October in our class
Dear parents: this is our second newsletter and I hope you are excited to find out what we have been up to lately. Also, we hope you have enjoyed the autumn break. As you already know, Diana has become an important member in our Year 1 class. The kids have bonded with her and genuinely enjoy having her in the classroom. Together with Robert and Diana, we are working on creating a welcoming classroom environment, in which the kids learn and are able to express themselves. In the following newsletter, we will try to provide you with an overview of what we have been up to this past month. We’ve had lots of fun and we’ve gotten to know each other better. It is an ongoing process of really getting to know the kids in order to provide them with a good learning experience.
In English, we have continued with the Jolly Phonics fun, as we like to call it here in Year 1. We have completed Workbook 1 and Activity book 1 and we are moving forward with the second set of books. After the autumn break, we have worked on consolidating what we’ve learned so far (s, a, t, I, p, n sounds, CVC words, seasons, colors, days of the week etc.) focusing on handwriting, letter formation plus various fun exercises such as gluing pictures next to the correct initial sound, coloring, flashcards, games and so on. We have also focused on sentence building, remembering to use capital letters and full stops. In order to do this, we have started answering questions in full sentences (in writing), such as “What is this?”, “Is this a car?”, “Is this a yellow book?”. We have also introduced opposites (big – little, tall – short, long – short, fat – thin, up – down, on – off, in – out). Also, to encourage language development, every Monday we talk about what we did during the weekend and we have to say they have lots of fun sharing their stories with the rest of the class. We’ve made a habit of reading a story together every day, in the afternoon, and discussing it, such as “Percy and Pirates”, “Penguins”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Runaway Pancake” and so on.
We have done a lot of good work this past month in Mathematics. Just like we did in English, we have focused on revising what the kids learned so far before the autumn break by playing some games and doing some worksheets. I have to say, they did an amazing job. We have been introducing them to addition and understanding quantity by using vertical notation, combining two sets by counting altogether, understand the meaning of + and =, adding 0 and understanding that the number stays the same, as well as finding the missing addend up to 10. We’ve been working on our number words as well, by doing matching exercises and copying the number word under the correct number. Another important part of our Mathematics lessons has been comparing numbers by understanding greater than and less than and using the symbols <, >, which we’ve named Mister Hungry because he always eats the bigger number). We have also covered positions such as left, right, inside, outside, top, bottom and we gave examples using objects that we have in the classroom. In some of our Mathematics classes we have also discussed shapes (triangle, rectangle, circle, square) – recognize shapes, read the words, being able to draw the shape and so on. The kids have also been introduced to the concept of comparing lengths: longer – shorter, taller- shorter.
Since we celebrated World Smile Day, we thought it would be a good idea to talk about the “science of smiling”: how many muscles does it take to smile, how there are 19 types of smiles plus all the benefits of smiling such as boosting the immune system, relieving stress and so on. Recycling was another important part of our lessons. We talked about the fact that paper comes from trees and that is to easily wasted. So we agreed that we should try to save paper as much as we can and try to draw on both sides. We also decided to use some of the scrap paper that we have gathered since the beginning of the school year and we made a project titled “Mister Potato at…”. We also spent some time in the park to observe the changes in the environment such as leaves changing color and nature getting ready for winter.
HISTORY & GEOGRAPHY
During the month of October, we have continued learning about Ancient Egypt, this time moving forward and really getting into the “Egyptian issues”. We have had lessons about some of the most important Gods that the Egyptians worshiped: Horus, Bast or Anubis. We started by providing the kids with some general information about each God: what did they look like, why were they worshiped and so on. After this, the kids took their time to color the Gods. Seasons and weather were also covered in our lessons. We wrote down the names of each season and discussed what clothes and shoes are suitable according to the weather. We’ve also covered the concept of mapping. We talked about the map of Romania, we drew a map of the class and then the kids made a map of their own room at home.
EXPRESSIVE ART & DESIGN
We have a new Art teacher. Her name is Georgeta and here is a little something about her: “I have painted since I was five and I have tried to find out the mystery of teaching since I was eleven. Probably that’s the reason why I am here today, doing my best in guiding those who are the most creative of us: the children. I’ve graduated from the National University of Arts Bucharest, in the Department of Graphic Arts as well as in the Department of Training for Teaching Personnel (DPPD). For six years I’ve been working in the field of Art Restoration and Conservation, being part of the teams that restored monuments like the Bran Castle (Bran, Brașov), The Episcopal Church Curtea de Arges (Curtea de Arges) the Stavropoleos Church, the Russian Church, and Coral Temple (Bucharest). Meantime, I’ve been doing art workshops and art summer schools, here, in Romania, but also in Ukraine and USA. I strongly believe that anyone can draw or paint; they just need to be challenged to discover and improve their creativity and imagination”.
