Issue 23-January 30, 2015


Life on the Great Plains involved us in settling into homesteads on the Great Plains. It also featured the following:

1. Math: Common denominators and equivalent fractions as well as subtraction with renaming were the focus. Students went on a "Fraction Capture," to hone their skills! We also reviewed the division of decimals by decimals as well as other key math concepts.

2. Reading: Listening skills got a work out as we explored "The Turbulent History of Texas." We then sought to determine two or more main ideas and explain how they are supported by details/summarize as we rode into "Vaqueros: America's First Cowboys." We also worked with easily-confused verbs, our grammar focus.

3. Writing: We discussed that, when you write and revise as an historian, it is important to keep in mind not only qualities of great writing but also qualities of great history. For example, historians write about relationships between events because the past will always have an impact on what unfolds in the future. This is called a cause-and-effect relationship. And here’s another cool thing: a history writer can highlight relationships simply by having a timeline close by as he/she writes. And, when researchers prepare to draft, they take stock of all the information they have a conduct quick research to tie up any loose ends.

4. Social Studies: Our goal was to describe the purpose of the Homestead Act, which involved students in taking on the role off homesteader; then packing the wagon, claiming one or two quarter sections of land on a giant map; creating a frontier-era photograph; and making decisions about how to survive on the wide-open plains! We also used a nonfiction article, "Where Did They Live," to look at the construction of tipis, soddies, and adobes. We then focused on the factors that made cattle drives profitable as we learned about Charles Goodnight and the Cattle Drive--and Joseph McCoy, who was the inventor of the cattle drive!

5. Science: Student teams launched a "Simple Machines Scavenger Hunt," using their Chromebooks to design a presentation. We also investigated "One Good Turn Deserves Another," featuring peg boards, spools, rubber bands, and scientific inquiry skills. Students then hypothesized about the relationship between thread width and ease/difficulty of putting a screw into a board. And, we experimented with levers as each student team used a "Catapult Shooter" to propel Cheerios around Galaxy 313!

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On Friday, your child will take the Unit 21 spelling test--and the Unit 22 spelling pre-test. Therefore, he/she should bring home his/her Unit 22 spelling list--and the Unit 22 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!


Conferences are coming in two weeks! Your child gets to attend this conference, to share with you his/her academic triumphs. Here is the schedule:


Next week (2/2-2/6) is our Pennies for Patients campaign! Each day next week, we will be collecting coins and dollars to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. If you would like to donate, please send the following coins with your child next week and have them wear the following in celebration of the week…

Monday (2/2)- Wear your favorite pajamas & Bring Pennies

Tuesday (2/3)- Dress in your favorite western attire & Bring nickels

Wednesday (2/4)- Wear your favorite Disney attire & bring dimes

Thursday (2/5)- Dress from your favorite decade & bring quarters

Friday (2/6)- Dress like an Old Timer & bring dollars

The class that brings in the most money will win a lunch provided by Olive Garden. Together we CAN make a difference! Thanks for your help.


The middle of the school year can sometimes lead to a lack of motivation in students. Here are some suggestions for keeping your child energized! (Taken from

5th Graders Love: Technology (See article below!)

How It Helps Learning: Kids this age are drawn to anything electronic, says Tony Vincent, an independent education technology consultant and a former 5th grade teacher at Willowdale Elementary School in Omaha, Nebraska. High-tech tools like computers, cell phones, and mp3 players capture kids' attention, keep them engaged and focused, and provide them with instant feedback.

