Daniels Farm School Newsletter

From the desk of Mr. KUNSCHAFT for the

Month of December 2018

Printable Version - December 2018

→     From the  desk of MR. KUNSCHAFT  

Hello DFS Families,

The late fall and early winter months bring a renewed focus on family, as scheduled school vacations allow us to slow down and take a break from our daily pace. For some, this is a time to celebrate the holidays, while others may have already done so or will in the near future. Our DFS family continues to grow, with students representing cultures from around the globe.  This diversity is a major strength, and as adults, it is important to expose our students to a variety of cultures to enhance their understanding of the world.

Our DFS Multicultural Committee is an excellent way for parents to enhance our students’ school experience by planning ongoing cultural exhibits and our annual spring World Expo event. Committee participation is voluntary and inclusive, and represents a grassroots effort to ensure students have the opportunity to learn more about each other and make meaningful connections.  Please be on the lookout for information on the next meeting, and also any opportunities to expand your children’s view of the world around them.

Enjoy the holiday break!

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”  -Maya Angelou (1928-2014), Poet, Singer, Memoirist and Civil Rights Activist

Together we make a difference!


Writing Workshop:  In Writing, we enjoyed writing like a scientist. The students looked closely at items from nature and noticed the smallest details of an object. We also worked on transforming our labels into sentences.

One of the most important things an adult can do to support a child’s literacy is to immerse their child in storytelling.  When Dad comes back from the park with their child, Mom asks “What did you do at the park?” The child says “Daddy pushed me and I go’d high on the swing.” Mom retells the story saying: “Wow! Daddy pushed you and you went really high!”  This re-creation of the story is essential to learning how a proper sentence is used. Oral storytelling not only pushes kids toward such command of grammar when speaking, but it also supports their ability to write stories in a clear way. In addition, the more practice a child has orally telling a story, the easier it will be to write a story. As you sit around the dinner table or drive in the car, recall times spent together.  These nuggets will plant the seeds for future stories.

Word Study:  We are just about finished introducing all of the lowercase letters and corresponding sounds!  Within the next week, we will be done. Please continue to review at home. For sight words, we have introduced the words: I, can, see, the, a, to, went, and, am, look, on, it, play, in, ran, you, do, an, man, is, like.  Continue to highlight and practice the words on the word ring at home. If your child can identify these words, have them use them in a sentence or have your child be a “detective” and find the words he/she has learned in picture books!  

Reading Workshop:  The students worked closely with their partners on how to talk about books.  We learned different ways that partners can share books: reading with each other, talking about books, and asking questions about books.  In addition, we learned how to identify and share WOW pages (pages that excited us), LOL pages (pages that make us laugh), and HMMMM? Pages (pages that make us question. We continue to work on building our stamina during private reading time.

Math: Students were introduced to simple story problems. Students were asked to talk, draw, and write like a mathematician to show how they found the answer.  While you are driving in the car, ask your child….If I give you 2 cookies and then Dad gives you 3 more, how many cookies do you have in all? Ask them to explain their thinking rather than just giving the answer.

Science:  This month we learned about the sun and how it affects the weather. We made weather wheels to track the weather each day.  We learned about the seasons and what the weather is like in each season. Students learned about what clothing people wear each season based on the weather. Please ask them in the morning if their clothes are appropriate for the season and weather. ☺  We DO go out for recess if the temperature – including wind chill – is above 32 degrees.

Social Studies:  Throughout the past month, we discussed what makes up a family and how our families are each unique.  We shared traditions that are celebrated all throughout the year.

On a different note:  The month of December brings with it much excitement in the eyes of a Kindergartener. We respectfully ask that any extra distractions stay at home. This includes such things as holiday hats, toys, stuffed animals, etc….Thank you in advance for your help!

→         GRADE ONE

Fundations:  In the month of December, we will introduce the concept of baseword and suffix in a very simple way, with just adding the suffix –s.  The students will learn the concepts of singular and plural words. We will also continue to review the concepts already taught. We will keep working on letter sounds, digraphs, bonus letters, and some glued sounds. We ask that you practice reading and spelling your child’s trick words each night.

Writing:  We are finishing our poetry unit where children were working on creating color poems, I Wish poems, I am poems, and free thought poems.  Once poetry is complete, we will be focusing on writing about Holidays Around the World.

