September 2017 – ‘The Learning Zone’ – Week 5

We have been in school 23 days and have said goodbye to September 2017. The children have already learned so much.

The children know that they are readers, writers, artists, mathematicians, engineers, designers, scientists, & (philosophers thanks to Jon, JJ’s daddy). They know about growth mindset, neural pathways, and that mistakes are valuable. They know that our season just changed and know that the moon waxes and wanes. They know that Australia is a cool continent and is considered the biggest island in the world. They know that we are a ‘school family’ and that life is so much sweeter when we are kind and inclusive. This has been a spectacular September!

The newest rage is looking for letters in nature. We have a dedicated spot for them if you happen to find some (you can take a picture if it is too big).

On Friday, we said goodbye to Aelita Andre, Australia, and Mo Willems, but not to fret….we will say hello to Asia, Shorya Mahanot, and Tomi de Paola.

We will also be talking about harvest, healthy food, sugar, blood cells, resilience, and the word ‘yet’!  We will be doing everything pumpkin and eating everything apple.

If you have either in abundance they are welcome here in the ‘Learning Zone’.

Family culture shares have been going great and I want to thank JJ’s family for coming in and sharing their unique and special family. We all loved it and the hala bread was….Mmmmm Mmmmm Yummy.

Just to keep you in the loop, the children have decided to make Tuesday’s, Emperor Penguin day and Friday’s, Giants day. Whatever that looks like for them is fine with me.

Jr. (Echo’s hermit crab) has been visiting this last week and the kids have really taken a liking to him or her (Cookie has too!).

Everybody partook in making him a city out of blocks and was making sure he was comfortable and alive.

All is going wonderful in 1st grade and I am over the moon with this class.

Here is glimpse of our past week:


Growth Mindset, Mindfulness, & Social Emotional Learning:

Our focus on growth mindset has taken off and the children are becoming very familiar with the mindsets for learning (persistence, resilience, flexibility, optimism, & empathy). This last month we focused on persistence. Views on ‘failing’ have changed and the thinking surrounding embracing challenges has grown. The children know that making mistakes is an essential part of learning and the phrase ‘my neural pathways are getting deeper’ has become a staple in the ‘Learning Zone’ (our classroom).

Mindfulness moments have been a daily practice and this month we will partake in the 30 day ‘Compassionate- It’  challenge. I have included the calendar in an email so that families may participate as well. Here it is in short:

Week 1: Mindfulness

Week 2: Compassion for Friends & Family

Week 3: Self Compassion

Week 4: Compassion for All

Week 5: Compassion for our Planet

We continue to monitor our moods throughout the day using our RULER program’s ‘Mood Meter’; it has really helped the children pay attention to their feelings and to the feelings of others. As children’s moods fluctuate throughout the day, conversations are arising as to why.  It is bringing awareness to the notion that our actions and words can effect others. At this developmental stage, children are learning how to navigate the social aspects of play & conflict and about the dynamics of friendship.  There is a direct correlation between feeling a sense of belonging and in doing well in school. When social struggles arise this can be difficult on the 7 year old heart as well on academic performance. Children need constant dialog about the importance of kindness and inclusion and this happens everyday in the Learning Zone.

Please let me know if your child is feeling sad or if something is going on in their life. A strong home-school connection is important for children.


We now have an extensive list of math tools that we can use to help us figure out math equations and we have a few more math games under our belt. This week we will begin scaffolding addition and number stories into the mix and will begin the manipulation of numbers.

Math games continue to go home each Friday. Please try and play these games with your child so that they acquire a familiarity.

Writing Workshop, Printing, & Sentence School:

The children celebrated their writing by having a ‘museum walk’ on Friday. They each picked their favorite story piece and fancied it up. Then they displayed their story on their desk and proceeded to to view each others work. It was fun and satisfying. Writing Workshop has focused on the various aspects of independant writing including:

  • Lives are full of stories
  • Planning for writing: touch, tell, sketch , write, revise
  • Using pictures
  • Stretching words to spell
  • Zooming in and focusing on small moments
  • Partnerships in storytelling
  • Reading our writing like we read our books

Our next bend will hone in on bringing small moments to life

  • Unfreezing our characters
  • Telling stories in itsy-bitsy steps
  • Making characters think and feel
  • Using familiar words

‘Printing & Sentence School’  has focused on formation and structure. This has aided in them acquiring a controlled and improved penmanship. Please remind your child to sign in every morning after they put their back pack away. To keep the practice up, here are some fun ways to encourage writing at home; have your child write grocery lists or write notes on the calendar. Writing is an important skill to have even in the 21st century. Brain research has shown that writing aids in eye hand coordination and in developing the cerebellum.

