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3rd Grade news
We’re back to school and getting into the swing of our routine. The Lower School students and teachers are excited about their new book reading challenge. First, second, and third grade classes are competing to see who can read the most books in the grading period. In order for a book to count toward the challenge, it must be an appropriate reading level for the student and read in addition to the child’s regular coursework. Upon completing the book, students fill out a book review and turn it into their teacher. The teachers then provide the student with a paper book cutout to decorate for the bulletin board in the Lower School common area. The strings are filling up quickly as students are eager to win the competition for their class. In addition to the class winners, the top three individuals will get to go on an afternoon date with the Lower School teachers. We are excited about all the extra reading we are seeing in our building. The kids are gaining fluency and stamina while exposing themselves to new vocabulary and content that will boost comprehension skills and general knowledge. We are thrilled about their enthusiasm!
As part of our financial literacy unit, our very own Parents Club President, Morgan Jerry, came to talk to our class about taxes. As a Jackson Hewitt Franchisee, Mrs. Morgan knows a thing or two about taxes and she was happy to come share it with our third graders. This unit has been all about learning how the mathematical concepts of money translate into real life. Mrs. Morgan explained the history of taxation and different ways our wallets are affected throughout the year. The kids all gained a broader understanding of adult responsibilities, practiced relevant usage of percentages, and appreciated their parents even more than before!
(Pictures coming soon.)
Our outdoor classroom is turning green as spring brings new life to our campus! Inside the classroom we're looking deep within the origin of those plants and studying seeds. This week we explored and observed the properties of dry lima beans and talked about its parts. Then we soaked the beans overnight and wrote about their dramatic changes. Finally, we made "sprout houses" to hold our beans while we watch them grow in the sunlight from the window. We will chart each day's sprout progress and marvel at the miracle of new life!
The third grade has begun a financial literacy unit. We are studying how people use money in real life and practicing how to budget. Our classroom uses "Spartan Bucks" and the students have to cover various expenses throughout the week. After pay day on Monday, each student has to pay rent for their desk and locker and utility fees for the classroom resources. They earn money throughout the week through good behavior, returning homework, and making good grades. They are careful to avoid fines and hope to save enough money on Friday to shop at the class store. It is so fun to hear the kids using the economic vocabulary we are learning in class as they make decisions about spending their Spartan Bucks. We are having fun and learning great life lessons!
Third graders are wrapping up a science unit on the physics of sound. The culmination of our study was a project and presentation of our six favorite demonstrations of sound principles. The students worked with partners to make a physical model and a trifold poster that explained the demonstration. All the research, design, and construction of the projects were student-led and completed entirely at school. Friday afternoon we set up in the Lower School Commons area and each group explained their demonstrations for other classes and parents.
Teaching children is just like building any other great thing; the end result is immensely dependent upon the care given to its foundation.
In our day and age where “faster” usually means “better”, it’s easy to question the efficiency of something that may appear to move more slowly than it should.
“A building is only as tall as the foundation is strong enough to build on.” This is my philosophical approach to the pace of my math instruction.
The fundamental principles of number sense cannot be overvalued and children need tangible experience with these basics long past the initial moment of understanding.
Additionally, there are many components of the education your child is receiving that you will never notice on an assignment or report card. The invaluable skills of problem solving and critical thinking are intertwined into our methodology and even the curriculum we use.
A discerning eye will notice the subtle thread the author of our math curriculum weaves from chapter to chapter, tying seemingly unrelated concepts to one another. This creates a tapestry-like math foundation, without conceptual holes or gaps in understanding.
What this means is that we are cultivating learners that can think independently to solve not only the problems within their math book, but in their everyday lives.
True project-based learning values the process over the product. While studying about the Southwest Native American tribes, my third graders constructed adobe pueblo models and made traditional pottery.
However, instead of buying clay for the pueblos and making replicas that just looked like adobe homes, I wanted the students to experience the native process. Bringing history alive for my class means understanding the context of our studies through authentic experiences.
Children today can hardly fathom making anything at all without first purchasing their supplies from a store. We used cardboard boxes for the structural form, but the rest we derived from nature, just as our native ancestors did.
Students had to dig for clay on the playground which took a lot of cooperative problem-solving and manual effort. To create the consistency of clay, they needed water, but not from a tap. We gathered natural water from the pond on-campus and mixed it by hand until it was just right.
