Daniels Farm School Newsletter

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

Printable Version- October 2017


Writing: We have begun launching Writing Workshop. The students are learning that they are writers just like their favorite authors!  We are setting the foundation for Writing Workshop that will allow them to be independent throughout the year.

Reading: We have read lots of books and had great discussions about strategies that readers use while reading books.  We are working on building our stamina during independent reading.  We have begun our Fundations activities which involve handwriting, letter and sound identification and sight words.  A separate note will be coming home about sight words and word rings.  On average, we work on 3-4 letters/sounds and 2 sight words a week.

Math: We have been collecting and analyzing data using our attendance, lunch count or question of the day.  We will often ask the students “What can you tell me from the data we collected?” In our first Investigations unit, we are working on counting and representing what you count. We use the term “show me” to help them understand that they are showing ways to represent the given number. The students are asked to show us how many they counted in an organized and efficient way.

Science: We are working on exploring the answers to the following questions: What is science?,  What is a scientist?, What tools does a scientist use?, and How does a scientist use those tools correctly and safely?

Extra: The first few weeks of school are all about building a positive learning community.  The key to success in school is to create a classroom environment where students feel comfortable enough with each other and their teacher to take risks.  We have done various activities to get to know each other.  We have talked a lot about same and different.  As a class, we came up with rules that will allow us to learn in the class as well as be safe. Ask your child to explain how someone can fill their bucket or dip into their bucket.

First Grade

Fundations: In Fundations, we are learning all about digraphs.  The students have learned that a digraph is two letters that stick together to make one sound.  The digraphs are –ch, -sh, -ck-, th and wh.  The students practice daily tapping out each sound of a word to spell it correctly.  Remember, one tap per sound.  We ask that you practice reading and spelling your child’s trick words each night.  There will be a quiz each Friday.

Writing: In Writing, we are continuing to learn how to write a narrative story.  Students are fully engaged in Writing Workshop and are enjoying writing a story over three pages.  This stresses to the students to write a beginning, middle, and end.  The first grade students are learning how to add more to their writing by adding sounds, talking, and actions.  They also have learned that it is very important to spell all their trick words that we are working on in Fundations correctly in their writing.  Students are learning to write a Small Moment in time.  This is when children learn to take the everyday events of their lives and make them into focused, well-structured stories. 

Reading: In Reading, the children are working on building their stamina during silent reading time.  They are doing this by trying to keep their eyes and mind in their book.  They have also learned to listen to the story they are reading and ask themselves, “Does that make sense?”  If it does not, or if they get distracted, they need to STOP, GO BACK, and REREAD.  The first graders are also becoming more comfortable reading to their teachers in guided reading groups or one-to-one in conferences.   

Math: In math we are beginning our second unit, Making Shapes and Designing Quilts.  In this unit the children will be working with pattern blocks and learning the vocabulary words representation, angle, vertices, and attributes.  The students will be given a shape and they will have to fill in this shape with pattern blocks.  This is a favorite unit for first grade.  This unit works on spatial reasoning.  In addition to this unit, the first graders will also be working on their addition math facts and working on the number line to solve these facts.  Fact fluency is important and is something all first graders can practice at home.

Science: In Science, we are beginning our unit called Earth’s Place in the Universe. This unit will take through the first trimester of first grader. We will be learning about the patterns of the motion of the sun, moon, and stars in the sky.  We will be using observation skills to predict patterns caused by the Earth’s movement in the solar system.  The students will be learning the difference in the sky during the day and night. They will also be making comparisons between the amount of daylight in the winter and the amount of daylight in the spring and the fall.

Second Grade

Fundations: In Fundations, we are finishing up Unit 2.  We will also complete Units 3 and 4 during the month of October.  We will continue to review closed syllables and will introduce closed syllable exceptions.  Some words with closed syllable exceptions are:  cold, wild, post, and kind.  Suffixes being reviewed are –s, -es, -ed, -ing, -er, and -est.  Remember to practice the spelling words for our weekly assessments.

