Mrs. Lahr's Classroom News

January 2016

Language Arts

This month in language arts, the children have been developing and reviewing many first grade decoding and comprehension skills that have helped to build accuracy, comprehension, and fluency. You may have noticed a big jump in your child's reading level over the past six weeks. From my experience, it is during this time of year that kids really start to take off. I tell them they are like little reading rockets! But there is so much more to their success and growth than what they are learning in the classroom.This is where I take my hat off to you parents for all of your dedication to working with your child at home each night. Parents play a significant role in their children's reading success. Parent involvement, ensuring that your child practices reading each night, is crucial to reading development.

According to the Educational Testing Services:

Students who do more reading at home are better readers and have higher math scores.

According to U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2000:

  • "The substantial relationship between parent involvement for the school and reading comprehension levels of fourth-grade classrooms is obvious, according to the U.S. Department of Education.7 Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average (reading score) is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average - a gap of 74 points. Even after controlling for other attributes of communities, schools, principals, classes, and students, that might confound this relationship, the gap is 44 points."
  • This is a statistical analysis of fourth grade students and parent involvement, but the same can be said for beginning readers. Beginning readers who practice at home develop stronger reading skills.
  • According to the National Education Association:
  • "Having kids read a lot is one of the crucial components of becoming a good reader. Young readers need to become practiced at recognizing letters, sounds, and high frequency words. The only way to get good at it is to practice."4

Unfortunately, there is not enough time in the school day to get the amount of practice each child needs. That's where you parents come in! Listening to your child read level-appropriate books for just 20 minutes per day seems to make a big difference for early readers.

So what can you do to expose your child to level-appropriate reading materials each night?

There are several resources available to you:

  • RAZ Kids: Every child in our classroom has access to a RAZ Kids online account
  • La Crescent Public Library: Our local library has a variety of leveled readers that are available for checkout.
  • Classroom library: Leveled books may be checked out from my classroom library.
  • Other free online sources (I've included resources up to the fourth grade level for our students who are reading beyond grade level:
Below level sources:

On level sources:

Advanced readers :

2nd grade:

Advanced readers 3rd grade:

Advanced readers 4th grade:


We recently completed a unit in money. The children learned to identify and count the value of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. They also learned equivalent values of coins (10 pennies are equal to 1 dime etc.). The children learned these skills by playing a variety of coin trading games and coin bingo. Please help your child retain these skills by encouraging your child to count coins at home.

We started a new unit on measurement. The students have learned the difference between height and length. They have begun to understand units of measurement and that objects can be measured with many different kinds of units (i.e. measuring an object with paperclips). The children have learned that when measuring an object, it must be measured from end to end. We have also explored how to compare the length and height of objects (ie. short, shorter, shortest). Next week we will introduce measurement with rulers (inches and centimeters).

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Science and Social Studies

In January we commemorate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King. This provides a nice segue into February when we honor many great African Americans who played a role in ushering in the civil rights movement alongside Dr. King. The children learned about the life of Dr. King and his dream for equality. They learned about segregation and the brave individuals who fought to end it. During the month of February we will continue to discover more about other peace-loving activists such as Ruby Bridges and Rosa Parks.
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Valentine's Day On Friday, February 12, we will be celebrating Valentine's Day and the 100th day of school. There are a variety of fun activities planned, including 100th day counting activities, crafts, and a Valentine's Day party in the afternoon. Students will make their own Valentine's card box at home and can bring it to school on Monday, February 8. Your child can make his/her box as creative as he/she likes. Some kids like to go all out, others keep it simple and decorate a cereal box with a brown paper sack, magic markers, or other materials from home. I've seen some pretty creative boxes in the past---Minions, Disney characters, etc. Below are some creative ideas. There are many more to be found with a Google search of creative Valentine's Day boxes.

Bringing Books to Life will be held on Thursday, April 7 from 4-7 p.m. During the school day, children and staff will be gearing up for the evening by dressing up like their favorite storybook character. We had some great costumes last year! Ask your child to begin thinking about the character he/she would like to dress as, and plan accordingly. Our PTO will also be organizing a chicken-Q again this year, so spread the word! More info to come.

Medical Leave I will be on medical leave beginning Friday, April 8 until the end of the school year. A long-term substitute will be hired to take my position during my leave. Interviews will begin in early March. I will keep you informed of this process.