Six Word Stories — Finished!

I originally planned this six word story project as just one lesson, but the kids really dug deep with this one, and so we let it stretch until they had each finished at least one page of our class book.  So here, without further adieu, is Six Word Stories by Second Grade Ace — in two parts, one with Tuesday’s class stories and one with Thursday’s class stories.

Six Word Stories

Six Word Stories Thursday

Perhaps I’m biased, but I think they did a fantastic job and should be proud of their work!

Last Week With These First Grade Math Groups — 11/18

This week, the groups in this form will meet for the last time.  New math groups will begin the week after Thanksgiving.  The groups are not set yet; as soon as the criteria has been finalized (it will depend on the latest round of STAR testing, which will be completed this week), I will let you know here on the blog.

In the meantime, your kids asked for more difficult work.  Many of you asked for more difficult work.  This week, your request has been granted.  In class, we did a sheet of Circuit Diamonds.  It was straightforward and not too difficult when we all worked together.  It will come home with your child after his/her math day.  I then had a serious talk with the kids about challenging work.  I warned them that the packet I’m sending home this week is difficult.  I gave them a series of helpful strategies, but I told them in no uncertain terms:  Give the packet a shot.  Try your best.  It might be too hard.  If it’s too hard and it’s frustrating you, don’t do it.

The packet is a series of Circuit Septagons.  The problems are infinitely easier to solve if you take the simple step of writing down the numbers 1-9 on tiny slips of paper (cut apart post it notes work best because they stick) and cutting them out.  Then you can manipulate the numbers, putting them on the parts of the septagon and moving them around as needed.  We did the first two problems in class, so they should be filled in (we also cut out post it number slips, but I expect those will be  lost between now and the time the kids arrive home).

Note that I did not write names and due dates on the packet.  It is “homework,” but I expect that many of the kids will not be able to do it.  This is okay.  Please don’t push them past their limits.  If they are enjoying the challenge, great.  If it is frustrating, move on.



First Grade Reading Weeks of 11/4 and 11/11

This week, we took home new mystery books and worked on making mystery puzzles.  The blank puzzles I sent home have ten pieces.  The assignment sheet has seven pieces.  We discussed this in class and I told the kids that they could deal with the extra three pieces as they saw fit.  Did they bring this information home?  I hope so!

We also solved some mini-mysteries in class.  For example:

One fine summer day two fathers and two sons went fishing at their favorite lake.  They fished and talked all morning long and by noon everyone had caught one fish.  As the two fathers and two sons walked back home, everyone was happy because each had a fish, even though only three fish had been caught.

Two fathers and two sons.  Only three fish and no fish were lost.  How can this have happened?

Do you know?  The kids do.  Ask them!  We also solved a mystery about a father’s two sons, one of whom was able to fill a room using just two small items.  Your child can tell you the solution to that one as well.


First Grade Math Weeks of 11/4 and 11/11

Did any of you happen to see the Google Doodle on Monday, November 4th?  It looked like this:

You can find it here.

The Doodle honors Shakuntala Devi’s 84th birthday.  Devi was known as “the human calculator.”  We talked a bit about her in class and about the amazing math problems she was able to do in her head (7,686,369,774,870 x 2,465,099,745,779?  She correctly answered 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 in 28 seconds).

There’s a nice YouTube clip about Devi here.  My favorite part, of course, is when she answers the question “What other challenges do you have now, as far as numbers?” by saying “Nobody challenges me.  I challenge myself.”

We challenged ourselves today with 50 subtraction problems in three minutes.  Ask your child how it went!

Homework is something we spent time on in class — Creating math problems to challenge a human calculator.

I did this with just the Friday group this week since Wednesday was catch-up from last week and Monday was conference day.  Monday and Wednesday groups will do this activity next week!


Recently, several amazingly kind people have asked what the ACE program needs, mentioning that their children’s classes have “wish lists” for different items.  At the risk of being tacky, K-2 ACE does have an Amazon Wish List and you can find it here.  It’s mostly just books I would love to have for class sets (books for high-level first grade readers are hard to come by) or for push-in lessons.

I promise this is the only commercial you’ll encounter on this site.  You may now return to your regularly-scheduled programming.

Whole Class Lessons Weeks of 10/21 and 10/28

Another set of whole class lessons complete!

