Rivendell Middle Kids

Off To a Great Start!

It is a brand new year and the Middle Kids are off and running! We have spent these first couple of weeks getting to know each other and getting back into the routine of school. Some of our students are returning for their second year of Middle Kids while others are joining us from Younger Kids and are tackling all new expectations and procedures. We are gradually adding academic work sessions back into our schedule. They have already had several math work sessions and are cruising! They are learning to choose the “just right book” in Readers’s Workshop. Next week we will start working in spelling books. We are also spending quite a bit of time on our first topic unit of the year – Ancient Egypt. Who doesn’t love talking about pyramids and mummies?

We want to welcome our new Middle Kids teacher Christin Gallagher!

The kids are creating 3-D Egyptian pyramids.
They are decorating the inside with authentic Egyptian hieroglyphics and drawings.

Growing minds!

This week in topic work we are continuing our study of plants.  We did two projects this week – a flower dissection and a seed germination experiment.  Last week the kids learned the parts of a flower, and looked closely at how plants reproduce.  This week they put that knowledge to use by identifying the important parts in an actual flower.  They also made mini “greenhouses” out of plastic baggies.  We are attempting to germinate three types of seeds – beans, sunflowers, and corn.  As we see progress, the kids will be keeping a plant observation log so they can document the important steps.  Once we have viable plants, and once the weather allows, our hope is to transplant our seedlings outside into our gardens.
Our writing goal for the next couple of weeks is persuasive writing.  A convincing persuasive writing consists of a topic sentence  (the argument) followed by at least three statements supporting the argument.  Today we spent time practicing this technique as a class, and next we will have them try writing a persuasive paragraph on their own. 
As always, let us know if you have any questions over the course of these last couple months of school.  We are really enjoying these kids!

Hello Spring!

Hello All, and welcome back from Spring Break!

We hope everyone had a nice week off enjoying time with family and friends, doing what you love to do.   It certainly feels like spring, and it looks like we are in for some nice warm weather over the next few days.  
Believe it or not, we only have 9 weeks left of the school year!  These last couple of months tend to go really quickly, and they are filled with many important dates and events.  We will do our very best to keep you all informed, and it’s also important to make sure you read your Rivendell newsletter each week.  

**The Egg Drop will not take place this Friday. It has been postponed until April 26th.

We are wrapping up our study of the Revolutionary period this week and moving on to a unit on plants.  During our plant unit, on April 24th, we will be taking a field trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens!  We will be sending home more about this trip in the coming weeks, so make sure you watch for a permission slip and information about needed chaperones.

Sky Ranch 2019 – Our annual trek up to Sky Ranch with our third graders will take place on May 13th and 14th.  Our second graders will stay here at school, knowing that it will be their turn next year!  We are sending home packets of information and forms which need to be filled out before your child can take part in this adventure.  We send them home early so that you have plenty of time to obtain information on your child’s immunizations, health history, and a signature from your pediatrician.  If you have any questions, please let us know.  Our advice is to get these done and returned quickly so you don’t have to worry about them anymore!  There will be a mandatory Sky Ranch informational meeting at 7:30 am on Thursday, April 25th.  Please mark your calendar and plan to come.  If you any questions please let us know.
Have a wonderful week!

Summarizing a Short Story

Wow – these kids did a fantastic job with our new skill of summarizing a story today!  Our method of using 5 different colored pencils to differentiate between the different parts of a summary worked really well for them.  The five parts of a short summary are: Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then.  They loosely correspond with the parts of a creative story: The main character and setting, the problem, the path toward a solution, and the solution to the problem.
The idea is to retell the important parts of the story “in a nutshell.”  We will keep working on this skill, but considering the fact that for many of them this was their very first time, I am SO impressed!

Marching into March!

We are moving right along in Middle Kids.  The kids are making amazing progress in their math books and reading up a storm.  This week in Reader’s Workshop we are focusing on summarizing a story.  We do this with a method called the 5-finger summary.  After reading a story we break the summary down into 5 parts – Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then.  These parts correlate with the Character, Setting, Problem, Action and Conclusion of the story.  As with all new skills, we will start by writing a summary as a class, and then have them try it on their own.  Another secret to making this easier is having them write each part with a different colored pencil.

We are continuing our study of the Revolutionary period this week as we learn about the events leading to war and our Declaration of Independence.

