Daniels Farm School Newsletter

From the desk of Mr. KUNSCHAFT for the

Month of April 2019

Printable Version -April 2019

→     From the  desk of MR. KUNSCHAFT  

Hello DFS Families,

Spring has sprung and students have an extra hop in their step at DFS! Everyone is excited about the upcoming spring break, and are really enjoying events such as the World Expo, Variety Show, Kids Heart Challenge and the student-staff basketball game. We couldn’t offer these events without the support, organization and expertise of our families, so thank you!

Shortly after our return from spring break, we will begin our annual SBAC testing. This year the 5th grade students will take an official version of the Next Generation Science Standards assessment (NGSS) in addition to the ELA and Math SBAC. We provide a comprehensive science curriculum throughout elementary school and feel our students will shine in this area.

The SBAC assessments are aligned to the Common Core State Standards embedded in our daily curriculum, so we expect our students to do as well as similar students across the state. We maintain a low stress environment, explaining to students they should do their personal best, as results from the assessments will guide our future classroom instruction. Please aid us in this process by ensuring students go to bed on time and eat a healthy breakfast each morning.

Below is our testing schedule, including makeup days. We only test in one content area per week to avoid overloading students. The schedule also allows students to pace themselves and take as much time as needed to do their personal best, as the SBAC is untimed.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact me directly.

Daniels Farm School Assessment Schedule

Thank you for your support.

Together we make a difference!


DFS Sensory Path: Sensory Paths have recently become a popular way to offer students structured sensory and movement-based (a.k.a motor) breaks during the school day. The path at DFS was customized with an ocean theme, and includes opportunities to stretch, jump and follow multi-step directions. Sensory Paths provide the students with opportunities for “brain breaks”. The path can be used to increase a student’s stimulation level as well as help calm and organize the students. It is a quick way to get our student’s bodies “ready to learn”, and is available for all students with teacher supervision. Our O.T., Mrs. Julianne Amoroso, together with another district O.T., spent many hours cutting up the pieces, measuring the floor for proper distances, and placing them to form the path pictured below. Stop by for a look! The path is right outside the Café main entrance – please see pictures below.



Writing: As we head into April, we are starting our final unit of study, Persuasive Writing of All Kinds – Using Words to Make a Change. In this unit, students will write to make their classroom, their school, and their world into a better place. This writing involves making letters to be mailed, songs to be sung, speeches to be made, and signs to be displayed. They are writing particular kinds of texts for specific audiences. Kindergarteners do a lot of persuasive speaking all of the time. In this unit, they will be learning to use words and pictures to share their opinions and convince others to make a change.

Reading: As avid readers, students have been learning ways socialize around books through working within book clubs. As they engage in “reading playdates”, mirroring the playdates that many have in their out-of-school lives, students try out and even invent fun literacy things with their friends. Some options include; play school, play pretend and play games.

Math: Our unit on Numbers, Data, and Space reviews many of the games that were previously taught. Students will continue to build their number sense by figuring out various ways to make a whole number. Students will also be introduced to teen numbers. The focus will be on what makes up a teen number. The students will take apart and put back together numbers from 11-19. Towards the end of the month, we will move into our next story problem unit. You can practice this at home by telling a simple story such as: “There are 6 ladybugs on a leaf. 2 more land. How many ladybugs in all?”. Ask your child to tell you with words but also to explain their thinking. How did they get to their answer?

Science: THE CHICKS ARE COMING! After April break, we will be receiving our eggs. This is a very exciting time in Kindergarten. We will be discussing what is happening, day to day, inside of the egg. Kindergarteners learn a lot of patience as we wait the 21 days of incubation. This unit transitions into the life cycle of various other animals.

Extra: The Kindergarteners had a wonderful day during the Celebration of the Arts! They made directed drawings of a raccoon, learned a simple Hip Hop dance routine during Dance Games, made masks with Mr. Simonetti while learning about acting, and sang along with the Hillcrest Choraleers. A truly amazing day! PLEASE REMEMBER TO SAVE THEIR COLORED SHIRTS. THEY WILL NEED THEM FOR FIELD DAY IN JUNE.


