Sunday, January 22, 2017

Penguin Newsletter

Dear Room 2 Families,                                                                                           January 22, 2017

     We’ve been so busy in the classroom during the past month! The children have been working hard and are very invested in the many topics we’ve been exploring. It’s been wonderful watching them as their reading skills have strengthened, thus helping them to learn more about the world around them. It’s such an exciting time in their learning!

     I hope you’ve had a chance to hear all about our penguin studies these past two weeks! The children have learned so much about these funny little creatures by reading a variety of books, including Penguins by Gail Gibbons and Seven Weeks on an Iceberg, by Keith Potter. Our penguin unit offers such rich selections of nonfiction literature to first graders. We also learned a new poem called, Peter Penguin . We sang Seven Continents, and discovered where in the world penguins live! Your child will illustrate copies of the poem and the song for his/her poetry and song notebook next week. Some of our other favorite books include And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, Lost and Found, by Oliver Jeffers and If You Were A Penguin, by Wendell and Florence Minor. We spent a portion of each day reflecting on what we’ve learned about these birds. Here are a few questions that you may want to ask your child during a car ride or a dinner conversation:

  1. What is the biggest penguin called? (Emperor Penguin)
  2.  How tall is it?  (4 feet tall)
  3. What is the name of the smallest penguin and how tall is it? (Little Blue or Fairy Penguin; 1 foot tall)
  4. How many different types of penguins are there? (18)
  5. What do penguins eat?  (fish, krill, squid, octopus)
  6. What are some of the penguin’s predators? (killer whales, leopard seals, fur seals, sharks, sea lions)
  7. Where do penguins live?  (All penguins in the wild live south of the equator. Penguins can be found in Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, Africa, and the Galapagos Islands.)
  8.  What kinds of animals are penguins? (They are birds. They have feathers, wings, and a beak, and they hatch from eggs.)
  9.  Can penguins fly? (Penguins lost their ability to fly millions of years ago; they use their wings when they swim as sturdy paddles or flippers.)
  10.  How do baby penguins get their food? (I’ll let your child reveal this one to you!)
     We’ve learned about the penguin’s body, its predators, nest building (though not all penguins build nests), the brood pouches of the King and Emperor penguins, and the penguin’s eating habits. We’ve talked about the similarities and differences in some of the 18 species as well. Next week, we’ll be working on 4 square posters titled, "What We Know About Penguins" and coloring world maps, showing where penguins live.

    We’re so excited for our field trip to the New England Aquarium on Friday, February 3rd! Many thanks to the parents who have offered to join us. A confirmation email for chaperones will be set home this week. A packet for chaperones will be sent home just before our trip.

Social Studies:

      During the last 2 weeks, children learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his continued importance in our world today. I wish you could have been present for the discussion we had about this important leader and famous American who truly made a difference in the world. The children put so much heart and soul into their comments and gave thoughtful insight as to what they wished their future would hold for them. We created posters representing these dreams and wishes as an extension activity after reading the book, We Dream Of A World.  They’re consistent reminders of how we’d like to be treated, what is fair and just, and how we can work together to make a better, safer place to live and grow. Children also made posters with their fifth grade buddies for the Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner at the Wayland Middle School. These posters focused on quotes of Dr. King’s. First graders and fifth graders beautifully illustrated the posters which were proudly displayed at the dinner.

Reader’s Workshop

      During Reader’s Workshop, we’ve begun our in-depth exploration of nonfiction text. We’ve looked closely at the conventions, or features, of nonfiction literature, including captions, maps, photographs, labels, types of print, comparisons, cut-aways, the table of contents, and the glossary. Children have worked independently and with partners to peruse nonfiction texts on a variety of topics. The interest level is quite high when studying nonfiction. Children are always eager to share their books and newfound knowledge with the group! Children have learned that nonfiction books don’t have to be read cover to cover like fiction. A reader can look through the book by reading the table of contents or the index and then find the sections of text they are interested in or focused on. He/she can also look through the pictures and read the captions to learn about the topic.


     We've continued our work with addition and subtraction and solving more complex story problems and equations. In this unit of study we are focusing on the following skills:
  • The Make-a-10 Strategy for addition and subtraction
  • Solving equations with three addends with a sum up to 20
  • Understanding the meaning of the equal sign and determining if equations involving addition and subtraction are true or false
  • Determining the unknown whole number in an addition and subtraction equation including missing addend, missing subtrahend, and missing minuend.
  • Relating addition to subtraction to solve subtraction equations
  • Solving subtraction word problems with a missing whole

Open Circle

     During our Open Circle meetings we are incorporating strategies and language from Michelle Garcia Winner’s “Social Thinking” curriculum into our lessons with Mrs. Santomenna, our first grade guidance counselor. This curriculum provides ways children can begin to reflect on their own thinking and behavior and introduces a superhero (Superflex) and characters (Unthinkables) that embody different behaviors that we all experience. Below are brief descriptions of some of the characters we have introduced so far.

     Superflex, the Super Hero, lives within all of us! His/her super powers enable him/her to be an excellent problem solver and have a SUPER FLEXIBLE attitude.  He/she is a great detective; Superflex is always on the lookout for clues that help him/her think about expected ways to act and react as he/she moves through the day managing his/her reactions, thoughts, and behavior. He/she helps us to defeat the Unthinkables!

The Unthinkables are….

Rock Brain:

Rock Brain makes you get stuck on your ideas, causing you to be inflexible! 


Brain Eater makes you get distracted. He makes it hard for you to think about what the group is doing and talking about.

Superflex strategies: 
* Give the School Listening Look if you are having trouble during a group time. Remember the   Group Plan.
* Get a drink or take a walk with teacher’s permission.
* Move the item that is distracting you out of the way

Was Funny Once

Was Funny Once makes you get carried away and get too silly! He makes you get silly to the point that you are no longer learning or thinking about others.

Superflex strategies: 
* Before getting silly, think about if it is a time to be serious or silly. If you are in school and it is a learning time then it is not a good time to be silly.   

Worry Wall

Worry Wall is an Unthinkable that gets us to worry about little problems or things that may not be problems at all!  Worry Wall may make us feel nervous or unsure about trying new things, going to new places, or changes in our routine or plans.  Worry Wall makes our brains freeze or get stuck and think about the same thing over and over again.

Superflex strategies:
*Take deep breaths and relax.
* Think about happy thoughts.
* Talk back to your worry.
* Tell yourself the facts; "I know that..."

We will continue with our studies of other "Unthinkables" in the weeks to come.


     There are many children who have headphones that are no longer in working order. Please check with your child; if his/her headphones are not working, please replace them at your earliest convenience so that your child can make the most out of the learning experiences for which we use the headphones. Thanks so much!

Progress Reports and Conferences

 Your child’s progress report will be was sent home on Monday, January 30th. It is important to refer to the “Academic Reporting Key” for descriptions of the report card. It is also important to remember that the report cards are based on standards to be achieved by the end of the school year so it is not uncommon to see first graders “progressing independently” or “progressing with support” at this time of year. Conferences begin in early March and will run for several weeks. 

     Please let me know if you have any questions about the information in this newsletter.  I hope you all enjoy the week ahead!

Take care,

Lise Weig :)

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