Maple Room

Children at Work 1.4.16 - 1.8.16

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Welcome Back!

Happy New Year to all Maple families! It was a joy to have all of the kids back at school learning and working together. This week, we returned to school and began to talk about how to make our community an even more fun and safe place to be. Children discussed that in the new year, they would like to talk more about showing each other kindness and taking care of their classroom space. We are excited to facilitate these conversations and help the kids uphold their classroom agreements to each other.

This Week in the Maple Classroom

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Reading Workshop

We continued to study nonfiction this week in both reading and writing.

In reading, children practiced using post-its to mark important information in the nonfiction books that they wanted to remember about their topic and share with others. They met with partners and shared the information that they learned. The kids also practiced reading nonfiction books with the correct expression, and discussed how nonfiction readers read like they're sharing information and use punctuation and word meanings to inform their expression.

We also discussed student and teacher jobs during independent reading this week and tried out new reading spots. The kids are doing a wonderful job focusing on their books from their new spots.

At home this week, have your child read some of their nonfiction books aloud to you to practice reading with expression. You can compliment your child on their reading expression and then ask your child, "What made you read the sentence that way?"

You can also ask your child to share important information that they've learned about the topic of their nonfiction book and show you where they learned it.


We reopened our block area this week during exploration. At the beginning of the week, children met in the block area and discussed how to care for and organize the blocks. They also talked about how they can share materials and make the most of the space in the block area. A group of volunteers cleaned up the block area and arranged all of the blocks carefully so that everything is accessible. Children will be assigned to the block area for the whole week so they can continue to build upon and interact with their structures. Our first group of children internalized the conversation we all had and were wonderful examples of how to share and compromise in the block area. Taylor J. wanted to build a house, and Clay wanted to build space. The two of them as well as Jeremy and Sepand decided to make a "space house," which they all agreed were even better than the two ideas alone. By Friday, the four had built a large structure and took turns being the people on Earth and the people in the space house. They used blocks as phone radios to communicate with one another.

Other stations this week included drawing, writing, reading, MagnaTiles, Unifix cubes, and building with unit blocks. The kids constructed many new creations and delighted in seeing their ideas come to life.

The children voted to reopen the hollow blocks and dramatic play next week. We will be discussing how to be kind to materials, work together, and share the space so that our materials last for a long time and everything is cared for.

Math Time

We continued to use the context of the Double-Decker bus to explore composing and decomposing numbers in math this week. Children did the activity Passenger Combos, in which they sorted bus cards into piles by the total number of passengers. Then, they chose a pile of cards to examine and used blank bus cards to create missing combinations of passengers on the top and bottom decks to add to the piles. Children made posters of their cards, showing how many different ways that the same number of passengers could sit on the bus.

Children extended their work later in the week by picking a number of total passengers on the bus and making a tool for the bus driver that would help him know how many passengers were on the top deck from looking at the passengers on the bottom. The kids used blank bus cards, collections of drawings, and T-charts to find all of the possible combinations of a specific number of passengers.

At the end of the week, children solved bus stop problems in which they used addition to count the number of passengers already on the bus and the number of passengers picked up at the stop.

At home, you can ask children to describe methods for figuring out the number of passengers on the bus and make up bus stories together. Here are some examples of what bus stories could talk about:

  • There are ten people sitting on the bus. If 4 people are sitting on the bottom deck, how many people are sitting on the top deck?
  • There are 9 people riding the bus. At the next stop, 5 more people got on. How many people are riding the bus now?

Project Time

In project time this week, the kids continued to study systems and distinguish between living and nonliving systems. Together, we modeled the system of a tree using yarn. Children stood in a circle. Then some of them volunteered to name parts of the tree and tossed a ball of yarn to show that the parts were connected. After naming all of the parts of the tree and throwing the yarn ball, the kids had made a web that mapped the connections of all of the tree's parts. The class discussed what would happen if one of the parts of the tree stopped working, and the child modeling that part of the tree dropped the yarn to see what would happen to the web. The class decided that the tree needed all of its parts in order to function and stay alive.

Later in the week, groups of kids explored different collections of parts, including a jar of rocks, a worm bin, a terrarium, a human body model, and a tray of pinecones and ribbon. The groups discussed whether the collections were systems or were not systems. If they were systems, the children talked about whether the system was living or nonliving. Next week, we will sort the collections into systems and nonsystems and evaluate the systems more deeply.

Provoking Wonder

This week, we set up stations around the room that provoked wonder through interaction and questioning. Children were invited to engage in different activity stations throughout the day, including working to assemble a large poster of knowledge and wonderings about systems, making noticings about terrariums and living systems posters, and making suggestions for newly discovered vocabulary on the word wall.

Fall and Winter Birthday Celebration!

We had a wonderful fall and winter birthday celebration on Friday afternoon. The kids had a fantastic time singing to one another, playing games, and eating delicious snacks. Thanks to our class parents for coordinating this lovely celebration and to all of our families for contributing healthy snacks and joining us on Friday. We are so grateful for all of the support.
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Next Week's Events

Thursday, January 14th: Field Trip to PetSmart

As part of our living systems unit, the children have been interested in animals as examples of a living system. Next Thursday, we will be going to PetSmart on 238 Atlantic Avenue to check out the animals and purchase a class pet to observe and take care of.

We will be leaving school around 9:20 and taking the G train to Bergen St. We should be back around noon.

If you would like to accompany us to the pet store, please let us know! We would be happy to have a few parent helpers.