Next we applied the clay substance to the structures, making sure to leave a space for windows and doors. Reasoning skills came into play as the students had to establish enough of a layer to cover the structure, but not too much or it would cave in.
The students developed such an appreciate for the craft of home-building through this process!
Similarly, they quickly realized how tedious the art of pottery-making was for Native Americans without modern equipment. Students were given a clay base, but no tools except what they could find outside.
The children worked diligently with rocks and sticks to soften, mold, form, and detail their pottery pieces.
I don’t think any of them will soon forget the work required to accomplish these tasks. As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, I know twelve sweet children that are extra appreciative of all our modern conveniences!
"What we learn with pleasure we never forget." - Alfred Mercier
This quote drives my career as I try to make school an enjoyable experience for the children in my class. Concepts need to be practiced repeatedly with elementary-aged children before the skills are fully mastered. Instead of rote memory and regurgitation, I love making the abstract tangible and the mundane pleasant. Fun experiences are memorable and cultivate lifelong learners.
This week in math we practiced telling time using our bodies as the clock's hands. We played a team-based game in which the Hours team and the Minutes team raced to the clock to display a particular time. We also joined together to make one long minute-hand and traveled around the clock. This reinforced time-telling strategies, cooperative learning skills, and gross motor development.
(More pictures of our hands-on fun! See post below.)
We are settled into the new school year and already diving into exciting new topics! My third graders are thoroughly enjoying the new deskless classroom set-up. They love having the freedom to sit where they are most comfortable and work in nontraditional seating. We have rolled up our sleeves and gotten messy making paper mache globes in our geography study and studying the properties of water in science. One morning we even had an impromptu lesson on turtles when one showed up for school! A student found a wild turtle on the way to school and brought it in for us to observe. Teachable moments usually aren't planned, but well worth putting the plans aside. We talked about the turtle and what it needs from its environment. Then we made a chart on what nature could provide the turtle versus what we could offer it. Ultimately, the children were adamant that the turtle be returned to its natural habitat. We carried it out to the perfect spot on our beautiful campus and had a quick send-off for our little friend!
It's almost time! I can't wait to see these twelve faces back on campus. See you soon!
In our classroom we review for our weekly tests with fun, hands-on activities! Seen below Seconds graders are practicing spelling words in shaving cream, acting out vocabulary words, and practicing making change in a classroom store. These activities not only review the weekly concepts but also boost social skills, gross and fine motor skills, and reasoning abilities.
What a beautiful week we are having! When the sun is out, it's hard to stay inside. We took our math outdoors this week to practice skip counting. Skip counting is one of the four strategies we are learning to find multiplication products. We used the basketball court to make hopscotch with multiples of 2, 5, and 10. The center court circle was the perfect place to recreate a clock. Students had to skip count by 5s to place the numbers around the clock and then use their bodies to display different analog times. Then we had monkey bar challenges to see how far the children could swing while they skip counted along each bar. These activities helped us practice multiplying, cooperate with peers, refine fine motor and gross motor skills, and release energy--all while soaking up Vitamin D!
Learning multiplication is a long-awaited second grade rite of passage. This week, St. James second graders got to dive into the theories behind the operation of multiplying. We discovered the easy ones with "tricks" (x10, x1, and x0) and learned 4 unique strategies to find any multiplication product.
Seen below, students are in math stations practicing these strategies in a concrete, hands-on, way. They are making playdough arrays, dividing bears into equal groups, rolling dice to making equal groups of counters in bowls, and also solidifying their understanding of subtraction regrouping with unifix cubes.
These stations were great practice for the process of operations that they could feel and manipulate. This also boosted problem solving skills, working memory, and even cooperative social skills!
All of this beautiful spring-like weather makes us think that Punxsutawney Phil was right! At the beginning of February we studied groundhogs, the history of Groundhog day, and shadows!
Shown below, students are tracing their shadows with sidewalk chalk. We measured the shadows' heights and returned every two hours to trace the new shadow and measure it's length. We observed the changes in length and position around the students' bodies. Eventually we were able to predict where the next shadow would be and the size of it!
