Archive for November, 2015

This week in class…

Good Monday afternoon!!!
 I hope all of you had a very happy and restful Thanksgiving break!  It was wonderful to see all of your children this morning.  They all came in very excited to see and talk with each other again.
This Thursday evening is the Holiday performance at Westfield High School.  First and second grade students along with choir members will be performing.  The show begins at 7, but please plan to arrive early, as there is usually only standing room each year.  I’ll be there by 6:30 to greet your children.  More information as to where to meet will be sent home this week.  Mrs. Cole has also been sending information regarding the performance over the last few weeks.  If you know your child will not be attending this performance, please let me know as soon as possible.  We will be traveling to the high school on Thursday morning to practice.  Permission forms for this were sent home before break.  If I’ve not yet received one from you, I’ll send an extra copy in your child’s folder tomorrow.
In your child’s folder tonight, you will find several things.  There is the usual homework packet with today’s spelling practice test of course.    This week’s words are definitely more challenging than we’ve had up to this point.  This week we are working on triple s clusters.  There will be a lot of in class practice with this skill this week, but please practice at home as well.  In the folders you will also find a special holiday homework assignment.  This is not required, but a fun lead-in activity to our big gingerbread unit we started today.  We’ve done this activity in years past and had a blast sharing them in the classroom.  You can be as creative as you wish with your child.  In the past I’ve seen gingerbread friends disguised as ninja turtles, Batman, ballerinas, ghosts, Spiderman, and community helpers.  Have fun with it and let your child do the work!  There is also a letter about the upcoming Scholastic Book Fair at school and how you can help a child in need.  If you aren’t able to help, please just disregard the letter that was sent.
As I mentioned above, we began our big Gingerbread unit today, one of my favorite units of the year.  There are so many fun things going on in class the next few weeks with this unit and I’m excited to have your child share those experiences with you.  To amp up the fun a little, I’m sending one of three stuffed Gingerbread friends home with a different child every day.  Our first three ginger friends went home with students tonight.  While the stuffed friend is at your house, please help me in making this fun for your child.  Include the stuffed friend in your family errands and activities.  Remind your children to take care of them and watch them closely so they don’t run away, as they’ve been known to do in the past and in the stories we are reading in class.  Remember, in a first grader’s eyes, these things are the real deal!  Ha!  A letter is included in the bag with the friend so you have some guidance on what to do.  Thank you for your help in this!!!
A reminder of this week’s specials:
Today: Music
Tuesday: P.E.
Friday: Music
I’ll be in touch throughout the week with more classroom updates.  Have a great night and please let me know if you need anything.

Today’s Pow-Wow…

Good afternoon!
I wanted to take the opportunity to thank all of the parents who gave their time today to help us at our Pow-Wow.  Our class had a ton of fun and had the chance to do a lot of exciting hands-on learning.  Without the help of these parents, today would not have been possible.  Thank you so much to Melissa Huhn, Heidi Onda, Jessica Esslinger, Gwen Papacek, Leslie Sutcliffe, and Sawyer Beier.
This afternoon I had the opportunity to load some of our Pow-Wow pictures onto our classroom website.  Please take a peek at them when you have a moment.  The children are just precious in their outfits and their smiles say it all!!!
Just a quick overview of what we did in our stations includes:
Station 1: Indian Corn Math and Wilderness Animal Hunting
Station 2: Symbol Math
Station 3: Making Tee-Pees and Feather Blowing Relay
Station 4: Place Mat Weaving and Bear Skin Story Writing
Station 5: Jewelry Making and Face Painting
Every child is bringing home their “make and take” bags today.  Inside should be their cute creations.
Have a happy Thanksgiving and I’ll be in touch next week.
For specials after break we have the following:
Take care and travel safe,
Christie Buonanno

