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Emily's Room (Lower Elementary)

Emily's Update 6-1-2020

posted Jun 1, 2020, 4:15 PM by Cynthia Friedman

This is our last full week of home learning. We’re almost to the finish line, everybody! There is still a lot to do and we will keep learning and sharing to the very end.

Please make sure to turn in any stuffy toss videos to by the end of the day today. We can't wait to put them all together!

We are wrapping up our peacemaker biographies this week. Carmen and I will be showing kids some creative ways to turn their reports into books or posters, and we’ll offer ideas for making bottle doll models as the week goes on.

At our zoom meeting on Thursday, upper elementary teachers will visit and answer questions from third graders. At the end of the meeting, Carmen and I will give third graders their classroom assignments for next year. On Monday, June 8, third graders will attend a special zoom meeting with their new teachers. We send our love with our third graders as they grow into their new adventure!

Just a reminder - Friday is a no school day for grading, and Wednesday, June 10 is our last day of school.

As always, please reach out to us with any questions.

All the best to you and yours -


Emily's Update 5-26-2020

posted May 26, 2020, 2:46 PM by Cynthia Friedman

We Like to Help

Let us know if your child might benefit from some extra attention.  We like to host small groups of kiddos or meet one on one to provide encouragement and academic support.


Stuffie Toss Video

Our book sharing video was such a great success that we are starting a new video – the stuffie toss!  We are asking that kids share a short video of catching and tossing their stuffie.  The stuffie can be thrown by the person filming and tossed back towards the camera.  As always, creative touches are welcome!

We are creating a reminder about this activity on Seesaw.  Kids can post their videos to Seesaw, but in order to be included in the class video, please email your video to Carmen at


Phone (or Zoom) a Friend!

Kids love to work together… even during distance learning.  Parent Ann Carney Nelson came across a great list of ways kids can collaborate over the phone or via Zoom.  Check out the attached list!


Biography Book

Today, kids are finishing up their biography research.  The next step is to write the first draft of a biography book, with a page for each topic in their peacemaker’s life.  Carmen and I will be walking kids through the process this week, and next week we’ll create the finished project. 


Bottle Doll Prep

Next week I’ll show kids how to create a bottle doll model of their peacemaker.  This is an optional but FUN activity that becomes a labor of love for kids every time.  We’ve streamlined our usual, in-class process to make this a project that can be done at home.  Materials needed will be:

·      A large bottle with its top (2 L plastic bottles work best, but any big, stable bottle will work)

·      Tape – tan masking tape is the BEST but packing tape or painter’s tape could work.

·      Paper or fabric to dress the doll

·      Optional bonus items: buttons, ribbon, pipe cleaners, glue gun, etc...

Best wishes to everyone!  As always, contact me with any questions.  


Emily's Update 5-18-2020

posted May 18, 2020, 12:19 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Greetings, partners in distance education!


Is My Child On Track?

Distance learning has given all of us new tools and new challenges when it comes to keeping up with children’s progress. If you’re wondering how your child is doing, check in!  You can ask your child for a tour of their Seesaw activities (like a to-do list) and their journal (a portfolio of what they’ve done).   As a general benchmark, most actively participating older student have more than 60 finished assignments in their portfolio.  Younger students are averaging a little less. You can also view your child’s portfolio through the Seesaw family app. 

I’m more than happy to schedule a virtual meeting with you and take you on a “teacher’s eye view” tour of your child’s participation.  We can look through Seesaw work  and help customize or problem solve as necessary.  If you are feeling overwhelmed or even just curious, please drop me a note!


Biography Project

Last week children selected the peacemakers they’d like to study and identified multiple sources of information.  Next week we’ll begin the prewriting process by taking notes about the peacemakers’ lives. 


I’ve made a planning booklet to help kids stay organized.  There are three ways they can access this:

·      Print a copy of the planner from this link

·      Let your child make their own headings within an existing notebook

·      Have your child make notes directly within Seesaw

I feel that taking notes on paper will be best and easiest for children.  They can then upload a photo of their work to Seesaw.  If your child makes their own planner, the headings are:




Character Strengths



I will introduce these topics one at a time over the next week or two, with examples and discussion of what to include.  Our goal is to collect a few facts in each area.  I discourage sentence writing for this.  Keeping this stage informal (list making and basic facts) helps kids create better, more original first drafts later. 


