100 Overlook Circle New Rochelle 10804
100 Overlook Circle New Rochelle 10804

Lower School Spotlight

T-D’S Lower-School Newsletter Winter 2020

February 7, 2020

It seems to only snow on the weekends, which actually makes us happy as we have  been so busy………

Grades K & 1

Winter arrived and blew us into the new year in the blink of an eye! The Kindergarteners and First graders have been coming together as a group and uniting more in their play and cooperatively working together in the classroom. Our Wordly Wise vocabulary is the most popular subject among the group. The Kindergarteners have jumped on board and are following the First-grade curriculum. We just completed the stories “What’s Cooking?” and “Building a Tree House,” in which we learned 20 new words. In phonics, both grades are truly grasping letter to sound correspondence. Kindergarten has already completed their phonics workbook and has moved onto an additional curriculum! We have learned about the consonants by focusing on letter recognition, handwriting, matching sounds to symbols, and phonetic awareness. We are beginning to learn about vowels and writing CVC (Consonant-vowel-consonant) words. Each week the class has an assignment in their writing journal where they are encouraged to spell phonetically as well as expected to remember site word spelling. First grade has also completed learning about consonants by focusing on initial/final and medial sounds. The theme has been “My Favorite Things” in this unit. They have written several creative sentences in each chapter that correspond to each consonant. We are moving on to learning about blends, proper spelling, and short vowels in the next unit with the theme “Amazing Animals.” Our Reading curriculum is very much enjoyed by all. We learn new vocabulary words in each story and focus a great deal on reading comprehension and paying attention to detail. We’ve read informational text, non-fiction, fiction and realistic fiction. In Social Studies both grades have been learning about the community, their neighborhood, and school rules. Such skills as how to read a calendar and maps have also been explored. The Science curriculum we have in place has an abundance of information in the text and online. The class enjoys inquisitive discussions about the topics being taught, though their favorite part seems to be the hands-on discoveries made through experiments. The class studied energy- what it can do, how we use it, and what gives off heat, light and sound. We also learned about Plants and Animals and how living things are alike and different by comparing and contrasting.  Our mornings usually begin with a math lesson for each grade. Kindergarten is learning how to use a number line, problem solving using objects, fewer and more than, skip counting by two’s and counting, and reading and writing numbers 11-30. Occasionally they join the First graders in solving their math too! The First grade studied how to represent numbers on a ten-frame and how to find the missing part of a whole once they know one number. We also finished learning about Doubles by writing addition sentences and Doubles plus one and two, paying close attention to the addends and the relationship patterns between numbers and in fact families. They are practicing double digit addition and even touching upon multiplication! A little advanced for them, but at the request of the class, we began studying fractions by looking at what a whole looks like, one half, one third, one fourth, one fifth and one sixth. I was impressed and thrilled at how quickly everyone understood how to read a shape broken into these fractions. More importantly, they were excited and proud of their success! In closing, I am proud to announce the newest addition to the T-D family – our fish tank! It brings tremendous joy to the children throughout the day who anxiously wait for a glimpse of “Flu” the blue lobster who makes brief appearances, as well as his three cichlid friends!