This Friday is our annual Science Share recitation.  Hopefully the kids are nearing completion on their write-ups and preparation for their presentation.  Let us know if you have any other questions about our expectations.  If they want to enter their project in the Science Fair, they can use this coming weekend to complete their display board.

Taxation Without Representation!

I hope you have already heard about it, but yesterday we did a simulation about taxation without representation to help the kids understand how the early American Colonists felt about the King imposing taxes on them.  We came up with a long list of activities and services that the kids had to pay for during the course of the school day.  We gave each of them a roll of 50 pennies, and told them that they could keep any money they had left at the end of the day.  They quickly figured out that it was going to be very difficult or even impossible to have any left!

As you can imagine, this became pretty frustrating for some of them.  The teachers had the authority to impose new “taxes” any time we wanted.  The kids (being very fair-minded) thought this was completely unfair and maddening at times.  Secretly of course, that was our hope!  We know that kids learn and retain knowledge better when feelings are involved.  Today we plan to discuss this further and then write about the experience.

Our long list of charges for the day! Our favorite was the “Teacher”s choice” line!
It didn’t take long for this bowl of coins to fill!

Friendly Letters Aren’t Dead!

Today we started learning about a new kind of writing – a friendly letter!  Yes, we know it is a dying art, but still feel it is important for kids to learn.  And what grandparent, uncle, aunt, or cousin doesn’t like to get a letter in the mail?  We learned the parts of a friendly letter and talked about what kinds of things you might want to include.  Then they gave it a try!  When they are complete we are going to be asking for addresses so we can actually mail them out. The kids seemed really excited about this chance to write to a favorite relative or friend!

Hard at work!
We use our personal dictionaries to help with correct spelling during writing activities.
We are also working on using a sheet of lined notebook paper appropriately – large space on the top, holes on the left, keeping an eye on that pink margin line!

Writing memoirs

We started a new writing project in Middle Kids today!  They will be writing a memoir – a true story about a favorite memory.  Today we began the brainstorming and planning process.  The kids came up with a list of some of their favorite memories, and then chose the one they want to write about.  Then we gave them a chance to tell a partner all the details they could remember so that they could “freshen” their memory.  Over the next several weeks we will transform these memories into stories.  A well-written memoir has a beginning, middle and end.  It is full of exciting details and feelings.  They will be typing these stories on their Chromebooks, and each week we will teach them new ways to revise them and make them better  without the daunting task of rewriting with pencil and paper.

Ancient Cuneiform Writing

After we studied about Oceans, we launched a new Topic Unit on Ancient Mesopotamia. We have focused on these four sub-topics:

  • Geography, timeline, and how the Mesopotamians came to be a civilization
  • The Mesopotamian “firsts” and inventions (the wheel, the chariot, math, writing, time telling, astronomy, canals, etc)
  • Hammurabi’s Code of Laws that governed their daily lives and served as the first set of written laws (Be sure to ask your student about the phrase “he shall be put to death”)
  • Cuneiform Writing

The kids learned that cuneiform is a series of symbols that represent syllables. It was the first written language. Scribes used reeds from the marshes of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers as their stylus or pen. Scribes pressed their stylus into damp clay to form their letters. They let the clay dry in the sun if they wanted to keep it and washed it clean to erase. Mesopotamian scribes studied for 12 years to master the art of writing in Cuneiform. Middle Kids, however, had about 45 minutes to scribe their name into a small piece of clay! They learned through this process that lots of mistakes are made when trying new things and it’s important to be flexible, have a good attitude and keep trying! With Bryce and I’s assistance, they were able to create some pretty cool Cuneiform tablets…

Ocean Animal Recitations

These kids slayed their ocean animal projects and recitations!  We are SO proud of the hard work they have put into learning and telling about these creatures.  You have all seen their pictures as they have been working on them this week, and the writings are on display in our hallway if you want to check those out.
Recitations are an important and valuable way for children to start to learn the “art” of public speaking.  Before each speech we talk about what we expect from their delivery.   We talk about what it looks and sounds like to be a good speaker, and we set goals as the year progresses. We talk about standing up straight and using a strong, clear voice.   As we make our way through the year, we will be looking for more eye contact with the audience and using their paper as a reference but not something they are reading directly from.  It was very obvious today that these kids had put time into practicing what they were going to say, and they could answer many of the questions that were asked of them because they had spent so much time researching and getting to know their animals.
 Way to go Middle Kids!