Daniels Farm School Newsletter

From the desk of Mr. KUNSCHAFT for the

Month of January 2019

Printable Version - January 2019

→     From the  desk of MR. KUNSCHAFT  

Hello DFS Families,

Happy 2019!  Students returned to DFS excited and ready to learn after a well-deserved holiday break. The winter months are exciting at the elementary level as students often hit their stride and make significant academic, social and emotional gains. Teachers know each student’s strengths and areas for growth very well at this point, and one can sense the learning energy in classrooms throughout the building.

As we reflect on how we can help our students be ready for each subsequent year and beyond, the topic of listening skills comes to mind. We live in a time of easy access to a multitude of video entertainment options, which can put those on the receiving end in the role of passive viewer.  Balance is the key here, so providing students with opportunities to be active listeners is important. Good old conversation, whether it’s around the dinner table, in the car, or just relaxing, is an important part of developing students’ listening and speaking skills.  Knowing how to listen, follow a conversation, and make meaningful contributions to the flow are all important life skills that demand practice.  What better place to provide a safe haven for this practice than home?

Podcasts offer excellent opportunities for students to practice listening for specific information on exciting non-fiction topics, interesting points of view, and the details of multi-episode narratives. To get you started, here is a link with a variety of podcasts for students of all ages; https://www.weareteachers.com/best-podcasts-for-kids/. A potential side effect of listening practice is your child might actually hear you the next time you ask them to make the bed or take the garbage out!  See you at DFS!


Thank you for your support. 

Together we make a difference!



Writing:  In Writing, the students are currently working on the unit “Writing for Readers”.  In this unit, the students work on narratives pieces and incorporate strategies to make their writing easier to read.  Some of the strategies include: leaving spaces between words, making pictures that help with the words, writing a letter for each sound they hear, using capital letters to start sentences, and adding punctuation.    

Reading:  In Fundations, we have begun working on “tapping” CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words. To practice this at home, first say a word to your child, have your child repeat the word, tap out the sounds together, and then blend the sounds together to make a work.  In Reading Workshop, we have activated our super reading powers! Super Readers:

·       have pointer power

·       have reread power

·       have partner power

·       have picture power

·       have snap word power

·       have sound power

·       have persistence power

We have also talked about:  checking the pictures, using the first sound to help, touching each word as you read, asking yourself “Does it make sense?” and “Does it look right?”. All classes will have been introduced to Raz-Kids by the end of January.  This program is a wonderful way to practice the strategies taught in school. 

Math:   Students have been exploring the concept of one more and one fewer. The symbols + and – have been introduced. We are also working on writing and representing numbers 0-10. Students will be exploring different ways to compose and decompose numbers as they view, create, and recreate arrangements for the number 10.

Science:  Push, Pull, Go! explored motion and the forces that make things move.  Students built toys that move and investigated the forces that move them. Students built ramps, swings, and tops using kid K’Nex. Student-constructed toys were utilized to explore systems, how those parts interact, and how missing parts change the system. 

We finished up our unit on motion and forces by creating our own inventions!  The students used what they knew about the various systems they built and tried various ways to use a ball to knock down a row of dominos.   

On a different note:  Please remember to practice the skills listed on your child’s homework calendar and return each Friday.  These skills are differentiated based on student need.  We cannot stress enough the importance of repeated practice to solidify these skills. Raz-Kids may also be incorporated into weekly homework.

→         GRADE ONE

Fundations: We have begun Unit 7 in Fundations. We are learning the glued sounds glued sounds, ang, ing, ong, ung, and ank, ink, onk, unk. The students will be working on blending and reading words with –nk and –ng. They will also be learning to segment and spell words with these sounds.  Continue to practice the trick words for your quiz on Fridays. Also, continue to read and fill out your reading log each night.

