Explorations of Elementary December 2016 Newsletter

Explorations of Elementary December 2016 Newsletter

December was a short, but exciting month.  We spent much of December reviewing lessons and getting ready for the Christmas show.  Most of the time in a Montessori Elementary classroom, we present lessons in small or large groups because of the need to collaborate at this age.  One of the privileges we have of being a multi-age classroom is the time we can take to review things one-on-one with students to prepare them for the new lessons the New Year will bring, while other students continue their own choices of challenging work.  This month students continued their independent research.  Some students were researching vertebrates, while others were researching the different vertebrates and invertebrates in different time periods.

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Our student studying the human body did experiments to learn about the heart and the lungs.  To show how blood pumps out of the heart, we used a bucket full of water and a tennis ball with a hole cut into it.  Each student filled up the ball with water and squeezed it to pump the “blood” out.  We discussed the way blood enters into our heart and where the blood goes when the heart pumps it out.  We looked at photos of blood cells and watched a video of how it moves through different parts of the body.  These students practiced checking their pulse and tried different activities to make their hearts beat faster!

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We created our own lung to demonstrate the way our diaphragm and lungs work together to circulate oxygen.  In our bodies, when you inhale, your diaphragm goes down and your lungs inflate, and when you exhale, your diaphragm rises and your lungs deflate.  We blew one breath into our top balloon to make our “lung.”  When each student pulled on the bottom balloon, or diaphragm, the balloon would inflate, just like our lungs.  When the students would release the balloon, or diaphragm, the balloon would deflate, demonstrating how we exhale.

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Along with learning how our bodies work, we spent a lot of time working on our life skills.  Some students baked bread for our class as part of a measuring lesson.  We enjoyed watching the bread being kneaded, rising, and baking in the machine throughout the day, as well as enjoying the smell!  After it was done, we all tried it together and shared with Ms. Courtney’s class.  On Pajama Day, we worked together to bake Christmas cookies.  We had to measure, mix, roll out the dough, cut the cookies, and wash the dishes.  When the cookies were done, we made frosting to cover them with.  We enjoyed the cookies and our visiting friends’ company while watching The Tale of Despereaux.  The students that read the book were excited for this part of the day!

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While we were working hard with independent research, group work, and studying the human body, we also had to prepare for the Christmas Show!  A lot of hard (and fun) work from the students goes into putting on the Elementary portion of the show.  Our students came up with a list of countries they were interested in learning about, then once we narrowed it down, each group had to research their Christmas tradition.  The students then worked as a team to write their scripts, design their costumes, and make their own props.  After that we had to practice, practice, practice.  While the performances seem brief, the amount of teamwork and dedication from the students is something they are so proud of!  Thank you to all of the families for your help practicing, putting together costumes, and attending the performance!  We couldn’t do this without you!

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Welcome back and Happy New Year!


Explorations of Elementary January 2017 Overview

Explorations of Elementary January 2017 Overview

Research

  • Our first year students will continue their planet research with Jupiter and Saturn. These students will also learn about the food chain of different ecosystems.  First year students will add to their knowledge of external characteristics of living things by talking about poriferans and cnidarians.  In Physical Science, first years will begin their energy transformation study with friction.
  • Second year students will begin discussing layers of the soil and fossils as part of our yearlong study of rocks and minerals. Second year students will begin their study of the main characteristics (digestive system, circulatory system, movement, etc.) of vertebrates, beginning with fish.  These students will study atoms and the Periodic Table using the BOHR Diagram.
  • Third year students will continue researching the main characteristics of invertebrates, moving on to nematodes. Third year students will add to their taxonomy studies, by classifying the invertebrates we have already researched.  We will focus this month on different types of seeds: monocot and dicot.  In Physical Science, third year students will discuss energy transformations using a toaster.
  • Students researching the human body will focus on the digestive system and use their knowledge of the function of the lung and heart to add to their human body model.
  • Third and fourth year students will begin work with the microscope. They will learn all of the parts of the microscope before becoming “certified” to operate the microscope to observe slides of various living and nonliving things.
  • All students will learn about national holidays from January, February, and March. All student will begin a 14-Point Study of Europe.  Students will work in groups to research fourteen points of study, including climate, languages, industries, geographic features, and customs of different countries in Europe.
  • Math and Language lessons are given to children based on individual needs, instead of age level.