Writing: In writing, we continue working on personal narratives during Writing Workshop.  Some of the things we’re learning writers do are:  write small moment stories, unfreeze the characters, tell stories bit by bit, and tell what the characters feel and think.  We are learning to write in powerful ways while emulating our mentor authors in our own writing.  When revising, the children focus on making careful and thoughtful word choices to make their writing more precise.  Partners work together to offer feedback in an effort to help each other.  The children get their pieces ready for publication by checking spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.  They have done very well when writing and editing with their fancy pens.  We all have lots of stories to tell, and we are having a blast doing so!

Reading: In reading, we are making connections as a comprehension strategy. We’ve discussed making text-to-self connections, as well as text-to-text connections.  The children are involved in reading workshop and working on both fluency and stamina. Remember to complete the reading logs at home every week.  It is very important for all second graders to read every night, including weekends.  In addition to the reading homework, continue to read aloud to your child in order to model reading smoothly and with expression. The second-grade teachers are very excited about the reading stamina they’re witnessing daily in class.

Math: In math, students are practicing a variety of strategies for efficient counting and problem solving in Unit 1.  Strategies for solving addition and subtraction problems include counting all, counting on or back, and numerical strategies.  The number line and hundred chart are tools that second graders are becoming more familiar with.  In Unit 2, we begin to explore geometry by studying 2-D and 3-D shapes.  Please remember that students should be practicing their addition and subtraction facts daily at home. 

Science: In science, second graders have set up up their Interactive Science Notebooks, and are learning how to use them for note-taking, recording observations, drawing diagrams, and learning science vocabulary.  We are studying the states of matter.  Students will explore solids, liquids, and gases and will learn to describe and sort them by their properties.  They will be involved in several hands-on investigations.

Extra: Don’t forget to record your child’s reading and math fact practice each night during the week on the reading and math logs.  Also, keep studying the spelling words for the tests each Friday!

Third Grade

Writing:  In Writing, we will continue to work in using our new program, the Writing Workshop from Lucy Calkins.  Students are working in their writing notebooks daily to build stamina.  The focus is on “small moments”.  We are working towards writing interesting leads that will grab a reader’s attention.  We are trying to incorporate dialogue and details in a bit by bit fashion. 

Reading:  In Reading, we will work on a variety of comprehension skills including sequencing.  We will use context clues to figure out the meaning of words, learn about main ideas, and discuss character traits and settings. Students can do this in their own reading at home.  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, we will begin our unit on multiplication.  The students are always excited to learn this new skill.  Please make sure your child is practicing his/her basic math facts regularly.  Students are to be practicing their basic math facts on the Xtra Math program regularly.

Science:  In Science, we will continue our study of food chains and begin to discuss animal adaptations.  Students will learn how that an animal has certain physical and/or behavioral adaptations that help it survive in its habitat.

Social Studies: Because the 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 oceans and rivers while Mrs. Palermo’s class will learn about prairies and forests.  At the same time, Mrs. Pastir’s class will get lost in forests and deserts while Miss Ruane’s class will focus on rivers and mountains.

Fourth Grade

Writing: Our narrative fourth grade writing unit focuses on creating and developing believable characters through character development. Writers are thinking about character struggles and motivations as well as internal and external traits.  Writers are also working to put small moments together with a story arc. After revising and editing, writers produce a fictional piece.  Students continue to show great enthusiasm with our new writing program.

Reading: Fourth graders use the Making Meaning program in reading as well as Time for Kids magazine. Our first unit focuses on theme and nonfiction text structures. Some titles we read are – Song and Dance Man, Fireflies, and Tyrannosaurus Rex.  In Reading Workshop, students read from fiction and nonfiction texts looking for evidence of theme and nonfiction text structures. Teachers pull small, individualized reading groups to deliver differentiated focused instruction.  Readers enjoy the flexibility of the workshop model because they choose the books they read independently.  Running/Reading records are administered at the end of September and early October. 

