November 2014 Happenings

Searingtown School

Welcome to the 2014 November Happenings!

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5th Grade Students Take the Marshmallow Challenge!

Read more about it in the Grade 5 section!

Kindergarten and Strive 1

Searingtown’s kindergarteners had a very exciting November! We welcomed parents into the classroom to help us celebrate American Education. Our time together was highlighted by Thanksgiving-themed activities such as baking seasonal treats, reading favorite stories and even performing the story of the first Thanksgiving by some students. This was a memorable time to celebrate all that we are grateful for, especially our family and friends.

Building off of last month’s nature walks, the children spent the last few weeks examining their outdoor collections and describing these objects in detail using words and pictures. Students published their favorite writing pieces and celebrated as a class by sharing their writing with their classmates.

Students continue to develop their emergent reading skills by reading familiar stories that include repeated patterns and vocabulary, and have a strong picture support. They went on print hunts to identify letters and sounds learned during Fundations. Next month the students will shift into conventional reading by learning “Super-Hero” strategies.

More excitement to come in December, stay tuned!

Strive 1

In November, STRIVE 1 enjoyed taking nature walks around school grounds and identifying/ labeling signs of Fall.

First Grade

During the month of November the first graders at Searingtown School were very busy. We enjoyed learning about the season of fall and the many things in life we are thankful for. Learning about Thanksgiving lead us to many discussions about family and we worked on different projects to show all of our different families. We celebrated American Education and had our families into our classes to see Family First Grade Math Day and other hands on projects.

In Writers Workshop we worked on writing “How To” books. We began to understand the many steps it takes to complete a task.

Lastly in science we began exploring properties and matter. Did you know everything is matter? Have a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving.

Second Grade

Number Sense, place value, regrouping and bundling

Open to helping others

Very grateful for our friends, families, and classmates

Everyone designing stronger glue and delicious soda

Money to help develop number sense

Books about the world and our non-fiction stories

Economics are important for budgets and spending

Roslyn Savings Bank field trip

Third Grade

This year in third grade seems to be flying by! We feel as if we were just celebrating Halloween. Our days have been busy and filled with academic endeavors, and the children have been working hard in all curriculum areas. In reading, we have the children pushing their thinking with a focus on characters – character behaviors that allow the children to identify the traits that behavior is indicative of and asking for text based evidence to support their thinking. We are also asking them to identify and think about secondary characters and the role they play in a story. We are asking them to do all of this as well as hold onto and apply all of the reading skills and strategies we have built upon since the beginning of the year.

We are bridging this reading work into our writing as we ask the children to take what they have read, make a claim about a character trait, a struggle the character might face, a change in a character, a lesson learned or the theme of the story. They must then return to the text and provide text-based evidence to support their claim. The claim and subsequent support are the foundation for the essay the children must then write. By doing so the kids are learning about introductory paragraphs, supporting paragraphs and a concluding paragraph.

Mathematics has brought excitement as we have begun our study of multiplication! This always brings cheers of excitement from third graders who can’t wait to flex their multiplication facts muscles! Please keep in mind that our focus is about understanding what multiplication is, and not just rote recall of facts.

So as we say goodbye to November we wanted to say that today and everyday we “give thanks” for our Searingtown families and friends, especially during this Thanksgiving season. Thank you for coming in to share some time in our classrooms to celebrate American Education, thank you for all of your support, thank you for your wonderful children. We are looking forward to the excitement of the winter months to come!

Fourth Grade

November was a busy month of learning for our fourth graders. The children worked very hard toward their first published writing pieces of the year. The realistic fiction that our children have written shows growth in their craft as writers.

Fourth grade readers are revved up and ready to learn about non-fiction topics. They've been reading a variety of non-fiction texts, expository, narrative and hybrid, and are practicing note-taking as well as digging for underlying ideas.

The fourth grade is working hard at developing the concept of multiplication. The children are modeling multiplication using area models, partial products and the standard algorithm. They continue to apply these skills to rigorous problem solving exercises.

Our study of New York State culminated in a wonderful advertisement campaign. The students advertisements promoting the regions of New York are quite a site to behold and are very convincing. The children are now beginning their journey into the history of New York's first inhabitants. They are exploring theories about what first attracted people to settle in the area and about the cultures that developed among the first inhabitants.

Our young scientists continue their study of animals. They are learning about the six kingdoms, animal classification, adaptations and food webs and chains.

Fifth Grade

November has been quite an eventful month for Searingtown’s fifth graders!!