Motivating Activities:

  • Play trivia games. Type and print out trivia quizzes on topics that interest your child. (You can also email him the questions or text message them if he has a cell phone.) For example, challenge your football fan to name players' positions and numbers. Test your movie maven's knowledge by asking questions about a recently seen flick. He can use the Web to research the answers. Encourage your child to quiz you too. "Children feel competent when they can test you on what they've been learning in school," says Vincent. And you'll get a hands-on look at the material teachers are covering.
  • Download educational programs. You'll find an amazing array of learning games, software, and age-appropriate podcasts available on your computer. Some are free, some cost a small fee, but all can be easily downloaded to your PC, handheld, or mp3 player with the quick click of a mouse. Best bets include spelling or math games that you can play with your child, and educational programs produced by history, science, and art channels. "Key into your child's interests and curriculum when choosing, and watch the programs together," says Vincent.
  • Let kids research your next vacation. Preteens will be happier travelers if they have a say in the planning. Since they are already beginning to learn some research skills in school, this is a good chance to practice them, says Liz Hecox, an educational consultant and former 5th grade teacher. Show your child how to use the Web to scout out family-friendly destinations and activities. Bookmark visitors' bureau websites, where she can print out information and send for more if she wants. Encourage her to make a list of things she'd like to do while on the trip. She can make out checklists for everyone to vote on, and even use the computer to create an illustrated travel brochure. Also put her in charge of gathering audio books that you can all listen to during car rides.


This article comes from the Great Schools website:

Many young kids have trouble sitting still and staying focused. But as students get more homework, they need to be able to stick with a task and finish it.

Here are some ways to help your child stay focused:

Get the ya-yas out first. Moving the body motivates the brain. Try having your child walk or bike to school, play outside after school, do chores around the house, or play on a sports team. Make sure your child has had a chance to run, walk, or jump around before sitting down to homework.

Turn off screens and cell phones. Before your kid tackles homework or does anything that takes concentration, turn off the television. Or if others are watching it, make sure your child is far enough away that he can’t be distracted by it. Also, shut down or move him away from the computer, and if your child has a cell phone, make sure that’s off too.

Make a to-do list. Having a lot of chores and homework assignments can be overwhelming for kids. Help your child focus on getting things done by making a list — together — of everything he needs to do for the day or week. Then let him cross off each task as he finishes it.

Use signals. Try to avoid conversations when your child is working. To cut out distracting talk altogether, you and your child can even come up with a few basic signals. For example, when you point to his work, that means he needs to go back to what he was doing. Or when you raise your hand, that means he should stop what he’s doing and get to work. For some kids, it helps to just lay a hand on their shoulder to bring them back into focus.

Take breathers. During homework time, make sure your child takes a few breaks. After working for 10 or 20 minutes (depending on his age), have him get up and move around, get a drink, and then go back to work. But don’t let him get involved in something else during the break. Just make that time a relaxing few minutes.


Your child has begun a research project featuring a topic pertaining to Westward Expansion. This week, the focus has been on the geography of the United States during this era. Here is a great website to help your child during his/her work on this project:


Here is a great documentary about Orphan Trains, a topic we have explored, this week, in conjunction with our study of Westward Expansion:


The Valentine’s Day party is rapidly approaching and will be held on Friday, February 6, from 2:10 to 2:40 p.m. Our class list is on your child's Friday Folder (You can also access a class list on my School Loop site.) Your child is not required to participate in giving valentines; however, if he/she does participate, a valentine should be included for each member of our class. I will provide a bag for each student, but, if your child would like to decorate a box at home, he/she is welcome to bring it to school on the day of the party. During the party, the students will get to “mail”—and open—their valentines.


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!


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



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


Spring Picture Day

4/7- McDonald’s Night(Teachers work) 4-8

4/8- CiCi’s Pizza Night, 4:30-8:00 pm

4/9- All Pro Dads 7:00 am (library)

4/9- All Pro Dads 7:00 am (library)

4/9- Moms & Muffins 7:15-7:45 (Last name A-L)

4/10-Moms &-Muffins 7:15-7:45 (Last name M-Z)

4/14 - PTA Exec. Board Meeting, 7:00 pm

4/23- Culver’s Night (Teachers work) 5-8

4/24- Movie on the Playground

- McNights @ McDonalds (4:00-8:00)

All Pro Dads 7:00 am

- Culver’s Night (Teachers work) 5-8

-CiCi’s Pizza Night, 4:30-8:00 pm


Here is the specials schedule for next week:

Monday, February 2: Music

Tuesday, February 3: P.E.

Wednesday, February 4: Art

Thursday, February 5: Library

Friday, February 6: Music