Math: All classrooms started to work in Unit 5: Landmarks and Large Numbers which focuses on addition, subtraction and place value of large numbers. This unit focuses on the meaning of operations with whole numbers, development of computational fluency, structure of place value and the base-ten number system. Students learn how to read, write and work with numbers through the 100,000s. They are taught how to add and subtract large numbers using an accurate and efficient strategy. The traditional algorithm is taught for adding and subtracting as well as a few other strategies. Students are expected to know their addition facts and keep practicing them if they have not mastered them. Students are also engaging in problem solving and learning how to solve multi-step word problems.

Science:  In our first unit, students will be learning to build for Erosion Control. Students learn, through hands-on activities and inquiry, about how water can change landforms. Students begin with a lab to explore how water erosion affects landforms. They will learn the differences in types of soils and how much water each soil can hold. The unit ends with a design challenge where students design and build riverbank reinforcements. Students will then test their riverbank reinforcements to determine how well they stopped erosion. Concepts students will perform are: Modeling how erosion changes landforms; measuring the mass of water retained by different types of soils; Using the design process to design, build, and test riverbank reinforcements

Social studies: The students are studying chapter 1 in the States and Regions book which parallels our STEM unit in science on erosion. This chapter focuses on the geography of the United States, specifically the variety of landscapes and the major landforms and water features. This chapter also looks at how natural resources influence people and how people change the environment. 

We enjoyed meeting many parents at Back to School Night!

Fifth Grade

Writing: In writing, we will continue to improve our techniques in personal narratives. Our writers’ will analyze their strengths and set goals to improve their writing.

Reading: In reading, students are finishing a unit on identifying story elements in fiction. We will be moving towards a unit on ‘Natural and Man-made Disasters’, focusing on summarizing, identifying main idea, analyzing text structures, and identifying cause and effect relationships.

Math: In math, students are reviewing multiplication and division strategies. We will next move into a unit on finding the volume for rectangular prisms, and how changing the dimensions can affect the volume.

Science: In science, students are moving into a unit on the Earth, Moon, and Sun and how each affects the other. Studies will include day/night, seasons, moon phases, and eclipses.

Social Studies: In social studies, we will continue to examine the Europeans in the 1400s through the 1500s and how exploration opened trade routes to North America. Students’ will compare and contrast the cultural practices of the indigenous people in the Northeast and the European colonists.


As we continue exploring the Mathematical Practice Standards, it is important to keep in mind that each standard is important and is often interdependent of the others. To refresh, here are the 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice:

1.  Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them

2.  Reason abstractly and quantitatively

3.  Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others

4.  Model with mathematics

5.  Use appropriate tools strategically

6.  Attend to precision

7.  Look for and make use of structure

8.  Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

This month we are highlighting Standard 7 – Look for and Make Use of Structure. The standard states:

Mathematically proficient students look closely to discern a pattern or structure. Young students, for example, might notice that three and seven more is the same amount as seven and three more, or they may sort a collection of shapes according to how many sides the shapes have. Later, students will see 7 × 8 equals the well remembered 7 × 5 + 7 × 3, in preparation for learning about the distributive property. In the expression x2 + 9x + 14, older students can see the 14 as 2 × 7 and the 9 as 2 + 7. They recognize the significance of an existing line in a geometric figure and can use the strategy of drawing an auxiliary line for solving problems. They also can step back for an overview and shift perspective. They can see complicated things, such as some algebraic expressions, as single objects or as being composed of several objects. For example, they can see 5 – 3(x – y)2 as 5 minus a positive number times a square and use that to realize that its value cannot be more than 5 for any real numbers x and y.


