Welcome to Gardening!

All the grades have been working hard this month to start “putting the garden to bed” and helping out with some school-wide projects. We have started utilizing the compost barrels and learning all about decomposers, worms, beetles and other helpful critters. Pre-K and Kindergarten are going to be responsible for the beautiful Butterfly Garden, coming this spring. All other grades also have their own garden bed, where they are excited to plant some of their favorite vegetables. Fourth and fifth grade has been doing an excellent job being in charge of collecting the compost during lunch and helping to remind some of the younger students what kinds of food can be composted. First grade is exploring decomposing apples and second and third grades are exploring worms! jacob-g2

The whole school has been working hard on our big garden project for the year…planting wheat! The students are busy clearing a plot of land for the wheat seeds, which will be planted this fall and (hopefully) bloom this upcoming spring. If all goes well, we will harvest our wheat by hand, process it and turn it into flour to use for making our Challah bread. Wheat is a staple ingredient in many foods of Israel and one of the 7 species, so this allows for wonderful integrated learning experiences with Judaic Studies.


Returning Our Chicks to Casey Farm

Today we returned our chicks back to their home on Casey Farm in Saunderstown, RI. While we were a bit sad to say goodbye to our feathery friends, we understood that the farm was a better place for them to grow up then in our classroom.


It was wonderful to return to the farm (we visited in the fall!). Founded in 1702, it has 300 acres and overlooks Narragansett Bay. It now raises organically grown vegetables, herbs and flowers. And – of course – Casey Farm’s hens produce lots and lots of fresh eggs for both local families and nearby farmers’ markets! When we arrived at the farm, our guide, Terry, took us to the barn so we could introduce our chicks to their new home. We even learned about barn swallows and watched as they swooped over our heads.


We then went outside to learn a little more about chickens. We practiced clucking like chicks and even tried to find food in the sand by scratching with our “claws.”


We discovered some delicious worms and beetles!



We met Marshmellow, the rabbit . . .



. . . and then took a peek at the pigs (we even got to scratch their backs!)



We then saw the hens roosting and learned how to tell the difference between a freshly laid egg and one that had been laid hours before (ask us how we can differentiate between them!)



We moved on to feed some Rhode Island Red chickens (we learned that corn is like ice-cream for birds!)


We also visited some baby geese . . .


and baby turkeys (who tried to eat our zippers and buttons!)


Finally, Terry taught us how the farmers prepare their eggs for the market. First, we washed the freshly laid eggs . . . 



. . . and then weighed them to determine whether they were small, medium, large or extra-large. 


Once weighed, we sorted the eggs into the corresponding containers.


Afterward we sat at picnic benches and ate lunch – and then ran around the farm’s huge oaks and old stone walls. It was a very special adventure. 

Our Eggs Are (Finally!) Here!

Today, Beth – the knowledgeable educator from Casey Farm  –  spent the morning with us. Casey Farm (in Saunderstown, RI) was founded in 1702. On the farm’s 300 acres overlooking Narragansett Bay, organically grown vegetables, herbs, eggs, and flowers flourish, providing bounty for both local families and nearby farmers’ markets.


Beth arrived to our school with dozens of fertilized eggs, an incubator, warming lights, and lots of different kinds of bird eggs!


The PreK and Kindergarten students and teachers were able to see the eggs laid by swans, bluebirds, robins, grey catbirds, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, loons, and even an emu egg! We enjoyed observing the eggs; some of us discovered that eggs are camouflaged to be either the same color as their nests or as their mothers. Beth also showed us a slide-show, during which we learned how to tell a (female) hen from a (male) rooster, what chickens eat, how Casey Farm protects chickens from predators, the best way to take care of chickens (free-range and cage-free!) and how to hold chicks (hold them close to the ground & gently!)


We also learned about the different stages and components of a chicken embryo, including the blastoderm and the egg tooth!




