Class Picture

Class Picture

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sock Sale?

Are you going to the Cabot Sock Sale in Northfield this weekend? Please consider purchasing an extra pair of wool socks for our ECO program. We are in need of warm wool socks for winter months. Bulk army surplus socks work well too! Thanks for your help in keeping young naturalists warm at ECO this winter.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Tulip Planting

This past week the first grade launched a science and beautification project here at UES.

Through the Journey North Citizen Science Tulip Test Garden Project ( every first grader will plant a tulip bulb, and track its growth this Spring. Students will report when their tulips emerge, track and record the rate of growth and date of blossoming to the national Journey North database. There scientists will compile data from all international test tulip garden sites to report the progression of Spring globally, and identify trends.

Classes will plant in the Park Ave. gardens in front of the school and at the UES welcome sign, as well as in the Loomis St. gardens. The 80 bulbs needed for this project were graciously donated by Montpelier Agway - thank you! First graders will be learning about what scientists do - from asking questions, to collecting data, experimenting and making observations throughout the year.  Before planting, we  looked closely at the tulip bulbs. We used our 5 senses to explore the bulb and document what we smell, feel, and see. The children also made wonder questions about the bulb - such as I wonder if it will survive the winter, I wonder what the outer covering does for the bulb.  In addition, students will looked at the cross-section of a tulip bulb and made a diagram of the inside.

INQUIRE with your child what they have learned about bulbs, where they planted their bulb, and when they think it will bloom in Vermont!  

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Veterans Day Parade

On Friday, first graders will join others in our school community at the Montpelier Veterans Day Parade.  We will walk for a PORTION of the parade before returning to school.  The weather is supposed to be VERY cold, so please help your child dress appropriately for an extended time outside.  If you want to watch or even join us in our walk, please let me know!

Gary Home

Students in first grade will travel once a month or so to the Gary Home to spread kindness.  Residents of the Gary Home listened to the first graders share songs they have been learning.  As we continue to learn about our community of Montpelier, first graders are being mindful of how to spread kindness and smiles around town. INQUIRE with your first grader about their experience at the Gary Home on Tuesday.  

All Around Town

All Over Town
Optional Independent Project

As a class, we enjoyed learning about new insects and hearing friends share their learning through the insect projects you completed at home!  There was so much creativity and effort put into each project.  Thank you for your support!

We have launched a new social studies unit about community. Students have been discussing class community, school community, and have begun to visit various places in our Montpelier community.  Throughout this year long unit, students will be exploring who lives and works in their community, how people take care of themselves, and what people need to meet their needs in a community.  

We have started to travel to different places in our community and throughout the year will visit a few more.  This home connection project will give students an opportunity to explore their own special place in the community.  This project is also optional and can be done as a family or individual.

Here is what we would like to have included in the final project.  Your child can present it any way they would like, but we would like to see students demonstrate these components:

1.) Choose a place in Montpelier (State House, Sarducci’s, Hubbard Park, etc.)
2.) Make a model of the place (clay, playdough, legos, paper, cloth, foam, etc.).
3.) Label the place (name).
4.) Have at least one real photograph of the place (magazine, internet, own photograph).
5.) What happens at the place?
7.) Where is the place?
8.) Include some interesting facts about your special place in the community.  
9.) Use your imagination and have fun!

If you have any questions about this project, please send us an email!  

Have Fun!

The First Grade Team
**Please note that projects are due by November 30th, but if finished sooner, please send it in.

Scholastic Book Fair

Scholastic Book Fair

Our class will visit the Scholastic Book Fair on Thursday, November 9th.  Your child may browse or shop at this time.  If you would like your child to buy an item, please send in a labeled envelope with your child’s name and a note saying if there are any planned purchases or if they may choose what to buy.  In addition to books, there are also posters, pencils, and misc. toys available to purchase.  Students in our class will be encouraged to just purchase books UNLESS I HEAR FROM YOU OTHERWISE.  If I don’t hear from you that they CAN buy trinkets, I will encourage the purchase of books.   

Families can join us at our scheduled shopping time (8:45) or visit the book fair before or after school on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  Our classroom will have a wish list available at the book fair with books that would enrich our curriculum.  Please consider helping out our classroom library and donating a book.

