Our past few Katie Days have been very busy and productive! It was fun for me to have the learners three days in a row (with Spring Break in the middle) when Colleen was in Boston.

For math we’ve been focusing on subtraction. Activities have included playing subtraction dice games and writing and solving our own subtraction word problems. Images from one of our subtraction activities, Loose Tooth Subtraction, are below. We started with a drawing of a child with ten teeth.  Then we rolled a die to see how many teeth the child would lose, blacked out that many teeth, and wrote the equation.  Once they had mastered this activity, they were given pictures of kids with no teeth at all, and they decided what numbers to use, then drew the teeth and blacked them out.  Doing it this way left the equations much more open ended and allowed many of the learners to work with higher numbers.

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In math we have also continued our work on shapes and their attributes. One fun game is called Fill the Hexagon, in which learners pick specific pattern blocks to “fill in” or cover a hexagon pattern block. This game is good practice not only recognizing shapes and their relationships to each other, but also in seeing equivalents among the shapes. It is also a nice precursor to fractions, as it can be expanded into discussions about parts and whole, halves, quarters, thirds and even sixths. (The red trapezoid is 1/2 the hexagon, the blue rhombus is 1/3 the hexagon, the green triangle is 1/6 the hexagon, etc…) Lastly, we investigated all the different ways it is possible to “make” a hexagon with the common pattern block shapes.

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In art we have been looking at the art of Georgia O’Keeffe. We read a few books about her life including My Name is Georgia and Through Georgia’s Eyes, and then after looking at her flower paintings we made watercolors in her style. This can be a challenge for first graders and kindergarteners who when drawing a flower usually want to make a flat horizon line with three or four stick flowers. We talked about O’Keeffe’s style and how she enlarged the flowers so much that they seem to come off the page. We then made our own versions, carefully examining real flowers and paying careful attention to creating balanced compositions.

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After our flower studies we examined O’Keeffe’s surreal painting Ladder to the Moon. We talked about how this painting made us feel and why we think O’Keeffe made it. Learners love to hear how O’Keeffe had a ladder in her house in New Mexico and would often use it to sleep on the roof of her house to observe the night sky. Learners created their own Ladders to the Moon with watercolor, crayon resist and homemade paper.

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During first grade phonics time we’ve been working on short and long vowel sounds. We also finished up our study of telling time and started our study of blends. We have been working on S blends (words beginning with sl, sm, sn, sp, etc…) and -L blends (bl, cl, fl, gl, etc…) through picture sorts, word lists and bingo games.