Teachers who are developing students’ capacity to "look for and make use of structure" help learners identify and evaluate efficient strategies for solution. An early childhood teacher might help students identify why using "counting on" is preferable to counting each addend by one, or why multiplication or division can be preferable to repeated addition or subtraction. A middle childhood teacher might help his students discern patterns in a function table to "guess my rule." A teacher of adolescents and young adults might focus on exploring geometric processes through patterns and proof. Visit the video excerpts below to view multiple examples of teachers engaging students in identifying and making use of mathematical structure. 

Ask a Teacher: How do you connect earlier learning to present learning, so that you and your student can “look for and make use of structure?”

Students Are: Understanding and responding to the structure of a problem: “Is this a take apart problem? Is this a put together problem?” Students are able to make reference to problems from the beginning of the year to identify structure. Students are able to explain those kinds of structural connections and identify similarity between problems.

Encourage your children at home to communicate the how? and why? they chose a strategy. Their answers should support prior learning and asking for why will eliminate looking for right answers only….without an explanation.


Our 2017 – 2018 Art Program is well underway. New and returning artists are already hard at work learning new skills and refining skills from previous years.

Kindergarten: During the month of October the kindergarten children will continue working with shapes and colors, scissor skills, and building on pre-reading and fine motor skills.

First Grade: The first grades are completing their body structure review with “I Am An Artist” drawings and will begin to work on painting activities.

Second Grade Second grade artists have been working on ice cream paintings, drawing leaves, and working with warm and cool colors. This month we will be discussing the structure of landscapes, specifically Tornado Over Kansas by John Steuart Curry. The children are designing a “Dream Landscape” featuring some of their favorite, happy things.

Third Grade: Grade 3 started the year with a watercolor background and some spooky trees created with India ink.  Our next unit of study is printmaking during which the artist draws a real or imaginary animal on the printing plate.  The children will be learning how to pull a print, determine its quality, and adjust for successive printings.

Fourth Grade: Fourth grade artists have been studying the colorful works of Sandra Silbezweig. We are completing self-portraits inspired by her style that tell a story about the artist. A look at Dale Chihuly’s work is to follow.

***Special note: Looking for a great family day trip? An exhibit of Chihuly’s sculptures is running currently at the NY Botanical Garden through October 29th. More information can be found on their website. Be sure to visit the Conservatory. Worth a visit!

Fifth Grade: Grade 5 constructed hard cover sketchbooks for use throughout the year.  We are working on a design project in which we bring together many of the principles and elements of design. This in preparation for their art studies in middle school. Upcoming projects include a unit on Pop Art and three-dimensional work.


The school year of Music starts off with a unit on Beat, each grade level develops their musical sense of beat through a variety of lessons which include songs and games to reinforce the concept of beat.  All students are listening to the music of the great American composers this year starting with Stephen Collins Foster. Students hear his compositions as they enter the music space enjoying the beat and story of these early American folk songs such as Oh Susanna and Camp Town Races.

Kindergarten: students are marching and counting beats. They will even find the beat in their feet!  They will recognize the quarter note as one beat.  They are playing the classroom drums to the beat.  They are becoming singers and using their vocal chords to make beautiful sounds with smiling faces!  

Grade 1: students are finding the beats by keeping a steady tempo with classroom games.  Keeping time with Hickory-Dickory Dock on rhythm sticks, and counting the beats of the chime up to 12:00!. Students are marching, stepping and clapping to the beat.  Students will learn rhythm patterns to the song BINGO

Grade 2: with the focus on the beat students’ understand that the “beat is the heart” of music.  Students will play the woodblock to the steady beat of the song Jamaican Farewell. They will learn a game and movement to the song shoo fly.  Students use a music book in class while they sing to see musical notation.

Grade 3:  at this level students learn to write rhythms.  They will use quarter note, quarter rest and eighth notes and play their rhythms with a beat.  They will begin to understand the difference of beat and rhythm.  Beat being the underlying pulse and rhythm the long and short sound within a beat.  The game Here Comes Mrs. Macaroni helps students understand the concepts of beat and rhythm.