Thank you!

Jill Closter

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sing-A-Long October

One of my favorite events each month is when all first graders convene as a community to sing all the songs they've learned in their classrooms (and music room too!)  Check out this video of part of song, "All Around the World."  INQUIRE with your child whether they can sing, "Something Beautiful" "The Leaves are Falling,"  "We are One" or "We Do."  Perhaps they'll sing you to sleep tonight!

Rainy ECO

A little rain did not stop first graders from having "forest workshop."  Despite being a little wet, students explored the forest making insect hotels, identifying leaves, making leaf structures and designs, and learning to make whistles with an acorn.  It was amazing to hear all that children were thankful for at the end of the day - being outside exploring nature is a favorite with this class!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Fire Station

We visited with Firefighters at the Montpelier Fire Department today.  We learned about fire safety and how the firefighters/EMT's go about helping our community and making it a safe place to live. Students explored both the ambulance and firetrucks and asked many important questions regarding their positions. INQUIRE with your child what would happen if there were a fire at the fire station? Thanks to all the firefighters for their time and willingness to teach our younger community members about one of many essential community jobs. AND, thank you for sharing your fire hats with all of us!  Throughout the year, we will be traveling each month to learn about how different places in our community help us as citizens of Montpelier.  

Before we traveled we explored firefighter books and thought about what we were wondering.  Students came up with so many thoughtful questions to ask the firefighters!

Message from Ms. Hannah - our ELL teacher

Dear Parents,

As you may know, I spend time each week in your child’s classroom, both during instructional times and at morning meeting.  As English Language Learner (ELL) teacher, I work to build students’ proficiency in the four language domains: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.  In addition, I hope to help all students understand and appreciate the linguistic and cultural diversity of our classrooms.  

In the coming weeks, I will begin to use morning meeting time one day each week to teach a greeting in a language that is important to our students and their families.  We also like to learn about the different parts of the world where students and their families have connections and experiences.  We hope you will share some of your experiences with us!

  • Does your family use or know a greeting in another language?
  • Does your family have relatives or connections to another part of the world that we may want to learn about?

   If so, I’d love to talk to you!  You can reach me at:


Please feel free to reach me if you have any questions or ideas!


Hannah Barden
English Language Learner teacher

Union Elementary School

Saturday, October 21, 2017

October Birthday Breakfast

We will be hosting our second birthday breakfast, Friday October 27th. We will be celebrating students who had a birthday in October. We will meet for morning meeting, sing happy birthday, and enjoy a light birthday snack. It will all happen before 9:00 so we can continue on with our learning plans for the day. Arrival will be at the same time your child comes to the classroom. Please email me if you plan to attend - all immediate family members are invited - whether you have a birthday child or not! You are welcome to bring younger siblings to these monthly birthday breakfasts (during other parts of our day, we ask that you leave younger siblings at home). If you've signed up for October to help with food donations, I'll send you an email - please respond with what you plan to bring. Drop me an email if you think that you'll make it for all or part of the breakfast/morning meeting! Each month we will have one, so don't feel obligated to attend all - do what works for your family. These breakfasts/morning meeting are informal and a chance to stop by and visit with our class community!

Inspired by Eric Carle

Students were inspired by Eric Carle this week as they created their own insect collages. The children created their own community paper and shared the paper to design their own insect. We had dragonflies, fireflies, butterflies, luna moths, and a variety of different beetles. Students worked cooperatively together, shared ideas, and had lots of fun while creating insects that had at least 3 body parts, 2 antennae, 6 legs, and wings. These will hang in the hallway next week, so be sure to stop by for a look - or check them out at conferences!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Author Visit

 We were lucky this week to meet a famous author - who lives right here in our city of Montpelier (and right next door to one of our students!)  Carolyn Scoppetone met us at the Kellogg Hubbard Library and read us the story she wrote about a little girl who visits Hubbard Park.  First graders are learning about different features of stories (for example, ellipses) so we were able to learn and study what Carolyn does to bring her story to life, just as we are trying to do with our own stories during writers workshop.  While at the library students participated in a story walk for the book and made a puppet for the main character - Mika - in the story.  INQUIRE with your child what they learned from the author, Carolyn Scoppetone.  Did they try any craft moves from her book in their own stories? 


