everyone got a tasty treat. Then, we did a science experiment. We placed skittles around the edge of a paper plate. Next, we poured warm water onto the plate and watched what happened. We were amazed by the rainbow that formed on the plate, right in front of our eyes. It was amazing to see all of the colors, without them getting mixed together. We also read the fun book "The Rainbow Fish" and then we stamp painted our very own rainbow fish using celery! This also reinforced the color order of the rainbow!
Our 100th day of kindergarten was a fun celebration of all that our kindergarteners have learned and accomplished so far this year. We made all of our events of the day themed around the number 100. We spent the day counting to 100 and doing various activities that had us counting to 100. That afternoon, we closed our day off with a party. Our party had six different stations, each one themed around the number 100. The students got to rotate through making a gum ball machine with 100 gum balls inside, building with 100 leggos, playing in our dramatic play center where we pretended we were 100 years old, making a fun snack with 100 pieces of food, building a structure with 100 toothpicks and marshmallows, and participating in 100 different workout moves. Needless to say, we celebrated all that we had learned and the kids had a very fun day at school!
Happy New Year!
****To see more photos from our class, click on PHOTO GALLERY in the web site menu above. They do not all fit in this post.*****
We have been quite busy in first grade! Shortly after Thanksgiving, we started focusing on our community service project. For this, the students worked together to assemble and decorate nearly 100 bags of reindeer food, and they also made about 50 reindeer candy canes. These items were sold in the cafeteria, and the students raised $170 through sales and donations. Now, the class looks forward to a field trip, when the children will use their earnings to buy dog food and cat food at the Dogpatch Pet Shop. Afterwards, they will visit the local animal shelter to donate their purchases and see the animals.
Christmas Around the World was another fun December activity. We made passports, used file folders as suitcases to hold souvenirs, and pretended to fly around the world as we learned about the different ways in which Christmas is celebrated in other countries. At the end of this unit, the students gave presentations about holiday traditions in their own country that they had chosen to study outside of the classroom. For the presentation, some dressed in country appropriate attire, some shared food from their country, and everyone had something to show. It was great practice in public speaking, and the students all did a great job!
Right before break, the students came to school in their pajamas for our Polar Express morning and Pajama Day! Together with second and third grade, they watched the Polar Express movie while enjoying popcorn and hot chocolate. Later that afternoon, we had a Christmas party, which involved cookie decorating, making edible necklaces, a penguin waddle relay race, and a gift exchange. What a fun way to spend the day!
Now that the second semester is under way, the curriculum is really picking up the pace! In language, we have gone through almost of all of the Open Court wall cards and are applying the spelling rules to our reading and writing. In fact, we have started weekly spelling tests, and it looks as though we have a classroom full of good spellers! We have also begun to do some journal writing and are making good progress in the reading department as well. In math, we are counting money using dimes and pennies. To make our learning a little more hand on, the students were recently paired together as customers and cashiers. The customers were able to “shop” for candy and gum and could choose any two flavors they wanted. Prices for each were listed on the board. The cashier had to write the price of each selected item on a receipt, and then the customer had to show the amount needed to buy each item. The customer then had to combine their money amounts, and the cashier had to write the total cost on the receipt. When each partner agreed on the numbers, the customer was allowed to eat their items! Then the customer and cashier switched places for one more round of shopping. In science, the students have started a new unit on balance and motion. We have discussed stable systems, balance, and counterweights as we explored how to balance shapes and even a pencil on a craft stick. The students have loved this unit and have had to rely on trial and error as well as teamwork to come up with their balancing solutions!
In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s day coming soon, we have been reading books about his life, his dreams, and the changes that he made in our country's history. We have also watched a couple of videos about him and discussed the changes that he wanted to see and how he always showed love, no matter how much unkindness he saw. At the end of the week, we did an "eggs-periment" with two eggs. Each set of partners had two eggs, one white and one brown. I had one partner pick one egg and the other got the remaining egg. I had everyone with a white egg crack it open on the plate, then the partner with the brown egg cracked their eggs open onto the plate. After both eggs were open on the plate, we observed that despite the fact that the eggs were different colors on the outside, they looked exactly the same on the inside. This was a great visual that showed the students how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw people and why he wanted to end segregation. Here are a few pictures from this experiment!
