Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hooray for Teddy Bear Day!

This week was full of joyful learning in 1H! The first graders were introduced to nouns and proper nouns. They learned how to identify a noun in a sentence and describe whether the noun names a person, place, or thing. We read the book A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What is a Noun? Of course that led the children to wonder about a mink. This is an animal they have little background on, so we took a few minutes to watch a video clip of a domesticated mink on our whiteboard.

The children began a life science unit on birds this week. They have learned a great deal about birds and their feathers so far. For instance, the first graders understand:
Most birds fly, but some do not.
Some birds migrate during certain seasons of the year.
All birds have feathers that vary in size, color, and uses.
Feathers have three parts: quill, shaft, and barbs.
They also participated in an activity that demonstrated how birds mend or preen their feathers by hooking the barbs of their feathers with their beaks.

The most exciting part of our week, however, was National Take Your Teddy Bear to School Day on Friday. The first graders had a great time having their teddy bears join us in our daily activities. They learned about the legend of the teddy bear and then participated in a great writing activity in which they were required to write in their teddy bear's voice. These pieces of writing will be on display outside our classroom soon. We welcome you to come and check them out!

Our spelling words for the week of October 12 - 16:
  1. up
  2. bug
  3. mud
  4. nut
  5. hug
  6. tub
  7. the
  8. my
  9. for 
  10. you

Sunday, October 4, 2015

It's the doubles, baby!

We've been reading, writing, and rapping in 1H this week. The first graders are particularly fond of learning the doubles rap. They have reviewed the doubles facts from 0+0=0 to 10+10=20 many times and will be utilizing their own set of flash cards in the classroom to help commit them to memory. These flash cards will be coming home in the weeks ahead to have parents practice these facts with their child as well. The first graders have also worked on the following concepts in math this week: writing addition number sentences, identifying the attributes of pattern blocks, and creating and reading a repeating pattern.

The children also completed their first unit in social studies and their first social studies assessment. The entire assessment was read to the children and much time was spent making sure all directions were understood. It was a challenging effort for everyone! This first assessment was unlike anything they had ever seen before. They will get use to the format and the fact that they will be responsible for listening, participating, and learning the content even though social studies instruction typically comes at the end of the day.

The first graders also had a great time learning about St. Francis of Assisi this week. They are currently learning the St. Francis prayer and having a great time creating their first paper bag saint puppet.

Due to our four day school week with the children being off on Thursday, we have decided not to begin a new story in our reading books and not to introduce a new spelling list. We plan on tying up some loose ends with grammar and vocabulary. We also look forward to great, descriptive writing on "National Take Your Teddy Bear to School Day". Please remember to have your child bring their teddy bear in on Friday, October 9th.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Establishing a Good Routine in First Grade

As the weeks progress in first grade, we are striving to provide a warm, positive environment with great structure to our school day. This past week our class worked on establishing a routine with phonics instruction. We use a multi-sensory approach to teach simple sound/symbol relationships and progress logically to more complex concepts. Each week we present the children with lessons that use their visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning pathways. The children really seem to enjoy this success-oriented, direct instruction and we feel it leads to a balanced overall reading program. 

The first graders also seem to love math this year. They have been busy counting pennies, singing "The Money Song", identifying a number between two numbers, graphing a picture on a pictograph, dividing a solid in half, and even eating half an apple! They are eager to participate and explain what strategy they used to arrive at a particular answer. Between the mimio (white board) and manipulatives (geoboards, linking cubes, dot cubes, etc.), the children are focused ready to learn!

In social studies, the first graders continue to explore their community and what it means to be a good citizen. They are working on the concept of where they are in the world with regard to their city, state, and country. Likewise, they are learning to identify the leaders in our city, state, and country. The children will be ready for their first social studies assessment by the end of this coming week.

Our spelling words for this upcoming week are:
  1. log
  2. dot
  3. top
  4. hot
  5. ox
  6. lot
  7. do
  8. is
  9. to
  10. see

Monday, September 7, 2015

Learning and Growing as Readers

The first graders braved the heat this past week and continued to keep up their great behavior. The Super Improvers Wall and Scoreboard are in full swing, and the positive attitude is contagious!

 In social studies the children are learning about having respect for the rules by which we live, including the Golden Rule. They are recognizing the need for rules in our home, school, and community. In addition, they are identifying authority figures and the need for fairness in rules. The first graders are also beginning to construct simple maps, understand map symbols, and identify places on a map by using a map key.

The children are really enjoying math this year with the strong foundation they have been given in kindergarten. They successfully completed their first math assessment and are ready to take on more challenging concepts. This past week the first graders worked on ordering sets from smallest to largest, identifying most and fewest, ordering numbers from least to greatest, matching a number to a set, collecting and sorting data, using data to construct a bar-type graph, using logical reasoning to solve a problem, and identifying first, second, and third.

In reading, the children and I are having so much fun learning strategies that readers use to become more accurate readers. The specific strategies they learned and applied were:  focusing on both the beginning and ending sounds when decoding a word, skipping a word in the text and coming back to it when they have reached the end of the sentence, and cross checking the text to make certain the pictures and words look right, sound right, and make sense. Basically, I am teaching the first graders to self-monitor their reading by stopping when it doesn't make sense. There is such joy in teaching these great strategies to children who are excited about reading!

This past week marks the end of our first read aloud novel Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins. Our class really loved this very first grade friendly novel. I encourage you to continue the series at home with your child by reading aloud Toy Dance Party and Toys Come Home written by the same author.

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Building our 1H Community

This first week of first grade just flew by! We had so much fun getting to know one another and learning the routine of our day. We've laughed. We've cheered. We've been building a strong community for a successful year together.

In language arts/reading we learned the importance of choosing and reading "good fit books". Our class also learned how much fun it is to read song books. We read BINGO, The Lady with the Alligator Purse, Down by the Bay, Five Little Ducks, and more! Reading these types of books instantly engages and motivates young readers. In addition, song books increase phonemic awareness and build sight word vocabularies.

In math the children worked on making towers for given numbers, placing objects on a graph, ordering numbers, identifying circles and squares, and identifying right and left. So far the first graders love math and have been very successful with their efforts.

Our spelling words for the week:
(Aug. 31 - Sept. 4)


Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Great Beginning

Our first grade journey is off to a great start! The boys and girls in 1H are excited to begin a new year, make new friends, and work hard together. We have had a wonderful time these first few days of school getting to know one another. The children are getting acquainted with our classroom rules and high expectations for behavior. They are also learning about ways to improve themselves academically and behaviorally throughout this year. The first graders will be continually acknowledged for their efforts and achievements through our Super Improvers Wall.

As a class, we have already begun reading up a storm! The children have really enjoyed singing and reading Peanut Butter and On Top of Spaghetti. They have listened to First Day Jitters, Walk On, and trip-trapped to The Three Billy Goats Gruff. We have discussed taking care of our classroom library and all the books within it. Beginning next week the first graders will bring home a book from our classroom library every Wednesday to read and return to school the next day. We call this bit of weekly homework "I Borrowed a Book". First graders generally like to take a special book home to read each week.

I look forward to meeting with all first grade parents at Back-to-School Night on Thursday, September 3rd. I hope to further discuss this year with all of you and answer any questions you may have.