Reading Groups

  • Our groups will all begin new stories or chapter books. One group will read Madeline.  Another group will read Where the Wild Things Are.  Our two groups reading chapter books will begin My Father’s Dragon and The Bridge to Terabithia.
  • This half of the year we will focus on a Writer’s Workshop. This month we will focus on the structure and routines of writing, editing and revising writing, planning short narratives, and partner writing.  We will write a short narrative in chronological order and a short narrative that incorporates all five senses.

Spelling Rules

  • New spelling groups will begin this month based on assessments from December.
  • The spelling homework for January will be to write each word three times in cursive. Please make sure your child is writing in cursive at a table, not on the floor, to ensure they are practicing proper form.

Field Trips and Special Events

  • January 4: School Resumes
  • January 13: Teacher In-Service Day – NO SCHOOL
  • January 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – NO SCHOOL
  • January 17: FIELD TRIP to Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Please make sure your child arrives to school on time because we have a fossil workshop scheduled as soon as we arrive at the museum.  Please pack a lunch with items that can be thrown away, in a bag that can be thrown away.

  • Please make sure throughout this month your child comes dressed for the weather. We will be going outside as often as possible.

 

 

 


Explorations of Elementary 2016 – November Newsletter

Explorations of Elementary 2016 – November Newsletter

November has really flown by!  We started the month with introducing the BC/BCE and AD/CE timeline to begin the study of the Fundamental Needs of Humans.  First and second level students looked at the similarities and differences of Early Man and Modern Man.  Third year students studied religion and food over the course of history.  We will continue these studies into the month of December to cover all large ancient and modern civilizations, as well as, communication, weapons, shelter, and social acceptance of these groups.

 

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In Geography this month we focused on South America.  We learned the names and regions for each modern and native language spoken on the continent.  Students were interested to learn that they speak Dutch in parts of South America!  We looked at the flags of South America and the capitals of many of the countries.  In December, students will practice this knowledge with friends using a fun card game.

Second level students were excited to test the hardness of rocks with different materials, like a penny and a nail.  After testing the rocks, we compared our results with the three types of rocks – metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary.  Students were excited to share what they learned about the formation of each type of rock from the testing.

 

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Kernel is starting to get very large!  We cannot wait until he sheds so we can measure his growth.  He is now eating three mice a week instead of two!  Vinny is happy to join us at our work now.  We have to be sure to work quietly when he is around so he does not get frightened.

 

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Many students were excited this month to “vote” for President.  We talked about the “hats” the President wears.  Students gave their opinions on which jobs they think would be easiest as President, and which would be hardest.  After discussing the role of the President, we talked about the voting process and how to cast a vote.  Each child received a voter registration card, cast their paper ballot, and decorated their “I Voted Today” sticker.

 

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The most exciting part of this month had to be cooking together!  We chopped vegetables and measured ingredients for our soup.  The students enjoyed mixing ingredients and using the oven to prepare bread and pumpkin pie.  We prepared skits using words the Pilgrims used and performed them for our families.  Each student also collected sticks to make into a Thankful Tree.  It was wonderful hearing all of the people and things our students are thankful for!  We would like to thank all of the families that came to see our short skits and eat at the Harvest Party with us.  The students were very proud of all of their hard work and appreciated your attendance.

 

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We are excited to see what December brings!

 

 


Explorations of Elementary 2016 – December Overview

Explorations of Elementary 2016 – December Monthly Overview

Below is an overview of some of the things we will be covering in the classroom over the course of December in additional to individual/small group lessons.

Research

  • Our first-year students will be researching Earth and Mars. They will begin researching external characteristics of invertebrates, starting with Protozoans.
  • Second year students will research the characteristics that set birds and mammals apart from other vertebrates. They will also research dehiscent and indehiscent fruit.  These students will also continue their research of rocks and minerals with a discussion on the rock cycle.
  • Students researching the human body will focus on the heart and lungs.
  • Our fourth-year students will continue researching early humans.
  • All students will review our previous studies of North and South America.