What's the matter? That's what second graders had to figure out when given the ingredients to make a root beer float. While making a tasty treat, the students observed the states of matter. They realized their ice cream was a solid, the root beer was a liquid, and together they created a gas of foamy bubbles. This was also a great opportunity to practice using the scientific method. Everyone wrote their own hypothesis, recorded their observations, and then explained the reaction. Learning new things in science is always fun, and some days it's also yummy!
Free from the burden of mandated testing, we are able to teach differently! Instead of spending our school year focusing on filling in bubbles and learning testing strategies, we get to spend more time on content. Assessment happens regularly here through authentic discussion and fun activities. Tests aren't always questions on a paper and consequently, students' depth of learning surpasses that required for simple regurgitation. Seen below, second graders are participating in comprehension activities to check their understanding of Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Acting out scenes from the book and creating comic strips are two ways students get to artistically recreate the story. This requires effective reading comprehension, accurate sequencing, and recollection of details. Research shows that student learning increases if students can move beyond simple remembering and understanding and can apply and create something with their knowledge. So we are learning more and having a really fun time in the process!
One thing that really sets St. James apart is the exposure to a variety of cultures and experiences at a young age. This past week alone, our second graders visited an International Fair, learned to play African drums, and watched a symphony orchestra!
At the International Fair, students toured the 4th grade presentations on foreign countries. We tasted international cuisine, felt handmade textiles, and looked at many collections of keepsakes from all over the world.
It's always a favorite time of year when Zinse Agginie comes to the school and gives hands-on instruction in the art of African music. He taught the kids several techniques and native terminology used in African music.
We always love the chance to watch the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra at the Perot Theater! This time they presented a musical story about Antonin Dvorjak's time in America and the composition of the New World Symphony. Hearing all the talented musicians was a real treat and we enjoyed weaving this lesson into some classroom activities when we got back!
Last week we began studying force and motion. What topic could lend itself better to getting up and moving? I collected a large box full of materials of various sizes, shapes, and textures. Then I went around to each group, letting them choose items from the box. They had no idea what they would be using the objects for so it was a completely blind selection. Once everyone had a pile of materials to use, I explained the challenge. Each group had 5 minutes to use their materials to make a ramp. They were required to use every object in some way and the goal was to see which group could make a ball roll the furthest. When time was up, each team took a turn rolling a small wooden ball down the ramp they constructed. We measured the ball's path each time and graphed the data. After studying the measurements, students had to make conclusions about why some ramps worked better than others. They naturally used the recently introduced terminology like friction, force, and gravity to explain the results. This activity stretched their creativity and planning skills. They also had to use strong communication skills to work together as a team to efficiently to execute a plan. We practiced math concepts when we had to measure, chart, graph, and analyze the data. Then they had to apply their knowledge of science vocabulary in an authentic situation. Of course, they also thoroughly enjoyed the competition and active learning!
The second graders sent a weather balloon to space! A family from our class prepared a weather balloon launch and were gracious enough to include us in the experience. They explained the process and equipment to our class and we all watched with anticipation as the balloon was prepared and launched. A stuffed tiger was placed in front of the camera and came home with quite a story to tell about his journey!
Mike's Space Flight
Mike the Tiger was launched with a weather balloon at 1:07 pm Friday November 14,3015 at SJDS.
During the next 3.5 hours he reached just over 101,000 feet into the stratosphere. The balloon burst and he was back to 20,000 feet at 4:34 pm and flying over Arkansas close to the Mississippi River. At 4:37 pm he crossed the river, still in flight, and entered Mississippi.
He landed at 5:22 pm in Doddsville, Mississippi, Sunflower County, in a patch of woods. Dr. Wiggins located him in the top of a very large oak tree in the woods. Two sheriff deputies came out to help him around midnight and they worked until 4am to retrieve the payload without success.
Dr. Wiggins drove home, picked his son up, and went to Baton Rouge for the football game. Sunday morning they drove 5 hours from Baton Rouge back to the Mississippi woods and were able to recover the payload.
Mike had a great trip into the stratosphere traveling over 250 miles, 3 states, and over 100,000 feet to the upper part of the earth's atmosphere. His flight took 4 hours and 15 minutes. When he was at 60,000 feet it was 69 degrees and at 100,000 feet it was 51 degrees.
Mike's advice after his trip was to never give up! (Remember the first launch didn't work.) Always study hard and set big goals!
