Rivendell Middle Kids

Brrrrr!

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It seems that we may have finally left our mild, warm days of early fall behind!  The Middle Kids are doing a great job of coming to school prepared to go outside in the weather.  Thanks to parents for helping them pack up in the morning.

This week we will begin our study of Native Americans with a map of the country divided into regions.  We will begin to take a closer look at each region and the Native tribes who originally made them their homes.  The kids will begin to see how the lifestyles of these people were a reflection of the landscape and the natural resources of the region.  After that, our plan is for each student to do a more in depth study of a specific tribe. We will have to cover a lot of information in a fairly short time since we have only this week and next before our short Thanksgiving week!

The Middle Kids have begun practicing for their annual musical performance.  This year Tina has chosen “Geology Rocks” for the Middle Kids.  It is a funny and informative show based on geology.  It fits in well with our upcoming topic unit about mountains and plains.  The kids have been given their parts for the show, and at some point they may be bringing their lines home for extra practice.  Thanks in advance for helping them to memorize words and songs.  More information about this show will be coming your way soon.

Have a great week, and stay warm!

Halloween!

There are a ton of exciting events happening this week in Middle Kids! Other than Halloween, the main thing is the reward the kids earned for Fun Run fundraising. We exceeded our goal of $3,000, so the kids earned a homework-free week and a big party. Below is the schedule.

Monday – No homework

Normal day. Picture order forms and Field Trip Permission Slips are sent home. Permission Slips need to be signed and returned as soon as possible. No child left behind on Thursday! 🙂

Tuesday – No homework

Halloween! Kids come to school with their costumes in a bag. We change at 1:45 in the classrooms (boys in Bryce’s room, girls in Anna’s room). No weapons. No complicated make-up. We will do our  best to get everyone dressed but we can not spend too much time on any one child. If your child’s costume is quite complex, you may need to plan to come help them get dressed.

Whole-School Halloween Parade at 2:00

Middle Kids Halloween Party begins at 2:15. Big thanks to Codi McKee and Karen Tipps for organizing!

Wednesday – No homework

Normal day.

Thursday – No homework

Science Class Field Trip to the Discovery Museum. After a normal morning routine, we will eat lunch at Rivendell, then board the bus for downtown. At the Museum we will be seeing a show about the solar system. We will return before Dismissal. Please be sure that Permission Slips are turned in!

Friday

Fun Run Fundraising Party Day! Other than a no-homework week, the kids earned:

-bring a stuffy to school (1 stuffy per child)

-PJ day (we will still go outside, so outerwear is necessary)

-free choice work session

-movie (Emoji movie)

-root beer floats during movie (if you want to provide an alternate snack due to allergies, please let me know)

 

Beware the Week of Halloween!

As Halloween approaches, we have a couple of reminders!  We feel pretty lucky that we are still able to celebrate Halloween here at school.  Kids (and teachers!) are most likely adding the final touches to their costumes.  Our annual Fun Fest is coming up this Friday, and we encourage the kids to wear their costumes to add to the fun!  Next Tuesday we will have our costume parade and classroom parties here at school.  Here are a couple of reminders about costumes and our upcoming festivities:

* Fun Fest is Friday!  Friends and family are welcome!  Wear costumes and come join the fun.  Entrance and participation in all of the games is free, but if you would like to purchase dinner there will be tickets sold at  the front desk.

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Carved Pumpkin Contest :

Families can enter a carved pumpkin (carved at home) contest at Fun Fest. Please bring your carved pumpkin when you come to Fun Fest Friday evening. We will not be able to store pumpkins ahead of time. Attendees will have the opportunity to vote for the best carved pumpkin at the event. Two winners will be announced the following week. The winners will receive a $10 gift card to Barnes and Noble. 
 

* On Halloween, kids bring their costumes to school in a bag.  Please don’t have them wear  them to school in the morning.  We will get them changed starting at 1:45 so they are  ready for the parade which starts at 2:00.