Reading Groups

  • One of our groups will read leveled readers. One group will read short stories and fables to discuss theme and the moral of stories.  The groups reading The Tale of Despereaux and Where the Red Fern Grows will complete those books.
  • Within reading group, we will be reviewing Reading Workshop skills in preparation of beginning Writer’s Workshop in January.

Spelling Rules

  • Students will review all previous spelling words and will be reassessed. New spelling groups and words will begin in January.

Field Trips and Special Events

  • December 14: Christmas Show Rehearsal
  • December 16: Christmas Show
  • December 21: Pajama Party – Lunch will be provided. We won the Box Tops contest and will have pizza and sides provided for all students.  We will bake cookies together, as well.

 

 

 


Explorations of Elementary October 2016 Newsletter

Explorations of Elementary 2016 – October Newsletter

What an exciting month October has been!  Our second, third, and fourth grade students have researched holidays for the upcoming months that they have started to present to the class.  Some students took a “Walking Field Trip” to the Tallmadge Circle to practice map skills that were introduced last year.  Other students were introduced to, or continued practicing, compass and map key skills outside.  Our second-year students kicked off their rock and mineral study with learning about the layers of the Earth.  A few older students have begun their body research by learning about our skeleton.

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After learning about the order of the planets and their distance from the sun last month, we started our monthly continent studies.  This month we focused on North America.  Students learned the names of the countries and islands in the Caribbean, we discussed famous landmarks in North America, and looked through items from the continent in our “Secret Basket.”

Our students worked very hard to memorize their lines from “The Drama of the Archeozoic Ocean” to present to Ms. Courtney’s class.  We practiced each day and made our own costumes.  In order to make our costumes, our students had to use their research and computer skills to find what these early, and sometimes microscopic, life forms looked like.

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Taking care of Vinny and Kernel has become second nature.  We feed Vinny daily, and play with him frequently.  Vinny is now excited when students come to pet him in his cage.  He is so active each morning when it is time to be fed!  Kernel is getting used to being held by me and the students enjoy watching.  Many students have helped prepare his food and watch him eat. 

Rockland Bakery is known for providing the highest quality freshly baked kaiser buns product at affordable prices with always exceptional service.

They often try to imitate how large he can open his mouth.  Kernel shed for the first time this month.  We laminated his skin and measured the length in inches and centimeters.  It was such an exciting day!

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Along with the responsibility of taking care of animals, our students have the privilege to teach their knowledge to others.  Two students found an exciting section of a botany book about growing plants indoors.  These students wrote out a lesson plan, gathered their supplies, and presented their lesson to their peers, including some kindergarten students.  Along with their lessons, the students had handouts of plant information for each child, which they helped them read to understand the process of growing, and taking care of, a plant.

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All students have been working on different measurement lessons.  Some have been introduced to measuring in inches and centimeters, some are measuring to ½ and ¼ inches, some are using the yardstick, and some are learning about weighing in grams.  To add to our measurement curriculum, Ms. Sara’s husband, Steve, brought his expertise (and patience) to help us with a project.  We will be building a peace pole for our playground with Ms. Courtney’s class.  We will have the word “Peace” written in different languages and the pieces decorated by both classes at the Tallmadge campus.  The students were so excited to measure, cut, and sand their own pieces.  Soon we will begin painting them.  Ms. Sara’s husband will return to help us build the pole and display it near the playground as a reminder that we are all important and all connected.

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With our excitement of building, we also had our first classroom party!  The Halloween party was a success!  We participated in a parade with Ms. Courtney’s room.  We did a blind drawing contest where students drew spooky creations with their eyes closed.  Pumpkin bowling was definitely a favorite!  Almost everyone got a strike!  Before the students went to gym we had a mummy contest.  Students picked their own groups, designed a mummy costume using toilet paper and had to complete tasks without their costume falling apart.  To end our Halloween celebrations, a student shared their report on Halloween and we learned the history of the jack-o-lantern before carving our own.