Geaux St. James Day School!
Do you know what an isthmus is? What about an archipelago, fjord, or atoll? St. James second graders know these and more! Each student researched a water or landform, created a detailed 3D model, and presented their findings to their peers and parents.
Students used their hands and imaginations to transform the words from their textbooks into a tangible product. The cross-curricular learning process integrated science, geography, measurement, and language skills. Best of all, they enjoyed the entirety of the assignment which contributes to long-lasting memory of the topic at hand and a love for all learning!
Yesterday our class went on our first field trip of the year to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro. The kids had so much fun seeing real examples of the rocks we have been studying. Because of their knowledge about rock formation, rock types, the rock cycle, and the crater's formation, they understand what they were digging and collecting. It is always fun to get to see and touch real life examples of what we're learning about!
Learning is fun at St. James Day School! Kids who enjoy academic activities retain the information longer and have positive attitudes about school. These second graders are all smiles as we use games and art to learn.
In the pictures below...
Students enjoy eating "stone soup" after studying the folk tale all week.
2nd graders practice spelling by writing their words with white crayons and then painting a scene with watercolors on top. The wax from the "invisible" words didn't hold the watercolor so their spelling words peeked through their paintings.
To better understand the vague concept of linking verbs, students created funny subjects and predicates and then attached them with links from our math center and an appropriate linking verb.
We used playing cards and dominoes to create numbers for partners to practice comparing using greater than and less than symbols.
In our rock study, the children took a large bag of miscellaneous rocks and sorted them by several different characteristics. They had fun thinking of different ways to categorize the rocks.
We're back to school and I have the privilege of having sixteen sweet, new second graders to spend my days with! Our classroom is already busy learning and discovering new things!
This year I added a few living elements to our science area. We have three African Cichlids, a Syrian Hamster, and a small succulent plant. The children are naturally inquisitive about animals and these class pets are a great catalyst for scientific exploration! We are also focusing on personal responsibility this year and pet care requires a lot of it! Students are learning about what these creatures need and are taking turns feeding, watering, and cleaning up after our critters.
Our first science focus has been on studying the types of soil. Students studied real life examples of each type, charted their characteristics, and then created venn diagrams in Microsoft Word to show the similarities and differences of each type. This hands-on experience integrated science, reading, language, and computer technology skills!
In math we have been reviewing place value understanding. The culminating activity was an interactive and edible test. Students demonstrated their knowledge of place value by creating tangible models of numbers with food. Mini marshmallows represented the ones units, pretzel sticks were the rods of ten, and graham cracker halves represented flats of one hundred. These shapes match the base ten blocks we study to make the abstract concept of place value visual and concrete. Instead of focusing on drills and memorization alone, we take the time necessary to ensure kids understand why and how numbers relate to each other so that their mathematical foundation is ready for more advanced concepts. We also make it fun so they enjoy math! They are eager to learn new skills because of the confidence they experience from developmentally appropriate instruction and the enjoyment of hands-on lessons.
After finishing our latest novel study Because of Winn Dixie, we had a "Winn Dixie" party to culminate our unit. We sampled treats from the book like Littmus Lozenges and Dump Punch and watched the movie version. This opened up a great discussion comparing and contrasting the book to the movie. We took a vote and half the class preferred the book and the other half liked the movie better.
Spring weather means more time outdoors! Our classroom isn't just the room where we have desks; we can learn anywhere on our beautiful campus. One breezy afternoon we practiced double digit addition and subtraction, arrays, and multiplication on the basketball court. Why use a pencil and paper when you can spread out and use sidewalk chalk?!
The only thing harder than waiting on our butterflies to come out of their chrysalises was saying goodbye to our buddies on release day! We took turns letting the butterflies crawl onto our hands to us our body heat to warm up. Then they flew away for a new life in the great outdoors! We reviewed the life cycle and played a reenactment game where we wrapped each other up in toilet paper and then broke free just like the butterflies exited their chrysalises!
Our beautiful butterflies came out of their chyrsalises! We have enjoyed observing them and are amazed they are the same little creatures that were previously crawling around with long fuzzy bodies! Keeping a butterfly habitat in our classroom gave us hands-authentic experience practicing the scientific method and a memorable way of learning the life cycle and all its vocabulary. I enjoyed hearing the students use the appropriate terminology when observing the butterflies like "Mrs. Bowen, its using its proboscis to #### the nectar out of that orange!" Real life "learning materials" elicit excitement about the learning process and result in better understanding and long-lasting memory!