Text Dive Update

The text dive group is working on a final draft this week.  As with all of our text dive work, this process has been broken up into small chunks.  If your child is in this group, make sure to check in on their progress. 


The best way for kids to create their final draft is by typing it and uploading the file or taking a picture of the printed version.  A legibly handwritten final draft also works – but double spacing is a good idea in case we need to do any final changes.  Typing a draft into Seesaw is pretty clunky and only works as a last resort.


Book Passing Video – Due Monday

Thank you for all the adorable book passing videos!  If you haven’t sent in a video yet and want your child to be included, take a video grabbing their favorite book from the left of the screen (their right hand), then handing it over to the right of the screen (passing out of their left hand).  Carmen will put all of the videos together and share it this week.  You can send your completed video, questions or challenges by email (we can’t get the videos off Seesaw) to  Let's have some fun!


Post-Meeting Check Ins

We have been meeting up with a few kids each day after our Zoom meeting.  This can be a time to address questions about a project, set goals for the day, or just to connect and hang out.  Kids often volunteer to stay late, but if you think your child would especially benefit, let me and Carmen know.  We’ll get them some personal attention and check in.


I hope that distance learning continues to work for you and your family.  Please let me and Carmen know if we can help in any way.  Also, for technical challenges (Seesaw and otherwise), contact and you’ll get a response within 24 hours.  Thank you!

Emily's Update 5-11-2020

posted May 11, 2020, 2:29 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Dear Families,


You may have seen this quote from Fred Rogers recently:


“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”


This resonates with me as we embark on our annual,  year-end peacemaker biography project.  As part of this project, students identify the character strengths that allow amazing people to help change the world.  Together, the class will find that many great people experience challenges and adversity in early life, then go on to become empathetic, strong and successful adults.  And by learning from each other’s projects, children will get to know 29 new role models.  It’s a pretty great way to look for – and find – the helpers.


We are starting with a series of “Biography Hunts.”  From a clickable list of online resources, students read a short biography and answer some brief questions.  Last week we looked for character strengths; today we’re sequencing events on a timeline, and on Wednesday we will look for ways a peacemaker overcame challenges.  On Thursday, kids will choose a subject for their final report. 


Who is a Peacemaker?

Although this is the peacemaker project, I define “peacemaker” broadly to accommodate the children's interests.  A peacemaker may be someone who made the world more peaceful, like Gandhi, someone who lessened suffering, like Mother Teresa, or an advocate for nature like Jane Goodall.  They might be someone who fought for equal rights, like Martin Luther King Jr., or someone who battled racism or sexism in their profession such as astronaut Mae Jemison or Native American athlete Jim Thorpe. 


As you help your child choose a subject for their biography project, I’m asking them to keep three things in mind:

1.     Choose someone who has made the world a better place. 

2.     Check that you have good resources (books or online sources) for your peacemaker.

3.     Make sure you care about the person you choose!


As a side note, athletes, musicians and scientists are all fine as long as they make the world better.  For example, Billie Jean King would be a good choice because she was an advocate for women’s sports as well as an outstanding tennis player.  Muhammad Ali was a boxer, but he also became famous for his social conscience.  


You Can Help!

Time to share your wisdom!  Young children often need a little context to understand the complex lives and times of their heroes. 

1.     Have conversations to help guide them to great biography subjects.

2.     Help them search the web for information.

3.     Talk with them about the life of the person they choose.

I am encouraging students to have more than one resource for the subject they pick.  Third graders would ideally draw information from three sources.  

I am asking children to get help from an adult when surfing the web.  Please help your child access appropriate information as needed.  Younger children may need help – feel free to skim the information on a web page and share a few useful facts. 


A Fun Video Project From Carmen

Our class is going to be creating a virtual book exchange video, just for funzies!  Tomorrow we will show this toilet paper tossing video from Ridgeline's Middle School:

Your child can participate in our class challenge by taking a quick video of them grabbing their favorite book from the left of the screen (their right hand), opening it and then handing it over to the right of the screen (passing out of their left hand).  I will put all of the videos together and hopefully create something that looks like magic.  We'll see.  The more families that participate the better.  You can send your completed video, questions or challenges to  Let's have some fun!