Major Topics: – Continue auditioning classical music from different periods of time – Continue practicing the basic music notations – Start learning new songs for the WinterFest.
I continued with the development of good posture and body movements and I have applied them in an apply trail in which the students climbed, jumped and walked in balance. We did exercises for recognition and guidance in the apply trail and when I was sure that the students are used with the apply trail we did relays against time of the apply trail’s recognition. Afterwards we did exercises for relaxation after effort and breathing exercises. When I was sure that the students were relaxed and ready for new type of exercises I did force development exercises: the candle and move like the animals (bunny, gorilla, bear, scorpion). In the last 5 minutes of the class we had free play time.
TRIPS AND SPECIAL DAYS
The children had lots of fun at the Animal farm from Pantelimon, a very welcoming place for kids where they can be in nature. They had a chance to see different species of birds and animals, lots of them walking freely in the farm. They have enjoyed feeding goats, seeing a cow being milked and finding out how the milk is processed, as well as lots of interesting pieces of information about all the animals and birds living on the farm. Probably one of the best moments for them was playing on an enormous trampoline. Another great day was pottery at Piscu. The kids absolutely loved it. In the beginning, one of the ladies working there made an introduction about the process of pottery and the history of the Piscu village and she also showed us some very old ceramic vases. They waited for us with some clay pots for the kids to paint at the tables and then “the grandpa”, as the kids called him, showed them how to work the pottery wheel and mold their own shapes. We celebrated World Smile Day and together we created a board with all the things that make us smile. Halloween was also lots of fun, we decorated pumpkins, played games. Overall, good clean fun.
At the Social Emotional Learning Classes, we continued the core practices of Mindfulness, and then we introduced the „Mindfulness of thoughts concept”, helping children in becoming aware of the dinamic of their thoughts. We used an experiential exercise where we created a thoughts bottle, with glitter being our thoughts and observing how when we are angry or agitated our thoughts look like a tornado while when we take our Mindful Bodies position and breathe calmly, our thoughts do not disappear but they rest peacefully at the bottom of the bottle. We presented the Kindness concepts and spoke about the coming Dance for Kindness event. We also introduced the concepts of Multiple Inteligences/Smarts (Howard Gardner’s model of 9 types of intelligences), that shows children how we all have strengths and areas to improve and that we can use our strengths to help our community. They each had to draw from a set of cards showing various intelligences and enact in front of the others the type of intelligence that they picked. This way they were made aware of the fact that we all posses all the intelligences in various degrees, that we can improve our abilities in multiple ways, that we can appreciate others for their way of being smart. We created a Community Brain, a symbol of our diversity, where everyone contributed with their own smart whether that’s Body, Visual, Nature or Friendship Smart.
In the Romanian classes, we continued to talk in Romanian, as much as possible. Because we are still very young, the main interest is still the oral production of the language, and less the written one. We kept stories as our start for most of the activities and we continued to play many games: ”Look at the picture and say” … (What / who is missing from the story? / What is true and what is false? / What are they doing / Explain / Describe / Imagine…)” Continue my sentence” / ”What if…” (change the story / improvise / imagine) / ”Good or bad” (describe the character / motivate our answers / add moral values). We wrote some more on our notebooks (the next vowels o, u, i) and we had different worksheets to complete (by coloring, counting, logical thinking, deducing). Little by little, we started to play together and to act like a team. We played some games to reinforce togetherness and self-confidence.
WHAT COMES NEXT
In Year 1, we will continue to have fun and motivate children to learn. We will try to integrate role play in our lessons (for example, we will be learning about the Pet Shop and the Toy Store in English and we will try to act as if we are customers and shop employees and give information about what we are selling). We will have fun learning how certain objects are made (such as balloons and honey) and learning about important figures as well as moments in history. We will begin preparing for the Winterfest (we will have more information available soon). The kids have already started learning the songs together with their music teacher, Laura, and we will also start rehearsals for our class presentation. The kids are very excited to perform and be on stage.
SUPPORTING YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING
There are many ways that parents can support their children’s learning at home and throughout the school year. Here are some ideas to get you started. Take the time to meet with your child’s homeroom teacher and use this opportunity to ask questions about your child’s progress, whether he has difficulties in any particular matter. Encourage your child to have positive feelings about going to school. Get to know all the teachers involved in your child’s learning. As the kids go further with learning English, it would also be a great idea if you could find a bit of time, a couple of days every week, to read English stories to your children. It helps develop English knowledge, as well as providing a relatable way to express themselves, not to mention that it is a nice way to bond with your child.