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This time of year has us all talking about traditions. There are family traditions and school traditions. Our kids are looking forward to sharing songs and food at our yearly holiday potluck. Theresa's kids are working away on their gingerbread houses. Many of us are making holiday cards and little presents for family and friends.

We had enough snow to do some sledding at the beginning of this past week. At morning circle, I asked the children to remind me about our sledding rules. They told me about not hitting trees, not hitting each other, and stopping at the tree by the sandbox. I asked them how they can control their sleds, and they shared favorite techniques (dragging hands and feet were most popular though having someone else drag off the back of the sled was also mentioned). We all practiced our "bail" moves while riding pretend sleds down a steep hill. When we went outside, they put all of that conversation into practice. Some of our youngest kids rode with older kids to help them learn how to control their sleds. Everyone was bailing out with style. No one got hurt, and their giggles rang off the trees.

Morgan's PK and K Class

* Did double dice rolling with Tracy's class. They worked to total the two numbers that were rolled and made sure their numbers were added to the class graph.

* Compared different lengths and organized objects by size.

* Practiced letter sounds and blending sounds to make CVC words (consonant vowel consonant like hat).

* Made snowballs of many different sizes and made some snow sculptures.

* Listened to stories about Hannukah, Christmas, Solstice and Kwanza. Shared some of the things we do with our families to celebrate this time of year.

Tracy's 1st - 3rd Class

In math, our first grade class worked on comparing numbers and looking at numbers in terms of the number of tens and the number of ones. They also practiced their measuring skills. Our second graders are continuing to use base ten blocks to represent numbers and are practicing changing tens for ones (and vice versa), skills that will help them with double digit addition and subtraction. Our third graders are getting more skilled with their estimates for problems and are getting better at multistep word problems. They drew a series of arrays for square numbers (5x5, 8x8, etc.).

In writing, we made comics that all started the same but went in very different directions. Everyone is working on making sure to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. We also continued to talk about adjectives, nouns, and verbs.

In reading, absences made it difficult to have reading groups, so I had the luxury of reading one on one with each child. It's a great way to check on their progress and see how they are doing with picking out "just right" books for independent reading.

Theresa's 4th - 6th Class

Creating Gingerbread Houses is the quintessential Country Classroom project. The kids have been designing their own gingerbread houses, in some manner or another, since they were in 2nd grade. Each year, their designs and their techniques get more complex. When they were very small, their houses were mostly simple box shapes made out of paper. Now, many of them have slanted or complex roof structures.

After designing the houses out of paper, they make a pattern to cut out of gingerbread. In this process, they have to visualize their completed structure, and figure out how to flatten it, and then efficiently fit the pieces onto the pans.

The actual gingerbread creation involved a field trip to my house. They read and followed recipes, used their pan plans, and cleaned up after themselves (mostly). The kids had so much fun hiking after they made their houses. They scurried up the hill and collapsed in happy piles. They also hung by their legs upside down on the slope. Everyone got good and wet.

In writing, the kids are almost done with personal narratives. We were going to try to publish them before vacation, but with all of the sicknesses and the snow days, it will be a lot less stressful if we postpone the publishing party until January. In these narratives, the students were working on revising strategies.

In reading, the kids are all going to finish their books before vacation. With the oldest kids, we are talking about how and when the author effectively uses humor. WIth the fourth graders, we are working on self-monitoring for comprehension. This means that, as children are reading, they should periodically pause and make sure that they understand what they are taking in.


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