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January Newsletter

December was a busy month.  We enjoyed meeting new families during Meet the Teacher day and Family Friday.  Thank you to all who attended!


First graders studied non-fiction features this month.  We learned to identify differences between fiction and non-fiction books.  We found different features in our books and thought about the different ways features help us understand our non-fiction texts.

During January, we will spend a few days revisiting our reading workshop routines.  We will devote the remainder of the month to learning additional strategies that readers use to decode tricky words and understand confusing parts of books.

You can support your child at home by asking them to think about what strategies they can use when they are stuck on a tricky word.  You can continue to assist your child comprehend their books by asking questions about the books they are reading.



First graders wrote fiction stories in December.  They wrote stories that included characters, a setting, events, and a solution.  First graders added details by adding dialogue, thinking, feelings, and small actions.

We also began to write non-fiction how-to books.  Writers are learning to include materials, transition words, and step-by-step directions with teaching pictures.  In January we will continue to write how-to books.

You can help your child with procedural writing at home by having them name and/or write the steps for a daily routine such as brushing your teeth or making a simple recipe, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


First graders completed a geometry unit about attributes.  We learned that color, shape, and size are attributes that we can use to describe and sort blocks.

In the latter part of the month, we began a problem solving unit.  We began our study by visualizing the action in different story problems.  We are learning to use a problem solving checklist to ensure that our math responses are clear and complete (see below).  We will continue to explore problem solving in January and will learn new strategies so that we can become efficient problem solvers.

You can support your child at home by asking them to model and solve simple number stories.

Seed Study

In Seed Study, students planted kidney beans.  It was great to involve so many families in our first planting day.

On December 21st, teachers from The City Growers Program visited the first grade.  We learned about worms and began to make compost.  We now have our own red wriggler worms in our classroom!  We will send a google doc requesting food scraps each week to feed our worms.  Thank you in advance for helping out with this project.  The children are very excited.

We are excited to continue writing and drawing like scientists and look forward to planting different seeds inJanuary.



Important Dates:

Monday, January 15th– MLK Day, school is closed


Thank you for your generous gifts.  It was so kind of you.  Happy Holidays!



Alina & Erin


December Newsletter

November was an exciting month for first graders.  Children welcomed their new classmates with open arms.  Children are learning about their new classmates and the adapting to new routines, rug spots, and line spots.  Please encourage your child to remember to line up in their line spot during morning drop off.  Overall, the transition from four to three classes has been a smooth one!

Please note that birthday celebrations will continue to occur on a monthly basis at the end of the month. We will put parents in contact with each other to coordinate items.



First Graders concluded our fiction elements reading unit.  We learned to use story elements such as characters, setting, a kickoff and other important events and a tie-up in our retells.

In the latter part of the month, we began to take a close look at non-fiction books.  We compared fiction and non-fiction texts and sorted books based on the fiction and non-fiction elements that we found. 

This month we will continue to explore non-fiction texts.  We will identify non-fiction features and the purpose of each feature.  We will practice using text features to locate important information in our books.  We will study different texts on the same topic and notice how the information presented is the same and different. 

You can support you child as they read non-fiction at home by discussing features, facts, and wonderings as they read.



First graders are using all that we learned during our last fiction reading unit to plan and write fiction stories.  Children are learning to choose a character and setting and plan a kickoff, events, and a solution, or tie-up.  We will learn to elaborate by adding dialogue, thinking, and feelings and will use a checklist to ensure that our stories are complete. Children will continue to work on conventions through the use of an editing checklist.

We’ve used oral storytelling to tell stories together and children have come up with many interesting characters and events.  You can try this activity at home by taking turns naming a character, setting, kickoff, events, and a solution. 

Our following unit will focus on non-fiction writing.  Children will write how-to books based on our seed study unit. 


First graders completed a unit on doubling.  We studied partners and pairs and played many doubles games to help us learn our doubles facts.  

We began a geometry unit of study about the attributes of shapes.   We are learning that shape, size, and color are attributes that we can use to name and sort shapes.  We will learn that different shapes can share attributes (e.g., both rectangles and squares have 4 sides) and that shared attributes can be used to define a larger category (e.g., quadrilaterals).

During the following unit, we will focus on problem solving steps and strategies.


Seed Study

In Seed Study, students observed, sketched, and wrote about seeds.

This week we began to explore how seeds travel.  Students used straws to explore how seeds move through air and water and noticed that different seeds move in different ways. 

In the upcoming weeks we will plant seeds to observe how they grow. We will also explore the conditions that a seed needs in order to grow well.

We will plant with students on December 15th and will need several families to volunteer to take our plants home and water them over the break.  Please let us know if you’re interested in helping out.


Important Dates:

Friday, December 4th – Meet the Teacher 3-3:45

Friday, December 15th– Family Friday, 8:45- 9:15 –Planting Day!

November Newsletter


First Graders are concluding a unit of study about the elements of fiction. Children learned that fiction stories are spun from our imagination and can contain things that wouldn’t happen in real life. Kids learned that most fiction stories have common elements or features including: title, setting, characters, events, a problem, and/or a solution. Not all stories have all elements. Kids realized that Piggy and Gerald books usually have no setting. Some stories may not have a problem. Understanding the elements of fiction helps kids comprehend and talk about books, including being able to retell a story to a friend. You may notice a new bookmark in your first-graders reading bag that they can use when reading and talking about books at home. The other side offers some suggestions for decoding tricky words.

Next we will be moving into a unit of study about the features of nonfiction text.


