Daniels Farm School Newsletter

From the desk of Mr. KUNSCHAFT for the

Month of October 2018

Printable Version- October 2018

Hello DFS Families,

Thank you for helping us launch a highly successful 2018-19 school year! Students are excited to be back learning at DFS and this is evident by our daily attendance numbers. Our average attendance has been steadily in the 99% range, which is outstanding. Keep those early bedtimes and nutritious breakfasts going all year!

We are in our 2nd year of beginning the Kids’ Marathon in the October. Beginning now helps spread the laps out a bit and account for rainy days we miss in the early spring. This change in timing worked very well last year, enabling our students to put in the necessary laps for a successful final mile in June. Students who did not initially sign up for the marathon can still participate; the key is to commit before too many laps have been completed that would have to be made up at home. Other upcoming extracurricular opportunities include Battle of the Books and WordMasters in the intermediate grades, and the Noetic Math Contest and Challenge Math problems. From time to time you will also receive information on various writing contests in our region. Please take time to review these opportunities with your child as they provide another venue to expand the DFS educational experience.

We are constantly looking for ways to increase staff focus on individual student needs, whether they be academic, social or emotional. This becomes a greater challenge as our school continues to grow in numbers, with a current enrollment of 501 students and counting. Our most recent SBAC scores continue to be in the top tier of the state, with our daily focus being on individual student growth. Grade level teachers continue to discuss specific students with colleagues, the goal being to provide support across classrooms. Our mantra is all students in a grade level belong to all the teachers in the grade level. We have a wealth of educational experience at DFS, and ensuring we utilize all minds on a grade level to help all students puts us one step further toward helping students achieve their personal best in preparation for their life ahead.

Thank you for your support. Together we make a difference!


Writing: We have begun launching Writing Workshop. The students are learning that they are writers just like their favorite authors! We are setting the foundation for Writing Workshop that will allow them to be independent throughout the year.

Reading: We have read lots of books and had great discussions about strategies that readers use while reading books. In Reading Workshop, the students are working on developing concepts of print and early reading behaviors. We have been learning how to read the visuals for information and different purposes for rereading. We have begun our Fundations activities which involve handwriting, letter and sound identification and sight words. A separate note will be coming home about sight words and word rings. On average, we work on 3-4 letters/sounds and 2 sight words a week.

Math: We have been collecting and analyzing data using our attendance, lunch count or question of the day. We will often ask the students “What can you tell me from the data we collected?” In our first Investigations unit, we are working on counting and representing what you count. We use the term “show me” to help them understand that they are showing ways to represent the given number. The students are asked to show us how many they counted in an organized and efficient way.

Science: We are working on exploring the answers to the following questions: What is science? What is a scientist? What tools does a scientist use? and How does a scientist use those tools correctly and safely?

Extra: The first few weeks of school are all about building a positive learning community. The key to success in school is to create a classroom environment where students feel comfortable enough with each other and their teacher to take risks. We have done various activities to get to know each other. We have talked a lot about same and different. As a class, we came up with rules that will allow us to learn in the class as well as be safe. Ask your child to explain how someone can fill their bucket or dip into their bucket.


Fundations: In Fundations, we are learning about the silent –e. Through various activities, the students are learning to read words that have a silent e. This is important to learn because many books the children are reading, contain these words. Then we will be learning all about digraphs. The students have learned that a digraph is two letters that stick together to make one sound. The digraphs are –ch, -sh, -ck-, th and wh. The students practice daily tapping out each sound of a word to spell it correctly. Remember, one tap per sound. We ask that you practice reading and spelling your child’s trick words each night. There will be a quiz each Friday.

Writing: We are finishing our first unit in writing called Small Moments. The students learned that when we write a story about ourselves, we think of one small, specific time in our lives, this is called a small moment. We will begin studying poetry in the unit Music in Our Hearts: Writing songs and Poetry. Throughout this unit, students will write poems and songs with a focus on structure, experiment with powerful language, practice with language and word choice to capture feelings, as well as continue to revise and edit their work. The teachers continue to remind students to start sentences with capital letters and end sentences with the correct punctuation, and use spaces between words.

