Dear Kitah Aleph Families,

It was a pleasure meeting with so many of you during conferences!  Students are making great strides as we continue to grow as learners and as a community. Please read on for highlights of the month!


Reading Workshop

In our current unit, students have been learning that in order to make meaning from what we read, good readers need to decode fluently and think about what they are reading.  Students have been developing different strategies to add to their “reader’s toolbox” for decoding unknown words.  We have been using different animal friends to help us remember these strategies:

  • Lips the Fish – reminds us to get our mouth ready to say the first sound
  • Eagle Eye – reminds us to use the picture clues
  • Stretchy Snake – reminds us to sound out each part of the word
  • Tryin’ Lion – reminds us to reread the sentence and see if it makes sense
  • Skippy Frog – reminds us that we can skip the tricky word, read to the end of the sentence and see if we can figure out the tricky word with the help of other strategies and context
  • Flippy Dolphin – reminds us that each vowel can either say its name or make the short vowel sound like /a/ in “apple”, /e/ in “ed”, /i/ in “itch”, /o/ in “octopus” and /u/ in “up”.


Students have also been thinking of different questions to help them monitor for meaning and understanding of a fictional text.  Some examples are:

  • Do I know what’s going on in my story?
  • Do I know who my characters are?

We will continue to develop other comprehension strategies such as retelling, rereading and visualizing as we become even stronger readers!


Writing Workshop

We are a community of writers!  Our classroom has been buzzing with excitement as we’ve been working on four different strategies that authors use to come up with ideas for their writing:

  • Wondering – asking a question to help you think of a writing idea
  • Remembering – thinking of something you’ve done
  • Imagining – thinking of a pretend or make-believe idea for a story
  • Observing – using your five senses to describe what you notice around you

We’ve explored these ideas by reading books and experimenting with our own writing.  We have also been working on editing and revising, and on paying special attention to writing mechanics such as uppercase and lowercase letters, periods and question marks, spaces between words and strategies for spelling unknown words.



We are learning so much about how language works! This month we continued learning about consonant digraphs.  A consonant digraph is two consonants that come together to make one sound such as sh, ch, ck, wh and th.  We have also been learning some interesting spelling rules to help us in our writing.  For example, we learned that the sound /k/ at the end of a word is usually spelled with the digraph “ck.”  We also learned the Bonus Letter Rule: At the end of a one syllable word, if the word ends in one vowel followed by an f, l or s, you double that consonant.  Though we haven’t yet talked about syllables, students are putting this new spelling rule into practice!  We’ve also continued practicing the use of uppercase letters at the beginning of a sentence, and learned that names of people and places also get an uppercase letter no matter their placement in the sentence. We’ve added the following “trick words” to our word wall to help us remember how to spell them: to, a, was, is, her, for, as, his and has.



Kitah Aleph students have learned so much about maps, cardinal directions and how we get places.  We learned the cardinal directions in English and Hebrew and have been using them in our classroom as we play games and explore directions on our maps. We’ve been learning about how maps are used to locate important places and how we can get to those places.  We’ve used maps to help us describe how we walk from school to Central Park West, and what subway we can take to get from school to the Bronx Botanical Gardens or the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn.



This month, we completed our geometry unit. Students can now identify and describe familiar shapes in their environment.  Students expanded their mathematical vocabulary, describing attributes, such as how many sides and vertices, of various shapes like triangle, square, rectangle, trapezoid, rhombus, hexagon and circle. Students explored using combinations of shapes that fill a region, and they investigated different ways to compose a large shape from smaller shapes, or decompose a shape into smaller shapes.  Recently we’ve been working using our new vocabulary on describing and constructing triangles and quadrilaterals.



We have continued to grow in our Hebrew learning in Kitah Aleph!  We finished our first Alef-Bet book, in which we studied the letters sheen, aleph, bet, gimmel, daled, and hey.  We began a new Hebrew book and started learning the letters vav and zayin.   As part of our learning of the letter vav and the vowel sound “oh,” we had Yom Ballon (Balloon Day)!  We read a story about balloons, created a collage of paper balloons and enjoyed a visit from Adon Ballon with real balloons!  


Jewish Studies

The spirit of Chanukah is in the air; students have already been immersed in the story of Chanukah and the various symbols and traditions associated with the holiday.  They have been singing songs about Chanukah, playing dreidle , putting together Chanukah puzzles, and more!  This year, we are focusing on the idea of light and how we can shine our light onto others to continue to build our community.  We have also continued to add more pages to our siddurim, we are almost finished with the whole Amidah!  


Science and Coding

Our first grade engineers have been busy building their playground prototypes.  They have been working in teams of two or three to create a swing, slide or climbing structure for the playground model.  We look forward to sharing our finished projects with other classes before winter break.  We continue to learn about coding concepts by using our classroom iPads!  We’ve been writing programs to navigate characters such as Angry Birds or BB-8 of Star Wars.  We’ve learned that we can use a loop–a sequence of instructions that is continually repeated.


What’s Ahead

Literacy:  During this coming month, students will choose a piece of writing to publish.  They will look back at their work from our current unit and publish a book using one of the four prompts: “I remember…”, “I wonder…”, “I observe…” or “I imagine…”  We will also begin a new nonfiction literacy unit.


Hebrew:  We will continue studying the aleph-bet and learn the letters zayin, chet, tet, and yud.  We will also practice speaking and reading vocabulary words with those letters and build on our Hebrew vocabulary.


Math: This month, we will begin our new math unit called, “How Many of Each? How Many in All?”  We will continue to develop strategies for adding and subtracting numbers, counting on and counting back, increasing our rote counting sequence and finding equivalent expressions with multiple addends.  We will also begin to work with tens and ones as we develop the concept of place value and represent teen numbers as a group of ten plus ones.


Theme and Science:  We will continue our exploration of how to get from place to place in the city and explore more about the NYC transit system.  Students will also complete their STEAM-inspired model playground using their knowledge of pendulums, strong shapes, and slopes.  


Special Dates:

December 20th  – Family Chanukah Zimriya

December 25th – January 1st – Winter Vacation

January 2nd – School resumes

January 12th – No Classes

January 15th– Martin Luther King Jr. Day – NO SCHOOL


December 26 – Happy Birthday, Katarina!

December 28 – Happy Birthday, Emilia!

January 13 – Happy Birthday, Abigail!