Issue 17-December 5, 2014


Earth-bound excursions as well as journeys to the moon, sun and stars abounded this week! Keep reading:

1. Math: Add, subtract, multiply, divide decimals to hundredths, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction; relate the strategy to a written method and explain the reasoning used. "The Power of 10," "High Card Takes All," "Carnival Daze" and "Strike Out!" were fun ways to achieve mastery of these concepts!

2. Reading: Our goal featured determining a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text. We marched backward through time to the Revolutionary War, via "We Were There, Too," We also analyzed a poem, "Moon," by Myra Cohn Livingston--and compared the achievements of Sybil Ludington to those of Paul Revere!

3. Writing: We discovered that rompts that you use to develop ideas about characters in literature can be used to develop ideas about yourselves. You can use these ideas to think about yourself as a character in your memoir. Sometimes writers decide to get their writing down quickly—not because they’re in a contest, but because flash-drafting can help writers get the whole of piece down right away which sets them up to know how to revise. When you flash-draft, keep a big picture of your piece in mind, and write furiously to get your entire memoir down on paper.

4. Social Studies: Out West, Sacajawea proved a capable guide for Lewis and Clark and led us to ask, "What Would You Do?", a critical thinking excursion to see if the students would have made the same decisions as Lewis and Clark. We also used a "video biography" and constructed a timeline depicting the Lewis and Clark expedition. Up next: Daniel Boone, "Builder of the Wilderness Road."

5. Science: We differentiated between lunar and solar eclipses; students made presentations using iPads and Educreations--and created "A Phase Maze"! Students then used scientific inquiry skills--and varied supplies--to "Make a Telescope." From there, we focused on the sun and other stars as well as discovering what constellations are. Students used a website, "ESA: Space for Kids," to learn more about the sun, other stars, and the Milky Way Galaxy.

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Spelling, Unit 16

On Friday, your child will take the Unit 15 spelling test--and the Unit 16 spelling pre-test. Therefore, he/she should bring home his/her Unit 16 spelling list--and the Unit 16 spelling homework. Here are links to the words--and the Unit 16 spelling homework--in the event that you need an extra copy.

ESA Website

On Thursday, each astronomer will investigate "The Sun and Other Stars," using this stellar website:

Solar and Lunar Eclipses Explained

The differences between solar and lunar eclipses can be seen here:

Keeping Kids Motivated Before the Holidays

All I want for Christmas is for my child to finish the year strong. If this sounds like your wish list, you’re not alone. The three weeks leading up to that Holiday break is prime time for your child to come down with a serious case of distraction in school. What can you do to keep your child motivated this December?

The key is to remember that kids are motivated by different things, because kids are interested in different things. “Every topic can be made boring,” says Alice Thomas, President and CEO of the Center for Development and Learning in Metairie, Louisiana. “And every topic can be made interesting.”

Human beings are, by nature, motivated to learn. “The question is: are they motivated to learn what we want them to learn? It is up to adults to understand what individual children are most motivated by and to use that as a teaching experience,” Thomas says. “It’s the job of adults to make subjects active and exciting to children.”

Teachers do this by giving students choice, building confidence, and relating the subject to areas of student interest. During times of year when students are likely to be more distracted, teachers often plan in advance to make their curriculum particularly exciting, such as a semester-long project that culminates in a group presentation.

Charles Smith, Professor and Extension Specialist in the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University, says a decline in student motivation is normal before winter and summer break. “It’s hard for kids to keep the same level of enthusiasm and intensity all year long,” Smith says. “But an experienced teacher knows how to engage students in the learning at the end of the semester or end of the year. And there are ways parents can engage their children, too.”

When it comes to motivation, children are similar to adults: the work must be meaningful. “Holidays or no holidays, children need to be interested in the topic in order to be motivated to do their homework and participate in the classroom,” Thomas says.

Here are a three pointers for working with your children to stay motivated and interested in school, even with holiday preparations under way:

Help children feel in control.

Parents can help children take control of their learning by giving them choices. Children can choose which homework assignments to do first, whether they will play before or after their homework, and how many breaks they will take and when. Children can also gain control by recognizing that they can negotiate homework assignments with their teachers. If, for instance, your child is assigned to write about a topic she isn’t interested in, you can encourage her to think about what they she like to write about and then talk to the teacher to see if that would be acceptable. Thomas says nine times out of ten a good teacher will recognize the value of children being excited about their learning. If writing about a topic of interest achieves the same goals for the teacher, why not?

Help children feel confident.