Three Times Lucky

On November 6th the fifth grade had the remarkable opportunity to have a Q&A skype session with Sheila Turnage, North Carolina author of the Newbery Honor book, Three Times Lucky organized by our Librarian, Mrs. Kliegman. Many of us had the opportunity to read about Miss Moses LoBeau, rising sixth grader, who had plans for the summer to hang out with her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III and his dog, Queen Elizabeth II. Plans included helping out in the eccentric café run by the Colonel and Miss Lana, who took her in 11 years ago when a hurricane washed Mo into town. Also to continue her lifelong search for her Upstream Mother and to research her own life story – which so far is one big fat mystery.

Mo’s summer looks sweet. Until Detective Joe Starr shows up asking too many questions. And cranky old Mr. Jesse turns up dead. And Dale becomes the chief suspect in tiny Tupelo Landing’s first murder.

Can Mo’s life get any worse? Yes. And it does. A kidnapping, a car crash, a bank robbery, a hurricane… You’ll have to read it yourself to see what happens!

Thank you Mrs. Kliegman and Mrs. Turnage for a fun filled hour!


On Friday, November 7th we went on a field trip to Brookville for their Outdoor Environmental Education Program.

Students learn best when their academic, emotional, physical and social needs are met. Outdoor and environmental education activities help students develop their SEDL (social, emotional development literacy) skills:

  • Self awareness: They recognize their own

emotions, values, strengths and limitations

  • Self management: They are able to

manage emotions and control behaviors in

order to reach goals

  • Social awareness: They demonstrate

empathy and understanding toward others

  • Relationship skills: They can form positive

relationships and deal effectively with conflict

  • Responsible decision making: They make

ethical and constructive choices about personal and social behavior

Not only did we learn how to build a fire, survival skills and cooperation, but a good time was had by all!

The Marshmallow Challenge

All fifth grades had the opportunity to do the marshmallow challenge, some with their parents as part of American Education Month. The Marshmallow Challenge is a remarkably fun and instructive design exercise that encourages teams to experience simple but profound lessons in collaboration, innovation and creativity.

The task is simple: in eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.

Surprising lessons emerge when you compare teams’ performance. Who tends to do the worst? Why? Who tends to do the best? Why? What improves performance? What kills it?

Students, and parents alike, were amazed at their results or lack of, but fun was had by all!

Math Games

During American Education Month some of the fifth grade parents had the opportunity to learn, and play, some of our math games. One of the advantages of playing these games is that it allows us to differentiate our instruction by challenging those students who need to be challenged and reteaching for the child that still may be struggling with the skill being taught. Everyone gets their skills reinforced! Skills included the concepts of multiplication properties, mental math to multiply, estimating products and quotients, and dividing multiples of 10 and 100. Students were able to play and learn at the same time! What could be better?!

Mad Science

Fifth grade finished the month with a program brought to us by our PTA called “Marvels of Motion.” Isaac Newton would be proud! We explored his laws of motion in this abundantly engaging physics performance. We observed the power of all sorts of forces including gravity, centrifugal force, inertia and much more. Then we harnessed the power of these forces together to create astonishing jetpacks and even a rocket-propelled car!

This Mad Science show left us inspired to learn more. Thank you so much to our PTA for another wonderful assembly!

The Fifth Grade Staff would like to wish everyone a very

Happy Thanksgiving!

Library Learning Commons

On November 6th all of fifth grade had the amazing opportunity to have a Q&A skype session with Sheila Turnage, author of the Newbery Honor book, Three Times Lucky. To prepare for the skype, several fifth grade students read the book and prepared questions to ask her. In library during lunch we held a book discussion group and during library class we studied the plot and characters of this multi-layered mystery.

During the skype, we learned that the character of Mo LoBeau became the inspiration for the story. Ms. Turnage talked about how her characters find her and then the story follows. Our students were curious about Mo's real mother - why did she send her down the river? After listening to Ms. Turnage, we found out that Mo's "upstream mother" probably sacrificed her own life for her daughter. We also learned that Ms. Turnage actually lives on a farm in Tupelo, NC and she drew from that to create the setting of the story. Ms. Turnage told us that she was surprised and thrilled to receive the Newbery Honor award - and that she never expected to receive it.

All in all, we appreciated the opportunity to "get inside" an author's mind. Our students' questions were insightful and impressive, even to Ms. Turnage! In the library we now have a waiting list for Three Times Lucky and the sequel, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing!

In fifth grade we also focused on digital literacy skills - that is, the ability of students to engage with multi-media to read and interpret text, sounds and images. In particular, lessons focused on an extremely important digital literacy skill -- evaluating online resources for accuracy/trustworthiness. Using Google Classroom and Chromebooks, classes examined a famous website hoax site - "Save the Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus". They looked for evidence in the text, images, and author bio that raised red flags about the credibility of the website and shared the evidence they found in a Google Doc. Students left this series of lessons realizing that anyone can create a website and that we cannot put blind faith in websites like we do a printed book.