Reading:  The students are finishing up their Word Detective unit.  In this unit, each first grader went through rigorous training through the SSDA (Super Secret Detective Agency), and are now full-fledged Word Detectives, with badges to prove it!  They will continue to focus on building stamina, and fluency. As the children’s decoding is becoming stronger, we begin to focus on comprehension skills. In connection with writing, we will be focusing our reading on Holidays Around the World in reading as well.

Math:  Students will continue to practice using a variety of strategies to solve addition and subtraction story problems. We are finishing up our unit on Geometry and will then going back into Unit 3 where we will continue our practice of addition and subtraction strategies.  We are emphasizing the use of vocabulary words like difference, sum, fact, families.  

Social Studies: In December, we will explore our country and countries around the world by focusing on winter holidays and holiday celebrations.


  • Please teach your child to tie their shoes.  This will help your first grade teacher and save a lot of precious teaching time throughout the day.

  • During this cold season, it is very important that your child know to cover their mouths when they cough/sneeze, as well as to wash their hands after.  Please review this at home.

  • All first graders should have a spare set of clothes in their backpacks in case of emergency/accident.

Remember to fill out your reading log each night.  It is due at the end of the month.

→         GRADE TWO

Fundations:  In Fundations we are working on Units 6 and 7. We will continue working on multisyllabic words containing the vowel-consonant-e syllable and words containing the vowel-consonant-e exception (ive). The vowel “i” makes a short-vowel sound in words and suffixes containing this exception (such as give, adjective, and active).  Unit 7 will introduce the children to the open syllable concept, y as a vowel, as well as combining open syllables with closed and vowel-consonant-e syllables. We will learn additional syllable division rules and introduce the new suffixes of y, ly, and ty. Practice the spelling lists with your children for our weekly assessments and reinforce that these words should be spelled correctly in all writing areas.  

Writing:  During Writing Workshop, we are continuing opinion writing, with the emphasis on “writing about reading.” The students are working on stating their opinions about their favorite books and giving reasons and examples to support their opinions. They are focusing on elaborating and choosing words that help the reader agree with their opinions. The children will learn some fun conventions that authors and illustrators use to fancy up and make their writing interesting. We continue to work on using transition words and editing for appropriate usage of punctuation, capitalization, and spelling. The opinion unit will conclude with the students persuading other readers that their favorite books are worthy of awards.

Reading:   In Reading we are helping students realize that they’re ready to take on the important jobs a reader needs to do.  They have strategies to be in charge of their reading, to set their own agenda, and to get through the hard parts all by themselves. They can move past the impulse to say “Help me!” when faced with a tricky word, and say “I can solve this myself.” They can be the bosses of their own reading, solving their own reading dilemmas by using tools and strategies they’ve learned such as asking themselves “Does that make sense? Does that sound right?  Does that look right?” Remember to complete the reading logs at home. Raz-Kids may be used up to two times per week (all other reading should involve an actual book). It is very important for all second graders to read every day, including weekends and during the holiday break.

Math:   In Math, we will continue working on Unit 3. The students will investigate even and odd numbers, using the context of partners and teams, as they think about which numbers make groups of two and which numbers make two equal groups.  This work extends into counting by equal groups (2s, 5s, and 10s). The children will be introduced to place value as they investigate numbers grouped into tens and ones. They will use base-ten blocks and learn how to write numbers in expanded form.  Please remember to work on Xtra Math and/or fact practice at home. Also practice identifying coins and their values and combining coins to a total of 50 cents.

Science:  In Science, we will begin our unit on interdependent relationships in ecosystems. The children will learn about Connecticut ecosystems and habitats. They will recognize the geographical features of rivers and forests in Connecticut.  

Social Studies: In social studies we will learn about holidays around the world. We’ll discuss the differences and similarities between the way we celebrate these holidays here in the United States and all around the globe.

Extras:  The Trimester 1 report cards will be issued on Friday, December 7th.  

Remember that there will be an early dismissal on Friday, December 21st.  Lunch will not be served that day. Please send a larger snack or a sandwich for your child to eat during snack time. Remember that peanut butter and items containing peanuts and tree nuts are not allowed in classrooms.



Writing:  In Writing, we will continue to work in using our new program, the Writing Workshop from Lucy Calkins. We are learning how to write an opinion/persuasive pieces. Students will be able to write about a topic of their choosing on which they have a strong opinion. Students will have to not only have 2 or 3 reasons for their opinion, but also include details and examples for each reason.

