Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Toga Party!

We began the day with the reading of our writing assignments!  I made a HUGE deal out of these today.  Each and every child did their absolute best, and it showed.  Their handwriting, capital letters, punctuation, and big ideas were just awesome!  There were stories of magical snowmen who melted into magic snow slush and later made into another snowman, snowmen who could turn their enemies into frozen ice, and snowmen who healed people with magic dust.  I told them that I expect more of the same when we come back for second semester!

For handwriting practice, we wrote some of the spelling words from this week's list.  All of the children made the same handwriting mistake.  All of their lower case "k"s looked like uppercase "K"s.  We spent time correcting this mistake.  They may need to work on lowercase k's at home, as well.

In art class, Ms. Bev brought in beads!  The children worked on beaded Christmas ornaments.  They loved choosing their colors and threading the beads onto the line.  There is just something about beads, buttons, rice, beans, and other beautifully tactile materials that children just love!

Today was the big Greek Party in Ms. Allison's history class!  The kids (and teachers) came in togas, headbands, and came bearing Greek food!  The children tried pita chips and hummus, pita bread and olive oil dip, spanakopitas baklava, olives, meatballs, and more!

In Spanish class, we all learned a lot as Ms. Rose explained to us the Spanish Christmas traditions that she shares with her family.  We learned about different foods that her mother and grandmother would cook for the holidays.  I think I learned more than the children!  I always love hearing of how different cultures around the world celebrate the birth of our Lord!

Math-  In math class, we have been learning, in class at at home, about measurement.  Today, the students worked with capacity.  It is so difficult for a child to first get their head around the fact that taller containers do not always hold more than shorter ones!  By the end of math class, they were all focusing more on the capacity the container has to hold liquid, rather than its height!

Science- At home, the students watched videos about different methods that single celled organisms use for movement: cilia, flagellum, and pseudopods.  Today, they reviewed the concepts in their reading and discussed the differences between the different modes of motion.

In spelling today, we focused a lot on the sound "wor" as in "worms".  This is not something that can be sounded out!  The class took their spelling list and wrote each word onto a different notecard.  Then, they had a relay.  The kids had to take turns dropping one of their notecards into the appropriate "special sounds" box.  At the end, we sat in a group and discussed the cards within each box.  There were quite a few "wor" as in "worm" cards (like work and word) in the "or" as in "morning" box!  Hopefully, after today's lesson, it will be easier for them to spot this sound.

In Language Arts, the children learned that you drop the silent "e" in words before adding a suffix that begins with a vowel.  For instance, when you turn "race" into "racing", you must drop the silent "e".  The class worked through examples of this as a group.

The class and I walked over to check out the garden.  They learned how broccoli and cauliflower grow inside the middle of the plant, tried a piece of fancy lettuce (all of the tried it!), and checked out the goat's new winter coats!

We will continue at-home assignments through Friday of this week.  Then, enjoy a nice, long, Christmas break!  At-home assignments will begin on Monday, January 6th.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Plant Roots and Word Roots

The students began their day by listening to each others' writing assignments about their Thanksgiving festivities.  They wrote about sweet potatoes, grandparents, cranberry sauce, travel, and all the other things Thanksgiving memories are made of!  We are working a lot on writing in complete sentences.  At home, spend time helping them recognize where one sentence should end and another begin.  They have come a long way in 15 weeks!

In art class, Ms. Bev showed the kids how to make some amazing Christmas ornaments, using fabric scraps!  The mental focus during this one hour class was just amazing.  They worked hard, and it showed!
 Math class was all about measurement today!  We worked with non-standard units of measurement, using paperclips, markers, and counting cubes as measuring tools.  I explained to the class that you can only measure with units that are a consistent size.  You cannot simply say "build a ship that is 94 shoes long!"  The class measured different classroom objects.  Then, each one stretched out onto a large sheet of paper.  We made marks at their feet and head.  Then, they used markers as units of measurement to see how many markers high they each are.  They will be working more with measurement at home over the week.

In Spanish class, the kids showed off their house models, where they cut out different household items and placed them into a box.  They hung lights from the top, made carpet on the floor, and decorated the walls with pictures of tables, chairs, and other furniture.  They labelled each item with its Spanish name.

