Saturday, March 25, 2017

Weekly Summary: 3/20-3/24

This summary will focus on a long term project that our class is doing with Mrs. Carpenter's and Chris's classes.  Later in the spring we will be making a rain garden. The garden will be located in the ditch next to the playground. This week Catherine Wytychak, from  Washtenaw County Water Resources, came to discuss the Rain Garden Program with our class.  She read Puddle Garden by Jared Rosenbaum. The story is about a bear making a rain (puddle) garden at his new house   Catie had a lively discussion with the children about the water cycle, the pros and cons of sewer drains, and how water gets filtered of impurities as it travels through the rocks and soil in the ground.  Next the children played a game that demonstrated how water travels from one place to another, e.g. river, plant, cloud, sewer.  Catie will be back next week to help us make designs for a rain garden.  

Other activities this week included celebrating the arrival of spring with a spring poem, starting a new novel, and having a water safety lesson by Goldfish Swim Club (one of the establishments that made a donation to our school's auction).

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Creative Toy Makers

Creativity is celebrated and encouraged at Summers Knoll.  It is clear when you walk around the building.  The artwork hanging in the hall are not carbon copies of each others but show the uniqueness of the individuals who made them.  In the music room, children are composing their own music.  During the Toy Makers sessions the children's creativity shone again.  Each session, the children were given a task, such as turning a paper bag or a wooden spoon into a puppet, given materials and off they go.

In another project each child made a "stuffy".  They made paper patterns which they used to cut the material.  After sewing and adding stuffing their project was complete.  It was a major effort.  The pride the children showed in their work was inspiring.

In the last session the task was to build a toy with wheels.  With the story Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams as inspiration the children set to work.  Many of the children created toys that could actually move, others chose to make a toy without wheels, but everyone was pleased with what they had created.

Weekly Summary 3/13-3/17

Last week it felt like spring; our playground was muddy, flowers were starting to poke out of the ground in our gardens, and children were running around without coats.  In celebration of this, I chose the poem "Mud" by Polly Chase Boyden for our poem this week.  It turns out I should have found a snow poem.  But leave it to Michigan weather, by the end of the week, boots were covered with mud again.  

by Polly Chase Boyden

Mud is very nice to feel
   All squishy-squash between the toes!
I’d rather wade in wiggly mud
   Than smell a yellow rose.

Nobody else but the rosebush knows
How nice mud feels
   Between the toes.

In math we are busy working with multiplication and division.  As part of the sustainability theme, we started a seed project.  The children will harvest seeds from various plant and dry them.  The first seeds came from the one pumpkin that actually made it to maturity in our garden last fall. Our reading of Mary Poppins came to completion this week. I am now reading Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl to the class.

We are very excited to have a new first grader starting in our class on Monday.  Welcome to Charlee and her parents Dane and Carrie. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Weekly Summary: 3/6-3/9

We started a discussion about "sustainability, the school wide theme for the next several monthsby looking at parts of the word, to help understand its meaning.  In the coming weeks, you will hear more about some of the projects we are doing connected to this theme.  

In math, we continued working with multiplication, and spent part of the day on Thursday making a variety of shapes with rubber bands on "geoboards".  

On Wednesday, Allison, a librarian from the Ann Arbor Public Library, came to visit.  She brought some of the new books at the library, and a sample of science and musical kits, that can be found at the library  She also told a story about a papa bear who couldn't find a quiet place to sleep.  Allison had us help her tell the story by repeating a line of the story at appropriate times. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Weekly Summary: 2/27-3/3

Our second round of EBs started on Monday.  Children were busy gathering clues from a crime scene, making puppets and parachutes, and making delicious pasta. 

In math, we are starting to concentrate on multiplication.  During "Science with Shan" the children have been playing games to learn about various habitats around the world and how food chains work.  

