1st Grade Learning Zone- Weeks 7 & 8 2019-20

Green Eggs and Grams!

Oh No!!! Poor Autumn’s pancreas.

Grams of sugar that is…

Yes we have begun our sugar unit and the children were fascinated to learn just how much this yummy sweet stuff effects our bodies. When we eat foods from the earth our bodies digest sugars slowly, but when we eat processed foods with added grams of sugar, our bodies are unable to assimilate the quantity. It becomes inundated and the extra sugar has no place to go.

The children learned that our pancreas has a ‘door’ in it so to speak, (like our homes do) and that the door closes when it can’t fit any more sugar inside. The excess sugar keeps floating around in our blood system and this is not healthy!

According to the AMA the amount of sugar that a child should have per day is no more than 12-15g.

We did some calculating of grams of sugar by viewing the nutritional labels of some small halloween candy. What we found was surprising. There are 4 grams of sugar in one teaspoon and we noticed that 3 little pieces of halloween candy had between 13 to 18 grams. This calculated out to be 3 to 4 teaspoons of sugar. The children poured these grams into a jar and it all became crystal clear. This candy is just a snack and it is already over the recommended daily amount. Add this to our breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals and we begin to see just how much sugar we are ingesting per day… WAY too much!

“3 Snickers has 13 grams of sugar, so lets pour 3 teaspoons in the jar!”
Audrey’s rocking using her left hand while her broken arm heals!

We will continue this study of sugar and continue calculating food items. Don’t be surprised if your ‘babes’ start asking to see the nutritional label on food items at home or at the grocery store.

As far Halloween goes…”you are welcome” :). The ‘Switch Witch’ will sound much more appealing now. 🙂

Conferences were great and Gabrielle and I enjoyed all of our time with you. We adore your children and look forward to the learning (and fun) that lies ahead.

Speaking of fun…the pumpkin patch was a smash! It was great seeing so many friends out on this beautiful weekend.

Pumpkin Life!

Recap of Weeks 7 & 8

Guided Reading Groups have begun and the children are practicing their phonics, segmenting, oral reading, sight words, spelling, and writing. In addition to these guided reading groups, we will begin individual reading times and a weekly Reader’s Workshop practice.

A year long 60 word irregular sight word list was sent home again for your viewing pleasure. The children are practicing 1 list per month and are NOT expected to spell these words. Please practice them at home with your child while reading with them. I have told the kiddos to hang the list by their reading nook, as well as, all over their house…the bathroom, the kitchen, the living room, on the TV etc. 😉

A Reading Log went home and the children were told that they can fill this out to track how many books they have read over the year. It is not mandatory and is not being used as a reading record. If they turn them in, I will keep them for their end of year portfolio. I will also give them new ones each time they return it. It is purely for individual tracking purposes only.

Cultivating an excitement for literature is the underlying motive for this year. Having children love to read is the secret to a life long love affair with books. Reading nooks, finger lights, reading logs and word lists pasted all over the house seem to get children engaged. Have fun with these prompts and watch your child learn to read.


Writers Workshop is a beloved part of the day. The children are learning about ‘seed’ stories (as opposed to watermelon stories). They are focusing on the small moments in their days and are using lots of detail and description words to write about them. We use mentor texts such as George McClements ‘Night of the Veggie Monster‘ to relay what small moments are and the kiddos are becoming writing machines. They are loving the writing process and telling their stories to others.

We continue to practice our printing skills with the children being reminded to start their letters at the top and to hold their pencils correctly.


This week we are ending Unit 1 and will begin Unit 2. This unit will develop strategies with Dice and dominoes and will focus on counting-on, using doubles, making 10, writing fact families, solving story problems, and counting by 5’s & 10’s. The children are enjoying the daily Number Corner and are learning about graphing, patterns, decades, equations, tally marking, and the number line.

Hey…are you having fun while doing math? AWESOME!


Asia made an appearance this week and the ‘babes’ were in awe of the beautiful countries. Some were so spectacular that they kept saying that they wanted Gateway School to move there. Every continent of study prompts these thoughts. They are learning that the world is a beautiful place and it is why we should protect it.


Along with our Sugar Unit of Study, we continue with our brain discussion. We will be adding the ‘cerebellum’ to our in-class brain and will be sending home a piece of clay for children’s at-home brains.