I hope that distance learning continues to work for you and your family.  Please let me and Carmen know if we can help in any way.  Also, for technical challenges (Seesaw and otherwise), contact and you’ll get a response within 24 hours.


Happy Learning!


Emily's Update 5-4-2020

posted May 4, 2020, 12:11 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Happy Monday, Everyone!


New - Seesaw Family

Today you should have received an invitation to connect to your child’s Seesaw account.  You can see the work they’ve turned in so far, add your own comments, and send and receive messages from Carmen and me.  This family portal will be a great tool to help you keep a finger on the pulse of your child’s learning.


Biography Project

We are taking the first steps towards our annual end of the year peacemakers project.  Each child will choose a person to study – someone who has brought positive change to the world.  These could be pioneers for civil rights, environmentalists, inventors, scientists, or healers.  The most important thing is for students to connect with the person that they choose. 


This week, we’re learning about character strengths.  These are qualities that we all have – like perseverance, self control, and creativity - that help us become successful, ethical and wholehearted people.   We will be looking for those traits in ourselves and in the amazing people that we learn about.


We’re also going on a biography hunt.  I’ve listed a bunch of free online resources with biographies, and today children will be reading (or listening to) a biography of their choice. My goal is to familiarize kids with a variety of great examples before they settle on the person that they’ll study.  It’s a great time to share some of your heroes with your child and to talk about the character strengths that are important to your family.


Does Your Child Need a Check In?

Carmen and I want to reach out to kids who need a little boost – extra time to connect with their teachers, set goals for Seesaw, or get questions answered.  We’d like to reserve some time at the end of our meeting each day to meet with kids individually or in a small group.  If you think this would help your child, let us know!  We’ll dismiss them last from our meeting and see if we can set them up for success for the day.



I’ve attached a list of biography resources, a character strengths poster, and this week’s work plan to this email. 


Reach Out!

Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to make distance learning more effective for your family. 


Thank you,

Emily and Carmen

Emily's Update 4-27-2020

posted Apr 27, 2020, 12:57 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Welcome to Week 5 of Distance Learning!


Thank you for all that you’re doing to support your child's learning.  As always, feel free to modify activities and schedules to fit the needs of your child and your family.


Last week I introduced a new program to help kids access books online.  It’s Epic! Books for Kids.There are thousands of appealing books available and kids can track how much they read.  If Raz-Kids wasn’t a good fit for your child or if you just need some more reading material, make sure to check this resource out.  

Now that we are all settling into home learning, please let us know how we can best support you and your student. You can:

·      Let us know how home learning is working for your family

·      Suggest activities

·      Ask about expectations and standards

·      Tailor the program to fit your child’s needs

·      Schedule one-on-one help for your child

We would LOVE to connect with you!  As a reminder, May 1 is a no school day.  We won't be hosting morning meeting or assigning work that day.  

Best wishes to everyone,

Emily and Carmen

Emily's Update 4-20-2020

posted Apr 27, 2020, 12:55 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Greetings, Families!

Belongings and Cubby Content Pick Up - Carmen is  excited to see your family this Thursday, April 23,  5-7 p.m. in the pick up circle to collect your student's belongings. Please note that this not only includes items such as indoor shoes & jackets, but also all the items in your child's cubby, including school work.  In their bags you will find all of the things normally sent home at the end of the school year. Please help us get these things to our students by coming and picking them up. Remember to make a sign with your student's name and room number to hold up in your car window and please stay in your vehicle. 

Music Zoom Meeting Thursday 2:45

Amelia is hosting Music class

Your child can join her to connect to new music activities and build an egg shaker or rain stick.

Parent Guidelines for Distance Learning

Hang in there, parent/teachers!  Do you ever wonder if you’re doing it right?  Or how to get help?  Take a look at these guidelines from Ridgeline to understand expectations, get tips and make the most of our new normal.  

How the COVID-19 Shutdown Affects Children

Thank you to Erin Lynch for sharing this great article about how kids respond to traumatic events: This is why your child is acting like a baby right now.  Even if your child hasn’t resorted to baby talk, this article can help explain some of the behaviors you’re seeing and give you tools to respond.  