Reading: In Reading, the students are in the first unit of Reading Workshop. In this unit, the students have learned that good readers call on familiar reading habits at the beginning, middle and end of a book. They have also beginning to learn that good readers have strategies to solve tricky words. They will also learn how to be a good reading partner to a friend and how to bring their good reading habits to their partnership. Each day the first graders are reading silently to build stamina. This is an important skill to practice at home. Our goal is to get the students reading 30 minutes on their own. Please try to help build their reading stamina at home during silent reading.

Math: In math we are concentrating on plus 1 and plus two addition facts up to 20. First graders learned how to use a number line to solve these facts. Fact fluency is important and is something all first graders can practice at home. After we finish this unit, we will begin to learn how to solve story problems.

Science: In Science, we are beginning our unit called Earth’s Place in the Universe. This unit will take through the first trimester of first grader. We will be learning about the patterns of the motion of the sun, moon, and stars in the sky. We will be using observation skills to predict patterns caused by the Earth’s movement in the solar system. The students will be learning the difference in the sky during the day and night. They will also be making comparisons between the amount of daylight in the winter and the amount of daylight in the spring and the fall.


Fundations: In Fundations, we are working on Unit 2. In this unit, we are reviewing the bonus letter spelling rule for ff, ll, and ss and spelling words with the glued sounds (all, am, an, ang, ank, ing, ink, ong, onk, ung, and unk). We will also complete Units 3 and 4 during the month of October. We will continue to review closed syllables and will introduce closed syllable exceptions. Some words with closed syllable exceptions are: cold, wild, post, and kind. Suffixes being reviewed are –s, -es, -ed, -ing, -er, and -est. Remember to practice the spelling words for our weekly assessments.

Writing: In writing, we continue working on personal narratives during Writing Workshop. Some of the things we’re learning writers do are: write small moment stories, unfreeze the characters, tell stories bit by bit, and tell what the characters feel and think. We are learning to write in powerful ways while emulating our mentor authors in our own writing. When revising, the children focus on making careful and thoughtful word choices to make their writing more precise. Partners work together to offer feedback in an effort to help each other. The children get their pieces ready for publication by checking spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. They have done very well when writing and editing with their fancy pens.

Reading: To grow as readers, second graders need to construct meaning and understand how longer, more complicated stories are held together. In Reading Workshop, the children are doing some serious thinking about books and learning to take charge of their reading growth. The workshop focuses on setting goals, building stamina, and improving fluency, comprehension, and word solving. The children are learning to read like writers and to make reading-writing connections. They are learning how to preview fiction books and to predict what the characters might want, what might get in the way, and how the story moves from the problem to the solution. This work with previewing supports the children’s work in reviewing and retelling. It is very important for all second graders to read every night, including weekends. Remember to have your child complete the reading log at home every week. In addition to the reading homework, continue to read aloud to your child in order to model reading smoothly and with expression.

Math: In math, students are practicing a variety of strategies for efficient counting and problem solving in Unit 1. Strategies for solving addition and subtraction problems include counting all, counting on or back, and numerical strategies. The number line and hundred chart are tools that second graders are becoming more familiar with. In Unit 2, we will begin to explore geometry by studying 2-D and 3-D shapes. Please remember that students should be practicing their addition and subtraction facts daily at home and recording their fact practice on the homework log.

Science: In science, second graders have set up up their Interactive Science Notebooks and are learning how to use them for note-taking, recording observations, drawing diagrams, and learning science vocabulary. We are studying the states of matter. Students will explore solids, liquids, and gases and will learn to describe and sort them by their properties. They will be involved in several hands-on investigations.

Extra: Our second-grade classes will take an exciting trip to the Trumbull Public Library to get a tour and hear about some of the great books available there. In addition to our DFS Library, the Trumbull Public Library is a great place for the children to get new books for their at-home reading. We encourage you to make going to the library a regular part of your child’s life as a blossoming reader.