Reading:  In Reading, we will continue to work on a variety of comprehension skills. At this time, we will focus on our new skill – distinguishing fact from opinion. 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.

Math:   In Math, our spiraling curriculum has us revisiting addition and subtraction. We will be solving more word problems, comparing numbers, and rounding.  Please make sure your child is practicing his/her basic math facts daily.

Science:   In Science, we will continue studying the weather. Students will check the sky daily for the day’s weather (sunny, partly cloudy, overcast, rainy, and snowy).

Social Studies:  Because the third grade shares books on our social studies topics, we all cover the same information – just at different times. Topics include forests, deserts, mountains, prairies, and oceans.


Writing:  Students continue to dive into the Units of Study Writing Program focusing on persuasive essays. Students are learning how to generate essay ideas by thinking of a person, place, or object that really matters to them. They are learning the structure of a persuasive essay too.  In every writing unit we continue to build our writing stamina, use proper language conventions, and build our author’s craft. 

Reading:  The second reading unit from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project focuses on building nonfiction reading strategies. Students read high interest non-fiction books and articles. They learn to read in such a way that they can summarize a text and use text structures (compare/contrast, cause and effect, main idea/detail…) to identify the importance/purpose of the text.

Math:  Students worked in unit 3 Unit 3: Multiple Towers and Division Stories. They are continuing their study on the operations of multiplication and division. This unit focuses on computational fluency and solving multiplication problems with 2 and 3 digit numbers. Students are also introduced to division with larger numbers and the meaning of remainders. This unit helps students understand the relationship between multiplication and division by reviewing the “fact families” and seeing the relationship between multiplication and division story problems. Students will be introduced to two strategies for multiplication – the “box” method and the algorithm. Students also continue their work in problem solving and learning how to solve higher level and logic problems.

Science:  Students examine the effects of short- and long-term implications of soil erosion on the environment. Groups will develop three models to help solve the problem of soil erosion, using materials provided in the classroom. Students will test their solutions using their stream tables. After analyzing their results, groups will present their findings to the class.

Social Studies: In December, students will continue their study of Connecticut’s history. Students will learn why the European explorers came to the New World, what the first settlements in Connecticut were and who founded them. Students will also learn about the Fundamental Orders, The Puritans, and the legend of the Charter Oak.

→       GRADE FIVE

Writing:  Students will become reporters during the Journalism unit this month, so be ready if you are asked for an interview! The students will then write a featured news article on a current event that interests them.

Reading:  We have begun Unit 2, which involves tackling complexity by moving up levels of non-fiction texts. Students will identify relationships across a text as well as analyze interactions between events, ideas, and key concepts.

Math:  Students have begun a unit on fractions and how to add, subtract, multiply and divide with them. We will also continue to focus on written explanation of mathematical thinking through the ‘Exemplars’ word problem program.

Science:  The next unit of study involves energy, focusing specifically on sound energy and the parts of the human ear. Study will begin with potential and kinetic energy, on how one relates to the other.

Social Studies:  Our focus will be on the first colonies started by the English in North America - Roanoke, Jamestown and Plymouth. We will then learn about the original 13 colonies, focusing on the New England, Middle, and Southern Colonies characteristics.

→         MATH NEWS        

To be successful in mathematics students need to have fluent recall of basic facts.  This allows students to focus on more complex math concepts as they progress through the grade levels.  We are continuing our home-school team approach to achieve this goal and standardize student practice of basic facts at DFS.

Please follow the guidelines below to ensure your student(s) maximize computational accuracy and fluency of facts.  Each independent practice session lasts no more than 10 minutes. Student participation and progress will be monitored at school.  Grades 2-5 should begin immediately, grade 1 will begin in trimester 2.

  • Grade 1:  3 X’s per week at home. Program will be Beginning Addition and Subtraction facts (within 10).

  • Grade 2:  4 X’s per week at home. Program will be Addition and Subtraction facts (6 seconds, then 3 seconds) once grade 1 expectation has been completed.

  • Grade 3: 4 X’s per week at home. Program will be Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division facts (3 seconds).

  • Grade 4:  4 X’s per week at home. Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division facts (2 seconds, once 3 seconds have been completed).

