Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Island Adventure Memories

HERE IT IS!!! The long awaited slideshow of photos from our Islands Adventure!! We "traveled" to 5 islands in the volcanic area known as the Ring of Fire. In Fiji, we learned about and tasted tropical fruit. In Japan, we made carp kites and heard a traditional Japanese tale. In New Zealand, we learned the traditional Haka dance ritual often performed at rugby games. In the Galapagos Islands, we went snorkeling in the Galapagos Marine Reserve and mailed postcards home. Finally, we ended our adventure in Hawaii with singing and a luau lunch! What an incredible experience of learning and fun!

Special thanks to Mrs. Habstritt, Mrs. Wade, and Mrs. Rice for documenting the day
in amazing photos and video!!

Many of these photos are available for download at this link:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Passover Seder

Today, first and second grade gathered to honor the Jewish holiday, Passover, with a version of a seder meal. We sang songs, heard stories and prayers, and tasted some of the traditional seder foods including matzah, parsley, egg, haroset (a chutney of apples and raisins), and horseradish!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Gratitude Journals

“Life Feels Better When We Live With a Grateful Heart.” 

Dear Families,

We are excited to invite you to participate in our Gratitude Journal Project!  Yesterday we began our unit on gratitude by asking students to think of people, experiences and/or things in their lives that they are grateful for. They were then given a journal to write (or draw) about those things and asked to log daily in their journals for four cycles (aprox. 30 days).  At the end of that time, we will have a GRATITUDE CELEBRATION and all students who complete the journals will be invited to the celebration.

Why Gratitude?
Extensive research has shown that children who practice a mindset of gratitude experience positive effects that are far-reaching. They are more optimistic, better able to self-regulate, and more resilient. These effects of gratitude help them to be more successful students, as they feel more confident in school.

What to do?
Each night, ask your child to share his/her gratitude journals with you. It is beneficial for you to share what you’re grateful for as well - or get the entire family involved and make it a family project J The more children talk and listen to messages of gratitude, the more they will begin to internalize this way of thinking and living.

Want more information?
Making Grateful Kids – The Science of Building Character by Jeffrey Froh and Giacomo Bono is an amazing resource for parents on nurturing gratitude in our children. It is rich with both research and practical ideas on how to create a home that fosters gratitude.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call or email your child’s teacher or me.

With sincere Gratitude,
Lisa Heurung, Ms. Bennett, and Ms. Madden

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Birthday Wishes Donations

Birthday Wishes
April 6-21

We are collecting birthday celebration supplies for our local food shelf.  Families who use our local food shelf often are unable to buy extra items that make a birthday special, like...

Cake Mix & Frosting, Candles, Rice, Noodles, Cookie Mix, Pizza Crust mix,
Paper Plates & Cups. Gluten-free, Kosher and Halal items are often needed by families as well. 

If you would like to donate,
please bring items to school April 6-21.  Thanks!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Publishing Celebration

On Tuesday, we celebrated publishing our non-fiction chapter books! We held an "experts forum" in the classroom where our knowledgable authors shared facts about their ocean topic. It was informative and inspiring! We have a group of ambitious first grade authors! Enjoy this slideshow of the celebration:

A Letter from Mrs. Bailey

Please see an important letter below from Peg Bailey regarding class placement letters for the 2017-2018 school year:

April 2017 

 Dear Lower School Parents: 

Each year, I invite parents to provide input into the class placement process for their children. If you wish to share your thoughts with me, please send me a letter or an email by Thursday, April 20. The timeliness of this information is very important, as we will begin this process the following week. Therefore, letters received after this date will not be considered for the upcoming school year. A few important things to remember: 

  • Please write your child's full name and grade next year at the top of the letter. *If writing about more than one child, please send a separate letter for each student. 
  • Share your insights about friendships to foster or separate, your child’s learning dispositions and/or temperament, and the type of environment you feel your child thrives in. (You may want to share feedback on what has made this year particularly successful for your child, or if this has been a challenging year, what you believe may have contributed to this.) 
  • Requests for specific teachers will not be considered. Several factors are taken into consideration as teachers and the administrative team place students into next year’s classes. Summer moves and other changes impact class assignments. 

