Welcome back! Our second year together has had an amazing start and the students and I are excited to share our learning and experiences with you. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts with us as well. Enjoy exploring!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

We love Jan Brett!

This past week we started our first author study of the year on Jan Brett. It is the perfect time of year to dive into the winter wonderlands that she creates in books such as, "The Mitten" (my favorite, "The Hat" and "The Three Snow Bears". So far we have learned that Jan Brett knew that she wanted to be an illustrator since she was young. She loved making scenes in books so detailed that what she imagined and pictured in her mind could actually exist. The kids have been learning little facts about her as we read her stories and have been doing a really great job comparing the books to one another to discover what are some similarities and differences between them.
I have added a link on the right side of the blog to Jan Brett's website. There are some online games and interactive and printable coloring pages that the kids may like to investigate.
Have fun!

Friday, December 3, 2010

We're Back!

We had a great first week back after Thanksgiving!
We've been busy in math beginning a new round of work places about money, trading coins, and writing number sentences. The students are doing a really great job working in partners and teaming up to solve problems. Coming home today is a math game that the students learned the week before Thanksgiving. The game is all about trying to make it as close to 50 without "busting" and going over. You will quickly learn that it is a game of strategy and it has been interesting to hear their different approaches and why they pick certain cards. Ask them to share their reasoning with you!
In reading we are continuing to "Stop and Jot" when we make observations from our books. This week we talked about how readers notice when something unexpected happens in a story. To help us understand this concept, we read "Little Red Riding Hood" and discussed how it is unexpected for a wolf to talk and dress up as a grandmother. It was great to see the students enjoy such a classic fairytale. Coming home today is also an update on the new plan for bringing books home. I would like the students to be able to keep the books for a few days and this way if for some reason we do not meet as a reading group they still have books from school to read. Next week will be the first week that we try this and my goal is that each Monday they can get a new collection of "Just Right" books to share with you. I am trying to keep it simple by having the return day be the same day as Library (Thursday).
Monday was the beginning of a new writing unit and the focus in the beginning of the unit is learning how to write a friendly letter. The kids are doing really well with this and seem to be really enjoying it! They have been writing to friends, family, and even some teachers. A really fun book that we read to help us get excited about writing letters is "The Jolly Postman" by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. I am not sure if you are familiar with it, but the book has actual envelopes and removable letters that the kids had a blast listening to. I can't count how many times I heard, "Read that letter Ms. Stein!".
This week was also the beginning of our new science theme unit on matter. Much like the unit on senses, the lessons are broken down into workshop form. This means that all four Synergy classes are mixed together and rotate through each workshop taught by a different teacher. My station is on mixing a liquid, such as laundry soap or corn syrup, with water and seeing what the outcome is. The students have to make close observations of what it looks like before and after shaking the bottle, as well as after it has settled for a bit. Again, this called for partner work and each student worked with someone from another class and grade. The first graders definitely stepped up to the plate and the second graders are great role models, it is really fun to see them all work together!
We were very busy today with having both Four Winds and Friday Explore. The Four Winds lesson was on prey and predators, which the students loved! They got to see a "live" squirrel and coyote and learn the saying, "Eyes are in front, go and hunt. Eyes on the side, run and hide". They also got to play a tag game and do an acting activity where they played either the prey or predator.
For Friday Explore the students got to pick between making snowflakes with Mrs. Eaton, Food Drive posters with Ms. Rogers, a Tic-Tac-Toe game in Ms. Kate's room, play in the Kiva or spend time outside. Again, it is great to see all of Synergy mix and mingle!

I am keeping my fingers crossed for some snow this weekend--have fun!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wow! Hard to believe we are already coming up on the half-way mark in November. Boy, does the time fly when you're having fun in first grade!

The kids have been busy in math making a sea star quilt and crab chart to help in counting by 5's and 10's. Their math artwork is both beautiful AND useful! When discussing the final product the students made really remarkable connections to patterning and counting. By knowing that there are 10 legs on one crab and 21 crabs on the chart, the kids worked together to discover that there are 210 legs in all--we called this a "ground breaking observation".
Also in math they have been learning how to "Justify Why" and back up their thinking with because. They get so excited when they hear someone explain why and we get to add a star to the Justify poster, it is really great to see. The poster that is up for respecting others' thinking time and math connections is also getting quite filled up with stickers, which means I have a class of respectful mathematicians!

