Hillcrest Newsletter December 2018

Hillcrest Elementary School Newsletter

December 2018

Important Dates

  • Dec. 24 – Jan. 1 - Winter holiday break       
  • Wed., Jan. 2 – School resumes
  • Wed., Jan. 9 – In-Service, Noon dismissal (11:30 a.m. PK)
  • Mon., Jan 21 – No school in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Friday, Jan.25 – No school for students. Turn Around Day


From the Principal

 Dear Hillcrest Families,

It was such a treat to gather together for our December All School Meeting this morning! These gatherings are always special occasions and we are so appreciative of the families and friends who are able to join us to celebrate our students’ learning.  This month, our All School Meeting theme was Social Studies and we all had a chance to take a peek into the progression of Social Studies learning across the early childhood grades.  Our preschoolers shared a song about the months of the year.  This song is directly related to the preschool social studies standard which focuses on how the concepts of days, weeks and months relate to the passage of time. Our kindergarten students shared the Responsibility Song.  This song is connected to the Civics and Government strand of the kindergarten social studies standards and supports the ongoing theme of living, working and learning together. Our first grade students presented their ongoing work on building classroom community and leadership skills. Their presentations are related to the development of social and emotional learning as a foundation for addressing the Civics and Government strand of the first grade social studies standards. Our first grade English Language Learners presented their learning about family artifacts as part of their unit on Family Stories.  This work connects to the WIDA standard on summarizing stories and the first grade Reading Standards around using nonfiction text features.  If you are interested in learning more about the Massachusetts Curriculum Standards, you can check out the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education -- MA DESE  website: http://www.doe.mass.edu/frameworks/current.html. And , if you want to learn more about the WIDA (World Class Instructional Design & Assessment)  standards, check out the WIDA website: https://wida.wisc.edu/teach/standards.

A continuing theme throughout History and Social Science learning is the concept of community development.  And, as part of our effort to build community connections, I have been using this monthly newsletter as a forum to introduce Hillcrest families to new members of our school staff. Our December Staff Highlight is focused on Mrs. Carrie Tirrell, a special education paraprofessional in our preschool program. (You may know that we have two Mrs. Tirrells here at Hillcrest -- Michelle Tirrell and Carrie Tirrell.)  In addition to working as a member of the preschool team in the morning, Mrs. Carrie Tirrell also provides special education support in first grade in the afternoons.  Here are a few fun facts about Mrs. Carrie Tirrell.  Mrs. Carrie Tirrell loves The Incredible Hulk, her favorite color is green and she cannot get a good night’s sleep without her “squishy” pillow!  I wonder how many of our Hillcrest students also share Mrs. Tirrell’s love of the Hulk?  Stay tuned for our January Staff Highlight . . who will it be?

Wishing you a wonderful holiday break --

Sarah Burstein


Our Big Y field trip on December 7th was a huge success.  Students were able to learn about the different departments and participate in hands on learning.  They made mini-pizzas in the pizza shop, sampled cheese from the deli, tried fruit in the produce department, observed a lobster in the seafood department and watch how a cake gets decorated in the bakery.  Each child was able to work at the checkout and scan an item.

In Science, we have been learning about animals that hibernate through stories, interactive lessons and cooperative learning activities.

Please remember to send in your child’s outdoor clothing including: warm coat, snowpants, boots, hat and mittens.

See you in 2019!

Ms. Chanda, Ms. Sarah and Ms. Teresa



During the month of December kindergarteners have been conducting research to learn about Ancient Egypt.  Students have been writing the facts they have learned from non-fiction texts about pyramids, hieroglyphs, and life in Ancient Egypt.  We also read Mummies in the Morning, which is the next book in The Magic Tree House seriesStudents continued to write about the story during our writing block.   

During our literacy time we continue to learn the names of letters, the sounds they make, and the proper way to write them.  Before parting ways for the holiday break we spent some time reading different versions of The Gingerbread Man.  This is a fun way to compare and contrast stories.  