Science time was pretty action packed!  The class showed off the models of the parts of a plant that they completed at home.  Then, Ms. Caroline and the students discussed the experiment with the two different flowering plants.  One has been watered and in the sun for 3 weeks.  The other was kept in the dark, with no water.  The results were pretty clear.  The students documented the results in their lab books.  As an extra test, we gave the dying plant water and sunlight.  We will check back to see if it is about to bounce back!

The class learned about seeds today, as well as the life cycle of a plant.  Ms. Caroline took the kids to the yard on a seed scavenger hunt!  They found seeds, as well as other plant parts, and brought them inside to discuss their findings.  Finally, they created collages from their treasures. 

In Language Arts class, the students worked a lot with root words and suffixes.  We reviewed the rule that you double the final consonant before adding a suffix that begins with a vowel, such as stop and stopping.  Further, I discussed with the class that this double consonant results in a short vowel sound.  For instance, the extra "p" turns hoping into hopping and turns moped into mopped.  I was really able to tell that this concept has been taught at home in their lessons!  They all worked examples on the board.  They also worked on recognizing the root words and suffixes in words such as jumped, underlining the root words and circling the suffixes.

The class reviewed the spelling list, as well.  In this list, they work with "oi" and "oy".  They seem to have much less difficulty with this concept than the "ou" and "ow" list!  We played a game where the students had to stand up if the word had an "oi" and sit when the word had an "oy".  As I called out the words boil, toy, spoil, and so on, the kids bopped up and down appropriately.

At the very end of class, we squeezed in enough time to head across the street and check out the chicks that were hatching!  We had 35 eggs in the incubator, and they were hatching like crazy!  I was glad they had a chance to see the action!

Picture Day!

Writing and Handwriting-  The kids began their day by sharing their Thanksgiving writing assignments with the class.  As always, I made sure that the positive feedback was off the chart!  In addition to learning to write in complete sentences, capitalize letters, and use good handwriting, I am trying to give the students a positive attitude towards writing.  What better way than lots of compliments and applause from classmates?  For handwriting, we worked on writing a few of the spelling words from this week's list.  This is another difficult list, as it introduces the special sounds "ir" as in "bird", "er" as in "verse", and "ur" as in "nurse".  These all sound exactly the same.  The class learned another song today.  This one was to help them remember these three tricky sounds.

Art- In art class, Ms. Bev brought in the students' homemade finger paint back in to class.  The kids learned about primary, secondary, and tertiary colors with a very hands on lesson!  Although nervous about finger painting at first, they all got into it in the end! 

In history class, Ms. Allison and the class talked about their at home reading over ancient Greece.  They read about minotaurs and the Greek alphabet.  In class, they worked on writing their names using the Greek alphabet.  The kids were really interested in this, and many kept writing other words, as well!  They also learned about Venetian pottery.  As a project, they designed a Venetian vase. 

In math today, the class learned the difference of basic shapes.  They learned about sides and angles as they compared the different shapes.  We also worked on pattern recognition.  As a major brainteaser, the we all worked on a shape Sudoku puzzle together.  It wasn't easy, but they did it!

The class used their Spanish vocabulary as they made their own models of a house!  They cut out household items from magazines and pasted them into boxes, while discussing the Spanish names for each item.  They cut out portas, mesas, camas and all sorts of other things that go inside a casa!

Science- The children checked out their experiment from last week on the needs of plants.  One rose plant was placed in the dark, while one was placed in a sunny window.  There wasn't a lot of change, but they documented what they saw.  Ms. Caroline will be posting pictures during the break so the children can continue to make observations.  The class discussed the parts of a plant, learning about their roles.  They will be reading more on plants, as well as watching some great videos at home!

Language Arts- In grammar class, the students have been learning a lot about nouns, both common and proper.  Today, they moved on to learning about pronouns.  In order to keep the definitions set in their memories, we started a set of grammar cards for each child.  They will be using these cards to study their grammar terms and lists.  We talked more about the spelling list, and went over the different sounds that all sound like "er".  They worked in their spelling and language books.  We also read aloud in our Stepping Stones books.  The students had no idea that the readers actually use the concepts and words from the spelling lists.  Those curriculum writers and geniuses! Continue to study the spelling and phonics rules at home, and we will back it all up in class!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stayin' Alive

The class began the day by reading their writing assignments to their friends.  It turns out that each one of them would choose to be an animal from the cat family!  We had a kitten, a momma cat, a cheetah, and a lion.  Meow! 

