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Why I love teaching Infant I… 5 May, 2007

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Happy tears, of course.

This morning at sing-along, many of the older kids were lackluster and downright belligerent when asked to stand up for solos. I was mad that they were setting such a bad example for the younger ones, namely, mine. Then, it came to be our class’s turn to sing solos of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”. When Teacher Kathy started the guitar music, my class proudly stood up and belted out their tunes with smiles on their faces, giddy with happiness when it was all over.

Also, Hannah earned our class another Pizza Award with her constant classroom tidying and random acts of kindness. I might mention that all of the Teachers need to second the nomination at staff meting… great job, Hannah! You make us all proud!


This week in Math we studied time to the hour and half-hour. I sent the students’ desk clocks home in the hope that they would show you all how to use them, or at least to take them apart and master playing with the little metal pin that holds them together… for many, that was more exciting than the clock itself. We also tried very hard to master drawing a clock. They know to start with a circle, and then make the numbers 12 and 6, then go on to 9 and 3. All the rest of the numbers can be filled in from there with a little bit of common sense. Time is not the easiest thing to teach, and really goes best with repetition and constant clock-checking. You can help your child by saying things like “Look, the clock says 6:15. That means it’s time for dinner” etc. Next week we’ll be tackling 2-digit addition.


The new poem “Precipitation” is the most melodious yet! Ask your child to sing it for you… unless you happened to be sitting in the classroom this morning when they sang it 12 times in a row. They’re such great readers and singers!

Our key/spelling words this week used the sound chunks ail, ain, and ump. Next week we’ll be working with all and tion which is impossible to teach without singing the t-i-o-n song that I remember from my childhood TV programs… and through the miracle of technology, here it is!


This week we started our weather study. We have begun a study of the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water; and how they relate to weather. It’s a tough unit to plan because I like to teach about the weather that’s happening on that day, for example, we started our “Cloud Journal” yesterday when there were many different clouds in the sky to study. We will be covering topics like wind, evaporation, rain, and just for fun, we will do the tornado experiment next week.

Also, while we’re on the subject of Science, be on the lookout for a letter home next week about my Science Camp in June.


Anonymous Student on Teacher Laurie’s last day: “Teacher Laurie, thank you for leaving because now we get to have a party!”

Anonymous Student at recess, sitting backwards at the top of the slide: “Look! I’m about to do the dumbest thing ever!”

Anonymous student, when looking over his Math, Spelling, and Science grades: “I am so proud of myself that I feel like giving me a hug!”

Yup, that’s what it’s all about. Thanks for reading, and be sure to drop a comment in the box to let me know you’re appreciating this.


Can you believe there are only 6 weeks left? 22 April, 2007

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Congratulations to Luc and Slade, who were on Teacher Patty’s champion team for music trivia! I, Teacher Jennifer, proudly took second place with Hannah and Leeanne by my side. Tons of fun was had by all!


I will start off by letting all of you know that once again, I have been told that we have a “phenomenal” class. On Friday morning, we were observed by Dr. Arly Petters, who is writing a math textbook and was interested in seeing our class. He was accompanied by Ms. Ardith, who has visited us in the past with Maestro Wil. Dr. Petters was warmly welcomed by the students while he observed our Math lesson. Many of them volunteered to fill him in on important details, like: the token bag, the “days of school” chart, and why we have a welcome ceremony. I am very proud of my students for their poise and participation while being observed by our guests.


If we can get it together (optimism is bliss!) our class will be performing a dramatization of the story “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in Peoples’ Ears” on Thursday, April 26th. We’re also planning on going to ABC Preschool on Friday, April 27th to perform for both classes of preschoolers. Be on the lookout for an official permission slip for that trip. We also need volunteer parents with golf carts to drive us over there… if you are able to bring us, please let me know.

We continue to study this wonderful book during Language Arts this week. The book’s main message is to be accountable for your actions, and not to pass blame or spread rumors. Come see us act it out on Thursday morning!


This week the students developed their hypothesis regarding what would happen when sunlight passed through a triangular prism. Teacher Laurie will be wrapping up our unit on colors this coming week. The children will have a Science test on Thursday, April 26th.


~Jackson, during a game of sight-word bingo, while looking at the word “no” which was upside down: “Oh, I get it! When it’s upside-down, it’s ou, but when it’s upside-up, it’s no!”

~Anonymous student, when the word “smack” came up in our Language Arts word sort: “Teacher, I like you ’cause you don’t smack us!”


