Week of February 10, 2020

feeding chickens at the Farm School
on the airplane at recess
From the Director 
What happens on an Inservice Day?
Once a year, the staff works with math coach Polly Wagner, all day in a math intensive workshop, working together, examining new ideas and approaches and trying out new techniques.

This Wednesday we start the day with Notice and Wonder activities, two important facets of math (and science) learning. We will look at visual images to generate discussion. Looking at a picture of a skyscraper may lead to questions such as; How tall is it? How many floors are there? How many windows are there? I wonder if there are the same amount of windows on each side?  How many people could it hold? A picture of a vase of flowers could generate questions such as; How many flowers are there? How many petals? What is the average number of petals per flower?  Math, like science, is an engaging inquiry-based subject.

When children try a new activity- such as Kindergarteners looking at different combinations that make six - there is a moment that the teacher can ask, “What did you notice?”  From the direct replies, many discoveries of math properties occur, that are the basis of future math learning.  In an older class, a teacher may ask the question, “I wonder what happens when you add 2 odd numbers, any odd numbers?  Does it happen every time? "

We will look at how to provide lots of Notice and Wonder moments for our students. These Notice and Wonder moments are essential to math thinking, provide rich exploration and build a solid math foundation for further learning. 

Later in the morning, we will look in-depth at how to teach to a multi-ability class, with a wide range of learners. How is each student engaged, working on their next step?  We hope to have a fruitful discussion, sharing our experience, and going away with new methods and ideas to try in our math classes. 

Just like the children, teachers are always learning.  Taking this day to review, and refresh, renews classroom teaching and spills directly into the classroom.  Inservice Days are essential to good teaching.


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This week at the Village School 

Monday      8:30 All School Sing
Wednesday    No School Inservice Math Day
Friday             1st-6th Crotched Mtn. downhill skiing  


Updates    see the monthly calendar for more

If you missed the Open House
Fret not, call anytime and set up a visit to observe a classroom (or classrooms) of your choice. That's the first step in figuring out if the school could be a good fit for your child.

1st-6th downhill skiing at Crotched Mtn. this Friday
Parents have been notified of their car pools.  Car pools leave from their local area. Teachers ski with children, stay with those taking lessons, and supervise on the bunny slope.  New skiers go on the lift with a teacher, when they are skiing in control.  Zandy will be in the lodge all day, for students who need a break.  Thank you Zandy.

Dress for the Weather
Until mid- April (this is New England after all), all children should have snowpants, insulated waterproof boots, parka, hat and gloves at the school at all times.

Do you order on Amazon?  Use AmazonSmile to benefit the school.     Every time you order, Amazon donates to the school.  Use this link to make sure you are always ordering on AmazonSmile.  Its the same Amazon, no extra charge, all your settings stay the same. Click here to enroll, it takes 30 seconds.   Once you are set up, click here to put the button on your browser.  

Get the lowest electricity rates and the Village School benefits too!   With Autopilot
National Grid (or whoever you have) is still your company, but your new supplier changes to the one with the lowest rate, and can change monthly if needed, to keep your rate low.   Questions?  or ready to sign up?  Call Matt at 413 834 8677  Click here for the video and more info    Get great rates on phone, cable too.  Works well for businesses too.

NEW!  February Photos on Photo Blog

belly sliding at recess

1st-2nd class singing and dancing

Friday sledding down the big hill

kids at recess, singing Shady Grove around a birch tree

Jeff Davis plays for the school

5th-6th making rhythms with found kitchen instruments 

Send this link to your friends and relatives, so they can get this enews too
preschool pretend group
ice experiments


Last Monday after All School Sing the children began making valentines for their families. There was also a new button collection which some children began to explore and sort. 

On Tuesday children played our Caps for Sale game which was designed and made by Sofie. This game entails rolling a large cube and counting the number of colored caps to add to the peddler's tree. 

On Wednesday for science, Trina talked about the upcoming storm and the hardship on the hungry birds. She gave each child a bag of birdseed for them to spread as we walked in the woods.

On Wednesday Carmen and family welcomed her new baby brother into the world. Congratulations to Allyson, Auggie, Carmen and Gus.

On Friday the class helped make new green play dough for our Saturday Open House. We also enjoyed pasta caps with grated cheese for snack.

This week we will tell the story Rose Red and Snow White and will continue writing messages in the valentine cards.
kindergarten singing during Theme Share
showing parents our work and learning during Theme Share


We had a wonderful Theme Share last week to celebrate completing our Humans theme. The class sang, and enthusiastically and proudly shared work with their parents.  We begin our new theme of Music this week with the picture book The Song of Six Birds by Rene Deetlefs, an African tale about a girl who collects bird songs to fill her flute. She combines the songs to play beautiful tunes for her friends and family. We’re reading and journaling the story.

In reading we’re practicing Reading Super Powers. Our focus is on Pointer Power - when we point to each word as we read, and Re-Read Power – when we re-read sentences to gain quick recognition and fluency.

We began our new snack time read-aloud, James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. The children have been listening eagerly and are excited to find out what happens as the peach continues growing.

We celebrate Valentine’s Day in class this Friday. Children bring in homemade cards or gifts to share with the rest of the class. We begin the morning with a sharing circle to give out the cards.