Beth then showed us the incubators into which we will place our eggs. There they will stay (round side up, pointy side down) for 21 days until they hatch. A hen’s body temperature is about 107 degrees, compared to our 98.7 degrees – and so our incubators will be as warm as a hen’s body. We will have both Rhode Island Red and Dominique chicks.


But the most wonderful surprise was still to come! Beth brought a Dominique hen to our school!

IMG_8199Beth then invited us to pet Henny Penny!


By tomorrow morning, our incubator will warm to 100 degrees and we will fill it with our eggs. And then the countdown will begin . . . and we can hardly wait!




November News

Hello everyone. It is hard to believe that we have almost hit the midway point of November and Thanksgiving will soon be upon us. It was a pleasure touching base with everyone last week during conferences. This truly is an amazing group of children and I feel very lucky to have them with me for 2 years.

We have been so busy attending field trips to exciting places around the state. We have also been privileged to have some fantastic guest speakers and surprise appearances. The fourth graders have also been hustling to prepare for their final Wednesday assembly this week. We are incorporating our class novel, Wonder, into the assembly. This novel has already deeply touched us all. I hope you are enjoying reading it along with us. The kids are so excited to discuss this book with you all on the evening of December 3rd. Here are some pictures to capture the past few weeks:

Here are pics from a surprise visit from Ms. Emily’s bunnies. They tied in with our owl animal adaptation unit and our class pet persuasive writing assignment. They sure were cute!

IMG_0227 IMG_0229Speaking of owls, we loved our field exploration to the Audubon society of Bristol. We researched owls of New England and we met Screech, an injured owl that the organization nursed back to health.

IMG_0237 IMG_0238 IMG_0239 IMG_0240 IMG_0241 IMG_0243The children were so excited to share their animal adaptation posters with their classmates. I was really impressed with their creativity and presentation skills. Some of the animals were adorable and some were really downright frightening!

IMG_0295Last Tuesday I was fortunate enough to be the only classroom teacher to accompany the students to the Biomes in North Kingstown. We saw mini sharks, turtles, snakes and fish of all varieties. The kids really had a blast and they learned a lot of interesting information.

IMG_0258 IMG_0259 IMG_0260 IMG_0262 IMG_0264 IMG_0265On that same afternoon, we were visiting by Anthony. He is a student at RISD from the STEAM team. We are partnering with Brown/RISD and we will be participating in science lessons related to the design lab. This particular lesson took us to Blackstone Blvd with the goal of collecting natural materials to create a birds nest. Anthony will be returning next Tuesday to help the 3-4th graders assemble the nests in the design lab.

IMG_0275 IMG_0278 IMG_0279 IMG_0280 IMG_0281Today we were visited by Ken Block, former candidate for Governor. He explained about difficulties that RI faces with the economy and his own political journey. He discussed how challenging it can be to run for office, but how you should always fight for what your believe is right. I think the kids really did get the message!

IMG_0293 IMG_0294Here are a few important reminders:

  • Reading logs are due every Friday. Please sign it every week and help your child return it to school (thank you!)
  • Field trip to Tap-in on Wednesday, November 19th from 12:30-2:15.
  • Wonder book talk on December 3rd from 6:30-7:45 (no siblings please).







From Rotem’s Lashon class

On the last day of Sukkot we sat in the sukkah and learned about Ushpizin and who they are. We incorporated in our learning the skill of solving problems. Family Admoni is having guests for Sukkot and we had to organize the seating around the table (file attached for you to solve, ushpizin.)

We have started to learn poems written by the Israeli author Yehuda Atlas and have learned the poem הילד הזה הוא אני. There are two goals for the project: linguistically (ways to describe oneself) and artistically (ways to draw oneself based on an Israeli artist Hanoch Pivan. This part will be done in art class.)

Photo 2014-10-25

We selected names for the groups. The smaller group chose for themselves the name “אין שם “ (no name) and the other group the name הפלאפלים (the falafels).

