Dear Sprague Community, We had another successful Walk to School Day. We had 293 walkers today! That is very impressive as the weather gets chillier each day! Thanks to the committee and Ms. Flitsch for organizing. Everyone loves the ‘footie’ charms! As the weather gets colder and we have more cars dropping off and picking up each day, I do want to remind drivers to PLEASE pull as far forward in the drop off lane as you can and to park only in the marked spaces in our lot. This is especially important to help keep traffic moving. Car line can back up all the way to the fields and if cars are parked along the field or near the traffic islands in the lot, traffic cannot flow as it should. We encourage children to enter and exit vehicles as efficiently as they can as well. If your child requires assistance with a car seat, you may wish to park and walk to pick him or her up. Many thanks to those who have already donated candy to the Candy Drive. If your child brings in candy, please be sure to remind him or her to fill out a raffle ticket. There will be just a few prizes given out on Nov. 14th. We also encourage all students to write a card or letter to a soldier who is serving overseas. The candy will be shipped to soldiers who always enjoy the letters. Children should write letters that do not include personal information, but can tell about things like Boston sports teams, local weather, upcoming holidays, or food they like to eat. It’s great practice writing letters and it’s always good to brighten someone’s day! Our fifth graders are spearheading a collection for Cradles to Crayons, a local organization that collects and re-purposes gently used clothing, books, and toys. Students will collect donations in car line at drop off all week. We will also have a box in the lobby for donations. Cradles to Crayons does not accept toy weapons of any kind. (A well-meaning child made this mistake, so please be sure your child knows this.) As a reminder, toy weapons are never allowed at school. Many parents ask how they can help their children with math. I would like to share some information from an article that our Math Coach, Heather Heon shared with me. The article points out that mastering basic mathematical facts in addition and subtraction has long been a focus in mathematics instruction. As children, many of us recall flash cards and other drills that were designed to help us memorize the basic facts that were necessary to be able to complete more complex problems efficiently. New research suggests that a different approach may be a better match to the developmental levels that students pass through as they learn math. It is important for parents and teachers to understand this so we can support students in learning basic facts. Here is an excerpt from the article, “Fact Practice Through Games,” by Jennifer Bay-Williams and Gina Kling: Understanding the phases of learning basic facts Fluency with basic facts can be defined as the “efficient, appropriate, and flexible application of calculation skills and is an essential aspect of mathematical proficiency” (Baroody 2006, p. 22). Baroody describes the following three phases through which students must progress as they develop mastery with a particular group of facts: 1. Modeling and/or counting all or counting on to find the answer; for example, using fingers to help keep track of their counts to solve 5 + 7 = ? 2. Deriving answers using reasoning strategies based on known facts, such as solving 5 + 7 by thinking, “Five plus five equals ten, and two more will make twelve.” 3. Mastery or efficient production of answers. For example, when asked, “What is 5 + 7?” a child might call out, “Twelve,” and explain, “I just knew it.” Traditional approaches to learning facts generally ignore the second phase and move children quickly from beginning conceptual experiences with addition and subtraction to rote memorization of facts via drill, flash cards, and timed testing. Many games can help students “see” what each fact is actually representing. Our approach to math in school includes providing practice in meaningful ways.  Games like “Tens Go Fish” help students see pairs that add up to 10. Instead of asking for a matching card, players ask for a card that will make a combination adding to ten. For example, if a child has a 4, he might ask another player if he has a 6. Teachers routinely plan lessons and games such as these within instructional times. The Book Fair was a huge success! Organizers Andrea Doglioli and Catherine Mirick deserve recognition for their efforts in setting up and staffing the Book Fair. It was lovely to see so many kids and parents talking over book choices and making recommendations to friends. The “Dads and Donuts” event was a hit as well! Looking ahead, there are still spaces available in the 5th grade Lego Robotics Club that will be offered by Mr. McManus. The Lego Robotics Club will be offered on the following Wednesdays from 3:00-4:00 p.m.: November 12, 19 and December 3 and 10, 2014. Please note that on Wednesdays, students are dismissed at 12:00 and will need to return to school at 3:00 p.m. From the Nurse:  Let’s All Strive for Healthy Eating During this year Ms Flitsch and I will provide various activities that are aimed at exploring concepts of healthy eating for the students. Please encourage your child(ren) to participate; most of these can be done together as a family. Our goal is to promote knowledge of nutrition and good health habits now and into the future. This is particularly important with elementary-aged children, because as studies have shown, health behaviors that are developed during these years will continue on during a person’s entire lifetime. Our first activity, scheduled for the month of November, is about healthy snacking. Please review it with your child(ren). Teaching your children to make healthy snack choices today will reap your whole family an entire lifetime of benefits.          Did you know that children need snacks because they have small stomachs that don’t hold enough food to last between meals?  What makes a good snack? A good snack is nutrient dense; this means each bite contributes to the child’s intake of those substances required for growth, such as protein, vitamins, minerals, etc.          Healthy snacks bridge the gap between meals and round out the diet, helping to ensure that kids are getting all the nutrients they need to fuel their growth and provide energy. In addition, learning to eat and enjoy nourishing snacks encourages the development of lifelong healthy eating habits, both for now and in the future.                                        Healthy snack tips:

  • Plan ahead for snack times as a part of the day’s food intake.  Allow at least an hour between a snack and the next meal.
  • People typically reach for whatever is close and easy. Keeping nutritious foods ready to eat in “snack spots” in the refrigerator and cupboard will make it easier for your family to make good food choices:
    • a bowl of fruit, such as oranges, apples, melon, and berries, washed and cut up.
    • a bowl of fresh veggies such as cucumber rounds, carrot sticks, sliced peppers
    • slices or chunks of fresh cheese
    • nonfat or low-fat yogurt, alone or as a dip for fruits and veggies
    • nonfat or low fat milk for children over 2 years old. It’s healthier than juice.
  • Give kids water to drink during snack time and when they’re thirsty.
  • When shopping, let children help pick out fruits, vegetables and cheeses; they will be more invested in eating them.
  • Be mindful that if healthful snacks aren’t easily available, they will eat less nutritious readily available foods.
  • Try to avoid high sugar, fatty and salty snacks, such as candy and soda. (But small amounts of cookies, chips or candy are OK for occasional snacking.)

         Keep in mind that children actually need snacks. And don’t forget to be a good role model. Studies have shown that eating behavior modeled by parents has the biggest impact on what children eat.          Happy and Healthy Snacking!                   Sharon Mark Your Calendars: Nov. 6: WEF Spelling Bee Nov. 7: Green Assembly Nov. 11: No School in observance of Veteran’s Day Nov. 21: Give Back Day has been moved to this date Nov. 27, 28: No School–Thanksgiving Dec. 1: No school—Professional Day for Teachers Dec. 11: Sprague Cookie Walk

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Weekly note from Ms. Snyder–November 4, 2014
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