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Emily's Room (Lower Elementary)

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

Emily's Update 3-9-2020

posted Mar 9, 2020, 11:22 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Recorders please!
If your child brought home a Ridgeline recorder to practice with, please make sure that it makes it into the backpack in time for music on Mondays and Wednesday.  We have a few extra recorders available for kids to borrow, but we are running very low because so many recorders are at home.   

Permission slips home Monday
Check backpacks for a white permission slip on Monday.  We are preparing for our March 17 trip to the Hult Center. 

Greek Day Thursday, March 19
As part of our studies of Ancient Greece, we will celebrate with a day full of activities, food and democracy.  We’ll race in armor at the Olympics, celebrate the wonders of geometry with Pythagoras, and sample Greek foods.  

Children are encouraged, but not required, to dress up in Greek costume.  A tunic (adult sized, plain t-shirt) with a belt or sash will do the trick for both boys and girls.  Greek girls and women wore longer tunics or dresses; men’s tunics were shorter.  If your Grecian wardrobe is lacking, we have many, many chitons and tunics to lend and can outfit your child when he or she gets to class on Friday. 


We are seeking food donations for our Greek mini-feast.  Please let me know if you can contribute any of the following: olives, feta cheese, pita bread, or juice.  We just need enough for each child to have a sample – students will still bring their own lunches.    

Homework Gallery 
Thursday, March 19 is the due date for the latest round of homework.  We hope to see you at our gallery that morning at 8:40.  Yes, this is also Greek Day for us.  Feel free to come in costume!

Emily's Update 12-16-19

posted Dec 16, 2019, 11:17 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Homework Gallery Wednesday

The children’s homework will be on display on Wednesday, December 18 at 8:40 in the library.  We’re happy to accept homework that is turned in early, and the library will be available after school on Tuesday if your project needs some extra set up time.  Please join us to see the marble runs, family measurements and ramps that children have been working on!


Tuesday Art – Prepare for Paint       

During art this week we’ll be using acrylic paints.  These paints are initially washable, but become permanent on clothes as they dry.  We are asking that children wear clothes that won’t be ruined by paint stains, or that children bring a smock (like an old t-shirt) to put on over their clothes.  We are also looking for an adult volunteer to help out with the project on Tuesday, from 1:40 until dismissal.  Please let me know if you are interested.


Diving Deep into Language

What does it take to truly understand, engage with and communicate about a text?   A text dive!  Over the past few weeks I’ve increased the challenge and expectations around reading comprehension by introducing text dives.  A text dive is a multi-step process for second and third graders that culminates in students writing a peer-edited paragraph about a text.  Students work with a different partner during each step – reading and reflection, answering questions with textual evidence, planning and writing their pieces, and peer editing.  I’m excited by the conversations children are having about their work and by the growth that I’m seeing in their reading, writing and partnering skills.   


Room 4 News

Students are writing articles for a classroom newspaper that will be published on Friday.  Keep an eye out for our first edition!  

Joy of Sharing

This week Ridgeline is collecting donations of food and toiletries to share with community members in need.  Donation boxes will be in the lobby.


Emily's Update 11-25-19

posted Nov 25, 2019, 9:48 AM by Cynthia Friedman   [ updated Nov 25, 2019, 10:06 AM ]

Backpack Check!

New homework went home on Friday, and there are digital versions attached to this email.  We have some extra-fun, hands on projects this time.  First graders will be measuring family members with non-standard units.  Second graders will build and test a ramp, and third graders will create marble runs - an all-time favorite project.  We will display the projects on Wednesday, December 18 at 8:40.  Come join us!


Raptor Center and Owl Pellets

We had a fantastic trip to the Raptor Center last week.  We saw a western screech owl, as Swainson’s hawk and a peregrine falcon.  We will continue our bird studies this week by dissecting owl pellets.  It’s a great window into the barn owl’s role in the food web, and a hands on way to learn about skeletons and bones.  



Tuesday November 26  Bring Vegetables – Please send in some soup vegetables, like potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, cabbage, or whatever else sounds good in the soup pot.  A few veggies per student are enough.  Students will cut veggies on Tuesday to be used in a communal stone soup inspired by the Stone Soup fable. Veggie slicing volunteers can sign up here to help students slice. 

Wednesday November 27 – Bring a BOWL and SPOON

Our annual Stone Soup Celebration is Wednesday, November 27. Ridgeline volunteers will cook the stone soup outside the front of the school on Wednesday and the soup will be served for an early afternoon snack following an all-school sing along hosted by middle school at 12:30pm. Your student should still bring a sack lunch from home that day to eat in the late morning.

Students will eat in their classrooms and parents are welcome to join us for both the sing-a-long and the soup.  If you are leaving early with your student(s), be sure to sign them out in the office. School dismisses at the regular time, 3:05 p.m.