Buddy Learning on Zoom - A Strategy for Parenting Geniuses

Kids love to learn together!  In the classroom, students loved sitting next to one another to work and chat.  Why not try it on Zoom?  A Zoom study meeting can really help motivate your child and maintain social connections.  I encourage you to reach out to other families for some partner work - you might even want to do a standing study date. Be inclusive and reach out to a few different kiddos. You will feel like a parenting genius and your child will be happy.  Give it a try!

Emails for families are in the Ridgeline Family Contacts booklet that you may have picked up at school this year.  If you have not picked one up already, we have limited copies to share.  Email Carmen before Thursday and she will try to put one in your student’s take-home packet. 

Thank You, Zoom Volunteers!

My deep appreciation goes out to the folks who have gotten some lunch zooms started this week.  I’m delighted that our parent community is creating another avenue for kids to connect.  Thanks as well to class parent Jenny Noyce,, who is the point person for this effort.   

Keep Reaching Out

Please keep reaching out to Carmen and I with questions, concerns, tech issues… whatever!  We are also happy to do one on one zooms with your child to help work through an assignment or explain a math problem.  Yes, I know that you can explain that 2nd grade math problem perfectly well… but sometimes kids don’t feel like learning from their parents, am I right?  We are happy to step into the fray and provide some teaching or encouragement as a neutral party.  

Keep up the good work everyone!

Emily Burton

Emily's Update 4-13-2020

posted Apr 13, 2020, 12:41 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Greetings, families!

Get ready for some exciting changes this week.  We will be learning to use Seesaw, an amazing app that will facilitate teaching and learning while we’re apart.  Kids will be able to access their assignments and share their work. Carmen and I can see finished work, hear kids' thinking, and provide feedback. Families like you will have one easy place to see their child's activities and teacher comments, plus you'll easily be able to add comments and send me messages.

Our intrepid classroom is the first to roll out Seesaw, and our experiences will inform how Seesaw gets introduced to the rest of the Ridgeline community. Please be patient as we all - students, families and staff - gain expertise on this new platform.

Instructions for how to log in to Seesaw will be coming in a Monday email from our tech team.  Please send login, tech, and installation questions their way. Carmen and I will be on call to answer questions about using the app.  

This week’s schedule starts off with offline activities, just like you are used to.  Tuesday is a bridge day - offline activities are available, and the same activities will be posted on Seesaw.  By Wednesday my hope is that we can be fully online, and we'll end the week as seasoned Seesaw veterans. Join me in the exploration - adventure awaits!

Emily’s Lower El Week 3 - Seesaw Roll Out Edition

Monday - Offline Work, Seesaw Login

Tuesday - Transitioning to Seesaw




8:15 Zoom meeting 

8:15 Zoom meeting 

8:15 Zoom 

8:15 Zoom 

8:15 Zoom 

Language Arts:    

Read for at least 20 minutes


Create a comic based on your family with you as the main character.  Think about how you will draw each person and how you

can show their personality in your comic.  Share your comic book with your family.  

Seesaw: If you are signed into Seesaw, share your comic there!

Language Arts: 

Read for at least 20 minutes


Choose a story prompt image to write about. If you don’t like the pictures choose your own!

Write an original story or scene based on the picture.  Remember to have a beginning, middle, and end to your story.

Seesaw: Prompts are in Seesaw and in the email attachment. 

Language Arts: 

Read for at least 20 minutes

Check Seesaw for your activity.

Language Arts: 

Read for at least 20 minutes


Check Seesaw for your activity.

Language Arts: 

Read for at least 20 minutes


Check Seesaw for your activity. 


Create a poll (see a sample poll and tally chart below).  Write down questions with yes or no answers. Ask your family your questions and document their answers on a tally chart.  Then make a bar graph of their answers. 

Bonus:  Express your answers in fractions.  What For example, ⅓ of your family might like hot sauce and ⅔ don’t like hot sauce.) 


Using characters from a story you have read, create a math story problem.  

Level 1 - Make an addition problem with an answer of 100 or less. 

Level 2 - Try it with subtraction.

Level 3 - Try multiplication or division.