Writing: In Writing, we will be using the Writing Workshop program from Lucy Calkins. This trimester’s focus is on personal narratives. Students are working in their writing notebooks daily to build stamina. They are setting goals for themselves and working towards meeting those goals.

Reading: In Reading, we are using our new program: Reader’s Workshop (also from Lucy Calkins). Students are learning to do comprehension checks while they read independently. We are also working on main idea and details before beginning the skill of sequencing.

Math: In Math, we are working on reviewing skills from prior grades with a focus on addition and subtraction. ***Students should be able to tell time on an analog clock prior to 3rd grade.

Science: Third grade science for the first trimester is all new! This month, we are learning about air and what air can do.

Social Studies: Because the third grade shares books on our social studies topics, we all cover the same information – just at different times. Some of the topics covered are: forests, deserts, plains, oceans, and Native Americans.


Writing: Our new narrative fourth grade writing unit focuses on creating and developing believable characters through character development. Writers are thinking about character struggles and motivations as well as internal and external traits. Writers are also working to put small moments together with a story arc. After revising and editing, writers produce a fictional piece. Students continue to show great enthusiasm with our new writing program.

Reading: Fourth grade recently began a new reading program, The Teachers College-Reading and Writing Project out of Columbia University. The first unit, Interpreting Characters ties closely to our writing unit. In this unit, students are taught to read intensely to grow ideas about their characters in their independent reading books. Students use text evidence from their independent reading books to support their thinking about characters’ wants/motivations and struggles. Children are taught how to choose just right books that they can read for comprehension and fluency. Students reading logs are an essential tool to monitor their independent reading both at home and in school.

Math: All classrooms started to work in Unit 5: Landmarks and Large Numbers which focuses on addition, subtraction and place value of large numbers. This unit focuses on the meaning of operations with whole numbers, development of computational fluency, structure of place value and the base-ten number system. Students learn how to read, write and work with numbers through the 100,000s. They are taught how to add and subtract large numbers using an accurate and efficient strategy. The traditional algorithm is taught for adding and subtracting as well as a few other strategies. Students are expected to know their addition facts and keep practicing them if they have not mastered them. Students are also engaging in problem solving and learning how to solve multi-step word problems.

Science: In science we started a new program called Changing Earth. The program focuses on Earth and its changing surface due to erosion, weathering, plate tectonics, and human impact. Students engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate lessons about the changing earth.

Social Studies: In Social Studies, we are discussing map skills and landforms which ties into Science program, Changing Earth. Specifically, the unit focuses on a variety of landscapes and the major landforms and water features. The chapter also looks at how natural resources influence people and how people change the environment.


Writing: In writing, students are developing strategies to write personal narrative stories and employing techniques to improve their craft and elaboration. Students will be expected to organize, edit, and revise their writing under the direction of their teachers and guidance of their peers when conferencing.

Reading: In reading, we have launched the Reader’s Workshop model and are in the middle of Unit 1, Narrative Craft. Students will be analyzing themes in interpretation book clubs.

Math: In math, we are working on multiplication and division strategies. We will then move to the study of volume of rectangular prisms.

Science: In science, students are engaged in the study of the Earth, Moon, and Sun. We will cover day/night, years, reasons for the seasons, as well as moon phases.

Social Studies: In social studies, students are learning about the Viking Age, Marco Polo and the Silk Road. They are the earliest explorers, which moves on to the Columbian Exchange and Columbus and his discovery of North America. This was the start of European explorers coming to the new world and the lasting impact this had on the world.


• You are an important partner in your child’s mathematics education. When you find ways to engage your child in thinking and talking about mathematics, you are providing an important key for unlocking his or her future success.

• Today, critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning ability and the ability to communicate mathematically are essential skills. These processes are the foundation of mathematics instruction at Daniels Farm School. They are brought into play as you engage your child. Enjoy learning together!