Ms. Ruggiano's class is participating in an international project hosted on iEarn called My Identity, Your Identity. In the My Identity, Your Identity Project, students are encouraged to explore and research the elements that form their identities. These elements include the traditions and the famous landmarks in their communities, which are parts of their cultures and identities. Students talk about the traditional celebrations they have and how they celebrate them, including the kinds of clothes they wear, they types of food they cook on those special days, and the styles of music they listen to. In November Ms. Ruggiano's class researched and posted information about famous NY buildings and monuments. Students also have the opportunity to go into the online worldwide forum to read about and leave comments on other buildings other students from around the world have posted about.

In fourth grade, students concentrated on note-taking skills. Classes learned about "finding the gold" when reading information, the difference between "nice to know" and "need to know", putting notes into their own words, and plagiarism.

Ms. Smythe's students are researching different kinds of birds for our Fledgling Birder project. They are using PebbleGo to gather facts and generate questions to research.

Third graders also took part in an iEARN project! All of third grade worked on holiday cards in the library as part of the Global Holiday Exchange project. We are exchanging holiday cards that show celebrations during the winter months with classes in Russia, Pakistan, Slovenia, Saudi Arabia, and Canada! We can't wait to receive our cards!

Third graders are very excited about using their new DestinyQuest accounts to recommend books to each other! Additionally, many of them have borrowed NOOKColors from our library!

In second grade we read "In November" - Cynthia Rylant's beautifully-written book. Each class then created a November sensory poem. Here is one from Ms. Bambrick's class:

November air feels

Cool like ice cream, breezy like a fan, wet like dew drops, sharp like shark’s teeth

November sounds

Crispy like a potato chip, crackling like a dried leaf, snappy like a snake’s mouth, cheerful like a chirping squirrel

November tastes

Sweet like apples, sour like cranberries, bitter like tea, sugary like pumpkin pie

November looks

Scarlet like a cardinal, orange like a pumpkin, yellow like a leaf, purple like a plum, brown like a roasted turkey

November feels

Cozy like a soft blanket, joyful like a dolphin playing, relaxed like a dog sleeping next to a fireplace

First grade and kindergarten enjoyed listening to an assortment of Thanksgiving stories while learning about story elements.

From our author skype; using Chromebooks; borrowing NOOKs; to great books and global collaboration, November was an incredible month in the library!

Reading Room News

As our winter months approach, our students are excitedly starting new units in both reading and writing workshops. While enjoying our SearReads for the month, every grade is busily working in reading workshop too.

Kindergarteners have become stars performing their favorite star books. They look forward to our upcoming grade-wide celebration. Each class will perform a favorite star book for each other. Then kindergarteners are getting their superpowers ready to delve into conventional reading using all their strategies aka superpowers to read the words of books all by themselves.

First graders are world class word detectives! They have developed all their tricky word strategies so they can delve into learning about the world as they plunge into reading nonfiction.

Second graders have a wealth of new knowledge about the world as they complete a nonfiction unit. Now they are ready to step into characters’ shoes as they learn the essential skills and strategies for reading fiction.

Walking through third, fourth and fifth grades halls of Searingtown, you could easily catch students reading about their favorite topics: wolves, weird creatures of the sea, famous inventions….even how the peanut was invented!!!

As November comes to a close, we give thanks for the wondrous words we read and write!

Art Room

The First Grade continued their color explorations and moved onto exploring what symmetry and asymmetry are with high contrast black and white cut outs.

Second Grade worked on building shapes through colored paper cutouts and layering contrasting dark and light colors on a page in the style of contemporary artist Chuck Close.

Third Grade finished up their leaf studies in water soluble colored pencil, watercolor with salt effects and crayon.

The Fourth Grade had the great experience of discovering the Abstract Expressionist art of Roy Newell by going to the Hillwood Art Museum at L.I.U. at C.W. Post. There they were able to create their own art in his style.

Fifth Grade completed their landscapes and began learning about using a gradient scale of values to enhance their shading techniques on all pencil drawings.

Music Room

This month the 3rd Grade Orchestra students spent a great deal of time working on bow skills. The students are learning how to control the bow and produce a good tone. This is a very difficult task that takes a great deal of focus and persistence. The more your child practices at home, the easier it will be to make progress.

As parents, we help our children select activities which they enjoy and that benefit them both as people and as students. Music has amazing benefits for your child. We're sharing this research article on the cognitive benefits gained by learning a musical instrument. Playing a musical instrument is the equivalent of a full brain workout. Music strengthens brain functions allowing your child to apply it to other learning and activities. Both left and right hemispheres of the brain are engaged while playing an instrument which leads to higher levels of executive brain functions. Here is the link for this interesting article:

The 4th and 5th Grade Orchestra is preparing an exciting program of music for our Winter Concert on Wednesday, December 17, 2014. We hope to see you in our audience!