Level 4 - Put several steps into your problem. 

SOLVE your problem and show your work.   You can have a family member solve it too. 


Check Seesaw for your activity.


Check Seesaw for your activity.


Check Seesaw for your activity.


Get out into nature and go on a textures scavenger hunt!  Use the attached charts or make your own.   


We are diving into Seesaw today.  Sometimes when we try new things we can get a little stressed.  Try the breathing star exercise if you need a break. The file is attached… or check it out in Seesaw!


Check Seesaw for your activity. 


Check Seesaw for your activity. 


Check Seesaw for your activity. 

Emily's Update 4-6-2020

posted Apr 6, 2020, 11:24 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Welcome to Week 2!

Our daily zoom meeting time has shifted to prevent overlaps with other classes.  Our new zoom time is at 8:15 am daily.  Kids can come in their pajamas - no judgement!  My goal is to keep meetings to 30 minutes or less, giving families with kindergarten siblings time to set up for their 9:00 meeting. A zoom invite is on its way today.

Here is this week's schedule.  Please, if you need to make any changes in the suggested schedule, do so.  Montessori is all about being responsive to the needs of the child. As we ease into remote learning, know that you have my permission to make things work for your household.  We are all coping with new demands on our time, technology and patience. Let's be easy on ourselves and our children as we adjust.  

There will be more adjustments to come as Ridgeline rolls out its online learning platform over the next few weeks.  Just as a teaser, I'm really excited about what we'll be able to offer kids and families. In the meantime, stay flexible and hang in there, folks!

Please contact me or Carmen with any questions - that is what we're here for.  We answer emails throughout the work day and have office hours from 11:00-12:00. The best way to reach us is by email or by google chat. In your email, please mention if you'd like an email, zoom meeting (w/you or your child) or a phone call. I'm calling from google so my number will show up as unknown or unlisted when I call.  I truly love to see student work, so do send me photos, videos, and files!

Below is a walk through of the activities for the week.  It includes suggestions for how to organize work, some writing templates, and more.  These are extras to help you, not required worksheets. You can print out the attached files or use them as guides - all the work is designed to be doable without a printer. 


Language Arts Overview

We will be writing about our reading this week.  Students should do reading from a fiction or nonfiction narrative.  A narrative is a story with characters, a setting, and a beginning, middle and end.  Your child may continue reading a book they’ve already started or start a new one, and each day’s assignment does not have to be about the same book.  Picture books or books that are read aloud are fine for younger readers. Running out of books? Check out for read alouds of picture books.  Or try and get a free trial.  They offer a huge digital library of books at all levels, with a text-to-speech option.  And, of course, the Eugene Public Library is a resource for e-books and audiobooks - see their website for more.

Writing Levels

Here are some types of writing that I encounter in a mixed age classroom.  Make a best guess approximation of where your child might fall, and keep in mind that the levels for assignments do not necessarily correspond to grade level.  If in doubt, let your child choose what feels doable right now, and we can build from there.  

Level 1: Kids at this level can write several sentences.  Children at this stage might add a labeled illustration or write a list.  The focus is on capital letters and periods. There’s no need to insist on perfect spelling. 

Level 2: Kids at this stage can write a paragraph. Paragraphs have three parts:

  • Topic sentence (I am going to tell you about… Have you ever wondered about…) 

  • At least 3 sentences with facts, details, definitions or examples

  • Conclusion sentence (Now you know about…  That is why… )

Level 3: These are experienced paragraph writers.  They can write or type a few paragraphs. Their writing should include detailed information, definitions, and examples. Students at this level may eventually develop their pieces to include a stand-alone introductory paragraph and a short conclusion or concluding sentence. 

Math Overview

Many of the math activities are leveled.  My hope is that children will find a level that feels right and doesn’t require too much instruction from you.  Remember, levels don’t correspond to grade level. If your child is resistant or struggling, it’s ok to back up a level, simplify the task or swap out a different activity.  Many families have been supplementing with other activities. These could be favorite Montessori works that kids have created at home or online games. Check out Prodigy, Khan academy, or Xtra Math for free games and activities.  Prodigy is a legitimate learning platform but beware - kids find it addictive!