Fundations: In Fundations we are finishing unit 11. In Unit 11 we learned how to write words that contain a vowel-consonant-e. We are learning to also add a suffix to v-c-e words. We will begin working on Unit 12. We will work with multisyllabic words. The students will learn to read multisyllabic words and compound words using our closed syllable and vowel consonant e syllable rules. We will learn to read and spell words such as sunset, finish, public, and reptile. We will also learn how to add the suffixes –s, -ed, -ing, to multi-syllabic words. The students will be introduced to a new suffix, the suffix –es and learn the rules of when to use suffix –es. Each week we continue to grow our trick word vocabulary and spelling. Remember to practice your trick words every night.

Writing: In writing, students will begin to write their own series of realistic fiction books. They will learn how to write details, using dialogue, and bringing their stories to life. Students will apply the editing and revising strategies that they have learned throughout the year. By the end of this unit, the students will have completed two to three series of books about various characters that they have created. The first grade students love this unit because they can be very creative and use their imagination.

Reading: This month, we begin our 4th reading unit: Meeting Characters and Learning Lessons. Readers will go on reading adventures with their characters, learning new strategies to use the pictures and details in the text to envision what’s happening and where the story is taking place. Readers will also be predicting and retelling events in sequence in longer texts. Later in the unit, students will study characters by noticing details and think about the lessons that readers learn from their books. Fluency and decoding are ongoing goals.

Math: In math this month, we are completing our unit on strategies for addition and subtraction story problems. We briefly work on color, shape, and number patterns before returning to talking about the hundreds chart and counting by twos, fives, and tens. Please continue to work on practicing addition and subtraction facts at home with Xtra Math, as well as practicing telling time to the hour and half hour.

Science: In Science we will begin our STEM unit. The students will begin to learn about bees and the pollination process. At the end of this unit, the children will have to make their own hand pollinator in order to move pollen from one area to another. We will also be studying the life cycle of a butterfly. The students will see the life cycle up close with live butterflies in each room.


Fundations: We are finishing up unit 14, in which we are studying the vowel teams of ou and ow that say /ou/. In Unit 15, we will spell words with the vowel teams for the long u sound in words like “school”, “soup”, “rescue”, “blue”, and “chew.” We will also practice words with the other sound made by the oo vowel team (the vowel sound heard in “book”). Don’t forget to continue practicing the spelling words at home for our weekly assessments.

Writing: In writing, the students have begun their unit on poetry. Throughout this unit the students will learn about the structure of poetry and write poems that include strong feelings and concrete details. They will be writing poems about things using their “poetry glasses”, learning how to use line breaks appropriately, and creating poems to express different moods and feelings. They have started using similes and metaphors in their poems to create stronger language as a poet.

Reading: Our reading unit focuses on fluency, literary language, and tracking longer stories. The second graders are revisiting what it looks and sounds like to read books with a smooth, expressive voice. As the students move into more sophisticated texts, the language becomes more complex. They will learn to read closely and ponder over what the author may have wanted them to think and feel. The children will learn how to keep track of the characters, events, and places in longer texts. Nightly reading is the expectation for second-grade homework. Please remember to write this down on the Daily Reading Log and return it to school each Monday.

Math: We continue working on addition and subtraction strategies with numbers into the hundreds. Our focus is not only on the strategies to add and subtract two- and three-digit numbers, but also to recognize place value into the hundreds. Another focus is skip-counting with higher numbers. We will continue working with time and money. Second graders must be able to tell time on an analog clock to the nearest five minutes and understand the meaning of a.m. and p.m. The students should know all coins and their values and be able to count groups of coins. They should also be fluent with addition and subtraction facts to 20. Please record your child’s nightly fact practice on his/her Math Fact Practice Log and return it to school each Monday.

Science: The students are learning about plants, seeds, and seed dispersal. They are learning about the parts of a seed and the materials that are needed to help a seed germinate and grow. They are learning the different ways seeds are dispersed and how animals in Connecticut contribute to seed dispersal. After vacation, the students will observe and record plant growth. They will conduct an investigation of the same type of plant, changing the variables of light and water.

Social Studies: During the month of April, we will continue learning about holidays (Earth Day) and current events using Time For Kids and reading about and discussing our health using The Great Body Shop.