The Chamber Music Club musicians are hard at work for their upcoming community performances of holiday music. Please come out to support our musicians and enjoy some holiday music! Here are the Chamber Music Club's events:

Sunday, December 7, 2014: Williston Park Village Tree Lighting

Williston Park Village Hall at 494 Willis Avenue

6:00 PM Performance

Friday, December 12, 2014: Barnes & Noble at Manhasset PTA Fundraiser Performance

8:00 PM Performance.

Saturday, December 13, 2014: Festival of the Trees at St. Aidan Church in Williston Park

1:00 Performance

November Speech Tips

The American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) publishes developmental milestone guidelines for speech and language. The website,, is a valuable resource for parents and educators alike. By the end of each school year, the typical student is able to demonstrate the following skills in the areas of speaking and listening:



· Follow 1-2 simple directions in a sequence

· Listen to and understand age-appropriate stories read aloud

· Follow a simple conversation


· Be understood by most people

· Answer simple "yes/no" questions

· Answer open-ended questions (e.g., "What did you have for lunch today?")

· Retell a story or talk about an event

· Participate appropriately in conversations

· Show interest in and start conversations

1st Grade:


· Remember information

· Respond to instructions

· Follow 2-3 step directions in a sequence


· Be easily understood

· Answer more complex "yes/no" questions

· Tell and retell stories and events in a logical order

· Express ideas with a variety of complete sentences

· Use most parts of speech (grammar) correctly

· Ask and respond to "wh" questions (who, what, where, when, why)

· Stay on topic and take turns in conversation

· Give directions

· Start conversations

2nd Grade:


· Follow 3-4 oral directions in a sequence

· Understand direction words (e.g., location, space, and time words)

· Correctly answer questions about a grade-level story


· Be easily understood

· Answer more complex "yes/no" questions

· Ask and answer "wh" questions (e.g., who, what, where, when, why)

· Use increasingly complex sentence structures

· Clarify and explain words and ideas

· Give directions with 3-4 steps

· Use oral language to inform, to persuade, and to entertain

· Stay on topic, take turns, and use appropriate eye contact during conversation

· Open and close conversation appropriately

3rd Grade:


· Listen attentively in group situations

· Understand grade-level material


· Speak clearly with an appropriate voice

· Ask and respond to questions

· Participate in conversations and group discussions

· Use subject-related vocabulary

· Stay on topic, use appropriate eye contact, and take turns in conversation

· Summarize a story accurately

· Explain what has been learned

4th Grade:


· Listen to and understand information presented by others

· Form opinions based on evidence

· Listen for specific purposes


· Use words appropriately in conversation

· Use language effectively for a variety of purposes

· Understand some figurative language (e.g., "the forest stretched across…")

· Participate in group discussions

· Give accurate directions to others

· Summarize and restate ideas

· Organize information for clarity

· Use subject area information and vocabulary (e.g., social studies) for learning

· Make effective oral presentations

5th Grade:


· Listen and draw conclusions in subject area learning activities


· Make planned oral presentations appropriate to the audience

· Maintain eye contact and use gestures, facial expressions, and appropriate voice during group presentations

· Participate in class discussions across subject areas

· Summarize main points

· Report about information gathered in group activities

If you have any concerns regarding your child’s development in these areas, notify your pediatrician or classroom teacher.


Kindergarteners and First Graders learned about the first Thanksgiving. We learned about the Pilgrims and Native Americans and some of the foods that they grew and ate. First graders learned vocabulary related to Thanksgiving. Kindergarteners made collages by searching in the circulars for some of the food that the Pilgrims and Native Americans ate. Some of the stories we read were The Story Of Thanksgiving by Nancy J. Skarmeas, Thanksgiving is For Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland, My First Thanksgiving by Tomie dePaola and Celebrating Thanksgiving by Joel Kupperstein.

Ms. Macri’s ESL students learned to use adjectives to describe nouns. Third graders practiced this by using their listening skills. Each student described a person, place, and thing for the other students to guess. Fourth and fifth graders used adjectives to describe what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving. We also learned about the first Thanksgiving and read stories about the Pilgrim’s voyage to the new world. We learned new vocabulary to go with these stories such as exploration, settlers, consent, colony, treaty, and so much more!

Ms. Vanore’s second graders used procedural language to write the instructions for making a “stuffed apple.” After studying a model, they determined materials needed and steps necessary to make the apple. They wrote captions to go with photos Ms. Vanore took of them as they worked. Captions included tips they would pass along to children making the project.

Searingtown School November 2014 HAPPENINGS

Written by the faculty of Searingtown School, Herricks UFSD. Published by Karen Kliegman, School Librarian.