Karate class is on for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week. Sensei has also suggested that students attend class at the dojo on Thursday and Friday evenings at 5pm.

Also, please remember to send Karate fees in promptly, especially if payment has not been made recently. Your support is greatly appreciated!


Sorry, I know I’m going to burst a few balloons here, but that’s the way it goes. Direct your kids’ complaints to me… it’s my fault for planning the trip that day.

Thanks for visiting our website, and be sure to leave a comment in the box… I LOVE reading them! (and sending them to my family) 🙂

I Love Caldecotts 27 March, 2007

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Another Caldecott study has left the students wide-eyed and wondering! Last week we did a unit on “Finders Keepers” which I am sure you all heard about because of the story circle homework assignment. Nap and Winkle, the main characters, learn an important lesson about sharing and cooperation in this delightful story!

Here’s a super-duper bonus question!!!: Ask your child why Will and Nicholas, the authors, decided to print the book in only black, white, red, and yellow.

This week we are studying “The Glorious Flight” by Alice and Martin Provensen, which is about the adventurous Louis Bleriot and his quest to fly across the English Channel. In this story, the major theme is “accomplishment”… look for it in upcoming homework assignments.


We are studying fact families! In a nutshell, a fact family is three numbers that go together in 4 different number sentences… this is a fact family for 2,4, and 6

2, 4, 6
2 + 4 = 6
4 + 2 = 6
6 – 2 = 4
6 – 4 = 2

Obviously, I explained to the students that you need to use all 3 numbers in every sentence. This can be a key factor in getting all of the problems figured out quickly.

We are also working on making the choice between plus and minus in word problems. The key words in many problems are: all together, more, and difference. Toward the end of the week, the children will write their own word problems and give them to friends to solve!


We continue our study of color. Most recently, the students have been observing the difference between transparent and opaque. Teacher Laurie and I found some wonderful colored plastic squares in the warehouse, and if you put them over your eyes, the whole world looks different! We gave the students the opportunity to put them over their eyes to look at the changes around them! After school Teacher Melissa, Teacher Laurie, and I discovered that if you put a red one on one eye, and a blue one on the other eye, you’ve got a pair of home-made 3D glasses! Yes, this is what we do when the students are not around. Of course, we’ll share this secret with them tomorrow.


YES, we will have Karate on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. I am sorry for any miscommunication. We just weren’t sure when Sensei was returning. He brought the video from his competition in Nicaragua that he is eager to show to the students!

When the children are on Spring holiday, Sensei has asked that they attend Karate class at the dojo if they are able, Monday through Friday from 3pm to 4pm. The dojo is across from the Belize Yacht Club, just south of Island Academy, and is recognizable by the San Pedro Karate Club flag on the front. Ask your child… I’m sure they will recognize it.


This Friday, March 30th will be our Easter celebration. It is also a no-uniform day, so your child can wear what s/he pleases.

Our traditional pot-luck will begin at 11:30, so please plan on bringing the same dish that you brought at Halloween and Christmas. Look out for a note from the office or feel free to email me with any questions.

Spring Holidays begin that day, when we dismiss at noon. School resumes on Wednesday, April 11th.


Teacher Jen, during math: “So, if yesterday was the 122nd day of school, what is today?”

Student: “Teacher, today is our 123rd day of school, and I’ve only not followed directions twice!”


I must also thank Luc for writing “I LOVE THIS” on his word sort project during Language Arts last week. Yes, I got goosebumps! Those of you who read my list of classroom goals at Parent’s Night know that my most important goal is for my students to look forward to coming to school.

Color Week 18 March, 2007

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~This week in LANGUAGE ARTS…

We did a word study poem called “Colors” and it goes a little sumthin’ like this… to the tune of “twinkle twinkle little star”, of course…

Blue, yellow, red, green,
all the colors can be seen
In the flowers, in the trees,
in the birds and yes the bees
Purple, orange, black, white,
in the sky and dark, dark night
What a world of colors here,
let’s give colors a big cheer!
Colors, colors, colors, colors!

The key words are: tree, dark, white, and black. The students did a great job thinking of words that went along with the featured sound chunks. The word sort was a bit of a hassle at the beginning… many students struggled with the similarities in the chunks from dark and black, which are “ark” and “ack”. They often confused them and really had to STOP and read the letters, not just glance and make a quick choice.

