Hello Families,

I am SO glad to see most of the students healthy and back at school this week! We continue to promote lots of hand washing/sanitizing, wiping surfaces, covering coughs/sneezes, etc. through this flu season. Thank you for your support at home, too! Here’s a peek at what’s been going on in room 53 these past few weeks:

Reading: This week’s sight words were “one” and “see,” and next week’s are “what” and “two.” We have also been practicing the short u sound and will move next to long vowel sounds. I continue to be amazed by these students’ reading skills…they have really come a long way since the fall. I will be giving you a more up-to-date reading level for your child during conferences in a few weeks!

Writing:  Writer’s Workshop has been going wonderfully. Students are working on creating books with pages that tie the same subject together (some examples in our class include favorite foods, all about my family, etc.) They are also working on adding on to previous writing pages. As a class, we are learning how to give feedback to writing partners aside from, “it looks good”. Students are encouraging their partners to add more color or detail to their drawings and writing.

Social Studies: We are concluding our study of maps. The students have drawn their own map versions of our classroom, their homes, and their communities. It was really fun to see their take on what the world around them looks like. They also learned where Illinois is located on a map of our country. Our next unit will involve learning about different careers and we will be looking for some parent volunteers to come in and speak to the class about their career! 

Math:  We continue to practice addition and subtraction. Based on their readiness level, students are practicing adding and subtracting either within 5, 10, or 20. Students are practicing showing their work on white boards in whatever mode they choose (some prefer pictures, some like to use the number line jumps, and others enjoy writing number sentences). Our next unit will explore teen numbers a bit deeper.

Other: Thank you to Eira’s mom, Erica’s mom and brother, Connor’s mom and brother, and some 2nd grade friends for coming in to be mystery readers these past few weeks. We always love having surprise readers! Thank you to Benjamin and Harrison’s mom for coming in to run a creation station where students got to create their own valentine holders. We also celebrated our 100th day of school this past week–what a great accomplishment!

*Next week’s Fun Thursday theme: Dr. Seuss

*AM field trip to the theater next Friday, March 2nd. Please pack your child a nut-free home lunch with a drink since we will be eating in our classroom upon returning to school. Thank you!


Hello Families and Happy Snow Day,

I hope you’re all staying warm and healthy! Here’s a look at what we’ve been doing in the classroom these past few weeks:

Reading: This week’s sight words were “said” and “was,” and next week’s are “you” and “look.” We have also been practicing the short e sound and will move next to the short u sound. Since students now have the tools to sound out most short words with their letter-sound knowledge, we are moving more towards an emphasis on comprehension within texts. When you read with your child at home, try asking them questions about what they’ve read (who, what, where, when, and why questions are good to start with). We’ve practiced using picture clues and rereading to help answer comprehension questions.

Writing:  We are exploring some different types of writing–narrative/true story and teaching others things that we know about. Students are working on building stamina and independence in their writing. We learned a chant, “once you are done, you have just begun” to help us slow down and really look at our writing. Students are practicing adding more detail to their pictures and words, rereading their writing, giving peer feedback, and then starting a new piece if they feel ready.

Social Studies: We are currently studying maps. Students have learned what a map key is and how to use it. They also learned about cardinal directions this week. This is a new topic for many kindergartners so we will continue to practice identifying North, South, East, and West on maps.

Math:  We are still working with story problems containing both addition and subtraction. I am pushing students to explain how they solve the problem instead of just giving an answer. They have learned several different strategies to use to solve these types of problems–draw a picture, use a number line, write a number sentence (equation), use a ten or twenty frame, or use objects such as cubes. We will continue this for the next few weeks.

Other: Thank you to Mimi’s dad for coming in to be a mystery reader last week. He read a picture book about the solar system, which really taught us a lot! We also had Erica’s mom, dad, and brother Jensen come in to mystery read this week. Jensen and Erica both read to us! Blake’s mom came in to run a Creation Station where students created robot-themed valentine cards for someone special. Thank you for making time to be a part of our class! Students also got to enjoy an amazing Art in Action day yesterday. Each student got to participate in a different art project (dancing, watercolor painting, collaging, photoshopping, jewelry making, mask painting, drawing, and more) during a half hour time slot. I’ve attached photos below!

*Next week’s Fun Friday theme: 100th Day of School!

