Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sand Sculptures

Students made their own sand sculptures and learned about how to make the sand stick together with a matrix. Many of the students made volcanoes out of their sand. Others created animals such a a rabbit and a caterpillar. We also had a bowl, a stick, and others. This activity was from a lesson in the FOSS science kit.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Playing with Friends

Many parents have asked me about their child playing with others at recess. Today I noticed that at one point or another, every child played with another student or group of students while we were outside. Some still played alone at times, but at least everyone intereacted with others during the recess time. I know this can be a concern for you, but it is still fairly typical for children to play alone at this age. As long as they are intereacting with others at times, there is no need to worry. We have done several lessons on how to make friends and how to ask others to play in class this year.

What to do if your child would rather play alone
Written by Hilary Benson

Remember the classic children's story of Ferdinand the Bull? He was happy sitting under his favorite cork tree smelling the flowers, rather than butting heads with the other young bulls. His mother worried about Ferdinand being lonesome.

Here are some tips for parents who may have concerns about their own child's behavior:
Know your child. It can be tricky to figure out if a child is truly satisfied with his or her lack of friendships. Parents can usually tell when their child is happy. But kids who are unhappy may be masking disappointment, perhaps acting out their feelings in an aggressive manner. Others may internalize symptoms, appearing sad or withdrawn.

Talk with the child's teacher. A parent may learn a great deal by asking the teachers questions such as whether the child works with others on group projects or if he or she eats lunch alone. A parent can also talk with the recess supervisor about what happens on the playground, and whether a child stays on the sidelines of play, unsure of how to join the group.

Carol Johnson, a school counselor inthe Seattle Public School District, emphasizes the difference between kids who are shy but happy and kids who feel isolated because they are do not know how to make friends. "It is not necessarily that there is something wrong with that child, but they will in fact need help and suggestions for breaking into a peer group," Johnson says.

Facilitate friendships. Parents can act as "social coaches," says Dr. Carol Cole, a child psychologist in Seattle. Ask a child if there is someone he or she would like to have over to play. If a mom or dad can make the play dates happen, or if they hit on an activity the child truly enjoys, the young person may begin to forge friendships on their own. If that tactic fails, a parent can explore "friendship groups" or "social skills groups." Some schools and private-practice counselors facilitate these groups for the sole purpose of identifying words and actions that will plant the seed for young friendships.

Respect the child. Ingrid Olsen-Young, an expert in early childhood development in south Seattle, encourages well-meaning parents to choose words carefully. Use phrases like, "Hey, I noticed something," or "Let me help you be successful." By showing respect, parents should feel more comfortable nudging their children beyond their comfort zone.

When to seek professional help. When does isolation raise a red flag for long-term issues? True personality disorders are not typically diagnosed until adulthood. Still, professional counseling should be considered if the anti-social behavior is causing the child significant distress, perhaps keeping him or her from functioning in everyday activities. Also, parents should pay attention to how the child's social behavior changes over time. Cole says that most children develop the tools they need for making friends as they get older. She is most concerned about the children who go the other direction, showing more social anxiety as they age.
The vast majority of children who define "quality time" as time alone are perfectly happy, healthy and normal. If the child is able to nurture at least one friendship, exhibiting what experts call "social reciprocity," then parents can relax, and can cherish that child who enjoys the pleasure of his or her own company. ™


Friday, September 26, 2008

Reading with Expression

This week we have focused on reading with expression. We have read several short books that really need expressive voices to read or they make little sense. One of these books we read today was called Yo! Yes? I hope you can practice with your child at home this new skill when he or she is reading aloud.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Parent Volunteers

You may be wondering exactly what it means to be a parent volunteer in our classroom. My volunteers spend a little over an hour each morning on the classroom working one-on-one with students. Occasionally I may have them work with a small group or help with an activity in the classroom.

Every child has the opportunity to read to a parent each week, sometimes more than once depending on their need. Beginning readers typically read with a volunteer 2-3 times per week. Parents help them figure out unknown words using strategies I have shown them ahead of time that they can refer back to if needed. They also ask comprehension questions to the more fluent readers, and check to make sure they understand vocabulary and more challenging words and concepts.

Parents can also help prepare materials for me at home or do other misc. jobs as needed. I always love to have guest speakers in the classroom that can share their talents and interests with the children.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Math Facts

Students practice their math facts on the computer 2-3 times per week. The Math Facts program is just another tool we use to help the children learn their facts. We are still working with addition in Math Workshop, but are introducing subtraction to them also. We have begun working on fact families this week and relating addition number sentences to subtraction number sentences.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pebbles, Sand, and Silt

Today we spent much of the day working with our FOSS kit on Pebbles, Sand, and Silt. Students learned that rocks come in many different sixes and shapes and sorted them based on size. A tool they used was the sieve, or the screen. They distinguished between sand, small & large gravel, and small & large pebbles. We also worked exclusively with sand and water and are conducting an experiment to find out what happens when it is shaken up and left alone for the weekend. We also worked with clay and are doing the same experiment with it this weekend. I wonder how they will change by Monday? I have added many new pictures to the website, and I hope you will be able to look at them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Menu Math

Each day in math workshop, students are able to to play games that reinforce skills and lessons we have been learning about in class. We call these choices "menu math". Some of the games students are able to choose from currently are double dominoes, addition war, the sock game, and Mathfacts on the computer. It is important that they be able to apply and transfer their knowledge to other content areas. Even though we do a timed test, daily math review, and have a new lesson each day, each one is only a part of what we do in math workshop. The more ways we can practice what we are learning, the better chance we have to remember and internalize it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


One of the best parts of school for many students is recess. Here are some photos I took today of the children playing. Remember to dress your child based on the changing weather. Especially at this time of year, some days he or she may need a jacket, and other days shorts is just fine.

We have talked about how to play with friends and how to ask others to play. If you feel like your child is having a difficult time adjusting to school and finding friends to play with, please let me know so that we can make a plan.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sorting Attributes

We have been learning about how items have different properties that can be sorted. Students have sorted rocks based on color, shape, size, and the way they feel. In centers this week the children are working on sorting lids into different categories, and are writing about their observations in their science journal.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Updates

We have had lots of fun this week and have learned many new things. We worked with our rock FOSS kit and went to the science lab again this week. In math we are continuing to learn different addition strategies and have practiced problem solving. Minute math seemed to be a struggle this week for many students. Even though we do many problems together, some children are still rushing through their work and not paying attention especially when new concepts are introduced. Next week we will be reviewing some of the commonly missed problems and students will have a chance to practice them again.

My second grade reading group learned to take Scholastic Reading Counts quizzes this week. These are tests on the computer that quiz you on questions from the books we are reading. Students can independently take quizzes in their level and see their progress immediately. Other students will be introduced to this program as the year progresses.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Rock Museum

We have continued our study of rocks this week and experimented with what happened when some of our rocks were placed in water. Students were excited to visit the science lab to do our experiments. We will be going there over the next few weeks to work with our FOSS kit. Students have also been bringing in their rocks from home to add to our rock museum. We have collected several different types already.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Doubles Painting

Today we learned about doubles in math, such as 2+2, 4+4, or 9+9. Learning doubles helps students remember patterns in numbers and they can also use them to learn other math facts. We painted and made doubles on our paper by folding the sheet in half.

Yesterday I started having two separate groups in math. Both groups are learning the same concepts, for example today the lesson was on doubles. However the children will complete different work depending on their math experiences and ability. This will allow everyone to still be exposed to the same concepts, but provide a challenge to those who need it, and additional practice time for others.

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