Issue 19-January 8, 2016


If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal, you'll get a feel for this week's accomplishments, as we explored missionaries, teammates, and the War of 1812! Keep reading, for more details about this colorful slice of vintage Americana:

1. Math: Our goal was to divide decimals by whole numbers as well as to estimate quotients.

2. Reading: We rode "The Black Stallion," during which we sought to explain the relationships between individuals/events/ideas/concepts in the text.

3. Writing: Students learned that the hard work you do as a writer needs to change as you work through the writing process, and this often involves moving from the role of writer to the role of reader of writing. We learned how to do the special sort of reading writers do when they read their own writing. They do not skim over it as if they’ve seen the draft a hundred times. Instead, they examine the draft in all its particulars. If you read what your draft actually says (and if you read also for what it could say), then your page will teach you how to write. We also discussed that writers often take a tiny detail from their lives—often something that could be very ordinary—and let that one detail represent the whole, big message.

4. Social Studies: While Narcissa and Marcus Whitman, "Pioneer Missionaries," headed west to bring Christianity to the Native Americans, the War of 1812 raged in the east. We determined the meanings of myriad vocabulary in "The Star-Spangled Banner," by Francis Scott Key. We then moved west on a packet boat via the Erie Canal, warbling "The Erie Canal Song" all the way!

5. Science: What is light? We investigated light energy and light waves; differentiated between absorption, reflection, and refraction; and learned about static electricity. Students made a "water lens" and experimented with "static cereal."

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Spelling, Unit 18

On Friday, your child will take the Unit 17 spelling test--and the Unit 18 spelling pre-test. Therefore, he/she should bring home his/her Unit 18 spelling list--and the Unit 18 spelling homework. Here are links to the words in the event that you need an extra copy. If your child needs another copy of the homework, ask him/her to email me!

Spring Conference Sign-Up

Spring conferences will be optional, this year; however, I would like to encourage everyone to reserve a time. Your child gets to come to this conference; however, he/she will NOT be leading it. Instead, I feel like this is an excellent opportunity to reflect on your child's successes, up to that point--and to plan for the remaining months of the school year. Here is the schedule; PLEASE SIGN UP FOR A CONFERENCE!

Greg Tang's Winter Math Challenge


※ A math challenge game board for students to complete over winter break, using the online games and books at

You will need to set up your own account. I just did for myself; it's easy. Use this link to go straight to Kakooma:
※ Students who complete the challenge can be entered into a prize drawing by their parent or teacher.

※ 5 individual students will win personalized, signed copies of Greg Tang's books.
※ All students who complete the challenge earn a certificate of achievement which can be printed here after Jan. 6.
※ Teachers and parents can provide their own prizes for students who complete the challenge.

Figurative Language Fun

Tell your talented child that the time has come to have Figurative Language Fun:

Easing Back into School

Article excerpted from ParentDish.

Back to the books! The transition can be difficult. Here are some tips for easing back into the school routine:

I remember having to go back to school after the long holiday break, because it was hard to get back into the routine. offers these suggestions on how to help your kids adjust:

*Get kids thinking about school - what they want to wear or eat the first day back.

*Do as much prep the night before the first day to reduce stress.

*Give them a chance to wind down from activities before the first day, and clean up the holiday mess to get back to normal

*Turn off the TV in the morning if it is hindering getting ready

*Don't schedule anything out of the ordinary the first week of school/help kids with homework the first week

*Enforce bedtimes again

Success for Pre-Teens

Article excerpted from

Parents may think children are responsible and capable simply because they are growing older. Some pre­teens have started babysitting, and parents often believe preteens can make good decisions for themselves since they can be paid to watch other kids. Neither of these assumptions may be safe to make. The after-school hours are fraught with temptations for preteens, ranging from eating too much before dinner to having friends over without getting parents’ permission first. • Structure your child’s time as much as possible in your absence. Limit time spent in front of the TV. Sitting on a couch watching TV is an attractive option to many preteens, but one that often inter­feres with getting homework done, being physically active, or being creative.

*Encourage some physical exercise, whether it’s working out to an exercise DVD, jumping rope, walking with a trusted friend, or dancing to music.

*Develop a daily schedule or routine for your child to follow (have a snack, do homework or chores, and only then watch a limited amount of TV or play video games). Review homework so that your child knows you expect it to be done, or at least started, by the time you get home.

*Install filters or blocks on home computers to ensure that your child cannot get or receive inappropriate information.