We are wrapping up our first writing unit on Personal Narratives. They have been working very hard on having clear beginnings, middles, and ends, with capitals and punctuation. We have a "punctuation station" in the classroom where there are three commonly used marks; a period for the end of a telling sentence, an exclamation point for the end of an exciting sentence, and a question mark to ask a question. We have also been on the look-out for these while we are reading and boy are they quick to find them! Last week we also began to discuss how to "jazz up" our writing pieces with verbs and adjectives. The kids came up with quite the list of verbs, there were suggestions from luge to jogging.

During Readers Workshop we have been working on reading to a partner, helping each other with your favorite reading strategy. It was amazing to see the students spread out around the room so actively listening to their partners read (there are pictures in the slide show below). We are also currently working on how to "stop and jot" something that you notice about the pictures or the words on a sticky note while you are reading. Today we discussed that readers notice how they react and feel when reading a story. We read Peter Reynolds' book, Ish (one of my favorites), and we stopped to discuss how we were feeling at different parts of the story. At one point an older sibling is picking on a younger sibling and someone said that they felt helpless. I was blown away with the list of feeling words they came up with.

Today was our kick off "Friday Workshops" where all of Synergy gets a chance to mix and mingle to do different activities throughout the team. Computers, clay-play, a trip outside, Kiva Explore...the options were all exciting and the kids did a great job making their choice in the morning and being flexible thinkers if their first choice filled up. We met as a team in the Kiva where the kids got to share compliments about a classmate that they noticed was representing one of the three school rules of being Safe, Kind, or Responsible. It was wonderful to hear the positivity and see all the hands that went up.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Field Trip, Harvest Fest and more!

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A fun-filled week!

This week may have been a short week, but boy was it an eventful and exciting one! To start off the week we had our first "Success Celebration". The students have been working really hard on cooperation and team work to be successful throughout the day. Each time I see an opportunity that became a success, I move a colorful stick into the success jar and it becomes a "success stick". Last Friday we earned the last of 10, so that meant a surprise on Monday! We celebrated our hard work by having a cookie at snack time and have now started again with 10 opportunities to work towards another surprise.

Not long after our treat, we left on Synergy's first field trip to The Flynn to see Harold and the Purple Crayon. The students were an amazing audience and really enjoyed the show! It was great to see the looks on their faces and hear their laughter at different parts of the play. Harold was very creative and used his imagination constantly throughout the show, so when we got back we reflected on what we had seen and wrote about our favorite parts. I was very impressed with the reflection writing and using the word, because, to support our explanations. You will see this writing piece in their folders this weekend! Look at the links to find a new

The events continued on Tuesday with the Harvest Festival. For lunch time the students got to go out to the garden to get their "Stone Soup" and bring it back to the classroom. The soup was a hit, most everyone that ate it, loved it! I even heard, "This is the best soup I have ever had!".

For a kick-off activity for our Families Unit today, the students learned about families from around the world and what they may eat and do together. We then thought about what we eat and like to do with our families and created these things out of Play Dough. The students were wonderful sculptures! Take a peek at the slide show to see what they made.

Have a great long weekend!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Photos finally!

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Eating Healthy and Keeping Active

We have just finished our first science unit about the Human Body! The students and I have been busy learning about the Five Senses and then we wrapped up with learning about how important it is to eat healthy and stay active. We took a class walk around the school to open up a discussion about fun activities to do to stay healthy and get exercise. The students came up with a long list of things they like to do, there were activities from jogging to luge.

A show called Food Play came, hosted by Hannaford, to teach the kids about how our bodies need something from every food group to stay healthy. The two characters were athletes, and very talented jugglers, and taught us sayings such as, "Read it, before you eat it". The students loved it!

The students also learned how to navigate the blog and find the healthy food games that are there. We played one together as a whole class and tried to get to Planet Power by making smart and healthy choices for meals throughout the day. The students did a great job looking at the different categories and filling up on energizing foods. This past week we started with our morning computer schedule for Ease-In time and each student was playing a healthy food game!

This week we will be beginning our first Social Studies unit about families and how families now are similar and different to families from long ago. In the next couple of weeks we will be having discussions and doing activities about the many kinds of families, family members and different family traditions. It will be all about family, family, family!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Our first month!

We have just finished our first month of first grade, if you can even believe it, and boy have we been busy doing a lot of fun learning and activities!

