Daniels Farm School Newsletter

From the desk of Mr. KUNSCHAFT for the

Month of March 2019

Printable Version - March 2019

→     From the  desk of MR. KUNSCHAFT  


→     From  the  desk  of  MR. KUNSCHAFT 


Hello DFS Families,

March has definitely come in like a lion, but we are ready for the colder weather to fade away and our recess fields to dry out!  Students have been going outside when the temperature rises above freezing, but there’s nothing like running around in the green grass to really release all that pent up winter energy. 

While we did review our outstanding SBAC results at our September PTA meeting, the CT Department of Education waits until March to release statewide comparative data.  For the third time in four years, DFS has earned the CT School of Distinction Award! For the 2017-18 school year, we were recognized in the area of “growth in English/language arts for all students”.  Our data for that area was in the top 10% of all schools in the state. The table below shows the DFS state ranking in ELA and math achievement for the past four years; the ranking is out of approximately 960 schools.


We are very proud of our students and feel a positive school culture goes a long way in producing outstanding results in a low-stress, engaging environment.  Students truly love attending DFS and learning with an excellent staff of educators!

Thank you for your support. 

Together we make a difference!


Writing:  We continue to work on our non-fiction writing unit. The students have been working very hard on making their writing easy to read. They have been rereading their “How to” books to make sure they are: leaving spaces between their words, starting sentences with a capital letter, and using ending punctuation. The students have also added exciting introductions and conclusions to grasp the reader’s attention.

Reading:  We continue to build our super reading powers as books have become harder! They use their pattern power to read texts that have longer, more complex patterns. Students have learned strategies to tackle breaks in patterns and think more deeply about what the book is saying. We are encouraging students to use EXTRA STRENGTH sound power to attend to all of the sounds in the word. Finally, we continue to work on reading sight words with automaticity. Please continue to practice words in isolation at home.

Math:  We finished our unit on geometry. This included both 2D and 3D shapes. We have been sorting, comparing, describing, and identifying the various shapes. In addition, the students have been making real life connections to the shapes in the environment. We will be starting our new unit: How Many Do You Have? In this unit the students will focus on strategies to solve simple addition and subtraction problems, using manipulatives, drawings, and tools.  The unit concludes with an introduction to teen numbers and ways to compose and decompose numbers up to 20. 

Science:   In our unit Molecules to Organisms, the students studied various habitats and why certain animals live in those habitats. Our focus was on the forest, ocean, rain forest, desert, artic and grassland habitats.

On a different note:  Kindness matters! As the winter months keep us inside more, the students are in close quarters for an extended period of time. This can lead to little things becoming BIG problems. We continue to have many discussions on how to react and respond in a kind/positive way. Please reinforce this at home. In addition, self-help skills continue to build independence. Zipping coats and tying shoes are now being done by “student experts” in the class. When a student needs help with these skills, they look to their peers for help. You child can become a “student expert” by performing these skills independently!

 →         GRADE ONE

Fundations:  In Unit 10 of Fundations, first graders will learn to add the suffixes –s, -ed-, and –ing to these words. We continue to review the –r controlled vowel sounds and the remaining vowel teams (oa, oe, ou, ow, oo, ue, ew, au and aw) in order to improve our reading. Remember to practice your trick words! There continues to be a trick word test each Friday in the classroom.

Writing:  In Writing, the students are busy writing their opinions on many topics. They are writing about their favorite collection and then will write reviews about their favorite toy, movie, restaurant, video game, or store. They are trying to convince their reader that they too should love what they love.  Soon they will be writing reviews of their favorite books.   The teachers continue to remind students to start sentences with capital letters and end sentences with the correct punctuation.

Reading:  In Reading, we are exploring the strategy of Visualizing to improve comprehension of poetry and fictional texts. The children continue to independently read non-fiction and fiction and are being asked to retell giving facts on the subject or details about the story. The children are involved in Reader’s Workshop and working on both his/her fluency and stamina. The first grade teachers are very excited about the excellent reading they are seeing in their classrooms each day.

