January, 2021

K-1st Grade Writing

Welcome back! We are so excited to see our young writers in person again! Our online learning was filled with Gingerbread fun as we enjoyed listening to and comparing different versions of the Gingerbread Man and writing activities. In January, the Kindergarten students will begin our author study on Jan Brett. The students will enjoy hearing some of her favorite books including The Mitten. We will be acting out some of her stories and working on some fun corresponding writing projects. If you have any Jan Brett books at home, please send with your child to share. We love finding all of the “clues” that she leaves in her stories!


The First Graders will kick off the year talking about including a beginning, middle and end to our stories. This is such an exciting time for these writers as everything begins to come together and we love seeing more confidence in their writing. We will then get into our How to Write a Letter Unit. This is a favorite of the students as they enjoy writing letters to one another and is a wonderful practice in communication.

2nd/3rd Grade Writing

Welcome back to HSAP! After some family time and relaxation, we are anxiously awaiting your arrival back at classes. The students have been writing wonderful stories using bold beginnings, mighty middles, and excellent endings. They have also listened to mentor texts such as, A Bike Like Sergio, by Maribeth Boelts, where they wrote about a proud moment. The 2nd and 3rd graders also wrapped up some friendly letter writing and will be diving into the Word Choice trait after break. Word Choice will lead us into some fun descriptive writing activities.

4th/5th Grade Writing

Our 4th and 5th graders have learned how to take one of their memories and “zoom in,” until they find the “memorable moment” to use as their writing topic. They’ve been writing about a variety of topics, including personal narrative, point of view, creative writing, and writing with dialogue. Once back, we’ll be learning about how we can “dress up” our writing by focusing on our Word Choice. We’ll model this trait by reading a great mentor text, empowering our students to use this trait themselves in their own writing.  

6th-12th Grade Writing

We finished our “This I Believe” essays last semester.   The students worked very hard on them and they were a pleasure to read.  Make sure to check them out.  We will start this semester honing our reporting skills and write newspaper articles.  The exact writing assignment is still being finalized, but more than likely, students will design their own front page of a newspaper and write a news and a feature article.  As always, the 6 Traits of Writing will be our guide.  We will continue to use Canvas as our LMS as I received positive feedback from the students regarding its use.  While Canvas doesn’t lend itself to all subjects, it works well for writing particularly to use for peer reviews and teacher feedback.

Middle School Book Club:  We are excited to read some great books and plays this semester.  We will start the semester with non-fiction. Middle School Book Club will read I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Martin Ganda, Caitlin Alifirenka, and Liz Welch.  It’s The New York Times bestselling true story of an all-American girl and a boy from Zimbabwe and the letter that changed both of their lives forever.  This semester, Middle School Book Club will also read the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder and Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan.


High School Book Club: We are excited to read some great books and plays this semester.  We will start the semester with non-fiction. High School Book Club will read It's Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Adapted for Young Readers) by Trevor Noah.  The host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, shares his personal story and the injustices he faced while growing up half black, half white in South Africa under and after apartheid in this New York Times bestselling young readers' adaptation of his adult memoir.  High School Book Club will also read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Open Book


We are pleased to announce our spring play theme of NATURE AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS!  Mrs. Nichols and Mrs. Talley have been busy reading books, scripts... and more books and more scripts... to find the perfect fit for each class!  Titles include the following:  “The Circus Ship,” “Where is Home, Little Pip?” “The Great Kapok Tree,” and “A Sea Change for the Forest.”  We are very excited to get started sharing these great stories with each of our classes!


We will spend lots of time in the new year playing games like “Why are you Late?” “Captains Coming,” “Jumping Beans,” and “Magic Rocks.”  We will also work on vocal exercises, learning to articulate and speak loudly through our facial masks!!


Performances will be in May and we look forward to being back at Rex Mathes on our new and improved stage!



Happy New Year from Mrs. Craven!

Students will be welcomed back to the ART room with the highly anticipated “Artroom Buffet Free Choice Day!”  This event happens twice a year...winter and spring.  We will begin by reviewing a little about safety, hand and table washing, face coverings, and distancing. It will be exciting to see what the students create when given choices of materials.

In the coming months, we will return to our annual theme of “Construction at Craven’s Corner,” taking a look at how the Art Elements and Principles of Design come together like building blocks when we create our artworks.  Anticipated activities revolve around the units of Metal Embossing, Ceramics, Using the Sun as a component to art making, and Molas.  It has been wonderful having some ART space to spread out during our stay at the West Des Moines Christian Church.  We look forward to the time when we are able to return to our space at Rex Mathes.  The kiln and our fire clay are waiting quietly for us there!

Stay creative~ and Be well..

Art Class
Art Supply
Art Class








¡Feliz año neuvo!  Happy 2021! 

First of all, I cannot wait to reveal the winners of our “FIRST (NEXT) SNOW CONTEST” when students are back in the classroom!  November 23rd is THE DATE!  

Kdg and first graders will continue our study of the weather, specifically SNOW and everything that goes with it! 


2nd - 5th graders are deep into our landform unit.  We will continue where we left off on our last virtual lesson.  Students will practice acting out and retelling the story “El Pirata” which goes with the landform unit! 

Spanish A and B will also continue where we left off in our virtual lessons.  Spanish A students have begun a unit on activities they like to do.  Spanish B has begun a unit on foods and nutrition.  Neither group will have a mini quiz the first week back, but mini quizzes will resume the week of January 18th! Remind your 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to study for their mini quiz each week!  It makes my weekly instruction so much more meaningful and valuable!  They receive a hard copy of the study sheet each week, but it can also be found on my website at


P.S. Some of the games on my website are not working since Adobe Flash Player is gone for good.  However, I will be working to update them this spring!

Mexican Street Decoration

I hope everyone had a wonderful winter break and I’m so excited to see all of you back at WDMCC VERY SOON! Just a quick reminder...if you checked out a circuit kit from me, please be sure to bring it back (minus the green balloons) when you return to classes so we can use the bulbs, wires and bulb holders (red disc structures) for our upcoming activities.


We will spend our first day back together catching up and reviewing different kinds of electricity and building a simple circuit out of 2 wires, a bulb and battery. We will also spend time learning about insulators and conductors. The remainder of our electricity unit will be spent learning about different types of circuits (series vs. parallel), building circuits with switches, adding batteries, bulbs and motors with propellers! 


The awesome news I have to share is that we WILL be able to dissect this spring! YAY!!! We will be very flexible with timing because we will wait to get back to Rex to do this. In the meantime, we will begin a mini unit learning about different biomes around the world. Students will investigate different types of plants and animals that live in the diverse biomes.


I have loved hearing from so many of you during our at-home learning activities and look forward to seeing all of you in person soon! 

Electronic Wires


We are looking forward to being with you again in person and doing the many fun activities mentioned in previous articles.  Being active and having fun are two of the main components of attending PE class.  There is a general excitement in completing our experience at West Des Moines Christian Church and returning to Rex Mathes in the upcoming weeks in PE.

Getting Ready to Run