PRE Specials Newsletter

January 2023


We had so much fun in the gym during 2nd quarter! I just love seeing the energy and excitement the kids bring every day! We started the quarter with striking stations. At each station students had different paddles or striking objects to use. I gave a challenge for each station and each one of them completed at least one station challenge!! It was great! I love seeing students face challenges with determination and confidence.

We also used this quarter to review scooter safety and students were able to demonstrate their understanding of scooter safety in a few new games we played. I am happy to report, no fingers were lost! 😊

We ended the quarter with Santa’s Workshop in the gym! Students completed challenges to earn an ornament for their tree to help Santa decorate. Thank you so much for all of the donated items to help decorate the gym. Also, thank you to all of those who were able to volunteer, I couldn’t have done it without you!

We had such a great quarter and I can’t believe we are halfway through the year! I am excited for another great quarter in the gym!

Tech Time

Second quarter in tech time was spent doing a lot of coding, designing and robotics! See below for a more detailed description of each grade level:

Kindergarten: I am SO PROUD of our Kinder Cougars for learning some key coding vocabulary (algorithm, sequence, decomposition, persevere) and learning about the problem solving it takes to solve coding puzzles. They have been introduced to a PRE favorite coding app: Code Spark and worked to complete puzzles to earn stars and earn the right to sign our “Code Spark Hall of Fame” wall! Students also explored Tynker Jr. which introduces students to a blockly code format. In addition to learning about coding basics, we’ve applied them to two robots: Code and Go Mouse and Blockly!

1st Grade: First graders worked on the same coding vocabulary as Kindergarten and built on that with the word debug. I really enjoyed seeing first graders step up to the challenge of solving harder and harder puzzles in Code Spark. We have MORE first graders who have signed our Hall of Fame wall than ANY other grade at PRE! Woohoo! We also worked on Tynker Jr to see the blockly code format. Students were able to use what they learned about coding to code our Blockly Robot to push ‘Snowballs’ and ‘Rock around the Christmas Tree!’

2nd Grade: Second graders also learned the coding vocabulary words (building consistency throughout all grades), and worked to persevere and problem solve through Code Spark levels. They were also introduced to another coding app called Kodable which they really enjoyed! Second graders got to apply their coding and problem-solving skills to some of our robots: Blockly and Dash!

3rd Grade: Third graders reviewed coding vocabulary and some favorite coding apps: Code Spark and Kodable. They were also introduced to Ozobot robots and line coding. We learned about symmetric and asymmetric codes and practiced making our own line codes! Towards the end of the semester our BRAND NEW OZOBOTS arrived, and we were SO EXCITED to use them! Thank you SO MUCH to our amazing PTO for purchasing a new set for us!!

4th Grade: Fourth graders took their coding to the next level and worked on a blockly code program on Students had to debug, figure out correct sequences and complete a program. They also used blockly coding to code our Dash robots! At the end of the quarter, we programmed all the robots to have the same moves in a holiday parade! They also completed the Grinch Hour of Code!

5th Grade: Fifth graders were able to log in to TinkerCAD which is an online computer aided design program where they are able to manipulate shapes & objects. They were able to design an object that they deemed purposeful and useful. I am working to print their designs on our 3D printers! Students were also able to use blockly code language to complete the Grinch Hour of Code!



Kindergarten music has been a flurry of instruments, rhythms, books, puppets, and giggles. We’ve continued working on keeping a steady beat – a truly important concept that will affect everything else we do in music. We’ve patted, clapped, and stomped the steady beat. We’ve walked, tiptoed, jumped, and moved with the steady beat. We’ve played instruments to the steady beat and we’ve even taught others (our beanie baby buddies) how to keep the steady beat. One day we looked for form in music by exploring Edward Elgar’s famous song “Faeries and Giants” and we added a little movement to go with each section. We’ve been counting like crazy as we helped “Johnny” with his one hammer, counted the “Five Little Pumpkins” and read about the “Ten Fat Turkeys” sitting in a tree. Most exciting of all, we’ve been exploring and playing instruments like the xylophone with inspirational books like “Up, Up, Down” by Robert Munsch.