Math:  In Math, we will begin working in Unit 6 of Investigations. The students are reviewing and practicing combinations of 10. They will be introduced to story problems with missing parts and continue our work with story problems in both addition and subtraction. Please remember to work on Xtra Math at home. Math fact fluency and memorization should be starting to happen now in first grade.

Science:  In Science we continue our work in the Light and Sound Waves Unit. First grade scientists will observe the vibrations that create sound waves, and begin to understand that changing the length of a vibrating object produces different sounds. Through hands-on experiments and cooperative work, scientists will draw conclusions about how sound travels in waves through solid objects, and use waves to transmit sound over a distance.

Extra:  Please remember that Special Person’s Day is on March 14th from 10:30 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.  We look forward to meeting all of our first grader’s special guests.

 →         GRADE TWO

Fundations:   We continue to work on vowel teams. We’ve worked on long a (ai, ay), and we continue working on long e (ee, ea, ey).  From there we will work on the “oi” sound (oi, oy), and then move into long o (oa, oe, ow). Don’t forget to practice your trick words. All second graders are required to read and spell all 84 grade 2 trick words.

Writing:  In writing we have completed our nonfiction unit. We are currently doing research on animals that can be found in CT and will use this information we gather to write a research report using all we have learned in Writer’s Workshop.  Mrs. Windsor and Mrs. Ferraro will be collaborating with us to implement this project. The animals the students are researching are black bear, coyote, raccoon, garter snake and deer.  We will then begin our unit on poetry.

Reading:  We have been working on our nonfiction unit entitled “Becoming Experts.”  In this unit, students are learning to pay attention to details, put parts of the text together, and question texts. They are also learning to tackle both the tricky word work and vocabulary development students need to navigate nonfiction reading.  This month readers will learn to grow knowledge across texts as they read topic sets of books, comparing, contrasting, and connecting information across these texts. 

Math:  We are beginning our newest unit in math titled “How Many Floors? How Many Rooms?”  In this unit, children will learn about growing patterns in ratios and equal groups. We start off by looking at “rooms” and “floors” of snap cube buildings and we learn how to create tables to represent the ratio relationships.  Please ensure your child is practicing their math facts on a daily basis. Quick recall for both addition and subtraction facts, as well as memorization of these facts, is necessary for second grade. Also, please work on telling time to five minutes using analog clocks at home for extra practice, as well as counting coins (pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters).

Science:  The students have completed their study of river and forest habitats. We have made observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats. The students have had the opportunity to describe how animals have adapted to land habitats and water habitats, which allows them to be protected from predators in these habitats. We will continue our research projects on a native CT animal that can be found in our ecosystem. Students thoroughly enjoy the hands-on activities, and are practicing recording their observations and conclusions in their Interactive Science Notebooks. 

Social Studies:  During the month of March, second graders will continue their studies of prominent figures in history, holidays and health. Students will also continue to learn about current events using Time for Kids magazine. During our school-wide Play Day, we will work on building the following important skills: creativity, passion, communication, collaboration.

Extra:  Thursday, March 14th is an early dismissal day, for afternoon and evening parent/teacher conferences (no lunch will be served).  Celebration of the Arts will be on Friday, March 22.


Writing:  In Writing, we will continue to work using our program, the Writing Workshop from Lucy Calkins.  We will being our informational unit. Students will write about a topic of their choice - they will choose at least three subtopics and provide facts and details for each.

Reading:  In Reading, we will continue to work on a variety of comprehension skills. We will review a variety of strategies and focus on making inferences and analyzing point of view and author’s purpose. We will also being a unit on character study using Lucy Calkin’s Readers’ Workshop program. 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. We encourage students to read nonfiction to help them with their informational writing.

Math:  In Math, we will begin a unit on fractions. Students will understand parts of a whole. We will use shapes, pictures, and a number line. They will learn the vocabulary: numerator and denominator.  ***Please make sure your child can tell time on an analog clock.  

Science:  In Science, we will use part of our new curriculum and learn about traits.

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.

Other:  Students will have exposure to SBAC questions this month. They will have the opportunity to see what the computer test will look like and practice using examples in both math and language arts. 