 Thank you, in advance, for respecting and trusting our decisions. 
 Best regards, 
 Peg Bailey

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


During break, you should have received an email regarding Baccalaureate (a link to the letter is also posted below). Baccalaureate is a special ceremony that takes place at Breck to honor the Seniors on Sunday, June 4th. It is optional to attend, but if possible, I highly encourage you to arrange for your child to be there because they develop very special relationships with their senior buddies. Most first graders do attend. We will be sending more communication about Baccalaureate in May and asking for an RSVP at that time. We wanted to give you a heads up so you can keep this in mind as you make summer plans.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Islands Adventure Sneak Peek

What a memorable day of islands traveling. We are sorting through HUNDREDS of photos and videos of our Islands Adventure but here's a little preview with more to come soon!!

Also, be sure to continue watching the Breck School Zenfolio for more...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Explore the Galapagos Islands in Google Maps

Did you know that a team from Google mapped several places in the Galapagos Islands and it's available in "street view" from Google Maps? The class has been so excited about exploring the islands virtually using this tool. Check out the YouTube videos below to learn more and you can explore together from home!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Used Book Drive & Sale

Upper School students are collecting kids picture books, chapter books, YA books, adult novels, non-fiction - everything! Books will then be sold in the Middle School entrance over the two days of conferences on March 3 and 4. Every book will cost $1 and the proceeds will be used to support Reading Partners, a literacy tutoring organization.

Please bring in gently used books for the book sale. There will be donation boxes in every division through March 2. Then come shop the sale! Pick up some books to read over spring break!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Valentine's Day in Room 26

We had a "love-ly" day in room 26 celebrating Valentine's Day. We played BINGO, raced in Valentine's Day Minute-To-Win-It games, crafted kissing fish, and colored. We enjoyed a "red" themed snack of strawberry Italian Ice and fruit punch before the grand finale...valentine opening!!

February Update

February has been a busy month in first grade.  We've passed the mid-point of the school year which means we are diving into the deepest parts of our learning. This is both exciting and challenging. We've had to spend a bit of time re-building our class as a team to get ready to solve problems together and rise to our best selves as learners. You can continue to support your student outside of school by making sure they get a lot of sleep, good nutrition, and time for play and relaxation! 


Reading instruction continues to challenge the children to broaden and improve their skills in reading and comprehension. Children are refining their abilities make meaning of unknown words, monitor understanding, and improve fluency and expression. We are also beginning to look more closely at informational texts (non-fiction) noting features like table of contents, headings, labels, and glossaries. At the end of the week, we'll begin non-fiction book clubs during our reading times. Be on the look out for new March reading logs that will encourage our readers to set goals and push their reading stamina by reading longer and stronger. We will also have a special spring break reading challenge!

Readers work with long and short vowels in word work. 

Writer's Workshop 

In writer's workshop, we wrapped up our opinion writing unit and we've created a book of reviews that could rival the wisdom of Yelp! We have a chapter that reviews "Places to Go" like Florida and Mexico, a chapter that reviews "Stores" like PetSmart and Cub Foods, a chapter that critiques restaurants Yogurt Lab and Yum, and a chapter titled "Popular Things" that offers reviews of Pokemon Go and dogs! Now, we are beginning to write non-fiction chapter books related to our study of the ocean. Thank you for helping your child to generate ideas in his/her Tiny Topics journal!

Editing our reviews using a checklist. 
Edited and ready for publishing!!


In math, we have really gotten into the core grade 1 concepts of addition and subtraction, with and without regrouping. Children have learned to use a variety of strategies to solve and explain their mathematical thinking behind multi-digit problems. It has been important to strengthen their understanding of place value and basic math facts in order to help them see patterns in the mathematical operations of addition and subtraction. Our next math unit will focus on strategies for improving mental math.