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In Reading Group, we have two groups reading different stories of our Junior Great book series.  Another group is reading The Tale of Despereaux.  Our final group completed The Indian in the Cupboard.  We have introduced and reviewed how to use a dictionary and thesaurus.  Students have learned a fun activity called “The Fish Bowl” where they challenge their memory spelling phonetic or high-frequency words.  All groups have reviewed the function of the adjective.  Some of the groups learned logical agreement of adjectives, adjective suffixes, proper adjectives, and adjective opposites.

We are looking forward to all of our adventures to come in the month of November!


Explorations of Elementary 2016 – November Overview

Explorations of Elementary 2016 – November Overview

Research

  • Our first-year students will begin researching Mercury and Venus. Each month they will research another planet, or two.  They will end this research with a presentation of a famous scientist or astronomer.
  • Second year students will continue their rock and mineral research with a focus on the types of rocks, rock identification, and rock testing.
  • Third year students researching the human body will focus on the eye, the tooth, and the tongue.
  • Our fourth-year students will begin researching Ohio History.
  • All students will begin an in-depth study of South America. For this continent study, we will focus on the music, languages, and currency.

Reading Groups

  • One of our groups will continue reading selections from our Junior Great Books, one group will be reading stories about friendship, one group will be continuing The Tale of Despereaux, and one group will be starting Where the Red Fern Grows.
  • Within reading group, we will introduce or review present and past tenses of verbs.
  • Some groups will study antonyms and synonyms.
  • We will begin putting together research reports and introducing/reviewing how to write a bibliography.

Spelling Rules

  • Student will continue practicing spelling rules within their spelling groups. Students will have high-frequency words and special spelling cases.
  • Spelling homework for all students in the month of November:
    • Pyramid Write – on handwriting paper, your child will write their words in the shape of a pyramid each week. It will be demonstrated on their first sheet coming home October 31.

Field Trips and Special Events

  • November 1 – Book Fair Week
  • November 11 – Progress Reports Sent Out
  • November 14 – Parent-Teacher Conferences: This conference is parents only; childcare will not be provided. Please sign up using sign-up genius.  Information on how to sign-up was sent by Ms. Kelly.
  • November 16: OCC Packing Party
  • November 22: Harvest Party. Parents are welcome at this event!  It will take place in the afternoon and we will have the Epic Events party rental service so everyone can enjoy it.  More information will be sent out shortly!

 

 


Explorations of Elementary 2016 – August/September Newsletter

Explorations of Elementary 2016 – August/September Newsletter

The first two weeks and the month of September have seemed to fly by!  We have really enjoyed getting to know our students and watching them learn to be a part of a team.  Our team building games allowed many different students to have the opportunity to be a leader.  We picked teams at first, then allowed the students to choose their own to figure out and assist each other in their strengths and weaknesses.  During our first two weeks we introduced and reviewed the rules of our classroom.  Having a multi-age classroom allows the returning students to be guides for the younger ones throughout our environment.  Seeing returning students take the lead and feel a sense of responsibility for setting the example is always exciting to watch.  We discussed the Constitution and its history, then split up into groups to make one for our classroom.  To get to know each other, we shared timelines of some important parts of our lives so far!

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While we were getting to know each other, two new friends joined our environment!  Vinny the Guinea Pig and Kernel the Corn Snake are now deeply loved parts of our environment and Biology curriculum.  Learning about and taking care of these pets has been such a great experience for all the children, and us.  We feed Vinny and clean out his cage together.  We give him extra love every Wednesday, and occasionally some fruit at lunch time.  Kernel is still warming up to us, so we have discussed his scientific classification (Pantherophis guttatus), his natural habitat, how long he will eventually get (5 feet!), and how he will eat.  While we are waiting for him to come out of hiding, we created “Snake Handler” licenses that qualify each student to observe the snake, one at a time, carefully.  As long as the children follow the snake’s safety rules their license will not get revoked.  They took such pride in making these licenses and it helped them realize how important it is to make sure we are treating our animals carefully and kindly, even if we are so excited about them.