You’ll also notice that the Word Study Poem Packets are coming home with a rubric grading sheet attached to them. I want the students to understand what they are being graded on, because to them, a “grade” can be a really far-out concept. So, for example, if a child circled all 5 key words on page 1, they received 5 out of 5 points. Check out the rubric on the “Earthland” poem unit (that just came home Friday) for a thorough explanation of where the grade came from.

Janiel Wagstaff is the author of all these wonderful poems and activities… here’s the link to the book I use… http://shop.scholastic.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay_22886_-1_10001_10002

~This week in MATH

“Teacher, I love this school because we do fun math” was just one of the many great quotes of the week. We worked on addition concepts; mastering doubles, doubles-plus-one, and order of addends (aka 3+6 is the same as 6+3). We also did some tallying, counting by fives, and graphing exercises to review on Friday.

~This week in SCIENCE

The kids are rolling right along with our color study. Click on the photos to get a closer look!

Here is a little more about first grade Science, courtesy http://www.greatschools.net/cgi-bin/showarticle/CA/418

“Science is not just a body of knowledge. It is also a way of acquiring knowledge. From the earliest years, elementary science should involve children in investigating the material and living world around them. While children learn concepts and vocabulary from investigations, they also develop the thinking skills involved in finding out these concepts, such as the ability to ask a scientific question, plan experiments to try to answer the question, and develop reasonable explanations based on their observations.”

So, although we may lack Scientific “lesson resources” here in Belize; I, as a teacher, am truly focused on developing my students’ scientific thinking skills. The students aren’t just mixing paint colors, they’re writing hypothesis, drawing conclusions, and recording their findings. Ask them about it!

~a note about KARATE

Sensei Mervin is in Nicaragua at a Karate competition, so there is no Karate class this coming week, March 19, 20, and 21. Please pick up your child at 3:00.


I had a great one but I can’t remember it… must be the combination of it being report card week, report card week, and report card week.

Give me some time to remember it, and for now, skip down and read about my little Pizza Award winners.

Another “Pizza Award” Winner! 17 March, 2007

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Pizza Award Winners

Click on the picture of our proud pizza award winners (on the right) to see it full size.

Every Thursday afternoon at staff meeting, the teachers all share their success stories of the week. We nominate students from each other’s classes for the “pizza award” which recognizes random acts of kindness. Then, at assembly on Friday, the school gives a deserving student this high honor, complete with the pizza placard, which is good for a slice of pizza at lunchtime.

I am proud to announce that my class was awarded it’s fifth (FIFTH!!!! WOW!!!) pizza award today. Marthalicia was awarded for her constant cooperation and teamwork, and countless acts of kindness… the most recent being her volunteering to bring the karate flag home for a repair after it was accidentally broken. What a great sport!

Other pizza awards have been awarded this year to:
Zulema- for many classroom acts of patience, perseverance, and cooperation
Leeanne- for a random act of kindness toward Teacher Kathy
Alex- for volunteering to help keep our schoolyard clean
Mikayla- for intense classroom effort and cooperation

Good for you all- you make us all proud!

I hope I remembered everything… 11 March, 2007

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A note about KARATE…

Sensei Mervin is hoping to order the childrens’ uniforms as soon as possible, so please get payment to him if you have not done so. The uniforms cost $100bz which can be paid directly to Sensei after Karate class. I feel he has a valid point in saying that this is “the most costly endeavor you will have to deal with in exchange for a lifetime of fitness, motivation and self discipline that martial arts study will bring”. The children are enjoying Karate immensely and are getting very good! I love watching their serious little faces while they go through their movements.

This week in LANGUAGE ARTS- A Caldecott Study of “Officer Buckle and Gloria”

See the Wikipedia link and see here for a whole list of Caldecott books.

Thanks to wikipedia.com for this information: The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished American picture book for children published that year. It was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. Together with the Newbery Medal it is the most prestigious American children’s book award.

After reading the book, the children worked hard on many activities that dealt with the books’ many themes: friendship, safety, shadows, and embarrassing moments, among others. The students wrote and drew their favorite safety tips on star-shaped paper and posted them on a bulletin board. They discussed the many facets of friendship and acted out problem situations. Perhaps the most delightful activity was when the children did a creative writing activity about their most embarrassing moments!

This week in MATH

After finishing our measurement unit, we have moved on to adding numbers up to 15. Some adding strategies we will learn include: “counting on”, using manipulatives, number line counting, doubles, and doubles-plus-one. Look for homework assignments with explanations of these strategies.