Playing a subtraction game: Race to 0!

Here are some ways you can help at home:

  • Encourage your child to teach you the strategies of the program. Learn to see math in new ways and avoid teaching "the way you learned" (in fact, grade 1 students are intentionally not introduced to the vertical algorithm because the horizontal equation strengthens their mental math skills). 
  • Continue practicing and strengthening basic addition and subtraction facts up to 20
  • Play games with math!

Demonstration of "Terrific 10s and 1s" Strategy


In science, we have begun our study of the ocean. We had a thoughtful debate about how many oceans there are (our class is quite divided between 5 identifiable oceans, 4 named oceans, 1 world ocean). We are also exploring the depths of the ocean beginning with the coral reef and the sunlit zone. At the Minnesota zoo, we experienced many tropical ocean dwellers. We observed the creatures of the coral reef and asked questions to the zoo aquarists. We also visited the sharks, stingrays, and Hawaiian monk seals. Next, we will be exploring other ocean zones including the mysterious abyssal zone.

Social Studies and CARE

This month, our CARE theme is STEWARDSHIP. We have been discussing ways we can care for ourselves, others, our school, community, and world. We are also learning more about US Presidents and discussing qualities of a good leader. 

Learning and Mindset

As busy as the first graders are, this time of year can often cause learners to fall into a “slump.” Children may rush to just get work done and not show the typical enjoyment for school that they usually do. In the classroom, we talk a lot about the idea of "mindset" and effort. Now we are helping first graders to develop a deeper understanding of the learning process by discussing the concept of the "learning pit:"

Originally created by James Nottingham/Adapted by Ms. Bennett

Important Upcoming Dates:

February 24- Skating Ends
March 2-3: Parent Teacher Conferences/No School
March 6-10: Lower School Book Fair (we will shop on Thurs., March 9)
March 13: Grade 1 Islands Adventure (More info coming soon!)
March 17: Spring Break begins at 3:15 PM

Enjoy the spring-like weather!
Ms. Bennett and Ms. Madden

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Parent Opportunity from the Author of 'Quiet'

Parent Quiet Kids - Complimentary online course for parents of 3 to 9 year olds offered exclusively to Breck Schools community:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Notes from Math Boot Camp

This week, we have spent the last two days in meetings with our math consultant, Cassy Turner. She met with grade level teams to talk about our successes with our new program, Math In Focus - and to help us look ahead as we plan our continued implementation. It was good to hear her affirm how we're teaching math in our classrooms, and how engaged our students are with new vocabulary and problem-solving strategies. One thing we heard loud & clear was to make sure our students are 'fluent' with their math facts. So, continue to practice these at home. Last night, approximately 35 parents attend "boot camp". As one parent commented, "I need to be in school again to learn math this way." Much of last night's session was "hands-on" for parents . . . here are notes taken by Peg Bailey from Cassy's presentation.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Ocean Life Field Trip to the MN Zoo

We had an amazing field trip to the Minnesota Zoo to study ocean life. It felt like a tropical get-away! The dive show was an excellent introduction to the coral reef habitat. Next, we visited the penguins then it was off to Discovery Bay for the shark feeding! We even saw the stingrays, sea turtles, and eels feed! We ended our morning with a visit to the Hawaiian Monk seals. Our first grade scientists asked many thoughtful questions and the zoo staff was impressed by their knowledge, observation skills, and motivation to learn about the ocean. After a "picnic" lunch, the class split into small groups for an iPad scavenger hunt. It was an exciting day of exploration at the zoo!

*We do not endorse/reccommend any of the suggested videos following playback. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Math Bootcamp

Math Boot Camp for Lower School Parents (MS Library and MS Dining Room). 
Monday, February 6th
6:30-8:00 PM 

Join us as Cassy Turner, Singapore Math Consultant, leads a math boot camp for parents with students in kindergarten to grade 4. RSVP to Kris Simonson. NOTE: Childcare has been added for this event, which requires a separate RSVP ... childcare RSVP here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Look at this AWESOME class!

