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.