The Week Ahead
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Kelsey Grich

Emily Reagan

February 27, 2017

Last week we enjoyed seeing all of the children return to school well rested and ready to learn. We began a new non-fiction unit in literacy and started exploring different symbols and traditions of our country. In science we began exploring various landforms and learning more about place value in math. Next week we look forward to diving deeper into our study of our country, place value, and landforms. Please read on for more details about last week and what to expect for the week ahead.


Last week, students began a new round of the Daily 3 focusing on place value to a thousand. They are enjoying the choice and small group work that are integral parts of this format. Students reviewed what each digit means in numbers up to a thousand. For example, when looking at the number 1,423, this number has one thousand (1,000), four hundreds (400), two tens (20), and 3 ones (3). They practiced combining numbers, drawing from a deck of cards that had separate ones, tens, and hundreds. They wrote each part of the number and then added each segment together.

Students also practiced their estimation skills and grouping numbers. Our recent Estimation Jar contained teddy bear counters. We then did an activity as a class estimating the number of stars we could each draw in a minute. Students estimated how many stars Emily could draw in a minute. They then timed one minute, and we then counted how many stars Emily drew. We brainstormed possible ways to group the final number, which was 84. We counted by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s and discussed how many of each group we would need and how many stars would be left over. Students then drew stars for a minute, counted the number in two different ways, and then wrote how many stars they had written and what type of star they had used on a post-it. We then made a bar graph of our results. Students realized that they could choose to make a graph of how many stars they had drawn or graph the type of stars they had chosen, as they could choose what type of star to draw for one minute. They elected to graph the number of stars they had drawn. We read Eric Carle’s Draw Me a Star after finishing this activity.

The first graders continued solving the riddles they had created before the break, providing four clues leading the reader to a number between 1 and 20. They also played the game “Five Towers” and recorded their results. Each partner rolled two dice, added the number, and made a tower of this number with unifix cubes. They did this five times, put all of their cubes in a long train, and added the total number. The player with the highest number of cubes won, and both players had to add their train in two different ways.

Next week, students will continue learning more about place value. They will also create patterns on a 99 chart, coloring in columns vertically, diagonally, or horizontally. They will then identify the patterns that their peers chose. They will also continue to practice grouping numbers in different ways to continue growing their number fluency.

Students also continue to diligently complete their Math Writing. The Number of the Day continues to ask them to show the number on a double-tens frame, draw an equation on a number line that equals the number of the day, and create as many equations that equal the number of the day. For our Show a Strategy work, students now will roll dice to create their own equations that they will solve. Last week, students used a number line to solve equations. They will continue practicing this strategy this week.


In handwriting, we practiced lowercase “z” and previewed uppercase “Z”. We will continue on with more numbers and lowercase letters next week. We are continuing to stress the importance of developing good writing habits and letter formation and thank you for doing the same at home with homework. We appreciate the time you take to make sure your child’s handwriting is to the best of their ability when they complete their homework.

Last week we began a nonfiction unit that will lead up to our big first grade research project. We began by exploring various symbols and traditions of the United States, specifically our nation’s capital, our national bird, our national colors, and the US flag. We focused on reading informational pieces both as a whole group and in small groups. While reading, we practiced highlighting important information that we could then use in our writing. After reading we used the information highlighted to write our own informational pieces about the topics. We revisited the format for paragraph writing and worked to make sure our paragraphs included indents, topics sentences, supporting details, and a closing sentence. Next week we look forward to continuing our nonfiction unit by diving into the state of California. As a class we will generate topics we think are important to research, and then research those topics as a class and write informational pages to then compile into a book about California. This will be our practice state before the children begin researching their own states for their big research project. We look forward to learning more about California next week.

We continued with Word Work as a literacy component. The children practiced vowel patterns as well as various long and short vowels. Word Work is a time, amongst many others, where we target each child’s individual needs. Last week we also explored possessives nouns. Next week we will continue on with new sight words, word work and spiral grammar review, focusing on nouns, adjectives, and verbs.


Last week, we began our unit on landforms! We surveyed the students’ background knowledge in the “Know” part of our “Know/Wonder/Learn” chart. We also recorded the students’ wonderings which included questions about how landforms move and what different types of landforms exist. We look forward to answering this questions throughout our unit and learning with our students!

Students excitedly engaged in our current Alta Vista Engineering Challenge! Ed challenged all students to think of the most creative way to lace up shoes. On Friday of last week, students were provided with two cardboard pieces with six holes in each of them and a pair of shoelaces and given half an hour to create different configurations with the laces. As a class, we selected the most creative solution. The winner wrote a persuasive note explaining why that selection should be the school winner, and on Monday, the winner presented the submission in front of the school at the assembly.

Next week, we will make a landforms mold out of salt dough which is made with flour, warm water, and salt mixed together. In their table groups, students will work together to mix each batch, put it inside our landforms mold and fill in all the parts, and then remove the mold from the dough. After the creations dry, students will paint and label the molds. How do they know what is an island versus a peninsula? Students will explain their knowledge.


Last week we continued our mindfulness practice by focusing our listening on just one sound and practicing deep belly breathing to relax our minds and bodies. We continued to activate our brains during mindfulness by using essential oils. The children regularly come to mindfulness with mindful bodies and are working on being present the entire time. The children now lead our mindfulness practice, settling the class using the Tibetian singing bowl and leading the class through deep breathing with essential oils of their choice. We open up discussion about what the scents remind us of as our sense of smell is strongly connected to our memories. We have had many children bring in singing bowls and essential oils of their own to share with our community. They have done a wonderful job taking on this leadership role, and we look forward to continuing this practice.

The  nonfiction unit in class that will lead up to our big first grade research project was started by exploring different symbols and traditions of our country and writing informational pieces about them. We enjoyed learning about our nation’s capital, national bird, national colors, and national flag. Please see our literacy section to read more about this unit.

We celebrated President’s Day by learning about the holiday itself and reading books that celebrate some of our past leaders. We read I Am Abraham Lincoln by Brad Meltzer and Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama, amongst others. One consistent character trait the children recognized these great leaders had in common was standing up for what they believed in, even when it felt challenging to do so.

In the past several weeks we have celebrated many birthdays. Through our birthday circles, the children are becoming more comfortable sharing thoughts and ideas about what they think is special about one another and why they appreciate one another. This is a wonderful time for the children to practice saying and writing these things. We look forward to celebrating many more birthdays as the year goes on.


Monday: Literacy- Sight word practice sheet.

Tuesday: Science - Read the new magazine that you have chosen in your homework folder. Draw a picture of the animal or animals described in the magazine. Write about something you learned in the magazine on the lines provided, and on the back page please write the page or pages where you found this information.

Wednesday: Humanities- We learned that a motto is a short saying that represents something or someone’s beliefs or values. If you made a motto for your family, what would it be? Why would you choose that motto?

Thursday: Math: Complete the activity “0-99 Pattern” with a partner. Each partner creates a pattern. For example, you could color columns either diagonally, horizontally, or vertically. After each partner colors in a pattern, switch with your partner. Each person will identify the pattern in writing on the lines provided underneath the 99 chart. For example, did you cover all of the numbers with four in the tens column? Did you choose a pattern that grows by eleven?

*Please continue to read for at least fifteen minutes every night with your child.


Friday, March 17: Parent Teacher Conferences (no school for the children)

Monday, March 20: Parent Teacher Conferences (no school for the children)

a progressive learning environment
an emphasis on science, math and technology

Alta Vista School  |   |   Telephone: 415 / 467.3700