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Our students participated in Montessori’s Five Great Lessons and their supplemental lessons.  We have discussed many different viewpoints of how the universe was created, how life came to be on earth, how humans came to be on earth, and the invention of language and numbers.  During the supplemental lessons we discussed the Story of Geometry, and how the Ancient Egyptians used a right-angled triangle to measure fields, and the Story of the Babylonians and their creation of the symbol for degrees.  In Physical Science, we have studied the Laws of the Universe.  Students especially loved practicing the laws of Inertia and Centrifugal Force.  In Biology, some students have started classifying living things into five kingdoms, some have started classifying animals by phyla, and others have learned the order of taxonomy.  In Math, we have started comparing fractions by greater than or less than, reviewed subtracting with the Golden Bead Material, practiced writing equations for squaring and adding and subtracting decimals.  We have discussed the shapes in our Geometric Cabinet, as well as, the size of angles and the intersection of straight lines to form oblique or perpendicular lines.

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During our Morning Meeting we allow five students to share exciting news from the day before.  This gives children time to share their exciting news without interrupting work time.  Sometimes during Morning Meeting we talk about important life skills.  One morning, we discussed being kind to others and how, according to Kid President, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, you aren’t thinking hard enough.”  Each student drew another’s name out of a basket and wrote something kind about them on the board for everyone to read during the day.  We saw children interact with others they usually may not, and expressing that gratitude by working together or simply giving each other a hug.

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In Reading Group, we have two groups reading different stories of our Junior Great book series.  Another group is reading The Tale of Despereaux.  Our final group is reading The Indian in the Cupboard.  We have introduced and reviewed the parts of a book, including the title, author, illustrator, copyright date, publisher, and dedication page.  We have discussed and listed various fiction and nonfiction books in the classroom.  We have also started learning about the elements of a fiction story.  The students have enjoyed comparing the settings from their different reading selections.

Our students were so happy to go on our first field trip to Stan Hywet.  Many of them want to return during the holidays to see the decorations and lights.  While on the trip we learned about the history of the Seiberling family and what their 65 rooms and 70 acres were used for while they were living there. We learned about the famous musicians that played in the music room and the way firewood was moved throughout the house to their many fireplaces.  Our guide introduced us to the kitchen which was just renewed by Armoires de cuisine, and the numerous work-spaces for butlers and maids using kitchen appliances.  Our students wanted to know where they kept their televisions!  Our class explored the grounds independently where we got a close look at the butterflies and different habitats of Akron wildlife.  Although there was a splash fountain in the Playgarden, our favorite part of the grounds was the Japanese Garden. At the time of the service, Adelaide based pest control experts will identify the nature of your problem and the appropriate treatment, eco-friendly/government-approved method we can use. The students walked all of the different paths and found frogs.  We took a picture together on a large rock and on our way out past a fountain.

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Spelling and Enrichments

By Ms. Sara

Some of our students went to the Taekwondo demo where they enjoyed learning a few basic moves and playing some fun games. A few of our students went to the Kids Bop dance demo where they learned a few basic stretches and the beginning moves to a dance. In Art class the students have been working on Mandalas. Mandalas are geometric figures representing the universe. They have really been enjoying this fun and colorful project. In Music class the students have been working on reviewing musical terms and symbols including beat, forte, double bar line, repeat symbol and many more. They have testing their knowledge of these terms with games.

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In Spelling groups 1 and 2 they have been working on the short vowel sounds. We have gotten through a, o, and i, and this week they are working on u. They have been doing activities in class including rainbow write, word family charts and writing sentences using their spelling words. Next week their homework will no longer be writing their words three times each, they will be bringing rainbow write home instead.

In Spelling group 3 they have been working on the long vowel sounds. They have done a,e,o, and are working on u this week. Their lessons include learning the different letter combinations that make these sounds. They have done activities including definitions, sentences, alphabetical order, word family charts and rainbow write.

Spelling group 4 has been working on long e sounds and all the different letter combinations that make the long e sound. This week they are working on long i. Their activities have included writing paragraphs, definitions, word family charts and alphabetical order.