• Involve your child in using numbers to solve problems and make everyday decisions. You might ask the following:

*We need six tomatoes to make our sauce for dinner, and we have only two. How many more do we need to


* “You have two pillows in your room and your sister has two pillows in her room. How many pillowcases do

I need to wash?”

*“Two guests are coming to eat dinner with us. How many plates will we need? How many utensils?”

• More challenging situations might involve adding or subtracting larger numbers, or situations in which your child has to add or subtract more than once to solve the problem. For older students, problems can involve multiplying, dividing and fractions:

*“Juice boxes come in packs of 8. We have 4 packs, how many juice boxes do we have?”

*“This recipe says I need 1 cup of flour, but I’m only making half a batch, how much flour do I need?”


The art room has been very busy as the students finish up their first projects of the year!

Kindergarten friends are learning all about line and had a wonderful time using a variety of lines to create line sculptures.

The next project in the unit will be a crayon resist line painting.

First grade friends have been busy creating painted paper to use in a fall landscape collage inspired by artist and designer, Eloise Renoff. They are learning about warm and cool colors, shape, composition, and how to create a tint by adding white to a color. For their next project they will be learning about Faith Ringgold and creating memory quilt drawings.

Second grade friends just completed fall leaf prints. They were introduced to simple printmaking techniques using leaves and sponge brushes in a warm/cool composition. For their next project they will be creating patterned landscapes.

Third grade friends are finishing up their bottoms up fall tree perspective paintings. They learned how to draw a tree from the bottoms up perspective and practiced their painting techniques with tempera cakes. For their next project they will be creating half portraits on a “Beautiful Oops” background.

Fourth grade friends are putting the finishing touches on their pumpkin glue paintings. They learned how to draw a pumpkin and trace it with glue on black paper. When the glue was dry they showed value by chalking their pumpkins in a warm/cool color scheme. Next, they will begin a study of Wayne Thiebaud and create 3D cake slices inspired by his paintings.

Last but not least, my Fifth grade friends are finishing up their Op Art Hands. We used line and value to “fool the eye” and create 3D hands on a 2D surface with a complimentary color scheme. We were inspired by the Op Art of Victor Vasserly and Bridget Riley. For our next project we will be creating 3D sculptures based on Edvard Munch’s piece, Scream.

We hope you enjoy our beautiful creations!


The school year of Music starts off with a unit on Beat, each grade level develops their musical sense of beat through a variety of lessons which include songs and games to reinforce the concept of beat. This year we have the district has included the music digital resource called Quaver. Students will participate in a variety of sequential lessons using this interactive resource as part of their weekly musical experience!

Kindergarten: Students are marching and counting beats. They will even find the beat in their feet! They will recognize the quarter note as one beat. They are playing the classroom drums to the beat. They are becoming singers and using their vocal chords to make beautiful sounds with smiling faces!

Grade 1: Students are finding the beats by keeping a steady tempo with classroom games. Keeping time with Hickory-Dickory Dock on rhythm sticks, and counting the beats of the chime up to 12:00! Students are marching, stepping and clapping to the beat. Students will learn rhythm patterns to the song BINGO.

Grade 2: With the focus on the beat students’ understand that the “beat is the heart” of music. Students will play the woodblock to the steady beat of the song Jamaican Farewell. They will learn a game and movement to the song shoo fly. Students use a music book in class while they sing to see musical notation.

Grade 3: At this level students learn to write rhythms. They will use quarter note, quarter rest and eighth notes and play their rhythms with a beat. They will begin to understand the difference of beat and rhythm. Beat being the underlying pulse and rhythm the long and short sound within a beat. The game Here Comes Mrs. Macaroni helps students understand the concepts of beat and rhythm.

Grade 4: Students will enjoy understanding the length of sounds like half, quarter, and eighth notes. They will write measures of 4/4 time using those notes and perform their compositions in class. They will play classroom instruments reinforce steady beat to the sections of Leroy Anderson’s Syncopated Clock.

Grade 5: Students will play their own compositions keeping the steady beat and counting measures. Students will learn a song “A Ram Sam Sam” to begin to explore form, the pattern in musical compositions. In chorus students are learning music for the winter concert and exploring the way the posture of your body affects the sound of your voice.


