September 21 - 25

What a busy week! We started out with Field Day on Monday which had first graders rotating through 7 different activities outside and in the gym. Many of these are games you could adapt to play with your family or at a birthday party. Discussing the rules of games is a good chance to talk about how to be a good sport, how to take turns, and how to recall a sequence of steps (first, next, then, last...). Ask your child to explain how to play each of these games:
  1. Hungry Hippo (beanbags in the gym)
  2. Parachute Play (in the gym)
  3. Car and Driver (one person with eyes closed being led by a buddy)
  4. Hoop Pass (stand in circle holding hands and move hula hoop around everyone)
  5. Ecology Circle (run so fast that newspaper sticks to front of shirt)
  6. Pizza Delivery (make circle around someone who is collecting pizza boxes)
  7. Ecology Pick Up (relay race collecting "trash" with a buddy)
We studied the following word wall words: the, I, see, me, go and practiced the following reading strategy for what to do when we don't know a word: Think about what makes sense (in the sentence and in the pictures), then check your guess with the letters you see.

In math we played several games that involve number ordering, number sequences and place value. Next week we will work on the concepts of 1/2 and 1/4 with pictures.

This week we also had a visit from one of the school counselors who gave an important lesson about bullies. We learned that bullies do mean things over and over again and they make the other person feel bad. We learned to tell the person to STOP and to get help from a grown-up.

We had our first visit to the Strategies Lab where we learned how to play 3 problem solving games (Clever Castle, Soduko Jr., and Bricky by Brick). I hope students will transfer the problem solving strategies they practice in the games to other situations in reading, math, writing, and playing with friends. We will be making a longer list next week, but so far the students have come up with the following strategies that helped them play the games successfully:
  • Don't give up
  • Don't worry about what level other people are on
We ended this week with Pajama Day! Thanks to all the families who participated. Students really enjoyed the chance to get dressed up and make it a special day.

September 14 - 18

This week we have been working on using quiet voices during reading and math centers so that I can work with small groups. The class came up with many ideas to help them remember to stay quiet, including playing soft music (if you can't hear the music, you're too loud), having a picture of me going "Shhh" that I can show them, and having to leave the center for a few minutes if it takes more than 1 reminder.

At the reading centers students have been making words with magnetic letters, listening to books on tape, reading a variety of books in the class library, reading and illustrating a color poem, and playing alphabet games.

In the math centers students have been counting to 100 by 2s, 5s, or 10s on a laminated 100 board with a dry erase marker, playing a card game where they look for numbers that add up to 5, making and writing numbers 0 - 10 with paint, and regrouping 1s into 10s and 10s into 100 with base ten blocks.

In writing we have been building our stamina to write and illustrate stories for up to 30 minutes. It has been really interesting to learn about the students' lives through their stories. We also made a class book using "ing" as in "What are you doing?" "I am coloring." Learning to identify chunks of letters that make a sound like that will help the students to become more independent readers.

September 7 - 11

This week we have used the Smartboard to play many interactive games online. These are all linked on the right side of this blog but for easy reference we played these games this week:

1. Spelling Match Game (we did long vowel sounds)
2. Picture Match Game (we did unit 3, higher unit = harder concepts)
3. Piggy Bank (this was too hard for most of the students)
4. Concentration (we did numbers 1-20 with shutters down)
5. Storyline Online (picture books read aloud by members of the Screen Actors' Guild. Turn the captions on!)

In reading we worked on taking a "picture walk" with new books, which involves looking through the illustrations to get an idea of the story and relevant vocabulary before reading the words. We also worked on how to be successful working independently in reading centers while I am working with small groups on guided reading lessons.

In math we learned a card game where students look for a number's "next door neighbor" (a number one more or one less). We also practiced writing and reading number words, and counting up from a number other than one.

In writing we worked on giving a title to a story, on adding words to our illustrations, and on using the alphabet actions chart we made to help us find the right letters for the sounds we hear. You can use the copy of that your child brought home to help with reading and writing activities at home.

Thanks for your support in using the school's agenda books each day. Most of the time your child's homework will simply be "read with family" (at least 20 minutes) and "be in bed by 8:00." Starting next week your child will bring home books from school to read and return the next day, and I will continue to send home a math or sight word activity once or twice a week.

President Obama's Speech to Students

On Tuesday, September 8, 2009 we watched the President's address to students at the end of the school day. Afterward, I recorded a few students' impressions of what they had heard him say and they picked up on a lot of the points he made.

I don't have the fancy software to combine the video clips into one movie and Picasa isn't cooperating with my file formats, so you have to click each clip below to hear the students!

August 30 - September 4

This week we started the poetry center where students will be working on reading poems with fluency and looking for sight words in the poem. Students were excited to start their own 3-ring binder of poems we have studied in class and they did a great job reading together and listening to each other

We also opened the classroom library after discussing how it was the same/different than the school library. Students did a good job taking turns on our little rocking chair, sharing the books, and putting books back where they found them.

Later this week we will introduce the listening center, where students will listen to books on tape. We will learn some new math games that involve counting by 5s (0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25...). We will be working on counting up starting from a number other than one (7, 8, 9, 10) and counting by 2s to 20 (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20).

The student's alphabet actions pictures are complete and each student will be taking home a hand-out showing them all on Friday! Please use this as a reference when your child is reading and writing to help give prompts about what sounds each letter makes and what sounds they hear in words.