 →      GRADE FOUR

Writing: Fourth graders are wrapping up the Writing Unit focusing on Persuasive Writing and Literary Essays. Students are completing a literary essay based on a short story they read in class. Their essays focus on the theme of the story and providing quotations and details from the story to support their thinking. Next, students will begin a new unit focusing on informational writing.  Students will use several resources to research an idea related to immigration to write an essay and to create an informational booklet.

Reading: Students continue to develop a deeper understanding of fiction texts through the implementation of Book Clubs. Students have rich discussions about character development and themes within and across texts that consider life lessons. The discussion groups also promote positive communication with peers. At this time of year, teachers are also reviewing skills needed for the upcoming SBAC test.

Math:  Students moved into Unit 6 – Fractions and Decimals. In this unit students work with fractions that represent halves, thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, eighths, tenths and hundredths. They identify fractional parts of an area using pictures and rectangles, and they identify fractional parts of objects using pictures and mathematical notation. Students then make fraction cards that show area representations for fractions and mixed numbers. They compare fractions to landmark numbers 0, ½ and 1 and place fractions on a number line. Then they move into working with decimals.  They start by representing and comparing decimals on a 10x10 square. Classes are also working on sample questions for the SBAC test.

Science:  This month, students will start to explore electricity and how it works in our Electricity Unit. Students will learn the components of a simple circuit and will explore different ways to light a bulb. Through the sharing of ideas, students will recognize that there are several ways to construct a complete circuit. Students will also explore which materials are conductors of electricity and which are insulators by building motor-run circuit boards and testing several items.  Students will be able to draw pictures and schematic diagrams that represent electrical circuits to communicate their understanding of the flow of electricity. Finally, students will be comparing the differences between a simple circuit and parallel or series circuits.

Social studies: Fourth graders are starting their study of state and local government. We are using a workbook called Laws and Courts that introduces the 3 Branches of government with a focus on the Judicial Branch. Students will learn about laws, what they are, as well as who makes, enforces, and interprets them. They will also learn about the 3 types of courts. As part of the unit students will participate in a Mock Trial called The Case of the Missing Puppy. This unit will prepare students for their field trip to Hartford in the spring, where they will visit the State Legislative Building, and the Old State House.

Other News:  Fourth graders will be going on a Field Trip to the Eli Whitney Museum at the end of March, either on March 26 or March 27.  Permission slips will be sent home soon with more information. At the museum, students will get to practice their electrician skills by building a lighthouse.

→       GRADE FIVE

Writing: In writing, students will investigate and write argument essays about whether or not chocolate milk should be served in school. They will read texts, both digital and print, exploring reasons for and against flavored milk. They will learn to look at their research with a critical eye, and decide which evidence they will use to bolster their claim. Student will also learn to respond to counter claims to strengthen their argument. Then they will use all they know to write a structured argumentative essay.

Reading: Students have moved into Unit 3: Argument and Advocacy, Researching Debatable Issues. In this unit, students analyze texts to figure out when an author is making an argument versus trying to persuade. They will then develop claims based on research, and support with facts and quotes while keeping their opinions separate.

Math: Students are working on decimals 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 have moved into the Light Energy unit. We will begin with the study of the Electromagnetic Spectrum, specifically visible light and properties of color.  During the month of March, fifth graders will be participating town-wide in the Invention Convention.

Social Studies: The students are learning about early colonial America with a focus on the 13 British colonies. Students will examine how colonial life varied by region. In particular the New England region consisted mainly of those seeking to make their religion more pure. While in the Middle colonies, religious tolerance and diverse cultures brought many skills and trades to the region. The Southern colonies grew rapidly due to large plantations and the use of slave labor to plant and harvest the sale of cash crops.

→         MATH NEWS          

Many students in grades 3, 4, and 5 are excited about participating in this year’s Noetic Learning Math Contest on April 4. Look for the sign-up letters coming home the first week of March. The goal of the competition is to encourage young students’ interest in math, develop their problem solving skills, and inspire them to excel in math. During the contest, students are given 45 minutes to solve 20 problems covering a broad range of mathematics skills. Noetic Learning provides problems that challenge students to think creatively and apply problem solving skills. The purpose of the contest is to inspire young student interest in math and convey the message ‘It is COOL to be good at math!’ to students. 

