Saturday, January 12, 2019


Happy 2019, and welcome back!  I hope your winter break was enjoyable!  In first grade, we didn’t waste any time as we jumped right into our new topic.  We will use what we learned about states of matter as we explore chemical engineering!  No, I didn’t send your children off to college -- we’re really learning all about chemical engineering right in our classroom!  Last week, the first graders were introduced to the new topic through a picture book called Michelle’s MVP Award. We learned that an engineer is someone who uses what they know about math, science, and creativity to design objects and processes to solve problems.  The objects and processes that they design are called technology.  
This week, we continued our chemical engineering unit with much excitement.  We started with some brand-name Playdoh.  The first graders had to explain why this was high-quality play dough based on the texture and ease of use.  Then the first graders were given a piece of low quality play dough. I had made this batch using a process from our chemical engineering guidebook.  The first graders had to again describe the texture and usage, which was quite different!  This was grainy, lumpy, gooey, and it broke apart and stuck to our hands all at the same time.  The goal of our unit is to improve the play dough process that resulted in this gloppy mess! 
Later in the week, the first graders worked on understanding what the play dough materials do when mixed together.  Each group of lab partners made 5 mixtures, using a tablespoon to measure.  We had: flour with water, flour with salt, water with salt, 2 flours with one water, and 2 waters with one salt.  The first graders felt and saw how flour makes the mixture more dry / thick, salt makes the mixture grainy (but more of the salt dissolved when extra water was added), and water makes the mixture more liquidy. 
We celebrated the completion of our second Take10 chart with a fruit party!  Congratulations first graders!  Ask your first grader what fruit we had for this party.
Tu B’Shvat, a holiday when we celebrate the trees, is quickly approaching.  As has become a Tu B’Shvat tradition in first grade, we will be purchasing a tree in Israel.  If you would like your first grader to help purchase our tree, please send $1 to me at school.  This is completely optional, and I will only ask this once.  Thank you!

Have a great weekend!

-Miss Deena Tanenbaum

Saturday, December 22, 2018


Solids, and liquids, and gasses, oh my!  If you thought we would wind down during the week leading up to winter break, think again!  It was experiment central in first grade!  On Wednesday, I cordoned off an area at the front of the classroom for safety purposes, because it was time to bring out the dry ice!  We learned that dry ice (carbon dioxide frozen at -109.3 degrees F) sublimates, which means that it goes straight from a solid to a gas.  We saw what happens when you put dry ice into warm water and what happens when you touch a metal spoon to dry ice.   Ask your first grader what happened when we added dish soap to the water!
And then came Thursday.  The last day before winter break.  In first grade, however, that day is better known as Grand Experiment Day!  For our first experiment, we went to the lunchroom.  There, we took a solid, added it to a hot liquid, mixed it until it dissolved, and then put it into the refrigerator to change the temperature.  Did you guess what we made?  It was jello!  We left the jello in the refrigerator to set, and headed back to the classroom.
For our next experiment, we mixed 2 parts corn starch with 1 part water.  The result was very interesting, as it acted both like a solid and like a liquid.  This is why we called it mystery matter!  After cleaning up from this experiment,  we went back to the lunchroom to check on our jello.  We discovered that our liquid with the solid dissolved in it had changed entirely to a solid!  And it tasted pretty good too!  We headed back to the classroom for our last experiment of the day.
Armed with baking soda (a solid) and colored vinegar (a liquid), we created mini-explosions in our classroom!  Then we did the same experiment in a bottle with a balloon on top.  Ask your first grader what happened that involved a solid, a liquid, and a gas all in one experiment!  It was quite a day! 
Enjoy winter break, keep your first grader reading, and see you in 2019!
-Miss Deena Tanenbaum

Sunday, December 16, 2018


Matter, matter everywhere!  Our states of matter unit continued this week with an experiment that took several days to complete and included all three states of matter that we learned about.  On Tuesday, we took a clear plastic cup, filled it half-way with water, and put it in the freezer.  The first graders made a hypothesis chart, guessing if, when the water froze, it would shrink, stay the same size, or expand.  On Wednesday, we took our cup of water out of the freezer.  After pointing out that the water (liquid) was now a solid, we noticed that in changing to ice, the water had expanded!  We drew a line on the cup to show the top of the ice, which was above our previously-drawn water line.  After bringing the ice cup back to the classroom, the first graders made a new hypothesis chart.  When left to melt, would the ice expand again, would the water be the same size as the ice, or would it shrink back down to its original size?
Thursday came, and we discovered that the ice, which was once again water, was back to its original size.  Then we made a third hypothesis chart!  The next step was to take the water to the kitchen, pour it into a pot, and heat it up.  Would the heated water expand, stay the same size, or shrink?  We headed out to the lunchroom, and as the water was boiling on the stove, we sang our States Of Matter song a few times.  When we poured the water back into the cup, there was not much left!  We went back to the classroom, took out our trusty science books, and read about evaporation, water vapor, and condensation.
It was great to see everyone who was able to attend First Grade Night At The Games!  I hope you had fun.  Remember than every first grader who attended is eligible for one FREE box of popcorn during any one basketball game this season!  Most of the games will happen in January, so don’t miss out!
Thank you very much to everyone who contributed to the PTO Chanukah fund!  It was very sweet of you.  I look forward to buying something special!

Have a great weekend!

-Miss Deena Tanenbaum

Sunday, July 8, 2018


Welcome to the C.T.A. first grade blog!  There will be no new posts over the summer.  Please check back in the fall when school starts to read about all that we do!