Beech Class

Week of May 2

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We had a full and busy week! Some highlights:

  • Kids mixed white with red, yellow and blue to make tints during Studio in a school and created even more colors!
  • The Sustainability Studio got live Painted Lady caterpillars!
  • The Beech Class began writing poetry!
  • We read a poem about Harriet Tubman. Students were interested in learning more about her. We talked about her life, her work, and the new $20 bill. We also sang the song Follow the Drinking Gourd.
  • We started a math unit on sorting and surveying.


We introduced a new set of book bins into our classroom. These are our Just Right book bins. These bins have fiction and nonfiction books that match students' individual reading levels. As a class, we talked about using the patterns and pictures in a book to help you figure out the words.

We also introduced a new partner reading routine. After independent reading, students pick a partner, a book, and a special reading spot. Previously, students read with an assigned partner at a table, and they only read books from designated bins. For this partner reading time, all books in the classroom library are "open." We talked about making good choices for reading spots and partners--choices that allow students to focus on reading.

At home: Keep reading! Have students read to you, or you can read to them. Encourage students to stop when they come across a new idea or word. Talk about that idea or word together.

A new set of books and sight word cards should arrive home within the next week. Keep an eye out for those!


This week we launched a poetry unit! We started with a heart mapping exercise. We learned that poets often write about people, objects, and events that give them strong heart feelings. Sometimes these are positive feelings, and sometimes they are negative feelings. Students drew and labeled their heart maps. Students will keep these maps in their writing folders as inspiration for writing poetry throughout the unit.

Then we learned about poet's eyes. Poets look at the world around them very carefully, and then they use interesting language to describe it. Students wrote nature-inspired poems by closely observing flowers, plants, bird nests, worms, and the rain.

At the end of the week, we started to talk and think about line breaks. Students learned that poets can rearrange the words on a page. This changes how the reader will read the poem.

At home: Read poetry! See some of our favorite poems and poetry books below. Ask students which words are especially interesting or beautiful to them.

April Rain Song

by Langston Hughes

Let the rain kiss you

Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops

Let the rain sing you a lullaby

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk

The rain makes running pools in the gutter

The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night

And I love the rain.

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Math - Attribute Trains

This week we started a new math unit on sorting and surveying. We will continue this study for the month of May. We launched the unit with a game called Guess My Rule. The teachers call a group of students into the center of the circle. All of those students have something in common. The class guesses what those students have in common (e.g. everyone is wearing yellow, everyone has sparkly shoes, everyone has a little brother or sister, etc.). We also reintroduced Attribute Train. In this game, partners use attribute blocks* to play a game similar to dominoes. At the end of each turn, they ask each other, "What's the matching attribute?"

*Attribute blocks are a set of geometric shapes (circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, and hexagons) that come in different sizes, colors, and thicknesses.

At home: Play Guess my Rule with objects that you have around your home. You can use boxes, cans, stuffed animals, toys, or...really anything! Sort the objects into two groups. Ask students if they can figure out how you sorted them. For example, you might sort a set of boxes by color, size, or contents.

Garden Study

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There are many moving parts in the garden study. This week six more students went with Kirsten to work in the school garden. They planted tomato seedlings, weeded, and spread worm castings. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, three students will join Kirsten for an hour of outdoor gardening.

As a whole class, we are reading books about gardens and talking about what you might find in a garden. We are working to establish what we already know and what we still want to find out about gardens. We are also developing systems for feeding our worms and harvesting their castings for our classroom plants.

Next Wednesday, our fertilized chicken eggs will arrive in the mail! We will take time on Monday and Tuesday to set up our egg incubators, discuss egg care, and explore the idea of fertilized vs. unfertilized eggs.

Next Thursday, we will visit the Hollenback Community Garden where Sasha's family has a garden plot. We will plant a set of shell peas and radishes.

At home: When you are outside, look for gardens--big and small. A garden can be a flower box in a window, some plants in a tree well, a raised bed with vegetables, or a container outside of a building. Ask: What's growing in that garden? Why would someone plant a garden there? What does that garden need to grow and be healthy?

Garden read alouds

Word Study

We learned the sound and motion for the letter i and practiced the sounds and motions for the other letters that we already know.

At home: Ask about the sounds and motions for A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, P, R, S, T, and W. More letters coming soon.

Music News - From Sara

A highlight of our week in music was a small fingerplay and a song about a flower growing. Here are the words:

A little seed for me to sow,

A little soil to make it grow.

A little sun, a little shower, a little wait, and then a flower.

We used scarves to make it come to life!

Sustainability - News from Kirstin!

Learn more about what students are doing in Sustainability on the Sustainability Studio blog--photos and notes from students' work in Sustainability!

classroom materials

If you have any old t-shirts at home, we could use them for weaving at Exploration. Holes and stains are okay. We will cut them up into strips and use them on some hula hoop looms. If you have any extra hula hoops, we would happily use those, as well. :)