Extra: The Kids’ Heart Challenge took place during the school day on April 5th. On April 11th, K-2 students will be visited by nonfiction children’s author Lisa M. Herrington. The second graders will start having some written homework each week in addition to their reading, math facts, and spelling. The homework sheet will be stapled to the math/reading log and the spelling list. The teachers will send home a notice explaining the homework. Don’t forget that Spring Vacation is the week of April 15th-19th, and that there is no school for students on April 22nd (a professional development day for the teachers).


Writing: In Writing, we will continue to use our program, the “Writing Workshop” from Lucy Calkins. Students will be working on informational pieces. They have chosen a topic in which they are an “expert” in order to provide facts and details to teach their reader about their subject.

Reading: In Reading, we will continue to work on a variety of comprehension skills including author’s purpose and identifying literary sources (genres). We are also looking deeper into character traits. We are learning to focus on the words and actions of characters in order to understand them better. Remember, third grade students should be reading a minimum of 20 minutes each day/night at home. Encourage your child to read a variety of genres. They should experience not only fiction pieces, but nonfiction, poetry, and others as well.

Math: In Math, we will continue our unit on fractions and have a brief introduction into decimals. We will also review skills learned throughout the year (including the variety of strategies we learns on how to solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems through basic problems and multi-step word problems). ***Please make sure your child can tell time on an analog clock.

Science: In Science, we will be using our new curriculum to understand human and adaptations.

Social Studies: Because third grade shares books on our social studies topics, we all cover the same information – just at different times. Some of the topics include: forests, deserts, plains, oceans, rivers, and mountains. Once the habitat units have been concluded, we will introduce a unit on Indians/Native Americans.

Other: Students will begin taking the SBAC the last week of April.


Writing: Fourth graders began the Units of Study focusing on Informational Writing. Students will use articles from the reading unit and several websites about Ellis Island and immigration as resources to gather information and take notes on different topics related to Immigration. The U.S. Writers are acting as teachers to instruct their audience about their big and small topic. For example, a writer’s big topic may focus on Immigration to the U.S. The small topic can focus on Ellis Island, reasons immigrants came to the U.S., a day in the life of an immigrant or struggles immigrants faced. In addition to a big and small topic, writers will create an informational book with a table of contents, narrative story, text features, and glossary.

Reading: Students continue in the non-fiction unit created by Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project. Our topic in reading and writing focuses on immigration. Students are reading a variety of non-fiction texts while practicing different skills taught in mini-lessons. They use non-fiction text structures to take notes and practice summarizing and paraphrasing information. The students are working in groups and independently. They will create information books about immigration.

Math: Students will move into Unit 8 – How Many Packages? How Many Groups? This unit continues to build on the ideas about multiplication and division that students worked on earlier in the year. We will work with larger numbers solving multiplication problems with 2-digit by 2-digit numbers. Students will learn how to solve these problems by breaking the numbers apart and by using the standard algorithm. Students will also work on division problems with larger numbers. They will also learn to interpret and solve division word problems. Teachers continue to work on SBAC practice problems with students to practice using the online test and to review different types of math problems.

Science: It’s all about Electricity and Magnetism this month in science! Magnetism is a force, and students will observe the interaction of permanent magnets with a variety of common materials. They will discover that magnets attract and repel at different times. Students will learn that there is a change in the force of two magnets when the distance between them changes. All of these discoveries will be done through fun interactive experimentation within the classroom. Then, students will learn the components of an electrical circuit, and will discover how to build simple and complex circuits. They will learn to identify insulators and conductors by building a circuit board and testing objects by making a motor run. To go along with our unit on Electricity and Magnetism, students visited the Eli Whitney Museum in Hamden, Connecticut where they built electrical circuits.

Social studies: The 4th grade students are continuing their study of state and local government. It will be culminated with a visit from Representative David Rutigliano on April 12th to get us ready for our Hartford field trip on May 17th. The students will hear firsthand about the Legislative branch of government. Next we will begin our study of the Southeast. They will study how the geography and climate affected farming on the Coastal Plain, both now and in the past. They will also explore the region’s other resources and how they caused growth of businesses and industry in this region. Lastly, they will learn about the geography and people who live along the gulf coast and different islands off the southeast coast.