Writing time is a highlight in the day for many children in the class.  They are working on writing their own stories.  There are lots of stories about airplanes and explosions.  When our playground was covered with water on Wednesday, we went over to play at County Farm Park.  We saw lots of signs of spring: buds on trees and bushes and many worms crawling across the sidewalks.  By Thursday the puddle already started receding which has left our playground very muddy.  Please, make sure your child brings boots for the outside and shoes for inside everyday; this will help us keep our classroom clean

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Learning to read is a crucial and mysterious skill that all children need for success in school, but just like walking and talking, every child learns to read on their own time schedule.  Some children seem to read almost automatically, while others learn through a step by step procedure.  Some children learn to read before they start kindergarten while other children start to learn to read when they are in first grade. 

In our classroom reading is part of almost everything we do.  It is an integral part of our day at school, just as it is in “the real world”.   Reading does not just happen when a book is taken off the shelf; nor does learning to read.  Reading takes place throughout the day in a variety of ways.  I read to the children, children read to me, the children read to themselves, and they read to each other.  We read for a variety of purposes: to gain information, for enjoyment, for instruction.  Singing songs, saying rhymes, listening and reading poems and stories all help children become competent readers, as they experience the sound and rhythm of language. Having conversations and listening and telling stories help build children's communication skills and expand their vocabulary, which helps them become readers.

Here are some examples of reading activities in a typical day
The day begins with the children taking turns reading a poem.  The poems are by well know poets as well as unknowns.  There are silly poems and serious poems.  Some rhyme, others don't.  There are poems we need to think about to understand what the author was saying, while others just make us laugh. This weeks poem:

"This Tooth"
by Lee Bennett Hopkins
I jiggles it
jaggled it
jerked it.

I pushed 
and pulled 
and poked it.


As soon as I stopped, 
and left it alone
This tooth came out
on its very own!

During Math, the children read instructions in their Singapore math books.

Quiet reading time is a lovely time of the day.  This reading time usually happens in the morning before lunch.  During this time, I read with children one on one.  Towards the end or reading time the children can "bubbly read".  They can choose another child or two and read books together. 

Every day I find time to read books to the children.  Even when children are competent readers, it is still important for them to be read to.  Reading to children exposes them to stories that are beyond their reading level and introduces them to literature they might not choose on their own.  As more sophisticated stories are read to them they become acquainted with more advanced vocabulary, story lines, and characters.

Practicing reading in front of a group is another important skill to cultivate.  Reading the poem is optional, but everyone participates in being a "guest reader".  This is a reading activity that the children practice at home so they can feel confident and prepared when they read to the class.  Our "guest readers" activity also helps the other children practice being a respectful audience.

The best way to support your child's reading at home is to takes time out each day to read to your children and have your children read to you.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Weekly Summary: 2/13- 2/17

The children are currently listening to Mary Poppins by P.L.Travers.  

Other highlights of the week included: Valentine's day, Flea Market Math, and ice skating at Buhr Park.  

Reading Valentines 
Happy Valentine's Day

Thank you, Joan for making us delicious smoothies for our Valentine snack and providing us the recipe. 

Cherry-Banana Smoothie

1 cup tart cherry juice
1 cup vanilla soy milk (can substitute dairy or other).
1 banana
½ to 1 cup frozen tart and sweet cherries (purchased at Kroger, combined in one bag)
A scoop of vanilla soy yogurt or vanilla soy ice cream (can substitute dairy or other)
Put all the ingredients in the blender and puree.
Keep cold or serve immediately.
I have no idea how many calories are in this or what the nutritional values are.

Here is the original recipe I based this on, mine is very close but slightly modified.
Pricing items for the Flea Market
Flo assists customers at the Flea Market 
Choosing treasures
Inspecting purchases
Kelsey took us on our "Winter Nature Walk" in County Farm Park.  The children used a compass to help navigate their way through a scavenger hunt.  They found riddles about nature that they had to answer along their way through the park.  

Kelsey shows how a compass works

The children used a compass to find riddles posted around
the park
Learning about some of the animals found in the park
Ice skating with friends at Buhr Park Rink is a wonderful February tradition. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful week.