The group EinShem:  We continue with our reading from the story Boy’s Prayer. This week we learned four new verbs from the story: קורא (read), שומע (listen), ,תוקע (blow the shofar), and אומר (say). We also have practiced to our first quiz and had it on Friday. This will be our regular routine from now on.

The group Hafalafelim:  We continued with the topic “direct object” in Hebrew and expanded the number of verbs, which followed by the word ‘את’. We need a lot of practice in all skills because this structure does not exist in English. Photo 2014-10-23 11.36.34

Native Hebrew  speakers:  The students design their own board game to practice verbs, and their correct form based on a story they had read in the book ‘מילה טובה’. We also started the workbook Eshkolit, which focuses on the structure of the Hebrew sentences.

Have a wonderful week

Lehitraot, Rotem



Character Counts

Although I usually highlight the fourth graders and their academic achievements each week, for this post I wanted to just focus on their character and perseverance.  On Tuesday we met with our kindergarten buddies to participate in an outdoor scavenger hunt. They worked together to collect items such as leaves, stones, pine cones and grass in the neighborhood surrounding JCDS. While they laughed and strolled with their younger buddies, I took note of all that was happening around us:

  • A fourth grader held her buddy’s hand and carefully helped her across the street.
  • A fourth grader bent down to pick up all of the items that had spilled out of the bag and returned them to his buddy with care.
  • A fourth grader made sure his buddy made all of the decisions about what they colored on the front and back of the bag.
  • A kindergarten student sat quietly and safely on her buddy’s lap while she was listening to the directions for the activity.
  • A fourth grader helped his buddy carefully cut and glue all the materials for the project.
  • A fourth grader was giving her buddy constant support and encouragement as they worked on the project  together.
  • A fourth grader made sure her kindergarten buddy was all zipped up in her winter coat so she would be warm enough when we ventured outside.

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While none of these things surprised me, they did amaze me and made me feel so proud of them all. These relationships are so special and so significant for both age groups.

The fourth graders had another opportunity to shine. On Wednesday they led their second school wide assembly with Rotem (part of the school-wide design challenge). This assembly was a bit more challenging and the kids had to constantly readjust their original plans on the fly. I was so impressed with how they worked together and encouraged each other to keep on going even though it did not turn out as they had originally planned. They learned the tough lesson that when things don’t go as intended, you can always learn and do better the next time. The important thing is to work as a team and to never give up:)


I read this quote on a blog post this week and it made me think of this very special fourth grade class. They really are all A+ human beings. Have a great weekend.

“The world needs good human beings more than it needs scholars and over-achievers – and the tragic thing is, we just don’t hand out nearly enough “A’s” for loving, and living, well.”

By JD Lester

Although our weeks have been short, we are continuing to engage in many activities!

To help us practice writing our names using an uppercase and lowercase letters properly, we created Dazzling Name cards. Each child wrote his/her name in pencil and then we traced their names with glue. Afterwards, the children sprinkled glitter over the glue to make their names dazzle! We will continue to use these cards to help us remember to use an uppercase letter for the first letter in our names, followed by lowercase letters.






names 2

We practiced building the uppercase letter E with elastic bands on the geoboards. To help us write the lowercase e, we are using the following image/saying:

letter e

1) Start with the baseball

2) Hit the ball

3) Run around the bases

4) Slide into home!


We also created our letter E card to add to our alphabet wall. The children drew pictures of elephants, exit signs, eggs, Ella, Emily, elevators, etc.


We continue to enjoy reading together in our guided reading groups! The children have been working on taking turns reading and following along with their peers, identifying sight words, and making observations about the texts. They also read the books that they wrote to one another!



This week, we will learn two new sight words:



These words will be added to our classroom word walk! We will also practice identifying these words in more stories and environmental print around our classroom and the school.

We have been practicing to differentiate between the use of the period, the question mark, and the exclamation point. This is a great activity to practice at home too! For instance, say the following sentence aloud using a period:

The puppy ran away.