In Science this month we are studying the transformation of caterpillars into butterflies. We ordered a set of caterpillars to observe in our classroom. This kit comes with a caterpillar habitat, food, and a tent for the pupas to hang in during metamorphosis. At the end of the unit we will release our butterflies on the playground. We have had fun integrating our caterpillar/butterfly study into all parts of the curriculum, but the greatest fun we’ve had was when the playground surprised us with some fabulous hands-on study materials! One day during recess the kids noticed that caterpillars had hatched all over one of the beautiful shade trees. They were able to touch and feel hundreds of caterpillars and observe all the things we had read in books and seen on media clips. The kids are such wonderful little scientists who thought of theories to test and all kinds of ways to investigate these little friends. We later compared and contrasted the caterpillars on the playground to the caterpillars in our indoor habitat. When we returned to school today, our caterpillars were gone and replaced by hanging pupas! We can’t wait to see what our butterflies will look like in comparison to the butterflies now fluttering around the playground!
It is so great to be back on campus with my favorite second graders! We are having so much fun enjoying the beautiful spring weather and learning new things! In math we learned about solid figures and had a 3D Shape Show & Tell. Students brought items from home and told the class what type of figure it was. We’ve been writing about different Easter activities and several lucky students won chocolate bunnies for their excellent illustrations! To practice our vocabulary words, we had an exciting Easter egg hunt! Colorful eggs were hidden all over the soccer field. Some contained vocabulary words, others had definitions, and the rest were full of candy. The kids raced to find all the eggs and then matched up the vocabulary words to their definitions. We love when the weather allows us to take the learning outdoors! We mixed up the homework routine this week and challenged the students to use their creativity to find something in their home to put inside a plastic egg. Then they wrote three clues about their mystery eggs. The children took turns reading their clues in front of the class and allowing their peers to guess what was inside their egg. This was great public speaking practice and a lot of fun! Afterwards, Mrs. Romano and I surprised the classes with a special Easter snack to celebrate. We have had a wonderful time incorporating Easter fun into our activities and hope you have a wonderful weekend celebrating our Lord’s Resurrection!
February seems to have flown by, and what a crazy, fun, mixed up month it's been! To begin with, Mrs. Bowen has been out on maternity leave, so I have had the pleasure and privilege of adopting her class until she returns in late March. Once I met her charming students, I realized right away what treasures she has in her room - 12 of the sweetest, happiest, most respectful, and certainly most adaptable students I could have hoped for! Thank you for your wonderful children who make my new job so easy and enjoyable. (SEE PHOTOS BELOW)
February has been filled with fun events, twists, and turns in our daily routine! On February 11, both 2nd grade classes celebrated Valentines Day with a great party that included relay races, cookie decorating, guesstimating the number of sweetheart candies in a bag, and, of course, looking through our Valentine sacks to see what special deliveries our friends had made!
Another special February event was Grandparents’ and Friends’ Day. Mrs. Bowen’s class paired with Mrs. Looney’s 1st grade to present a brief skit about “Wild Weather”. Students loved acting as news reporters and explaining to the audience what they have learned about weather events such as tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, and floods. Their performance in front of several hundred parents and grandparents was outstanding and provided a fantastic opportunity for the students to practice their public speaking skills.
A final bit of craziness - SNOW!!! Just when things seemed to be back to normal, we found ourselves out of school for three days! Maybe it really did help that we all slept with spoons under our pillows and wore our pajamas backwards in hopes of seeing those beautiful, white snowflakes on the ground.
Clearly,second graders have had lots of fun, but they have also been working hard and learning many new things this past month. In math, for example, we have begun One Minute Math. “Minute Math” involves leveled, daily drills in which students are given one minute to complete 30 addition problems. Each students begins at the most basic level (a drill that focuses on a number plus zero in 60% of the problems), and those who correctly answer all 30 problems within a minute move to the next level drill the following day. Those who do not move on have as many opportunities as needed to retake the same drill until it is mastered. We have many discussions, of course, about the fact that everyone is different, learns at a different rate, has his or her own talents, etc. The focus is on doing your best for yourself. Minute Math is for personal achievement and not a class competition, and we encourage students to be supportive of each other in their efforts.