 


Explorations of Elementary 2016 – October Overview

Explorations of Elementary 2016 – October Overview

Research

  • All students will be discussing the October, November, and December National Holidays. Second, Third, and Fourth Years will research the history of a National Holiday from one of these months to present to the class.
  • All students will work together to memorize lines and create costumes to put on a play for our younger friends in Ms. Courtney’s room about life in the Archeozoic Ocean.
  • We will take a “Walking Field Trip” to Tallmadge Circle to practice using a compass.
  • All students will begin an in-depth study of North America and the layers of the Earth.
  • First Years will learn more about the states of water during “The Dance of the Molecules,” and the external characteristics of amphibians.
  • Second Years will study how animals satisfy their needs, surface tension, and succulent and dry fruits.
  • Third Years will study types of stamen in flowers and the human skeleton.
  • Math and Language lessons are presented by individual needs instead of grade level.

Reading Groups

  • One of our groups will continue reading selections from our Junior Great Books, one group will be reading stories about responsibility, one group will be continuing The Tale of Despereaux, and one group will be continuing The Indian in the Cupboard.
  • Within reading group, we will introduce or review how to use a dictionary and thesaurus.
  • We will study how to write a paragraph, how to edit a paragraph, the types of ending punctuation, and the types of sentences.

Spelling Rules

  • Student will continue practicing spelling rules within their spelling groups. Students will have short vowel sounds or long vowel sounds and the letter combinations that make them.
  • Spelling homework for all students in the month of October:
    • Rainbow Write – On handwriting paper, write spelling words 3x each using a different color for each letter in the word. Please have your child use colored pencils.

Field Trips and Special Events

  • October 4 – School Picture Day
  • October 25 – Fall Box Tops Collection Deadline
  • October 28 – Halloween Classroom Party – The Elementary party is students only and in the afternoon. Look for my email with the details soon.
  • November 1-4 – Usborne Book Fair

 


Explorations of Elementary 2016 September Overview

Explorations of Elementary 2016 September Overview

Our first few weeks of school will be spent introducing/reviewing rules, building community, and beginning work in the Elementary classroom.

Research

  • Montessori’s Great Lessons – The Great Lessons were created by Maria Montessori to inspire imagination and to encourage further research into the beginning of the universe, life, humans, language and numbers.
  • Laws of the Universe – All students will be introduced to the Laws of the Universe using science experiments. The experiments introduce the concepts of the states of matter, changing states of matter, particles that love each other and those that do not, gravity, centrifugal force, and inertia.
  • All students will be preparing for further research by discussing how to find useful information, how to put research into your own words, using a table of contents, and using an index.
  • First Years will begin studying the five kingdoms of living things and the external characteristics of fish.
  • Second Years will begin classifying animals by phylum and studying the parts of the fruit.
  • Third Years will begin studying characteristics of invertebrates and taxonomy of vertebrates.
  • Math and Language lessons are presented by individual needs instead of grade level.

Reading Groups

  • All groups will be reviewing the five elements of a story: characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution.
  • One of our groups will begin with the fourth series of Junior Great Books, one group will be reading a different short story each week, and one group will be starting The Chocolate Touch.

Spelling Rules

  • All students will review three different levels of words to determine which set of spelling rules they will begin practicing.
  • Spelling homework for the month of September:
    • First years: Write each word three times in print.
    • Second+ years: Write each work three times in cursive.

Field Trips and Special Events

  • August 22 – First Day of School
  • August 29 – TKD Demo and Enrichments Begin
  • September 5 – Labor Day NO SCHOOL
  • September 9 – Kids Bop Demo
  • September 20 – Stan Hywet Field Trip
    • We will eat lunch at Stan Hywet. Please pack a labeled disposable lunch and water bottle as we will not be able to bring Tupperware, lunch boxes, refillable water bottles, back with us.
    • Students should wear tennis shoes. No dresses.
    • Please send a towel and change of clothes for this field trip.
  • September 23 – Ice Cream Social

