October Lower School Newsletter
October 11, 2017
Dear Parents;
Fall is upon us, and all is in full swing at T-D!  September was filled with many great activities. Please read on to see what has been taking place.
Kindergarten:  The new school year has rolled in and we are off and moving! Our kindergarten class has acclimated to their new school, and we are beginning to settle into our routines. We kicked off the year with an ALL ABOUT ME theme that has allowed us to get to know each other quicker. The children are forming closer friendships each day and we really focus on working as a team to help each other make good choices in work and play.
      My little mathematicians have really impressed me with skills they already possess! Our first math topic was focused on numbers 1-5 and also comparing and ordering 0-5. We explored this in various ways, from using counters, to lining up, to writing numbers in shaving cream…we are learning about numbers everywhere!
       In Phonics, (or the Bunny book as it is fondly referred to!) we first began learning about the alphabet as a whole, then we narrowed it down by reviewing several letters in detail. We focused on the consonants S, T, B, H, and M. We have worked on several exercises that include sound recognition for the consonants, letter recognition, handwriting, and sound to symbol activities.
        Our class already has some new emerging readers and I couldn’t be more excited! A huge part of kindergarten is learning the necessary skills to be a successful reader. From decoding to blending, to memorization, there are so many ways children learn how to read. Our sight word curriculum this year provides each child with various opportunities to learn the high frequency words that are essential.
       In Science we have just begun learning about the different ways that objects move and the cause behind it. We have also briefly touched upon the difference of living and non-living things and the characteristics of each.
      This school year the kindergarten is growing together as a team!
First and Second Grade:   Students are off to a fine start! We began with our apple unit by introducing the genre of Folktales. Across the curriculum, we have done apple tallying and graphing, tasting, the effects of air, water, vinegar and oil on an apple, apple coloring on a hundred chart and several apple crafts. We have read numerous books on how apples grow, the apple tree throughout the seasons and of course Johnny Appleseed. Our culminating event was a birthday celebration for Johnny Appleseed featuring many products made from apples. It was a delicious ending!
Both grades have begun to examine story elements, beginning with character traits and setting. We are slowly learning the various activities for the “Daily 5” – Read to self, Listen to reading, Read to someone, Word work and Work on writing.  Word work encompasses many aspects of our school curriculum and is an integral part of our day.  A fun part of our “read to self” is practicing working on our reading stamina. Our goal for the school year is to read AT LEAST 25 minutes continuously engaged without interruptions. My students are taking this VERY seriously! The first graders are focusing on word families and sight words.  Second graders have begun with Wordly Wise  with an emphasis on vocabulary meaning.
In language arts, we are reviewing initial, middle and ending consonant sounds as well as short vowel sounds. Word families and sight words will work in conjunction with the first grade-spelling program while second  grade will use their WordlyWise curriculum for spelling.
For our first math unit, first graders are expanding their math vocabulary as well as learning the commutative property (turnaround facts) while second graders are reviewing fact families and the relationship between addition and subtraction. They have also begun to examine arrays which will begin the segue into multiplication.
Third/Fourth Grade: We are off to a great start in third and fourth grade! We began by decorating our classroom with our “Albanian” job board and our “Albanian Renaissance” thematic board. Our days begin with the “enVision” math program. To avoid having to carry the textbook back and forth, every student was given a user name and password to access the text online. After a successful completion of Chapter 1 on multiplication and division in fourth grade and place value in third grade, we are working on generating and analyzing patterns. Students in fourth grade should be working to improve their multiplication facts accuracy after our “mad minutes” quiz. Students are working hard to increase their spelling/ vocabulary through the “Wordly Wise” program. In grammar we are studying sentences in terms of declarative, interrogative, exclamatory or imperative as well as simple subjects and predicates. In handwriting we are fine-tuning our cursive working on the overcurve, slant, undercurve and downcurve strokes. In reading we are working on our comprehension in the “Trophies” text and have completed “The Gardener” in fourth grade and “Officer Buckle and Gloria” in third. In writing we are working on personal narratives.  In Science we are studying forces and motion in our new “worktexts”, a combination textbook/workbook. In Physical Education we are playing modified soccer with a focus on sportsmanship. We are really coming together as a great team both on and off the field.
Fifth Grade:  Fifth grade has been soaring through the curriculum. We are reading, The Egypt Game, written by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.  It tells a story about two young inquisitive, imaginative girls who start a magical game that soon leads to strange, unexplainable happenings.The students and I are enjoying the journey through Egypt.
     In Math, it is decimals, decimals and more decimals.  We have been adding, subtracting and rounding.  Students are expected, at this point, to know their multiplication tables fluently, so please make sure they are reviewing.
      It matters in Science, as we have been studying matter!  We have gotten our hands wet, with two different experiments.  We made salt crystals, and discovered why water  and oil don’t mix.  For added fun, we also watched the reaction  of the oil and water with both sodium bicarbonate and citric acid.
      In Composition we are focusing on the three-to-five paragraph essay and writing about ourselves in our personal narrative.  We used our graphic organizers to plot our ideas and are now working on our “rough drafts.”  Once we finish with all our editing, we will be practicing our word processing skills on the computer by typing our final drafts.
Music for the Digital Age
This year 3rd, 4th and 5th grades are spending one period a week with Mr. Goodman in the Digital Studio, composing and arranging musical creations using the Musical/Recording software Logic Pro X. This is state of the art recording software used in professional studios around the world. Students are learning the basics of creating multiple tracks using the many ‘loops’ provided by Logic. Logic has literally thousands or pre-recorded instrument sounds, as well as the ability to record real instrument sounds in real time using the computer’s keyboard. As the year progresses, the kids will learn about equalization, using digital effects and manipulating sounds, as well as basic compositional skills. By year’s end students should be able to compose and mix an original song using the skills they have learned.
Upcoming Events:
Wednesday, October 18th:  Picture Day
Tuesday, October 24th:  Muffins with Mom
Wednesday, October 25th:  Parent-Teacher Conferences
Thursday, November 2nd : Art’s House Café
Friday, November 3rd:  Donuts with Dad
Very truly yours,
Virginia Keating
Thornton-Donovan
Lower School Director
Middle School Director