Here are a few songs and poems we’ve learned that you can ask your child to teach you: Five Little Pumpkins, Johnny Works With One Hammer, Jack and Jill, Highway No. 1, and No More Pie.

First Grade:

We’ve been busy bees in first grade music singing songs, playing instruments, creating new variations, and dancing up a storm. One of our favorite books/songs this year was “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” We first experienced this song back in October but since then we’ve learned about the old lady who… swallowed a pie, swallowed a dreidel, swallowed some leaves, and lots more. And did you know that there was a “Shy Fellow who Swallowed a Cello” or an “Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight” or “A Cowpoke who Swallowed a Fly.”? So many variations!

We’ve seen a lot of favorite songs get a new twist. One day we learned “Who’s That Tapping At the Window” and for a week or two we came up with all sorts of variations of the song (zoo animals, aquatic creatures, superheroes, and bugs all came knocking at the music room door according to our song). We played instruments with the “Naughty Kitty Cat,” we helped the Turkey escape with “Run Turkey, Run,” we marched with the Nutcrackers, and we even kept a steady beat with sleigh bells. It’s been a busy semester!

Here are a few songs and poems we’ve learned that you can ask your child to teach you: Who’s That Tapping at the Window?, Naughty Kitty Cat, Shoo Turkey, Five Fat Turkeys, Mrs. Foggarty’s Christmas Cake, and Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.

Second Grade:

We’ve been splashing around the musical ocean in second grade music. We took our first plunge into the deep blue sea when we learned the song “Bickle Bockle, Blue Bottle.” That first little song taught us about musical form, took us to the barred percussion instruments (like xylophones and glockenspiels), and even gave us a chance to break out our ribbon wands. After that we explored ostinati (short repeating patterns) through the book “Wendell the Narwhal” by Emily Dove. Wendell also taught us about the role of the conductor and each kid was able to control and conduct the class as we played the barred percussion instruments.

In October we took one virtual trip in every class to the Sydney Opera House to see “Who’s in the Lift!” These 3-4 minute video interviews gave us a window into the many jobs that are related to the performing arts including performers, lighting designers, stage managers, dancers, instrument repair technicians, and more. Other highlights from the quarter include creating our own crazy creations with the folk song “Aiken Drum” and waving ribbon wands with the “Trepak” from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker”. Here are a few songs and poems we’ve learned that you can ask your child to teach you: Little Miss Muffet, Bickle Bockle, BINGO (non-traditional melody), Aiken Drum, Frosty the Snowman, and Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder.

Mark your calendars! The second grade musical performance is on February 23rd at 6:30.

Third Grade:

In third grade music we’ve been creating and moving nonstop! We’ve been playing the barred percussion instruments (xylophones, metallophones, and glockenspiels) almost every day and we’ve used them to create quiet and slow accompaniments with songs like “Skin and Bone” and we’ve quicker more excited accompaniments with songs like “Tideo.”

This has been an amazing year for musical performances! What an amazing trip we had to see the Kansas City Symphony last November. We learned about all the different music makers in the symphony like the conductor, composers, performers, principals, soloists, concertmaster, and a lot more. We even had a couple chances to sing or play along with the Symphony. Thanks to PTO for making this field trip possible! We’ve also been learning the legend of the Nutcracker, have listened to Tchaikovsky’s famous Nutcracker suite, and have watched portions of “The Nutcracker” ballet. Through this process we’ve spent some time learning about ballet, how it works, what’s required of a ballet dancer, and how musicians are involved.

Here are a few songs and poems we’ve learned that you can ask your child to teach you: Skin & Bone, O Tannenbaum, Tideo, Sansa Kroma, and Lil’ Liza Jane.

Mark your calendars! The third grade musical performance is on March 9th at 6:30.

Fourth Grade:

Fourth grade had an amazing semester filled with singing and creating. In November we had our big concert called “Every State is Great” which featured songs like Hats Off to America, The Lights of Freedom, What Did Delaware?, Home on the Range, and The Fifty Nifty United States. Since the concert we’ve been taking time to get back to basics like singing, dancing, playing instruments, and improvising. We took a song called “The Farmer’s Dairy Key” and we added several different instrument accompaniments. We also created new, student-created variations to the song using the elemental forms (AABA, ABBA, AABB) as an inspiration.