* If your child’s costume includes any type of weapon (sword, knife, gun, nun-chucks, etc) please keep     them at home.  They are not allowed at school for Fun Fest or on Halloween.

* We encourage you to keep the costumes simple.  The kids need to be able to move and get around freely so that they can enjoy the party. If your child needs make-up applied you should plan on being at school at 2;45 to help them.  Although we always try our best to help in anyway we can, we cannot guarantee that we will have the time to devote to individual children’s makeup.

In other news – Middle kids will be taking a field trip next week on Thursday.  We will be going to the Ft. Collins Museum of Discovery to see a show on the planets in the Otterbox Dome.  The permission slip will be coming home soon.  Please return it to your child’s teacher ASAP.  All costs associated with this trip will come out of our Fun Run proceeds!

Tuesday, October 17th

As we race our way through October, there are several important dates and events coming up that we felt we needed to highlight.  Also, since we have a couple of shorter weeks in a row because of conferences, we wanted to remind you that it is often necessary for us to change our daily schedules so that we can fit in all of our work sessions and get projects complete.  If you volunteer in one of our classrooms, we will do our best to notify you if there is any change during the work session you are scheduled for.

Coming up:

Fall Conferences are this Friday and next Friday. We are looking forward to talking to all of our parents about beginning of the year successes as well as goals for the school year.

Fun Fest! – This is our annual Halloween-themed school carnival event.  It takes place this year on Friday, October 27th in the evening.  Kids (and parents too!) are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes and bring friends and family to have a goulishly good time!

School Halloween Party – This year our party takes place on Halloween!  Kids should bring their costumes to school in a bag (not wear them in the morning).  At about 1:45 we will get the kids changed into their costumes for the parade, which starts at 2:00.  After the parade we will head back to our classrooms and have our party!

Upcoming Field Trip – The Middle Kids are taking a field trip on Thursday, November 2nd  to the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery to see a show about our amazing solar system in the Otterbox Dome Theater.  We will be taking the city bus to get there.  We will send more details about this trip soon!

Middle Kids’ Amazing Fun Run Celebration Day!! – On Friday, November 3rd, both Middle Kids classes will be having a celebration day to acknowledge their incredible fundraising effort!!  As of today (Oct.17th) the Middle Kids’ Fun Run total is over $4700.00!!  On the 3rd the kids can wear their pajamas and bring a stuffed animal to school, we will have extra free choice that day, and we will watch a movie while enjoying root beer floats!  Of course, as the day gets closer we will send home any important details you need to know about this day.  Way to go Middle Kids!!

Academics this week: Reading – Questioning and Wondering – asking thought provoking questions                                                                        while reading.  All good readers do it!

                                              Writing – Completing and editing creative writing stories including                                                                                       great  beginnings and endings

                                              Topic Work – History of space exploration timelines and planetary                                                                                               watercolor painting!

                                              Math – Continued work in math books, Venn diagrams with Pat.

We hope you are all enjoying the gorgeous fall weather!  We wanted to remind everyone that we do go outside everyday. We even go outside if it is raining or snowing if the temperature is above 17 degrees.  The kids love playing outside in different kinds of weather, and they always need to get their share of fresh air!  Please keep this in mind as you leave the house in the morning.  Help your child remember to bring weather-appropriate clothing and outerwear.  It is also really important that you label every item of outerwear with your child’s name.  Our lost and found shelves are already starting to pile up, and if items are labeled they are much more likely to make it back home.

Have a wonderful week, and let us know if you have any questions.

 

Solar System and Astronomy

Hey Middle Kids Families,

The Fun Run on Friday was a blast! Pledges are due this Friday, October 13th. We sent the final lap count home in folders today. Many of you were there to witness 3 Middle Kids bet and beat me in the Fun Run Challenge…kudos to Emily and Sam from Bryce’s class and Eva from my class! It was hard work – those kids definitely earned my $40 for their pledge sheets.

