Daniels Farm School Newsletter

From the desk of Mr. Kunschaft for the Month of December 2017

Printable Version- December 2017


Writing: 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 sentence in standard English should go. 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.

Reading: In Fundations, we have introduced all of the lowercase letters and corresponding sounds!  Please continue to review at home.  For sight words, we have introduced the words: I, can, see, the, a, to, went, we, like, my, and, for, by, am, little.  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!  When reading books, the students are working hard to point to each word as they read, as well as using the pictures as clues to help with unknown words.

Math: As another form of measurement, the students have been working with pan balances.  We first explored the concept of heavier and lighter and noticed what happened to the pan balance as various items are weighed. We are now measuring with bears and cubes and seeing how many cubes/bears are needed to balance the pan balance.

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 are currently learning 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.

Social Studies: The month of December brings many holidays and traditions. Throughout the month, we will be discussing how our families are each unique in how we celebrate the season.

Extra: The month of December brings with it much excitement in the eyes of a Kindergartner. 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!

First Grade

Fundations: In the month of December, we will review all previous taught skills and focus on sentence structure and punctuation. We will review digraphs, bonus letters, glued sounds, and suffix–s. We ask that you practice reading and spelling your child’s trick words each night. There will be no new trick words this month, but the children will be tested twice this month on review trick words we’ve worked on so far this year.

Writing: We are finishing our informational chapter books. We will be celebrating in the beginning of December and then the focus will turn to writing about their favorite holiday. There is a focus on clear directives, spaces between words, spelling trick words correctly, and constructing long sentences with prepositional phrases, as well as proper letter formation (size, shape, direction). 

Reading: The students are beginning to work on learning how to retell a story with a beginning, middle, and end.  They will continue to focus on making personal connections, building stamina, and fluency.  As the children’s decoding is becoming stronger, we begin to focus on comprehension skills beginning with characters, plot development, and inferring.   

Math: Students will continue to practice using a variety of strategies to solve addition and subtraction story problems. Students solve story problems using pictures, equations and math vocabulary. For addition, students combine two numbers to find how many in all. For subtraction, students take away some from the whole to discover how many are left. Students are learning to label all of their work and explain the strategy they are using and how they solved the problem.

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

Second Grade

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 continuing to practice the comprehension strategy of inferring, as well as discussing character traits.  Students are making inferences about a text, using details from the text to describe how a character is feeling.  Second graders practice this as a whole class and in their independent reading.  Students also continue to build stamina and practice fluency and decoding skills.  Remember to complete the reading logs at home. 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 are wrapping up our unit on states of matter.  The children will discover how water evaporates into the air.  They will compare the rates of evaporation from covered and uncovered cups and in warm and cool temperatures.  They will also investigate the properties of bouncy balls they make and then conduct an experiment with their bouncy balls to explore how temperature can affect the properties of materials.

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.

Extra: The PTA Snowflake Shop will take place on December 7th and 8th. The Trimester 1 report cards will be issued on Friday, December 8th.  Remember that there will be an early dismissal on Friday, December 22nd.  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.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Third Grade

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 informational piece.  Students will be able to write about a topic they know well and organize the information in a published piece. Please allow them to gather facts about their topics to incorporate into their writing. 

Reading:  In Reading, we will continue to work on a variety of comprehension skills. At this time, we will focus on our new skill – comparing and contrasting before learning the difference between fact and opinion. Students can do this in their own reading at home. 

Math:  In Math, our spiraling curriculum has us revisiting addition and subtraction.  We will be solving more word problems, comparing numbers, and rounding.

Science:  In Science, we will continue studying animal adaptations as well as exploring ecosystems.  Students will learn about both behavioral and physical animal adaptations that are necessary for an animal’s survival and how their ecosystems play a role.

Social Studies:  Because third grade shares books on our social studies topics, we all cover the same information – just at different times.  Mrs. Gomes’s class will study deserts while Mrs. Palermo’s class will learn about oceans.  At the same time, Mrs. Pastir’s class will learn about mountains while Mrs. Dagan’s class will focus on prairies.

Fourth Grade

Writing: Students continue to dive into our new 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 4th graders will continue their unit titled Becoming Americans. They are exploring immigration through a series of fiction and non-fiction  read-aloud books, including Coming to America, The Story of Immigration, We are America-Italian Americans, Pepe the Lamplighter, Tea with Milk, and  Emma’s poem. The students will respond to the text through comprehension and written response to text activities.  Our reading is supplemented with ReadWorks articles and stories, cloze practice, TFK, Book Clubs and IDR (independent reading). We also continue with the Reading Workshop model where the teacher meets with small groups to address certain skills and comprehension strategies. 