This month has been full of activities,practicing for programs, and crafts. Kindergarten preformed a fun program for the school, parents, and friends after chapel. The students worked hard practicing songs, memorizing a bible verse, and reciting a poem. It was a fun time for all. We also enjoying a fun gingerbread activity. We have been working on graphing, so we incorporated a little Christmas fun into our lesson. The students were given a gingerbread man cookie and were told to take one bite. After the bite they took, they had to tear off where they bit their cookie on a construction paper gingerbread man and then graph it. It was good practice placing a real object on a graph. It was a fun learning experience and a tasty snack as well!
We began our November unit study about pioneers. We learned about who the pioneers were and the dwellings that they lived in. After a few days of learning this information, we got to make our very own log cabins out of graham crackers, peanut butter, and pretzel sticks. It was a fun way to get our hands moving and it made for a tasty snack afterwards! We learned very quickly that making a miniature log cabin was not the easiest task, but it taught us about how hard the pioneers had to work to build their log cabins to live in. We have so many more fun things to learn about the pioneers before we have our very own Pioneer Day! Check out these pictures of the kiddos at work:
In first grade, we like to mix learning with fun. Not long after enjoying an afternoon of Pumpkin Math, we celebrated Book Character Day with the entire lower school. Students arrived at school in costume and dressed as their favorite character from a book of their choice. They presented themselves in costume and did a great job of explaining why they chose their books and their characters. We wrapped up Book Character Day with a late afternoon Halloween party. Thanks to all of the parents who helped provide sweets and treats for our class!
No sooner was Halloween over than we began discussing the election process. To make our learning more meaningful, we had a mock election in which we voted for our very own class president. We began with a discussion about campaigning. Each child came up with his or her own campaign promises, made a campaign poster, and shared their poster with the class. Next, everyone made their own voter registration cards. Keeping others' promises in mind, students then voted for one candidate in either the Boy party or the Girl party during our primary election. We used file folder "offices" as voting booths in order to maintain voting privacy, and students placed their ballots in a ballot box after casting their votes. The primary winners' names were placed on the final ballot, which was filled out on Election Day. After making it clear that this was all just for fun, and that we wouldn't really have a class president who would be making lots of big changes to our school day, I announced the results of our final election. The winner was a member of the Girl party. (According to the votes, the favorite campaign promise was that the school gym would be turned into a jungle!) Congratulations to all of the students for doing such a good job of working their way through the election process!
Who ever would have known that learning could be so much fun?
In math, we are working on understanding place value. For starters, we are using linking cubes to show how many tens and ones are in two digit numbers. However, to better understand the concept of place value, we are playing around with our own made-up silly number names and practicing showing numbers in bases other than base ten. If this sounds confusing, just ask your first grader if he or she can tell you about zurkles and frumps!
In language, we are uncovering more wall cards and learning how to spell the sounds that they represent. We have talked about green box vowel sounds and which spellings follow them. The students are catching on to this quickly. If you ever need help spelling a word, your first grader just may be able to help you out! Also in language, we are reading many different types of literature that focus on friendship. We are discussing what it means to be a friend and realizing how lucky we are to have each other to learn from, be friends with, and play with at school.
Science has been one of everyone's favorites. As part of our study of air and weather, we began discussing wind. We lucked out with a particularly windy afternoon this week and were able to go outside to blow bubbles. This was a great way for the students to observe the effects of wind in different locations, and they had a blast running around chasing their bubbles!
Finally, it wouldn't be October in Mrs. Miller's class without Pumpkin Math! This was such a fun way to practice our math skills. Students invited their parents to come to the class and bring pumpkins. Parents and students then worked together to estimate their pumpkin's circumference, number of stripes, weight, and number of seeds. After they estimated, they measured and weighed to get the actual numbers and see how close they had been. After that, everyone got to carve their pumpkin! Thank you to all of the parents for sharing their time with our class!