In kindergarten, we read the book Millie’s Marvellous Hat by Satoshi Kitamura.


I love that some of you sent your children in to school to inform me that “marvellous” is spelled wrong (they ratted you out, saying “my mom said to tell you…”).  You’re right, you’re right… but I’m right, too.  Kitamura is Japanese-born, but he lived and worked in Britain from 1979 to 2008 and the book was published there. Marvellous is the correct spelling in the UK (check it out at Oxford Dictionaries here).  When I used the word on the activity paper, I spelled it the US way, with one L, but when I used it as part of the book’s title, I spelled it the British way.

But, as usual, I digress.  The book follows a young girl named Millie who attempts to purchase a hat but then finds that it is far beyond her budget.  The kindly shop owner instead gives her a “marvellous” hat that can be any size or shape — whatever the wearer imagines.  As Millie moves throughout her day, her hat keeps changing.  Ask your child what happens when Millie returns home and asks her mother what she thinks of Millie’s new hat (which is, of course, invisible at first glance).

The kids then worked on making marvelous hats of their own.  Their creations were creative, funny, and, in many cases, heartwarming (I’m looking at you, sweet girl who drew your mommy as part of your hat so that she would always be with you.  Would you like me to adopt you?).

With first grade, I started out with a whimper, moved to a bang, and then abandoned my project altogether.  I discovered as I was leaving my first lesson that our amazingly wonderful PYP Coordinator, Lacey Gandy, had already read the book I was using, The Green Mother Goose by Jan Peck and David Davis, to the first graders.

Lacey only read a few poems from the book, though, and when we compared notes it turned out that I had earmarked different verses.  Further, Lacey’s activity was about taking action (a huge concept in PYP) and I was planning to have the kids do something totally different.  So I soldiered on, and it turned out that the kids had enjoyed the book and were happy to see it again.

I asked the first graders to write their own poems about being green, modeled on “Jack be Nimble.”  They were to write three lines, where the second and third lines rhymed and the third line explained something a person could do to “be green.”  For example:

Jack be awesome,

Jack be smart,

Recycle your newspapers; it’s a start.

If this seems simple to you, you are not a first grader.  Or at least not most first graders.  Grasping which lines were supposed to rhyme (and which didn’t need to), selecting the positive describing words to use, and determining how to describe something that had to do with being green…. it was a challenge.  I knew this going in because I taught this lesson last year, but I was determined.  In the end, there were a lot of good poems.

I saw my last two first grade groups, rooms 14 and 18 on Halloween and the day after Halloween, respectively, and as soon as I arrived I could tell that the kids just didn’t have it in them.  As a teacher (and a parent), you have to know when you can push and when you’re better off just cutting your losses, and I chose the latter path those days.  Instead, we did the Millie’s Marvellous Hat lesson in those two classes, which let the kids show their creative side without taxing their sugar-shocked brains too much.  I’ll circle back around with the poems later.

First Grade Math Weeks of 10/28 and 11/4

We continued talking about rounding and the kids seemed comfortable with the idea that 5 and above means rounding up and 4 and below means rounding down.

Last week in class, we played Place Value “I Have… Who Has?”  Those of you with children who saw me for math in kindergarten should be familiar with this game (or at least your kids are).  Each child received 4 cards.  The cards read like this:

“I have 452.  Who has 9 in the tens place and 9 in the ones place.”

“I have 99.  Who has 1 in the thousands place, 9 in the hundreds place, 8 in the tens place, and 4 in the ones place.”

And so on.

If the kids are paying attention, know the place value of the numbers written on their cards, and are listening for the words that match their numbers, the game proceeds very quickly.  If they’re not… it doesn’t.  It plods along at a painful pace.  In kindergarten our numbers were very basic but the game still mostly went slowly and in fits and spurts. This year, we whipped along rapidly.  It was really impressive!

I played this game today with the Wednesday group since I missed them last week due to the Fall Festival.  There was no homework last week and there will not be homework this week either.

Please be aware that math groups will reconfigure after Thanksgiving.  STAR Math testing is going on now and will be completed by November 22nd.  Once we have all the data, we’ll determine what scores are necessary to qualify for enrichment math.  When we have that information together, I will let you know here on the blog.