SOCIAL STUDIES AND BOOK CHARACTER DAY

This year, St. James has introduce a new social studies curriculum for grades one through three. This program, Core Knowledge, has been very fun to teach. The children have already traveled to ancient Egypt and visited central American to see a few early American civilizations such as the Maya, Aztec, and Inca. To wrap up our study of the Maya and Aztec people the children had a group project to build temples. The project was designed for the students and their parents to come together, use the guidelines provided, and build realistic Aztec or Maya temples. I love being able to include parents in activities with the students. It’s so beneficial for the children to work one-on-one with their parents and develop those teamwork skills. It’s also a great way to make fun memories at school! This project could not have turned out any better. Everyone had fun, the temples were built using creativity, authenticity, and using our knowledge from our studies. I’ve never seen the children so proud of their work before, and the third graders and a fellow teachers were very impressed too.

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One tradition at St. James that the children really look forward to is Book Character Day. It’s a way for first through third grade to still dress up on Halloween and include literature. It’s always so much fun for the children to choose one of their favorite books and create a costume that matches one of its characters. Lower school is buzzing about Book Character Day by October 1st. All of the students want to know who is going to dress up as whom and how to make themselves look as accurate to their character as possible. Aside from bringing literature into Halloween, the children have to present themselves in front of all of Lower School. For many of the first graders this is the first time for them to stand up in front of a group of their peers and present themselves. They have done it in years past, which gives them confidence, but it’s the first time this year and it’s a little different and in front of an older group of children. Having presentations similar to this helps build the children’s confidence in public speaking, presenting their thoughts clearly and articulately, and helps some jump over the hurdle of shyness. As a teacher, it’s neat to see the growth from the first to the second graders and the second graders to the third graders. I look forward to seeing my group of first graders grow each year.  I love anything that gets children excited about books and reading! It is fun for the teachers to dress up and be a part of the fun on Halloween, too!

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Looking forward to the holidays with this adventurous group of first graders! We are gearing up for Veterans Day Chapel, our Thanksgiving program, and many activities in December. Have a blessed day!

Claire Gordon







Katelyn Gunter
FIRE SAFETY AND LOTS MORE IN FIRST GRADE

We’ve had some visitors on campus over the past few weeks. Firefighters visit St. James every year to teach us all about fire safety. This is a great program for young children to attend. It reminds the children what to do when there is a fire and how to talk about fire safety with their parents. This year the firefighters focused on two ways out of a burning house, making sure fire detectors work, and making sure the kids know where to meet with their parents outside in the case of a fire in their home. I always look forward to this program, it’s very useful information that the children need to hear year after year. We are so thankful for the firefighters!

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Friday, October 12, 2018, was Pink Out day. This is the day the school takes part in the community wide effort to bring awareness of breast cancer. The Komen race for the cure is a huge event in Texarkana that brings the whole town together. The children loved getting to where pink and supporting breast cancer awareness and research.

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The pre-k students have a study about pets. One morning while we were on the playground, we noticed two horses in the preschool drop off lane. The pre-k classes had planned to take a field trip to a farm that belonged to a St. James parent, but the weather had been very wet and they were unable. The very thoughtful mom didn’t want the children to miss out on a hands-on learning experience. So, she brought two horses to campus for the children to see, pet, and learn about first hand. Luckily for first grade, we saw the horses and asked if we could pet them. We were able to have an impromptu lesson about horses and how to take care of animals. The students were so gentle with the horses and were very attentive to Mrs. Ashley and Mrs. Donna. We are very thankful for thoughtful parents!

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In science we have been studying air and weather. The children have discovered that moving air is wind and there are several ways you can see how wind moves.The class has investigated types of clouds and what moves them. The children have made pinwheels to notice the speed of wind. The students observed a wind vane to understand that wind blows in directions (north, east, south, west). They have also viewed different clouds to see speed and the direction of wind. Another way the children have interacted with wind is by blowing bubbles. Blowing bubbles is a quick way to notice how and where wind is moving. I grouped the children and had them try to blow bubbles around corners, up, down, use a lot of force, and barely use force to notice how wind moves and behaves. It was a beautiful afternoon and the children loved having science outside and exploring wind.