Writing: In writing, students have investigated and written argument essays about whether or not chocolate milk should be served in school. They learned to look at their research with a critical eye, and decide which evidence they will use to bolster their claim. They will now use these techniques to write an argumentative essay on a topic of their choice.

Reading: Students are finishing Unit 3: Argument and Advocacy, Researching Debatable Issues. In this unit, students analyzed texts to figure out when an author is making an argument versus trying to persuade. They developed claims based on research, and supported with facts and quotes while keeping their opinions separate. Throughout the unit, students are using what they have learned to debate these current societal issues. We will then be moving into Unit 4: Fantasy Book Clubs.

Math: Students began the month with a unit on measurement conversion, for both the customary and metric systems. They worked through measures of length, weight, capacity, and volume. Students will then move into a geometry unit, focusing on triangles and quadrilaterals, by identifying the characteristics and attributes for each.

Science: Students have moved into the Light Energy unit. In this unit, students will work through a series of experiments based on colors of pigment as well as colors of light. They will then move into the Lens and Mirrors portion of the unit, learning about refraction and reflection of light.

Social Studies: The students are finishing a unit on early colonial America with a focus on the 13 British colonies. Students have examined how colonial life varied by region: the New England, Middle, and Southern colonies. Upon completion, we will move into the causes of the American Revolution.


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. Numbers can be represented in many different ways. This is the math idea your child will learn from playing money games. Children may start totaling one type of coin because they find it easier. Tip! Which coin does your child total first: dimes or quarters?

• Find out which coin your child prefers to total first. This may tell you the number by which he or she is most comfortable skip counting. Place a variety of coins in a pile, and ask your child to tell you the total amount for each coin. For example, there might be 85 cents in nickels and 50 cents in dimes. Observe your child as he or she begins sorting and totaling the coins. Ask your child how he or she chose which coin to total first. Suggest that you both race to total the coins that your child is less comfortable with. For example, if your child is comfortable counting nickels, race to count quarters instead. The first person to total those coins wins.

• The Money Game. One person is the banker and the other is the accountant. You can alternate roles with your child in the game. Use amounts of money that can be shown by using coins only – for example, $1.75.

 Banker: “I have $1.75 in my bank. What combination of coins might I have?” The accountant shows one or more possible combinations.

 Banker: “I have $1.75 in my bank. What is the smallest number of coins I could have to make this amount?” The accountant uses the fewest coins possible to show the amount.

 Banker: “I have $1.75 in my bank. I have ten coins. What coins could they be?” The accountant uses ten coins to show the amount.

• You can make the Money Game easier or harder by varying the number of coins you are playing with or by restricting the types of coins (for example, just dimes and nickels).


Kindergarten friends learned about the difference between actual texture and implied texture. Then they created texture monsters using texture plates, which they discovered was an example of “actual texture”. They traced monster shapes, and then put their texture plates underneath and rubbed their crayons on top to reveal “implied texture” on their monsters. Students were given different options for creating a mouth, teeth and tongue for their monsters. Some chose to use paper folding techniques, learned from a previous project, in order to add even more texture to their projects.

First grade friends have been busy learning about the artwork of Joan Miro. In this project students were asked to identify his use of line, shape, space, and color. They learned that he was a pioneer of “automatic drawing” which is when an artist lets his hand glide across the paper creating various overlapping lines with no plan in mind. The artwork then becomes a bit of an accident. Miro began his work this way and then studied it to see what objects he could create from his forms. Students studied the common shapes that he used in a lot of his work and then played a Roll and Draw game in order to create their own Miro inspired masterpieces.

Second grade friends began weaving on paper plates. First they studied Kandinsky’s “Concentric Circles” and then we were inspired to create our own concentric circles by tracing circles on a paper plate and painting each section a bright color. When dry, students added details to their circles using line and shape. We cut slits in our plates and then began our weaving. Students were introduced to radial symmetry and quickly understood that our paper plate weavings had radial symmetry.

Third grade friends continue to rotate through multiple projects including clay frogs formed from pinch pots, Jim Dine embossed hearts which consist of hearts embossed onto aluminum with various lines and shapes to add texture, and finally, their Henri Rousseau tiger collages. These tiger collages are a multimedia project where students created textured painted papers and are using them to create a collage that focuses on the elements of line, shape, texture, space, pattern, and color.