The past couple of weeks math time has been filled with learning about patterns, sorting things in many different ways, creating designs and shapes, and racing numbers. Last week the students worked in pairs to sort different math materials that they have been working with such as bugs, sea creatures, buttons, and frogs. I was astonished at how many ways everyone came up with to sort...71 the first day and 82 ways the second day! We decided that this is a class of master sorters.

We have also been hard at work learning about being respectful learners. This means we are doing really good listening when others are speaking and we are respecting everyone's ability to do their own thinking. This means as well, that we are giving everyone time to think and not yelling out answers. Boy, do we have a lot of respectful learners in this class, which is great because every time we see respect happen during math we get a sticker on our poster and once we've reached our goal a surprise will follow!

Writers Workshop has been going wonderfully. We have been really working on writing stories about things that we have done so that we can add a lot of details since it is something that actually happened. I shared with them a cooking fiasco story, I will let them fill you in on what happened, so that we could start brainstorming some ideas and talk about how our illustrations match the writing. We have also introduced two types of Author's Share; one is where we share in front of the whole class and the second is a "pair share". I was amazed at how well the students did reading their pieces to the class and explaining their work, they are naturals. Also, as audience members, the kids did wonderfully listening to the speaker and making positive comments or asking interesting questions. They also did great working with a partner and listening closely to what the other person had written (some pictures of this can be found in the slide show that will be following shortly).

For Readers Workshop the students are doing well using their book bins and making smart sitting choices for reading in their own space. The students also came up with a great list of reading strategies and what to do if you get "stuck". We are just starting to learn how to find "just right" books and Guided Reading lessons began today! You will start to see books coming home with them that we have read together and for them to read to you. We have talked about how becoming expert readers takes a lot of practice, but that they are well on their way already!

Lastly, we just completed our final Senses Workshop on Friday where the students mixed with the rest of Synergy and learned about the last sense, which was the sense of sight. We played a game of coseeki (they really love this one) and used tiny dots of sand paper to write our names in braille. The challenge if they finished early was to close their eyes and see if they could feel how many dots were in each letter, I was blown away by how they could feel the different dots. It was really great to see the first and second graders help each other throughout the activity--they did so well!

Stay tuned for the accompanying slide show, working out a tiny glitch and it should be up soon!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Beginning of a GREAT year!

We had a great beginning week of first grade, despite the really warm temperatures! We have been spending our time so far learning names, getting to know each other and the classroom routines, and of course doing fun activities.
We have already taken a trip to the library and discovered that as first graders, we are allowed to check out not only one book, but TWO! We also had a visit from Ms. Sumner for guidance class and met her friend Honey (the talking bee) who helped us learn the three new rules of Allen Brook --Be Safe, Be Kind, and Be Responsible.
We have also already had PE and Art, where we were reminded to bring in sneakers and smocks. The lockers are great places to keep these things so that they always have them.
For math class, we jumped right in and began exploring at workplaces with pattern blocks, polydrons, and linking cubes. I have posted some pictures below of their creative creations. We also played a fun game called Bugs on Board (students vs. teacher), and I am sure that the students remember who won!
During Readers Workshop we have been learning how to find books in the many locations around the room and how to put them back in the right bin so we can find books that we are looking for. We also have read some great books as a class, such as "The Golden Rule", which helped us begin a discussion about treating others the way you want to be treated. We have also spent time practicing quiet reading around the room and the pictures are also part of the slideshow below.
This week we are hoping to be able to spend a bit more time outside playing games with our class and some of our Synergy friends!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Hi first grade friends and families! 

I have been having a great time setting up the classroom for this upcoming year. I have been hard at work adding colorful paper to the walls, painting shelves and organizing some really fun books that are just waiting for some great readers to pick them up. Here is a sneak peek at the reading corner. 

I hope that you have been having a wonderful summer and have been enjoying the great weather we have had so far. Some of my favorite summer activities are swimming, biking and having BBQs. It has been a wonderful summer for this and I have had many great experiences. What are some things that you like to do during the summer? I am excited to hear about the adventures you have been having with families and friends!

This is now our classroom blog and will be something we use a lot this year to share our learning and fun activities with our families and friends. If you or your family would like to comment on a post, that is great, just click the "comments" link next to where it says "Posted by Ms Stein", write what you would like to share in the white box and click "Post Comment". I enjoy hearing what you have to say!

I am very excited to meet you so soon and begin a fun and exciting year filled with a lot of learning, activities and adventures!