Emily's Update 10-14-19

posted Oct 14, 2019, 9:51 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Homework Heads Up

Our first homework assignments went home last week.  First graders will be looking for 3 examples of doubles addition problems in real life.  Second graders will search out arrays (objects arranged in rows and columns) as examples of multiplication.  Third graders will be investigating the costs of family outings and graphing and writing about their findings.

My hope is that these projects are flexible enough to fit into your schedule.  Help your child make a plan now to avoid last minute stress.  Projects are customizable to offer room for creativity, challenge and fun.  If you have questions about how to support your child, please let me know.

Projects will be displayed on Wednesday, November 6 at 8:45 at our Homework Gallery.  We hope that you can join us!


Aztec Update

            Did you know that the Aztecs used cacao beans as money?  Or counted by 20s instead of by 10s?  Or that their capital city of  Tenochtitlan was larger than Eugene and Springfield put together, and larger than European cities like Paris and Naples?  We are diving into Aztec culture and looking for its links with modern day Mexico throughout the next few weeks.   One amazing connection is the link between Aztec culture and the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos…


Field Trip – Maude Kerns Art Center Dia de los Muertos Exhibit, Oct. 31.

            We are planning a trip to see art inspired by Dia de los Muertos on Thursday, Oct. 31. 

If you’d like to join us as a chaperone, please email me and include your cell phone number (so that you can be contacted during the field trip).  Plan on coming to school at 8:30.  We’ll be back at 11:30.  We will be walking and taking an LTD bus.


Jogathon Reminders

            Our class had such an amazing Jogathon!  Afterwards, we sorted and counted all our bracelets, and graphed our results.  One group sorted and counted the kinder bracelets and will be presenting a graph and report to kinder this week.

            Please remember to send in pledges if you haven’t already.


Thank You!

            A busy little bird must have been spreading the word about my birthday!  Thank you to every family and student who brought in birthday wishes.  I am profoundly grateful to be part of this caring community.


Mark Your Calendar:

Curriculum Sharing                 Thursday, Oct. 24 3:05 – 4:05 and 6:00 to 7:00

Field Trip: Maude Kerns          Thursday, Oct. 31

Family conferences                 Thursday and Friday, Nov. 7 and 8


Emily's Update 9-12-19

posted Sep 12, 2019, 2:15 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Dress Up For Biomes Tomorrow

Tomorrow is our annual Biome Fashion Show.  We will show off our gear for the mountains, ocean, wetlands, tropical forest, temperate forest (our own biome), desert, grasslands or polar regions.  Shop your closets and see what you can find!  Kids can wear their outfits or bring them in their backpacks.  Props are also ok – guidebooks, sunglasses, and anything not too precious or fragile.  As always, dressing up is optional but fun.


Placemats and Silverware, Please

We are working on our lunchtime grace and courtesy.  Needless to say, eating utensils and placemats are a big part of this!  Placemats let children set out their lunches on a neat, well defined space, keep crumbs under control, and make lunchtime and snack more pleasant and hygienic for everyone.  And eating applesauce looks so much nicer with a spoon!  Please make sure that your child brings any needed cutlery and a cloth placemat (or a nice dish towel or cloth napkin) in their lunch box every day.  If a borrowed place mat made its way home, send it back our way and we’ll put it back in rotation. 


Backpack Check: Spelling Begins

Students who participated in our spelling program last year will have new word lists sent home on Friday.  We’ll roll out spelling for the rest of our students later in the year, as children are ready. 


Head Check

A parent has asked that I spread the word… Her child had signs of a very preliminary case of lice that could have been picked up from (or spread to) our classroom.  Contact the office with any louse control questions or updates.   

One Mission, One Vision, One School, One Community
The year is just beginning and it is a great time to build great habits!  Being in school, on time, everyday is important. Good attendance is strongly linked to academic, social, and emotional success.


We believe that students and families that feel they are included in the school community are more likely to show up consistently


We believe that good attendance will allow your child to fully contribute to and fully benefit from the classroom community. 


We believe good attendance will not only build strong academics, but also build strong socially and emotionally capable humans.


Thank you for learning and growing with us!


Class Facebook Page

            We like to share photos and anecdotes from the classroom on a private Facebook page.  We only admit parents to the group.  If you’d like to invite a grandparent or relative, please let me know by email and we will add them to the group. 


Emily's Update 5-21-19

posted May 21, 2019, 12:17 PM by Cynthia Friedman


Students’ peacemaker biographies are underway.  We’re using the project as a way to review the stages of writing, from reading, prewriting, drafting, revising and editing to creating a polished final draft.  We’re also exploring introductions - ways to start our writing with a creative and interesting hook to grab our audience’s attention.  Over the next few weeks we'll finish our drafts, create displays with timelines, quotes and photos, and make our bottle dolls.  Then, on Thursday June 13 we'll celebrate Peacemaker Day with our own Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and a bottle doll display.  