Last week in phonics we practiced making and reading words ending in -at. This week we are repeating the activity with words ending in -an, such as pan, man, and ran. We’re also practicing reading and writing high frequency words such as go, do, and at.

In math last week we continued investigating number combinations to ten by sticking down ten squares of two colors and writing equations to go with the patterns such as 6+4=10. This week we’re starting a new Investigations unit Build a Block, Build a Wall about 3D geometry. We’re beginning by looking at, describing, and naming 3D shapes.
1st-2nd graders using thermometers in science
working on our poems

1st-2nd Grade 

This week we celebrate our hard work over the last six weeks. Our timeline projects are nearing completion as the children complete details on their personal events and begin to assemble the mobiles. See the mobiles hanging over the cubbies outside the classroom.

Our Read-Aloud is the novel Nicholas – A Massachusetts Tale by Peter Arenstam. The main character is a field mouse who travels across the state of Massachusetts. During his trip he learns all about the state and its inhabitants, as well as its history. Most recently Nicholas has learned about the Wampanoag Indians, one of the first tribes we will begin to learn about in Theme.

Last week in music we enjoyed singing with guest music teacher Erin, who is a preschooler mom. She taught us to sing We’re Going to the Zoo and a rhythm name song.

In science last week we did a variety of tests using thermometers. We discussed both the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales. The children took the temperature of warm water, snow, soil and their own foreheads. This week we return to My Tree to observe and collect twigs.  In math the first grade is practicing counting by 2’s and looking at equations to determine if they are true or false.

We will wrap up our poetry writing unit with a class poetry share. Each child will get to read one or two poems that they have written. This is great practice for learning to speak in front of a group.  In phonics this week children are working with new digraphs or learning about -igh word families.

On Thursday we will exchange Valentine’s and enjoy some holiday related games and groups activities.

We look forward to downhill skiing at Crotched Mountain on Friday.
3rd-4th students working on the beginnings of the Acropolis
making people to put in the Greek town

3rd-4th Grade

The children wrapped up research last week.   They found interesting information and did a great job keeping in mind what kind of information to look for about their person.  This week, we’ll work on writing our first drafts.  We continue to read Where is the Parthenon? during our reading block.  There are some impressive statistics about the building including that the façade triangle held 25 life-sized statues.  Most impressive is that it housed a statue of Athena that stood 40 feet high.

When given a palette (shoebox) and just a few ideas, it’s truly amazing to see children’s imagination at work.  Last week, shoeboxes became animals, sports fields, mailboxes and more.  The children problem-solve when something doesn’t work and they use materials in new, unexpected ways.  The classroom was a busy workshop last Wednesday as they dove into making their valentine boxes.

In theme, we began creating our diorama. Loosely based on Athens, the children will build a typical Ancient Greece town.  The children are working with a partner and are working to construct different aspects of the town, including the Acropolis, Parthenon and a theater.  They already have great ideas about what materials they can use to make their creations. It's exciting to watch as it unfolds.

The fourth graders are beginning a new unit on fractions and decimals.  We begin by finding fractional parts of a rectangle.  We’ll also ground ourselves in what the numerator and denominator mean and work with equivalent fractions.  Please see the parent letter for more specific information about this unit.  The children will have a quiz on their fives division facts.

On Thursday, we celebrate Valentine’s Day.  The children should bring in their valentines to deliver to their classmates.  On Friday, we have our field trip to Crotched Mountain.  If you have not passed in the permission slip yet, please do so by tomorrow.  Also, for 3rd graders, please pass in the England trip query by Thursday.  Please remind your children to practice their recorder pieces.

5th graders' science experiments with food
organizing our experiments
class consultation on individual experients

5th-6th Grade

This week the children are completing the research phase of their theme reports, ready to begin planning and writing them when we return from the February break.  Last week each of the research groups broke into pairs (and one trio) to write a short sketch in the form of an interview with a character in their research area.  The idea was for the students to draw on the information they had discovered, and to find a different way of representing it, as they prepare to write their final report.

For example, the three students researching immigration wrote an interview with two newly arrived Irish immigrants.  These talked about their reasons for leaving Ireland, and the arduous journey they took across the Atlantic – in what were known as ‘coffin’ ships because of the mortality rate during the passage.  Each pair then performed their sketch for the rest of the class.

Some of the students have been intrigued by the large wall map provided by the Census Bureau, which is colored according to population density, and gives the population of each state, and the number of its representatives.  A number of questions have been displayed next to the map, and we had a whole-class discussion in which we considered, for example, the fact that Wyoming (population, half a million) has the same number of senators as California (population, 39 million).  Having studied the various western biomes in the fall, the class was able to understand one of the reasons why the relatively arid states east of the Rockies have such low population densities.

In preparation for this year’s whole-school poetry project in the first week of March, for which the theme will be music, the class has been listening to various pieces.  We have watched and listened to performers on video, and the children have been drawing pictures in response and, this week, writing in their journals words and ideas in that the music evokes.
 tree shelter on the hike.....its more stable than it looks!   (its hung up on a bigger tree)
following Leanne on the preschool hike
The Village School is an independent school serving children in preschool, kindergarten, and grades 1-6, in north central Massachusetts, offering a unique curriculum based on challenging hands-on academics, direct contact with the natural world, and kindness.  For more information, or to set up a visit,
call our Director, Rise Richardson at 978 249 3505
or email her at
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