This week's spelling list is a difficult one.  They are using the "ou" as in "out" and the "ow" as in "owl" sounds.  Also, they are learning that "ow" can make a long o sound, as in "bowl".  To help them with these sounds, I made up a song.  They had a good time singing it!  I hope it helps them remember!  They practiced their handwriting by writing some of the spelling words, carefully and correctly, on their page.  I try to point out how their handwriting and creative writing has improved as we progress through the year.  It's so easy to see, and gives them a visual representation of their learning!

Art- Ms. Bev had her work cut out for her today!  She and the kids used measuring cups and spoons to follow a recipe for homemade finger paint.  They learned the abbreviations Tbs, tsp, and C.  The kids were able to mix their own concoction, and even cooked it on the stove!  They added food coloring and Ms. Bev will let them paint with it next week!

History-  In Ms. Allison's class, the students have been reading about the first librarian, Ashurbanipal.  He sent scribes out all over Assyria to collect all of the tablets that they could find.  Ashurbanipal's scribes also documented traditional stories that the Assyrians passed down, orally.  These stories had never been written down until this point!  He created the first library, in Ninevah.  The class discussed the story.  Then, they created their own library book!

Math- In math class, we reviewed addition and subtraction strategies.  After noticing that many of the children were counting up for 10+ and 9+ problems, I specifically worked on mental math for these.  By the end of class, they had stopped over thinking problems such as 10 + 6, and simply exclaiming, "16!!"  For the 9+ problems, I explained that it is always a tens group (a "teen") plus one less than the other number.  For instance, 9 + 4 is just a 10 plus one less than 4, so 10+3, or 13.  It took some practice, but they had also let go over the counting-up strategy for adding 9 to a number!   The class then played an addition game.  Each child chose a card with an addition problem.  The person with the highest sum collected the cards from each player.  Try this one at home!

Spanish-  Ms. Rose reviewed all of the material that was covered so far.  They took turns writing numbers on the board as Ms. Rose called them out in Spanish.  They also took turns drawing items and representations of the seasons on the white board, as well.  Next week, the class will be learning about things inside a house.  Each child should bring in a shoe box, as they will be making a doll house in class!

Science-  In science class, Ms. Caroline taught the class from chapter 3 of their textbook.  The students learned about the needs of plants. They also learned about how plants make food.  As an experiment, the class has two identical plants.  One plant will be kept near a window and watered.  The other will be kept in the dark closet.  The kids will get to see the difference in the two plants next week, documenting their findings in their lab books.

Language Arts-  Today, we learned about root words and suffixes, and that usually, a word is broken into syllables at the suffix.  For instance, in the word "screaming", the syllables would be split between "scream" and "ing".  We worked a lot on "ou" as in "out", "ow" as in "owl", and "ow" as in "bowl".  There was a whole lot of singing as we worked our way through the spelling list!  The class also learned that the words in a title begin with capital letters.  The exceptions are those unimportant words, such as "in", "the", "a", etc.  They did talk about how the first word of a title is always capitalized, whether it is a little unimportant word or not!  Each student was given a cartoon picture.  It was a boy standing in the bathroom, reacting to a dolphin in his bathtub!  The kids had to come up with a title, using the capitalization rules that we learned.  Then, they wrote complete sentences about the picture. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Handwriting-  In handwriting today, the class used our little personal whiteboards to practice correct letter formation as they wrote some of the more challenging spelling words from list 8.  We talked out controlling our handwriting, keeping the letters on the line (no hovercrafts!), and letting the letters reach up and touch the lines that they need to touch.  Sometimes, as children learn to write, they mix lower and uppercase letters throughout their words.  I am working to help break that habit!  For fun, the class also learned a short song to help them spell Halloween!

Writing- The kids shared their writing assignments, "The Best Halloween Ever".  Each of them really went above and beyond with this one!  We compared the length of their stories, handwriting, capital letters, and punctuation to their earlier writing papers.  I that seeing how far they have come helps motivate them for  further improvement!