The students completed their Tapir book and took their test on Monday. We are now “officially” finished with our SS and are moving on to Science for the remainder of the year.

This week in SCIENCE

We have begun a unit on color, taken straight from Teacher Laurie’s Alberta curriculum guide. The children were given dishes of water colored with red, yellow, and blue dyes, and asked to hypothesize about what would happen if they mixed the colors together. When the mixing began, the children creatively developed their scientific minds! They made the secondary colors of orange, green and purple, and numerous other combinations. I can’t put into words how excited they were to be able to mix the colors without limit, so just ask them how it went! Note: They’ll probably say “We did such a good job that we gave Teacher goosebumps!”

Next week in SPANISH

The children will have a Spanish test on colors and numbers this Thursday, March 15th. They brought home a study page of the numbers 1-10 and are expected to know the spellings of the number words. Also, on Friday, I sent home their Spanish journals and put a bookmark on the color page that says “study my colors!” Please make sure the journal is returned on Tuesday for further Spanish study.


Teacher: “Hannah, you’re doing exactly what Sensei said to do- great job!”

Hannah: (nodding, but not taking her eyes off Sensei) “That’s because I’m serious!”


Teacher: “Can anyone think of a word that ends in ly, like in family, such as carefully or quietly?”

Michael O.: “I’ve got one! Master Lee!”


There’s no school on Monday, March 12. See you on Tuesday!

“We made Teacher proud!” 28 February, 2007

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It is our week to host assembly, so we’re expected to present something on Tuesday and Thursday. In the past our class has sung songs… it’s really all about building confidence and stage presence. This time I decided that since the students were so interested in their flag projects, they should share them with the assembly. Eight of them read this morning, and eight of them will read on Thursday, and I must say that this morning’s bunch did a fantastic job!

This week in our class we’re working on…


We’re doing a Word Study poem called “Earthland”. Ask your child to sing along to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”

“Let’s give a cheer for Mother Earth, place where we live, place of our birth
Protect her forests, protect her oceans, protect her animals, show devotion
If we let them die, you see, we lose some of Earth’s family
So raise a cheer and lift a hand, pay tribute to this great Earth-land!”

Key words are: cheer, lift, let, family… Think of words that rhyme and look for them in your child’s homework.


We are focusing on weights and measures these days… The students are working in groups to use some great manipulatives: a balance for weight, a bin of rice for estimation and measurement, and rulers with both inch and centimeter measurements. Some students have moved ahead and worked on some more difficult activities, one of them being a “flag study” where students research which world flags are divided in halves, thirds, quarters, etc.


Our current SS unit is called “The Place We Live”. Students are learning about the different climate regions of the Earth, and how the people, plants, animals, and weather differ in the different regions. They are creating a book called “The Place We Live” that will help them to study for their unit test on Monday. Today, as a special treat, we went outside to watch the moon rise while working on a page in our books.


I brought something to school today. It is a small container of water with some little black dot clusters floating in it. My goal is for the students to guess what it is by observing the changes in it over the coming days.

If you ask your student what Teacher Jennifer brought in to school today, they will tell you it is:
1. Something from nature —and—
2. I found it in my dog’s water bowl, and my dog didn’t put it there! (Disclaimer: This is safe!!!)

The students observed the little dots with magnifying glasses, drew what they saw, and wrote what they thought they were. We’ll observe again tomorrow and see what happens!


Our Language Arts homework has been different lately… both Teacher Laurie and I feel that they are ready for more involved assignments. If you don’t see a traditional “textbook” page in your child’s folder, look for a sheet of handwriting paper with a detailed description of the assignment that your child copied from the chalkboard. The assignments are usually linked to our Spelling words or Word Study “key words”.


Last week student (very spontaneously!) told me about a relatives’ home being burglarized. The student told me what had happened, and included the following in the end…

“My Dad said it was some (insert derogatory term for criminal) and he was taking drugs. I’m never going to take drugs, because… well… drugs make you crazy!”


Moms, Dads, and Friends, please leave a comment in the box… I love finding out who’s reading our information! Thanks a bunch!

