First Grade Reading — Invention Convention

All first grade reading groups are now finally on the same page (ha ha, you see what I did there?).  All students should have completed through step 3 in their Inventor’s Notebooks plus the pencil drawing of their invention.  The students now have until the week after Spring Break to make their inventions at home.  We will be sharing inventions at our Invention Convention the week of April 20th.

The Friday readers brought home Mrs. Piggle Wiggle today — an excellent book to be reading during an inventions unit, since Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is all about coming up with cures for different problems.  Because we don’t have school next Friday, I’m hoping to see Friday readers on either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.  Please have them bring their books and Inventor’s Notebooks to school on these days.  They don’t need to read to a certain spot in the book by next week.

Monday and Wednesday readers will bring home their own chapter books next week.

Next week, we’ll discuss logos and why they matter when it comes to selling your product/brand recognition.

First Grade Math — Adding Fractions

Fractions may be the death of first grade math students.  With today’s group in particular, my lesson on adding fractions was met with a lot of blank stares and a chorus of “this is hard!” and “huh?”  That happens sometimes.  For some of them, this is just too difficult right now.  I told them that I expect them to be able to add fractions with like denominators — to remember to add the numerators and leave the denominator the same.  This is pretty simple.  Taking the answer and converting it to a mixed number or reducing it, that’s more difficult.  So  long as your child understands how to add the fractions, that’s sufficient.  Many of them do know how to go further, though, which is fantastic.

This week’s homework requires some thought and problem-solving.  The front side involves three friends who have spent money to plan a party.  The kids need to figure out who needs to pay more or be reimbursed so that all three people paid the same amount.  I advised them to draw a picture.  It really will make the process easier, but some kids will decide to forego this step.  Don’t be afraid to jump in and remind them if they need it.  The back side is drawing fractions to represent what happens in a word problem — the pizza at the start of the party, the pizza after each person ate some, and the pizza at the end.  It requires making FIVE pizzas.  There are three extra pizzas on the worksheet in case of mistakes/need to start over, but the worksheet says that there are four extra.  As I told the kids, believe me, not the worksheet.  I would blame the worksheet maker for the error but I am the worksheet maker, so instead I’ll blame the fact that making worksheets about pizza caused intense hunger to cloud my judgment.

The next few weeks could be a scheduling nightmare, so if your child tells you that s/he did not come for math, please don’t worry that s/he is no longer in the group.  With the teacher work day next Friday and rehearsals for the first grade musical plus Ghana Day the week of April 4th, things may be a little disjointed.  I will do my best to see all of the groups, but it is going to be a challenge.

Kindergarten Reading — Abe Lincoln’s Hat

I’ve started to receive anugrams homework sheets back and all I can say is “WOW!!”  How was it?  Did it make you want to tear your hair out?  Did your child enjoy it, or did you both need a nap by the time it was finished?  I asked the Thursday readers to report in on whether it was easy, medium or hard and many of them said easy.  Are they pulling my leg, or was this really the case?  In any event, I was impressed with the outcome.  Everyone answered most of the questions (and leaving some blank was perfectly fine).  Fantastic!

The Thursday readers took home Abe Lincoln’s Hat, a book many of them have either read before or had read to them.  Homework was a sheet of questions about the book.  Some of the questions require a little thinking (and a bit of writing), but I don’t think it should be too taxing.  Monday readers will see this book in a couple weeks (I rotate since I only have enough for one group at a time); on Monday, they will take home one of my favorites, Best Friends for Frances.  Some days at work I still think about Albert’s amazing lunch.  Lucky guy that Albert.

I will be out next Thursday for the fifth grade field trip to Williamsburg (the bus leaves at 5:45 AM.  Yawn) but I plan to see my Thursday readers next Wednesday.

Kindergarten Math — More Fractions

This week in kindergarten math, we continued working on fractions, shading pieces and naming them fraction.  The kids really seem to be getting the hang of it (better than many of my first graders, in fact).  We did two fraction sheets in class and I sent home another for homework — the front side is coloring fraction wheels to match the fraction and the back side is dividing shapes into equal halves.  I don’t think it should be too taxing.

We also took a five minute addition challenge this week.  Here are the Friday math kids working away on their 100 addition problems:

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Many of them are practicing at home (or in their free time in class), determined to beat their previous score.  Currently, the scores range from 21 to 73.  Yes, this is a really wide range.  That’s okay.  Some kids love this stuff and some kids don’t.  Either way, the more practice they have with addition facts, the better off they will be when they need to build on those skills.

First grade math — fractions

First grade math students are looping back around to the fractions I studied with many of them last year in kindergarten.  This trimester I have four math groups — Rooms 10, 11, 12 and 16 come on Monday, rooms 17, 18 and 19 come on Wednesday, and and rooms 14 and 15 come on Friday (if you’re wondering why that doesn’t add up to four, there are two Monday groups).

