Monthly Archives: January 2015

Reading Update!

This week in reading workshop, we introduced reading book clubs.  We separated the kids into groups and each book club group member had a Scholastic Newspaper dealing with the same topic as the other members of their group.  We had book clubs studying People, Animals, Economics, Sports, Firefighters, Presidents, & Dental Hygiene.

Each day, we spent a segment of our reading workshop time with our groups in order to learn as much as we could from our nonfiction topics that week.  Each day, the book club members had a new goal or two and had to work together to complete their tasks.  They spent time warming up together, coaching each other through tricky words, sharing interesting facts from their texts, and comparing and contrasting what they had learned from their topic and the other topics in our room.

Here’s a peek at some of their thoughts from this past week:

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Math Update!

During our math time this week we continued to study LARGE, TWO-DIGIT numbers.  In particular, we used the greater than, less than, and equal to symbols ( >, <, = ) to compare these numbers.  When we compare numbers, we stressed the importance of building each number with ten sticks and ones to easily identify which number has more tens.  If both numbers have the same amount of tens, then we can compare the ones to find the greater number.  Our first graders quickly noticed that the greater than and less than signs look like a “hungry mouth” ready to gobble up which ever number is greatest.

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Just be careful… don’t let number like: 29 & 92 or 45 & 54 or 78 & 87 – trick you!!!  Build those numbers and pay attention to the tens!!!  Please review this concept with your first grader, if you notice him or her getting a little confused on the homework.

This week we also practiced adding ones numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) together, and tens numbers (10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90) together.  Our first graders worked hard to notice which numbers they were working with so they could accurately represent each equation.  In order to prove our work, we used ten sticks and circles to help us find the missing total.

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Social Studies Update!

We read the book, “The Little House” and talked about how the land around us can change. The students were shocked to see the transformation from a little house in the country to an entire city being built up around it.  We talked about how our environment around us has changed: houses built, trees cut down or trees planted, roads paved, etc.

We introduced the word “adapt” to the students– getting used to something new/making a change to fit our needs, this led us into our last lesson about adapting to different situations. We discussed the birds and squirrels living in the trees in our backyards. Then the students were told that those trees were being cut down! We talked about what would happen to the birds and the squirrels that lived there. The students came up with the ideas that they would have to move- and they couldn’t stay in that yard anymore. We call that “adapting” or changing. We talked about how we have four different seasons and we do different things to adapt during each of them.

Winter: Wear a winter coat, Shovel the sidewalk, Turn up the heat, Wear hats and gloves

Spring: Open windows, Plant flowers, Use umbrellas

Summer: Swim, Eat popsicles, Use fans and air conditioning, Wear sunscreen

Fall: Wear sweaters, Rake the leaves, Go apple picking, Drink cider

We wrapped up our Geography unit here at school but we will keep practicing those addresses! Continue working on your home address with your child!

Social Studies Update!

In Social Studies this week we continued practicing our address! We talked about how each person has a special place on the Map. Our Special place is our address. We each practiced writing and saying our addresses. There are 3 lines that help make up our address:

First and Last Name

House Number and Street Name

City, State, and Zip Code

Our next lesson was discussing objects that were man-made or nature-made.  We looked at a bunch of different pictures of man-made items and nature-made items and sorted them into two piles. Man-Made and Nature-Made. We talked about what was nature-made or if an object was man-made and how we knew. We talked about how most nature made things can fall into two different groups: WATER or LAND.  We then talked about a few different kinds of landforms and bodies of water:  river, lake, ocean, plain, mountain, and forest.  We know that each of these things are nature made.

Reading Update!

We started off the past week of nonfiction reading by focusing on how we are learning so much from our nonfiction books.  And when we learn something new, sometimes it opens up a new question for us.  We gave the example of when we shared about storms on Jupiter being worse than storms on earth, it made us wonder, “What do those storms look like?”  We were able to grab a book and show a picture of the hurricane on Jupiter that makes the red spot on the planet.  And, when we shared about how sharks take a test bite before they eat their food, it made us wonder, “Does the test bite kill the animal, or will it survive?”  There were lots of kids who were throwing out their thoughts to try and answer our questions, but we decided we would have to do some more reading to find out what really happens.  We’ll keep working on adding these questions in while we track our thinking.

We also talked about how when we are reading nonfiction books, we come across tricky words.  Sometimes the words themselves are tricky to decode and sometimes the words can be decoded, but it is a new vocabulary word that we don’t know.  If we have a tricky word to decode, we reviewed all our animal friend decoding strategies:

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But, we also talked about how nonfiction books are a little different from fiction books when it comes to decoding.  To help with tricky words, it is important to focus on what that section is trying to teach and then reread the section, look at the picture, and even check the glossary for clues!

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Writing Update!

In Writer’s Workshop, we are continuing to make our how to writing better and better.  We are also having so much fun acting out our how-to directions and revising with our partners!!!  Here are some of the things we know to add to our writing…

– Title (How-To Make Your Bed)


– Materials or Ingredients


– Steps (First, Second, Next, Finally)


– Teaching Pictures with LABELS


And our newest addition… an introduction! The introduction can let you know what you are going to be learning about and maybe some interesting fun facts about. You could also share about a time you tried it or how you feel about it. We used the sentence starters “You will learn…” or “I will teach you…” to help us write our introductions.

Example Introduction (How to Draw a Dog Face):

“Have you ever wanted to draw a dog face? I will teach you how! Good luck!”


As our first graders have been writing their how to stories, a few of our friends have been running out of ideas. Our partners have been helping us brainstorm some ideas of things we know how to do, but feel free to help your first grader brainstorm at home as well!!!  Just talk to your first grader about things they are really good at and jot them down on a piece of paper for them to add to their Writing Folder!

Math Update!

Our first grade mathematicians studied some LARGE, TWO-DIGIT numbers this week — some of the biggest numbers that we’ve worked with so far this year!  We noticed that every 2-digit number has a place to show the tens hiding inside along with a place to show the extra ones.  We also represented these numbers using ten sticks and circles, and wrote an equation to match our work.

Since we were working with two digit numbers, we spent a lot of time counting tens and ones this week too.  We were able to do this practice using ten sticks and circles, the number path on our whiteboards, and boxes/jars of objects.  Our first graders learned to count the tens first and then “freeze” before counting up the extra ones.  Taking the time to “freeze” is an important strategy that helps our students recognize when it’s time to switch from counting by 10s to 1s.

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We can tell that our first graders are really beginning to understand the place value of these larger numbers!!!