Pow-Wow Pictures

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Good afternoon!
I hope you are all doing well and enjoyed your weekend.  What did you think of the first snow of the season?  I thought it was beautiful the first hour or two it was coming down.  After that, I was ready for spring!!!!
Folders were not sent home today.  I will send those again after break.
For the Pow-wow tomorrow, please have your child wear a short or long sleeved shirt that we can slip another shirt easily over.  There isn’t a lot of extra room in the shirts we’ve made so big puffy clothes won’t work well.  And, with the fringe on the bottom, we may have some bellies showing if there isn’t a layer underneath.
We have been really busy at work here today getting ready for the Pow-Wow tomorrow.  The children have been making stories on their “make and take” bags for tomorrow.  And, we used pictograms to decorate our feathered headbands.  This morning, we passed out the tie-dyed shirts we made last week and they were excited to see the final product.  Thank you to Maverick’s mom, Sawyer, for volunteering to cut all the fringe on them for us.  They look great!  I know a couple of you asked if you were supposed to turn in white shirts, as you’d talked with friends from other classes who had to.  I assure you that you didn’t miss anything.  I had a bunch of shirts I’d collected over the years or people left behind so we were able to use those and spare everyone a few dollars.  I will be collecting white shirts in the spring so we can make our class/team shirts for field day though!
Today we read Legend of the Indian Paintbrush  and created a Tee-Pee book to retell the story.  We’ve had fun doing this and mapping out our story elements in a little different fashion than normal.  You can view this story on You Tube if you’d like.  It’s written by Tomie de Paola.  I encourage you to ask your children about this legend tonight, as it is a neat story they truly enjoyed.  Of course we talked about what a legend is as well.
While there is no homework or spelling this week due to our short week together, I did give each child a reading baggie to bring home.  This is not required, but for those who want a different bed time story or would like to talk about the history of Thanksgiving at home, it gives some good information.  A lot of the children will need help with the reading and that is okay.  Just have fun and use them as talking texts, things you can read and learn together from.  These do not need to be returned, they are for the children to keep.  For those in my reading group, I added an extra book, level N, along with some talking points about the book if you’d like to try it with your child.
Even as cold as it was today, I had many children who did not wear coats to school.  If you have a winter coat for your child at home, please make sure he/she wears or brings it to school.  We do go outside to play on days like today and it is way too cold out in our so-called wind tunnel back there to be without a coat.  A hat and gloves would be helpful too at this point.  We did not go out today because so many friends in first grade were not dressed warm enough.  These kids really need to get out for some fresh air by 12:30 each day so please help us in dressing them warm!  It makes a HUGE difference in our afternoon attention spans and behavior choices too when we can get out and run and move for a few minutes.
Last week in math, we spent a lot of time working on fact families.  The kids had an absolute blast with this, as there are so many fun hands-on activities to do with this.  We also completed our work on all of our addition strategies and I feel like we have a really good grasp on those.  We will continue with our subtraction strategies after break and also continue our practice with fact families.
We did some more work with visualization last week as we did some reading on Native Americans and Pilgrims and illustrated the stories we heard.  With this we also spent time talking about Pilgrim life and comparing it to our lives now.  Children learned the differences in then vs. now.  We also read stories about Squanto and how he helped the Pilgrims when they came to America.  The children learned about William Bradshaw and we talked about life on the seas as people traveled to find religious freedoms.
At the end of last week and this week we are working on reasons we are grateful.  We had a great class discussion today about all the reasons we are thankful and how we could reach out to help others this time of year.  The children have such big hearts, truly!
I have so much more to tell, but I’ve got to pick up my boys from school.
If you are planning on helping us for tomorrow’s pow-wow, I’ll see you around 9:30 in the multipurpose room.
If you haven’t already done so, please return a signed copy of the report card that was sent home Friday.  I also need the permission forms returned to state your child can travel to Westfield High School with us on December 3rd.
Have a great night,

Happy Friday-A Few Updates and News

Happy Friday!
I’ll write a more extended update of our week later, as I have to run out to pick up my kids now, but wanted to let you know a few quick things…
1.  Report cards were sent home today in the children’s folders.  Get out your magnifying glasses because you may need them to read the comments on the back.  Sorry about that, but I was having trouble formatting and making everything fit as it should so I gave up, shrunk it, and put it on sideways.  Whoops!  There are two copies of the report.  You may keep one and the other needs to be signed and returned to me next week.
2.  Mr. Papacek and his sweet son Jonah did a really fun science experiment with our class this morning.  I can’t wait to tell you more detail about this in my email later.  Ask your children to see the polymer balls they brought home tonight.  Thank you Mr. Papacek for an amazing experience for the class today!
3.  We did hand out this month’s Guiding Principle Ribbon and Lunch Bunch Award this week.  Congratulations to Maverick Beier for earning the “Compassionate” ribbon and to Stella Trogadis for working hard to earn the Lunch Bunch Award.  I’m proud of both of these children for their efforts this past month!
4.  Next Tuesday, November 24th is our Native American Pow-Wow.  Thank you to those who volunteered to spend time with us and helping us rotate through our stations.  The following people are who I’ve heard from so far…
Morning Session 9:30-10:40
-Melissa Huhn, Heidi Onda (rotating between classes), Jessica Esslinger, and Gwen Papacek
Afternoon Session 11:45-12:30
-Leslie Sutcliffe, Melissa Huhn, Heidi Onda (rotating between two classes), Jessica Esslinger, and Gwen Papacek
5. Special Area Classes for next week include:
Monday-Library and Tuesday-Art
6.  There will be no PALS (reading groups) or Fast Forword for our class next week due to our shortened week together.
7.  I introduced a new math game, “Flip It”, today.  The children are very excited to start playing this and adding it to the array of fact fluency games they’ve learned over the last few weeks.
8.  If you have not yet sent in a deck of cards for your child to keep in his/her desk for math and are able to do so, it would be GREATLY appreciated!!!  Thank you to everyone who already sent some in.
9.  Thank you to the families who sent in items for our Silent Auction basket.  We have a good start, but could definitely use some more to beef up our basket.  Again, our theme is all arts and crafts stuff.  No donation is too small!!!
Have a fantastic Friday evening and I’ll be in touch over the weekend about some academic highlights from the week!

