A Note From Your First Grade Teachers
First Grade Connections
October 20th, 2016

Dear First Grade Families,

We hope you have recovered from Pumpkin Festival weekend and are well on your way to preparing for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Can you believe how quickly time is flying? The first graders have found their groove and we are finally running like a well oiled machine (almost).  

Our first field trip to Arata's Pumpkin Farm and Hay Maze was great! Thanks to our drivers/chaperones for making it possible. We are looking forward to our Pumpkin Science and Math activities next week and our Halloween assembly, parade and celebration with our 5th grade learning buddies on the 31st.   

P.S. We know that candy is everywhere right now but PLEASE do not send any candy to school with your child.


Your First Grade Team
Stephanie Hanepen, Lesley Stevens and Vienna Klingele 

Here's What We've Been Up To:

We have been very busy learning about our classroom libraries and how to choose 'Just Right' books. The students are still working on building up their stamina for reading independently. Some of the students have been reading in small groups with a teacher. We are practicing the routines of reading groups while we continue to find each student's appropriate reading level.  

This week we introduced decoding strategy #1-Get Your Mouth Ready. This strategy involves knowledge of initial consonants and focuses on having the students get their mouths ready to say the first letter of a word they may be struggling with. Ask your child to try it when they are reading to you at night.


We continue to strengthen our Writer's Workshop routines. The students have been writing small moment personal narratives and we have been helping them build writing stamina by using the phrase 'Once you're done, you've just begun'. They know this to mean that when they think they are done, they can do one of three things. 1) add to their pictures, 2) add to their words, or 3) start a new piece. The students have a quite a collects of drafts in their folders. You can look forward to some of them coming home soon.    

Many of the students are becoming concerned with spelling words correctly. We are still encouraging best guess spelling and having the students sound words out slowly making sure they record each sound they hear. This past week we introduced the Word Wall in our classrooms as a tool for the students to use independently while they are writing. Each student wrote their name on a card and we added it to the wall under the correct initial consonant. The wall has basic sight words on it now and will continue to grow as the year passes.     

For the past few weeks, we have been immersing ourselves in How To Books. We have explored Non-Fiction text features such as; table of contents, order words, photographs, labels, glossaries, and indexes. The students brainstormed and chose a topic that they felt they were an expert on and could teach to their readers. This week we started our How To Book graphic organizers. We will plan our books before we write them. The plan starts with listing the tools or supplies needed for the task. The students will then break down the steps necessary to complete the task. Make sure you ask your child what they chose to write about and perhaps have them explain the steps to you so they are ready to write about it in class.    


First graders have been having fun with Number Bonds. Number Bonds are another way to think about numbers. We can break numbers into parts to make a whole. For example, we can break 4 into different parts (e.g. 2 and 2) to make the whole, 4. 

We have also been solving addition facts and practicing counting strategies: We can count on from the greater number in order to solve a number sentence. We using connecting cubes and number lines to help us. 

Word Study

Our Word Study program is designed to complement our reading program thus we have been busy looking at initial consonants. The students have been examining stories to find words and pictures that begin with specific letters. They have been brainstorming words and completing word sorts in their new Words Their Way journals that reinforce the sounds. 

Social Studies
The students have begun an in-depth study of Sea Crest school that will last throughout the trimester. They thought about and recorded everything they knew about Sea Crest and then brainstormed questions that they had about the school. As a group, we discussed different ways to gather information and collect data about our school. We decided to conduct some interviews and distribute surveys to find out some answers to our questions. Last week we had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Cathy about her job and surveying a section of the school. In the coming weeks, we plan to interview teachers, specialists, and administrators and distribute surveys to the rest of the school to find out more information.

We are continuing to learn about the brain and how it helps us learn. Did you know that the brain is actually GRAY not PINK?

So far we have learned about the prefrontal cortex (Brain Boss), the amygdala (Traffic Cop), and the hippocampus (Memory Keeper).

Last week we learned that t he amygdala decides what goes to the "upstairs brain" and what stays in the "downstairs brain." The upstairs brain helps us react "mindfully" by calmly paying attention and making good choices. The downstairs brain is the emergency brain, that helps us react quickly in emergencies, when will either FLIGHT, FLEE, or FREEZE.

We learned your hippocampus (Memory Keeper) holds on to information like a filing cabinet. In order for your hippocampus to hold onto information you need to be focused, otherwise, it won't do it's job properly. 

We are also learning about the Senses and how our senses help us to keep our Brain Boss running just right so that we can learn and grow. We have been practicing mindful listening, mindful seeing, mindful tasting and mindful smelling. In order to be mindful, we have to really focus on the sense we are using and what we are trying to detect using that sense.  

** In the pictures the students are mindfully watching as they add food coloring to warm water.
Innovation Lab
The first graders have been visiting the iLab on Thursday afternoons to create, build and explore with various materials. We have been working hard on expectations and routines in the iLab. In order to make the most of our time there, we have been practicing mindful listening and using our Brain Boss. We are working on being able to clean up and rotate quickly between stations so each student has a chance with each material. We have been noticing a great deal of cooperation and collaboration between peers and groups. Way to go!
Upcoming Events
Halloween Celebration
Monday, October 31st

We will begin our Halloween Celebration with a  K-8  A ssembly in the gym at  8:30 a.m., followed by a  Costume  Parade across the blacktop and around the field. Parents are welcome to attend. This will be a great opportunity for students to showcase their costumes and for parents to take photos! 

All students should come to school in their costumes. Please make sure your child brings a labeled bag to take his/her costume safely home, as well as comfortable clothes to participate in regular school activities after the festivities.

As a reminder, we are a K-8 community and students are asked to wear school appropriate costumes. Please remember to leave weapons and/or other costume props that violate school rules at home. 

Field Trips

Our next field trip will be to see the ODC perform the Velveteen Rabbit at the Novellus Theatre in San Francisco in December. More details to follow.

Velveteen Rabit
Optional Homework Packages
Mystery Reader
Thanks so much to Mike Casterline (Kendal's dad) and Kate Haley (Zackie's mom) for volunteering to be Mystery Readers!  
  To sign up to be a Mystery Reader in the future, please click  here  
Volunteer Opportunities
Thank You
Thanks to all who were able to join us to walk in the Annual Pumpkin Festival Parade! Special thanks to Tina Lourenco, Heather Sandel, Karen Doherty and their team for all their dedication creating the float and costumes.
How to Reach Us
  • If there is an emergency, please call Cathy at the front desk, at 650.712.9892.
Photo Galleries

Do you have photos you'd be willing to share with the school? Please upload them here, or email them at communications@seacrestschool.org Thank you!

SEA CREST SCHOOL  |  seacrestschool.org  |  650.712.9892