In these first couple of weeks of October, we have investigated pumpkins. These Kindergarteners have enjoyed working with partners, groups, and independently to learn about these festive fall fruits. We began our study by learning the parts of a pumpkin and then we moved into learning the lifecycle of them. Then, we got to do some investigating. We classified the pumpkins by size, next we measured how tall the pumpkins were with our linking cubes, then we made predictions on whether or not the pumpkin would sink or float, and finally we estimated and counted the seeds inside of a pumpkin. These hands on activities were engaging and fun for all of us. You can see the surprise in the students’ faces when the pumpkin actually floated!
We cannot believe that we have already been in school for a month, time sure does fly when you are having fun! As we wrap up our unit study on trees and apples, we had some fun learning about the life cycle. We also ended September with making our very own apple sauce. The students made it all by themselves! It turned out so yummy, everyone loved it. We learned sequencing through this activity and the students were able to retell the steps that they did to make their apple sauce. We also used these sequencing skills in our life cycle studies! Also, we were able to go to the school library and browse and pick out a book to check out for the week. The students LOVED getting to look at all of the books in the library. Then, I couldn't even get them to close the books when they got them. It was so much fun!
Throughout the month of September we have learned all about trees and apple. We have covered everything from parts of an apple and a tree to the different types of apples and trees. The kindergarteners have loved getting to go outside at our beautiful campus and explore the things we have been studying. They have learned so much from stepping outside of our classroom walls and getting our hands dirty in nature. We studied the life cycle of a tree, the different species of trees, fruit produced by the trees, and so much more. Our apple study began after the introduction of fruit production on trees. Our class has also had some yummy snacks during our learning! We had cookies that looked like the rings in a tree, we baked individual apple pies, and we will make our very own applesauce!
After teaching second grade at St. James and staying home for a few years to raise my boys, I find myself once again back in the classroom. This time, however, I am teaching first grade, and I love it! Each morning, I am greeted by 14 sweet smiling faces that get my day off to just the right start. I am thankful for this opportunity to teach again and look forward to a wonderful year with my new students.
This week in first grade, we have worked on all sorts of activities to keep us busy and help grow our brains. In Language, we were introduced to several (alphabet) letter wall cards and listened to funny stories to help us remember the sounds for each card. We also learned different ways to spell the sounds represented by the cards. Lion Puppet has come out several times and worked with us as we practiced listening for and saying different sounds in the beginning and end of words. Ask your child about Mr. Lion! Also in Language, we learned about prewriting and how to brainstorm ideas using pictures and questions. After a group discussion of the students' ideas, each child began writing his or her own autobiography. The first two pages have been written and illustrated and look terrific!
Math has also been fun this week! After daily reviews of things such as calendar items, the weather, left and right, ordinal numbers, and our 100s chart, we have been practicing number writing, place value, addition and subtraction word problems, and doubles math facts. We are even learning a doubles rap to make memorizing fun and easy. Ask your child and see if they can say it for you!
Science was a big hit this week as the students made parachutes in their study of air and weather. We also experimented with tubes, syringes, and water and were able to see how air either prevented the flow of water or forced it through a tube and into a plastic bottle. The activities in science are very hands on and lend themselves to lots of excitement and great class discussions!
We have had such a fun start to Kindergarten. In these past three weeks we have made new friends, learned all about our new classroom rules and we have had A LOT of fun! Once we got into the swing of things we jumped right into exploring the trees on our beautiful campus. Aside from all of the other fun learning we have been doing, the students have loved our tree and apple unit. We have measured the circumference of tree trunks to see how many kindergarteners could fit inside the trunk of a tree. We also have collected different objects off of trees and made rubbings of them. The students have learned vocabulary to go along with this unit, as well as the parts of a tree and apple. Here are some fun pictures from our first three week of kindergarten!
