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December has been a busy and productive month. The children have been engrossed in hands-on activities, cooperative learning, and challenging endeavors.

Our three-year-olds continue to amaze us each day. They are actively involved in the learning process. They continue to focus on the letters of the alphabet and the sound each letter makes. Each week, new puzzles, art projects, and science activities are introduced to daily center time. These activities challenge the children and encourage them to collaborate with each other. In science, the children continue to learn about the four seasons. They are anxiously waiting for winter to officially begin. The children have also been learning about animals. PK3 has learned many facts about various holidays celebrated during this time of year. Through hands-on activities and art projects, the children continue to develop their fine motor skills. The children made pine cone trees, snowmen, snowflakes, a Christmas tree, and a menorah.

JK students continue to focus on mastering their letters, letter sounds, and sight words. The children are working diligently to match beginning sounds to picture cards. In math, they continue to expand their knowledge of number sense, eagerly practice adding and subtracting objects, and increase their understanding of patterns. Recently, they have focused on graphing using tally marks. In science, the JK students compared the similarities and differences of various sea, land, and wild animals. Last week, the children visited Horizon Bay, an assisted living facility. They sang songs and visited with the residents.

Senior Kindergarten is bustling with enthusiasm for learning. When writing in their journals, the children have been focusing on expanding their conventions of writing by adding specific details to their sentences. They are learning about nouns and how to describe nouns by using adjectives. The SK students are very excited to use verbs in their sentences too. During reading each day, the children are working hard on phonics, rhyming words, decoding skills, fluency, and understanding what they are reading. In math, they continue to expand their knowledge of number sense through patterns, graphing, addition, and problem solving. During their geometry unit, the children have compared and contrasted solids, shapes, and created symmetrical designs. They continue to discuss the concept of time focusing on the hour and the half hour. Next, the children will use manipulatives as they begin studying subtraction.

As the SK traveled around the world learning about various holidays, they learned many new facts and developed an understanding for others’ traditions and culture. Several guest speakers came in to share their special holiday with the SK students. Mrs. Katwala spoke about Diwali. Mrs. Hussain shared about Eid, and Dr. Wells talked about Christmas. The children also had an opportunity to learn about Hannukah.

First grade continues to focus on writing. During journal writing each day, the children challenge themselves to write detailed complete sentences containing vivid words. Their daily journal entries include a beginning, middle, and end with supporting details. Recently, the children wrote an essay about their favorite toys. They had to write supporting details for each toy. In reading, their lessons focus on story elements including characterization, predictions, and summarizing. Many hands-on activities in math have supported their unit on number sense. The children have used their critical thinking and problem solving skills to solve word problems. These word problems have required the children to distinguish between pertinent information and extra information. Multiple steps were involved in solving these high order questions. Currently, they are focusing on subtraction word problems. After the Winter Break, they will focus on the concept of time.

Last week, the first grade completed a unit on animals. Throughout this unit, the children compared and contrasted habitats, predators, location, and the diet of various animals. As a culminating activity, they took a trip to The Lowry Park Zoo. The children were excited to observe many of the animals they had studied in class. Next, they will begin a unit on map skills. Their first project will be to make a map of their bedroom.

Second graders continue to put forth great effort in all academic areas. In reading, they continue to focus on story elements, analyze the author’s point of view, and strengthen their comprehension skills as they read for understanding, broaden their vocabulary, and strengthen their grammar skills. Recently, the second graders read The Polar Express. After reading the book, the children enjoyed watching the movie. The children discussed the similarities and differences between the book and the movie. Next, each child made their own Polar Express by sequencing the events that occurred.

In math, the students continue to strengthen their understanding of number sense. Their geometry unit has included an in depth study of geometric shapes. Time was spent identifying and comparing characteristics of solids and shapes. The children continue to practice addition with regrouping and problem solving.

Cartographers are busy at work in third grade. After learning how to read an index and use a letter/number grid, the children located springs and forests on the Florida map. Third graders have become geologists as they study rocks and minerals. The children are excited about observing and identifying rocks and minerals. Many hand-on activities provide the children with the opportunity to discover, analyze, and explore their attributes. Be sure to ask your child how a hard-boiled egg relates to the Earth. The students are very excited to see their vegetables and flowers growing in the garden. Some of the vegetables have been harvested and are ready to be eaten. The green peppers and broccoli looked delicious. The children are learning first-hand the importance of planning, hard work, and perseverance.

In reading, the third graders are engrossed in their chapter books. Literature groups explore the story elements, analyzing the plot, problem, and solution. Some recent books read include Horrible Harry and the Green Slime, Freckle Juice, and How To Eat Fried Worms.

Third graders continue to write across all curriculum areas. Currently, they are focused on using strong vivid verbs, similes, and onomatopoeia to make their writing more interesting. During the third grade assembly, the children shared many similes and even performed a play entitled Simile City.

Our fourth graders continue to put forth great effort in all academic areas. Within each reading group, students discuss story elements including character, setting, plot, and solution. Group presentations summarizing each book provide the students with opportunities for cooperative learning and public speaking. Fourth graders continue to incorporate writing across all academic areas. Recently, the fourth grade students have been working on persuasive writing. The art of persuasion is an important skill, not just in writing, but in living. The students wrote an essay about their opinion on the amount of homework in fourth grade. They had to explain their view using supporting details. While this is an important fourth grade writing skill, it is also a life skill they will need for years to come. Fourth graders are hard at work applying pertinent math skills learned. Recently, they began solving algebraic expressions using all operations. Each day, the children have the opportunity to think critically as they solve high order word problems. They continue to build a firm math foundation needed for future success.

Science continues to provide opportunities for cooperative learning, problem solving, critical thinking, public speaking, and creativity. Recently, they have been diligently working to create a home site using all of the information learned during the past few weeks. After creating their home site, each group had to conduct tests to determine if their home was safe from erosion. Each project was presented to the class. Our fourth graders are developing an understanding of how complex nature is and its impact on our lives. The Giraffe Club Our Giraffe Club officers continued to serve their school community throughout the month of December. After a successful drive supporting the Nepal School, the Giraffe Club turned their attention to the local needs of our community. These responsible 4th graders organized a toy and food drive for a local charity. Thank you to everyone who sent in new toys and non-perishable foods. Your generous donations were greatly appreciated by the food pantry we support.

After collecting all of the food and toys, the Giraffe Club officers had an opportunity to deliver them to the food pantry. After unloading the bus, the children spent several hours volunteering. They unpacked food, passed out food, and helped people to their cars. These students are living out Academy’s mission to reach out to each individual at school, in the community, and in the world. On the trip back to school, the children could be overheard saying, “Helping others is fun.” We celebrate the love of learning and the joy in the journey.

A Message From Mrs. Carley: Each and every day, as I interact with the children, I have the distinct privilege of watching our students live out Academy’s mission. Throughout each day, the children in the Lower Division work hard, challenge themselves, and love learning. In addition to academic excellence, everywhere I turn, children are reaching out to others, helping others, and showing compassion. As the holidays quickly approach, may we all reflect on the many things we have to be thankful for. Over the Winter Break, I hope everyone can spend quality time with family and friends. I look forward to seeing everyone in the January as we continue the school year with the highest of expectations for your child.

Legoland Field Trip – 4th Grade

2011 Fun Run

Looking Ahead: January 4, 2012 Classes Resume January 6, 2012 Report Cards January 16, 2012 Marin Luther King Jr. Day – No School

As the Holidays are now upon us, on behalf of everyone at Academy At The Lakes, we wish you and your family a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

December 2011 Newsletter  

Academy at the Lakes Lower Division Newsletter

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