Tuesday, December 07, 2010

April Willy: Illustrator Visit

The students at our school were fortunate to have a visit from illustrator April Willy on Monday. Ms. Willy has illustrated such books as Three Cups, Full Moon Maxi, and others. She showed our young authors some drawing techniques, as well as read from some of her books. Students had the opportunity to recreate one of her drawings from the book Full Moon Maxi. She emphasized the importance of planning ahead and taking your time to do your best.

Please visit her website at http://www.aprilwilly.com/

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Boxtop Store

Students have been hard at work this week working on Project. They have cleaned out the bookstore space in order to organize their Boxtop Store. We still need to finalize our grant that they are writing to the PFO for more school supplies. The children also worked on advertising this week and wrote jingles and a script for a commercial. Mrs. Roy came and videotaped the children on Friday. We are all anxious to see the finished product. Some students also worked on print ads.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Writer's Celebration

Thank you to everyone who attended our first Writer's Celebration of the year. The students worked very hard on their All About books. Many of them too 3-4 weeks to complete their books, and did a lot of research before finishing them. I know you are as proud of them as I am.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Map of Asia

We had a great time learning about Asia this week and exploring the giant room size map. Students practiced finding countries, mountains, bodies of water and more by playing Simon Says. We also learned a little bit about longitude and latitude. Did you know the tallest mountain is in Asia? Also, the largest lake by volume is located there.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Show me the Money

We have been practicing making amounts of money in as many combinations as possible. Today we used a program on the smartboard and the students showed me their coins as each item for sale was displayed. We also practiced trying to make the amounts with the fewest and the greatest amount of coins possible. You can try this at home with real coins for even more everyday learning.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Curriculum Update

Welcome to November! I hope everyone is enjoying our new chillier and brisk weather. The children are moping about having to wear jackets outside for recess now, but we are at least having some sunny days.

Reading Workshop- for reading this week we are working on context clues. Students also have letters and a response sheet to complete in class on a book of their choosing. Many students have moved up a reading level since our last reading conference, and I am pleased with the growth I have observed. We also started some new centers this week that include the listening center, big books, partner reading, computer, and word games.

Writing Workshop- this is our second week working on our All About books. I am overwhelmed with the variety of meaningful topics this class has chosen to write about. I see such wonderful connections between their writing and lives. We have included diagrams and another "different" kind of comparison page to our books.

Math Workshop- Among the many groups that exist for math, one group is continuing on with number sense: even/odd, comparing and ordering numbers, another group is working on number riddles and trickier word problems related to number sense, and the third group has begun money.

Project- We are deep in phase two of project, finishing up our market research. Next I hope to begin moving and setting up the store. We will also be working on writing some scripts to begin creating some commercials to promote the store.

Friday, October 29, 2010


What a fun time was had by all on our annual Walk-About! I always enjoy connecting with families and students this day, and was pleased by the turnout we had. It was a little chilly, but I think we all survived. Students also learned some fun facts about water as they finished the event. Thank you to our PFO for their organizational skills! I hear the students raised quite a bit of money that will be put to good use by the school.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Math Conceptual Unit

We have started a new conceptual unit in math this week. Students are learning about comparing, ordering, and even & odd. We took a pre-test today to see what everyone's starting point is, and will divide into groups from there. After our test, the students practiced comparing numbers with a game. We will work on this same concept tomorrow with a different, but related game, and start more traditional paper pencil work as well. Remember, every unit begins with hands-on learning moving towards paper/pencil activities. Every day students will practice math facts, complete a DMR (Daily Math Review), participate in a mini-lesson, and play menu math games to reinforce the core curriculum concept.
A picture of our Math Vocabulary Wall

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pajama Day

On Monday the class had earned 21 compliments and voted to have pajama day as their reward. They had lots of fun and we still managed to get in all of our regular activities like Reading and Writing Workshop.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Choice Time

In previous years I have assigned centers each morning for the students to complete as they arrive at school. This gives all children something to work on as soon as they come to the classroom, and is especially effective for those who are arriving at staggered times.

This year I am trying something a little different, and giving the students more say in what they do in the morning. We still have centers, but we are calling it "Choice Time" because the children get to pick what they work on. I have been keeping notes aobut what they choose, and it is interesting to see how they make their decidions. Some people pick the same thing everyday, and others pick different activites. Some students choose what their friends pick, but many are completely independent in their choices. Typical activities include: reading, writing/drawing, listening center, legos, computers, art, math drawers, project work, etc.

Popular choices today were: painting outside, store (project), computers, and legos. Reading and writing are usually top choices, but apparently not today :)

Thursday, September 02, 2010


Mrs. Laudadio brought in some new critters to our classroom this week. We have quite a few caterpillars making a home here. They eat dill weed, and are getting fatter every day. One has started his pupa stage already. These caterpillars look very similar to Monarch Butterfly larvae, but they are fact another butterfly variety called an Eastern Black Swallowtail.