Second grade science is concentrating on soil — yes, that yucky brown stuff that can be so messy! But it's no longer just dirt to us! It is a valuable resource that we learned is vital to plant growth, animals, and humans. To culminate our study of the different layers of soil and what can be found in each layer, we plan to have a fun, hands-on activity. Using crushed oreos, vanilla wafer cookies, chocolate pudding, and of course, gummy worms, we will layer it all in see through cups and observe the layers of “soil” — before we eat it! Who knew that learning could be so delicious?
We have been learning about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in social studies this month. As part of our unit on presidents, students will practice research, reading, writing, speaking, and time management skills by gathering information about a president and compiling that information into a written report. Information will be gathered at home, and we will go through the entire writing process together at school in order to turn our notes into paragraphs. Students will also create poster boards about their president. We hope all our parents can attend the class presentations on Friday, March 6, at 8:15am. Come see and hear just how much the students have learned.
February has been a terrific month for Mrs. Bowen’s class. We have recited the Pledge of Allegiance, enjoyed daily devotionals, made daily prayer lists (yes, someone almost always remembers to put Mrs. Bowen and her new baby on the list!), played Around the World to practice math facts, gone on scavenger hunts to find pictures of coins we need to identify, had Show and Tell, read stories about dinosaurs and fossils, run and played during recess, and have shared lots of smiles and laughter. With a class like this one, I know March promises to be equally wonderful!
Jessica Miller, Interim Teacher
One of my favorite things about teaching second graders is watching students transition from emergent reading decoders to fluent readers. Each child reaches a point where they are no longer putting phonetic sounds together to blend words, but smoothly reading text for content. This is an exciting time because reading becomes enjoyable! Personalities and special interests suddenly effervesce as students self-select books based on their interests. We are blessed to have a wonderful library at St. James where the children enjoy selecting a new book each week with Ms. Hall. They also love choosing from the selection in our own classroom library and finding fun places to relax and get lost in a book!
Thank you all SO much for the beautiful baby shower yesterday. Your children are such a huge part of my daily life so it was very special to have them be a part of this excitement! I appreciate all the time and effort you put into creating such a memorable afternoon! Attached below are just a few of the pages from the book of advice the kids made. I have had so much fun reading through these and had to share a few favorites!
Please forgive the sideways pictures! The rotate tool on our blog software isn't working, but our new technology teacher is working on a fix for this. If you haven't had a chance to meet her yet, check out her blog: http://stjamesdayschool.org/classroom-blogs/about-the-teacher/ellen-orr/179
The kids are having a great time with her in their weekly technology class!
By FAR, the favorite activities of last week were our hands-on rock study! We introduced students to the terminology of the 3 kinds of rocks—igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. To explain how these rocks are formed we “made” our own rocks.
See the pictures below of the students making metamorphic and igneous rocks.
Metamorphic – Each student was given a mystery rock (snickers bar). When we cut inside it, we could tell that it was a sedimentary rock because it had individual layers of various sediments. Each student folded wax paper around their rock and had fun coming up with creative ways to apply pressure. This resulted in a metamorphic rock because it was changed by pressure.
Igneous – Molten minerals (melted chocolate chips) were dropped onto each student’s wax paper for observation. The next morning the melted clump was hard as rock! Our chocolate rocks cooled to form one solid piece of matter, just as magma and lava cool to form igneous rocks.
The children had so much fun creating (and eating!) our rock formations. Abstract vocabulary introduced in a tactile, memorable way is much more likely to be remembered! Ask if your Spartan remembers the 3 types of rocks!
Wow! The fall holidays came and went and we had such a fantastic time together celebrating Thanksgiving and Advent.
The Lower School put on a wonderful performance demonstrating what they had learned about the Pilgrims’ voyage to America and the origin of Thanksgiving. Every student had a speaking part and did a wonderful job! We believe it is important to provide students with opportunities to practice speaking in front of others and each one of them did a fantastic job! After the performance, we had a large feast with all of the Lower School families before releasing for the holiday break.
We returned in December for three weeks of learning and fun before wrapping up our fall semester. In Lower School chapel we learned together about the special season of Advent and practiced preparing our hearts and minds for the celebration of Christ’s birth.
