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1st Quarter Update 2022
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Both the 8th Grade Book Club and the Friday Middle School Book Club are finishing up the book Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.  It is one of my favorites, and it won the Newberry Medal.  Both clubs will be reading plays for their next reading.  Eighth Grade Book Club will be reading Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare.  Friday Middle School Book Club will be reading Our Town by Thornton Wilder.  We will be reading the plays during our class time.  I just love plays!


Things are getting exciting in drama! By the time you read this, each play should be cast!  Actors are working on what to do on stage with movement and voice. We still find the time to play our favorite drama games, too!


*NEW this semester:  We have surveyed our 2nd-3rd grade parents, asking your preference as to whether you’d prefer an evening or daytime performance.  Please look for this email and respond promptly with your preference so you can make your opinion count!  Once we have the data, we will announce when exactly the shows for 2nd-3rd graders will be.


*Evening performance dates for 4th-12th graders are set and have been announced already. But we are happy to remind you when they are!! Monday-Tuesday drama students (4th grade and up) will be Tuesday, Dec. 6 and Wednesday-Thursday-Friday drama students (4th grade and up) will be Friday, Dec. 9.  Times and details to be announced later in the semester.


*Dress rehearsal for 4th grade and up will be Friday, Dec. 2.  Details to follow. 


*Be watching for emails from the drama teachers! You might receive an email asking for parent helpers in class.  You might receive an email with line due dates for actors.  You might receive an email detailing costume needs for your child/ren.  And you will eventually receive emails with dress rehearsal details (for 4th graders and up) and details for performances!!! :)

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Water color paints
Watercolor Paint
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Mrs. Craven is currently collecting newspapers and drink cans (rinsed out) such as pop, sparkling water, lemonade cans, etc. for our special projects~ Thank You in advance~


K/1 - This quarter in Art finds these energetic, creative, little learners getting familiar with the Art room procedures and expectations, meeting new friends, and enjoying being creative!  Our first task was to get the sketch pads for each child (these are stored in the art room until the end of the school year.) Our first project was an oil pastel/paint wash which focused on the 4 Nature Elements of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. From now through the end of the semester, we are switching focus from 2-D work to 3-D. Students enjoyed the children’s literature “Wild Birds,” by JoAnne Ryder Wild Birds - Joanne Ryder - Google Books and are in the middle of creating a small multi-media model magic wild bird of their own.  We are hoping they will choose to display them in the front lobby in the case when completed.


2/3 - We are off to a wonderful start in grades 2/3 with lots of returning faces and some new ones as well.  We kicked off the school year with the theme of Nature Elements (Earth, Water, Fire, and Air) with an integrative watercolor painted weaving combining two paintings which utilized the Art Element of “Contrast” as well as Line, Color, Pattern, and Movement.  We explored different techniques with washes, salt, fan brushes, dot brushes, and sponges. The remainder of October and November finds us creating a “Wall Pocket” out of clay and reviewing/learning all of our Clay Unit vocabulary terms.  The pockets will be made with the Nature Theme in mind with an estimated completion date of December or January depending on kiln firing schedules.


4/5 - This is one of our biggest bunches within a grade level, and they are delightful to work with!  It is heartwarming to see our veteran students welcoming our new students and helping them to understand the expectations and workings of the Art Room.  These kiddos also just completed a “Contrast” watercolor weave focusing on the Nature Elements theme with woven Elements of Art.  Currently, we are kicking off the much anticipated clay unit~ MUGS! This project has some wonderful components of construction and utilizes teamwork!  We are in need of pop cans/sparkling water cans etc. (rinsed out) to form the clay around.  


6/7 - The Nature Elements theme of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air along with the Art Elements are the foundation and inspiration for our projects this year.  We used experimental techniques with watercolor painting and joined two CONTRASTING works for the water color weave.  Students could choose whether to take home or hang up at Rex until the Drama plays.  Our exciting CLAY unit for this year is the much anticipated Ceramic Whistles (“Ocarinas”)  which translates in Italian to “Little Geese.”  Our hope is that the kiln firing schedule will allow for them to be completed by winter break.


8/Thursdays - Students in grades 6-8 Mon-Thurs also created a “Contrast” (Opposites) Watercolor Weave with enhanced materials of their choice such as fan brushes, dot brushes, sponges, and salt. All students are given the choice to hang theirs up with the others at Rex Mathes, or to bring their artwork home.  We are just wrapping up this 2-8 grade unit which resembles the interconnectedness of our student population and how we are “woven together” in friendship and as learning partners. 

Up next: CLAY! The focus for the middle schoolers will be on ceramic slab rolling, coiling, carving, and assembling with Elements of their choosing which relate to our Nature Elements Theme as well as being intertwined with the Art Elements and Principles of Design. Their works will have a functional element (Party Platters!) and likely will have a construction completion date of December, two weeks dry time, followed by “bisque” and “glaze” firings.  We hope to showcase these works in January.


8-12 Fridays - This energized, fun bunch began the semester by receiving their sketchbooks.  At this age, students have the option of bringing their books home to work in and back to Rex during their 60 minute Art class on Fridays.  A “Journal Prompts” page was offered for students to tuck into their book as a means for additional drawing motivation.  Our first big unit was a blast~ We spent two weeks learning about paint wash marbling with starch and created two prints.  From there, we are now compiling the two sheets into a front and back cover with blank drawing/journaling pages, magazine collage components, and twine or yarn to hold it all together.  One of the options is to laminate the covers, and students are invited upstairs to witness and join in the process.  Lastly, we will use calligraphy markers inside the books before displaying them at school, or taking home for the holidays.