  • Grade 5:  4 X’s per week at home. Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division facts (2 seconds, once 3 seconds have been completed).

The programs will continue until each student reaches completion of all 4 operations, at 2 second level in the upper grades. The time, in seconds, refers to the threshold, or how long the student has to correctly answer each math fact and be considered fluent.

In order to have mastery of a particular math fact, a student has to answer correctly within the threshold 2 out of the last 3 attempts, so there is an allowance for occasional errors/mistyped answers. More information can be found at: https://xtramath.org/#/home/faq

We greatly appreciate your at-home efforts to attain this goal.  If you do not have access to the internet, please contact your child’s teacher directly for alternative practice arrangements.


Gary Kunschaft -Principal Kelly Orazietti-Math Specialist Geri Proscino -Math Specialist

→   ___   ART

My kindergarten friends learned about Kandinsky this month and were inspired to create concentric circles.  They traced, cut and glued circles of three different sizes within one another using both warm and cool colors.  Kindergarteners also had an opportunity to practice drawing their shapes with oil pastels. When finished, they added different types of lines from our line poster and painted them with watercolors, creating a crayon resist.  Great job kindergarten friends!

First grade friends learned about Claude Monet. We studied his painting, Bridge Over Waterlilies, and drew our own version using oil pastels.  When drawing the waterlilies we learned a little about perspective, and that things appear smaller when farther away and larger when closer to us. After completing our drawings with oil pastels we used liquid watercolor to paint our water and tree reflections, creating a resist painting. The real magic happened when we added salt to our wet paint.  Viola, a sparkle effect on the water. First graders thought this was very cool! Now they are getting ready to begin a new project, Collage Penguins! They will be painting their backgrounds with warm and cool colors, and creating penguins with winter clothes using a variety of collage materials. I can hardly wait to see them completed!

Second grade friends learned how to mix white and black with a color to create tints and shades. When their papers were dry they used templates to cut out ice cream scoops from lightest to darkest value and glue them on a background to create a five scoop ice cream cone.  Yummy! They look good enough to eat!

Third grade friends are learning about Jasper Johns and how he loved to paint and make prints with letters and numbers.  They are currently using foam to draw and cut three numbers and three letters that have personal meaning to them, along with a variety of organic and geometric shapes, in order to create a printing block. When complete, they will be etching in patterns and textures on their foam and using their plates to pull prints using complementary colored ink and papers. This project focuses on the art elements and principles of line, shape, texture, pattern, movement and balance. Wow!

Fourth grade friends are working on a printing project. They began by folding their papers to create a horizon line and painting the sky in warm colors and the water in cool colors. Next they drew city scapes on foam, and used their etching tool to etch a variety of lines in order to create some texture and interest. When their city scapes are complete they will use a brayer to roll on some ink and print the cityscape onto their horizon line.  While still wet, they will fold the paper in half to create the reflection in the water. I can hardly wait to see them completed!

My fifth grade friends are currently learning about the Japanese artist, Houkosai and one of his famous prints, Houkosai and the Great Wave.  Fifth graders learned to draw a version of this print with oil pastels and will be using tempera cakes to paint them.  They have been learning about the art elements and principles of line, space, color, movement, and pattern in this project and identifying them in Houkosai’s original print.  So exciting fifth graders!

We hope you enjoy our beautiful works of art!

→     __ MUSIC

Everyone loves a song in December! The bells will be ringing and children singing - the music room will be a lively place all month!  

Kindergarten:  Students will be able to identify the sounds of notes high, low and in the middle! They will learn a game where the Farmer is awakened by the sound of a high note to find the Cows.  

Grade 1: Will learn about the length of musical sounds long and short. They will recognize whole notes, half notes, quarter notes and eighth note with a catchy song called Rhythm, Rhythm, Rhythm Long and Short sounds. And will play classroom instruments to the song called One by One, about the cousin of Old MacDonald named Farmer Fred.

Grade 2: Students will be learning about the scale, they will explore the ways tone move by step or skips. They will play the xylophone to tones that move downward like the falling leaves

Grade 3:  In addition to learning and singing songs for the season, students will play a toss game where they will practice their skills and reinforce their recognition of musical signs and symbols.  

Grade 4:  Students will start off the month learning about skips, steps and repeats in a melody. They will learn a song that has examples of each concept of melody and be able to identify them.  The song is called There is Something About a Song.

