Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rebekah's Book Talk

Rebekah's Review of Charlie Bone

This book is about a boy named Charlie Bone. He finds out that he has the power to enter paintings! This has him go to a school for his kind. Then there are the Bloors and the Yewbeams. They make him have an arch-enemy watching at school and at home! What's happening to Charlie Bone?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Members of our Class

Did you hear that we have two new classmates? They are very quiet and remain focused on their work throughout the entire day. Please welcome hermit crabs Secretariat and Cheetah to the Rencher/Merritt class! Sophie and her family have donated these crustaceans to our class and everyone is enjoying getting to know them.

Moravian Sugar Cake RECIPE

Perhaps your family would like to try to make this over the Christmas vacation?

Moravian Sugar Cake

Yield: 4 9x9 cakes
    1 package active dry yeast 
    1/2 cup warm water 
    1 cup plain mashed potatoes 
    1 cup sugar 
    1/2 cup butter 
    1 teaspoon salt 
    2 eggs, beaten 
    *6 cups flour 
    Brown sugar 

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add a teaspoon of sugar. Once the yeast has "proved" itself (gotten bubbly), mix potatoes, sugar, butter, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add yeast mixture and stir well. Stir in eggs and enough flour to make a soft dough -- this can be as little as 5 cups or as much as 6 1/2 depending on the humidity the day you make the cakes.
  3. Cover the dough and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
  4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Divide dough in four equal pieces and roll or stretch out to fit into 9x9 greased pans.
  5. Cover and let rise again.
  6. When doubled, make indentations in the top of each cake about 1 inch apart with your fingers.
  7. Sprinkle each cake with brown sugar, about a 1/4 cup per cake, sprinkle with cinnamon, about 1/2 teaspoon per cake, and set small cubes of butter into the holes in each cake.
  8. Bake in a 375-degree F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Moravian Sugar Cake Baking Experience

Our class made Moravian Sugar Cake today! It was a great learning experience to see and smell the yeast and to watch the dough rise. It requires a lot of patience to make homemade bread! Our hard work paid off as we enjoyed tasting our delcious Moravian creation at the end of our school day. We were very pleased with the results. It was delicious!

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Newsflash about TUESDAY!

    Our class will have the weekly spelling test tomorrow. It will be on last week's Word Sort words and each child's personal spelling list. We have let them know about this in class.

    Also, our class will not head to Imaginon again before the Christmas break. You may return library books to any PLCMC branch, or your child may bring his or her books back to our classroom and Mr. Merritt and I will be sure they are returned.

    Camp Read-a-Lot

    Thursday is the big day we've all been waiting for! Students may bring a sleeping bag or blanket and a pillow. We will have big blocks of time for reading, so the 4th graders should be sure to bring plenty of reading material...novels, magazines, newspaper, informational texts, etc. Of course, our classroom library will be open as well. We will enjoy going to the 3rd Grade's Castle Play in the morning. To celebrate completing our current read-aloud text, Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol, we will watch The Muppet Christmas Carol at the end of the day. It is certain to be a day to remember!

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Old Salem

    We had a great experience in Old Salem. The drizzle didn't spoil our learning adventure! I hope your student has shared with you the highlights of this trip. We are making postcards in class to reflect on our day.

    *If any parents who went on the field trip with us took photographs, please share and I'll post on our class blog along with these shots I took. Thanks!

    Spelling Bee Winner

    We were so proud of our class during the spelling bee on Friday.  Each contestant did his or her best and had good sportsmanship. Congratulations to Will for winning our class bee. He will head to the school wide bee on Friday morning. Good luck! We'll be cheering for you!

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Sam's Book Talk

    Thomas R's Book Talk

    Annie's Book Talk

    The Trumpet of the Swan
        If you like books about adventure and animals, then I think you should read The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White.  This book is about a young swan named Louis. Louis is a sad swan because he was born without a voice. Because Louis was born without a voice, it will be hard for him to get a mate and be happy. What this book teaches me is that you shouldn't judge someone if they can't speak, look different, or even like something that you don't like. This book also teaches me to be myself.  This book is about Louis's adventure in finding a voice. if you want to find out what happens on his adventure or to see if he finds a voice, I think you should read The Trumpet of the Swan.

    Old Salem

    In preparation for our field trip to Old Salem, we have been learning about the original settlements in Virginia and North Carolina. Ask your 4th grader to share some highlights of this learning with you. Why did the early Carolina farmers have to sell their goods to merchants in Virginia? What were the early relationships like with the Native Americans? What are imports, exports, cash crops, and surplus goods? Why did colonists move to Carolina? Who were the Moravians?

    Check out these videos from the Old Salem website. They provide a thorough history of Salem from the time of its inception by Moravian residents of Bethabara up until modern day when it was historically restored.

    Word Study Update

    We have finished our unit on subjects and predicates. Expect a packet to come home soon to go over with your student about his or her progress on this skill. We are continuing to work on verbs. Expect an assessment before the Christmas break on action and being verbs, main and helping verbs, separated main and helping verbs, forms of be, contractions, and negatives.

    Readers' Workshop Update

    In Readers' Workshop the students have been hard at work on learning the ways characters change. We have explored the internal and external journeys that characters make, the relationships between these journeys, and how conflict is often the impetus for this change. This culminating lesson of our character study unit has helped students develop their ability to identify the main idea of the books we read.

    One of the ways we have engaged our students has been through writing advice column letters in the style of "Dear Abbey." One of our shared texts was How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We modeled this letter, written in the voice of the Grinch:

    Dear Abby,

    I live in a cave with my dog Max just above Whoville. The Whos drive me crazy. They are so happy and love Christmas. They spontaneously burst into Christmas carols at the drop of a hat. I hate the Whos and hope to ruin their Christmas. Do you have any advice for me on how I might ruin their positive attitudes and joyful spirits about Christmas?

    Bah Humbug,
    The Grinch

    Then, in the voice of Abby, we wrote this advice column in response:

    Dear Mr. Grinch,

    Your letter is the meanest letter I have ever received. I cannot understand why you would want to ruin Christmas for the Whos. Perhaps it is because your heart is two sizes too small. I recommend that you take a closer look at the Whos and see that they celebrate Christmas, not for the packages, boxes, or bags, but because of the love in their hearts. Maybe if you see this, your heart might grow three sizes. I hope you will return all of the stolen goods to the Whos and enjoy celebrating Christmas with them.


    P.S. Be sure to try the Roast Beast!

    Students then wrote their own letters from the independent reading that they are doing. The study of character, change, and conflict is helping the students in Writers' Workshop as well because it is helping them to see the difference between "diary entry" lists of events and the changes in character and lessons learn that are the hallmark of a real story.

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Spelling Bee

    Our class spelling bee will be held this Friday, December 9. Your student does not need to study for this. While we will encourage everyone to take part in the fun, participation is optional. The winner of our class bee will head to the schoolwide spelling bee on Friday, December 16.

    Word Sort Words -- Week of December 5

    Long-A Patterns in Accented Syllables

    Notice that all the words have the long sound of a. The long -a sound is in the first syllable of rainbow and in the second syllable of awake. Chocolate and again should go into the oddball column because they do not have the sound of long -a even though the last syllable has a long -a pattern.




    National Geographic Bee

    The schoolwide geography bee will be on Friday, January 13th. In order to select our class's representative, we will have our class bee on Thursday, January 5. If your child wants to study for the Geo Bee, use the daily quizzes from National Geographic at...