*No School on Monday, February 19th–President’s Day


Hello Families and Happy Friday,

I hope you’re all doing well and staying healthy. I would say that it’s nice to be rid of all that snow, but something tells me we haven’t seen the last of it quite yet. Here’s a look at what we’ve been doing in the classroom these past few weeks:

Reading: This week’s sight word is “where” and next week’s is “do”. We are officially finished learning all letters and sounds of the alphabet, but we continue to learn and work on other sounds/blends/digraphs that we encounter (sh, th, wh, ch, ou, aw, etc.). We are also practicing the short e sound. The students are becoming fantastic readers, and it is so much fun to watch them grow!

Writing:  We are working on a narrative/true story unit. The students will write about things that they know about. Students learned how to add labels to their pictures to teach others what they are drawing and writing about. Our writer’s workshop is really coming along, and the students are starting to become more and more independent with their writing (which is not an easy thing to do, especially in kindergarten)! They were assigned writing partners/buddies last week so that they can share ideas and help each other throughout the writing process.

Social Studies: We are beginning a new unit on maps. Students will learn how to read a map, what maps are used for, and even create a map of their own! We will practice by mapping out various familiar places like our classroom and playground.

Math:  We dove into story problems this past week, and it has been going very well so far! The students are able to listen to a story problem and create a picture, use a number line, fill in a ten-frame or twenty-frame, and write a number sentence to match and solve the story problem. The students have enjoyed making up and solving their own story problems as well. We will continue to work on this throughout the year.

Other: Thank you to Morgan’s mom and little sister for coming in to be mystery readers this past Thursday. She read “The Book with No Pictures”, which really had us laughing! We also had some surprise 3rd grade mystery readers come in and read to us last week. Thank you to Benjamin and Harrison’s mom for bringing in their popcorn maker and popping popcorn for us last Friday for our Fun Friday popcorn day!

*Next week’s Fun Friday theme: Groundhog Day


Happy New Year Families, and welcome back! I am still getting used to writing 2018! It’s so nice to see everyone back at Avoca West. I hope that you all enjoyed a restful winter break filled with family and friends! With the ever-changing weather, please be sure that students come to school with proper gear (gloves/mittens, hats, scarves, snow pants, boots if snow is on the ground). Students will not be allowed to play in the snow if they don’t have snow pants or boots, they will just stay on the blacktop or sidewalk area. They will continue to go outside as long as the “feels like” temperature is 10 degrees or above. Here is what’s been going on in our classroom this past week and the week before break:

Reading:  Mrs. Henson and I have been F&P testing (the lettered leveling system) all students to see what reading level they are currently at. I am so happy to report that ALL students have made progress since the fall! You will be receiving this information in your child’s report card coming home at the end of the month. Guided reading groups will also be adjusted to reflect this information. This week’s sight word is “me” and next week’s is “for”. We are officially finished learning all letters and sounds of the alphabet, but we continue to learn and work on other sounds that we encounter (sh, th, wh, ch, ou, aw, etc.). We are also practicing the short o sound.

Writing:  We continue on with our how-to writing unit. The students have all chosen a topic to write about…something that they feel they are an expert on. We are learning to become more independent writers, and not get so caught up on things like spelling. We usually start with a picture and then add words or captions to it. I would encourage you to have your child practice writing at home–help make a grocery list, to-do list, free writing/journal writing, etc. Any little bit will help to build that independence.

Social Studies: This week we began a short two-week study of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy. We watched a short video, read several picture books, and even did some writing about MLK, Jr. Students wrote about their own dream after we discussed MLK, Jr.’s dream for equality.

Math:  We have been practicing different ways to make 10, counting on and backwards from a given number, writing our numbers correctly (no reversals) to 20, adding 1 to a number/subtracting 1 from a number, and we will be introducing story problems in the near future to help us with addition. Luckily, we have been using story problems verbally throughout the year in various respects so this shouldn’t be anything too new for students.

Other: Before break, Mr. Howe’s 4th grade class wanted to do something nice for kindergarten and so they came to read picture books to us–so thoughtful! We also got to use virtual reality goggles in the ITC to “visit” the North Pole and the White House during the holidays. It was an amazing experience! We hope you enjoyed your holiday gift “I love you” frames! I have included the adorable pictures below. Thank you to all who contributed or helped out in any way with the winter holiday party before break…it was a great success! Also, thank you very much for the thoughtful gift card! It has already been put to good use to help prepare baby Meyer’s nursery 🙂

***NO SCHOOL on Monday, January 15th–MLK, Jr. Day***


Dear families,

One more week of school until winter break, and we have been busy in kindergarten! By now, we have officially learned all letters and letter sounds in the alphabet! We will continue practicing these throughout the year, of course. Please read on for some curriculum updates and pictures from the past few weeks:

ELA: The past few weeks, we’ve been working on the letters and sounds for V, Y, Z, and X, along with short i families (-it, -in, -im, -ill, etc.) Next week we will be reviewing all sight words and letters learned so far. We have now learned all letters and sounds in the alphabet. After break, we will begin learning more about long vowel sounds and blends. Our sight word this week was “this”. In writing, we are continuing with our how-to books. Students have chosen topics that they feel they are “experts” in. They will draw diagrams and write to teach others how to do something.

