Learning Update

Reading: This week, we focused on using what we know about word families to help us figure out new, tricky words. The kids noticed word family words that they knew in a snap. We then used that same word ending to help us figure out other words with the same ending.



We also talked about how good readers stop and check when their reading doesn’t look right, sound right, or make sense. This awareness is crucial for beginning readers who sometimes make the mistake of skipping or changing words. If your child does make a mistake, encourage him/her to fix it, by saying, “Something didn’t sound right (or look right) in the sentence/on that page. Can you find it?” After fixing the mistake, make sure your first grader rereads the corrected sentence to ensure comprehension.

Writing: We started a new unit this week by focusing on making our stories easy for other people to read. We spent time focusing on neat handwriting, finger spaces, capital letters, and end punctuation. We are seeing some huge growth in handwriting and finger spaces. Adding capital letters and punctuation in the right places is a bit trickier and we’ll keep working on this all year. Thank you for sending in the Small Moment Idea List! This has been a huge help in keeping these writers writing.

Math: We are studying subtraction, a new math concept this year. We learned that when we solve stories that  “take something away” we use a minus sign (-) to represent what happened. 

There were 5 cookies. I ate 3. How many are left?

Our first graders learned to represent this thinking with a circle drawing, break-apart stick, and minus sign right through the circles that were taken away.

We also emphasized that a subtraction equation is always a total “minus” a partner, which means that our answer is actually a missing partner (rather than a missing total like an addition equation). Our first graders practiced writing equations with the total first to represent subtraction stories or circle drawings.

Social Studies Update: The past few weeks we’ve learned what it means to be a good citizen. We are working hard to be good citizens in the classroom, in the lunchroom, on the playground, and in the hallway.

A Good Citizen…

1. FOLLOWS RULES. We discussed reasons that we have rules such as rules help us learn, rules keep us safe, rules help make things fair, etc.

2. RESPECTS AUTHORITY. We brainstormed a list of people who have power with authority (principal, teachers, bus drivers, moms, dads, etc.) and how they enforce rules. When we listen and respond to those in authority we are being respectful.

3. IS FAIR. We discussed what fairness looks like at school, and learned that fair isn’t always equal – it’s getting what you need in order to be successful.

4. IS RESPONSIBLE. We learned about ways we can be responsible at school such as making sure that you have all of your materials ready and making sure you don’t lose your coat at recess.

5. HONORS THE USA.  One way we can do this is to respect and remember symbols of the United States that represent our freedom such as the American Flag, White House, Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, and Bald Eagle. We practice this every day as we recite the Pledge of Allegiance together.


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Learning Update


In Math, we have solved addition stories by drawing pictures, using circle drawings, and writing equations. This week, we also learned how to count on, an effective strategy for solving equations with missing totals. In counting on, the first step is to underline the greater number and draw dots above the smaller number. Next, we clap the greater number and count on by using the circles over the smaller number. This is an important strategy that we will continue to use throughout the year.


Your first grader came home today with a blue folder bursting with small moment stories! As we wrapped up our first unit in writing, we spent the week reflecting on our writing. We chose one story to revise, edit, and color. Today, we shared our favorite part of this celebration story with the class and then read our whole story to a partner. We ended our celebration with a juice toast, honoring the important learning that we have done as first grade writers. Students are bringing the rest of their stories home today so that they can read them to you! I am proud of the growth that these first graders have made as writers since September. I look forward to sharing their celebration stories with you at parent teacher conferences.


We added to our accuracy strategies this week. Flippy the Dolphin is a great strategy to use when we are stretching out a word. We first try the short vowel sound and if that doesn’t sound right, we can FLIP IT and try the long vowel sound. Most importantly, when we have a good guess of what we think the tricky word is…we need to be careful. Careful Caterpillar reminds us to make sure that all of the word parts match with our guess. Thank you for helping your child with his/her Reading Homework. This practice at home is so important for building reading confidence! 

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Handwriting Book

Since the beginning of the school year, we have focused on teaching correct formation of the capital and lowercase letters. We finished practicing all of the letters today so our yellow handwriting book was sent home. There are some additional pages that we didn’t complete at school, but your first grader can use these to continue practicing correct letter formation. Thanks for your support at home!



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Learning Update


With beginning readers, it is important to use effective strategies when encountering tricky words. Our class has reviewed several of these strategies that were taught in kindergarten. When stuck on a word, we’ve learned to always study the picture first like Eagle Eye. We also use Lips the Fish and say the first sounds of the word. We can look for a chunk that we know (ing, at, it, sh, ch, and) and use Chunky Monkey. We can also use Stretchy the Snake and zoom in on the tricky word, s-t-r-e-t-c-h out the sounds and crash the sounds together.

Now that we have started our Take Home Book Program, encourage your first grader to use some of these strategies when he/she gets stuck on tricky words. These strategies can be found on the back of Parent Support Page which is in the outside pocket of your child’s blue folder. We look forward to learning more strategies next week.

We have been busy in Writer’s Workshop! We’ve worked on including dialogue details by writing what someone said or by adding a speech bubble to show their words in our pictures. We’ve also learned how to finish our stories with a special ending. When writers end a story, they wrap it up in a special way so that their reader knows that it is done. These endings “tie bows” on our stories. Sharing a big thought or feeling at the end of a story is a good way to finish. We ended our stories with, “I love…” “I hope…” or “I felt…”

Math Update:

In our new math unit this week, we learned how to use pictures and circle drawings to solve story problems. We drew break apart sticks and circles to show the partners. This strategy helped us to figure out the total in a snap! We also learned about equal (=) and not equal (≠). This understanding of equality is an important math concept that students will apply when writing equations throughout this year.

Mind Up:

We’ve continued our study of the brain with an important lesson about optimistic thinking. We learned that having an optimistic attitude helps learning. Our class practiced using phrases such as, “I can try that.” and “I can do that.” Being optimistic is hard when things don’t go as expected, but is an important skill to have both in the classroom and at home.

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Walkathon Winners

We are proud to announce that we had some Walkathon winners in our class. Gavyn and Kyra won gift cards and our class won the Best Class Participation Award! Our class will get to enjoy Sprinkles donuts as a special treat. Thank you for supporting this school fundraiser!

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