Fourth grade friends are rotating through multiple projects as well. Some students are finishing up their clay slab birds, a project which focuses creating a piece from a slab of clay and using the slip and score method to attach them. We added texture by pressing texture stamps into the birds. Others are finishing up their Dean Rousseau projects, which focus on drawing an elephant and using analagous colors and a series of lines and shapes to adorn them with. Finally, others are finishing their Winslow Homer projects where they painted a series of textured paper and origami boats in order to create these collages which focus on shape, line, texture, space, pattern, and color.

My fifth grade friends completed their Georgia O’Keefe glue and chalk flowers and are now weaving Ojo Dios. Ojo Dios, also known as God’s Eyes, were created by Huichol Indians of Mexico. When a child was born they would weave the central eye and add some string to it each year until it was completed at age five. It was believed to then hang in the home keeping a watchful eye over the child to protect them. Students are learning how to weave them and will be taught how to create tassels to add to them for further adornment.

We hope you enjoy our March creations as much as we enjoyed making them!


Kindergarten: Students will be enjoying spring songs! These songs teach the musical concept of tone color especially as it relates to their own voices! Voices can change channels! They can sing, speak, whisper and shout!

Grade 1: Students will experience songs that rhyme! An important element in beginning readers that is reinforced in music class! A favorite is “Down By the Bay” where student make up their own rhyming verses. Classroom instruments such as the cajoon (a drum you can sit on) and the guiro (an instrument that you scrape) accompanies a song called “Go Fish”.

Grade 2: In April students in grade 2 will focus on the notes of Sol, Me and La. They will learn to play those pitches on the classroom instruments. They will learn a song about “Clearing the Kitchen” and will play a pass the broom game.

Grade 3: These classes will continue with recorder playing especially the notes of G, A, and B. During April students will become proficient at playing “Hot Cross Buns” and “Merrily We Roll” along in their recorder books

Grade 4: Recorder technique will continue to improve for 4th grade students in music classes. They can now play the full range of notes in the C major scale as well as high D. When the “Saints Go Marching In” is a favorite of many fourth grade students, as well as other songs up to page 24 in the recorder book! A real achievement since beginning recorder in 3rd grade

Grade 5: After finishing up the lessons on chord changes I, IV, and V students will begin to play piano keyboards in class after the April break. The beginning lessons center around note reading and relating that skill to the keys on the piano! The music room will be transformed to a piano lab complete with electric piano’s that are played with student headphones. With concerts quickly approaching, students will also be learning their chorus program.


Kindergarten & First Grade: During the month of March the kindergarten and first grade students will be finishing up Pillo Polo and beginning Soccer. Dribbling, kicking, and shooting are skills that will be taught.

Second & Third Grades: Second and Third Grade during the month of March will be finishing Pillo Polo and begin Soccer. Dribbling, passing, shooting and gameplay will all be introduced during modified soccer games.

Fourth & Fifth Grade: Fourth and Fifth Grade will be finishing Pillo Polo and begin Soccer using the “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 Referee. Students will develop skills used in soccer and learn how a proper game is played.


Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) addresses the needs of students who have difficulty communicating. AAC can include but is not limited to include picture communication boards, speech-generating devices (SGDs), sign language, and gestures to aid expressive language. AAC is augmentative when used to supplement speech and alternative when used in place of speech. An AAC app on an iPad is an accessible way to supplement speech and language skills.


The Learning Commons has been booming with excitement since we’ve kicked off spring. Students from Kindergarten thru third grade have been working with Mrs. Windsor on coding using the applications Scratch and Kodable. Kids are learning how to give step-by-step directions and program. With Mrs. Ferraro, kindergarteners, first and second graders have been learning about non-fiction author Lisa M. Herrington in preparation for her visit on April 11th. Classes have reviewed non-fiction text features while previewing her titles available for purchase to be signed by our author! Kids have absolutely loved shopping from our new bookcases in the Learning Commons. In fact, there have been books checked out in the last month that have not been in the hands of children all year! With the new set up, our beautiful collection is on display, more accessible and readily available for our students.