For more information on the species click here:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Musical Math

We have continued our learning of addition and subtraction strategies for math. Today we practiced counting on and counting back again, using some instruments. Students had fun using them to count each number that was added or subtracted. A bonus was that they couldn't use their fingers, something I had not thought of when I planned the lesson. They truly had to think and try to hold the numbers in their heads, even though the music was helping.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Doubles Painting

In math we are continuing to explore addition and subtraction. Today we worked on adding a doubles fact. A double is the same number added together, like 5+5 or 7+7. Students then used that knowledge when they were painting and predicted the answer before folding their papers. Each side was covered by the same picture and the students wrote an equation to match the painting.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Attribute Shapes

We have been learning about how things are the same and how they are different. Students have been comparing the attribute shapes by color, size, shape, and thickness. They are trying to decide how many shapes there really are, and I noticed that the triangles are confusing them. There are more than one type of triangle, and they are in different sizes. The discussion today revolved around the students trying to convince each other on how many unique triangles existed in the set.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


In math we have started some groupings and while some children remain with me in our classroom, other students go to one of the other Primary STRETCh classrooms for their daily math instruction. In our classroom, the children are learning about computation and learning their addition and subtraction math facts. One way to help the children learn their facts is to let them really explore and work with the numbers. We try to be very hands-on and let the students understand the "whys" behind the learning instead of just memorizing facts.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Today we read the book All the Colors of the Earth. We continued our talk about how people and things are alike and different. This book focused on skin color and hair and described them in such rich beautiful language. Students used the skin tone paint to create their personal skin color and then we compared them. We wrote about ourselves and shared our similarities and differences regarding talents, appearance, likes, and dislikes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Day of School

We had a wonderful first day of school. The first day is always filled with procedures and rules, but I tried to add some other fun little activities in also. We read a story about another first day of school called, Brand-new Pencils, Brand-new Books, and talked about what made the book a fiction book. I was impressed at the students’ predicting and inferencing skills throughout the story.

We did not get to play on the playground for recess, but we still went outside and played in the yard outside the classroom. Students had fun playing tag, catching bugs, and writing on the sidewalk with chalk. Afterwards we met as a Primary STRETCH team in Mrs. Merchant’s room and discussed with the children how we will rotate for math. This will not start until next week however.

Students reviewed Mary Castle Expectations and procedures for Related Arts today. Tomorrow they will begin with Spanish. This afternoon students will have a chance to play a math game and practice Reading Workshop. I will begin assessing their reading levels later this week.

For homework tonight, please have your child practice and memorize the lunch code. Your child will use this every day, either in the café or on the computer to log on. It helps the lunch line move more smoothly when everyone is prepared.

There was some confusion with the supply list this year. We had hoped to use the Primary STRETCH list for grades 1-3, but some families used the general school list. Please review the Primary list and see if there is anything you may still need to purchase. I apologize for this inconvenience.

I will see everyone tomorrow.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

New Classroom

I have been working hard on getting our classroom ready for this school year. I found out Friday night that we will be in a new classroom, and not the science lab like anticipated. We are now located in pod 3, room 304. This weekend was spent moving all of the materials into the new space and making it nice for all of you. The exciting news about this classroom is that we have a smartboard. I can't wait to start using it with the students.

Meet Us on Monday is tomorrow, Monday the 16th from 4pm-6pm. You are welcome to bring your school supplies with you and leave them in the classroom. I can't wait to see you all, and am looking forward to meeting your family. See you soon!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

School Supply List

Here is a copy of the supply list for Primary STRETCH. That includes grades 1-3.

1- clear view (front pocket) 1 in. binder

1- ream white copy paper

1- sturdy plastic pocket folders (green, red, blue)

1- composition notebook*

1- spiral notebook/wide ruled (with pockets)*

1- 8” x 5” plastic art box *

1- set of Prang watercolor paints*

2- boxes of 24 crayons

1- set of 8 washable classic colored markers

1- set of colored pencils

4- boxes #2 pencils (sharpen 1 box if possible)

2- pink erasers

4- glue sticks

1- bottle of rubber cement

1- 12 in. wood ruler (in./cm.)*

1- pair of Fiskars scissors*

1- box of facial tissues

* Please write name with permanent marker

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Greetings

Hi everyone! I have missed you, and have enjoyed the chance encounters I have had so far this summer running into students when we are out and about. Even though it's summer, I have been working hard attending meetings and doing staff development. We will be moving to a new classroom this fall, and right now it is a mess! Soon I will be posting supply lists and class information. I may even be able to show you what our new classroom looks like. I hope you are all having fun and playing outside a lot. Remember to read and I will see you soon!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Dr. Seuss Day

Today is the birthday of a beoved author and illustrator, Dr. Seuss. Our class celebrated his birthday, as well as had our compliment party by wearing pajamas and slippers all day at school. Students were treated to a Dr. Seuss lunch with green eggs and ham.

