This week, to take a break and review, the children worked in pairs to divide words into syllables. The children will work with syllables for the next several years and it really helps with decoding in reading and also helps with spelling. A syllable by definition is a unit of pronunciation that creates one part of a word or the whole word that has a vowel and may contain consonants. Making sure the children understand the definitions of words really helps them to not only have a better understanding, but it makes it easier to know what they’re doing and searching for. It was a nice change of pace, and the kids love working in pairs and small groups.
We have been covering air and weather in science and to wrap up our unit we been discussing the moon. After discussion about how the moon moves around the earth and the earth and moon move around the sun, we began to talk about the moon phases. Moon phases can be a bit complicated for first grade. To help illustrate what we had been studying, the class used Oreos to make the moon phases. This was such a fun lesson! Not only did it reinforce moon phases and the earth’s position to the sun, it also illustrates how that affects the moon. The kids really had to work hard to make sure their moon was in the correct position; either waxing or waning or if the half moon was facing the sun or facing earth. They had to listen very closely and had to pay close attention to what I was demonstrating. Although I think they enjoyed building and creating the moon phases, eating the moons when we were finished was by far the favorite part!
For Valentine’s Day the children decorated their bags a little differently. To help encourage spreading love and kindness to others, the children took turns writing compliments on one another’s bags. Before I let them begin writing the complements we had a mini lesson on being specific, intentional, and positive. I really encouraged the children to think of comments for their friends that would lift them up and show love. This is a tradition I will keep for Valentine’s Day, as there’s no better way to celebrate the day of love than to give your classmates an uplifting messages to take with them.
Every February St. James presents a program celebrating grandparents. We take an entire morning to enjoy Grandparents’ Day. It is a morning full of class presentations, touring the campus, sharing handmade gifts with your loved ones, and making memories with those most dear to you. One fun thing the children get to partake in is making a class item for the silent auction on Grandparents’ Day. This year, the class made a piece of pottery that is a decorative bowl of their handprints. We had a local potter, Chris Thomas, come to class to discuss pottery and help in this endeavor. After tracing and cutting out the children’s handprints, each student chose their glaze and painted their handprints. Then, Mrs. Thomas and our parent volunteer arranged the handprints onto a bowl to take with her to dry and fire in the kiln. This is the neatest project I have been a part of while working at St. James. We are so excited to see how it turns out!
To practice reading, I paired the class up and assigned them a story. I am blown away with the progress I am seeing in regard to their reading. While in pairs I was so happy to see how encouraging and patient the children were with one another. Not only does this help with reading fluency, it helps the children learn how to work together and be a kind friend.
In math the children have been covering all manner of mathematical topics, but this week we began learning about congruent shapes. It is fascinating to see the students work through things that puzzle them. I think the terminology threw the class at first, but once they understood the definition they had fun building and drawing congruent shapes. Introducing geometric concepts in first grade is beneficial because it gives the students a firm foundation in what will become more complex concepts.
Have a blessed day!
After a wonderful Christmas break, we were all ready to get back in the groove of first grade. To have some fun and help the adjustment back to class, the children had Show and Tell. Each student brought one thing from Christmas and presented it to the class. Every student I have ever taught has loved Show and Tell; it is alway one of the children's favorite times. I always enjoy Show and Tell and watching the children put their thoughts into words and sentences. It is a great way for the children to practice speaking in front of an audience, especially their peers. Public speaking is something that the more you practice, the more confident you become at doing it. This is one of my favorite parts of St. James. The children begin performing and speaking in front of an audience at a young age. By the time students graduate from St. James they are confident in speaking in front of a large audience, are respectful audience members, and have eloquent language when expressing themselves. We are getting ready for a semester full of excitement and learning through field trips, projects, and everyday fun!
November and December are two of the busiest month of the school year. There is much to do and not as much time. St. James holds an annual Veterans Chapel to recognize all who have and continue to serve. To honor the veterans that were present, the First Grade recited a poem to show their appreciation for the veterans’ sacrifice. For one of our community service projects, the children reached out to other veterans from our community who are currently living abroad. The children colored pictures and wrote “thank you for your service” on the papers. We, along with second grade, mailed them to local community members who are stationed in Germany.
At St. James we enjoy reaching out to the community and showing our children how important it is to take care of our community. We know it is helpful to instill those leadership skills at a young age. I really reinforce the idea that we do things for others to make them happy, not for our benefit. A recent community service project the kids participated in was making Christmas cards for the residence at Cornerstone Retirement home. We traveled to Cornerstone to pass out the cards and sing Christmas carols to the residents in the memory loss unit and the health care unit. The children were so sweet and compassionate with the elderly people. We will definitely be visiting our friends at Cornerstone again soon.
In science, the class has continued to study weather. Lately the focus has been on wind and noticing changes in the weather. Over several class periods, the class made kites. One beautiful afternoon the children were able to take the kites for a fly. It was so neat to see the children fly their own creations and being able to feel and see the elements of wind that have been discussed in class. They had so much joy and pride as they flew their kites around the soccer field. We are really looking forward to growing plants next semester!
Have a blessed holiday season,