These past couple of weeks, first grade has learned so much about poetry. They explored different genres of poetry, various poets, and even poetic devices. Throughout their studies, the students put together an original anthology of all their own work. They worked hard for weeks putting them together. At the end of our poetry studies, our class held a poetry café. Friends and family were invited to enjoy listening to the poems each student had written, while also enjoying an atmosphere similar to a real poetry café. It's safe to say that everyone involved thoroughly enjoyed the event.
These first graders have spent the last couple of weeks learning about our solar system. We took a field trip to Shreveport, Louisiana to visit the Sci Port Science Center. The students had the opportunity to go to the planetarium there, and learn even more about planets, stars, the sun, and the moon. They also got to explore and play on some fun physical science exhibits. The students had a lot of fun with the hands on learning. After we returning from our field trip, we learned about the phases of the moon. As we learned more about the phases, the students completed an activity that outlined each phase that Earth's moon goes through and in the order that it happens in. Of course, getting to use Oreo's to represent the phases of the moon made the learning more fun and memorable for the students. They enjoyed getting to create the phases of the moon out of the yummy frosting in the Oreo cookies. Then after we completed our activity, the students got to enjoy a yummy snack as well!
Over the past couple of weeks, our first graders have learned about geometric solid shapes. After a few lessons learning about each solid, we all collected recyclable trash. We tried to bring objects that were shapes that we had learned about. Next, the students were given partners and each set of partners chose an animal or a robot that they wanted to create and build out of our recycled trash. After the students planned how they would build their creatures, they went "shopping" through all of the recycled trash that we had collected and they chose different geometric solid shapes to help them create their animal or robot. Finally, they would bring their finished product to me and I helped them glue and secure parts of their robots and animals down.
After learning about geometric solids, we switched our focus to science and learned about what a solid actually is. Then we discussed solids, liquids, and gases. The students really enjoyed learning about this because they realized that everything around them was either a solid, liquid, or a gas. It was a fun discovery. Next, we did another activity, where the students chose a partner and they created visual representations of solid, liquids, and gases. Each pair had three pieces of construction paper and fruit loops. The pair labeled that papers "solid, liquid, and gas" and they glued the cereal to the paper to represent how a solid, liquid, and gas looked. The students enjoyed this hands on activity, plus they got a fun snack out of it!
Our first grade class had a lot of fun collecting birthday items to make birthday bags for Harvest Texarkana. After collecting the items for a week, the students spent the morning assembling the bags. It was a fun opportunity for our students to give back to their community. That day we also celebrated 100 days of school! We kicked off the festivities with finding 100 hidden chocolate "kisses" around our room and placing them on our 100's chart. We also giggled while counting to 100 many different ways as we walked around the campus to our enrichment classes. We ended this fun filled day with a snack bag that included 100 treats.
This week we have begun our study of weather. We made cloud flip books to help us learn the different types of clouds. The students enjoyed this hands on activity. We combined glue and shaving cream to create a fluffy, cloud like paint. We are also learning about weather predictions. The students love to make predictions of what they think the weather will do for a week. They are a very creative group! This week, the students were introduced to congruent shapes. We had a lot of fun practicing making congruent shapes with our Geoboards.
Our first week back from Christmas break was a success. We learned about facts and opinions and also commas. We played center games this week to reinforce what the students learned during instructional time. The kids loved our centers this week. We also got to work with our friends in Mrs. Looney’s first grade class during instruction and center time. We had twice as much fun! The kids also got some fun indoor recess toys this week. We got Legos, Lincoln Logs, and a lot of other fun toys to make staying inside on cold and wet days more fun!
Our first grade class has had a lot of fun learning through games and other activities in these past few weeks.
In the pictures below…
Our class is learning about a local charity called Church Under the Bridge. They are gathered around the pastor as he shared the importance of giving with the class. These first graders donated many items to local homeless people to help keep them warm during the winter months.
The students are posing in front of our classroom Christmas tree after they decorated it with sight word ornaments and spelling word ornaments.
First graders love putting their hands on things so they really enjoyed getting to practice sight words and spelling words while decorating the tree!
We also got cozy and creative during a few rainy days when we stayed inside for recess.
The students have enjoyed rolling dice to practice solving two digit addition equations. Playing games always makes learning more fun!