The second graders completed a big research project at this time that integrated social studies, reading, writing, and speaking skills. Each child picked a Christmas symbol to research and then presented their findings to both classes and their parents. Each student completed research, wrote an informational paper, and prepared a display. We were so impressed with the amount of information each child learned and presented. We all left that day knowing a little bit more about all the beautiful symbols we surround ourselves with at Christmas time!
The children spent extra time with Mrs. Faulkner preparing for our special Candlelight service. That evening the children were all dressed up and sang so beautifully! I love that our school family chooses such a special way to enter into the Christmas season.
The break from school was so refreshing, but I definitely missed my sweet second graders!
January has already been so full of fun and memorable moments. Check back for more updates and pictures of our winter fun!
Book Character Day was so much fun! The students got really creative, and I enjoyed seeing them all dressed as their favorite book character! We started the morning in the Commons with all of Lower School telling who we were dressed like and what we like about that book. This was great public speaking practice! The kids loved seeing each other's costumes and hearing about the books.
Next, we joined Mrs. Romano's class to get creative and practice teamwork. Students were put into small groups and given miscellaneous food pieces to create a "Halloween House". They had to really problem solve and use good communication skills to make a standing structure.
The afternoon was spent with Mrs. Looney's class doing Halloween literacy activities. The kids had a wonderful time with the first graders!
More fun pumpkin pictures!
We had so much fun carving our class pumpkin open and exploring the insides! Everyone pulled a handful out and separated the seeds from the pulp. Then we each put our seeds into groups of ten to count the total number of seeds. Can you guess how many seeds were in our pumpkin? See if your student remembers! (543!)
We love being a part of a school that recognizes and values service to others! This week two members of our class were honored in our chapel service for their service to Randy Sams Shelter. Later on the playground students gave Ms. Denise a hand spreading out the freshly cut wood chips. We love helping our school!
...and just a few more field trip pics! We had such a great time!
More field trip pictures!
Second graders took a field trip to Little Rock to see replicas of the Nina & Pinta, learn about pumpkins and farm life at Motley's Pumpkin Patch, and enjoy the Rivermarket District!
This year the focus of St. James Day School is to SERVE OTHERS. Our school's administration challenged each class to adopt a local organization to sponsor and provide for throughout the year. Second grade chose Watersprings Ranch. http://watersprings.com/
A caseworker at the Ranch and long-time friend of mine, Kristen Draper, came to the school today to tell the kids first-hand about the organization. The kids were so attentive, asked lots of questions, and are overall very eager to get started.
We are so thankful to have found such a worthy organization to help support. We will provide parents with details about our service activities as they are planned, but in the mean time join with us in prayer for the children, house parents, and employees of Watersprings Ranch.
Today local firefighters visited to talk to our classes about fire prevention and the different roles firefighters play in helping our community. The children enjoyed listening to the presentation and checking out the fire engine and equipment. In addition to the safety information gained from the experience, the visit provided us with an additional teachable moment. Back in the classroom, we discussed the life of a firefighter and how they make sacrifices and take big risks to provide an important service to our community.
I shared the story of Dakota Huddleston, one of the firefighters who visited us today, who was severely injured last April. (http://wnow.worldnow.com/story/25379340/etx-firefighter-injured-in-wall-collapse-has-broken-pelvis-vertebrae) We talked about how important our local community helpers are and how thankful we are for the sacrifices they make for us. We wrapped up our discussion in prayer for these local heroes' safety, thanking God for healing Dakota, and asking that we develop a giving servant's heart like those of our local service men and women.
Later in the day we practiced our writing and typing skills in the computer lab to type letters thanking the firefighters for their visit and for all of their hard work and sacrifice. These letters will be delivered to the fire department this week.
Today we wrapped up our apple unit with a fun culminating event. We learned to read and write a recipe and cooked our very own Crockpot Applesauce! The kids loved participating in the measuring and mixing and we all waited anxiously to try the finished product! I took the opportunity to snap a picture of each child's reaction. Enjoy!
Second grade fun!
Today we did a science experiment to find out how to keep sliced apples from turning brown. We put apple slices into different liquids and observed them for changes. The students had a great time discovering the "secret" to keeping apples fresh!
