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12/15/2014 Newsletter, Homework, and Project Info
Sunday, December 14, 2014 8:20 PM

Dear Families,

The week before winter break is always an exciting one!  We will follow our normal routine with some great big exceptions!  

Hula Hoop Factory

Up until this point, we have been making things from start to finish, by hand.  We will now look at the teamwork needed to cooperatively produce something- factory style!  For the first time ever, we are repeating a product.  The hula hoop factory was so popular, and just so cool, that we decided to do it again.

Thanks to all of our adult workers who volunteered to make the Hula Hoop Factory go.  You should report for duty between 7:30 and 7:45 to help set up.  Dawn and I hope to have a link to a training video up by Tuesday afternoon, so that you can have an idea of what we are doing before reporting for duty.  We will assign jobs then.  Be ready to get messy!  

In Math

As you know, students have been engaged in a practical study of marketing, economics, and book keeping.  We have produced enough products to open small stores, tallied and counted the inventory, priced our products, and figured out how much money would be made if we sold out.  We also made store signage that is informative and catches the eye.

Wants and Needs

Our literacy work has focused around thinking about wants and needs.  As we read stories together, we identify and practice strategies that made us better readers.  Some help us read with understanding, and some help us read accurately. Some help us with fluency (reading smoothly and with expression) and others help us expand vocabulary.  Literacy development requires decoding and encoding- reading and writing.  It's been exciting to watch child move forward as a reader and writer this month.  It’s a busy time and a fruitful time!  

Our “wants and needs” books are pop-ups that help us think about a deep idea while practicing simple “heart word” vocabulary and write about the things that interest us most.  Couldn’t be more open-school!

Happy Holiday!

We all have the winter-break “holiday” from school in common, and some of us are celebrating in other ways as well.  I am wishing for all of you- peace, fun, family time and lots and lots of good food and good rest.  I feel so, so lucky to have such a lovely class, and all of you!  Kristin






Spelling Words
























Homework Ideas

*Watch some “how it’s made videos on you tube.”


*Think about your project and decide on your topic by Friday.


*Play with something that you have to assemble, (legos, connex, puzzles)


*Watch a “how to hula hoop video.”


*Make your spelling words with bubble letter and make them stripey like a hula hoop.


*Play a game of “mouse trap.”


*Read for pleasure or practice.  Make sure to take some “just right” books home for practice over winter break.


*Read through your “How-to” project information.  Make a careful decision about your project.  Return the “My Project” sheet by Friday.  


*Do your own thing.



“How To” Project Directions

To Market, To Market

Winter break is a great time to start thinking about the project that is due the week of January 12.  Students will present their projects to the class on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and to parents and our community at our Market Fair on Thursday, January 15.  We’re hoping that by December 19, everyone has a Project Plan ready to turn in.

1.  Choose a topic that addresses one of these questions:

*How are things made?

*Where do things come from?

*How can I be a responsible producer and consumer?

Consider projects that will help the class know more about your cultural heritage OR special interests you have.

(Examples of past projects-  How is orange juice made?  How do mirrors work?  Where does gum come from?  How does a camera work?  How do you “moon walk?” How do you write the alphabet in Arabic?  How are donuts made?  How do they make basket balls? How do you jump rope? How do you make a great paper airplane? )

2.  Learn about your topic.  (Library, books, interviews, tv shows, the internet, taking a tour, do some experimenting.)

3.  Make something to show what you know.  (poster, book, model, mobile, graph, video, etc. )

4.  Plan your presentation.  Some kids will be able to demonstrate their skill to their classmates (for a project like “how is orange juice made”) or they may need to use a model or a diagram to share their understanding (like “how do airplanes fly?”)

That’s it!  Read on for FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  How much should I help my child?

A.  Keep it real!  Help your child decide on an engaging and reasonable topic- “how do balloons hold air?” rather than “”how does dna work?”

Be the reader! Read to your child about the topic, introduce him to google, arrange an interview, etc.  It depends on what your child is ready for.

Be the calendar keeper!  Help your child pace the work so there is no panic.  Be the cheerleader!  Remind your child that he or she is a first or second grade student, not a project machine.  Drawings, diagrams and models will look like they are made by a child.  Reassure the student that their own best work is fine.

Be the secretary-  Writing should be the child’s if possible.  Use your judgment.  Sometimes kids dictate, parents write in yellow marker, and kids trace over. Some children type.  Some are happy using “invented spelling” and bravely do their own writing.  Pictures can be drawn, downloaded or taken with a camera.  Help kids think of titles and captions if you make a poster.

Q.  What if my child is to shy to speak in front of the class?

A.  They aren’t!  We’ve been practicing during morning meetings, during sharing.  We have a microphone for quiet voices.  Practicing also helps.  It’s just “telling a story,” not reading aloud.

Q.  How long should it take?

A.  The length of the project work time is up to your child’s enthusiasm for it.  Some kids take a few hours, some a few weeks.  The demonstration itself is between 1 and five minutes!

Q.  What is my child won’t cooperate at home?

A.  Email the teacher for advice.  Try again the next day.  Make sure the topic is interesting to your child.  Insist that your child ask for help or explain his or her thinking instead of whining.  Email the teacher for advice.

Q.  Aren’t these kids too young for projects?

A.  Independent projects are an important part of open school, and this is the first of many.  The help children discover that their own interests are important and valuable, and that they are in charge of their own learning.  David Elkind says that an ounce of motivation is worth a pound of skills.  Kids are motivated by their accomplishments and learning increases exponentially.

Q.  How is the project graded?

A.  Questions and comments from classmates, and a comments from the  teacher will be the feedback.  We will also have comment sheets for parents to respond to the project. There won’t be a formal grade.

Q.  How can I get help?

A.  Email your teacher!

Q.  What about kids whose parents are unable to help at home?  

A.  Let the teacher know.  We’ll find a helper at school.  

Thanks!  Kristin and Dawn   

Project Planning  Sheet

Think of your great idea for a demonstration project.  Fill out this sheet and return it to school by December 19.  I am sending two copies so that you can make one for school and one for home.


People who are helping me___________________________________

My project is about:_________________________________________

This is how I’ll learn about my topic:


This is what I’ll demonstrate to the class:


This is what I’ll make to share what I know:

(poster, diagram, mobile, chart, book, painting, other)

*I promise to do my own thinking and as much writing as I can.  I will ask for help with spelling or writing if I need it:

__________________________ (sign here)

*I will try my best to be kind and cheerful while I am working on my project.  I will say thank you to people who help me.

____________________________(sign here)