 Children interested in participating must turn in the permission slip by Friday, March 15. Students will receive practice packets once they turn in their forms. If you need additional forms, or if your child does not receive a practice packet within one week of handing in the form, please email Mrs. Proscino at gproscin@trumbullps.org.

 If you would like to have additional information about Noetic Learning Math Contest, please visit the web site at:

 →   ___   ART

Kindergarten friends learned about the artist, Paul Klee. They responded to his work, The Castle and the Sun, and The Cat and Bird, and identified the similarities and differences. Students then used a combination of tracers and free hand drawing through a guided drawing lesson to create their own Cat and Bird drawings. They learned about the art elements of color, line, shape, and space. When the Cat and Bird drawings were complete the kindergarteners learned about Piet Mondrian and responded to his most popular works. They identified the vertical and horizontal lines, geometric shapes and primary colors. They then created a Mondrian inspired collage. Students glued primary colored squares and rectangles to a white background, being careful to leave some blank space. When dry, they used cardboard squares and black paint to print lines on top of their papers, creating a “Mondrian with a twist” piece of art.

First grade friends created a batch of painted papers using stamps and sponges, in order to create interesting patterns and textures. When dry, they were cut into strips that the students used to do a paper weaving. When the weavings were complete they learned how to fold a paper in half, draw and cut out a heart, and paste it onto the weavings. For the last step, holes were punched in the paper and students did an overcast stitch, using yarn, to create a hanger for their works of art.

Second grade friends learned how to create a snail with clay. They learned about spheres, coils, and how to slip and score.  Snails were then painted with one warm and one cool color.  Pipe cleaners were added to create antennas and eyes. When all snails were complete, students learned about the artist Paul Klee. They compared and contrasted his work, The Castle and the Sun, Senecio, and The Cat and Bird. Then they created their own version of The Castle and the Sun using oil pastels with templates on black paper. Students focused on using more positive than negative space, a lot of color, and geometric shapes. Paul Klee would be proud. 

Third graders are busy with multiple projects. One of which is clay frogs. They learned how to make a pinch pot and then turned it on its side and shaped it to create a frog mouth.  Legs, eyes and tongues were added. They used slabs to create feet, and spheres for eyes.  Jim Dine hearts are another third grade project students are busy with. They studied the work of pop artist, Jim Dine, who used hearts as a subject in many of his pieces.  He used a lot of texture in his work as well. They created heart drawings, with multiple textures and focused on line, shape and pattern. When complete they embossed them onto aluminum and colored them with sharpies. Yet another project students are working on is a tiger collage inspired by the work of Henri Rousseau. Students created textured papers that they will use to shape, cut and glue in order to create a tiger collage. This project will focus on shape, line, texture, space, pattern, and color.

Fourth grade artists have also been busy with multiple projects. One of which is clay birds. They learned how to create a slab and cut shapes from it in order to slip and score to create clay birds.  Students had the option of using stamps in their clay to create texture. They will be painting them when dry. Students are also learning about the art of Dean Rousseau, a pop artist who creates vibrant colored animal paintings. Students began drawing elephants and will use pastels in an analogous color scheme to complete them, while adding details and patterns to their work. This project focuses on space, shape, line, texture, pattern and analogous color. Finally, another fourth grade project students are working on is a seascape collage inspired by the art of Winslow Homer. They will be using textured, painted papers and creating origami boats, in order to create these collages.  Through this project students will focus on line, shape, space, color, and texture.

Fifth grade friends have been studying the art of Georgia O’Keefe. They have identified line, shape, space, value, color, texture, and pattern in her work. Students were asked to first draw a sketch of a flower from a reference photo on a very large scale. They were then instructed to trace over it with black glue.  When the glue is dry they will be using pastels to create value, shading and contrast to their flowers.  Georgia O’Keefe would be proud.

  →   ___   MUSIC

Kindergarten:  Lessons for the month of March focus on the big concepts of fast and slow! Using the great example of the tortoise and the hare story students will sing and perform with an awareness of tempo, how fast or slow the music sounds.  Using the Italian words largo and presto students will explore with classroom instruments (egg shakers) and kinesthetic activities (moving like a train) the concepts of fast and slow musical sounds.