Math: The students did a fantastic job with measurement and comparison. They are able to distinguish larger/smaller, shorter/taller, greater/less, and heavier/lighter. They also had opportunities to measure various things in the classroom, including their own feet, with pencils and unifix cubes. We are currently reviewing combinations to 5, and learning about doubles facts to 10 (1+1, 2+2, 3+3, 4+4, 5+5) and adding and subtracting 1 from a number. The students did a great job sorting out doubles facts from not doubles facts this week. We will continue this until winter break.

Science: We are concluding our study of germs. The students have learned about healthy and unhealthy choices, foods, exercise, hand washing, covering a cough and sneeze, and brushing teeth. We learned how germs can easily spread from a cough, sneeze, or touch, and that’s why washing our hands is so important! You can see the results from our potato germ experiment in the pictures below–pretty gross!

Other: Thank you to Melissa Schiffman for bringing in a wonderful holiday-themed Creation Station craft. The kids made little sleds out of popsicle sticks and candy canes! We had some fun spelling out the winter words “snow” and “ice” with our bodies (which you will see below). Mr. Meyer and my sister, Codi, came in on Thursday to be mystery readers. The kids loved getting to meet some members of my family. Last week, we went to Mrs. Lara’s 2nd grade classroom to watch them perform their reader’s theater! We also got to go listen to the beautiful Avoca West orchestra perform on Thursday morning. Our classroom winter/holiday party will be held on Friday the 22nd from 1-1:45pm.

*Thank you for sending in warm winter clothes with your student for outdoor play. They will continue to go outside for recess if the wind chill is above 10 degrees. Feel free to have students leave an extra hat, pair of gloves, boots, snowpants, etc. at school in their locker if you’d like.



Dear families,

I hope that you all enjoyed a restful Thanksgiving break! I cannot believe it’s already December. Please read on for some curriculum updates and pictures from the past few weeks:

ELA: The past few weeks, we’ve been working on the letters and sounds for L. F, B, J, Z, and W, along with short i families (-ip, -ig, -in, -it, etc.) Next week we will learn about letters V and Y, and continue with short i families. Our sight word this week was “come”, and next week’s is “here”. In writing, we began how-to books. Students will be teaching others how to do something that they know well. We began with how to brush your teeth. We will also write about how to wash your hands, make cookies, build a snowman, and more!

Math: We have moved on to comparing and measuring in math this week and next. We are currently learning about shorter and longer, and how to measure things using various manipulatives (blocks, unifix cubes, etc.). Students used a pencil as their measure this week to find objects in the classroom that are longer and shorter than their pencil. We also traced our foot and measured how many cubes long it was. We will continue with measurement and comparison next week. Students were also introduced to Dreambox, a new program on the iPad or computer that is individualized for each student. You should have received a letter this week on how to access at home if you’d like!

Science: We are learning about germs in science for the next few weeks! We started off with learning about hygiene (hand washing, brushing teeth, etc.), and we also incorporated this into our how-to writing. We will also learn about eating healthy and exercise. We did an experiment with a potato this week–I cut the potato into fourths and blew on one piece, rubbed one piece between my hands, rubbed one piece on the carpet, and did nothing to the last piece. We are going to leave the pieces alone in baggies for one week and see what happens to them! The students predicted that the pieces rubbed on the carpet and my hands will be the dirtiest and have the most germs after a week.

Other: We had a wonderful Friendship Feast the Friday before Thanksgiving break. Thank you again to everyone who contributed to our feast! We had an extra special surprise when Jonah’s grandparents (who are from Scotland!) came in to be our mystery readers. They read about the famous legend of the Loch Ness Monster from Scotland. Stella in 2nd grade (Mary’s sister) also came in to read to us! On Thursday, Mrs. Wilson’s 3rd grade class came in to share their writing pieces with us, too! It was awesome for the kindergartners to hear some older writing and see what they have to look forward to!


Happy Friday Families!

