This week is our final week reviewing the four processes. The students are doing an excellent job with finding the prime factorization of a number and determining whether it is prime or composite. We also learned a trick to using subtraction in order to divide. Students determine how many times they need to subtract the divisor from the dividend to get zero. The number of times they need to subtract is the quotient. For example, when looking at 20÷5,

20-5=15 (1)

15-5=10 (2)

10-5=5 (3)

5-5=0 (4)

You must subtract 5 from 20 4 times to get 0, so the answer is 4. It is a neat trick that the students can do and helped them visualize the concept of grouping in division.

Today the class took an assessment to measure their understanding of our block. There were practice problems of addition, subtraction, multiplication, number patterns and prime factorization. The class did very well, and I love how much they enjoy prime factorization! When we return from break the students will begin their writing block that focuses on Norse Mythology. They will be learning the elements of literature and also fine-tuning how to construct an answer to a prompt that draws from text evidence.

Prime and Composite Numbers

The students are learning all about prime and composite numbers. Yesterday in our story, Multi’s fire spell was broken down into pieces by a little Dwarf. She and Divisor enter the Kingdom of the Dwarves underground and discover that breaking down multiplication spells is a skill they have passed down for generations. Multi asks if they will teach her this skill in order for her to properly defeat Sir Fractal. In class we learned how to “break down” a number by using a factor tree. In a discovery activity the students worked with their team to decide which numbers would be prime or composite. Then they were able to use that information to find the prime factorization of each number.

Yesterday our class had the honor of having the renowned Jack Petrash in our room! He came in to observe the students and we were able to conference later. He had nothing but great things to say about our students and how wonderfully they worked together during their lesson.

The class is still trying to earn enough P.A.T. Points to have a party next Friday. If they are able to get just a few more, we will have a pj and tea day! Before break begins we will have a week reviewing all of the four processes. I am encouraging students who do not have their multiplication tables memorized to study and practice each night, as we will be moving on to multiple digit multiplication when we return from break.

Continuing our Math Block

This week the students are focusing on reviewing multiplication and division facts. In our story the characters Multi and Divisor are headed towards the castle of Calculatron to deliver a message to the evil Sir Fractal. Along the way they come up against more evil shadow monsters of The Nothing and Multi must use her powers of multiplication to defeat them. Not only have we been practicing our multiplication facts but the class has also started reviewing their times tables chart. Tomorrow we will discuss factorization.

In reading workshop the students’ reading levels continue to be assessed while their peers are given silent reading time. While they read they are encouraged to journal their thoughts and questions into their reading books.

Yesterday the students had their first school assembly. We are planning on holding school wide assemblies every Monday as a way for the students to come together and understand they are a part of the whole group. This is a great time to make announcements, celebrate birthdays and perform new poems and songs. Our class has been given outstanding compliments by the staff at the school for their respectful listening! I have been reiterating to them that as one of the oldest classes in the school it is their job to lead by example, and they are doing a great job!

Day of Courage

Today our school celebrated the Day of Courage! This is a very special day in Waldorf education where the children recognize the traits of bravery and courage to face their difficulties in life, big or small. This is personified through the story of Michael and the dragon, who meets the challenge of slaying a dragon that is tormenting a town. We were very lucky to view second grade’s performance of the tale! Yesterday the class painted their own dragons that we will cut out and hang from our ceiling as a decoration.

Our class sung the song “Michaelmas Time” and did an excellent job! The music was a challenge that they certainly faced, as it was a very difficult tune. They also sang two songs with our music teacher, Mrs. Whitney. It was beautiful! Our class also was AWESOME at the assembly in terms of being quiet and respectful. They received several  compliments from staff members during and after the Day of Courage concluded. Each class was rewarded with some dragon bread baked by the Morning Glory Kindergarten class and apple cider. It was the perfect treat to start fall!

In math the class continues to practice their addition and subtraction skills and learn appropriate vocabulary that goes along with it. Today we discussed a different way to add with regrouping that allows the class to solve using mental math. Students add the numbers in the hundreds place, the tens and then the ones. It is a neat trick to double check your work.

Next week we will be reviewing multiplication and division facts and learning about factoring, prime and composite numbers!


*I am asking staff to send me pictures of the event so I can post them on the blog!

