First Grade News

End of September

Science! Here's what we've been up to:

Our trip to Colburn was a success and we learned a lot about the different ways rocks are formed. The kids enjoyed the scavenger hunt and looking at all of the wonderful gems and minerals. Randall Beavers from NC State Mineral Research Lab did a fabulous job teaching us about North Carolina minerals and mining. The kids were very surprised about the many ways minerals sneak into our everyday lives. Hot dogs! Who knew?

We shifted away from Earth Science last week to study the life cycle of an apple tree. We'll continue that this week as we taste the apple sauce we made on Friday, build a graph showing our favorite apples by doing a taste-test, and study the core of an apple. We made little according books last week showing what we thought we knew about apples, and we'll add to that this week now that we went to Skytop. We'll finish up our apple work on Tuesday.

We had a surprise science visit when a number of Black Swallowtail Butterflies came to visit our classroom on a sprig of fennel. We saw what we assumed were 3 different types of caterpillars eating the fennel, but when we looked it up, we learned that in was actually the different instars (stages), of the Black Swallowtail butterfly. We learned about the lifecyle, and watched the caterpillars change. Once they were ready to form their chrysalis, we noticed that they were disappearing! Back to the research we went, and learned that the caterpillars love to go on 'walkabout' before they shed their skin one last time to form their chrysalis. So we quickly got a butterfly house (thanks, Emily's family!), and put the last of our caterpillars inside. Now they are making chrysalis and we will probably overwinter these outside for them to hatch this spring. Stay tuned!

Next up- Finish up our Earth Science study- we need to focus on attributes and how scientist use attributes to classify. This ties in nicely to our math work coming up soon- shapes. We'll also be exploring different types of soil- sand, soil and clay. The kids have been digging up clay on the playground and we've got an experiment going by putting water in a container with the clay. The kids have made hypothesis and we're observing.... We also have tires with different soil types inside for kids to explore in the first grade garden yard.

Skytop was great- perfect weather, wonderful apples, not too crowded!

Thanks a bunch to Christie, Emerson's mom and Erik, Paige's dad for joining us! The kids loved the tractor ride and picking apples. They loved the bamboo forest and all of the farm animals. They wrote a lot in their science journals, using the "I wonder..." format we taught them. Back at school the next day, the kids measured and poured, cranked the apple corer and stirred the batter to make apple bread and apple sauce. YUM!


In math we are still working on addition by building number bonds and number sentences. We are using an open source math program called Engage New York. You can look at it here: We're about to move into learning about Shapes, and then we'll move into subtraction. We also explore with math materials to help get our brains ready for each learning topic. The kids have been building with pattern blocks, geoboards and 3-D shapes to set the stage for our geometry work. They also build and design with place value blocks which is giving them schema for 'tens and ones.' We play many card games and games with dice to help us learn number sense. Our card game called Double Compare can be played at home with a regular deck of cards- just remove the face cards. It's like the old card game "War" only you put down two cards, add them up, and see who has more. Your child can teach you how to play.

Fundations, writing workshop and reading groups/Daily 5

Now that we've finished state testing, we're full-steam-ahead with our language arts program. The kids are moving quickly through Fundations lessons each day. We've started reading groups and they love writing workshop. We'll be sending home little readers in the homework folders which are longer with more words on the page- we are trying to build up our stamina and fluency with these readers. Focus on having your child point to words or slide their finger along under the words as they read. Make sure they only stop at periods and slow down at commas- don't let them stop at the end of each line. Remind them to read with expression and ask them about the 'who' and the 'what' to practice comprehension.
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What's ahead?

September 27 NO SCHOOL TOMORROW (teacher training day)

October 12 Walk to BeBe Theatre to see Fables- a mixed dance production

October 13 Fall School pictures

October 22 Hickory Nut Gap

October 26 and 27 NO SCHOOL DAYS (teacher workday and training day)

October 30 class Halloween celebration

Interested in our Academically and Intellectually Gifted program for K-2? Contact Marti Sullivan at orPTO President Deanna Border at

For your online reading pleasure....

There were a couple of interesting articles on NPR last week....