Grade 5: Students will be busy preparing for the Winter Concert to be held on Thursday Dec. 6th during the school day and Monday Dec. 10th at Madison Middle School. The concert will include Band, String and the 5th Grade Chorus


Kindergarten & First Grade: During the month of December the kindergarten and first grade students will be working on co-operative games while practicing their locomotor movement patterns through our winter games.

Second & Third Grade: Second and Third Grade during the month of December will continue working on overhand throwing and catching, and special awareness through our winter games unit.

Fourth & Fifth Grade: Fourth and Fifth Grade will finishing our Team Handball unit and moving on to our winter games unit. Students will be practicing offense and defense roles through our various winter activities.  


Some ideas for Holiday Gifts that Promote Social skills and Language Development:

  1. Apples to Apples

  2. Taboo

  3. Heads up

  4. Headbanz

  5. Bubble Talk

  6. Blurt

  7. I spy..

  8. Secret Square

  9. Zingo

  10. Jenga


We have completed a month of Maker Space activities. Third through fifth grade children built bridges out of Knex, stamped greeting cards for friends, relatives and veterans, and learned to play a coffee table game of Boggle along with other maker learning opportunities. Our Kindergarten and first grade group worked in teams to build marble run mazes, brick towers and followed directions to make homes with Lincoln Logs. Maker Space is about engaging in activities that require collaboration, cooperation, and problem solving. Our second grade Maker Space time was used to support the science curriculum. All second graders created bouncy balls using Borax, school glue, and water. They were required to measure and follow directions.

The district has purchased RazKids reading for students in grades K-2. This month was busy helping get all children logged in and able to access the RazKids accounts. Our Kindergartners will be working with Mrs. Windsor and Mrs. Ferraro to log into Chromebooks in order to utilize the new RazKids program. Our grade 3-5 teachers were trained on NewsELA through an after school PD. NewsELA is a site that provides hundreds of articles at five different reading levels so each article is accessible for all students. The articles are excellent support for our reading lessons as well as science and social studies. Mrs. Windsor has been pushing into classrooms to help teachers implement NewsELA. The learners have been able to annotate with online sticky notes as they read the articles. Reviews from the kids have been very positive.

Our Learning Commons lessons have continued to focus on Digital Citizenship. Grades 3-5 focused on their digital footprint and learned how it follows them wherever they go.  How do we stay safe while working online? Our younger learners learned that being safe is the most important thing to keep in mind when online. They learned three simple rules to keep in mind: 1) Always ask your parents first, 2) Only talk to people you know, and 3) visit sites that are just right for you! We were also able to venture on a digital field trip all the way to the San Diego Zoo, where they were able to practice their digital citizenship safety features.

Fourth grade technology club has begun with 23 students joining in each Wednesday afternoon through a portion of their lunch and recess. We have started by investigating Scratch, an online coding tutorial. Students will begin to animate for various tasks. So far, all have been very focused and excited to learn the Scratch program.

Google Update! Although utilizing the Google Drive requires a valid email address, our elementary children do not have live emails and are not able to receive or send emails at this time. That function is controlled by our Google Administrator. Please don’t hesitate to email any of your Google drive questions or concerns to my attention. I will certainly do my best to get answers back in a reasonable amount of time (bwindsor@trumbullps.org).

               Please help your child remember to bring their library books back on their library day.

Happy Holidays to all who celebrate.


In November Mrs. Katz, SSW spoke at a PTA meeting about stress in children.  Here are some tips from that presentation on reducing stress.

  • Reduce over scheduling.

  • Make sure your requests and expectations are reasonable for the child’s age and abilities.

  • Limit exposure to TV/current events IF your child is stressed by it.

  • Be careful about having adult conversations and arguments in ear shot if your child is stressed out by this.

  • Anticipate known stressors and prepare your child.

  • Build resiliency!

    • Growth mindset: The idea of “yet”- make sure your kids know they don’t have to be able to do everything they try- praise effort over outcome process over product.

    • Let kids fail when the stakes are low- do not rescue them!

  • Teach coping skills- teach the idea that kids can and should solve their own problems and take care of their own feelings

    • Breathing

    • Yoga

    • Mindfulness

    • Self-talk

    • Model managing your own stress and self-care!


Mrs. Ely is home nursing (!) a broken arm. She will be back very soon, and contribute again next month!

Happy Holidays!!