2 Liter Bottles Needed for Peace

We are still collecting bottles with lids for our year-end bottle doll project.  Thanks to all you seltzer drinkers who are bringing in bottles – we still have about 20 needed by next week!


Class Play Update

Our finalized date for our play, “Anansi Steals the Stories” is 6:30, Tuesday June 11.  We have cast our play, and have started rehearsing some of the scenes.  In art, volunteer Bethany Steiner has helped us create backdrops, headdresses and props.  We're also learning about African textiles and using those as an inspiration for our art project this week. Eric Steiner has built a new scrim for us to use.  Music teacher Amelia has introduced us to the djembe, an African drum, and we hope to use it as our soundtrack.  Actors are learning lines, sound crew is learning cues, and we will start practicing on stage this week.

Actors and families can start planning costumes.  You are encouraged to shop your closet and not worry about handmaking an elaborate costume.  Here are some costume suggestions:

·      Hornets have made headdresses at school.  They should dress in shades of yellow and black, with extra credit for anything that makes them look fierce. 

·      Forest fairies can dress for a dance party, in sparkles and bright colors.  We provide the wings.  

·      Sky Gods should dress colorfully to match their character and headdress. 

·      Python puppeteers can dress in plain neutral colors (or coordinate with each other and the snake).   

·      Narrators can wear street clothes.

·      Spiders – eight legs would be great!

Emily's Update 3-11-19

posted Mar 11, 2019, 11:09 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Building a Pipe Organ

Yes, you read that right!  Our class will build a real, playable two octave pipe organ from the ground up on Thursday, March 14.  We are looking for a few extra volunteers to join us for the morning (probably from 8:15 until 11:30 or so).  Here is a sneak preview: .  A huge bravo to parents Andrew Nelson and Ann Carney Nelson for helping make this possible!


Science Fair Time!

We are preparing for our Sixth Annual Science and Invention Fair.  The first worksheet for this will be sent home early this week, and we’ll have lots of in class discussions about how to generate a project idea. Our goal is that  every child will prepare a project to be displayed for the schoolwide project fair on April 23rd. 

This is a big undertaking but we’ve broken it up into steps.  Here’s the rundown of how we turn seven, eight and nine year olds into scientists:


Science projects are done in phases, at home and at school.

1.     AT HOME, you will discuss project ideas with your child and do some basic background research.  With your child, choose an interesting question to answer in their project.  Then, plan an experiment on the worksheet sent home this week.  This will be due Wednesday, March 20. I will look over project ideas, make copies of worksheets, and send the originals back in time for spring break.

2.     AT HOME, do the experiment and record the results.  Results are due April 2.

3.     AT SCHOOL, we will provide instruction and support for kids to create all the written pieces of the science project.  We will draw on the worksheets kids did at home and will analyze and chart their results as needed. 

4.     AT HOME, students put together their display.  


We find that some families and kids prefer to do most of the writing for their science project at home, and that’s fine.  In some cases, kids need extra time or attention to finish their projects, so we may split up the work and send some home to be finished. 


We are also committed to offering extra at-school support to children who need it.  If your child will need to additional parts of the project at school, please let us know ASAP so we can line up volunteer help.  I’m also happy to answer questions at any stage of the process.  


 Medieval Day March 21

As part of our studies of the middle ages, we will be having Medieval Day, with a feast, jousting, optional costumes, and more!  More details to come.

Emily's Update 2-22-19

posted Feb 22, 2019, 1:59 PM by Cynthia Friedman

Snail Mail Addresses Needed

We are learning about letter writing and students have chosen to write to a wide variety of recipients, from family members to famous authors and sports figures.  Please check in with your child to see who they are writing to and if they need to bring in an address.  Carmen and I can get addresses for public figures but we are stumped by grandma and grandpa!


Orchestra Concert at the Hult Center

On Tuesday, March 19, we will go to the Hult Center for a special youth concert, The Orchestra Rocks.  In the weeks to come, students will be learning how to play two of the concert’s songs on the recorder.  At the concert, they will play along from the audience. 

If you want to chaperone please let me know.  Trust me, hearing 1,000 kids playing the recorder in unison is a powerful and unforgettable experience!  Chaperones should plan on coming at 9:00 and being done at 12:20.  We will be riding the LTD bus to and from the concert.


Another Concert at the Hult Center

We are partnering with the Eugene Concert Choir for their annual outreach concert.  A guest instructor will visit to teach us the song “Consider Yourself” from the musical Oliver!  Students will receive a free pass for themselves and an accompanying adult to attend the American Style for Kids concert on Saturday, April 27, at 11:00 am in Silva Concert Hall.  Students can enjoy the concert and then join the 110-voice Eugene Concert Choir on stage if they’d like.  It’s always a fun experience for those kids who choose to participate. 

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