First & Second Grade

Columbus/Explorers Newsletter


We journeyed to the far ends of the earth this week as we discovered America with Christopher Columbus (Christibal Columbo). We read about Christopher Columbus's life and discovered many interesting, new facts. We created a higher level prewriting web using these facts. Our webbing exercises are getting more complicated and much more organized. Webbing started with apples and just listed lots of facts. Then our bear web organized the facts we came up with. This week I gave them specific information and they had to decide how to organize it. We can tell you by looking at the web how many paragraphs and about how many sentences we might write for a report.

Second graders had an eye-opening experience learning facts about Columbus that were contrary to things they had heard when they were younger. He wasn't quite the nice guy they had thought. We looked at the perspective of the Taino tribe on San Salvatore where he landed and how he treated them by reading the book, Encounter, by Jane Yolen.


We finished Unit 2 for math and took the chapter test. Everyone did very well on the test. This unit included learning all the steps for computations of story problems, using a number line for addition and subtraction, and skip counting. We started Unit 3 by learning a trick to figure out if a number is even or odd. You can ask your first or second grader how to do it. We also practiced doubles and how to do doubles plus one. These concepts were introduced with Dominoes, so we learned to play Dominoes the real way on Friday. Touch Math was another math technique we worked on to add numbers quickly without using our fingers.

Social Studies

Creating giant maps of the continents and oceans of the world were lots of fun. Our continents and oceans study included learning about the correct location for the seven continents in relation to each other. We also learned about cardinal directions on a map using a compass rose, and how to use a map key. The first and second grade cartographers did a grand job! We included using the Continents and Oceans app to help us. We also discussed some other important explorers and their routes around the world including the Viking, Leif Erickson, who actually explored North America.

Big picture


One of the most thrilling parts of the week was finishing the sloppy copies of our City Stories. Hurray! They are great stories! We will work on the final copy (neat sheet) next week. At that point we will start our culmination project with our city, which will be for each first and second grader to make a movie of the city with the Lego Movie Maker program.


We talked about the states of matter this week, since we were studying about the Oceans of the World. Everyone enjoyed playing some fun States of Matter games to learn about solids, liquids, and gases. We know the boiling point and freezing point of water. That will come in handy as we look forward to the first snowfall instead of rain.