We are now a team of 17 in Room 26 so we thought it was time for a new class picture...

And of course they had to dab! :)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Service Learning

Service learning is an important part of the Breck mission. For our service learning experience, First graders visit residents at Sunrise Senior Living in Golden Valley. We serve the seniors by reading and talking with them. It is certainly a reciprocal relationship because the first graders feel positively about their experiences and say they hope to continue to bring them cheer by sending cards, notes, and artwork. After our visits we reflected what we learned from participating in service. The first graders shared that they felt uncertain at first but now feel more confident and happy about their ability to serve others.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January Update

January has arrived and students are back at school and ready for more! This is an exciting time of the first grade year as expectations heighten, learning goes deeper, and we begin to see children mature as students.

In reading, the first graders continue to learn strategies for thoughtful and careful reading. Many readers at this point in their development will read words correctly but not know the meaning. They will also read through entire books without reflecting to see if they actually understood what they read. We are learning to use strategies like retelling and questioning to help develop a stronger understanding of stories and texts. Later in the month, we will begin to focus more heavily on non-fiction texts. You can help support your child's reading development by continuing to read with them at home and engaging them in discussion about their books while reading. These are some "thinking stems" we use in our class book talks:

"I'm noticing..."
"I'm thinking..."
"I'm wondering..."
"I'm seeing..."
"I'm guessing/predicting..."

Rana and Kelly read and talk together about Polar Bears.

In Writer's Workshop, we have graduated to opinion writing! We spent some time getting to know the genre and learning how to state our opinions clearly and support them with many reasons. We're also learning how to RESPECTFULLY disagree with the opinions of others. Our writers were especially excited about their new "tiny topics" journals and have been proudly carrying them around each day in case a new inspiration for writing pops into their heads! The children are now hard at work writing convincing reviews of special things in their lives. We have reviews of everything from Florida to Dunkin' Donuts, to Pokemon Go, and more! Our classroom is a real-life Yelp!

After a brief unit on geometry and shapes, we continued to work on some "core" concepts of first grade math. The children have been deepening their understanding of addition and subtraction, tens and ones, and story problems. The first grade mathematicians are being encouraged to go beyond just "giving the answer" but to also practice explaining their work and offering proof through equations, pictures, and diagrams.  It's been exciting to watch their understanding of mathematical operations grow! We hope you have been finding IXL to be an engaging way for your child to continue building their math fluency at home. Next, we will move into the second volume of our math book!

Creating structures with solid shapes.

In science, we are wrapping up our study of rocks and "diving into" the topic of oceans and islands. The class will be reading a variety of books on ocean topography and ecology as we prepare for our trip to the MN Zoo in February and the cherished Island Adventure in March. We will also be starting a new science journal to organize all of our discoveries!

This month in social studies, we will be weaving together the CARE theme of "Tolerance" while studying important "change makers" like Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges. As a class we'll be reading several books and biographies from many perspectives to explore themes like fairness/equality, taking a stand, and respecting differences.

Wishing your family peace and warmth,
Ms. Bennett and Ms. Madden

Important Upcoming Dates:

January 23rd-Next Service Visit to Sunrise
February 1st-MN Zoo Ocean Life Field Trip (Volunteers will be contacted soon.)

Calling all BOXTOPS!

Calling all BOXTOPS! Please bring in boxtops by February 14th. Containers are located near door D in the Middle School. The money raised by boxtops supports student led Philanthropy Projects. They do expire, so please bring them so that we can redeem them. Thanks!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Shape Challenge

In math, we are spending a few days learning more about 3-D geometric shapes/solids. Yesterday, students where challenged to work in teams to create 3 shapes out of paper (triangular prism, rectangular prism, and cylinder) and test which shape is strongest by stacking books on top. Wondering which shape is strongest? Well, check out our chart of results and this slow-mo video of the experiment in action!!