First graders were very excited to complete their first writing cycle of the year! We started by thinking about what was important in each first grader’s life. Students generated a list of ideas which then became fodder for imaginative stories or realistic nonfiction books. Children wrote over several pages to expand their books, and they used the five senses to add details to their writing. After a few weeks, they looked back at the books they created and began the publishing process. Kids reread their books and changed whatever didn’t make sense, they used the Word Wall to fix spelling, they added punctuation, they created covers and titles for their books, and finally, they practiced reading aloud to prepare for presenting their books to others.

Next, we will use everything we learned about the elements of fiction to write our own fiction stories with vivid characters and interesting events. One thing that helps story writing…is story talking. Next time you see an interesting picture, you may try asking your child what they think is going on in the scene.


First graders are finishing a unit of study about doubles and pairs. We started by asking students to think about how our class walks in two lines and whether everyone has a line partner in our class of 21 kids. We then asked, what if the class had only 3 people, 4 people etc. Students explored numbers between 1-30. Then we moved into doubling: we asked kids to think about real life things that usually come in pairs: shoes, gloves, etc. Kids explored the realized that if each person in a group has 2 of something, then the total number of objects can be found by doubling the number of people. Students used doubles facts (1+1, 2+2, 3+3…) and skip counting by 2’s (2, 4, 6, 8…) to problem solve. They recorded their problem-solving process through pictures, numbers, number sentences, labels, and words. Check out the bulletin board between Room 304 and Room 302 to see some of their work.


Next, we are moving into a geometric unit of study about the attributes of shapes.

Social Emotional Learning

Children thought about events in school or in their lives that trigger intense emotions. We read a book about a child who goes to a special calming place when they are feeling very upset. The children then chose a space in the classroom where they could go when they felt upset. We generated some calming activities to choose from and made those materials ready in that area. We named it the Peace Corner. Students have been practicing using the Peace Corner as a calm down space and then coming back to the class activities when they feel ready.


 Seed Study

In Seed Study, students are exploring seeds. First we observed seeds and noticed that seeds come in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes, and textures. Then we collected foods that may have seeds in them. Students made predictions about whether they would find seeds in a food, then we dissected to find out. Children are learning to be scientific about studying seeds: they make predictions and give reasons, they observe carefully and talk about what they notice, and they record their observations with realistic drawings, pictures, labels, and words. In a few weeks we will be planting seeds to observe how they grow. We will also explore the conditions that a seed needs in order to grow well.

Upcoming Events

Family Conferences will take place on Thursday November 16. We will send out a sign-up sheet soon.

Upcoming field trip to the Oculus Greenmarket on November 14.

There is no school on November 7, 23, and 24.

Next Family Friday will take place on November 17. More details to come.

October Newsletter



HALLOWEEN TUESDAY OCTOBER 31, 2017  (see Denise’s upcoming email for more details)


  1. Monday: Science
  2. Tuesday: Music
  3. Wednesday: Big Blocks
  4. Thursday: Library
  5. Friday: Art and P.E.



First graders have been practicing reading quietly and independently for up to 16 minutes every morning!

Also, they are also practicing reading their just-right books- which don’t feel too easy or too hard, but may have a few tricky words. Each student now has their own book box with approximately 10 books. Each week, students will switch those books for new ones from the Classroom Library. (More info on that to come). Additionally, each week, we visit the School Library, where students choose one book to keep in the classroom for the week.

In reading, we try our best by…

  1. Staying in our quiet bubble
  2. Staying focused on reading the whole time
  3. Using strategies for tricky words
  4. Taking care of the books
  5. Never giving up

We have been reading with partners, discussing books, and making predictions. This month, Class 304 will study the features of fiction (characters, setting, problem, events, and solution/tie-up). At home, you can ask your child to talk about the books they read, name their favorite part, what they think about the characters, and/or if they liked the book and why.



First graders were very excited to begin writing as soon as they entered the classroom! Students have practiced quiet and calm independent writing; creating imaginative fiction stories and informational non-fiction pieces.

First graders have been working on building independence in writing. Students have paper choice in the writing center, and they use the writing chart to support their process.

“If I think I am done writing, I can…”

  1. Re-read my story. Does it make sense?
  2. Check punctuation, spelling, and finger spaces.
  3. Add details to words.
  4. Color illustration.
  5. Start a new piece.

Our word wall allows first graders who need help spelling a tricky sight word. We have added familiar kindergarten sight words and will begin learning new first grade sight words soon! Other words can be spelled with invented spelling by stretching out a word and listening for the sounds, or tapping each sound in the word (ex: c-a-t).

This month in writing, we will review letter formation and begin writing narrative pieces about students’ personal experiences.



In math, we have been looking closely at math tools, many of which first graders are familiar with from kindergarten, including ten frames and the bead string. As they count the days of school, first graders are noticing patterns on the bead string, ten frames, and the hundreds chart.

The class has also been working on how to be helpful math partners. When playing a game or sharing one task, first grade mathematicians must work together by talking it out, sharing supplies, and stopping to agree or disagree with each other’s ideas.

This month, we will work on our doubling unit. We started by posing a question… “There are 21 kids in our class. When we walk in two lines down the hall, will everyone have a partner?” Students had to demonstrate how they knew their answer to be true by representing their thinking on paper. Some kids began thinking about how to ensure all kids have a partner by adding a teacher to the line. Eventually, kids will construct understandings about doubles facts, realize that all doubles are also even numbers, and that they are made up of groups of pairs. At home, you can look for things that come in doubles and count how many pairs and how many single objects.


Students have been talking about their feelings. Together, we read books about characters’ life experiences and discussed that we all have emotions, and that events in our lives can make us having certain feelings. Feelings can be less or more intense, and may even feel out of control. We can feel emotions in our bodies. Students wrote about times in their lives when they felt happy, sad, scared, and angry. We bound the work into feelings books, which are now housed in our classroom book display shelf near the rug area.  We will be creating a peace corner this month that students can use when they are experiencing out of control feelings.