Cultural Overview

Our focus this week is on flowers - something that kids can experience hands-on during quarantine season.  Help your child notice flowers big and small, and on a sunny day keep an eye out for pollinators. 

Supplemental Materials by Day



The attached paragraph scaffold is an optional help for middle and upper level writers.  Second graders have had practice with these scaffolds in the classroom.  Although first graders have seen this work, most have done it only once.  A few sentences would be fine for younger kiddos who don’t feel comfortable writing a paragraph.  


Classifying Flowers: 

If you choose to classify your flowers, make a table!  It might look like this:





Tiny flowers in backyard


Flowers in Scott’s yard

White daffodils




Your child should make a two column table. Descriptions can be physical characteristics or character traits (internal qualities like optimism, kindness, jealousy, having a short temper). 

Character Description 

Big bad wolf Big eyes, big teeth, big furry ears, clever, 

Dishonest, hungry

Red Riding Hood Not cautious, listens to strangers, doesn’t listen to her 

mother, helpful (takes treats to grandma)


Almost every flower has these parts.  At this time of year, tulips, daffodils, camellias and cherry or apple blossoms have parts that are really easy to see.  

The pistil is the female part of the flower and has a sticky tip to catch pollen.  

The stamens are the male parts of the flower.  Their tips produce the pollen. 

The sepal is the green bud covering (absent on tulips and daffodils). 

Glossary Details - The William & Lynda Steere Herbarium



Make a table to record your measurements.  You can measure in inches or centimeters. Kids who calculate the differences should show their work.








Coin values

It can be helpful for kids to have real coins to manipulate for this activity.  I guide children to start by lining up their coins, highest value to smallest. Then count the highest value coins first (quarters or half dollars), then add in dimes, nickels, pennies, and so on. 



Language Arts:

I’ve included two simple summary templates to choose from, for middle level students and younger.

If your child is struggling with a summary, a quick conversation can help clarify their ideas.  If they are including too much detail, ask them to make their description shorter. Repeat until you get a summary that’s short enough for them to handle.


Check attachments for a Die Roll Tally and Graph for Level 1.

Students who are rolling 2 dice and recording the sum should start with a tally chart:







Then create a bar graph with their data. 


Choose a seed… big seeds like beans, peas or corn work great.  Raid your pantry! You can also use apple or orange seeds, avocado pits, weed seeds collected on a walk…  It might be a good idea to plant a backup variety or two just in case.  I've attached a plant observation journal page.

Again, print out a template or use this as a basis for your child to create their own.

Hang in there, everybody, and have a great week!

Emily's Update 3-12-2020

posted Mar 12, 2020, 3:05 PM by Cynthia Friedman

No Youth Concert
Our scheduled trip to the Hult Center next Tuesday is cancelled, in accordance with 4J's policy announced today.  We will be returning fees that we have already collected on Friday.

Cricket Science
We are observing and learning about our classroom crickets this week.  We've noticed how they drink and are testing some foods they might like to eat.  Next week, we'll be cricket scientists - using our observations to come up with questions that we can test experimentally.  This will be our introduction to the scientific method.

Science Fair On the Horizon
All our cricket experiments will prepare children to think of their own questions to test in a science fair project.  Science projects are done both at home, as homework, and at school.  The home part involves choosing a testable question, gathering materials and doing the experiment.  At school, your child will get lessons on how to write up and present their data.  They'll end up with all the writing they need to put on their display.  Display making can be done at home or at school.  
Although science projects won't start for a while, it's a good idea to be on the lookout for those everyday questions and observations that would make a good science project.  Which treat does our dog like best?  Does he learn faster for better treats?  Why are there ants on our daffodils - are they on all flowers?  Authentic questions make for fun projects.

For our cricket experiments, we will be using clear plastic clamshell containers like the ones that salads or takeout items come in.  If you have any at home, we'd love to reuse them.  

Greek Day and Homework Gallery
Just a reminder that Thursday, March 19 is our homework gallery AND Greek Day!  We are still looking for volunteers to bring these foods: grapes, olives, and feta.

Enjoy the photos - here we are making Greek shields, in preparation for our phalanx marching activity next week.  There's also a photo of today's nature walk, where we found a mysterious fallen tree and used our observations to figure out its story

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