Writing:  We are beginning a new unit in Writing: Nonfiction Chapter Books.  In this new genre, writers will make a basic informational picture book, with chapters, elaboration and interesting text elements.  First grade writers will be generating ideas for their books by thinking about topics and subjects they are interested in, know a lot about, and want to teach readers all about.  Students will be focused on developing the structure of their books, and they will learn new ways to elaborate (such as making comparisons, giving examples, and even elements of persuasion). Writers will also continue to reflect on their writing for editing and revising.

Reading:  This month, first graders will be learning about the world during our non-fiction reading unit. Building on the good reading habits the students practiced earlier in the year, readers will continue decoding and vocabulary work as well as improving fluency all the while immersed in non-fiction books.  Readers will learn strategies to understand their reading such as studying their pages to learn more, discussing their reading with their partner, and recalling important information.

Math:  In math, we will begin Unit 4 on data analysis. We will be describing attributes of objects, using attributes to sort a set of objects. In addition, we will be learning how to create and take surveys, represent the results and interpret the data investigation.  Please do not forget that Xtra Math has started. The children need to complete it 8 times this month at home and fill out the Xtra Math log.

Science:  In science, the students are beginning a new unit this trimester on light and sound. Throughout the month of January, we will focus on the concept of light and teach through hands on experiments to these essential questions:

·       Why is light important?

·       What is needed in order for light to be seen?

·       How do different materials affect the way light shines through them?

·       What is a reflection?

·       How can mirrors change the path of light?

Tips:  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. Remember to fill out your reading log each night - it is due at the end of the month.

→         GRADE TWO

Fundations: In Fundations we will be completing Unit 7 and will move onto Units 8 and 9.  These units will introduce the children to the r-controlled syllable types which include ar, or, er, ir, and ur.  Please continue to practice spelling trick words with your children for our weekly assessments, as well as to reinforce that these words should be spelled correctly in all writing areas. 

Writing:  In Writing, we completed our unit on opinion writing and have begun our unit on information writing.  Children are writing books teaching all they know about topics of their choosing.  Some children are writing about holidays, sports, and animals to name a few.  We will continue to work on some author’s craft moves that we see in our favorite nonfiction books.  We will be publishing a non-fiction piece by the end of this unit. 

Reading:  In Reading we are practicing going on adventures with our characters.  We will be paying attention to where and when the story is happening, making predictions about what may happen next, and retelling the big events in sequence.  We are helping the children to determine the important details and to reread to synthesize the text.  Finally, we are working on comprehension while inferencing character traits and important lessons. 

Math: In Math, we are concluding Unit 3, with an exploration of place value, and we will be beginning our unit on measurement. In this unit, students will measure and estimate lengths in standard units.  They will also be measuring objects using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, and measuring tape.  The children will be using units of measurement, such as inches, feet, centimeters, and meters and also compare the length of one object to another. Second graders will also continue to build and be assessed on fact fluency up to 10 + 10.  Please remember to work on X-tra Math and/or fact practice at home!

Science:  In Science we will continue our unit on Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems.  The children will be immersed in learning about Connecticut Ecosystems and Habitats. Throughout this unit the students will understand the idea that water can be found on Earth as liquid water or solid ice, such as a frozen pond, liquid pond, or frozen lake.  They will recognize the geographical features of rivers and forests of CT and explore Connecticut’s unique ecosystems and habitats for plants and animals.  Second graders will be involved in hands-on investigations, practice note-taking in their interactive notebooks, and learn new vocabulary.

Social Studies: In social studies we will continue our study of holidays as Martin Luther King Day and the Chinese New Year approaches.  Students will also study current events using Time For Kids.

Extra: There will be no school on January 21 for the observance of Martin Luther King Day


Writing:  In Writing, we will continue to our work with Writing Workshop from Lucy Calkins.  We are learning how to write an opinion/persuasive piece. 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 – making predictions.  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 focusing on measurement. We will be finding the area and perimeter of objects. Students will practice using American and Metric Units of measurement to solve problems.  