We can’t believe it snowed today! At Rivendell, we like to give our students as much time as possible to get outside and play, even if it is snowing and wet! Kids are allowed to play in the snow if they have snow pants, snow boots, and a jacket. Gloves are also a good idea. Many kids like to bring a separate bag or box to keep these items in near their hook. If a child does not have the appropriate snow gear, they are not allowed to be in the snowy field. We help kids get dressed if they need help, but in Middle Kids we hope that each child is capable of dressing him or herself in their snow gear.

This week we have our first thematic Recitation. Each child has a space term that they will research Monday and give a short speech about on Friday. At this level, research is typically a team approach between parent and student. Please use our “Doing Research with a 2nd or 3rd Grader” reference sheet to help you. Feel free to read high level text to your 2nd or 3rd grader out loud. Help them find good resources. Above all, do not exhaust yourself or your student – keep the research short and sweet! We’re really looking forward to hearing these Recitations on Friday.

Keep in mind Friday Oct 20th and Oct 27th are Parent Conference Days. Sign up sheets are posted outside classrooms. Many of you have signed up already. If you haven’t yet, please do so as soon as possible!

To infinity, and beyond!!

This week the Middle Kids are moving on to our next exciting topic unit – Outer Space and The Solar System!  We will be focusing our time on space exploration and facts about our solar system.  This week we took a look at a list of major milestones in space exploration between the 1940’s and now.  The kids got a chance to do research with partners to learn some cool facts about some of these important milestones.  They are going to take these facts and put them onto a timeline.  They got to choose the events they wanted to research, and this definitely added to their excitement and motivation.  Our hope is that this will give them a better sense of the history of man in space.  They really enjoy it when we can utilize our new Chromebooks!  This also gives them practice working and collaborating with a partner – something that doesn’t always come naturally!

Our Fun Run is scheduled for this Friday.  Our hope is that the weather holds out!  Middle Kids should finish gathering pledges this week.  We have spent time in class coming up with exciting classroom incentives for collecting pledges to help motivate them!  Please remember to hold on to your pledge packet until after the Fun Run, and after you have collected the money.  At that time they should be returned to the office.

**Our conference schedules are posted outside our classrooms.  Please take a few minutes to come in and select a time that works for you on October 20th or 27th.  

As always, please let us know if you have any questions.  Enjoy the rest of the week!

 

Fun Run Week!

Hey Middle Kids Parents,

Just to re-iterate, the Fun Run’s rain date is for Friday, October 6. Make sure the kids are collecting pledges! We have some really fun incentives planned for Middle Kids if they raise a certain amount. It should be easy to meet the goals we’ve set for them. If everyone raises at least $100 we will meet our highest goal!

We’ve had a good week and are finally getting into a groove with math work sessions, spelling work sessions and Reader’s Workshop.

This week we started two new things: Vocabulary books and Writer’s Workshop. Every other week, some kids work in Vocabulary books instead of Spelling. Bryce and I determine when we think each student is ready for this. If you have any questions about that, please email us!

In Writer’s Workshop, the kids are working through the writing process of Brainstorming –> Drafting –> Editing –> Publishing. For their first creative writing piece, the students had to select a setting from these options: ancient Aztec/Inca/Mayan village or empire. They could then choose 2 characters, 1 simple problem, and 1 solution. We’ve talked so much about these ancient civilizations, it’s been fun to see how creative Middle Kids are getting with their story plans! We’ve also talked a lot about incorporating ancient problems and solutions into these stories. No modern elements allowed! We’ve got problems of every sort…from sacrifice to the gods, smallpox from the European explorers, poverty, lack of gold, conquering neighboring villages, social class status issues, etc.

The kids have planned out their story elements, and are now transferring these ideas to a Beginning/Middle/End graphic organizer. It can be hard to remember that the characters and setting should be introduced in the beginning and then they should get right to their problem. The middle is the introduction of the problem and a short sequence of events leading the characters to solve it. The end is the solution to that problem. It’s a lot of work to write creatively! Next we will begin our drafts and work on strong beginnings and good endings.