Kindergarteners are building upon their number sense during math.  We are counting larger groups of objects and learning to identify and write the teen numbers.  We are counting in various ways to develop a deep knowledge of the number line.  We count by 1’s to 100, we count by 10’s, we start at other numbers besides 1, and we even count backwards.

We wish you all a happy holiday!

Mrs. Fox, Mrs. Lesenski and Ms. Hirst


First Grade

December has been a very busy month. The First grade has been working on Non-fiction chapter books during our Writer’s Workshop writing program. The children have had a wonderful time writing non-fiction facts about topics that they are “experts” at like basketball, castles, etc. The kids will begin doing a research book about an animal. They will learn about their animal, write facts, use pictures to teach, add labels and zoom-ins to give more information and add a table of contents to their book.

In math we have been adding and subtracting numbers to 10. We have been working on using manipulatives, proof drawings, and counting on to solve addition and subtraction equations and story problems. We are beginning to learn how to solve equations and story problems that have missing numbers (ex. 4 + __ = 10). In addition, we have worked on “proving” how we solved problems using pictures, words, different settings (tens frames, counters, etc). This is an important skill to develop. Please practice different addition and subtraction problems with your student at home.


Our Fundations program has been working on the “floss rule” or bonus letter rule. This is when a word that has consonant, vowel, consonant pattern and end with an f, l, or s and sometimes z we have to double the last letter or add a “bonus letter”. We have also worked on the “glued sounds” of –am, -an and –all. We will begin learning about the ending s that can be added onto both nouns (people, places and things) and onto verbs (action words). The comprehension focus has been on story problems and solutions, noticing details, and summarizing the story’s beginning, middle and end.


First grade has also been learning about the Winter Holidays. We have been reading and learning about holidays from around the world. Some of the holidays we have studied are Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, and Christmas. It has been exciting to compare how all of these holidays are celebrated and to see what differences and similarities they have!


Have a wonderful, safe holiday and vacation! See you in the New Year!


Miss Casey, Miss Matrishon, Mrs. Saylor and Ms. Smith 


Health Office

Greetings from the health office!

Winter has arrived. One way to stay safe in winter weather is by dressing in layers. Frostbite can occur very quickly in cold, windy conditions so it is important to wear appropriate clothing. To prevent exposure keep skin covered. Be sure your child always wears a hat, coat, gloves, and boots, and for added protection, a scarf and snow pants. Remember to take indoor warm-up breaks when spending lots of time outdoors.

We will ring in the New Year while on break.  Wishes of wellness for all!


The following ideas are from the American Academy of Pediatrics

1.       I will clean up my toys by putting them where they belong when I’m finished with them.

2.       I will brush my teeth twice a day.

3.       I will wash my hands before eating and after going to the bathroom

4.       I will drink more milk and water, and limit soda and fruity drinks.

5.       I will apply sunscreen before going outdoors.

6.       I will learn how to help clear the table when I am done eating.

7.       I will always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, scooter, or skateboard.

8.       I will wear my seat belt every time I get in the car.

9.       I will be nice to all people and friendly to all animals.

10.     I will find a physical activity that I like and I will do it at least three times a week.

Have a joyful, relaxing, and safe winter break! See you in 2019!

Nurse Francis


In music all classes have been marching and skipping to the          different themes in the Nutcracker March as we entered class.  Preschoolers have been singing songs about mittens.  They used mittens they made in art class during a song we sang in music.  First grade and kindergarten have been singing a song “Snow is Falling Today” while keeping the beat with instruments and discovering the different sounds and sections of the song.  First grade has also been singing “Let’s Build a Gingerbread House” while moving purposefully to the song.  All classes have been ending with the book and song “The Marvelous Toy” by Tom Paxton. At the end of class this final week before vacation students watched a video of Tom Paxton and his grandson singing “The Marvelous Toy.”

Susan King, Music Teacher


Hillcrest Families ~ Have a safe and fun holiday/winter break!