The identity property

In today’s Main Lesson after our fire drill practice, the class listened more to the tales of Addie and Minar. After Minar is hypnotized and falls into the swamp, Addie is attacked by a shadow monster who looks just like her. It is through their interaction that Addie retains her identity and understands that any number plus or minus zero is still that number, also known as the identity property. Now that Addie has learned a new spell she has the power of light and telekinesis!

We also began discussing the steps for regrouping, and will continue this week with subtracting across zeros. In Circle the class has been singing “Michaelmas Time” in preparation for the Day of Courage on Thursday. They have gotten very good at the song and we cannot wait to show it off to all the classes this week.

Building Up Out Math Vocabulary

To start our review of the four processes, the students have been studying math vocabulary to give language to the operations they use. This is tied into our story, as Addie and Minar have returned once again. Determined to save their friends Timeor and the Riddler, Addie must regain her powers of ice and fire. In order to do so, she and Minar travel through the misty mountains to the Dark Swamp to meet a witch who will give her three spells; Associative, Commutitive and Identity. On their travels Minar introduces his two new daggers, minuend and subtrahend, that help him subtract from monsters. These prove useless in a battle between the pair and the evil Goblins who are hiding in the mountains, but Addie is able to use the associative property to help Minar defeat them. Next week the class will continue to learn and identify math vocabulary when given problems, and will also continue practicing the four processes.

Math Review and Building community

image.jpegThis week marks the beginning of our math block. We are spending this week reviewing the 4 processes and important math terminology. This week is all about finding strengths and weaknesses in the class’ understanding of the processes and differentiating their work depending on what they need. Unlike in years past where we focused on a more dreamy quality of learning math through song and movement, this year it is important for the awakened child to practice in a rote and concrete way. Math drills and worksheets may at times be used, but only because it is so important for our older 4th graders to focus on practice and memorization in order to learn new, increasingly different skills.

Yesterday we had a community circle in order to reflect on how our class has changed over the years, and how our expectations should change to reflect this. The students did an amazing job coming up with classroom expectations to follow in order to learn and grow in a harmonious way. I am so proud of how thoughtful their answers were!


Wrapping Up Our Local Geography Block


This week we are finishing our local geography block, culminating with our field trip to the Steel Stacks this Friday. Yesterday we painted an image relating to Bethlehem and the Moravaians, and this morning we drew the state’s living insignias into our Main Lesson books. We also took an open book assessment in which the class could use the information in their books to help them answer questions about the block. They also had to write a short answer to the topic of “Why is Social Studies important?”.

For P.A.T. time today the students enjoyed playing math basketball. They had four teams and would select a player to come up and answer a multiplication problem. If they were successful they had the opportunity to shoot a basket (our version was a beanbag into a canvas basket tied to the wall!) for either one point or a longer three point shot. The kids loved it and it was a wonderful way for them to practice their times tables. Next week we will start our math block, in which we will be focusing on reviewing the four processes. It is very important that the students practice their times tables at home too, so please encourage your child to do so.

The Industrial Revolution and P.A.T.

This week the class is learning all about the Industrial Revolution in America. Yesterday we looked at a map of Lehigh County and observed how one of the county lines is actually made up of the railroad. We talked about how the railway would have affected commerce in the area and how important it would be for trade.

Today in our story about Todd, our main character was shown a new vision involving the birth of steam power and how harnessing that power changed the world. In the story Todd is stunned to discover the place he was transported to was Bethlehem during the Industrial Revolution, and is horrified at the pollution and dangerous working conditions that the people, including children had to endure. He vows to change the past, but is unaware of how doing so could impact the future.

We have something new and exciting in our classroom to share called Preferred Activity Time, or P.A.T., which comes from educational theorist Dr. Fred Jones. During the last 20 minutes of the day the class has preferred activity time in which we may complete art projects, enjoy extra recess, or play review games. If the class does an excellent job during transitions throughout the day, they can earn up to 10 extra minutes of P.A.T. time for the end of the day. They can also earn time to be placed into a P.A.T. bank, which will be saved for a special activity. We are currently saving up time for a pj and tea party before fall break, and already have 10 minutes put away! P.A.T. is an excellent educational tool because it is positive and keeps the students engaged during lessons and transitions. I am so impressed by how hard the class is working and how focused they are during their work!