This week we reviewed parts of wholes and parts of groups.  Some remembered this well and it was review; for others, this was either the first time they had heard it or they had forgotten.  Next week, we’ll move on to more difficult fraction problem solving as well as adding fractions.  Except for Monday, as those groups will be a week behind the others for awhile.

Homework is a double-sided fraction sheet.  It involves looking for multiples of 2, 3, and 5, but we don’t call it that in class.  We talk about “numbers you use when you count by 2’s,” etc.  If you use that language, your first grader should (I hope!) be able to follow you.

Have a wonderful weekend!

First grade reading — inventions timeline; inventor’s notebooks

First grade readers, one day this snow-induced mess will resolve itself.  Until then, I saw Wednesday (rooms 11 and 16) and Friday (rooms 10, 12, 18 and 19) reading groups this week but not Monday (rooms 14 and 17) readers.  This means many of the kids are still at different places, some having had certain lessons and some not.  It is maddening.

By the end of next week, everyone should have received an Inventor’s Notebook (some kids have had them for quite awhile) and completed steps one, two and three as well as a pencil drawing of the chosen invention.  Kids should be brainstorming problems they can solve with an invention of their own design.  Inventions should be simple and easy to make at home (no robots!).  The kids will be bringing the inventions to school the week after spring break, when we will have an invention convention.  I hope to be sending home longer chapter books at the same time we are working on inventions, so that we can be doing both at the same time.

INVENTOR’S NOTEBOOKS NEED TO COME TO SCHOOL WITH THE KIDS ON THE DAY THAT THEY HAVE READING GROUP.  Sorry for the shouting, but we’ll need them!  I’ve told the kids not to turn them in to their classroom teachers, just to bring them to class.

It’s fruitless to try to tell you exactly what each group has learned so far since it’s so all over the map, but ask your child about the following things (some will know all of it, some won’t have heard some of this yet):

Which popular items for kids started out as wallpaper cleaner?

How was the popsicle invented?

How was the doughnut invented?

After the first eyeglasses (which rested on one’s nose) were invented, how long before someone came up with the idea to add arms that go over a person’s ears?

We watched a video of a kid who needed to figure out how to have a game table and a bed in his small room.  What did he invent?

What did Susanna Goodin invent to solve her problem of having to wash a smelly cat food spoon?

That should give you some topics to discuss!  Thank you so much for your patience as we work through all of these snow-related scheduling issues.

Kindergarten reading — anagrams

Kindergarten reading groups are back to the salt mines this week.  Well, the Thursday group is. The Monday group was thwarted by yet another (!!!) snow day.  This means that, at least for awhile, the Thursday group will do the lesson before the Monday group.  Do me a favor and hold off on talking to your Monday reading group members about the lesson until after Monday, if at all possible.  I know this stinks, but I don’t know any other way to do it.  See the kindergarten math post for more of my ramblings on this topic.

We started class with these words on the Smart Board:

many do

sea duty

sandy weed

yard huts

I explained to the kids what anagrams are, and told them that each of these pairs of words is an anagram for another single word, and the four words all have something in common.

We started by looking for letters common to all the words and discovered that all of the words contain the letters y, d, and a.  We separated those letters and then looked at what we had left.  It didn’t take long before we realized that “many do” is an anagram for “Monday.”  And y, d, and a are all letters in “day.”  It was pretty quick from there:  sea duty = Tuesday, sandy weed = Wednesday, and yard huts = Thursday.

Then we did the next four.  Can you figure out the anagrams and what they have in common:


runs at

teen pun

usa run

The kids did!  Next we did an anagram worksheet.  It was difficult.  Really difficult.  But your kids were champs.  It took them very little time to discover that the words were anagrams for names.  And there were eight sets of them.  And eight kindergarten reading students!  From there, it was a simple hunt for the letters in each child’s name.

Homework is a sheet of anugrams.  An anugram is an anagram where the anagram makes a true statement about the original word(s).  For example, twelve plus one is an anugram for eleven plus two.  I provided blanks to fill in the letters for the anugrams and gave punctuation and filled in some letters.  Still, let’s be honest — this is challenging.  Really challenging.  Have your child give it a shot.  I told them to write the original phrase on a separate paper and cross out the letters as they are used so that they don’t cross it out on the original worksheet, make a mistake, and then find themselves without the original phrase.

I am totally okay with blank papers coming back to me.  It may be that your child cannot figure these out.  That is okay!  It may be that s/he loves this kind of stuff and is good at figuring it out.  Fantastic!  Either result is okay.

To make anagrams of your own, check out the anagram generator here.  So much fun!

A teenaged hawk ever!  (that’s an anagram for “have a great weekend,” of course!)