This past week we had our October assembly.  Police Officers from our community came to acknowledge a good deed that some students did (INQUIRE with your child what these three students did when they found a $100 bill on the way to school.)  We also learned about cafeteria expectations from "Swoop" our school mascot - the owl!  Students are also being challenged to fill the school gem jar and will earn a special celebration next week as a school - stay tuned!

Big Pumpkin

Kevin, a first graders grandpa came to visit UES with his pumpkin.  Students learned about the life cycle of a pumpkin and worked as a class to make some mathematical estimates as to how much this pumpkin weighs - a challenging task for a first grader.  INQUIRE with your child what they think it weighs? What do farmers need to do to grow a pumpkin this big? 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Move, Move Move

Throughout the day, we do many movements to get our bodies re-energized for learning.  Taking frequent breaks between academic times is helpful, and even though we can't always get outside, we move in the classroom.  Games like 4 Corners, singing, and doing guided dancing are big favorites for this year's first graders!  Ask your child about "go noodle" and the movements they enjoy from this.

Leaf Peepers

After reading a scholastic newspaper article about "leaf peepers" first graders decided to explore their community to be a leaf peeper.  Students were surprised to hear that their state of Vermont is a common destination for others to travel to, to see the beautiful colors.  As we walked around the community of Montpelier, we tried to collect a variety of leaves from different species of trees. Once we got back to the classroom, students used guide books to try to identify the tree it came from.  

Cuisenaire rods

Students use cuisenaire rods to explore number combinations.  Today students challenged their partner to come up with another way to make the number they made.  Then, they returned the challenged until there were no more ways to make that number using 2 rods.  This works helps children to learn about equality and develop increased fluency for math facts.  First graders are learning about equality and the meaning of the equals sign so INQUIRE with your child whether 6+4=3+7 is a true number sentence.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ways to Bring Stories to life

This past week, students focused on making their small moments come to life. Students learned that when they make their characters both move and talk in their pictures and writing, the stories begin to get more exciting. They also learned that to really make a story exciting and to bring it to life, we need to hear more about character development and include feelings and thoughts of the main characters.  As we read the small moment story, "Fireflies" by Julie Brinkloe, children looked for ways in which this famous author unfroze people (make them move and talk) and brought out the inside (make people feel and make people think).

Partnerships during the last few weeks helped students be thorough in describing their moment as they asked one another questions using the words, who, what, where, when, and why. Students even read their stories, acting out and making a video in their heads to determine if they included every step. Many students even tried out using quotations in their own writing and all students enjoyed finding talking marks in their own books they read.  

Monday, October 9, 2017

ECO - leaves and trees

Can you believe our whole class fit under this Norway Maple?  We spent the afternoon identifying different maple trees en route to Sabin's Pasture.  Ken, from North Branch Nature Center helped us to learn how to identify different maples, oaks, and a few other evergreen trees.  We played a fun game to help us practice our identification skills and then had a chance to explore the upper field at Sabin's.  While some students journaled, others looked for unique leaves, and made leaf art! 

Fall Conference

I would like to schedule a time to meet with you and your child to discuss social and academic progress in First Grade. These conferences will follow the UES model of student-led. For this first conference that will be led by your child, we will provide a lot of support. Your child will prepare for the conference in several ways during the next two weeks. At school, we will be reflecting together about individual strengths and weaknesses. The conference will be a time to celebrate successes, and make collaborative plans for self-improvement. 

You can schedule your conference online for either the afternoon of November 1st or 2nd or during the day on November 4th. I've sent each of you an email with a link to the sign-up form.  I am doing these conferences on google spreadsheets, and therefore can't give you direct assess via the blog.  If you did not receive this link via your email, please let me know immediately, and I'll be sure to get you access to the sign-up. If you cannot access the spreadsheet, let me know and I can find a time that works best for you.

I will send you a confirmation, and a “Hints for Parents to Use at Student-Led Conferences” article. At this time, we will not be scheduling separate teacher-parent conferences. If you’d like specific information that is not answered at the student-led conferences, please call me after this conference and we can discuss your areas of concern over the phone. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!