In December we took that idea of “variations on a theme” to the next level when we learned the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and made our own versions like the Twelves days of… Minecraft, basketball, shopping, Halloween, school, and cooking (just to name a few). Did your students sing on New Year’s Eve because we learned the song “Auld Lang Syne” and the traditional dance that goes along with it!

What do we have to look forward to these next few months? We’ll be playing recorders very soon! Keep an eye out for an email coming soon about how to order recorders, how much they cost, what your students will be playing, and more.

Fifth Grade:

In fifth grade music, much of the last quarter has been spent in preparation for our big winter concert called “Top Secret.” Each class learned lyrics, choreography, speaking parts, and instrumental parts for the different songs that went into the final performance. Someone sneaky had been leaving clues all around the school and it was our job to put all the clues together to solve the “Winter Mystery.” The performance was truly spectacular and so fun to share with our school community. If you have photos from the night of the show that you’d be willing to share with me I’d really appreciate it. My email is

What do we have to look forward to these next few months? We’ll be playing more with the pitched/barred percussion and soon we’ll start a unit on ukulele! If you want to purchase a ukulele for students to play at home, I have a guide for what you might want to buy that I’d be happy to send you.


We’ve had a great second quarter in the library! It’s hard to believe we are halfway through the year. Below are a few of the things we are working on throughout second quarter.

Kindergarten: Kindergarten is doing such a great job in the library! I love seeing what they want to check out and they are doing a fantastic job of being responsible with shelf markers while shopping for books! This quarter we did an author study on Lois Elhert, who has written and illustrated so many colorful and creative books for kids. We continue to talk about fiction vs nonfiction and read some fun books related to the holidays. They love doing the STEM stations during checkout and they amaze me with their creativity!

First Grade: We completed an author study on Gail Gibbons and started one on one of my favorites: Jan Brett! She has so many great books that have winter, snow and holidays as the main theme. We compared her books The Hat and The Mitten, and learned how to draw a hedge hog. We are continuing to work on responsibility with getting books turned in on time and checking out a variety of fiction and non-fiction. They also love doing the STEM stations during check out, and I love seeing them interact with each other and have time to create!

Second Grade: We completed an author study of Marc Brown, who is the creator of the Arthur series. We learned about how and why Marc Brown became an author and that he hides his children’s names in all of his books…they loved hunting for those! We even learned how draw Arthur from Marc Brown himself . This second grade group are such great readers and they are always excited about looking for books in the library!

Third Grade: Third grade focused on the different literary genres. We read, Joe Bright and the Seven Genre Dudes, where we learned about 7 different genres in the fiction and non-fiction section and then played a guessing game to see if they could identify a book’s genre. We also learned how to use our online catalog, Destiny Discover. This is an app on our I-pads where they can look to see what they have checked out on their account and search for books in the library. We also briefly began learning about the Dewey Decimal system and how books are organized in the non-fiction section of our library. They are working to become independent during check out by being able to find books on their own with the book’s call number.

Fourth Grade: Fourth graders started the quarter with a review of the different types of genres by doing a book order scavenger hunt. Identifying a book’s genre can be tricky but they did an excellent job! We also reviewed call numbers and practiced locating books in the library by their call number. Finally, we reviewed the Dewey Decimal system and learned how the non-fiction books are organized. This is something we will continue next quarter as well. They are learning a lot about how to be independent in the library and this will serve them well moving forward!

Fifth Grade: This quarter we began by reviewing the literary genres by playing Genre Jeopardy. We also read an amazing book called, Twenty-One Steps about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The students were fascinated by this and they asked so many great questions! The last thing we focused on was the non-fiction section of our library and the Dewey Decimal system. You will have to ask your child about the Dewey Rap!

I love seeing your children in the library and sharing the joy of reading. My favorite question is, “Mrs Ptacek, is there something you would recommend?” It is fun to see so many students enjoying books. As a reminder, your child should have their library books with them on library day each week. I will continue sending the email reminder the night before so hopefully that helps. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns!

Kerri Ptacek-