Grade 1:  Lessons for the month of March will center on the concepts of long and short sounds including recognizing quarter and eighth note. Students will perform quarter and eight notes using the words ta and ti-ti. They are learning a song “take a rest” which identifies rests or musical silence.  Also they will learn about the way their own voices can produce different sounds by switching voices, singing, speaking, whispering and shouting.

Grade 2:  Lessons for the month will continue to enforce the concept of beat and rhythm with two line dance games first “Old Dan Tucker” and later “Clear the Kitchen” where each student will get to be the leader!  They will also learn to play an ostinato (continual musical motive of notes C and F) to the song Fre Jacque

Grade 3:  Students will be starting the first lessons on recorder. They will learn the notes B, A and G. They will soon be playing recognizable tunes!  Look out for Hot Cross Buns and Merrily We Roll Along! Please remind your grade 3 students to bring their instruments and books to music classes!

Grade 4:  Students will also be playing recorder and exploring the full range of notes from middle C to high C on their instruments. They will be using the book “Its Recorder Time” to learn a variety of songs including When the Saints Go Marching In on page 24.

Grade 5:  Students will be learning about harmony, the texture of sound. Key focus will be on the lines and spaces, notes that move up or down by step or leap and notes that repeat. They will play a game called Melody Hunt, where they will find the correct line of music based on what tones they hear. Then they will discover the I, IV, and V chords in the key of C, and practice harmonizing simple melodies that use those chords, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and The Wacky Song.


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.


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.


 Come to the Learning Commons to check out our beautiful new book shelves! The new shelving is sure to please all who book shop in our library. 

 In the Learning Commons, all of Kindergarten and first grade have be working in our makerspace to build, work in teams and partnerships. We have used straws and connectors to make little homes for the teachers and used Osmo’s app, ‘Monster,’ in partners to follow directions. We have focused our literature on the famous Dr. Seuss and are in love with his fictional characters and creative rhyming stories. 

 Our second graders have been hard at work researching about various animals to create a non-fiction book. They have used technology, books and articles as sources and have learned how and why citing an author’s words is important. 

 Our third graders have also been busy building in makerspace, using gear pads, Stick Bot and group sticker mosaic art creations. They have also added the Google Keep extension as a way of taking notes electronically to save to their Google accounts. While introducing them to TrueFlix, a new Scholastic subscription, third graders were able to research biographies and practice taking notes as a skill to utilize during their research in reading.

Fourth and fifth graders have been preparing two events happening here at DFS. After reading and learning about simple machines, our fourth graders are beginning to develop ideas for their Force and Motion Carnival to be put on for kindergarten. They are so excited to share their knowledge of science, as well as engineering in this event! 

Meanwhile, the fifth graders are planning an Empathy Fair for our first graders. After reading several books about empathy, fifth grade is grasping the concept that this is important and should be taught to others. Their goal is to demonstrate how to be empathetic to first graders when their peers are having a problem. They plan to use puppetry, green screen creations, Book Creator or Stick Bot to name a few formats. I am so excited to see their final products! 

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

Empathy can be defined as, “Seeing with the eyes of another, Listening with the ears of another, and Feeling with the heart of another.”  We believe that developing empathy is an essential social emotional skill for all children.  Experts agree and believe that you can teach empathy using the “Empathy ABC’s: Affective: feeling what another person feels; Behavioral: sensing what someone needs and responding compassionately; Cognitive: understanding another’s perspective or values but not necessarily agreeing with them.” 

Currently our DFS social worker, social work intern and Media specialist are collaborating on an empathy project with the 5th grade. The students are learning about empathy using literature as a springboard, and they will create an activity/lesson to teach the 1st graders about the topic.  Be sure to ask your 5th graders about this project and keep your ears open for when your first graders receive these lessons! 


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, 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 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: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/SDE/School-Nursing/Forms/HAR3_2018.pdf?la=en

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 not be in compliance will be excluded effective June2, 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 is being sent to any parent who has not yet submitted a response to this referral.

Should you be 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 completing the form that was sent to you.

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