Please make sure your child is practicing his/her basic math facts daily.

Science: In Science, we are learning about ecosystems. Students will learn about food chains and food webs, energy pyramids and what plants and animals need to survive in their habitat. Third graders will even dissect an owl pellet!

Social Studies: Because 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:  Fourth graders are finishing up the unit of study in writing focusing on Persuasive Writing. Students are working to develop a thesis with 3 main reasons that incorporate evidence to prove/support their thesis. They continue to work to include correct essay organization, language conventions, and elaboration and craft. Next they will start a short unit called the Literary Essay.

Reading:  Students continue working in the Non-fiction unit created by Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project based out of Columbia University. Students read a variety of non-fiction texts while practicing different skills taught in mini-lessons. They are using the knowledge about non-fiction text structures to take notes from their books, practice summarizing, and paraphrasing information. Next, they will begin group research projects and presentations about weather and natural disasters.

Math:  Students will be finishing up the unit on geometry by using geoboards to find the area of polygons using square units. They will also learn the formula for area which is length x width. Then students will move into Unit 6 – Fraction Cards and Decimal Squares. In this unit students work with fractions that represent halves, fourths, sixths, eighths, tenths and twelfths. Students will also be introduced to decimals in tenths and hundredths and gain an understanding of how fractions and decimals relate. We will also continue to work on problem solving tasks which help students develop critical thinking and reasoning skills while solving real life math problems.

Science:  This month, students have moved into the next big unit of the year: Energy. We begin the unit by focusing on the following question: What is matter made of? How are atoms different? Students will learn what makes up an atom and how to read a periodic table. Atoms are the building blocks of all matter. Matter can be grouped into one of three states: solid, liquid, and gas. Students will spend time learning the differences between the three states of matter, by examining their properties. Lastly, students will learn all about static electricity, through hands-on experiments in the classroom.

Social studies:  In social studies the students are studying European explorers and how they helped to settle CT. In addition, they are studying several wars including the Pequot War and Kings Philip’s War with the Indians, the Fundamental Orders which was the constitution of the colonies, and lastly the Legend of the Charter Oak. Next, the students will learn about the Northeast which continues with the European settlers and how they used the land for trade. It then focuses on industry and how it changed the region from small towns to large cities.

 →       GRADE FIVE

Writing:  Students have become reporters during the Journalism unit this month. The students have written a featured news article on a current event that interested them. They also will be using research done during Reading Workshop to ‘take a stand’ on a non-fiction topic.

Reading:  Students are tackling complexity by moving up levels of non-fiction texts. Students are identifying relationships across a text as well as analyzing interactions between events, ideas, and key concepts. Each student will be conducting research on a topic, to also be used for their writing piece.

Math:  Students are working 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:  Students are focusing specifically on sound energy and the parts of the human ear. Study also includes potential and kinetic energy, on how one relates to the other. We will also be kicking off the Invention Convention project this month.

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          

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.

From telling time, to measuring oil for a recipe, to weighing ourselves, measurement is used regularly in our daily lives. The more children are exposed to these concepts, the better understanding they will have of them. Below are some practical ways that you can reinforce measurement concepts with your child(ren).

·       Buy your child an analog watch.

·       Ask your child what time it is.

·       Tell him/her that you need to leave your house in ___ minutes and ask what time you need to leave, or ask him/her to remind you at that time that you need to leave.

·       After dinner, practice, homework, etc., give your child the starting and ending times and ask him/her how long it took.

·       In the grocery store, have your child weigh your fruit/ vegetables.

·       Have him/her pick out your milk by telling him/her that you need a quart or a gallon, etc.,

·       Have your child weigh himself and discuss pounds, ounces, grams, kilograms

·       Measure your child and discuss inches, feet, meters, centimeters

·       In the car talk about how far you are driving in miles/kilometers

·       Cook/bake with your child and talk about cups, ounces, tablespoons, etc. while he/she is measuring. (This is also good practice with fractions.)

