First graders have been studying towns, focusing on what a town needs and wants. They also discussed how towns are planned, with residential and commercial areas. Students partnered up to create a plan, then an actual town map. Now, social studies marries word study. The city planners are using everything they know about long and short vowels and vowel teams to label all parts of their creations. Soon, their masterpieces will grace the bulletin boards outside the first grade classrooms. Be prepared to be impressed!
This week, first grade students were introduced to the grade level core work, "The Little House" by Virginia Lee Burton. This classic book is as relevant today as it was when originally published in 1942. The story is a timeline of events demonstrating the relationship between nature and humankind. The main character, the little house, is presented in the beginning of the story as feeling happy and curious while living in the countryside. She watches her environment change around her and experiences sadness while witnessing her surroundings urbanize. The story invites the reader to consider how progress affects us including, what really makes us happy? What does a community want and need? These are questions that first graders will be grappling with throughout the spring.
First graders are learning to be the boss of their own reading. When you're the boss of your own reading, you STOP at the first sign of trouble! When readers come to a tricky word and think they have solved it, they should triple-check! Readers do a slow check to see if the word’s letters match the sounds they make (looks right), they listen to see if the word sounds right, and they think about if that word would make sense in the story. First grade students are also learning they can be the boss of their own reading by thinking about what is happening in the story. They are focusing on retelling by using clues like who, what,and where, as well as prompts like first, then, next, and last to be sure they retold the story well. Ask your child to retell their favorite story or talk about a book they read for reading homework!
First graders are just beginning a writing unit on poetry. The unit began with a discussion about how to see with poets’ eyes followed by examining different objects. We encouraged students to go slowly and notice the little details before sketching and writing about what they saw. This week, first graders examined poems to learn how poems look and sound different than prose. They are beginning to understand that poems may but do not have to rhyme. As a part of this unit of study, these young authors are sharpening their observation skills and stretching their vocabularies. They will learn that poets can pack a lot of meaning into a few well-chosen words. If you or your child has a favorite poem or book of poetry, please feel free to share with us!
This week, the focus of the first grade study of community shifted from the Primary School to the larger area of Montclair. We began with a conversation about wants vs. needs and considered that not all people have the comforts of home and food. A walking trip to Toni’s Kitchen, a few blocks from the Primary School, showed first graders one way that citizens, no matter how small, can help others. This year, MKA first graders made the contribution of a handmade Valentine’s Day centerpiece to help brighten up the tables for the upcoming holiday meals at Toni's Kitchen. The students were warmly received by the staff and given a private tour of the facility. Most impressive to many of the children were the very large-sized pots and bowls! The students asked several pertinent questions about how Toni’s Kitchen helps less fortunate members of the Montclair community.
A few weeks ago, first graders created maps of the Primary School to study what the physical space looks like and how our community uses it. Now they are wondering: what are the jobs of the people in our Brookside community? How does each job help our community? Each classroom chose five adults to interview. First graders learned how to ask a good question to find out lots of information. They learned that a good question usually begins with who, what, where, when, why, or how. First graders thought about four questions to ask each person in order to learn about his or her job. During the interviews, students also learned about what kind of training is needed for a job and how this person helps our community run smoothly. After interviewing, each group made a poster about the community member to teach their audience more about Brookside.
Even though the SSDA has decided first graders are trained and ready for Phonics Duty, we are always on the hunt for new letter patterns. They recently received a letter challenge to turn the word JUNK into GOLD while studying vowel and ending blends. First graders solved clues like, “Change the first letter of ‘junk’ to make a type of bed with a ladder.” During this challenge, they studied words with ending blends like unk, and, old, and ald. First graders are going to be on the hunt for these types of endings in their books so they can blend the sounds together smoothly.
As we shared in last week’s Bulletin, first graders were working towards their goal of reading 200 pages per class in the course of work. Their reward for their hard work, which was decided upon by the students, was a board game afternoon, and we are happy to announce that all three first grade classes reached their goal! Students were invited to bring in a board game from home or play a game from the classroom. Favorites were CandyLand, Monopoly, Checkers, Twister, and Chutes & Ladders. Everyone enjoyed the experience, which was even more special because it was not just a gift but an earned activity through their hard work!
In writing, first graders have been learning how to use opinion and persuasive writing to convince a reader. They began working on forming opinions and creating strong reasons in debates like which is better: pizza or tacos? indoor or outdoor recess? winter or summer? First graders learned that first, you must have a strong hook to get your reader interested in your topic. Next you share your opinion, and finally you create many reasons to convince your reader. Students have learned that it is important to have clear reasons, many examples, and even a counter argument to make your opinion writing strong. They decided to put their skills to the test and wrote a letter to Ms. Geringer- Dunn, attempting to convince her that if each class could read 200 pages over the course of several independent reading times, they should earn a games afternoon! Students are excited and motivated to meet this challenge.
On an unrelated note, please send your child into school with a paper towel roll by 1/22 for a new math project: The Number Scroll Project! We will be working on Number Scrolls aiming to count all the way up to 1,000 by the end of the school year. The scrolls will be stored in the paper towel roll you provide. Thank you!
First graders hit the ground running in 2020! They began a math unit on place value, focusing on the tens and ones places. Although this is a difficult concept, they are building understanding through several games. Using base-ten blocks, students have been playing games where they actually trade ten-unit cubes for a long, or ten cubes fused together. They also played guessing games where they used their knowledge of place value to guess a mystery number. In a fun, engaging atmosphere, students built some serious understanding of tens units by creating groups of ten.