Now say it using an exclamation point:

The puppy ran away!

Now try it using a question mark:

The puppy ran away?

Using the proper inflection in your tone as well as facial expressions make this activity fun for the children. It’s also helpful to use a visual of the marks, and this will continue to reinforce punctuation mark identification.

We started making our counting books! The children are using various materials to create these books including glitter, glitter glue, pom poms, feathers, popsicle sticks beads, etc. The children are working hard to select and glue a given number of objects on each page.  Ask your child to think about what page 8 of their counting book might look like…


math book 1

math book 2

math book 3

Mrs. Woods helped us make Limonana! (Mint lemonade)  First, we picked mint from our JCDSRI garden. Then we washed the mint, and mixed it with boiling water. We strained out the liquid and mixed it with lemon juice, cold water, and sugar. Everyone shared the same opinion: the limonana was delicious!

garden 2

garden 1


This week we are reading Platypus Lost. This book is about a little girl who continually looses her stuffed platypus in different locations including the playground, the lake, and even the market!

We learned the following song about a purple platypus.

(To the tune of Baby Bumble Bee)

Oh I lost my purple platypus today

Searched around the market couldn’t find him anywhere

My grandpa peeked in a bag of groceries

Look! We found him!

We have been identifying the following “amazing” vocabulary words in our stories and songs this week:







The children made self-to-text connections by illustrating pictures of their own personal stuffed companions. They drew pictures of stuffed sharks, rabbits, bears, lemurs, monkeys, and a blanket.  Some of the children even decided to observe their rest time snugglies to help them create their pictures!

stuffed companion

stuffed companion 1

stuffed companion 2

stuffed companion 3

Together with our buddies, we went on a nature walk/scavenger hunt around the neighborhood! We spotted rocks, leaves, sticks, cloud formations, trees, acorns, pine cones, and much more. Many of our discoveries can now be found on our science table! 

nature walk 2

nature walk

October News

After reviewing my plethora of photographs, I realized I was way overdue for a blog post. Even with all of the holidays and the short weeks, we have packed in a lot of learning. Here are some highlights:

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  • We attended a memorable Tashlich service with the entire school at India Point Park.
  • We researched facts about a new class pet to adopt in the classroom to accompany the Bearded Dragon.
  • We wrote and shared our persuasive pet essays with the third and fourth graders.
  • We dissected owl pellets and discovered bones, skeletons and fur (oh my)!
  •  IMG_0157 IMG_0158 IMG_0159 IMG_0160 IMG_0161 IMG_0162 IMG_0163 IMG_0164 IMG_0165
  • We researched The Snowy Owl, Barn Owl, Grey Owl, Elf Owl and Great Horned Owl and created an art project to incorporate our facts (check out the 3/4 bulletin board).
  • We created advertisements for a child centered business and shared them with our classmates (inspired by the Lemonade War).
  • IMG_0154 IMG_0156 IMG_0153 IMG_0152 IMG_0155
  • We read and discussed the first few chapters of our new amazing class novel, Wonder (We hope you have started to read along with us).
  • We played math games in cooperative groups such as multiplication concentration and dice multiplication roll.
  • We started a new math unit on multi-digit multiplication using the “magic zero” to solve problems.
  • We listened to a guest speaker from RI Center of The Book as she shared an exciting nation-wide book letter contest that we will all be entering in January.
  • We planned and conducted our very own 4th grade assembly for the entire school (Thank you Rabbi Gouze).

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Upcoming Dates:

October 22nd=Picture Day

October 22=Field trip to Petco

October 29th=Field trip to Audubon Society

November 19th=Field trip to Tap-in (food bank)

December 3rd=6:30 p.m. Wonder Book Talk

From Rotem’s Lashon class

The room was filled with Hebrew, serious learning and excitement in the past two weeks. Each student made a huge progress. I am happy to announce that the Shaliach (Israeli emissary), Gilor (pronounced Gil-Or) will join our class every Thursday.