Another great week of second grade is in the books! We got up and out of our seats to play a lot of games that practiced our number knowledge skills and weekly words. Our classroom was filled with lots of learning and laughter!
Literacy – Our apple unit in science provided us the opportunity to enjoy several trade books about apples. The students have particularly enjoyed the nonfiction texts and learning about all the different varieties of apples. Our story of the week was Ant and The Three Little Figs. The students read and discussed this in small groups and then saw it again on their weekly reading check. They all did an excellent job reading the surprise excerpt from the story. Vocabulary words were added to the mix this week, and the students did a great job with the increased rigor. We are using a fantastic curriculum called Wordly Wise that will systematically enhance the children’s language acquisition and usage in speaking and writing. Everyone did an excellent job with their spelling and sight words this week. I can tell they really studied hard throughout the week. Keep up the great work!
Math – We continued our unit on Number Knowledge and our focus this week was on building and understanding the value of three digit numbers. The students went on scavenger hunts for numbers and then worked together to sequence them. We used base-ten blocks to build large numbers and solidify their understanding of the place value in a concrete way. They were introduced to the three forms of writing numbers: Number (Standard) Form, Expanded Form, and Word Form. We had fun playing a bingo game to reinforce their understanding of this. They created their own cards, and I called out only the number. This required them to think through and locate the different forms in order to get a bingo. They really got into this game and didn’t even realize they were practicing their math lesson!
Science/Social Studies: The students especially enjoyed our apple investigations in science. We used the scientific process to investigate the different characteristics of apples. It was a fun, messy, and tasty learning experience! On Thursday we watched a short video clip that explained 9/11 to children. The class participated in a group discussion, and I was very impressed with the questions that stemmed from what they learned. This is a very deep-thinking and empathetic group of children, and I am blessed to spend my days with them!
We had another great week in second grade! This week we began a new unit on Number Knowledge in math and worked on several hands-on activities to review number sense and ordering. In reading we practiced spelling words, rotated through literacy stations, and took a reading assessment pre-test to establish our new Guided Reading groups.
Today we went outside to cheer on the kiddos from Primary II during their Teddy Bear Parade! The second graders were a supportive bunch and helped put big smiles on those three year old faces. We love being a part of the St. James family!
Be on the lookout for graded papers next week in the Home and Back folder. I decided to keep things simple and only use one folder throughout the week. I will try to keep the classwork clipped together and separate from news and announcements. Please empty the folder nightly and go over your child's work with them.
Please send an apple to school on Monday for a science project.
Wear dress uniforms on Tuesday for Big Chapel.
Library begins Wednesday 9/10/14
We will no longer be taking a la carte orders in 2nd grade. If you want to allow your child to purchase extra items, please send money for their cafeteria card or load it online.
Weekly study sheets will go home Monday.
As always, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to let me know!
HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND!
What a wonderful first week of second grade we have had! I have really been blessed with a wonderful class. We have laughed, learned, and enjoyed getting to know each other better this week.
We started the school year by reading I Am Special by Max Lucado. This story reminded us about treating each other kindly because we are all special in the eyes of our Creator. We played a corresponding game and then used our imaginations to make our own special creations out of play dough.
On Wednesday we read How I Spent My Summer Vacation, a funny story about a boy’s wild imagination. In response, we did a creative writing exercise about our own imaginary summer vacations. We learned about the steps of the writing process through this activity by brainstorming, creating a rough draft, editing our work, writing a final draft, and then sharing our work with the class. The students had some wonderfully creative ideas and did an excellent job presenting their stories to the class.
Thursday we read The Crayon Box That Talked and made self-portraits. This story reminded us that “We’re like a box of crayons, each one of us unique, but when we get together the picture is complete.” This class is certainly full of various talents and personalities that combine to make an exciting and fun classroom community.
Friday we read Busy People and talked about how all the different workers in our community provide us with the quality of life we are used to. We delegated classroom jobs to give everyone a special task to make our own environment function efficiently.
Outside our reading time we have had classroom bible study and prayer, explored new learning stations, brushed up on math skills, practiced sight words, and played learning games to review what we learned in first grade.
We are diving into our curriculum next week so be on the lookout for a study sheet in the Home & Back folder Monday afternoon.
Thank you for all that you do! Have a wonderful long weekend. See ya Tuesday!