*Stock up on healthy, appealing snacks. Most kids come home from school hungry for a snack. Leave a note suggesting foods and drinks your child can have. Discourage over-snacking.infor­mation from Web sites you think are inappropriate.

*If your school, YMCA, religious community, or city recreation center offers after-school programs, con­sider sending your preteen.

Strategies for Success

From the website,

Taking responsibility and working independently are important qualities for school success. Here are some suggestions for helping your child to develop these qualities:

Establish rules. Every home needs reasonable rules that children know and can depend on. Have your child help you to set rules, then make sure that you enforce the rules consistently.

Make it clear to your child that he has to take responsibility for what he does, both at home and at school. For example, don't automatically defend your child if his teacher tells you that he is often late to class or is disruptive when he is in class. Ask for his side of the story. If a charge is true, let him take the consequences.

Work with your child to develop a reasonable, consistent schedule of jobs to do around the house. List them on a calendar. Younger children can help set the table or put away their toys and clothes. Older children can help prepare meals and clean up afterwards.

Show your child how to break a job down into small steps, then to do the job one step at a time. This works for everything—getting dressed, cleaning a room or doing a big homework assignment.

Make your child responsible for getting ready to go to school each morning—getting up on time, making sure that he has everything he needs for the school day and so forth. If necessary, make a checklist to help him remember what he has to do.

Monitor what your child does after school, in the evenings and on weekends. If you can't be there when your child gets home, give her the responsibility of checking in with you by phone to discuss her plans.

The Erie Canal

Here is a link to an educational film, made in 1957, about the Erie Canal. It's in black-and-white and reminiscent of the type of films shown when I was in elementary school. Enjoy!

And, here is "The Erie Canal Song," also known as "Low Bridge":

The War of 1812

If you are in the mood to learn all about the War of 1812, click the link below. This documentary is an in-depth look at this truly interesting era of American history. (It may require that you confirm that KCPT is our local public broadcasting station.)

And, here is "The Star-Spangled Banner":

Astronomy for Kids

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


1/4-NO SCHOOL (Teacher Work Day)

1/5-School resumes

1/6- CiCi’s Pizza Night, 4:30-8:00 pm

Classroom Group pics and new student pics 8AM

1/14 All Pro Dads 7:10 AM - LGIR

1/12-PTA General Meeting 7:00 pm

1/18- NO SCHOOL- Martin Luther King Day


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

2/5- Family Trivia Night

2/3 CiCi’s Pizza Night, 4:30-8:00 pm

2/8 through 2/11 Scholastic Book fair

2/9-Parent Teacher Conferences, 2:50-8:00 pm

2/10-Valentine Parties, 2:05-2:40 pm

2/11 All Pro Dads 7:10 AM - LGIR

2/11-Early Release, 12:50 Parent/Teach Conferences, 12:50-8:00


2/15- NO SCHOOL- President’s Day

2/18-Papa John’s Night

2/18-2nd Grade Music Program 5:30 pm

2/25-3rd Grade Music Program, 5:30 pm


3/2- CiCi’s Pizza Night, 4:30-8:00 pm

3/8-PTA General Meeting, 7:00 pm

3/10- All Pro Dads 7:10 AM - LGIR

3/11-Family Fun Spring Dance

3/15 Kindergarten Round up 6:30-7:30

Spring Picture Day

3/21-3/25 NO SCHOOL, Spring Break

3/30 CiCi’s Pizza Night, 4:30-8:00 pm


4/14- All Pro Dads 7:10 AM - LGIR

4/4 through 4/13 Boosterthon Fundraiser

4/7- Moms & Muffins 7:15-7:45 (Last name A-L)

4/8- Moms &-Muffins 7:15-7:45 (Last name M-Z)

4/12- PTA Exec. Board Meeting, 7:00 pm

4/19 Radical Challenge FT-5th Grade

Science Night 5:30-7:00

4/21 Culver’s Night (Teachers work) 5-8


5/2-5/6Staff Appreciation Week

Bike- to- school Day

5/4- CiCi’s Pizza Night, 4:30-8:00 pm

5/5 Open House & Art Show, 5:30 pm

5/10-PTA General Meeting, 7:00 pm

5/12 All Pro Dads 7:10 AM - LGIR

All Pro Dads 7:00 am

5th Grade Picnic 11:30-12:30

Field Day

4th Grade Egg Drop

5th Grade Recognition Breakfast, 8:00 am – 9:00 am

5/23-Early Release & Last Day of School, 11:50 am