Grade 4: Students will enjoy understanding the length of sounds like half, quarter, and eighth notes. They will write measures of 4/4 time using those notes and perform their compositions in class.  They will play classroom instruments reinforce steady beat to the sections of Leroy Anderson’s Syncopated Clock.

Grade 5:  students will play their own compositions keeping the steady beat and counting measures. Students will learn a song “A Ram Sam Sam” to begin to explore form, the pattern in musical compositions.  In chorus students are learning music for the winter concert and exploring the way the posture of your body affects the sound of your voice.

Physical Education

Kindergarten & First Grade: During the month of October the kindergarten students will be working on their locomotor movements and underhand/overhand throwing.

Second & Third Grade: Second and Third Grade during the month of October will be learning pathways, mature overhand throwing/catching and football positions/skills.

Fourth & Fifth Grade: Fourth and Fifth Grade will start Flag Football 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 Media Coordinator. Students will learn important positions within football and gameplay strategy.

Speech and Language

Try some fun apps at home with your child to promote their speech and language skills. Here is a list of a few that your child may enjoy:

1.     Between the lines 1 and between the lines 2 (inference skills)

2.    Tense Builder (verb tense)

3.    Preposition Builder (teaches prepositions)

4.    Articulate it (speech production)

5.    Fun with Directions and More Fun with Directions

6.    Full Social Skills Builder (perspective taking and social skills)

7.    DescribeIt To Me(vocabulary and expressive language skills)

8.    iSequence ( Sequencing skills and Expressive language)

9.    ArtixPix (articulation)

10.  Language therapy Lite(Language games)

11.   Irregular Verbs Fun Deck (past tense verbs)

12.   Wh-question Fun Decks Bundle (Wh- questions)

Media Center and Instructional Technology

Media Center:

Kindergarten: We will read the story We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Then we will create our own video about going on a book hunt around our building. If you would like a copy of this video, please e-mail me at moneill@trumbullps.org.

Grade 1: Using two of the major cultural holidays of this month: Columbus Day and Halloween, we will read stories, participate in follow-up art projects and learn more about the ways people celebrate these Holidays.

Grade 2: We will begin our first research project. We will learn to take basic notes on a topic using print and online resources. We will discuss citing our sources and conclude by creating a google slide.

Grade 3: We will continue our library orientation. We will learn how to use the online catalog to search for books and to understand the relationship between call numbers and the location of a book in the library.

Grade 4: This month we will review library procedures including how to use the online catalog and how to find books using the Dewey Decimal System. They will participate in a “Genre Contest.” Each student will read books from different genres.

Grade 5: This month we will begin our “Digital Citizenship” Curriculum. We will be discussing responsibilities of a digital citizen, personal information, and cyberbullying. We will also address plagiarism and copyright.

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

Technology Integration:

Our kindergarten, first, and second graders have been working weekly in the computer lab to log into the computers and find information using the Google browser. In kindergarten, we have begun helping the children use the mouse with the ABCYA program, Fuzzbugs. In first and second grade, we are focusing on children being able to work with the QWERTY keyboard. There is a free keyboarding app within the ABCYA program called CupStacking that all children can certainly practice using while at home.

The boys and girls in grades one and two have taken their base line math and reading tests using the STAR application on iPads. This is new for us to use the iPads for this assessment. They have done an amazing job following directions, plugging in headphones, finding the volume controls, and inputting their log in information. We will continue to integrate the iPads in more of our daily instruction to help with skills.

Grades three, four, and five have completed their base line math assessments using Google Forms through the Google Classroom links. The use of Google Classroom has helped improve the organization of delivering instruction and assessments. It provides a more seamless turnaround of scores to help drive the instruction. Our Chromebooks and the use of Google Drive has provided some of our youngsters the ability to speak their story writing into a document. This has allowed them stronger use of vocabulary as well as an easier way to revise. We will continue to help children use the technology as an enhancement tool for their writing.

