Monthly Archives: April 2015

Week 32!

Looks like a beautiful week ahead and perfect weather for Mileage Club!

We will likely be finishing up our plant observations this week too.  For our experiment, we have been observing two plants to learn more about the relationship between plants and sunlight. One plant was watered and left in the sunlight and another was placed in a closet with no light or water. We have checked our plants over the past two weeks, recording our observations in our science logs.  We have just two more recording days to go!!!

April 29 – Library Day


May 1 – All School Backwards Day

Wear your clothes backwards or inside out.

May 1 – Popcorn Day

**If the popcorn machine is working.**

Just a few more days left in the second MobyMax competition!  Make sure to log-in and practice every day this week if you can!!!

Our zoo trip is a few weeks away and we are excited.  Read the following letter to learn more about this trip! Thank you!! Zoo Information Letter

Reading Update!

We jumped back into reading workshop this week by helping ourselves get ready to read new books by first asking what we already knew about our topic before reading. When we pulled out a new book, we asked ourselves, “What do I already know?” This helps get our mind ready to make connections to new ideas.  We spent time comparing the books in our ‘topic bags’ and really thinking about the facts we were learning.  They were able to find examples in multiples books that taught the same information, so they knew that fact must be true.  We were able to share with our partners about things we had learned.

As we are learning new information on our topics, we want to keep track of our thinking. Our books were filled with post it notes marking pages to show new learning and the kids had a blast sharing all this new information with the class.

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Way to go first graders!!  I can’t wait to see what fascinating topics you will study next week!


Writing Update!

During our writing time this past week our first graders studied some of the text features that authors often include in their nonfiction books.

Nonfiction books frequently have a conclusion at the end to summarize the big ideas.  We learned how to add a conclusion that shared how our topic is important/interesting and encouraged our reader to care about our topics the way we love our topics.

“Plants are important because they give us air to breathe.  Why don’t you plant a tree in your backyard!”

We also noticed that many nonfiction books include a glossary to define some of the  vocabulary.  We transformed some of the important words in our books to bold print and shared these words and their meaning in our own glossaries.


Finally, some of our first grade chose to add a quiz to the end of their books as a way to check their readers’ understanding of all the facts that have been taught.

These books are really starting to come together and truly teach some AMAZING facts!!  Next week we will organize a table of contents to go at the beginning of our books and start revising to make our writing even better!

Science Update!

Our scientists have been busy learning about the SUN and WEATHER! We have taken a closer look at the changes that we can notice in our daily weather: wind, temperature, precipitation, and cloud cover.

With Temperature, we discussed a thermometer and the seasons in depth! We ended this lesson by coloring a thermometer.  We talked about the numbers that match temperatures that are hot, warm, cool, and cold.  New vocabulary: thermometer, Fahrenheit, degrees.

With Clouds, our scientists learned about cloud cover. There are four categories of cloud cover: clearpartly cloudycloudy, and foggy. We identified each of these categories with a picture. We studied different kinds of precipitation: rain, snow, hail, and freezing rain.

Lastly, we covered Wind. With this lesson, we read a short book about wind… then we headed right outside!! Once outside, we tried out our very own pinwheels!  It happened to be quite a windy afternoon when we ventured out and the kids squealed with delight as they watched their pinwheels race!  We talked about the speed and the direction of the wind.  We also talked about how wind is invisible and how pinwheels aren’t the only tool that we can use to see the wind.  The kids right away noticed the trees and bushes moving, as well as the ripples on the pond, the flag, our hair and clothing moving, goose bumps on their skin…the list kept going!

We have also learned that plants need sunlight in order to live!  We are finishing up our plant observation– we have been closely watching a plant that we water and keep in the sunlight and another that is in a bag in the cupboard, with no light.  We have looked at the different plants over multiple days noticing what happens when a plant is not given sunlight or water!  The kids pointed out that the leaves turn brown, the plant gets crispy, the stems and leaves droop, and it doesn’t look as nice!!

Save the Fish!

…let me explain.   As one of our ‘reduce what we use’ conversations this week, we talked about electricity.  I drew a diagram for the kids to see how some energy plants are built on bodies of water.  We talked about how these plants use the cold water from the lakes to cool down their machinery and then dump the hot water back into the lake.  I explained how the hot water wasn’t good for the fishies and sometimes it killed them.   So, we figured that, if we use less electricity and remember to shut off lights when we leave a room, the power plants won’t have to make as much electricity and we can save some fish!  (It is easier for kids to worry about killing fish than about wasting electricity)

So, our first graders are now saying, “Save the fish!” every time they turn off the lights…come on, are you smiling yet?  :)

Week 31!

