This Week in Alpha… Week of Sept 19, 2022

girl learning about natureA note about next week: We’ve got lots going on! Our first field trip (to a neighborhood fire house) after lunch on Wednesday and a picnic at Shipe Park on Thursday! Please wear walking shoes and be sure to pack your water bottle…

In Our Big Backyard…

We learned about another landform: plateaus! We built some using teamwork.

Next, we looked at the Edwards Plateau specifically. We learned that it was uplifted by tectonic plates ~100 million years ago – when the area was covered by an ocean. It’s composed largely of limestone, which forms in shallow water when water pressure compacts sediment. By rubbing and tapping pieces of limestone together, we discovered how easily it weathers. Another attribute of limestone is that it’s porous, so naturally the Edwards Aquifer came up but stay tuned next quarter for more on that!

Due to its lack of deep soil, the plateau is not ideal for farming, but we learned that more sheep graze on it than anywhere else in the country! Cattle and goat industries are important there also. Alphas learned the meaning of “overgrazing” and why it’s important to take care of the land. We discovered that the Hill Country Alliance is working to protect native species of plants and animals living on the plateau.

Topographic maps are useful for learning about landscapes of varied elevation so we looked at one made of the area. Then we put on our cartographer hats and tried our hand at measuring & mapping the highest point on a chocolate chip cookie. It was not easy, but it was delicious.

Beside the Edwards Plateau is the Blackland Prairie. Many pictures of the area showed us that a prairie is a vast, flat grassland. We learned that the soil was incredibly rich due to large amounts of humus and, in part, because of the fires that were set by Native Americans to help them hunt. European settlers farmed an immense amount of cotton, wheat, hay and corn using practices that depleted the soil of its fertility. However those industries helped grow Texas cities.

On Wednesday we transformed the north & south alpha rooms into a plateau & a prairie. Alphas took their journals with them to several stations, illustrating and writing about ranching, native plants, and prominent crops as they traveled.

Finally, we had a map day. We looked at several types (road/political/weather/topographic) and noted their identifying features. We narrowed our region of study to the city of Austin and found roads, parks, creeks…even our school! In table teams the alphas worked together to create a classroom map – not a simple task! Using large grid paper and rulers, we worked in table teams to measure our space. First we created the room perimeters, then we added doors, windows and desks. It was amazing to see how many challenges the students encountered and overcame by working together.

This week in Language Arts…

Ms. Andrea’s group…

Studied the letters: u, h, g, k. We reviewed letter sounds, practiced forming letters and played phonemic awareness games. We learned the sight word “like” and practiced “the” A LOT. We read sentences, put words in order to form sentences, and went “shopping” to create our own sentences. We learned that we always start a sentence with a capital letter and end with punctuation (periods, so far). This week we had our first dictation of an entire sentence. I am excited to begin a handwriting workshop and to teach our Alpha’s to leave a little space between their words. Hopefully everyone found the list of tips for working with your emergent reader/writer helpful; next week you’ll find some phonemic awareness games for you to play with your student.

Ms. Kim’s group…

This week we shared our writing and expressed our appreciations for our friends’ writing. Language Arts isn’t always reading and writing; we practice verbally expressing our thoughts and feelings too.
We created dioramas for one of the books we read.

Word work this week was focussed on “th” and “wh” digraphs. We also practiced writing sentences using an uppercase letter to begin a sentence and lowercase for just about everything else. We also used ending punctuation!

girls cutting paper for math

This week in Math…

Ms. Kim’s group…

WOW. What fun Flipbooks we brought in! Alphas were so proud of them!
We discover that number order follows a quantity-pattern – it’s an A/B pattern – it’s an Odd/Even pattern! We played a “greater/less than, equals to” game, we did a months of the year cycle (another pattern!), and we finished our Cycle of Seasons art activity just in time for the Autumn Equinox!

Ms. Andrea’s group…

Made huge leaps in their understanding of place value! We spent the week building numbers using 10’s and 1’s, and then taking them apart to write numbers in expanded form. We played place value bingo as well as a dice game for added practice identifying two digit numbers. We also played a read/write the room game in which we searched the classroom for place value illustrations and recorded our findings.

Boy cooking in class.

This week in Monday Lab…

Alphas “built for strength” this week. We had to build a 12 inch stand out of paper and tape that could hold books.

This week we learned that with corn, salt, and water we could make another tasty treat: tortillas!

We played games and and made patterns for tiny “pillow pals!”