Kindergarten & First Grade: During the month of October the kindergarten students will be working on their locomotor movements and underhand/overhand throwing.

Second & Third Grade: Second and Third Grade during the month of October will be learning pathways, mature overhand throwing/catching and football positions/skills.

Fourth & Fifth Grade: Fourth and Fifth Grade will start Flag Football with the use of a “Sport Education Model”. Designated coaches will assist their team in a warm-up, practice and gameplay. Other roles include: Assistant Coach, Fitness Trainer, Equipment Manager, and Media Coordinator. Students will learn important positions within football and gameplay strategy.


Today all children are using technology at young ages. Using technology has many advantages however, it can also have an impact on the development of communications skills in children.

Finding a balance between technology use and face to face communicative interactions is key to language development. Technology over use can impact the amount of verbal conversations that children have with others because conversation allows for growth in vocabulary. Creative play has an imperative role in language and brain development. It is critical that children engage in play activities that use verbal language. When possible have your children play with toys that inspire creativity (Legos, dress up, crafts, blocks, and science experiments to name a few). Reading and sharing stories throughout the day help children develop sequencing, vocabulary, and grammar skills. Playing with your child allows the opportunity to communicate with your child and model language skills.


Please take the opportunity to stop by the new learning commons and say hello! A major book weeding has taken place to make room for our Learning Commons to expand and include Maker Space areas that will include new technologies, crafting, and other exciting mechanisms to explore. Students have enjoyed checking out books and are getting into the routine of knowing their new space. Parents are always welcome to volunteer in the Learning Commons, and can sign up on iVolunteer through the Daniels Farm website.

The use of iPads has begun in kindergarten with the basic foundation of how the tool can be used to help with instruction. Children have been going on scavenger hunts to take pictures with the iPads. They are finding letters, words, shapes, and colors and capturing what they see with the iPad. This is to help when we move into SeeSaw, an online portfolio that will allow capturing of work to share with families.

Our second graders will be using iPads to enhance their science lessons with the use of QR Codes to differentiate the instruction. Children will be able to use the QR reader to find websites that reinforce the science curriculum. They will be reading about, watching videos about, and using interactive websites to reinforce the science curriculum instruction.

Our school-wide writing initiative has been enhanced in our upper grades with the use of Google Docs and Google Classroom. All classrooms have their own Chromebook cart with enough Chromebooks for each learner. The classes have been learning to access their Google Drive through Google Classroom and make changes to an already created document. They have been working with font tools, correcting tools, and following directions.

Grades four and five are using the Chromebooks in their writing programs as well. We will begin exploring aspects of digital citizenship through our maker space time in the learning commons over the next few weeks.


We are so excited to be back for another great year! This year we are changing up how we recognize students each month for respectful behavior. We will still have monthly winners from each class acknowledged for respectful behavior in different areas of the building such as the hallway or cafeteria. However, this year the winners will be recognized at a school wide assembly and their pictures will be taken differently so be on the lookout for this! In addition, we are bringing back the specialist award banners. Each month the specialists (Music, Media, PE, Art) will recognize the class who has been the more respectful and they will get to hang a special banner outside of their room all month. This monthly assembly will be called the Dolphin’s Cove and the first one will be October 4th. Be sure to ask your child about it!


HEARING and VISION SCREENINGS = Monday, October 22 and Tuesday, October 23. If your child wears eyeglasses please make sure your child has them available for the eye screening.

This month school nurses will be performing hearing and vision screenings on children in grades K & 1, and grades 3-5*. Vision and hearing screening for each student is mandated under Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 10-214 and Trumbull Board of Education policy 5141.3/Health Assessments and Immunizations. Mandated screenings of students are required annually. The goal of mandated school screenings, in addition to those required as part of a student’s mandated health assessment (in grades K and 3), is to identify children with visual or hearing difficulties that may affect a child’s learning ability, speech-language development, social-emotional development, and school adjustment. The National Society to Prevent Blindness has reported that “Among school-age children, an estimated 1 in 4 has a vision problem.” 1.4 million children, under the age of 18, have some type of hearing problem.

