Tuesday, October 31, 2006

50th Compliment

At Mary Castle, we talk a lot about the Five Mary Castle Expectations. These expectations include being respectful, being responsible, being safe, being caring and being a peaceful problem solver. If a classroom is following these expectations in front of teachers or faculty around the school, they are likely to get a "compliment."

As a result of great behavior, Miss Smelser's class gained it's 50th compliment last week. The students will be rewarded for their great behavior by having a 50th compliment celebration. The students came up with some ideas on how they wanted to celebrate. After talking over all of the student's ideas, the children got to vote on how they would like to celebrate sometime this week.

To make a long "story" short, please congratulate your child for having great behavior!!

If you have any questions or concerns about your child watching a Disney or educational movie for their reward of getting 50 compliments, please let me or Miss Smelser know.

I hope you all had a safe and warm Halloween.

Happy Halloween!

Today we had some special guests come visit our classroom. Anna's grandparents were here visiting from Florida, and they came and read two Halloween stories to the class before lunch. We all enjoyed listening to the books, and then having lunch with our visitors. They then stayed for our recess and had fun watching the children play. I know Anna will miss her Grandma CeCe and Poppa when they return home.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Native American Unit

Today we started a new Social Studies Unit on Native Americans. Each of the students will be making a Native American "Pocket" book. Each of the pockets will hold crafts made by your child and important facts that they have learned. Throughout the month of November, we will be covering five different Native American tribes. For each of the different tribes, we will look at the kinds of clothing they wear, what they eat, their shelter (including where they lived in the United States) and family life. This will allow us to compare and contrast the different aspects of tribal life.

Pictures will be coming soon!

Conner Prairie

Last week students went on a study trip with the other first grade STRETCh class. We visited the Conner Prairie Living Museum to learn more about how things have changed, and as an introduction to the Lenape Native Americans. We will be making a book in class to demonstrate how things were then versus how they are today. We had a lot of fun visiting the school in 1836. Did you know that the children then had to go to school for six days a week, but only from December to February? The rest of the time they worked on their families' farms. We also enjoyed the Passport area with the flatboat model, and all of the interactive activities they had there.

This week we are using some of the items from that time period during our Centers. Students can practice writing on a slate, play old-fashioned games (like checkers, blocks, or nine pins), and read more about what children were like long ago.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Report Cards

Today the report cards for the first nine weeks are coming home. I hope you take the time to review it with your child. Remember to look at the positives and not just focus on what needs improvement. I was pleased with everyone's performance this grading period. Here are some tips I took from the leapfrog.com.

1. Take report cards seriously. While most teachers concede that report cards don't tell the whole story about a student's abilities, work habits and intelligence, parents should view the report as a critical piece of information about their child's academic progress. Whether pleased or disappointed by it, parents should use the report card as a point of discussion with their child and, if necessary, his teacher.

2. Praise a good report card. If your child brings home a good report card, be sure to let him know that you're proud of his accomplishments. And don't forget to put it in a prominent spot on the refrigerator!

3. Talk about a bad report card. Failure is a scary thing for any child. If your student doesn't do as well as expected on his report card, talk openly about it and reassure him that bad grades do not mean he is a failure. There could be many reasons for his performance that have nothing at all to do with ability or intelligence. Find out if he understands the work that is expected of him and if the teacher has talked to him about how to do better. You may also want to schedule a time for both you and your child to meet with his teacher to discuss a strategy for improvement.

4. Encourage good work habits. It's never too early to learn good work and study habits. Read to your child regularly even before he starts school and always make learning a part of family fun.

5. Give incentives. Like adults, children and teenagers are motivated by incentives. A trip to the movies, a small gift or a special dinner with Mom and Dad can be a nice reward for a good report card. Be careful, however, that the incentive does not appear to be a bribe or an end in itself. Children should ultimately strive for good grades out of a genuine interest in learning, personal pride and the understanding that success in school lays the groundwork for success later on in life.

6. Be involved in school. Generally speaking, students who excel have parents who are actively involved in their education and in their school. Show interest in what your child is learning by helping out with homework or volunteering in the classroom. If your child sees you involved at school, and attending school board and PTA meetings, he'll know that you think school is important.

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Infusion of the Arts

This afternoon, the class was involved in an Infusion of the Arts lesson by a Butler student, Ms. Caton, that has been working with our class throughout the semester. The lesson that was presented to the students combined acting with literacy and writing.

Ms. Caton started the lesson by reading the book The Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin. After reading the book, the students got to act out how they have seen their meal worms move. This was a very exciting activity for the students in which they got a chance to use their creativeness by acting out movements from their meal worms. Afterwards, the students got to write about their favorite part of the activity and explain why they liked it so much.