Academic Highlights from Last Week…

I wanted to give you all a quick overview of what we did in our class last week…
First of all, I want to thank Lily’s mom, Heidi, for coming in over the last few weeks and helping the students with their Dolche sight words.  And, thank you to Reid’s mom, Jessica, for coming and copying papers and assembling books and projects for us.  The extra help is beyond appreciated!!!
In Math…
Last week in math we spent a great deal of time reviewing our addition/computation strategies.  We’ve spent a great deal of time on this the first part of the year because it is the building block to everything going forward.  I believe students should have a good grasp of addition and the different strategies they can use to solve their problems.  Some of the strategies we reviewed include: plus zero, counting up (+1, +2, +3), turn around facts (commutative property), doubles, doubles plus one, tens partners, and plus ten.  We worked a lot on math wrap-ups and our electronic number bond triangles to build our fact fluency.  I also taught the children a game called “counting to ten” which is a game of strategy in counting up.  They loved it!  I also introduced them to a fun math game using cards that they can play independently and it is a great review for tens partners.  They also loved this one.  Another free time that was introduced was “Climb and Slide”.  It is similar to the game of Chutes and Ladders only the children must complete math facts before moving on.  This week, I have two more games to introduce them to for fact fluency.
In our daily spiral math instruction, we reviewed place value and finding the number of tens and ones in any given number.  We also worked on time to the nearest hour and half hour and continuing patterns in numbers.  The children have worked with line, bar and pictographs to read data, and they’ve been continuing to work on solving word problems using pictures and number sentences.
In Spelling…
Last week the concept in spelling was ending N blends (nd, ng, and nt).  The spelling words are getting progressively more difficult, but we are working hard and making strides.  As I’ve mentioned other times, I don’t look for perfection, but I look to see if a child improves their knowledge between the Monday pre-test and the final test on Friday.  And, I look to see if there is a knowledge or understanding of the vowel sounds in the words and if children are hearing and writing necessary blend and digraph sounds.  This weeks words focus on final consonant blends (ft, lp, lt, and mp).  We practice our words with letter magnets, stamps, sentence writing and reading, rainbow writing, and word play games each week.
In Science…
For science we’ve been working with turkeys since it is the month of November.  Last week we did a fact and opinion activity with turkey information.  Children learned that male turkeys are called toms, females are called hens, and baby turkeys are called poults.  They learned that only wild turkeys can fly as well.  We also learned some different parts of a turkey and worked with that vocabulary to label a turkey in the room.  Of course we tied writing into our science and read a few fiction books about turkeys and then wrote a “how to” paper on how to catch a turkey.  The children made their own coffee filter turkeys to put with their writings which are displayed in the hallway.  They turned out really cute and they even enjoyed learning how the colored ran together on the filters with marker and water.
In Reading…
We’ve really been working hard on dissecting the books that we read.  We’ve done a lot of work with identifying the beginning, middle and end of stories and identifying the change of emotions in the book which is the same as finding the problem and solution to a story.  With each book that we read, students journaled about it in their writing portfolio and practiced also writing their own beginning, middle and ends.  We also did a lot of work with visualization and mental imaging, which they have really enjoyed, as it means working with their imaginations.
In Social Studies…
This was an important week with social studies, as we were able to celebrate Veteran’s Day together.  We spent some time watching two video clips about what it means to be a veteran and the reason behind this meaningful holiday.  Many of the children were excited to share they had veterans in their families and we talked about ways we can honor those people and what the word “freedom” means to us.
I’m sorry this is on the short side, but I’ve got to wrap this up and pick your sweet children up from P.E.  Have a great afternoon!