Mrs. Windsor’s first and second graders are working hard to finish STAR testing and are ready to showcase their skills. Grades three through five are working on projects in the Learning Commons based on their curriculum. Third graders are working on research skills for their current reading and writing information units of study. Mrs. Ferraro has introduced students to Google Keep, where students can save the websites that they have visited, take notes while viewing a website and organize their research. Students have been introduced to Scholastic Go!, True Flix, Epic Books and Reading IQ as some of the search engines available for research. Fourth graders are actively working on a maker project where they are creating Simple Machine carnival games for our kindergartners. They are using all recycled materials and tying in their most recent unit in science on kinetic and potential energy, as well as Newton’s Laws of Motion.

Fifth graders are also working on a unit of study in the LC on empathy. They have read a series of books as a grade level and learned how important it is so ‘step into someone else’s shoes’ to understand how they are feeling. As a culmination of this unit, they will be putting on an ‘Empathy Fair’ for first graders. Mrs. Ferraro and Mrs. Windsor have been meeting with student groups during their creation of skits, puppet shows and Ebooks to demonstrate what they have learned. We are excited for both fourth and fifth grade presentations in May! Lastly, third, fourth and fifth graders are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their author visit from the creator of the I Survived series, Lauren Tarshis! She will be visiting on May third.

FOR EVERYONE: Please help your child remember to return books to the library on their Library Day. Thank you!


One of the best stress relievers is exercise. Physically active children generally report happier mood and fewer symptoms of depression than children who are less active. Researchers have found that exercise seems to help children cope with stress.

Since our children are often engaging in sedentary activities like watching television and playing video games, it is important to encourage them to partake in opportunities for physical exercise. Daniels Farm PTA offers a great way for your kids to get in some extra exercise: Kids Marathon. This kind of physical exercise can benefit your kids both physically and mentally. If your child has not participated before consider encouraging your child to participate next year. In addition encourage your kids to get outside and exercise with you over the weekends and after school. Now that it is staying light later it’s the perfect time for family walks and bike rides. You’ll all feel happier, less stressed and as a bonus sleep better!


MANDATORY PHYSICALS (Health Assessments): In accordance with State of CT statutes, and Trumbull Board of Education (BOE) policy on Physical Health Assessment, all pupils are required to have a current Physical Health Assessment when entering Trumbull Public Schools (TPS) and Trumbull private school, and also in grades 3, 6, and 9. In June of 2018 a letter was sent to parents informing them of this requirement. A copy of the blue State of CT Health Assessment Record accompanied this letter. A letter to remind parents of this requirement was sent at the end of January and the beginning of April, 2019.

Kindergarten Physicals: A 5 year old physical is required for all students who entered kindergarten in August of 2018. If you received a reminder letter please submit your child’s 5 year old physical as soon as possible. The link to the State of CT Health Assessment Record is below for your convenience.

3rd Grade Physicals: Letters were sent home in January and the beginning of April to remind any parent who has not yet submitted a 3rd grade physical for their student. Physicals for 3rd grade students must be performed anytime between June 1, 2018 and June 1, 2019. If your child has had a physical please have your child’s health care provider complete the State of CT Health Assessment Record (link below), and submit the blue form to the school nurse as soon as possible.

 State of CT Health Assessment Record:


IMPORTANT: Due to poor compliance with this requirement in previous years, the Superintendent of TPS has instructed school principals to exclude from school any student who is not in compliance by June 1, 2019. Students found to be out of compliance will be excluded effective June 2, 2019, and may resume membership in TPS when they have met the mandated requirement. Please be sure to make copies of your child’s health assessment for TLC, summer camps and programs, etc.

VISION REFERRALS: Vision Screenings, mandated by the State of CT and TPS policy, were performed in October of 2018. On October 29, 2018 parents of any student who required further evaluation of their vision received a letter, which included the results of the screening and a referral form to be completed by an eye care practitioner. During the first week of March a reminder letter was sent to any parent who has not yet submitted a response to this referral. If you were the recipient of this reminder letter, please respond promptly. In most cases the students who were referred are already receiving some form of treatment, so it is simply a matter of having your child’s eye care practitioner complete the form that was sent to you.

Thank you for your cooperation and prompt attention to meeting these requirements.

Happy Spring, and have a relaxing Spring Break!!