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Have a blessed week,

Mrs. Gordon







Katelyn Gunter
MATH, SCIENCE, AND OUR COMMUNITY

Over the past few weeks the children have been using tools in math to make learning easier and fun. Research has taught us that when we use our hands to learn, a deeper level of learning takes place. This way of learning makes it easier for the students to commit the content to memory. The children, working in groups, used math wraps to reinforce counting and to practice adding doubles up to 18.  The class really enjoyed taking turns wrapping the green boards. It takes concentration to ensure you are wrapping it at the correct number. Being in groups helped the children stay on task and check their work. Using another tool, the math fact cards, the students worked with a partner to practice math facts. Learning these math facts is a fundamental step to learning more complex math problems. Memorizing these math facts has been linked to improved abilities to estimate, which aids in positive problem solving skills. The children have asked me, almost daily, when we will use these tools again in math. It’s a great thing to see young children excited about math!

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We have begun a new unit in science, air and weather. Last week the groups made air and water fountains. My favorite portion of our science lessons is being able to allow the children time with the materials to explore and problem solve. Learning what air is, how it moves, how pressure affects it, and the power it holds has been fascinating to the class. They get animated when they find new ways to manipulate the air pressure and move the water. One group noticed that the water would only move up the side with the longer pipe. They yelled to me, “Look, if you flip it over the water can reach the short pipe and water moves into the syringe!” Some of my greatest joys as a teacher are seeing concepts click with the children as they are laughing together, jumping around with excitement when something is figured out, and sharing ideas with others.

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Our youngest students on campus held a food drive and gave every student an orange ribbon to bring awareness about hunger in our world. Lower School (1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade) students were happy to wear the ribbons and be reminded how blessed we all are, and the need to share our blessings with others. Involving our students, even the youngest, in community services teaches them to be stewards of Christ and to care about the place they live.

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Claire Gordon










Katelyn Gunter
STUDYING BALANCE AND MOTION

First grade is well underway and we could not be having more fun! One of their favorite subjects is science. I love the science curriculum we use in lower school. FOSS (Full Option Science System) is a hands on system, it challenges the students, and it encourages creativity. The children have fun while they are learning and they get so excited they can’t help but reach out to one another and problem-solve.

Our first unit covered was Balance and Motion. The class balanced paper crawfish, used counterweights to counter balance objects, and tried different ways to make a sharpened pencil balance on its sharpened tip. These investigations teach the principles of balance, force, gravity, stability, and motion. The investigation that involved the children trying to balance the tip of the sharpened pencil on the table was very challenging. Each group/pair of students was given the task to get the pencil into a stable position; they had an aluminum wire, two clothespins, and a sharpened pencil per group/pair. The children worked diligently to achieve the stability.  After about ten minutes of working, one group had a break through and was able to use the counterweights and get the pencil to counterbalance.

It was like watching magic before my eyes – to see such excitement when they were successful with the pencil! Then those two students went to other groups and taught those children how to balance their pencils. This took the lesson to a higher level of Bloom's Taxonomy. Being able to take what you learned and teach it to others solidifies it to the one teaching, and can make the subject matter more relatable to the peer group. One of the best things a teacher can see is her students having fun while learning. I am looking forward to many more of these moments this year!

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Katelyn Gunter
End of the Year!

WOW! I cannot believe that we are already at the end of the year, it has truly flown by! We have had the opportunity to end the year with some really fun activities. We had a week of testing, and I think that the students loved that week more than any other week of school. They enjoyed getting to have relaxing afternoons and popsicles, and most of them loved taking the tests because "they were more fun than learning new things"- according to a few of my students. :) 

I was also able to share some exciting news with my students, that I am expecting a little girl in the fall. They were all so very excited and had plenty of advice and name suggestions from me. 

We still have a few more fun events to end out the year with. The students have spent the morning at their field day, playing all sorts of fun and muddy games. The air is full of giggles today. I am thankful for all of the happy memories that were made this year with my sweet group of kids! 

Joy Sandefur