Monday Morning Updates…

Good morning!
I hope you all had a really nice weekend and got to enjoy the beautiful weather we had again.
I am in the middle of some academic updates on my blog for you all and will try to get those finished and sent out during my prep today.
Until then, here are a few things to know for this week and upcoming weeks…
1.  Last week I began teaching your children some fun new math games to practice their fact fluency.  I’m currently working on a game folder to send home to all of you so you have the directions for these and can also play with your children at home.  Many of the fluency games I am teaching require decks of playing cards.  While I have several here in the room, I do not have enough sets for the children to play the independent games I’ve been teaching.  I’d love if every child could bring in one deck of cards to keep in his/her own free time bucket for the year.  I’m filling these buckets full of reading and sight word activities for them to do in their free time after finishing work.  If you have an extra set of cards at home you can send in or can pick one up for your child, it would be VERY appreciated!!!  Thank you so much!!!
2.  Next week is our big first grade Thanksgiving Pow-Wow.  In preparation for this, we began making our tie-dye shirts last week in class.  The children did all the rubber banding and did an amazing job. And, I took them home over the weekend to soak and finish dyeing.  I’m in search of one or two parents who would love a take-home project this week.  Once I finish dyeing and washing the shirts, I’m looking for one or two people who would be willing to take the shirts home and cut fringe on the bottoms and on the sleeves.  It’s easy and goes pretty fast once you get in a rhythm with it.  We would need them back by next Monday, one week from today.  If you are interested in volunteering for this job, please let me know.
3.  This weeks specials include:
4.  On Wednesday of this week, I will be out all day.  I’m so sorry I have to be away again, but my youngest who has C.P. is having a bunch of tests done and this is the only time we could get in.  Mrs. Rowe, who is absolutely wonderful and has been with my class before, will be standing in for me.  She is very excited to be here again and the children just adore her!!!  If you have anything you need that day, please contact the front office and they will get you taken care of.
5.  Thank you to everyone who returned the Pow-Wow volunteer forms already.  We are still in need of a few helping hands for our class so if you haven’t already sent that in and would like to spend time with us, please let me know.
6.  Last week I mentioned in one of my emails that for this year’s school carnival, we’ve been assigned a basket theme for the silent auction.  Our theme is “art supplies”.  We had one donation sent in today of some really neat designer glitter.  And, I picked up some oil pastels, a roll of art paper and holder, and a canvas over the weekend.  In one of my three trips to Target (yes, three-ha!), I discovered that in the dollar bin section they’ve added a whole section of really neat and inexpensive art supplies.  They range anywhere from 3-10 dollars if you are interested in helping us out and picking something up for our basket.  Remember, all money from the auction baskets goes right back to our classrooms for supplies and activities.  Any help on this is greatly appreciated!!!!
7.  This morning, the Student Council here at Maple Glen began collecting cans for the Thanksgiving food drive.  If you have a can or box of food at home you’d like to donate, please send that in this week with your child.  It is such a great cause and it teaches our children about empathy and giving.  I shared with my students this morning that I took my boys and spent Saturday morning delivering food to families and the experience was eye opening and humbling.  This is a great chance to teach our children about thinking about others!
Have a marvelous Monday,

Thanksgiving Food Drive at MGES

Maple Glen Food Drive!!


A Westfield Food Pantry needs our help!

Don’t forget to bring in those canned foods and non-perishable food items for the food drive on November 16-20! They will also accept paper products (paper towels, toilet paper, etc.) or personal items (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc.).


Let’s show our community that



New Math Game-“Magic Fingers” aka “Chopstix”


In the recent math trainings I’ve been attending, we’ve been learning a lot of great games to help the children learn fluency in their math facts.  One fun game we learned was called “magic fingers” or “chopstix”.  I’m attaching the link to the directions to play this game if you’d like to play with your children at home.  This is a nice, quiet game they could play at a restaurant or in the car too.  🙂



