Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Last Day of First Grade!

Today was the very last day with these sweet little kiddos!  I have been putting together their folders of work from the year, and cannot believe the progress they have each made.  The jump between the beginning of first grade, fresh baby faces right out of kindergarten, and the end of first grade.  Their handwriting, reading, writing, and math have improved so much!  I am very proud of each and every one of them!

Movie Time
Today was a very fun day with Ms. Allison!  The class covered the windows, kicked back with some popcorn, and watched "The Prince of Egypt".  This was a perfect movie to follow the first volume of "The Story of the World".  Ms. Allison, who has degrees in Humanities and Biblical Studies, used the movie as a teaching tool, pausing it to discuss different points with the children.  It was fun, and very educational!

Our big Language Arts review was in the form of a giant board game!  The class had to answer a question correctly to roll the die and move their game piece along a huge board.  The questions consisted of the different parts of speech, the spelling of different "special sounds", types of sentences, and much more!  The kids all did an amazing job, and really showed me that they have worked so very hard this year!  At the end of the game, each student had made it to the finish line and could choose a prize from the prize box.

In math class, I taught the kids how to subtract a single digit from a double digit, when it cannot simply be taken from the ones group.  For instance, 53-6.  We talked about different mental strategies for doing this, including taking 6 from one of the tens, leaving you with four ones... plus the original 3 ones (thus, 47), or by making a number bond with the 6 to show that 6 is 3 and 3.  Then, you can take the 3 away from the ones group first, and then take the remaining 3 from one of the tens.  Yes, it is a bit complicated to learn... but it works wonders for understanding the WHY behind "borrowing" or "regrouping", and help with mental subtraction!

Subtracting with Regrouping
Subtracting with Regrouping
Subtracting with Regrouping

Ms. Caroline held a science review today before jumping in to a fun enrichment activity!  The kids had to each choose a number, which correlated with a page number in one of six science books for kids.  Ms. Allison turned to the chosen page number, teaching the science tidbit found on the page!  They learned about topics from Earth science, biology, chemistry, astronomy... It was a perfect end of the year activity!

I cannot believe this entire year is behind us.  These children are so unique, so smart, and so full of energy and life.  I love their creativity and their enthusiasm for learning!

Thank you for giving me a fabulous year!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Make-Up Day

Last week was a bit of a mess.  There seems to be a stomach bug going around, and instead of continuing to pass it around, we opted to reschedule classes until the germs had subsided.  Instead of working in class, the teachers posted at home assignments for those days last week.  I read the kids' writing journals today, and it seems that they didn't care much for the sick days, and wished that they had been able to come and learn together!

Today's make up day was a fun combo of the older kids and the 1st grade class!  Teachers came in and out, alternating between classrooms (or the picnic table on the deck).  It was a beautiful day!

In math class, the kids learned how to add using the vertical method.  They even learned to carry! 

Language Arts- We reviewed the four types of sentences today.  The students were each given one type, and they had to run across the yard, tagging my hand, if the sentence that I called out was their type of sentence.  We rotated through the types, so each person had a chance to be a question, statement, command, and exclamation.  The students and I also reviewed some of the tricky special sounds, such as "ow" as in cow, "ow" as in bowl, and "ou" as in out.  We also spent some time working on "ch and "tch", as well as "oi" in coin and "oy" in boy.  Then, they recited their grammar definitions, which they have learned so well!  We will have a little quiz over them on Wednesday.  Finally, the students showed me how they can write in complete sentences, with capital letters and correct punctuation, through a writing activity.

Before lunch, the class combined with the older kids.  The 3rd and 4th graders helped explain "A Midsummer Night's Dream", as they had read to that point.  Then, we all read on, discussing the hilarity as we went!  I loved hearing the laughter and seeing them get completely caught up in the story!  I think the older children who read Hamlet and Macbeth last year was shocked to see the funny side of Shakespeare!

