Friday, December 3, 2010

Our first week back after Thanksgiving break was a little hectic but the children are beginning to settle back into our routines. (It doesn’t help that we haven’t had a “normal” full-week schedule in almost a month!) Keep reading for a review of this week's activities!

Book Orders
Don’t forget that Book Orders are due on Monday! If you are ordering books as a gift, let me know and I will make sure to hold on to them for you (so your child doesn’t see them). Just let me know when you want to pick them up!!

Wee Deliver
As I’m sure you know, the Wee Deliver program is in full swing here at Elmwood School! Students have been learning how to write friendly letters and address envelopes (it’s tricky!). Writing letters can be tricky and students need lots of reminders to follow the special format, which includes: the date, the greeting (with a COMMA!), the body, the closing (with a COMMA!), and the signature/name. 

Parents/family members are welcome to write letters to students as well! Wee Deliver stamps were sent home 2 weeks ago, and additional stamps can be requested at the front office. Letters can be “mailed” in the big, blue mailbox at the front of the building. Students in Room 13 have the following address:

Name (first + last)
13 Marzilli Manor
Second City, MA 01748

(Please note that this address is different than the one sent home to you a few weeks ago.  Last year's address was 13 Donahue Drive - but it should have been updated to 13 Marzilli Manor!) 

The story in our anthology this week was an article from Time for Kids titled, A Trip to the Emergency Room.  As you might guess, this article outlined what a trip to the ER might be like and who you might meet there. Many students had stories to tell about their own experiences with doctors, nurses, hospitals, emergency rooms, scars, bad falls and much more!!! It sounds like many of you have more personal experiences with hospitals/ERs than you would like!

This week, students were responsible for 5 reading centers. They included:

Writing - Students completed the Proper Noun worksheet.

Buddy Reading - With a buddy, students read 6 mixed-up sentences about my trip to the emergency room. Using their books for help/support, they cut out the sentences, sequenced them, and glued them in order to reveal a properly sequenced story. Students finished the center with appropriate illustrations.

Games Center - With a partner, students played the “S” game. To play, students turned over word cards and decided how to make the words plural (add s, es, or change the y to i and add es). Depending on the word, students moved 1 space (if they just had to add “s”), 2 spaces (if they had to add –es) or 3 spaces (if they had to change the “y” to an “i” and add –es). Did your child win?

Phonics Center - Students sorted a list of words by the sound the vowel made. Words with short a sound were grouped in the sack, and words with a long a sound (a_e, ai, or ay) were grouped with the crate. They then used one word from each list to write a complete sentence.

Grammar Center - Choose and paste 4 pictures from the bags onto the paper.  Write/spell the plural noun correctly and illustrate.

This week, we focused on two other ways to make the long a sound (we already learned the a_e rule). These two ways are: ai and ay. Some examples of words with these combinations are:

ai                    ay
rain              today
straight          play
tail                stray

In general, the rule is that if the long a sound is at the end of the word, it is spelled with ay. If it is in the middle of the word, it is spelled with an ai or a_e.

These rules are very important and very helpful with everyday spelling. When writing, encourage your child to stop and think about where the aaaaaa sound is within a word (beginning? middle? end?) and then attempt the spelling.

Grammar keeps getting trickier and trickier!! Over the past few weeks, students have been learning about how to make nouns plural. They learned that for most nouns, we can just add “s.” Then they learned that for some nouns (nouns that end with s, sh, ch, or x), we have to add –es.

This week, we learned that for some nouns that end with y, we just add “s” but for others, we have to change the “y” to an “i” and then add -es! How do we know when we do what?

Here is the rule:

 if the letter before the “y” is a vowel,    just add –s
             monkey  -->  monkeys

 if the letter before the “y” is a consonant, then change the “y” to an “i” and add -es
             puppy --> puppies

This is a difficulty/tricky concept – one that needs LOTS of review!! Please practice at home!

We have really been focusing on friendly letters this week.  Students have been doing a nice job and most are just about ready to mail their first letter (through Wee Deliver).

Suggestion: The holidays are a PERFECT time for children to write letters! Encourage your child to write a letter to a relative (grandparents, cousins, etc.) telling about school or an upcoming visit, to Santa with his/her wishlist, or to a friend asking for a playdate! With enough practice, your child will be able to write thank you letters/notes with no problem!!

We are just about halfway through Unit 4 in the Everyday Math program. This unit focuses on the exploration and application of various addition and subtraction strategies.

Some of the more popular addition strategies include:
 counting on/counting up - starting at the larger number and counting up a specific number of spaces

 combining groups (aka “break apart strategy”) - breaking apart numbers into ones and tens and adding each group separately

 adjusting/compensating - adding or subtracting a certain amount to get close to an “easy” number and then making up the difference in the end

I also introduced ballpark estimates this week. We use estimates everyday to help us figure out “about” how much we owe (Do I have enough money?), “about” what time it is (Am I going to be late?), and “about” how cold it is (Do I need to wear a coat?)

When adding, ballpark estimates can help us check our answers. For example, if our exact answer is completely different (or “far away”) from our ballpark estimate, then we know we made a mistake somewhere. Many students learned how to make ballpark estimates last year, but for those who are still struggling, I describe it like this…

Look at the number on a number line. Look to the left of the number and look to the right. Find the closest number that ends with 0 – that’s the ballpark estimate. If the original number ends with 5, you can estimate up or down (but we usually go up).

Next week, we will be adding double-digit numbers with regrouping (carrying) and students will learn a very specific, yet effective, algorithm to solve these problems. Carrying is no longer the method used to solve these problems – we now use the Partial Sums method, which is much more developmentally appropriate. Detailed information about this algorithm will go home next week and I STRONGLY encourage you to read it carefully so that you can be a valuable resource to your child at home. (They WILL have questions!)

We have continued on in our study of maps and globes and I think that students are really internalizing what they are learning! They have completed various mapping activities and have participated in different directional games, such as Simon Says Directions!   On Friday, students played the Suitcase Game – moving around an alphabet gameboard according to various directions (N, S, E, W) – and spelling out fun words!

This week's Mystery Reader was Lily's mom, Mrs. Vaughan.  Mrs. Vaughan read us two wonderful stories - I've never heard the children so quiet!!  Take a look at the pictures below:

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