Project Base & Service Learning:

We ‘ideated’ this week (the 2nd step in the Design thinking process) and came up with 100 ideas on how to clean up the Pacific Gyre. A Social Justice piece, was also incorporated into this study by asking the children “how do humans connect to the ocean” and “why is it important to protect it”? The discussion led to “whether there might be any groups of people that may not be able to speak out about this importance”. We pondered about what we could/should do?

“…and this is our class taking a filed trip to the ocean to save it”
~ Stella!

Design Lab:

Design Lab is an anticipated part of exploration and this week we have Stella & Austin. The designs are detailed and the prototypes of soccer stadiums and tree houses are darling.

Growth Mindset:

Resilience is the focus and the children are practicing bouncing back. In order to help with this concept we have brought in our friend the ‘Resilient Bag’…as you can guess, the kiddos are loving it.


Social Emotional Learning:

We are practicing the importance of being kind in our communication. It is becoming clear that that when we deliver a message with a vinegar voice it will not be received well. ‘Honey’ voices are the name of the game…even when our amygdala’s are going off. Please feel free to use this verbiage at home.


This week we filled our hearts with love, light, flowers, and beautiful thoughts. We closed our eyes and took deep cleansing breaths. The children imagined their hearts as flower petals, with the petals opening up on each breath. They allowed bright rays of sunshine inside of their flowers and were fed by this positive energy. The flowers embraced the light wrapping its petals around this ball of magical power. Children went to lunch each day looking for the light in people as well as, themselves. They demonstrated random acts of kindness; holding doors open for each other, carrying each others items, and being authentically compassionate towards one another.

Compassion will become a common word this month as we begin our 2nd week the Compassion-it challenge. Each week the kiddos will focus on practicing different acts of compassion, such as compassion for themselves, compassion for others, & compassion for our planet. Check the Friday folder for the detailed schedule. Do it at home too! It will be heart warming to see your child think deeper about acts of kindness & compassion. This week is ‘Compassion for Friends and Family‘.

The Schedule:

  • 1- Mindfulness
  • 2- Compassion for Freinds and Family
  • 3- Compassion for Self
  • 4- Compassion for All
  • 5-Comapssion for our Planet

Featured Artist: Shorya Mahanot

We will begin looking at the amazing child artist Shorya Mahanot. He lives in India on the continent of Asia (our continent of study) and he paints abstracts using tape. The children will begin their inspired works on Friday.

Alieta Andre & the Fall inspired canvas’ are named and completed. They turned out gorgeous! We are inquiring about displaying them before sending them home.

Featured Authors: Mo Willems & Dav Pilkey

This picture says it all! Piggie & Elephant books are getting children excited to read! We have a list of kiddos who are wanting to read ‘out loud’ to their friends and to be able to sit in the teachers chair is an added bonus! Fun, fun, fun!

Gabrielle an I are all smiles listening to them read with different voices and expression.

Maya reads ‘Happy Pig Day’ to her classmates!
It was a ‘Happy Kids Day’ for sure!

Upcoming For Week 9:

Chunk Spelling: ‘am’- (at, et, ug, ip, ig, in, & og)

Words of the Week: Balderdash & Gobbledegook (prior words- shenanigans, rapscallion, hornswoggle, collywobbles, gongoozle, bamboozle)

Family Culture Share: This Friday October 25th our honored family will be Charles Smith.


Dav Pilkey Event: (one of our Featured authors) will be in town this week! I hope to see you at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on Thursday, October 24th @ 6:00. Activities for children begin at 4:30. It is a ticketed event- $21 includes entry for 1 Adult & 1Child.

Literary ‘Balderdash & Gobbledegook’

Halloween Festivities & Pumpkin Drop!- The K/1 parade will take place from 11:15 to 11:45. The pumpkin drop will happen immediately afterwards. Our 1st grade party begins 1:15 and will last until the end of the school day. Phew… what a day it is going to be.

Farm to Fork‘ Field Trip: November 1st will be our Farm to Fork field trip. We will spend time engaging with healthy foods (so appropriate for the day after Halloween). After First Friday, we will meet in the classroom and leave promptly at 9:30. 🙂

*We have had some interest in parent drivers. Please email me once again if you have decided to drive on this trip.

Thank you ahead of time for volunteering!

Activism T-shirts on ‘Earth Friendly Friday’: is becoming a thing. T-shirts representing ‘things to do for our planet & its animals’ are starting to pour over to the other classrooms too! Thank you for participating…lets keep this movement going.

Yay! Earth Friendly Friday

Have a magical week and don’t forget to peek at the waning moon.

Love & Peace,

Jonnie (& Gabrielle)