What a fantastic week with some beautiful weather too!!!  It is so nice to go out for recess without any coats.  We have been loving the new GaGa Pit on our playground and Mileage Club has also begun.  Our study of weather this week will take us outdoors to learn about precipitation, wind, clouds and temperature… as long as the weather cooperates!

April 22 – Library Day


April 22 – Earth Day


April 22 – Marco’s Pizza Night


April 22 or 23 – Unit 6: Math Assessment


April 23 – Georgetown Artist Reception Night

(Hudsonville City Hall @ 5:30)

Be sure to check out the AMAZING student artwork at the HPS Art Show.  The artwork is being showcased at the Hudsonville City Hall from 8am to 5pm each day from April 20 to April 28.

And….Don’t forget to fill out our quick zoo field trip survey by April 23rd!!  Thank you!!

Writing Update!

This week during Writer’s Workshop we jumped right back into our nonfiction books. We began the week reviewing all that we’ve learned!  First we pick a topic that we are an expert in.  Then, we brainstorm five facts that we know about that topic.  We use teaching pictures (labels, captions, zoomed in details, and direction arrows) and add our fact and an extra detail on each page of our book.

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This week we also discussed the importance of using headings on each page of our writing. A heading gives our audience an idea of what they are going to learn about on that page.

To end the week, we learned that we need an introduction to hook our readers into reading our books. We began our introduction with a question or an interesting fact, so our audience will want to keep on reading!

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Our first graders have loved using all of the facts they’ve learned about their fascinating topic during Reader’s Workshop to help them write new “All About” books during our writing time.  We can’t wait to explore more nonfiction text features next week!

Math Update!

For the last few weeks, we have created graphs and made comparisons during our math switch time.  As our expertise grew, so did our graphs! Instead of comparing just two groups of objects, most of our graphs now compare three categories of data, like the graph below:

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We are always trying to make comparisons between the data in each category (group) by finding the MAGIC NUMBER. With three groups it’s a little harder to find the difference especially when comparing the top category of data with the bottom category of data. If we use a pencil to cover up the extra information, finding the MAGIC NUMBER is a breeze.

The rest of our time was spent solving comparison stories. Our first graders learned a new strategy called: COMPARISON BARS. Comparison bars are a visual tool for solving stories in which two amounts are compared and the difference (magic number) is either known or unknown. Check out the examples below:

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Thank you for helping your child use comparison bars on his or her homework pages this week. Be sure to check their work. This new strategy is tricky and sometimes our first graders are unsure about where the known information should go. (If the magic number or the difference is known, the information always goes inside the circle.) We will review more comparison stories next week and then we will wrap up Unit 6 with an assessment.

Reading Update!

In Reader’s Workshop, we have continued becoming experts on the topics we are reading about! The students have each picked a topic that interests them and then filled a bag with books that focus on that big idea.  Some of the books from their topic are nonfiction and some are fiction.  The first graders spend time each day reading through the books on their topic to see what they can learn and teach others about their topic.

Early in the week, we noticed that when we read our fiction stories, even though we know these stories aren’t true stories, we can find true facts within the stories.  We shared some facts that we learned from our fiction stories and noticed that some we knew were true because we had read about it in another text, heard someone talk about it, or we had experienced it ourselves before.  Some of the facts seemed true, but we weren’t quite sure.  So, we decided that we would need to do some more research in the other books from our topic and see if we could find any other books that shared that same information.  These little first grade researchers had a blast digging into their books to see what they could find.

We then spent time sharing how some of the books we were reading were alike. We made text to text connections to share our thinking.

“The book Hi, Fly Guy reminds me of the book Diary of a Fly because I learned that flies like to eat gross foods in both books.”

We have had the chance to allow our ‘local experts’ to share some of the facts that they have learned and as they share their cool facts, they are also sparking interest in their classmates. The first graders have all had a chance to pick more than one area of expertise and we will continue with this unit of reading for a few more weeks.  Be sure to ask your student about the topics they have studied so far, what they have learned, and what they might want to pick for their next area of expertise!