We did many different activities in class to commemorate this great man. Students listened to The Cat and the Hat book and completed a writing prompt about how they would react if the Cat visited their house. I also created a packet of activities filled with puzzles and information. During indepedent work time, students could choose from a list of activities including listening to a book on tape, jigsaw puzzles, board games, Suessville.com online, a crossword puzzle, and others.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Writing Friendly Letters

Today in Writing Workshop we learned about how to write Friend'y Letters. Students used this time to practice their new knowledge to send a thank you letter to Dr. Jay thanking him for his visit a week ago. I am very happy with the thought and care that the children put into their letters to him. I am sure he will be pleased to receive them soon.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chinese New Year

Today we had a guest speaker who taught the students about Chinese New Year. They enjoyed hearing about the beast who was afraid of the color red, and practiced saying some words and phrases in Chinese. Learning about another culture and their customs was intriguing to the students and we are grateful to our parent volunteer who shared about his family's life.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Dr. Jay

We have been working on learning about teeth as part of our latest project. Dr. Jay came and visited our classroom to help us answer questions we had about our mouths and teeth. We learned that we should brush our teeth in small circles, molars are prone to getting cavities and that teeth are stronger than bones.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Colts Pep Rally

The school had a pep rally to cheer on the Colts at the Superbowl. It was fun

to see almost everyone dressed in their blue and white.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Flat Stanley

Students in our class took home a Flat Stanley over winter break, and have been returning him complete with some great adventures and stories. Apparently Stanley has visited lots of places recently.

First we sent him off with Mrs. Williams when she traveled to Hawaii. He had lots of fun kayaking, water sliding, tubing, and going on a zipline through the jungle. Then he was off to visit some new friends in New Jersey. He had lots of fun in their kindergarten class.

Flat Stanley also did a lot with our students here in town. He made cookies, slid down banisters, played with the family pets, went to Sam's Club, played piano, visited a poinsettia farm, and even met Santa Claus when he was delivering presents.

He also took some trips out of town and went skiing, before heading off to Panama City beach.

I know Stanley is up for more adventures, and we can't wait to hear what else he has been doing on his travels.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Teeth Drawings

This week for project work we did observational drawings of our own mouths. Students used mirrors to draw their teeth as best they could. Some of them counted their teeth to make sure the correct number was included in their depictions.

Students also worked on conducting surveys within our own class and have come up with many questions they are working to answer in the coming weeks.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Help for Haiti

For the remainder of January and throughout the month of February, Mary Castle will be donating 100% of the proceeds collected through Box Top’s to help with the relief of Haiti. Please continue collecting your Box Top’s and attach them to the form that will be coming home with your child. For each form you return to Mary Castle, $1.00 will be collected for assistance and relief. What a great opportunity to get involved and help make a difference in the countless lives of those that need our help the most. Thank you for your support!

Also we will work with the Red Cross an international organization as we collect coins and donations from our students, staff and parents. Beginning next week we will have Spirit Days in which students can participate by making donations of any amount. A penny, any coin or amount is appreciated.

Tues. Jan. 19th Hats Day
Wed. Jan. 20th TEAM Day
Thurs. Jan. 21st Slippers and Socks Day (Bring these items to school to wear in the classroom)
Fri. Jan. 22nd Mis-Match Day

Friday, January 29th we will sell popcorn for 25 cents. Our first Popcorn Friday will be organized by the students in Pam Hasse’s classroom.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Today we began discussion about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was. We read a book about why we celebrate this important holiday and I reminded the children we would not be in school on Monday. We also talked extensively about how things have changed, how they used to be versus today. This is usually a very hard concept to understand since the students don't have much experience with prejudice. We also watched a video that was given to me by a parent years ago called "Our Friend Martin" It shows some very realistic and sad portayals of what life was like and could have been like had Dr. King not changed things. I talked about the events in the movie several times, and stopped at two points to emphasize what I wanted them to understand. We will be discussing Dr. King in more depth next week as well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Place Value

We have started a new unit in Math Workshop on place value. Place value is part of number sense, and helps us understand counting, writing, and grouping numbers. It will provide a foundation for students to work with bogger numbers as we learn double digit addition and subtraction.

For this unit we will be using a Marilyn Burns Replacement unit. It is very hands on, and has a lot of writing in it as well. So far we have talked about the 0-99 chart and patterns the children have noticed. They have practiced different grouping strategies, with an emphasis on grouping by tens. Yesterday we learned how to play two new menu math games: Cover a Flat and $ Signs. The first is played much like Race for a Dollar and involves rolling a die and exchanging groups of 10 cubes for a stick worth the same amount. Whoever can get 10 sticks to trade in for a flat wins the game. $ Signs has the children using the clock to time 1 minute increments, and then counting the $ signs they draw in that amount of time. Counting is done two different ways and is encouraged to be grouped in tens once again. We will be learning other games in the weeks to come to practice these skills.

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