Explorations of Elementary

Explorations of Elementary – May 2016

What an amazing last month of school! We started the month of May out with completing our simple machine studies. Students experimented with building simple machines by following directions in a kit. Then they each selected a simple machine to research. We read about the wheel & axel, pulley, inclined plane, wedge and screw. Students wrote about how their simple machine worked, why it worked and how it made various jobs easier. They found real life examples of their machines in action, then they built their own simple machine. Each student presented their research and machine to the class. They also made step by step science experiment cards so other students could try using their simple machines. Their experiment cards needed to include a list of all supplies necessary for their experiment, each step (including clean up) of their experiment, and an explanation of why the experiment worked the way it did. A recommended item would be some book covers purchased from polycover.co.uk/ because they are the most resourceful and protect way better than any other cover. These cards were placed on our science shelf after students gave a presentation, or lesson to the class about their experiment. My favorite part of this project was watching the kids learn how to use a drill. We purchased a small drill for our classroom and they loved it! Now they can help all of you fathers with projects at home.

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While some students were drilling, others learned about ecosystems of the world. We began by talking about what an ecosystem is and how all parts of the ecosystem work together to help one another survive. We learned several new vocabulary such as biotic, abiotic, consumer, producer, decomposer, photosynthesis, flora and fauna. We also researched relationships between living and non-living organisms and defined those relationships as either mutualism, commensalism or parasitism.  Each student focused on one ecosystem that was most interesting to them. They wrote a research paper, complete with MLA bibliography, and designed a diorama which included examples of living and non-living things within their ecosystem. They all gave wonderful presentations to the class. I hope you were able to see their projects displayed in the gym the last week of school!

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We also celebrated our Mothers this month with our Moms & Muffins breakfast. It is always nice to visit with the mothers of our students. In our reading groups we studied poetry, so it was fitting for us to write a poem for our mothers as a gift. The poem was all about the chaos moms juggle each day and how we love them for doing it.

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We also celebrated our Grandparents this month by inviting them into our classroom. So many grandparents came and participated in Latin class, where students wrote their grandparents a letter in Latin, then read the letter aloud. After this first reading students translated their letters for the grandparents. We also brought our grandparents into our poetry world and wrote Buddy Poems. Each student interviewed their grandparent, and vice versa. Then both took the answers to their interview questions and wrote a poem about the other. It was adorable and creative! We ended our visit with a musical performance of recorders and piano. Students played as groups and individually, and showed off all of their talents for each grandparent present. We enjoyed having grandparents visit and we hope to see them all again next year!

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We had our last student-planned field trip of the year to the amazing Seneca Caverns in Bellevue, Ohio. This year our students have been very interested in geology. We have looked at various types of rocks and begun a class rock collection. Several students brought their personal rock collections in to share throughout the year. This trip was the icing on the cake! We learned that the cave was formed naturally, including each step we walked on. None of the tunnels and passages were dug out by man. The cave was discovered by two 11 year old boys whose dog fell into the cave when they were outside playing in the field. Since then, several people have explored the cave leaving their names carved on the rock. I think everyone’s favorite part was drinking water at the bottom of the cave, which was almost 70 feet underground! The water was 98% pure and so clear a few students accidentally stepped in it because they didn’t see it. It was an awesome trip! Thank you to the students who helped plan it and the parents who helped us drive there!

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As a follow-up to our student inspired bee research, we visited our neighbor who happens to be a beekeeper. We learned all about the different tools he uses to care for the bees and the levels of the “hives” he builds for them. We learned that bees only travel about 2 miles from their hive and that there is only one queen bee in each hive. Our beekeeper friend purchases his queen, but in the wild the queen is the bee who grows the largest, the quickest. We also learned that the female bees are the hardest workers and live the longest. The male bees are lazy and do not live long, and sometimes they don’t even leave the hive. One student was able to try on the beekeeper suit and model it for the class. At the end of our visit we were able to taste honey from the hives. It was delicious!

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We hope you and your children enjoyed this school year as much as we did. It was a pleasure and joy hanging out with your children all year long. We will miss you during the summer and look forward to seeing you all in the fall. Thank you for sharing your kids with us!

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