Next up:  CLAY!  Our projects will involve a review of all Clay Unit vocabulary and terms followed by an individually designed and created large pot emphasizing techniques of slab rolling, coiling, carving, and scoring.  Students have a range of choices as they design symbolism within their works.  Mrs. Craven’s sample project will contain symbols which go with our theme of “Nature Elements.”  Art Elements and Principles of Design are reinforced throughout~


**SIDENOTE:  Mrs. Craven would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to those who have signed up to help during M/TU Kindergarten Art and Lunch times.  You all are so very appreciated~  :)



K-1st Grade Writing

We have been enjoying all things Fall related to our writing. In Kindergarten we have loved using our Fall word list to sound out and write words about pumpkins, apples and scarecrows. Some of our favorite read aloud books and writing projects have been with: Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and The LIttle Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything. First Grade students have been learning how to use their own personal word dictionaries to help them with their story ideas and writing. We add new words each week to their dictionaries, and they are feeling much more confident with their writing!  Feel free to add words and use at home to help with their writing. Ask your child to show off their Writer’s Notebook to you. It is a fantastic way to see what they have been doing and learning.

2nd-3rd Writing

We are off to a super start as we have been working through the Idea and Organization Traits in writing. Ask your child about how they start their stories with a BOLD Beginning as opposed to a Boring Beginning. They have been doing an excellent job with this! We have also practiced using transition words to make our writing more interesting and organized. Be sure to take a peek at their Writer’s Notebooks. There you will find their writing samples, What I Really Like and How to Make an Ice Cream Sundae. In the upcoming weeks, we will begin working on the trait of Word Choice which allows for a lot of fun and colorful writing!

4th-5th Writing

Our 4th and 5th grade writers are taking off! We started with some work in the trait of Ideas, discussing such things as where writers get their ideas and the importance of details. We came to the realization that stories are all around us, in our experiences, and everyday life. Next up, the writing trait of Organization! Our students have learned that writing starts with a Bold Beginning as our attention grabber, continues with a Mighty Middle with lots of good details, and wraps up with an Excellent Ending. Your child has practiced their skills by writing two short writing pieces, one a small moment story, and the other, a short story recounting their day at Rex Mathes, using transition words. Personal narratives are currently in the works. Students are planning out their family memory short story. Ask them to share their planning page with you. Thank you for sharing your children with us at HSAP. We certainly enjoy teaching them each day. We also encourage you to check in with them on a regular basis. Ask them to share what they’re learning about and writing in their writer's notebooks.

6th-12th Grade Writing

We are busy with our Travel Writing unit.  We spend some time examining mentor texts and learning about the genre of travel writing.  We are now in the brainstorming and drafting phase of the writing process.  We will also use this time to take a deep dive into descriptive writing and the 6 + 1 Traits of  Writing.  We use Canvas as our LMS (Learning Management System) which works great for a writing class.  We use Canvas to conduct peer reviews and offer feedback on each other’s writing.  Students chose travel destinations that they have been to (could even be in the Des Moines area).  They will be encouraged to include photos of themselves at that destination. You could help your student in selecting those photos and get them uploaded to the student’s Google Drive.

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Kindergarten and first graders just finished their Pete el Gato (Pete the Cat) mini unit which utilizes color and numbers vocabulary in Spanish!  Ask them what happened the last time we read the story when Pete sings about his “zapatos mojados” (wet shoes)!  Next up is a calendar mini-unit!  Make sure your child knows their birthday month, as we will be talking about that!!!


2nd - 5th graders spent the first 8 lessons reviewing all the basics!  This helps students review and remember what they already know, and it helps NEW students get a strong start!  Our first actual unit is FAMILY and PETS!  


Spanish A students have learned some basic vocabulary, including greetings, numbers, body parts, and school items.  Next up will be activities that they like to do!  This year we will complete the first half of the Realidades A textbook.  Please remind your students that they should study their review sheet for 5 min, at least 3 times during the week.  This will prepare them for the mini quiz they have at the beginning of each class period.  The link to their study guide is here: 

Spanish B students will work through the second half of the Realidades A textbook this year.  Ask them to show you the video we created using (location) prepositions last week.  It can be found on my website.   Please remind your students that they should study their review sheet for 5 min, at least 3 times during the week.  This will prepare them for the mini quiz they have at the beginning of each class period.  The link to their study guide is here:

Image by William Warby

We spent the first four weeks in science learning about and reviewing the metric system and science equipment. We learned how to use small metric rulers and meter sticks to measure distance. We practiced the water displacement method with graduated cylinders to measure volume, and used pan-style balances and triple beam balances to measure mass. 


Students are also learning how to work cooperatively in lab groups and follow safety procedures in a science classroom. 


This week we started our study of the solar system. We are beginning our unit looking at the moon. All students should have received a moon calendar in the past few weeks. It is my hope that they take some time in the next month to find and observe the moon, stars and planets. I don’t expect them to do this every day/night, but encourage them to start looking at the night (or morning) sky. 


Here are some links to an online moon calendar and moon phase page that might be helpful:





We will also study the 8 planets in our solar system, other general features (the asteroid belt, comets and eclipses) and stars/constellations. We will end our unit with the star lab where students will have an opportunity to climb into a giant dome and observe the night sky. It is one of my favorite things to do and will be a great way to end our science classes in December before winter break!

Solar System


We will continue to go outside to play our games if weather permits! We have had such fun classes so far this school year as the students are so engaging in playing our new games as well as the old ones! It is so rewarding to see the effort of everyone and the smile on their faces as they participate and cooperate with everyone involved! Soon we will also be starting some skill lessons during PE time. We love our school, our students, and our games!

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