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When I conquer within me fear and wrath, Michael in light casts the dragon forth.”

I was so heartened to see all of the 5th graders helping out with work projects during yesterday’s all-school work day. Michaelmas is a time of mustering our might and doing the work that needs to be done. The 5th graders really exemplified this courageous spirit in their work on Friday to organize and beautify the school, as well as their weeks of hard work on the Festival of Courage pageant.



Festival of Courage, TODAY, September 29, 3-6 pm

  • Call time for the Pageant: 2:50 pm. Please be on time!
  • 5th graders should wear: Yellow or red shirts, pants of choice, comfortable shoes. We are creating star headbands in class that I will have ready when they arrive on Saturday.
  • Potluck assignment: Bring a MAIN DISH (6-8 servings). Don’t forget to label your serving dish with your name. Reminder: no nuts of any kind (careful of hidden nuts, like in pesto) and no eggs in pure form (including deviled eggs).
  • Festival Packing List:
    • flatware, plates, and filled water bottles for your family
    • lawn chairs
    • sunscreen or sun hat
    • $1 bills for pie cook-off tasting/voting spoons
    • pie for the cook-off
    • potluck dish
    • dancin’ shoes


I hope to see you all there!

  • Guest Visitor – Monday, October 1. We have the honor of hosting Sophie Labelle at Urban Prairie this coming Monday. Sophie is an author and cartoonist of comics and children’s books. She is known for her work in the area of transgender activism and rights, especially with youth. I have invited Ms. Labelle to talk to our class about the writing process, as composition writing is such a big part of our 5th grade curriculum.
  • 5th Grade Parent Night: Oct. 3, 6:00-8:00 pm. We’ll take a close look at the 5th grade curriculum, the developmental stage of the 5th grader, and preview the wonderful year ahead (including a preview of the Pentathlon by our wonderful Movement teacher Ms. Kondrat)!


Morning Lesson:

This week we wrapped up our first Botany block with a Jeopardy-style review game that the class really enjoyed! They keep asking when we can play again.  It was wonderful to hear all that they had learned from our lessons. We began our first Math block on decimals by reviewing fractions concepts from last year, including multiplying and simplifying fractions. We ended Friday by reviewing patterns in the products when multiplying by multiples of ten. This will help the children to solidify their place value knowledge before we journey into the world of decimals. Some children came to school already with some background in decimals and fractions. Not to worry! The lessons are a great review for them, and I am ever mindful of offering challenge opportunities to those who master a concept that others are still working on.


Skills Classes:

In Math Skills, we reviewed basic fraction identification and vocabulary, and practiced simplifying fractions, which required us to review division and equivalent fractions. We began each class with the “24” game, in which the children get cards with 4 numbers on them. They have to use each number only once and add, subtract, multiply, or divide to get 24. We had 4 of those puzzles that had stumped everyone in the class for the last few days. Today, we solved all of them! I’m teaching the class to add the word “yet” when they say “I don’t get this one,” in order to foster more of a growth mindset. “I don’t get this one yet” communicates something different than “I don’t get this one.” Yesterday they were convinced that the unsolved puzzles must be typos, but I asked them to stick with it, and today we saw the fruits of their persistence.

In Language Arts, we read from The Iron Ring, which is a really exciting and suspenseful novel! It has sparked a lot of discussion in class. 5th graders wrote responses to their reading about particular characters that interested them.

Our Botany project for the week was cooking with dried mushrooms.  Ms. Ding shared some dried Chinese mushrooms with us, called “Monkey Head” mushrooms, which have a very interesting, “furry” appearance and sponge-like texture. With the help of Gwendolyn’s mom Karen, we made a soup with the mushrooms, noodles, and some other vegetables.

In Form Drawing, the children inscribed a 5-pointed star in a circle–all freehand–in order to create their star headbands for the Festival of Courage Pageant.


School-Home Connections:

Look for decimals in everyday life and also examples of adding them and subtracting them. A great example is adding amounts of money, and using subtraction to calculate change. Cooking and baking also provide wonderful opportunities to work with decimals.