This is our first snowy day of the year! The students were kept in for recess and P.E. today since most were not prepared for this snow with the appropriate snow gear (teachers included!) Going forward, we suggest sending in a pair of snowpants or a snowsuit, along with snow boots, hats, mittens, and jackets. Feel free to send these items to leave at school if you’d like. Students can keep them in their lockers when not being used. Below is an update of what we’ve been doing the past few weeks:

ELA: The past two weeks, we’ve covered the letters and sounds for O, U, D, and G, along with short a families (-am, -ap, -ag, -ad, etc.) The next few weeks we will be practicing short i families and the letters L, F, B, and J. We have also been practicing our writing, slowly but surely, by using letter sounds that we already know to write down the sounds that we hear in a word. You may have seen a recent writing activity about Halloween costumes that went home earlier this week. At this point, most student writing is still heavily picture-based, so don’t be alarmed if your child cannot write words quite yet! Today we made sight word turkeys, which are hanging in our classroom (picture included below) until the holiday passes. Next week’s new sight words are “he” and “like”.

Math: We are still working on building number sense to 10, although we often discuss numbers up to 20 as well. The students played a fun game today called Roll, Add, and Record. They had to roll 2 dice and add together the numbers, then find that number on the chart and color it in. The first column on the chart filled in was the winner! As I circulated the room, I saw great addition strategies being used! Next week we will start our math workshop, where students will be grouped based on readiness. They will rotate through different stations (like reading) and one of them will be to meet with the teacher to reinforce skills we are learning.

Science: We are wrapping up our plants and animals unit shortly. Today I sent home the students’ plant journals that they worked on for a few weeks. We will learn about our fish, Bubbles, more in depth, and what he needs to survive, and continue discussing the difference between living and non-living things.

Other: Thank you to our mystery reader this week, Natalie Lev, for coming in and reading “How to Be a Boss Baby” to us! Thank you also to Rachelle Rosecrans for leading the haunted house creation station a few weeks ago on Halloween! Our Halloween party was a great success thanks to all of the wonderful parent volunteers! The students and I had a wonderful time. I’ve included some pictures from Halloween below as well. Today, the students sang a beautiful song to the veterans in our building for the veteran’s day breakfast. I have posted a video of it on Twitter, and will email it out as well. They did an amazing job! Our Friendship Feast will be held next Friday, November 17th during lunchtime (11-11:35am) in our classroom to celebrate the upcoming holiday. If you’d like to donate food or other items to our feast, please be sure to check and sign up on our Sign Up Genius link here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080d4bacab28a7f58-friendship

*There is no school the entire week of November 20th due to teacher professional development days and the Thanksgiving holiday*


Dear families,

It was so nice to meet with all of you at parent/teacher conferences this past week! Although we are in constant communication, there’s something special about sitting down and discussing the growth of your children, and what fantastic gains they have made in these short two months. I’ve included some photos at the end of this post from the past few weeks–we were lucky to be able to enjoy some of the long-gone warmer weather with an extra recess last Friday!

ELA: Letters and sounds that we’ve covered so far this year include: S, A, T, I, P, N, C/K, E, H, R, and M. Next week we will learn D and G. We have some fun motions that go with each letter sound. Ask your child to show you–we’ve been practicing in class! Sight words that we’ve learned so far are: a, I, the, my, go. We will add “to” into the mix next week. We started practicing our writing with a prompt “what did you do this past weekend?” Students drew a picture of what they did and tried their best to add some words or letters to go with it. Writing is new and challenging for most kindergartners. We are trying to use the letter sounds that we know to put sounds and words together on paper.

Math: We are continuing to explore numbers up to 10. We have covered 0-5 and various ways to make 5. We started talking about 10 and different ways to make 10 recently. We will introduce the number rack next week, and some more fun, hands-on games to reinforce ways to make 10. Very soon we will start grouping the students similarly to how we do for reading so that each student will be met where s/he is at. More math updates to come soon!

Science: Our study of plants continues. We have learned about what plants need to survive, and we are able to label different parts of a plant as well. We have been watching our lima beans grow, too! Bubbles the fish is swimming happily in our cubbie corner, and we released our ants on ant day (Fun Friday) while the weather was still warm.

*A special thank you to Rachelle Rosecrans and Rob Schelp for being our mystery readers these past few weeks, and also to Melissa Schiffman for hosting another fabulous creation station where the students made paper bag puppets! We cannot wait for our classroom Halloween party next week! Thanks in advance to all of the volunteers coming to help out with that! Also, one of our very own, Matthew, was chosen as a Viking VIP this week! Way to go Matthew!