Reading Workshop & Word Study:

Reading Workshop has introduced the concept of ‘evidence ‘ when talking about a book. Explaining through evidence helps with comprehension. We are still focusing on reading strategies that help children decode print. I have sent home little notes in the Friday folders showing which strategies children have been working on; while you read with your child ask them to explain and use these strategies. So far we have studied; chunky monkey, stretchy the snake, and try-in lion.

Reading nooks have taken off and the kids are talking about how they have fancied up their reading space. Rhiannon was excited to share pictures of her nook.

Chunk spelling is a morning favorite and as we learn these chunk families, the children are adding digraphs and first sounds to them. We will now add blends to our reading tool-belt.

September’s chunk spelling families were:

at, et, ot, & ug

October’s chunks will be:

ip, ig, in, op, & am

Please practice these chunks with your child. Have them look for chunk families while they read and have them write funny poems or stories.

Also, I sent home a list of irregular ‘snap’ words which should be put near their reading nook. These are words that they need to know in a ‘snap’ so please practice with them. I will go over 10 a month.


Cookie’s favorite thing has happened….she got some letters delivered to her from the kids. Camille started this process and friends followed suit. Cookie has answered 5 letters now and she loves it. She is excited to receive more. What a great way to get inspired to read and write.

Word of the Week:

The word of the week is: ‘lollygag’ (the children did not lollygag while on our walk about).

(words so far have been: Shenanigans, rapscallion, hornswoggle, & bamboozle)


Our brain study has taken a backseat this week, as the children became fascinated with leaves and why they change color. They brought in some leaves and requested to view them under the microscope and light table. We talked about the seasons and possible reasons that leaves change color. The kids came up with some amazing hypothesis’. We will be doing some more research regarding this phenomenom and see what conclusions they come up with.


This last week we completed our ‘Identity Awareness’ unit which focused on positive senses of self. The books reflected many types of children & families and also children with many types of abilities. It is always a nice way to begin the year.  We will now move on to ‘Perspective Talking’ which will heighten awareness about how others might think or feel. Our reading this week will be Owl Moon.


What a great closure to Australia. This week we went on a ‘walk about’  to our beautiful Light House Field with our Diggory-Doo in hand thanks to David our wonderful music teacher.  Bill (Esme’s daddy) and Jennifer (JJ’s mommy) came along and added to our good time. Photos credit for the pictures below go to Jen and our extended knowledge on Monarch Butterflies is owed to Bill. Thank you so much for joining us on our adventure!

Studying this continent has been fun and we will now ‘travel’ to the continent  of Asia. The kids are excited because Panda’s live there!



Artist of the Month:

We waved goodbye to Aelita Andre and thanked her for her painting techniques. The kids were sad to say ‘so long’ but understand that they can be inspired by her art and style forever. Our auction project will be inspired by her and this made them happy. They now get to be introduced to anther amazing chid artist, Shorya Mahanot, a little boy who lives in India. His choice of medium and technique is also intriguing; he uses layers of paint and tape to give depth to his creative pieces.



Explore Time & Design Lab:

Explore Time & Design Lab have been a special time for children to decide what they want to do.  They decide if they want to be engineers, scientists, painters, mathematicians, designers, readers, or writers. No matter what it is, the children enjoy this autonomy and independence and it has proved to be an invaluable part of their learning experience.

We have gamers in the house:

“Play Is the Highest Form of Research”- Albert Einstein

Reminders & Updates:

Important Dates:

In-Service, No School – Monday, October 9

Fall Goal Setting Conferences for Your Child and You – Friday, October 20, and Monday, October 23 (a sign up sheet will be out soon for your planning convenience)

Thanksgiving Break – November 22-24

Winter Break –  December 22 – January 7

Spring Conferences – Monday, March 16 & March 19

Spring Break – April 2 – April 6

Reminders: If you haven’t sent in a picture of your child, please do so.  They are being displayed on the ‘Honored Family’ board.

Have a great week

Very Warmest,