In Lashon we are using stories as a jumping off point for our learning.  Ask your child about the story he or she read in class!

Regular group – We are reading ‘תפילה של ילד’ (Boy’s Prayer.) We learned three new verbs from the story: יושב (sit) לומד (learn) הולך (go/walk). We practiced building full sentences using these verbs in present tense to fit them to the person who does the action such as he, she, they, boys and girls.

Photo 2014-09-18 08.01.05IMG_0872

Advanced group – We read stories about new beginnings of two girls. In class and at home we practiced the new vocabulary and talked about the stories. Photo 2014-09-18 07.59.32

We have started our new workbook חברים בעברית Chaverim B’Ivrit. The group of verbs we are studying can appear in two ways in a sentence like in English 1) I like to watch movies 2) I watch the movie at night. We learned four new verbs and practiced more verbs that fit that group.


דוברי עברית Native Hebrew speakers: we have started our workbook מילה טובה. We are learning about verbs and what verbs can tell us.

Homework routine

I want to make it clear that All HW is a reinforcement of what we do in class. We started our HW routine this week. Here it is:

  • HW given on Monday is due Wednesday – worksheet/ workbook/ writing assignment/ etc.

  • Thursday’s HW is due Friday – reading practice. I will send an email on Wednesday evening to the students’ email addresses.

  • Monday due following Monday – independent reading, which will start after Simchat Torah.  I’ll provide more info when we get there.

  • Friday – quiz, which will start after Simchat Torah

שנה טובה וחתימה טובה Shanah Tova and chatima tovah. Rotem

Busy Fourth Graders

What a busy and exciting week!  The fourth graders were beyond thrilled to reunite with their kindergarten buddies. They shared picture books and illustrated their favorite scenes from the book together. These relationships are so heartwarming to witness.

IMG_0083 IMG_0086 IMG_0087 IMG_0088 IMG_0089 IMG_0090 IMG_0091The third and fourth graders worked diligently to decorate and personalize their writer’s notebooks. They included photographs, words, magazine pictures and stickers. We will be using these journals all year during writing.

IMG_0078 IMG_0077 IMG_0076The two classes also collaborated to research some fascinating facts about owls. Do you know what owls eat? Do you know what the largest type of owl is called? Ask your child for the answers.

IMG_0100Speaking of animals, the fourth graders wrote lovely tributes to our beloved bearded dragon, Gili. These will be buried with Gili in his final resting place. The students also used the design thinking model to brainstorm ideas of what to do with Gizmo in an emergency situation. We posed the question:

How might we take care of Gizmo if an emergency happened at JCDS?

You can check out their responses on our design thinking bulletin board. They are a resourceful bunch! They also researched animals to adopt for a new class pet. They are using their research to write a persuasive essay to convince us to purchase an additional pet for the classroom. (I am secretly hoping it is not a snake:) We will keep you posted…..

IMG_0096 IMG_0101In math, we are continuing to study place value, rounding numbers and estimating. We also practiced the Singapore Math bar modeling method to solve word problems. If your child ever struggles with math homework, please write me a note. Homework is never graded, it is only based on effort. The kids also experimented with splash math on the ipads.

IMG_0075 IMG_0073 IMG_0072 IMG_0071We are more than half way through our class novel,  The Lemonade War. The children are thoroughly engrossed in the story and they learned many business terms such as underselling and entrepreneur. I am sending home the reading responses in the Friday folders. The children are learning how to restate questions in the answer and how to provide text evidence and examples.

IMG_0094Finally, we are so excited to see all of you at school for the parent breakfast on Tuesday, Sept 23rd and at Open House on Wednesday, October 1st.  I also would love you to mark your calendars for Wednesday evening, December 3rd for the parent-student book talk. I will explain this in detail at Open House. Have a wonderful weekend.