Math:  Students are working in Unit 3- Multiple Towers and Division Stories.  They are using their knowledge of factors, multiples, and math facts to problem solve.  Students need to solve comparative problems where they choose whether to multiply or divide. Students are also working to show their thinking and push their thinking with the completion of Exemplars. The strengthening of math facts definitely helps students problem solve more easily.

Science:  Students continue their exploration of Force and Motion as they discover what makes objects move the way they do. Students will be conducting experiments that demonstrate Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, introducing ideas such as inertia, acceleration, and speed in relation to force. On November 30, the Eli Whitney Museum will be at DFS for an in-school field trip directly related to our Force and Motion unit in science. Students will construct marble ramps and use their knowledge of Newton’s Laws of Motion to propel their marbles from one ramp to another. Next, students will be introduced to Simple Machines and how they make work easier by changing the strength, direction, or speed of the force. Hands-on experiments in the classroom will allow students to observe and understand these concepts.

Social studies:  The students are completing their study of the first people in Connecticut. They learned about the Native American tribes’ lifestyle and compared them to ours today. Our next unit will focus on the why the European explorers settled in Connecticut. They will learn about the founders of the settlements, and religious reasons behind them. The will also learn about the Pequot War and King Philips War and the reasons for them. They will learn why the Fundamental Orders were significant and how Connecticut went from two colonies to one. Finally, they will learn about the legend of the Charter Oak which we will talk about when we visit the Legislative Office building in Hartford in May.

Fifth Grade

Writing: In writing, researched based opinion writing continues. Students will do additional research to support their claim and also use counter arguments to strengthen their positions.

Reading: In reading, students will be involved with a genre study of Fantasy and Fables. The unit will focus on structure, craft, and story parts while reading authors such as Jon Scieszka and Chris Van Allsburg.

Math: In math, we will learn how to compare and calculate with fractions.  We will be working with proper and improper fractions as well as mixed numbers.  Students will learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions.  A focus will be placed on understanding which computation to use for a given situation or problem.

Science:  In science, we will be learning all about sound waves.  Activities and experiments will center on how sounds can change in both pitch and volume as well as why these changes in sound take place.  We will also be introducing lessons to get the kids brainstorming about their upcoming Invention Convention projects.  Activities will include learning about famous inventors and problems they solved.  We will also be taking apart a wind-up toy to discover how certain mechanical movements might work.

Social Studies: In social studies, students will finish learning about the first English colonies of Jamestown and Plymouth. Students will study the New England colonies of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. They will explore who founded the colonies and why they were founded.


What do good readers do? This month we will focus on how good readers utilize schema.  Schema is background knowledge or prior knowledge that a reader has about a particular topic. Readers use this knowledge, or schema, in order to make connections, amend their thinking or enhance new information that they have learned. Their schema, meshed with connections, allows readers to see how information fits together; thus increasing their comprehension.  A good pre-reading strategy is to stop and think about what one already knows about a topic in order to get ready to read. This strategy, along with thinking and questioning, makes great readers.



Here is a note on how you can help your child at home from the USDE site: U.S. Department of Education

Some Important Things Your Child Needs to Know About Mathematics

You can help your child learn math by offering her insights into how to approach math. She will develop more confidence in her math ability if she understands the following points:

1.     Problems Can Be Solved in Different Ways.
Although most math problems have only one answer, there may be many ways to get to that answer. Learning math is more than finding the correct answer; it's also a process of solving problems and applying what you've learned to new problems.

2.    Wrong Answers Sometimes Can Be Useful.
Accuracy is always important in math. However, sometimes you can use a wrong answer to help your child figure out why she made a mistake. Analyzing wrong answers can help your child to understand the concepts underlying the problem and to learn to apply reasoning skills to arrive at the correct answer. Ask your child to explain how she solved a math problem. Her explanation might help you discover if she needs help with number skills, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, or with the concepts involved in solving the problem.

3.    Take Risks!
Help your child to be a risk taker. Help him see the value of trying to solve a problem, even if it's difficult. Give your child time to explore different approaches to solving a difficult problem. As he works, encourage him to talk about what he is thinking. This will help him to strengthen math skills and to become an independent thinker and problem solver.

4.    Being Able to Do Mathematics in Your Head Is Important.
Mathematics isn't restricted to pencil and paper activities. Doing math "in your head" (mental math) is a valuable skill that comes in handy as we make quick calculations of costs in stores, restaurants or gas stations. Let your child know that by using mental math, her math skills will become stronger.

It's Sometimes OK to Use a Calculator to Solve Mathematics Problems.
It's OK to use calculators to solve math problems—sometimes. They are widely used today, and knowing how to use them correctly is important. The idea is for your child not to fall back on the excuse, "I don't need to know math—I've got a calculator." Let your child know that to use calculators correctly and most efficiently, she will need a strong grounding in math operations—otherwise, how will she know whether the answer she sees displayed is reasonable!


Kindergarten: During the month of December the kindergarten children will be investigating textures, collaging, and printmaking techniques with found objects. We will have several drawing activities as well.

First Grade:  The first grades continue our work with lines as we create shape paintings. We are experimenting with thick thin, horizontal, and vertical line compositions. We are using our knowledge of lines to manipulate brushstrokes in order to create the desired effects in a painting.

Second Grade: Second grade artists have begun one of our favorite projects: fish mobiles.  After preparing the fish shape, we will spend some time measuring our fish with different units of measurement, then discussing the results of each.  For example, we will measure our fish with stocking feet, look at the various answers, and learn about standardized measuring units. Each team is designing a fish, and it will take several weeks to complete the whole process. Expect an update next month!

Third Grade:  Grade 3 is learning about the painter David Hockney and is examining some of the paintings in his pool series. Third grade artists are currently drawing and painting themselves swimming in a California pool.

Fourth Grade:  Fourth grade artists have selected an insect to enlarge and draw on black paper. We are investigating pastel techniques to add interesting color and designs to the insect drawings. All of the completed self-portraits in the style of Sandra Silberzweig are hanging in the primary wing.

Fifth Grade:   After completing a unit on the principles and elements of design, many of our completed “S” designs are on display in the fourth and fifth grade wing.  We are now working on a printmaking project in which we prepared the ground with a tissue collage prior to printing. We discussed the proper use of our printmaking tools and the techniques for creating an image on a printing plate.


Everyone loves a song in December!  The bells will be ringing and children singing the music room will be a lively place all month!  In keeping up with American Music Composers this month we will listen to the music of Leroy Anderson and the wonderful Sleigh Ride.

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. 7th during the school day and Monday Dec. 11th at Madison Middle School.  The concert will include Band, String and the 5th Grade Chorus.

Physical Education

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.

Speech and Language

The American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) has several suggestions for parents that may be helpful to your child’s communication development. According to ASHA.

In early elementary grades (K-2):

  • Talk with your child frequently
  • Read a variety of books; read often and talk with your child about the story
  • Help your child focus on sound patterns of words such as those found in rhyming games
  • Have your child retell stories and talk about events of the day
  • Talk with your child during daily activities; give directions for your child to follow (e.g., making cookies)
  • Talk about how things are alike and different
  • Give your child reasons and opportunities to write

In later elementary grades (3-5):

  • Continue to encourage reading; find reading material that is of interest to your child
  • Encourage your child to form opinions about what he or she hears or reads and relate what is read to experiences
  • Help your child make connections between what is read and heard at school, at home, and in other daily activities
  • Talk aloud as you help your child understand and solve problems encountered in reading material
  • Help your child recognize spelling patterns, such as beginnings and endings of words (e.g., pre- or -ment)

Encourage your child to write letters, keep a diary, or write stories.

Media Center and Instructional Technology

Our Library Learning Commons is progressing with the introduction of various video production elements. Mrs. O’Neill and Mrs. Windsor will be working together with children in grades K, 1, and 3 to bring writing to life with the use of Green Screen technology. Children have been researching topics that support their specific curriculum and then creating scenarios that are being filmed in front of our Green Screen. The children then use the technology to incorporate an appropriate background that compliments the written piece.

Our fifth graders have begun a research project where they will be placed in research circles, much like literature circles. The research circle will begin to research student selected topics. From their research, students will identify a unique way to present the information to their classmates. They may write a song, create a poster, or even develop a news show to publish their information. Stay tuned to hear the unique ideas of our fifth grade learners.

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

Happy Holidays to all who celebrate.

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

Offices of Social Worker & School Psychologist

Emily Rackoff is a mom of a kindergartener at DFS.  She has founded a company called Giving Grows whose mission is to nurture the spirit of giving in people of all ages by creating simple acts of generosity. She believes the act of giving changes you AND the world. She has generously donated one of her Giving Jars for each classroom.  We handed them out at a PBIS assembly right before Thanksgiving break.  Please ask your child about it.  The kit contained markers and stickers and each class will decorate the jars and will use them throughout the year as a springboard for talking about acts of kindness and giving. 

Some ideas for Acts of Kindness in the classrooms:

Hold the door for your classmates and staff.

  • Offer to clean up an area of the classroom
  • Offer compliments to students and staff
  • Make a card for someone
  • Pick up garbage that you see
  • Offer to throw out your friend's trash at the lunch table
  • Help your teacher with a job
  • Use less water
  • Let someone else go first
  • Tell someone that they are appreciated

Check out her website for more information http://www.givinggrows.com/   Happy Giving!

Health/ Nurse's Office

Colds and the flu have so much in common that it can sometimes be hard to tell them apart. Both are caused by viruses that infect your respiratory system. They have some of the same symptoms that can leave you feeling miserable. The flu symptoms are usually more intense than those seen with colds, and can come on quickly after exposure to the viruses that cause the flu. There are enough differences which may help you figure out which one you have, and can change how you treat your symptoms.

Chart Comparing Cold vs. Flu Symptoms and Signs




Fever (and/or chills)


Mild to high

Body/muscle aches and pains

Occasionally, mild

Usually moderate to severe



Usually moderate to severe


Mild to moderate

Moderate to severe


Mild to moderate

Usually moderate to severe

Sore throat



Runny and/or stuffy nose


On occasion



On occasion




Abrupt onset of symptoms

Gradual onset

Sometimes within three to six hours

Severity of symptoms


Moderate to severe

The above table demonstrates the difficulty in diagnosing colds vs. flu using only symptoms. The best way to distinguish between the two is by having a relatively easy test for flu viruses done by your primary care provider or a qualified medical provider.


Additional Flu Clues

·        You can get a cold anytime -- spring, summer, or fall, but most likely in winter.

·        Flu season typically runs from November through March, although you can get it as early as October or as late as May.

·        Flu tends to be physically much worse than a cold, and can come on quickly after exposure to the virus.

·        The flu, especially in children and older people, is more likely to lead to serious health problems such as pneumonia.


When to Call the Doctor

·        Difficulty breathing

·        Severe sore throat

·        A cough which produces green-colored mucus or a persistent, dry cough

·        Chest pain

·        High, persistent fever

·        If you are in any of the categories listed below you are at increased risk for developing complications due to the flu, and should contact your primary care provider if you suspect you have the flu.

o   pregnant

o   over 50

o   have a weakened immune system for any reason

o   have ongoing medical problems such as diabetes

You should also notify the health care provider of

·        Any child under 2 years of age with flu-like symptoms

·        Individuals living in long-term care facility with flu-like symptoms



Medical providers distinguish between the cold and the flu by performing a rapid influenza diagnostic test. If the test is negative, patients probably have a cold unless their symptoms become more severe.


Treatment options, medicines, and home remedies for the common cold and flu are almost exactly the same except for a few items that pertain specifically to the flu.

  • Common-sense treatments for both diseases include:
    • rest
    • treatment of symptoms as they occur
    • fever is usually treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil)
    • good hydration
  • Over-the-counter cold/flu medications which are often combinations of several drugs like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, various cough suppressants, and/or decongestants. Be very cautious when using combination medications with additional doses of acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Some health care providers use antiviral drugs, especially in severe infections
  • Home remedies for colds and the flu are similar
    • Vitamin C
    • Zinc
    • Humidified air
    • Steamy showers
    • Gargling with saltwater
    • Popsicles, Italian ice, Jell-
    • Honey & Lemon
    • Ginger
    • Hot tea
    • Chicken soup
    • Hot/cold compresses to relieve sinus congestion/headache

It is best to check with your physician, especially if you have the flu, before relying on home remedies -- the home remedies mainly reduce symptoms but do not cure the diseases.


Preventions of colds or the flu, but it is not always easy to do so in congregate settings, such as schools, where it's almost impossible to constantly avoid contact with any items touched by individuals with a common cold or the flu. The very best ways prevent or limit risk are essentially the same for both colds and flu:

·        Avoiding close contact with infected individuals and/or the items they touch

·        Frequent hand washing with soap and water

·        Vaccination yearly with updated flu vaccine

Kindergarten Physicals

If your child turned 5 after the first day of school, your child’s 5 year old physical should be sent in to the nurse, if you haven’t already submitted it. All students entering kindergarten during the current school year are required to submit a 5 year old health assessment (physical).

Third Grade Physicals

All students in 3rd grade are required to submit a health assessment (physical) performed between June 1, 2017 and June1, 2018. If you have not yet fulfilled this requirement PLEASE schedule your child’s appointment today!


Unfortunately, any student, who has not submitted the mandated State of Connecticut and Trumbull BOE health assessment by June 1, 2018 will be excluded from membership in Trumbull Public Schools until such time as this requirement has been met.

Happy Holidays!