Lent- A Time for Change

In the Catholic Church, Lent is looked upon as a time for change- a time to reflect on our lives and asks ourselves how we can make changes to become a better disciple of Jesus. This is often hard for young children to understand and even harder to put into action. This year in first grade, along with many school/parish-wide lenten projects, we will be using lenten cards that focus on the 3 main areas the church asks us to look at during Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These cards are special because they go beyond the traditional practices and allow children to do small tasks or extra prayers in ways they can relate to. It also allows them to alms give without necessarily having or needing money. It is my hope that the first graders and I will look back on these 40 days and be able to reflect on how we have grown as people and take away some true connection with Jesus during his sacrifice, passion, death, and rising. Here are some sample cards that we will be using this year!

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100 Days Smarter!

On Friday, February 3rd, the first graders celebrated the 100th day of school. We spent the day exploring the number 100 in many different subject areas and had a little fun as well. Our favorite part of the day was making a pair of glasses out of the digits 1-0-0. In order to create the glasses, the students had to work with a partner to answer the question- How can I divide 100 items in ALMOST equal groups? This was such a fun challenge and had students thinking in new ways. We also made a hat with 100 dots and we made our dots in sets of ten in order to prepare us for our upcoming math unit on our base ten system and place value. Here are some pictures from our fun day!

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Reading at Home

As the first graders are becoming stronger readers in the classroom, I like to clue parents in on some tips for helping students be strong readers at home as well. Reading is more than just saying the words you see on a page out loud.

Reading is making meaning from print. It requires that we:

  • Identify the words in print – a process called word recognition
  • Construct an understanding from them – a process called comprehension
  • Coordinate identifying words and adding meaning to them so that reading is automatic and accurate – an achievement called fluency. Fluency also deals with using expression in our voices and proper phrasing while reading to make the information more understandable to the listener.

In first grade (and beyond) students are asked to read to entertain themselves or others, but more and more are asked to read to gain information as well. Informative texts are often much more complex than narrative texts and require additional skills to be truly “read”.

Below are some parent information handouts to give you ideas on ways to help children become strong/independent readers in many areas of their lives.

What do Letter Grades Mean?

With the students receiving their first report card of the year and this being the very first time the first graders have received letter grades on their report cards, I thought it would be a nice time to post the following information. Report cards are just a snapshot of your child’s average ability level at this current time. It can change depending on the content taught and the depth of knowledge that different skills ask for. Love & Logic teaches us to celebrate the things the students do well and be sad about the things that aren’t so great. I am proud of all of my students and hope that no matter what their grades are, they will feel loved for who they are inside as well.


The student is doing very good or excellent work; he/she demonstrates an ability to converse and apply the concepts of the subject and a willingness to put in the effort to become proficient in this subject.

The student is doing a good job in this subject; he/she demonstrates an understanding of the major concepts and their work reflects an ability to apply these concepts and rules in a reasonable manner. With more time and effort the student might expect to do better.


The student exhibits satisfactory work on the major concepts, but does not seem to have a good grasp of the details and/or subtleties of the content or skills. With more time and effort, the student might expect to perform at a B level.


The student is barely able to apply the concepts and knowledge in the subject. The assignments and exercises are being completed, but do not show much ability.


The student is not performing well in the subject area. His/Her assignments are weak or missing and show no effort or understanding concerning the content area.

Exciting Times

It is hard to believe we are already half way through the month of October. There are a few exciting things coming up here at St. Joseph School for our first graders:

1. The first grading period (quarter) will be ending and report cards will be coming home on Wednesday, November 2nd.

2. We will be celebrating Priesthood Sunday on Friday, October 28th with Fr. Tim at our school Mass.

3. November 1st is All Saints’ Day and all of the classrooms will be decorating our doors to match the theme of a particular saint. The first graders will be voting on their saint choice this week.

4. Book Fair- our annual book fair will be taking place beginning Nov. 2nd- keep an eye out for information about Lunch with a Loved One to come shop the book fair and share lunch with your first grader in early November.

5. Parent/Teacher Conferences are the second week of November. We will be using Sign-Up Genius to select times- more info to follow.

Please continue to check your child’s folder each evening and their agenda for homework assignments as well. ALL HOMEWORK is due the following morning. Starting the 2nd quarter of school all missing assignments will be marked as so in Gradelink and will count as zero points. Daily responsibility is an important part of preparing your child for second grade and beyond.


Homemade Play Dough

Today the 1st Grade made homemade play dough.  Here is the recipe if you are interested in trying this at home.

1 c.  Flour

1/2 c.  Salt

2 Tbsp.  oil

1 tsp. alum

Food coloring

Mix all together.  Add water -no more that 1/2 c.  Make sure you add food coloring before water.


Love & Logic

As many of you know, the discipline philosophy that helps guide the staff here at St. Joseph School is called Love & Logic. It is a program that helps create positive relationships between students and teachers/administrators and helps students learn how to think, and when they think, they connect their actions with consequences, which eventually leads to self-control. Love and Logic is sometimes hard to understand- logic is easy- what makes the most sense… but love can be a little more tricky. The love in Love & Logic doesn’t mean I love you so much I never want you to be upset, it means I love you too much to let you continue causing problems for yourself or others. I love you too much to let this be the kind of person you turn in to. And, I love you enough to help you learn about these consequences now, even if it hurts you and me, to have a better future. It is a program that keeps the future self of the child in mind, while focusing on current behaviors as well.

Love & Logic isn’t just for schools and administrators, but for parents and families too. It can help solve some of the everyday issues that may occur at home, such as homework battles, going to school battles, and daily attitude/child interactions. If you’re interested in learning more about Love & Logic, I encourage you to do three things:

1. Visit http://www.loveandlogic.com/. There is a large amount of information and resources available.

2. Once on the website, sign up via email for the weekly tips. It is called the “Insider’s Club”. You’ll get an email once a week with a little L&L tip.

3. If you still would like to do more, you can look up Love & Logic on youtube and see some video clips of the creators talking about the program with little stories and examples. They are pretty short usually and entertaining as well.

I hope you enjoy your journey into the world of Love & Logic.

It’s August!!!



Hi everyone and welcome to the first grade news page! As the school year gets underway keep checking back here for updates on events in the classroom and exciting information about our classroom and school. I am looking forward to meeting all of the students and starting a new year! Here are a few important dates right now:

Friday, August 19th: School Walk-Thru 12:00-2:00- Come in and see the room, say “hello” to me, and pick-up paperwork for this school year

Monday, August 22nd: The school office is closed.

Tuesday, August 23rd: Our very first day of 1st grade! This is a full school day, students should wear their regular school uniform, please have a plan to be hot lunch or bring a cold lunch from home. Please have a plan for dismissal- is your child bus, car, or extended day???

If you have any questions or need me before school starts, the best way to reach me is by email: amakruskisjs@yahoo.com