Catching Up…

Good Monday Afternoon!
I hope you all had a nice weekend with your families!  I’m sorry my news from last week is coming to you a little late.  We no longer have a computer at home for me to do my class news and I ran out of here on Friday faster than usual.  So sorry!!!
Some of the kids were excited to tell me they went to the new Peanuts movie this weekend.  We took our kids as well.  If you haven’t already gone, it is really cute!!!  We finally made it over to try FLIX in Carmel.  If you haven’t gotten a chance to experience a movie there, I recommend this as well.  Children under the age of 18 can attend movies beginning before 7p.m.  and the food is pretty good too.  Just a fun family place if you haven’t been yet and are looking for something different!  😉
Today has been a little crazy in class.  It seems the flu bug or some germ bug has hit our room.  We have already sent three friends home sick today from our class.  It appears this bug is starting with chills, exhaustion, and low grade fevers.  We have been washing our hands here at school like crazy and trying to keep work spaces as clean as possible.  I hope the rest of the children can avoid this bug!!!
This week’s special area classes include:
Tomorrow is picture re-take day.  Our class is schedule for retakes between 10 and 11.  If you want your child’s picture retaken, please email me this evening so I am sure to send him/her down at our given time.  Also, please send back the original package with your child if you haven’t already done so.  I do have a sub tomorrow morning so please let me know as soon as possible if you want retakes so I can be sure he/she is well aware of it!
Between 8 and 12 tomorrow, I will be at Washington Woods Elementary for more district math training.  The office is assigning us our subs this time so I am sorry I am not able to tell you who will be with the children.  I am sure they will be in good hands and I’ll be back immediately following the training to pick up and finish the day with them.
I hope you all received the enrichment folders I sent home last week and found them useful.  I know at our house with multiple children the paperwork seems to pile up faster than not.  Hopefully this will help keep all of it together a bit easier.
Last week we were privileged to have the Joseph Maley Foundation come out and celebrate Disability Awareness Week with our class.  The children had the opportunity to listen to a puppet show about two children with disabilities. One had cerebral palsy and the other was blind.  They learned about acceptance of those with differences, and how we can adapt and assist those who may have disabilities.  We also talked about how individuals with disabilities have also been blessed with strengths that the rest of us may not possess.  The Joseph Maley Foundation also came into our room and showed the children many different assistive devices and also different things they may use in the classroom that have been adapted for children with disabilities (i.e. markers, crayons, paint brushes, scissors).  The children also had an opportunity to meet one of our amazing fourth grade friends from Maple Glen with cerebral palsy.  Mason Unton and his mother came into the room to talk about cerebral palsy with the children and introduced the class to Mason’s working dog, Digger.  We watched a video with them about how working dogs are trained and saw some of Digger’s cool tricks!
In math last week we began multiple center time activities.  The children were introduced to our math wrap-ups, number bond electronic triangles, and our Flip It game.  Today they were also introduced to Climb to the Top, a game of addition and subtraction that works much like Chutes and Ladders.  I also introduced the children to a new online math program we were blessed to get in first grade, Accelerated Math.  They each had the opportunity to work through their first lesson on this program and I have those reports printed and ready to share with each of you this week.  The program is a work in progress as the children learn to work and maneuver it, but I anticipate great things from this over the next few months.
Mark your calendars for the upcoming annual Holiday Program that our first and second grade students are putting on.  The program is December 3rd at 7p.m. at Westfield High School.  Mrs. Cole will send more information as the time gets closer.
The school carnival is set for February and each class is asked to put together a theme basket for our silent auction.  Our class has been asked to provide art supplies.  If you are out and about and would like to pick up something artsy to put in our basket, it would be greatly appreciated.  All money from the baskets goes back to our classrooms for your children.  You may send those items in anytime over the next few months.
We have started our turkey talk in our class for the month of November.  We have a lot of fun reading, writing, and math activities that center around turkeys.  This month we are also discussing Native Americans and preparing for our big first grade Native American Pow-Wow on November 24th.  More information will be sent home to you about this tomorrow.  If you have the time to join us for this event, I highly encourage it.  We have a lot of fun and it’s a great lead-in to Thanksgiving break.
We have been spending a lot of time working on visualization and mental imaging with our reading series over the last few weeks.  We will continue with that this week as we read short stories and poems and search out descriptive words and phrases the author uses to help us with our visions in reading.  Last week we used the very popular book, Where the Wild Things Are and the class had a blast with the lesson.
In math, we continue to plow through addition and subtraction strategies and are also now working with fact families.  This is always a fun unit, as there are so many hands on activities and games to go along with the concept.  Tomorrow I’m teaching the class a new game called TENS!  I think they will enjoy it!
We’ve been working a great deal with punctuation and capitalization in our writing works over the last couple of weeks.  We’re getting better, but will continue to work, write, and read with our punctuation and capitals.
Congrats to all of the kiddos who have already turned in Math Magician certificates since that information was sent home last week.  I’m so impressed to have so many turned in!!!
Last week we celebrated a couple of birthdays in our class: Caleb Terril and Sadie Menke!!!
Congrats to Reid Esslinger for earning the honesty ribbon this past month!
I’m sure I’m leaving out information somewhere, but for now have a great week and I’ll be in touch!
Take care and have a great night,
Christie Buonanno