November 2017 – ‘The Learning Zone’- Weeks 12, 13 & 14

Quote of the Month:

“A person who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new!”

Hello Families,

It has been a wonderful few weeks!

Week 12 was spent in the Discovery lab creating 3-d characters and writing stories about them. The children always love going with Krissie and learning about technology.

There were only 2 days in week 13, but they were days filled with love. Grandfriends day was great fun and family and friends were thoroughly enjoying themselves. The children showed off their classroom, while the adults emmersed themselves into the life of a 1st grader. They broke geodes, viewed crystals, painted, read, melted crayons, made puppets, and participated in mindfulness. It warmed my heart watching the interactions and seeing their smiles as they spent time together.



Family Culture Shares are still a favorite in our class. Here are Mikala and Rhiannon telling about their unique and special families.


Week 14 we said goodbye to our ‘author, continent, and artist’ of the month: Gerald McDermott , Asia, and Shorya Mohanot. During the last week of the month we always spend time reflecting on our learning and what it is we enjoyed the most.

Mark your calendars for this Sunday December 10th at 5:00- Jan Brett (our new author of the month) will be in Santa Cruz, at the MAH talking about her new book ‘The Mermaid’. This event will be hosted by Bookshop Santa Cruz and should be a blast. Jan is a legend and the kids will enjoy seeing their ‘author of the month’ in person!

Last thing: we are collecting food or money for Second Harvest Food Drive. This is a nice way for children to think about others who are ‘less fortunate’ during this season of giving.

Have a great rest of the week.

Alright…. on to the details of ‘The Learning Zone’.

Growth Mindset, Mindfulness, & Social Emotional Learning:

Growth Mindset Quote of the Month:

‘Feedback helps me improve”

  • Growth Mindset- In December we are focusing on the mindset ‘Optimism’ and in having a good attitude towards learning. This is important when challenges become more difficult. It is very easy to say, “this isn’t fun” or “I don’t like this” when things aren’t going well. Being optimistic towards our learning (and others as well) is a necessary mindset to posses. This helps in being receptive to feedback and in achieving our goals.


  • Mindfulness – is becoming more extensive as the children learn to be present in the moment. We have practiced mindful seeing, breathing, eating, hearing, and walking. They are becoming aware that mindfulness is a tool to use to help recognize feelings & thoughts. It is helping them understand that they are in charge of their thinking and feelings and that they can be empowered. Ask your child about how they calm their ‘amygdala’ (the fight, flight, or freeze part of the brain that is in charge of emotions)
  • Social- Emotional – Our VOICES program: This month our social emotional ‘literary reads’ are talking about ‘Conflict Resolution’ and are great catalysts to opening up dialog amongst the children.  There can never be too much conversation about how to respond to ‘hurt, angry, or sad’ feelings.


We are completing unit 3 and will be assessing their learning this week. They have been working on number models (number sentences), parts and totals (number bonds), number stories, matching pairs, ways to count, skip counting, & frames and arrows. Unit 4 will emphasize  measurement, data collection, graphs, shapes, base 10 blocks, and more doubles and addition.

‘Just living the math dream’!

Printing, Sentence School, & Writing Workshop:

Printing, correct formation, sizing, and orientation are still a focus. We are writing sentences and recognizing subjects, verbs, and now adjectives. We are also adding to our punctuation repertoire, such as commas and quotations.

We completed our 1st unit of Writing Workshop and celebrated with a spectacular ‘publishing party’! The children invited their 3rd grade buddies and read their books to them while snacking on a healthy fruit treat. It was captured by our marketing directer and put on our Gateway Facebook page. The children felt so special.

We will embark upon our Non-Fiction unit of study beginning December 11th and it will continue through January 2018. Stay tuned!

Reading Workshop & Word Study:

Our reading unit of study is ‘Non-Fiction’ as well, and we will be reading many ‘informational’ books. This will last throughout January.

Our reading rule of the month is:

“A CVCe (consonant -vowel-consonant + e) words usually has a long vowel sound.” (silent e)

I am apologizing ahead of time for the “Magic E’ song that your child will be singing and humming incessantly for the next month…

We continue to practice our ‘Chunk Spelling’.  The chunk families that we have been practicing thus far, and which are going to be practiced this month are:


at, et, ot, & ug


ip, ig, in, op, & am


ap, un, ed,


og, ill, ack, & ash

Please practice these chunks with your child.


Cookie has begun her 2nd round of visits….whoo hoo! When she is not playing with her friends, she spends her time responding to children’s letters. They love writing to her and dropping them off in her mailbox. Come check out Cookie’s binder; the letters are quite darling.

Word of the Week:

The word of the week is: ‘ hullabaloo’   (a bunch of commotion)

(words so far have been: shenanigans, rapscallion, hornswoggle, bamboozle, lollygag,  bumfuzzle, jargogle, doppleganger, gobbledygook, balderdash, & skulduggery)


Yes it is happening….Crystals and Rocks. One word to describe their interest is…EXCITEMENT! Drop mic!

We will be researching the rock cycle and will be learning about how crystals form. We will be making crystals too. The children will learn about and use the scientific method to conduct their exploration and their research will be logged into their little lab book.

For example: What is your…

Inquiring Question: What do you think will happen when you mix Borax and hot water? or What are rocks made of?

Hypothesis: I think….

Experiment: Let’s try….

Conclusion: What is the result of your experiment?

This should be fun….

Also, as the season is changing we are talking about how animals adapt? Do they migrate, stay, or hibernate? Our classroom has a ‘hibernating cave’ (where the children will ‘put to sleep’, for the season, a few of our classroom stuffy’s). We may also build a small mock habitat showing the other various places animals chose to hibernate.

Geography/Environmental Project Based Learning:

Europe continues to be our continent of study and we will look more closely at Norway, France, and Ireland as a few of our families come from these places.

Our ‘project base learning’ is trash. We are talking about trash and its effects on the environment; in particularly, plastic. We have decided as a class to stop using plastic straws when going out to eat and are beginning to discuss other ways in we can help the environment.

Author of the Month:

Our new Author of the Month is Jan Bret.

Artist of the Month:

Kieron Williamson

Explore Time & Design Lab:

The creations keep happening. They look forward to design lab everyday.

Thank you for bringing in such great materials.

Also, we are in need of toilet paper and paper towel rolls.

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

Reminders & Updates:

Important Dates:

December 10th- Jan Brett @ Bookshop Santa Cruz @ 5:00

December 22 – January 7 – Winter Break

Monday, March 16 & March 19 – Spring Conferences

April 2 – April 6 – Spring Break

Have a great week

Very Warmest,