·       If you’re getting floors, rugs, etc. have your child figure out the area.

·       If we get snow, have your child use a ruler to measure the amount of snow.

·       If you’re getting a fence, chair rails, baseboards, crown molding, making a garden, etc. have your child figure out the perimeter.

·       If you’re doing any work (getting windows, window treatments, a door, etc.) that requires measurement, have your child do it.

→   ___   ART

Kindergarten friends enjoyed making a winter collage. They practiced their painting, printing, cutting and gluing skills while learning about the elements and principles of line, shape, texture, balance and unity. They painted backgrounds, and used construction paper to cut out rectangles and triangles in order to create some evergreen trees. They added some texture with cotton for snow on the bottom. For the final step, q-tips dipped in white paint added some snowflakes. We hope you enjoy them!

First grade friends have completed their collage penguins. They began with painting their backgrounds. They had a choice of using a warm color scheme, a cool color scheme, or a combination of both. They then exercised their cutting and gluing skills to create the penguin’s bodies, using templates for some parts and their own drawing skills for others. We had the most fun dressing our penguins with patterned papers. The students created scarves, earmuffs, mittens, and some are even adorned with tutus!  For the finishing touch we talked about printmaking and added some snow using q-tips dipped in white paint. What expressive penguins!

Second grade friends created a chalk polar bear collage. They learned about the elements and principles of value, shape, space, line, texture, variety and movement in the process. They started by drawing a polar bear in the form of a guided practice and learned how to fill him in and add value by blending in touches of black chalk through the white. The students then tore white paper, adding an element of texture, to create snowy hills. The final step consisted of adding a variety of snowflakes and windy lines in the backgrounds. We think they look adorable! In addition to these wonderful polar bears, students also used model magic to create textured owls this month. They followed a step by step process, which included them rolling a sphere and flattening it to create a slab. The next step was adding texture to our owls using a skewer and a marker cap. Owls were painted and adorned with a combination of warm and cool contrasting colors. This was not only a fun project, but one that taught us about color, line, shape, form, texture, and pattern.  Great job second grade.

Third grade friends are busy creating their tint and shade silhouettes. This project covers the elements and principles of value, texture, space, shape, line, and balance. They are learning that white mixed with a color creates a tint, black mixed with a color creates a shadow, and that value is a color going from lightest to darkest. They began by painting a white circle for the moon and color mixing to add rings around it, gradually going from lightest to darkest. When our paintings are complete students will tear some white paper for a snowy hill and add silhouettes of objects in black paint going from the foreground to the background, and from larger to smaller, in order to show their understanding of space and perspective.  The students are anxious to see their finished pieces as am I! 

Fourth grade friends are working on birch tree paintings. They discussed the elements and principles of color, line, shape, space, pattern and balance. First, they looked at real birch tree photos while concentrating on the patterns in their bark.  Then they discussed the use of space and that the trees in the middle ground appeared to have a higher base and be thinner than those in the foreground, creating perspective. Students then used masking tape to create their trees, drew a horizon line and traced it all with sharpie. Next week we will begin painting our backgrounds in bands of warm or cool colors, removing the tape, and adding cast shadows and patterns to our bark.  I can hardly wait to see them completed. 

Fifth graders completed their Houkosai paintings and will be moving on to chalk snowmen. We will use illustrations from the book, Snowmen at Night, for our inspiration. They will identify the use of value, line, shape, space, form, balance and proportion. They will begin with a blue piece of paper and be instructed to create a snowman using three circles with white chalk. Students will learn how to blend the chalk. Next, they will be asked to use black, purple and dark blue to create shadows on the snowman, making it appear three dimensional. The next step will be to add a cast shadow. We will discuss where our light source should be in reference to our shadow. Finally, we will adorn our snowmen with accessories to give them unique personalities. I’m excited to see them all!