The school screening process should never be considered diagnostic. Screening will not identify every child who needs care, nor will every child so referred require treatment. Screening only identifies most of those children who may have a vision or hearing problem. The goal of vision and hearing screening is to identify possible problems and treat recoverable loss at a very young age, before it interferes with a child’s learning process.

The screening process quite literally takes a matter of minutes, and causes no discomfort to your child. All district students are screened by a team of school nurses, who have been specially trained in the Spot Vision Screener technique utilized during vision screening. Audiometric screening is used to test hearing.

The Spot Vision Screening was new to our school district two years ago, and has been used by numerous school systems throughout the state for several years. Many school districts throughout our state have worked in collaboration with their local Lions Club to bring this improved technology to their students. It is also becoming a more common form of screening in many pediatricians’ offices.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports instrument-based screening, such as the Spot Vision Screener (Spot), as an alternative to visual acuity testing with traditional eye charts. Spot is a computer assisted photorefractor/ autorefractor with the measuring principle based on photo-retinoscopy. From a distance of three feet (the camera lets the screener know if the distance is too far away or too close), light is projected through the pupils onto the retina. Depending upon the refractive error, the reflected light forms a specific brightness pattern within the pupil. The assessment is non-invasive and the student feels nothing. It does not use x-ray or laser light, but the same type of light used in a flashlight. Unlike the traditional vision screening process, which tests only for nearsightedness, the spot vision screener can detect:

• Nearsightedness – important for distance work in the classroom

• Farsightedness – important for reading and close work

• Astigmatism – blurred vision

• Unequal refractive power

• Eye misalignment – Strabismus or “Lazy Eye”

• Unequal pupil size

This is purely a screening technique which indicates the need for additional evaluation by an eye care specialist. Several benefits in utilizing this method of screening are:

• This is an objective form of testing;

• The average time for screening is 3-10 seconds vs an average of 6 minutes with traditional screening methods;

• The ability to effectively screen students with attentional or developmental issues;

• The expeditious referral of students with potential visual difficulties. The student can be referred immediately to an eye care specialist. The traditional eye screening requires waiting 2 weeks, rescreening, referral to a primary care provider, and then referral to an eye care specialist. This process can take weeks to months before a student receives any indicated treatment.

In closing, I would like to thank the Trumbull Lions Club for making the use of this equipment available to school nurses. The Lions Club is a community service organization which was founded in 1917, and is dedicated to improving the communities in which its members live. One of the early missions of the national Lions Club organization has been to aid the blind and visually impaired, and most importantly preventing blindness whenever possible. The Lions Club does not conduct research, but does support research to assist the visually impaired, and blindness prevention through their fundraising efforts. They also provide assistance to families, who are unable to afford corrective lenses, and assist members of the community in obtaining corrective lenses through an eyeglass recycling program which they sponsor. You may have seen their eyeglass donation boxes in supermarkets or other public buildings?

Please contact me should you have any questions or concerns about the screening process.

*Note for Parents of 2nd Grade Students

Although Hearing and Vision Screenings are not mandated for second grade students, if you have a concern about either your child’s hearing or vision please let me know and I will try to arrange to have your child screened while the team is in our building.


Trumbull BOE policy requires that all students have a physical examination (health assessment) during their 3rd grade year. Physicals must be dated between June 1, 2018 and June 1, 2019. If your child has not met this requirement please contact your child’s health care provider as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.


If your child is turning 5 in October thru December please be sure to schedule your child’s yearly physical appointment with your health care provider.

• Vaccination Remains Your Best Flu Protection

Fall brings cooler temperatures, colorful leaves, and football games. It also means another flu season is upon us. Last year's season was very rough. The best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications is getting a flu vaccine. To find flu vaccine in our area contact the Trumbull Health Department at 203.452.1030

Happy Fall Everyone!!