The busiest week in history! 17 February, 2007

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We have come through Karate, play dough making, Valentine’s Day, and the 100th day of school all in one week- unbelievable! Here’s how we kept our coooooool…


We did a word-study poem called “The 100th Day of School” to go along with our math festivities. I set our “poems” to song or chanting, so it’s likely that your child will remember the words even if he/she can’t read all the words in the poem. Look for it in the packets that come home. Key words and practice words are as follows…

key word: school —> tool, cool, fool, drool, pool, stool

key word: shine —> mine, wine, pine, Valentine, line, (and Sergio’s brilliant suggestion of “Einstein” was unfortunately one of those exceptions to the rule!)

key word: rate —> gate, fate, mate, late, update


I am proud to say that all 16 students returned their reading books! They received their “marble in the jar” and are only 4 marbles away from their next big incentive. Thank you for your wonderful comments, and for supporting our students in developing a love for reading!


This week was a flurry of counting by 2, 5, and 10 in order to get to 100. The students had a wonderful time counting out their 100 items from home, which included: 100 puzzle pieces, 100 beans, 100 balloons, 100 noodles. I also gave myself the award for planning the “most funnest activity ever!!!” for our 100 Froot Loop necklaces. Here’s why this was so special: the kids were given strict instructions to group their loops in piles of ten, and then string them. When they had a pile of 10, I could help them check their math by counting 2, 4, 6, 8, 10! with them. Brilliant! Mikayla was the first to finish, with an intensely-proud Sergio at a close second! Congratulations to all my students for not eating the necklaces in class… at least not while I was looking.


Teacher Laurie has been teaching the class about healthy foods, and why we eat them. We used our home-made play dough to make healthy meals. The students made peas, corn-on-the-cob, apples, and loads of other delicious-looking play-dough foods to share with the class. During this time, Ms. Dixie and Teacher Kathy visited our classroom and we got to show off our creations! As an added bonus, Teacher Doug’s class did a presentation at assembly about how to keep your heart healthy… featuring Zach as “Captain Heart-attack”, telling us how to avoid fatty foods and exercise to be healthy!


This is a valuable time for our students- what more can I say? Please read over the note I sent home for details on how you can support your little Karate student- with one correction- the number 4 is “shi”. The website I copied it from must not have been accurate.


Teacher Jen: “If you would like to, you can start your homework now so you have more time to yourself tonight.”

Student: “No, I’ll bring it home so Mommy can do it while I watch TV.”

I’m back online!!! 17 February, 2007

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Hip hip hooray! I finally have a stable internet connection. I am truly sorry for the the delay in updating our classroom website. After many internet connectivity issues, password diffuculties, and of course being oh-so-busy at school, I am ready to update. Not to mention that wonderful, inspirational boost that Teacher Laurie’s blog has given me…

This week in Infant I… 8 November, 2006

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~Poems~ We have moved on to our third poem, called “Animal Voices”, with FIVE!!! key words:
blub (!)

The students did a boautiful job thinking of words that use the same “sound chunks”… my favorites are:

at- cat, mat, hat, rat, tattoo
iss- kiss (eeeewwwww!!!) miss, dismiss

~Sounds! We started our book “Short Vowel Sounds” and added many short A words to the short A page.

~ Spelling! The students began their first official Spelling unit this week (it’s Unit 10 in the book) and they’ll have a test on Friday. They have been asked to copy their spelling words onto a piece of paper and bring them home so they can study during the week. We’ve also explored ways to study, such as working with a friend, using magnet letters, etc. We need to apply and reinforce these these study techniques early, so please encourage it at home!

This week will finish our subtraction chapter. Ask your child about sticker pictures, domino subtraction, and rolling dice to subtract. At the end of the week we will move on to addition strategies, and I will teach the ever-popular “number line jump”.

We are learning about the parts of a plant. We drew and labeled “parts of a plant” diagrams, made our own labelled “gardens” with our tablemates (using our best handwriting, of course), and on Thursday we will explore real plants and write about what we see. I’m looking forward to doing the celery experiment to show that the stem carries water up to the leaves and flowers. Keep saving those glass jars- we need them!

Teacher Kathy has been visiting our classroom to practice our songs for the Christmas Pageant! Yes, it’s that time again. Also, it’s our class’s week to host the ever-important morning assembly. Today we sang “There’s a Mouse in my House” and on Thursday we will entertain the crowd with “Mi Cuerpo” which is a song in Spanish about the parts of the body. Ask your child to sing it for you- I know that they know the “cha cha cha” part!


Teacher Jen: “What did you have for breakfast?”
Student: “Coffee and fried chicken.”