Good job supporting your kids on their HW! Remember it should be about 15-20 minutes. Please talk to us if it is taking a long time.

 

-Bryce and Anna

 

Fall is in the air!

As we make our way through September we can definitely feel the change in the weather!  These crisp mornings are a welcome relief from all of the heat we have had lately.  Don’t forget as the days become cooler and your children need to start bringing jackets and other outerwear to school, be sure to label everything with your child’s name.

This week Middle Kids will be wrapping up our first round of MAP tests.  Today was the second test for both classes.  Wednesday morning Anna’s class will have their last test, and Thursday morning Bryce’s class will have their last.  Thanks for getting the kids here on time for school on these days.

This week we have added Reflex Math to the homework menu.  We sent log-in information home in the Back to School Night packets.  Most of the kids already know how to log in on their own.  To get them started just go to Reflexmath.com and they can probably take it from there.  Let us know if you have any questions.  Please remember that they need to do this on their own, and nobody else in the family can type answers using the same account or it messes with the program’s ability to track fact fluency.

We will continue our study of ancient civilizations this week as we move on the the Aztecs.  We will look closely at the lifestyles of the Aztecs and try our hand at a mosaic art piece.  We have had some great discussions with our classes about why we study ancient civilizations – ask your student if he/she has some ideas.

Please encourage your Middle Kid to gather those Fun Run pledges!  Our Fun Run is coming up next week already.  Our two Middle Kids classes are working together to come up with some cool incentive prizes which will be rewarded if they earn the target amount in pledges!

Happy September!

Dear Parents of Middle Kids,

Wow! So many things to adjust to this year! The kids are learning a ton about work sessions, work ethic, responsibility, direction following, kindness, respect, and of course, math, reading, spelling and history! We are so proud of their hard work.

As you know, we spent our first week and a half focusing on math work sessions. The kids learned how to fix yesterday’s corrections first, how to work the whole time, how to work quietly, how to ask a friend for help when they are stuck, how to read directions first, how to put their sticks/names on the board when a friend can’t answer their question, and how to work ahead while they wait. We are finding that there has been a lot of summer slide; math concepts previously grasped are now requiring re-teaching and constant reminders! This is a huge testament to how important it is to keep up with math over the summer, so please consider doing so next summer. 🙂

 

Last week we introduced Reader’s Workshop routines. Middle Kids are practicing choosing their own reading spots – a place where they are alone with their book and their binder, where they can focus and work hard. They are also practicing choosing “just right books“. We teach them to read the “blurb” on the back and to open to a random page. The “5 Finger Test” helps them count words they don’t know how to read. 4-5 difficult words on page means this book is at their frustrational level and they should try again. 1-3 difficult words on a page means the book is at their instructional level, and is just right for them as long as there is guidance and support. 0 difficult words on a page means that book is one they certainly can read independently, but not challenging enough for in-school reading work sessions. There is, however, a time for these easier books to be read! Every day after Lunch/Recess, Middle Kids enter the classroom and read quietly for 10-15 minutes. It helps them get settled and refocused after play time as well as gives them an opportunity to read anything they want! During this daily silent reading, kids can read everything from lengthy novels to fun fact books. Both Bryce and Anna’s classes take turns with the “comfy spots” in the room like bean bags, couches, comfy chairs, swivel chairs, and Adirondack chairs. Kids who are waiting for their turn often choose cozy spots on the floor like on the rug, under their desk, between two bookcases, and some even prefer to sit at their desks!

