Sunday, October 26, 2014

Getting ready for our Halloween party, and other interesting work...

Hello Families!

The students have a name and now they have been coordinating thier first party.  There is so much learning involved in doing all this themselves!  It has been fun to hear what ideas each students share, and also when someone shares an especially interesting idea, how excited the others become.  This is where they begin to build on the idea so that it is no longer just one student's idea, but a collective creation.

The students learn about how much work it can be, (and how rewarding this work is!) as they plan and implement all the preparations for a party.  They learn organizational skills and the ability to compromise and understant the greater needs, with the knowledge that even if we don't get every decision our way, we will still have a lot of fun!

Here are some of the pages that will give you a sneak peak.  I think I did not take a photo of the page of committees.  I hope your child can share which one (or more) they offered to be in, or you can come into class next week!

We began with brainstorms, then once we agreed on a theme: "Stormy Monster Party!", then we identified activities that had sounded interesting during the brainstorm phase, seemed do-able in the short amount of time we have, and go with the theme.

I realized that I did not take a more recent photo of how they agreed to the food and decor, so that will also be suspensful!  If your child is on the decoration committee, they can tell you all they have already worked on.  Each committee has a handful of work started from this week.  If you get a chance, please bring your child in to class to look through it and have them share more about their group's process!  Here are some of the committees that met last week:
The sign up committee (you saw their handiwork attached to the weekly email)
The board game committee
The card game committee
The Sacry Magical Fishing Pool Game committee
The decoration committee
The stage committee
The Monsters In The World committee

I LOVE that they wanted to have a Social Studies inspired activity station.  This will be the "Monsters In The World" station where you draw your monster, then either glue it to a photo of a place in the world, or you draw that place as the background!  These kids are really interested in other place, and I feel lucky to share the excitement of learning about other people, places and cultures.

Field Trip Practice:
We used a walk to the park for snack as a great segue into discussing how to act on a field trip.  Before leaving campus, we created a word web from the ideas students shared.

We were thinking a lot about safe practices, but also about how to be polite and respectful out in public.That day we went to the park and had a lovely day.  We are lucky to have our new co-teacher- Emma, so I captured a shot of the class with her!  I look forward to working with her, as she is very positive and upbeat.  I hope you will each take a moment to meet her in the next weeks.

To solitify our thinking and learning, we journaled about the safety and behavior ideas for field trips.  The class as a whole identified some great points!  I love how many of them are utilizing different organizational forms to help them share more info in their illustrations!  You can see evidence of our investigations of diagrams and word webs!

Math Talks:
All thist talk about grouping quantities is paying off!  The students have been sharing that they are moving the dots around in their head to try to goup them into quantities they know, or can manipulate better.  This combines with our discussions about doubles lately (and even triples!).  For instance, the kids might move dots to make groupings of fours if they know that the double of four is eight, and that will get them up to their number faster.  I hope you will check out the notes to see what each student saw, or how they explained how they got to the quantity.  This skill will help them a lot when they begin to excounter larger numbers!

Another activity the students enjoy, which is easy for you to play at home is called Grasshopper.  You can tailor this to your child's needs.  It helps them become faster in their math facts memorization.  Here are some ways we play:
Doubles, less than or more than, addition, subtraction equations.
This game and others that are fun and education come from the books by Peggy Kaye, called, Games For Math, Games For Writing and Games For Reading.  When I purchased them used they were very cheap, and have added a lot of fun to our routine!

The students are really enjoying this time together.  We take small moments throughout the week to meet and document the answers to some of the questions on our double sided questionaire.  As the students finish this phase, they will begin practicing using the page to help them present about thier partner.  They will also begin to think about what info to include on the poster!

We also asked some of our interview questions to our eighth grade buddies this week!

Our next field trip will offer us activities to learn more about insects.  For this reason, I changed some of the areas in our room- also to up the ante on the learning and topics of learning.

Here are some of the students' initial questions to help us direct our research:
10/22/14 Questions about insects, butterflies and spiders
Patrick- I wonder why you can’t see the eyes of insects?
Lucy- I want to know about spiders- why do black widows have a red spot on their back?
Brianna- Why do ladybugs have dots?
Kirana- Why do rolly-pollies roll into balls?
Katarina- How do spider webs stick?
Patrick – How spiders make their silk?
William- How bumblebees can see prisms?
Owen- Do all spiders have hourglasses?
Ryan- How ladybugs make their wings into a shell around them?
Liam- What do black widows eat?
Malakai- How spiders make their webs?
Brett- Why spiders have 8 legs?
Abigail- Why some bugs like to eat animal poop?
Piper- Why are some bugs so small?
Clare- Why do Junebugs only come out in June?
Veronica- Why ants are so small?
Rachel- Why bugs come in different colors?
Bayley- Why some insects camouflage?
Micah- What do black widows have?
Jack- Why can butterflies still live after they lose a body part?
Saul- Why can little spiders not really bite you, but big spiders can?
Maste- Why do spiders like to bite people?
Katrin- When you touch a butterfly’s wings why do you get dust on your fingers?
Erin- What is the difference between a centipede and a millipede?
Jennifer- What makes spiders make different web designs?  Does the weather make a difference?  How do they know to make these shapes- instinct?  Does the prey they are trying to catch make them make a different design?

So much to share and time flies as it takes forever to upload photos.  I won't show photos of our fun Experiment Friday, this week, but please feel free to ask for me to put them on slide show mode for you before or after school!  Love, Jennifer

PS Here are the links to the experiments.  Thank you to Marina for finding and sourcing the materials for us.  Thanks to Adam and Katrin for helping to make it happen and to all three for being so patient, gracious and for asking thougtful questions.


  1. I love you and I had fun this week. We went camping this weekend and went on hikes. I hope you have a good day with us tomorrow. - love Veronica.

  2. How exciting, Veronica! Thanks for writing each week and spreading your love! If you would like, I am sure the friends at school would be interested if you shared about your camping trip. Email me photos to go with the share, if you have them or want! Have a relaxing night!

  3. So many exciting things happening! It has been so much fun to hear all about Katarina's day and then to see it on the blog :) looking forward to this week!
    Thank you!

  4. Sounds like a super fun and informative week! No wonder Ryan loves school so much! Thank you Jennifer!