As a future teacher and having taken the Infusion of the Arts class in previous semesters at Butler, I have realized how important it is to include and combined art into every day lessons. The students have a chance to show their creativity as well as excel in their academics.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Our Eric Carle Book

We are making a book based on Eric Carle's book "Have You Seen My Cat?" Each year's class does a different book modeled after one of the books we have read in class. Since we have been investigating the sunflowers, we decided to make a book that goes along with our studies. Our book will be called "Have You Seen Van Gogh's Flowers?" Every student made a page for the book with a different kind of flower. The last page will be a representation of Vincent Van Gogh's famous sunflower painting. Families will be able to order the book, and it will be sent to be bound in hardback.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Buttons, Buttons, Buttons!

We have been learning about attributes and how to sort items using different characteristics. Students worked with lots of buttons this week. We sorted and graphed them by color, number of holes, shape, size, thickness, etc. We also read the Frog and Toad story about Toad's lost button, and another button book about how buttons are all different.

This activity was part of a kit we ordered from IUPUI that connects literature with math. If you or someone you know is interested in this kit (or any other one), you can click the link below. All materials are provided and there is no cost. FedEx will deliver and pick up for free.
Teacher Resource Center

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

We've got bugs!

Today we started our FOSS kit on insects. Everyone was given two mealworms to keep and observe over the next couple months. We discussed living things and what they need: space, air, food, and water. Our mealworms will live in a vial on the students' tables, and in a community container at the science center. It will be interesting to see how these organisms change over time. Check back soon for updates.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Are Those Sunflowers Really Alive?

Yesterday Hannah wanted to know if the sunflowers in the vase were alive or if they were fake. We came up with a list of ways to experiment and find out the answer.

  • Can you smell them?
  • Do they feel real?
  • Do they look real?
  • Do they have seeds? - this lead to another discussion about how the flowers in the vase were different than the large sunflower we already had in the room.
  • The flowers are in water so they must be real. Can fake flowers be put in water? YES... what if we take a flower out of the water and see what happens?

Hence, we took out one flower and will see if it dies. Now of course, how will we know that it is dead?

  • It will turn brown or black.
  • The petals will fall off.
  • The seeds will fall out.

Here is day one:

Here is day two:

Some students are still not sure if the flowers are real or not. We talked about what might happen over the weekend. They decided that if the flower turns brown and the petals fall off it was real, but if it looks the same on Monday, then it is probably fake.

(Added Tuesday, October 17, 2006)
After much deliberation, we decided the flowers were real because they changed so much over the weekend. They turned brown and some of the petals fell out. Here is the latest picture:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sunflower Project

Did you ever wonder how many seeds are in the middle of a sunflower head? How about how sunflowers grow or what they need to live? Well, my students did. We have been investigating these questions, and more, in our classroom the last couple of weeks. We have learned a lot about the seeds, looked at Vincent Van Gogh's sunflower art, and even taken a field trip to the neighborhood next door to visit Emma's garden where our sunflower grew. The students have made choices about the topics they are interested in learning more about each week. Some choices have included studying Van Gogh's artwork more in depth and creating their own sunflower art. Other choices have involved investigating the sunflower head and sorting and counting the seeds. Some students have been busy reading more about flowers and their needs.

This week many students focused on finding out how many seeds were in the sunflower head. Before we removed the seeds, we estimated and guessed how many there were. Guesses ranged from 100-10,000 seeds.

Students then removed the seeds and placed them in a jar. Nathan predicted that the jar would not be able to hold all of the seeds. He was right, and we had to place them into a baggie instead.

The next day students decided to sort the seeds into groups of ten. That was a lot of groups, so then they decided to put ten groups of ten to make 100. We put the 100 seeds into a small baggie.

Our results:
- 10 bags of 100...that made 1,000
- 4 more bags of 100
- 1 bag with 78 left over.

Altogether the sunflower had 1,478 seeds inside it! Many students guessed 1,000. They were pretty close. Even Miss Smelser and Ms. Wright didn't estimate that many.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Eric Carle Painting

We had so much fun being messy and creating our Eric Carle paper. We will soon be starting our book using this paper. Students finger painted, mable rolled, made collages, spatter painted, and used brushes to paint their designs. Look at some of our artwork.

Thank you to Mrs. Engler who was our parent volunteer who helped out in the classroom, and to Mrs. Simmons the art teacher who loaned us her room for the afternoon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Welcome to Our Blog

Welcome to our blog! One of my colleagues mentioned he had made a blog for his classroom to keep parents posted about the going-ons in his room. I thought "What a fun idea!" I will try to add to the blog regularly, but not every single day. I hope you will visit and learn more about your child's class. We have so many exciting things that happen in our room, but not everything can make it into the newsletter.

Today we watched a video, Eric Carle: Picture Writer, in preparation for tomorrow's art project. Students will be making their own tissue paper paintings to use when we write our Eric Carle inspired book. They were very excited to see all of the different ways he painted: brush, brush tip, fingers, sponge, etc. I know they are anxious to try it out on Wednesday.

Check back tomorrow for pictures from our art project!

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