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

Second & Third Grade: Second and Third Grade during the month of January will be beginning modified basketball. The students will be practicing passing, dribbling and shooting.

Fourth & Fifth Grade: Fourth and Fifth Grade will start Basketball 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 Referee. Students will learn offensive and defensive skills.


As children age they lose baby teeth and grow permanent teeth. Children go through periods of having gaps in their smiles and incorrect bites. For some children these changes may impact how certain sounds are articulated. There are several sounds that depend on using the teeth for the accurate production.  If a child can produce a sound before teeth are lost, the child will most likely be able to produce the sound when the permanent teeth grow in. When baby teeth are missing, sounds may be distorted, but don’t worry too much as this is usually temporary and will improve when permanent teeth grow in.


Happy New Year from Technology Integration and the Learning Commons!

As we move into the new trimester, many of our children will be utilizing their keyboarding skills more and more. Through the use of the Google Suites for Education, there is a program called Typing Club that has broken typing lessons into 100 different modules. It would be very beneficial for children looking for ways to “play” on computers to “play” while improving their keyboarding skills. Our beginning goals were to reach 15 words per minute while maxing out 90% or better in accuracy.

There are other online typing programs that children have enjoyed over the years, however due to the phase out of Flash, many are no longer supported with our Google Chrome browsers. Please take a look at these typing games for children wanting to improve typing skills.  Typing Race, Kayak Typing and Type for Your Life. These programs are free and help children to improve their typing skills. For younger children, ABCYA ~ Cupstacking is another typing program. As a well-trained typist, I still enjoy playing the typing games with the children. They are fascinated with watching someone really able to “dance” across the keys!

 All of our K-Grade 2 students have a RazPlus account. We have been working with our kindergartners to log into Chromebooks in the Learning Commons so they can access their RazKids account during their makerspace time. Many kindergarten teachers will be sending letters home to tell parents how to access this reading practice from home. First graders celebrated holidays around the world in the Learning Commons, taking a virtual trip to Italy to see the street festivals that celebrate the legendary Befana. They have also begun learning how to book shop in book bins to browse for beginner level chapter books to read at home. Second graders have logged into Google classroom and have begun using the Google draw tool to create mathematical towers. They have also been introduced to the computer system, Destiny Discover, which will help them to search for books throughout the library.

Students in grades 3-5 have focused heavily on non-fiction research, and have done lessons in the LC on internet research, notetaking, and non-fiction text features. Our fourth graders are beginning to learn and play with different presentation applications for their final research projects. It’s exciting to be connected with the curriculum here in the LC, while adding in STEM experiences and highlighting amazing authors! 

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

→       Offices  of  the SOCIAL WORKER and SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST

We all have difficulty sleeping from time to time and kids are not immune to this.  Hearing a guided relaxation can go a long way in helping you drift off.  Here is a sample you can try reading to your child at bedtime.  You can also record your voice so you can both relax in the dark and listen to it. 

Lay comfortably with your eyes closed.  Take three long deep breaths. Pause. Feel yourself relaxing more and more with each breath. Let the rhythm of your breath calm you. Feel the muscles relax and your heart and breathing slow. Say to yourself, “I am calm and relaxed.” Breathe slowly. The light is dim, the mattress gently hugs your entire body.  Feel your toes, feet, legs, back, arms, and hands relax as they sink into the mattress.  Feel the cool softness of your sheets and smell the freshly washed sheets - it reminds you of a spring breeze.  Look up at the ceiling above your bed - the glow of moonlight in your room creates soft swirling shadows that dance across the ceiling. Take a deep breath, blink and see a picture of something nice you did for someone else.  These pictures stay in your mind as your eyes become heavy and begin to close. You are comfortable and at peace. As you close your eyes for the night - repeat to yourself three times - “I dream happy dreams…”  Promise yourself that tonight before you go to sleep you will look up at the ceiling and see the good things that happened today.                                                     Pleasant dreams!


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


Happy New Year!!