Ms. Allison taught the class about Atilla the Hun today.  They talked about the stories in their at-home reading assignments, and illustrated them.  The class is now finished with the entire Volume 1 of The Story of the World!  In class on Wednesday, Ms. Allison will wrap it up with a showing of, "The Prince of Egypt", complete with popcorn!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Story of a Guinea Keet

Language Arts- Today, the class began by reviewing the "ou" sound, as in "country", "ire" are in "fire" and "air" as in "hair".  These are words from the kids' at home lessons on the recent phonics chart, and we went over different words that contain these special sounds.  The English language is very tricky.  Some students gave words such as "care" for the "air" sound.  This just takes study and practice!  When the kids circle the special sounds in their lessons, it helps them to internalize these differences.  The class also reviewed key sounds found in this week's spelling list.  There are some tricky ones to discuss, including the silent "b" in "comb" and "climb", and the long "i" sound in "child", "wild", "mild", etc.  The only way to learn these oddities of the English language is to practice and discuss!  The work that the children are doing in their Letters & Sounds workbook, and correlating at home lessons, provide an excellent foundation!

We discussed the last type of sentence in our grammar lesson today: exclamations.  The students had to listen to different sentences, telling whether it was a statement, command, question, or exclamation. Then, they had to hold up a card showing the correct punctuation.  They will use these cards to help practice at home.

Writing- After reading last week's writing assignments to the class, the kids wrote a story about a monkey in a zoo.  They used their their phonics lessons, handwriting, capital letters, punctuation, and their imaginations.  It amazes me how far they have come with their in class writing since the beginning of the year!

Art-  These kids worked so hard for many weeks, and now have completely finished their amazing hand-print roosters!  I absolutely love this project!

History-  In history class, Ms. Allison helped the students to create the catacombs of Rome.  They went into the catacombs and, like the Christians long ago, created symbolic art.  The class talked about the way that Christians could find out if someone else was a Christians, without letting the Romans identify them.  When meeting on the street, the Christian would draw an arc in the sand.  If the stranger drew another arc, forming the symbol of the fish, then the Christian knew he was in good company: that the stranger was a Christian and not a Roman.

Math- Last week, the kids counted forward and backwards by different intervals.  Actually, we jumped forward or backwards as we counted.  They began class with a review of the order of numbers, by working through problems in their Extra Practice booklet.  Then, we began a new lesson.  They learned about the very hungry alligator (the less than or greater than sign), which loves to "chomp" the larger number!  We worked through some numbers on the board, as well as in the textbook.  They remembered to always draw the symbol with the open end gobbling up the largest number!

Agriculture- A couple weeks ago, one lonely guinea hatched from an entire setting of eggs.  It was too early in the season, and many of the eggs were not fertile.  So, we were left with only one.  It is not easy to keep a guinea indoors as it grows feathers, and it is not ideal to raise a single guinea in an outdoor brooder.  It is also very hard to introduce a single bird into the flock when it is grown.  We had quite a problem!  Fortunately, one of our hens went broody, and we allowed her to set on a golf ball.  Last week, late at night, I crept into the coop and put the one week old guinea underneath the black copper maran hen.  I taught the class that, as long as it is late at night, you can sometimes convince a broody hen that she hatched out a chick.  We were very lucky and this hen adopted the week old guinea keet!  I took the class over to see the momma and baby.  The kids and I moved the guinea and its new mommy to their own special area, safe from the goats and from other chickens.  We talked about how animals, and people, sometimes adopt their babies.  At home, they will be incorporating our momma hen into their writing assignment.

Science-  The class began by showing off the diagrams that they created of their homes. They discussed which parts of the house help to meet their basic needs. Ms. Caroline focused their attention on water.  Ms. Caroline cut a carrot... and then asked the students why water did not fall out.  Then, she explained that the water is held in each cell.  The class also compared the size of a raisin to the size of a grape.  After some measurement and calculation, it was decided that the grape was somewhere in the neighborhood of 65% larger than the raisin.  So, grapes must be comprised of a lot of water!  It can be very hard for young children to grasp percentages and amounts.  First, Ms. Caroline used the example of how many dimes are in a dollar.  She used this analogy to explain that if our bodies were a dollar, and made up of 10 dimes, 7 of those dimes would be water!  Ms. Caroline took the class outside to help them get a better grasp on this percentage.  They traced their classmates, and then divided their bodies into 10 parts.  Then, they colored in 7 of these parts, showing how much water is in our bodies!