"Make & Do" - In art today, Ms. Bev taught a lesson about negative and positive space.  They looked at different books by Eric Carle, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Busy Spider, The Very Lonely Firefly, and others.  In these books, Carle creates the illustrations from a collage of colored paper.  The children made collages using tissue paper today.  Hopefully, the lesson on space and collage will "stick"!

History- In history today, Ms. Jennifer finished up her side discussion on the election process!  The kids each took turns in the voting booth, casting their ballots.  They reviewed the information they have learned in class about voting, political parties, and presidents!

Math-  The students have been learning new strategies for mental addition and subtraction.  I explained to the kids that these strategies are just like having "tools" in their mental toolbox.  Sometimes you come upon a problem that needs a wrench.  Some problems need a hammer.  Some need a screwdriver.  By learning different addition and subtraction strategies, they will hopefully be able to apply them to math problems in order to mentally calculate them in the easiest way possible!  Today, they learned a method for subtracting a single digit number from a two digit number, when the single digit is larger than the ones in the double digit number.  For instance, in the video lesson at home, the kids learned that you can subtract 14-2 without having to worry at all about the tens.  The 4 is large enough that they can simple subtract 2, and then plug the tens group back into the answer.  4-2=2, so 14-2=12.  However, this strategy doesn't work for problems such as 16-8=__.  A method for mentally calculating problems such as this one is to subtract the 8 from the ten.  10-8 =2.  Then, just add the 2 to the ones that were untouched.  2+6=8.  So, 16-8=8.  I posted a video of today's lesson so that parents can get a feel for the concept.

Spanish- Ms. Rose incorporated a review of Spanish shapes and the Spanish names for facial features into a Halloween Jack-o-Lantern activity!  The kids created Jack-o-Lanterns, labeling the shapes used and the part of the face, in Spanish!

Science-  Ms. Caroline taught a biology lesson today on the first chapter in their biology book.  They worked through an activity where they came up with different chores, and had to think through a list of materials needed for each chore.  When they think of washing the dishes, they seldom think of all of the things needed to wash them: soap, water, dishes, a rag or sponge, water, a sink or basin, a towel, a well to pump the water or access to public water, and so on.  In science, it is important for children to think beyond the obvious and truly think of the resources needed and the "why's" of things!

Language Arts- The students reviewed proper and common nouns, specifically the months of the year and days of the week.  They also learned about root words and suffixes.  If took a while, but the whole class was shouting out root words in no time!  In addition, the class learned that usually, when a word is divided into syllables, a vowel that is in the middle of the syllable makes a short vowel sound while a vowel on the end of a syllable makes a long vowel sound.  We read aloud together and discussed the passage from their Tiptoes book. 

It was a fun, wild, crazy, action packed day today!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Marble Art!

Writing- The class showed off their writing assignments today!  Each one did a great job explaining what things would be like if their toys could talk.  We talked about sentences, remembering that they have to start with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark.  The class really seems to be enjoying writing for their friends!

Handwriting- The border sheets for this week were beautiful!  The class was excited to hand them in, hang them up, and get a "star"!

"Make & Do"- Ms. Ben taught the students how to paint with marbles today!  They learned about primary and secondary colors.  The marbles rolled through the primary colors, one at a time, on the paper in their boxes.  After two or more primary colors, they were able to see the secondary colors.  They loved this activity, and made some beautiful pictures!

History- Next week, our class will be entering their very own voting booth and casting their (silent) ballots!  Ms. Allison has been teaching the class about our voting process.  They know the two candidates, but parents may need to delve into the differences between the parties at home.  In history, the class reviewed what they had read about the the pharaoh, Hatshepsut.  Because Hatshepsut dressed as a male in order to be the pharoah and lead the country, Ms. Allison helped the class to make beards to wear! Oh, and those mud bricks that they worked on a couple weeks ago turned out great!

Math- In math class today, the students learned a mental math strategy for adding two one digit numbers whose sum is great than ten.  The strategy involves splitting the smaller number into parts, so that the larger number can be made to equal 10.  For instance, in the problem 9 + 5 = ___, you can break the 5 into a 4 and a 1.  The 1 can be mentally combined with the 9 to make the 9 a 10, which leaves you with the more simple problem of 10 + 4.  If the class can learn this technique, they will be able to build upon it as their math needs grow!  I will post a video of this strategy on the homework hideout page so that parents can see exactly what we did in class.