Offices of Social Worker & School Psychologist

Positive Behavior Intervention Supports:

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional and academic success. We have a school-wide behavior management plan that includes proactive strategies for defining, teaching, and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environments.

We have a common language throughout the entire school in every grade level and every classroom, including specials so that children always know exactly what is expected of them.  We have expectations for all settings including the classroom, hallway, playground, lunchroom, bus and even bathroom.  These expectations are clearly displayed throughout the school on signs and posters.  All our expectations revolve around respect- “At DFS We Respect Ourselves, We Respect Each Other and Respect Our School.” In the classrooms your children are earning tickets for following the expectations and those tickets are worth prizes including extra recess time.  Ask your child about the expectations at school- they will be able to tell you all about them!  This year’s kickoff assembly is being put together by a group of 5th grade girls and will include music from Mr. Spillane and lots of pictures of the students throughout the building who are demonstrating the expected behaviors at Daniels Farm School!

Health/ Nurse's Office

Send Your Child to School Ready to Learn

Nutrition: A nutritious breakfast fuels up kids and gets them ready for the day. In general, kids who eat breakfast have more energy and do better in school. Kids who eat breakfast also are less likely to be absent, and make fewer trips to the school nurse with stomach complaints related to hunger. You can help boost your child's attention span, concentration, and memory by providing breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein, as well as low in added sugar. If your child is running late some mornings, send along fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, or half a protein rich sandwich.

Sleep: Kids also need the right amount of sleep to be alert and ready to learn all day. Most school-age kids need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. Bedtime difficulties can arise at this age for a variety of reasons. Homework, sports, after-school activities, TVs, computers, and video games, as well as hectic family schedules, can contribute to kids not getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep can cause irritable or hyper types of behavior and might make it difficult for kids to pay attention in class. It's important to have a consistent bedtime routine, especially on school nights. Be sure to leave enough time before bed to allow your child to unwind before lights out and limit stimulating diversions like TV, video games, and Internet access. Also try to avoid late bedtimes, which can result in tardy and tired students. A consistent sleep schedule can help.

Illness: Sick kids should stay home from school if they have a fever, are nauseated, vomiting, or have diarrhea. Kids who lose their appetite, are clingy or lethargic, complain of pain, or who just don't seem to be acting "themselves" should also take a sick day. Otherwise, it's important that kids arrive at school on time every day, because having to catch up with class work and homework can be stressful and interfere with learning.

If your child is missing a lot of school due to illness, make sure to check with the teacher about any work that needs to be completed. It's also a good idea to know the school's attendance policy. Sometimes students want to stay home from school because of problems with classmates, assignments or grades, or even teachers. This can result in real symptoms, like headaches or stomachaches. If you think there's a problem at school, talk with your child — and then perhaps with the teacher — to find out more about what's causing the anxiety. The school social worker or school psychologist also might be able to help.

Make Time to Talk About School: It's usually easy to talk with elementary students about what's going on in class and the latest news at school. You probably know what books your child is reading and are familiar with the math being worked on. But parents can get busy and forget to ask the simple questions, which can have an effect on children's success at school.

Make time to talk with your child every day: so he or she knows that what goes on at school is important to you. When kids know parents are interested in their academic lives, they'll take school seriously as well. Because communication is a two-way street, the way you talk and listen to your child can influence how well your child listens and responds. It's important to listen carefully, make eye contact, and avoid multitasking while you chat. Be sure to ask questions that go beyond "yes" or "no" answers. Besides during family meals, good times to talk include car trips (though eye contact isn't needed here, of course), walking the dog, preparing meals, or standing in line at a store.

These early years of schooling are an important time for parents to be informed and supportive about their child's education!                       

Kids Health by Nemours Foundation; Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD