December Lower School Newsletter
December 22, 2017
Dear Parents;
T-D’s Lower-School students have been merrily working away like elves on a mission.  It has a been a great transition from fall into winter.  We all enjoyed our visit to Hilltop Hanover Farm, and learned a lot. We sure are little farmers!
Please read what else we have been up to!
Kindergarten:  The kindergartners have been very busy with work and play this fall! Our class is already seeing many students emerge as early and fluent readers. We have learned 36 plus, high frequency words in our curriculum so far. One of the children’s favorite activities is finding words within words wherever we see print. Their awareness of the written language and sounds associated with all letters of the alphabet is quite amazing! In our Phonics workbook we have studied consonants L, D, N, W, C, R, P, Q, V, X, Y and Z. We have also begun our introduction to short vowels, initial vowel, and medial vowel awareness. In our “Wordly Wise” vocabulary curriculum we are learning 5 new words per week. The children look forward to listening to a story, all the while touching their nose each time they hear a vocabulary word used that we are learning about.  They practice retelling stories by cutting out pictures from their workbook and sequencing the story correctly. In Math we learned about comparing and ordering numbers 0-20. The children have practiced reading and writing all of these numbers as well. We have had an introduction to ten frames and using counters and pictures within the frame, to help with simple addition and subtraction. We have also studied the terms greater than, less than, fewer, and sum. Each day we are using pictures and manipulatives to help the children problem-solve. A special thank you to the moms of Siddharth and Janak for coming in to teach us about Diwali. The video and craft that the children got to participate in for the festival of lights was a wonderful way to help bring Diwali into the classroom! The children truly love learning about the many holidays celebrated amongst all the people of the world!
First and Second:

Both First and Second Graders have finished the first unit in our science curriculum-Animal and Plant life. As experiments each student made their own “greenhouse” using a navy bean, cotton and a clear plastic bag.  Our bags have been on display in our classroom window for several weeks now and have shown the stages of the plant life cycle.  We have learned how to identify mammals and the definitions of various terms associated with them.  We have classified animals according to being vertebrates or non-vertebrates and will now begin classifying them according to their body coverings.  They have each made a life cycle wheel.  As a culminating activity, all students will be responsible for a diorama depicting an animal of their choice-in its natural habitat within the next few weeks. This week we began “Gingerbread Week” with an emphasis on all things gingerbread! This is one of my favorite units to do with students! We will go on a gingerbread hunt, make gingerbread play doh, make a trap to catch a gingerbread man, read various gingerbread stories and compare and contrast the difference between them and of course make some cute gingerbread crafts. We have already had a gingerbread taste test and made a gingerbread man glyph in math.  First graders are learning how to add/subtract using a 10 frame while second graders are moving forward with

adding/subtracting on a 100 chart as well as continuing with multiplication arrays.  All students are increasing their speed and accuracy on the mad minute tests!  Each grade has begun the next unit in social studies:  First grade is focusing on communities and neighborhoods and learning to read a map, while second grade is focusing on geography and landforms. In language arts, first graders have begun working on nouns, writing a proper sentence and identifying compound words. Second grader s are reviewing compound words and moving forward with various steps of the writing process. We have also been reading stories that have a clear problem and solution within the text, as this is the latest story element we are learning.
 
Third/Fourth Grades: We had a wonderful first quarter and are soaring toward the holiday break! In our “enVision” math program our third graders used expanded algorithms to add 3-digit numbers paying careful attention to place value and are now learning multiplication. Fourth graders worked on patterns, estimation, arrays and are now working on expanded algorithms for multiplication.  Students are working hard to increase their spelling/ vocabulary through the “Wordly Wise” program and have successfully completed 5 chapters. In grammar we studied proper and collective nouns, pronouns and possessive adjectives. In handwriting, we are fine-tuning our cursive, working our way through the alphabet. In reading we are working on our comprehension in the Trophies text and have completed several genres. In the third grade “Pepita Talks Twice,” “Allie’s Basketball Dream” and “Turtle Bay” from realistic fiction, “Nate the Great,” a mystery and the “Olympic Games,” an expository nonfiction piece. In fourth grade we are reading “My Name is Maria Isabel,” a realistic fiction piece, “Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man,” a biography, “Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride,” a historical fiction piece and “The Baker’s Neighbor,” our first play. In writing we have finished presenting both our personal narratives and our “how to” essays and are beginning our “descriptions” unit. In Science we finished energy and are enjoying our plant unit in our work texts. In Physical Education we are playing modified basketball with a focus on sportsmanship and, on snowy days, “Just Dance” and “fitness mania.” We are enjoying our friendships and have come together as a great team both on and off the court!
Fifth Grade:  It was with great anticipation and some sadness that we finished our novel study of, The Egypt Game.  We thoroughly enjoyed the story and enjoyed being detectives.  We have now settled into our reading groups. “The Three Musketeers” and I have started a new novel, Chasing Vermeer.  It tells the story of two middle-schoolers trying to solve an age-old crime in the art world. “The Big 5” and I have gone back to our reader and just finished up the story of “Roberto Clemente” and his baseball acomplishments and his tragic death on the way to help the people of Nicaragua. Elliot, our baseball expert, sure enjoyed the story.  In Science we just finished learning about different biomes and animal adaptations.  We learned about some unusual adaptations, for example, a dragon spitting blood from its eyes and even a dragon that could walk on water!   It is all about action in our Grammar class, as we have started our unit on verbs. Currently we are studying some irregularity.  In Math, we are having some fun with decimals. We can add, subtract and multiply them and soon we will be able to divide them as well.
Of course, these are just some tidbits of what has been happening in the 5th grade room.  I, for one, will be glad when the season of glitter is behind us, as it seems all I do is sweep it off the carpet.  Hope you enjoyed your glittery holiday treats.
As you can tell, the Lower School has been very busy, and will happily move into the New Year! We will have an exciting visitor coming in January to help us conquer the winter blues.  I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year!  May we all find joy in our friends and family during this holiday season.
See you next year,
Virginia Keating
Thornton-Donovan
Lower School Director
Middle School Director