When children feel confident, they are more likely to be motivated. Parents can help boost children’s confidence by having them teach about what they are learning at school. “This doesn’t have to be artificial,” Smith says. “Often times, parents don’t know about some of the subjects, and the kids can actually serve a valuable role in teaching their parents.” At-home debates and educational games are also helpful when it comes to confidence building, as they provide a forum for discussion and allow for close interactions with parents. This in turn serves to strengthen children’s confidence as individuals and as learners.

Help children feel connected.

Just like adults, children are more motivated when they feel a personal connection to something. Personalizing is an important critical thinking skill teachers work to develop in their students, often by asking open-ended questions that help students connect to text. You can take this to another level when it comes to your child’s school work. If your child complains about an assignment, ask open-ended questions to prompt her to think about how the assignment will be useful. Encourage her to think about how she can relate to the subject, or how she might use the skills she’s learning in other aspects of her life. Making learning social is another strategy regularly used in the classroom to help children feel connected, and parents can facilitate social learning at home, too. Talking to family members or neighbors about her experiences with a subject can serve to keep the learning interesting for your child.

Children and adults need to feel in control, confident, and connected. With these three Cs lined up, motivation is sure to follow.

Sacagawea Biography

Here is a short, yet informative, video, featuring Sacagawea:

Fun with Math

You name it, this website has it! What a great way for your child to practice his/her math skills:

Exchange City is Coming on Thursday, December 11!

We will travel to Exchange City on Thursday, December 11! Our preparation, this week, featured deposit slip, check-writing, and checkbook register practice. Students also met with their fellow shop employees, to ready all of the necessary information!

Exchange City Website

Here is a link to the Exchange City website:

Where They're Going

Information excerpted from Family Education

At ten years old, your child is developing communication skills and becoming more mature. Encourage him as he:

*Improves his listening and responding skills.

*Increases his problem-solving abilities.

*Begins to undergo maturational changes.

*Gains an awareness of peer/adult expectations.

*Strives to become more organized—both at school and at home!

Where We're Going

Here are some last-minute details for our trip to Exchange City:

*Exchange City is located at:

8300 NE Underground Drive, Pillar 108H

Kansas City, MO 64161

*Your child will need a sack lunch—but no drink (Drinks will be purchased at the Corner Café, at Exchange City.)

*We will depart from Liberty Oaks at 9:10 A.M. and return at about 2:00 P.M. Before we go--and upon our return--we will continue our regimen of productive academics!

*Your child will have fun—while working diligently!

Homework Hotline

Call me, anytime, if your child is has a question about a homework assignment, or if you have an inquiry about something that occurred at school. My home phone number is (816) 415-0368. I do not mind, at all, being called in the evening!

My Website

For the latest information about upcoming events and curriculum information, visit my website. It is updated regularly:

Upcoming Events


11/20-5th grade & Choir Concert 5:30

11/26-11/30 Thanksgiving Holiday-



12/2-12/6- Liberty Food Drive Community tree

12/3- CiCi’s Pizza Night, 4:30-8:00 pm

12/4 - 4th Grade Music program 5:30

12/8- PTA Exec Board meeting

12/11- All Pro Dads 7:00 am (library)

12/11- Kindergarten Music Program, 2:00pm

12/19- Winter Parties, 2:20-2:50/1st Sem. Ends

12/22-1/5 Winter Break


1/5- NO SCHOOL (Teacher Work Day)

1/6- School resumes

1/7- CiCi’s Pizza Night, 4:30-8:00 pm

1/8- All Pro Dads 7:00 am (library)

1/13- PTA General Meeting 7:00 pm

1/22- Family Trivia Night

1/19- NO SCHOOL- Martin Luther King Day


2/4- CiCi’s Pizza Night, 4:30-8:00 pm

2/10- PTA Exec. Board Meeting, 7:00 pm

2/12- All Pro Dads 7:00 am (library)

- Valentine Parties, 2:20-2:50 pm

2/12- Parent Teacher Conferences, 2:50-8:00 pm

Scholastic Book fair

2/12- Early Release, 12:50 Parent/Teach Conferences, 12:50-8:00


2/16- NO SCHOOL- President’s Day

2/19- Papa John’s Night

2/19- 2nd Grade Music Program 5:30 pm

2/26- 3rd Grade Music Program, 5:30 pm


3/4- CiCi’s Pizza Night, 4:30-8:00 pm

3/10 PTA General Meeting, 7:00 pm

3/12- All Pro Dads 7:00 am (library)

3/20- Family Fun Festival

3/24- Kindergarten Round up 5:30-6:30

3/24- Baskin & Robbins 4-8pm

3/30 to -4/3 NO SCHOOL, Spring Break

Next Week's Specials

Here is the specials schedule for next week:

Monday, December 8: Music

Tuesday, December 9: P.E.

Wednesday, December 10: Art

Thursday, December 11: No Specials--Exchange City Day!

Friday, December 12: Music