Grades 2 & 3

The Second grade is moving swiftly along especially in science!  We have begun doing more engaging experiments in science and applying the scientific concepts we have learned to each.  This quarter we are focusing strongly on the scientific method and the role of scientists. Finishing up our last science section, second graders were responsible for an animal diorama on an animal of their choice. They all did a fabulous job! In reading, the students are engaging in different genres and are very eager to share their likes and dislikes about a particular story. We are also learning to identify first and third person literature. Students are actively making connections with each new text. In math, we have begun working with a 100 chart with both addition and subtraction as well as being introduced to fractions along with the third grade. I have now implemented “Fraction Friday” for both grades. We began with adding fractions with like denominators. The students caught on quickly. Another fun activity for both grades are the math mystery pictures which they work on as a whole group or individually. Second grade works exclusively with number identification while third grade works on multiplication pictures. Both grades are learning about syllables (word parts) and how to identify them as well as the role vowels have within each word. They are also learning various suffixes and how they change the meaning of the base word.  We have also begun to explore the differences between Main Idea and Theme. We’ve had a lot of fun using a game show format as well as a mystery hunt to compete against each other! Recently, the class enjoyed “Popcorn Day.” We tasted, collected data, recorded and analyzed our favorite types of popcorn. Butter was the clear winner with cheddar cheese flavor coming in second and caramel receiving no votes at all. Our next themed day will be for Valentine’s Day. On that day we will collect candy hearts, use them in math to graph and tally and utilize them in two experiments. We will test their density to observe whether they sink or float and then we will observe the effects on them when they are placed in various liquids. Third grade is now working on multiplication in math and has begun learning about factors. We have also begun working with and identifying fractions. Looking forward, third graders have an upcoming book report which will be presented in a candy mint tin . They’ve already chosen their books and will incorporate the various elements of their book (setting, characters, cause and effect, climax) in the decorated tin. I’m looking forward to their creations!

Grades 4 & 5

We welcomed Anna into our T-D family and are ecstatic that she is a part of our class.In 4th grade Math we have been multiplying with greater numbers and and soon will begin double digit multiplication.  We continue to work on word problems and are looking for clue words that will indicate what operations we should use to solve them. 

Reading has been an adventure as we have been reading about different key components to Informational Text.  Our latest story had us become “Birders” and we learned about all the different uses of feathers, which, we will have you know, are not just for flying. 

 Fourth grade social studies class has been moving along and learning about the original colonies.  We learned many facts, such as how Pennsylvania got its name and how Georgia was established. We also explored the Triangular Trade Route. 

In science, we have been working on the concept of motion. The students enjoyed calculating average speed. They also learned about velocity and acceleration and are on the fast track! 

In 5th grade Math we have been multiplying multiple digits with decimals.  We will soon be moving on to fractions.  Just as our 4th Grade comrades, in Reading we have been studying the different components of Informational Text but instead of birds we studied marine biology.  All students will be taking a break from the reading textbook and participate in a novel study starting February 4th.  

In Science we have “stepped away” from our work-text and have been studying using natural resources more efficiently. Thornton-Donovan is one of the schools participating in Con Edison’s program offering 5th graders efficiency shower heads, faucets and energy saving light bulbs among other items. We have done a few experiments and have had some crazy chemical reactions.   

In Social Studies our last stop was Promontory, Utah-at the completion of the transcontinental railroad.  

Lower School Music News

4th/5th Grades

We have begun our “electronic” unit, where we delve into the depths of possibility via the digital computer music program-Logic Pro X. Some of the students remember our work from last year and are excited to be making digital music again. Those who are not familiar with Logic are equally excited. We begin with the basics of the program and gradually improve our skills as we examine the many functions available to us. Logic is easily accessible and hands on, but it has many many layers and levels. We hope to have some of our finished pieces available to listen to on the website in the Spring.

2nd/3rd Grades

Folk Music and Protest Songs are on the agenda this month in 2/3 music. We are looking at songs by Robert Zimmerman (some know him as Bob Dylan!), Leonard Cohen and Pete Seeger. We will be learning to harmonize by singing classics like “Blowing in the Wind” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” as well as some Ladino and Yiddish folk songs. Our goal is to sing at the Arts House in late March!

K/1st Grades

Our class has been hard at work learning the fundamentals of rhythm and time by counting, stomping, clapping, singing and playing instruments. They have been having a lot of fun with the “Doe, a Deer” song from the Sound of Music, and next week start work on a song for Black History Month. This class also loves to dance—we always leave a little time at the end of class for a short dance party!

I am sure I will see you around campus!  Happily, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow.  

Virginia (Keating) Miller


Lower School Director

Middle School Director