Today we started our very first Spelling lesson! Everyone is in a book where they can work through a word list that is on their level. Middle kids have 10, 15, or 20 words weekly. All Middle Kids completed spelling cards today in class, paper clipped them into the spelling patterns introduced in today’s lesson, and put them in their plastic bags in their HW folders. Their HW tonight is to practice mixing up the cards and re-sorting them. Kids should know the spelling patterns after today’s lesson. If they don’t remember them by the time they get home, it will be impossible to do the assigned HW! If this is the case, please talk to your child about writing them down during Spelling. Most Middle Kids do not need this extra step, however, everyone is different.

During Topic Work Sessions kids are eating up all the information on the Ancient Incas, Mayas, and Aztecs! We’ve created a map showing where these people lived and a large “step pyramid” out of our All About Me projects that you can view on our bulletin boards. Middle Kids started off learning about the Mayan people first. We wrote our names in “glyphs” and designed our very own piece of Mayan jewelry out of clay with our favorite glyph engraved on the front. Next we will do some Inca weavings which will be great for fine motor development and creativity! Finally, when we learn about the Aztecs we will create our very own “jade” serpent design that archaeologists have found all over their buildings.

In all work sessions, we teach responsibility by holding students accountable for the work they are assigned. We have goals for each work session that may fluctuate from student to student. Some kids are required to finish more/less pages than the established goal. Here at Rivendell, we consider physical activity and outside time a high priority for kids and budget 1.5 hours + each day for Recess. This is one of the many unique privileges of our school, so we train the students to know that when you’re in the classroom, its “go time”. It’s time to focus, work hard, and do your best. This can be a hard transition from Younger Kids, where students are accustomed to getting play time during work sessions when they finish their goal. Sometimes it can be tempting to waste time in the classroom. When that happens, students finish their work during their own free time before they go play. We build self-esteem and responsibility by reminding Middle Kids that they are in control of their Recess time. Work hard during work sessions and you get to play with the rest of the class when it’s time to go outside!

Welcome Back to School!

Hello Middle Kids Parents and Families,

 

The first full week of the 2017-18 school year is in the books! We wanted to let you know a few of the things we’ve been working on so far. Although we have not yet begun work sessions in ALL academic subjects, we have focused a lot of energy on a few. One of our main goals at the start of a new school year is teaching students how Middle Kids work sessions are run. Here are our main goals for any work session:

 

  • Working independently
  • Knowing when and how to ask for help
  • Gaining courage to ask for help from peers first
  • Being good role models when answering a peer’s question
  • Taking initiative
  • Working ahead when stuck on a difficult problem
  • Working the whole time

 

We have decided to focus on Math work sessions for these first few days of school. It is a huge learning curve to apply all the above skills, but our new Middle Kids are learning quickly! We are proud of all of our students for challenging themselves during this first week. Next week, we plan to add Reading. The following week we will complete our schedule by adding Spelling, Vocabulary, and Handwriting. Other than Math work sessions, we have spent time on our first topic of the year: the Mayas, Incas and Aztecs. In order to get an idea of what each student is capable of, we began our first writing project about the Ancient Mayan people. Students will learn the process of drafting, editing, and publishing.

 

      We are sending homework folders home with our kids today, but we are not ready to officially start homework yet.  Tonight their folders contain miscellaneous beginning of the year paperwork, their first Scholastic book club order form, and information about a Box Tops for Education collection challenge we are doing for this first month of school.  Please remove all items from the folder and send it back to school empty in the morning.  Soon they will start bringing their homework folder home each night with assigned work to complete.  We will send home more information about homework soon.

 

       Please mark your calendars for next Thursday evening’s Back to School Night.  We will be here to talk all about your child’s life as a Middle Kid!  We will meet from 7:10 to 7:40 in one of the Middle Kid’s classrooms.  This will be an especially important time for parents of our new Middle Kids.

 

      Also, we look forward to seeing you tomorrow evening here at school from 5:30 – 7:00 for our annual beginning of year picnic and food truck event.  Feel free to bring your own food or  buy dinner from one of the food trucks that will be parked out on the playground.

 

Let us know if you have any questions, or share your thoughts with us,

Bryce and Anna