ELA: Letters covered this week were P, N, K, and C (hard C). Our sight word was “the”. A great resource for more letter exposure is the ABCMouse videos on YouTube–ex: search “ABCMouse letter p”. There is a fun video that goes along with each letter. Daily 4 (our reading rotations) are off to a great start! Both Mrs. Henson and I have been reading with small groups, and we appreciate your help at home with the Book Buddy Bags! A letter was also recently sent home with directions on how to register to use RAZ Kids at home. This is a differentiated program that students enjoy using in the classroom. It is completely optional to use at home, but a great resource if you’re looking for additional practice.

Math: We’ve been working on combinations to 5 recently, and the students were able to generate so many different and creative ways to make 5! The students were recently assessed on number identification to 20, writing numbers to 20, and counting to 20 using 1:1 correspondence with objects. This was just a baseline assessment to see where students are at coming in to school; they are not expected to know all of these things yet. These results will be shared with you at the upcoming parent/teacher conferences.

Science: We kicked off our plants and animals unit with a field trip to The Grove last Friday. We had such a fun time learning about turtles, snakes, poison ivy, and more! The brave students got to touch a live turtle and snake! We discussed what plants need to survive, and the students planted their very own lima beans this week. We can’t wait to watch them grow. The students learned about the difference between living and non-living things, and were able to classify different items into each category. We also have a class fish named Bubbles in our room now!

Other: This week’s Fun Friday theme is ants! We have a small ant farm in the classroom to tie into our plants/animals science unit. The students will get to partake in some fun ant-like activities in the classroom on Friday, and we will also learn a little bit more about ants.

*A special thank you to our mystery readers these past 2 weeks: Hayley Knox and Robyn Schiffman. They read “Rudy’s Windy Christmas”, “Drummer Hoff”, and “Miss Nelson is Back”. Mimi’s brother, Misha, also came to read to us last week! What a fun surprise! We look forward to having more of you in to our classroom soon!


Dear Kindergarten Families,

The students are already making such great progress in learning the Avoca West way. They know our classroom routines well, they have just about memorized the Pledge of Allegiance and the Avoca West School Pledge, and their unique personalities are really starting to shine through. Every day is an adventure and we have been having so much fun learning together! Below are some curriculum updates:

ELA: So far, we have covered the sight words “I” and “a”. Next week, we will practice the word “my”. Letter names and sounds covered so far: /m/, /s/, and /r/. Coming up next is /a/, /t/, and /i/. We listen to this song quite frequently to practice all letter names and sounds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BELlZKpi1Zs. We also had a very Fun Friday and incorporated apples into our literacy centers. The students got to make apple paintings using real apples! They also got to eat apples while learning about the apple life cycle, and create a make-and-take sight word reader all about apples! Look for these coming home today.

Math: We wrapped up positional language, which the students seemed to grasp well. We have moved on to counting and number sense 0-20. We practice numbers every single day during our Number Corner/Calendar time. We count how many days we’ve been in school, and we also practice saying the date–“Today is Friday, September 29th, 2017”. The students are getting used to seeing ten-frames and five-frames, and we’ve even introduced how to count on from 10 once a ten-frame is filled up. We are also working on identifying and writing numbers, as well as counting objects (1:1 correspondence). I introduced our newer math work places, which is sort of like math choice time. The students can choose between making pattern block pattern shapes, making shapes and designs on the geo-boards, connecting and building with polydrons (flat shapes that snap together to make 3D shapes), connecting and building with unifix cubes, and using pennies to fill ten-frame mats. They have been having a lot of fun with these!

Social Studies: We are still in our citizenship unit. We have discussed what it means to be a citizen in school and in our community. Students completed a picture sort where they had to decide if the students in the pictures were making good or bad choices at school–they did a great job! We listened to this song (the students think it is very silly) several times to help us learn more about citizenship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O7NoYtYX10. Mrs. Hutchison also came and read to us last week about what it means to be a BRAVE Avoca West Viking!

*A special thank you to Melissa S. for running our very first Creation Station this week! The kids made adorable rainbow clouds with cotton balls that you may have seen come home Tuesday. It was a great success! Another thank you to our Mystery Reader of the week, Sheri M. (Harrison & Benjamin’s grandmother). We are looking forward to welcoming many more of you into our classroom soon!

More Updates and Reminders:

  • Our field trip to The Grove is on Friday, October 6th in the morning. Please pack your child a home lunch that day since we will be eating in our classroom when we return to school.
  • No school on Monday, October 9th due to the holiday.
  • Mrs. Nehring, an Interventionist, has started Lunch Bunches! Lunch Bunches provide kids a chance to eat lunch in a quiet environment, practice conversation skills, reinforce friendships, eat their whole lunch, and feel special! Some of our students have already participated, and my hope is that everyone will have a chance by the end of the year to be a part of a Lunch Bunch!

Looking forward to another great week to come!