Spanish- In class today, Ms. Rose and the children reviewed the seasons, months, and weather.  They used the song they have been learning at home to help them whenever they were stuck!  Afterward, Ms. Rose taught them the Spanish words for facial features: eyes, nose, mouth, etc.  They labelled a face with the correct Spanish words.

Science-  Today was our first biology lesson!  After explaining what biology is, Ms. Caroline discussed the different ways that animals are classified, or sorted.  They did an activity where the class was sorted by hair color, by gender, by clothing color, etc.  They learned the meaning of "characteristics", and will be using this in future science lessons.

Language Arts- We discussed the spelling list for the week, and read out loud from our Tiptoes book.  The students were excited to discover that the words from the spelling list are in the reading... who knew!  The class learned about syllables.  We worked on separating words into syllables, and learned that often the syllables are separated between two consonants, such as in tur/tle.  At first, the kids had a difficult time with single syllable words, as they wanted to clap each letter.  I explained to them that the vowel sounds determine the number of syllables.  If there is only one vowel sound (as in "cat"), then it only has one syllable!  In grammar, we reviewed the definition of a noun. The class will be getting into the "idea" part of nouns... happiness, sadness, joy, freedom, etc.  This is a difficult concept to learn, so I want them to all be sure to have the "person, place, and thing" part of the definition down before moving on!  At home, work on pointing out nouns in sentences whenever possible.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chemistry Ends with a Bang!

Writing- I really enjoyed reading the students' papers today!  Each child thought about the super hero that they would like to become.  They made up super hero names, described their costumes, and explained what they would do as a super hero.  As always, I kept these writing assignments for their writing folder.

Art-  Today was Ms. Bev's first day of art class. The class worked on a sewing project.  They learned the colors of the rainbow (ROYGBIV), how to thread a plastic sewing needle, and how to stitch a rainbow!  They did not get finished today, but it wasn't for lack of focus!  They absolutely loved this project, and went back to it during free time throughout the day!

History- The class has been reading about Egyptians and Nubians in "The Story of the World".  In their reading, they learned that when Egypt defeated the Nubians, the Nubians gave gifts to the Egyptians. Wall carvings show the Nubians giving gifts of incense, gold, ebony, furs and MONKEYS!  In class today, the students made gold cuffs, which the Nubians wore on their arms.  They also made sock monkeys, to symbolize the Nubians' gifts for the Egyptians!

Math- In math today, the lesson was on position, direction, and ordinal numbers.  First, the class had to learn their left from their right.  They used words that describe position to give directions and describe the location of items in the class.  Then, we used left, right, and other terms to find locations on a grid.  Although the kids did a good job with this, I suggest working on left, right, and counting steps on a graph (see textbook page 59 for an example).  Once the students demonstrated that they could give directions using left, right, up, and down on the grid, we moved to ordinal numbers.  The class already knew the terms "first", "second", "third", etc, and of course know their cardinal numbers (1, 2, 3), but learned today that the words can be written in ordinal numbers, "1st", "2nd", "3rd", etc.  They will be working more with these concepts at home this week.

Spanish-  The class reviewed the days of the week and months of the year today.  If you are not listening to the music at home, it really helps with memorization!  Ms. Rose was talking to the class about the months and seasons when she realized that the class wasn't familiar with which months fell in which season.  So, she switched gears and taught a lesson on months and seasons.  The class learned the Spanish words for each season along with the months.  They used construction paper to represent each season.  As they sang the seasons/months of the year song, they pointed to each season as they said the word.

Science-  Today was the very last day of our chemistry unit!  The class had a review activity, where they cut and pasted vocabulary words and definitions. They began this in class, but will work on it as a review of the unit at home over the week.  To send off our chemistry unit in style, Ms. Caroline brought in Mentos and Coke... leading to some VERY amazed reactions from the kids!

In language arts today, we read in our Tiptoes Book.  We worked on the rule about double s, f, and l at the end of a word... This usually means that the vowel is a short sound!  We worked on this rule as we reviewed our spelling words, read aloud, and even in handwriting today.  The students also have been working on using capital letters at the beginning of their sentences, and ending each sentence with punctuation.  This is something that they know, but have a hard time remembering to do!  This is definitely something that needs to be practiced at home, as well!