Hillcrest Newsletter March 2019

Hillcrest Elementary School Newsletter

March 2019


Upcoming Events

  • Thursday, March 28 – Kindergarten Registration, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Every Friday – Banking Day
  • April 12th - Friends of Hillcrest Potluck & Game Night
  • April 15 to 19, Spring Vacation
  • Friday, April 26 – All School Meeting, 9 a.m.
  • Friday, April 26 – Preschool Registration, Noon to 3 p.m.


From the Principal

Dear Hillcrest Families,

We had a wonderful All School Meeting today! Many thanks to those of you who were able to join us for presentations of student writing from Ms. Chase’s preschoolers, Mrs. Fox’s kindergarten students and Mrs. Saylor’s first graders. Our preschoolers shared their learning about the process of making maple syrup by sharing their drawing and writing and a song. They’ve developed a new understanding of the importance of cold nights and warm days to this important local industry. And they’ve learned lots of new vocabulary related to maple syrup making. Our kindergarten students shared their strategies for self-assessment in writing. These students have learned to review their own work and to use their writing checklist to ask themselves key questions like: Did I draw a colorful detailed picture? Did I use punctuation? Are there spaces between my words? Our first graders presented book reviews that they had written as part of their unit on Opinion Writing. In collaborative groups, the first graders read a text, interviewed one another about the text, and wrote a book review. Today, the “reporter” from each collaborative group presented the completed book reviews to our All School Meeting audience. These presentations offered us a fabulous peak at the progression of early literacy skills at our school!

Looking ahead to next week, we’ll be holding Kindergarten Registration on Thursday, March 28th from 9:00 to 4:00 and from 5:30 to 6:30. Please help to spread the word about this important event. To enroll in kindergarten for the upcoming school year, children must turn five before September 1, 2019. To complete the registration process, parents or guardians should bring their student’s birth certificate, a document showing proof of residence in our district, and documentation of the student’s most recent physical exam and vaccination records. We hope to see lots of new students and families at Kindergarten Registration on Thursday!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend --

Sarah Burstein


A very special thank you to families for coming in for parent conferences.

Our hospital/pet vet theme is in full swing and our preschool classrooms have been filled with doctors, nurses, patients, receptionists, pet owners, vets and groomers. We have learned about commonly used tools such as stethoscopes, otoscopes and bandages.

During the week of April 1, all three classrooms will be participating in an integrated week. Students will have to opportunity to visit the other two classrooms and work in each of their hospital/pet vet centers. We have done this for the past 2 years and it is always a huge success. It is a great opportunity for students to work with friends they normally see just at lunch time and on the playground.

Our preschoolers are experts on maple syrup! We have learned about how it is made through stories, videos and a slide slow of actual photos from a real sugar house highlighting the process. We tried sap and maple syrup then compared and contrasted our findings. A BIG thank you to the Kleeberg and Lively families for donating sweet treats for this theme.

Happy Spring!

Ms. Chanda, Ms. Sarah and Ms. Teresa



During the month of March, kindergarteners were building their background knowledge about the rain forest. Students wrote the facts they learned as they prepared to embark on their next adventure with the characters Jack and Annie. Once students knew about the ecosystem of the rain forest we read the next Magic Tree House book: Afternoon on the Amazon. Children were practicing sophisticated listening and remembering skills as they reported to a buddy about what they heard and then wrote chapter summaries.

Other things we are learning during our literacy time include: the names of letters, the sounds they make, and the proper way to write them. We are learning to fluently isolate and pronounce all of the sounds that can be heard in a word as well.

During our math block we are decomposing numbers, naming and writing the numbers to 20, counting by 1’s to 100, counting by 10’s to 100, starting to count at other numbers besides 1, and we even counting backwards.

Everyone is very happy to welcome spring! Even though the sun is shining into the evening, we want to stress how important an early bedtime will be. Children ages 5 to 10 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep at night! As tempting as it can be to stay out in the fresh air, children really need their rest to be their best the next day. Also, continue to send in snow gear until further notice. Our playground can be very muddy. It would also be very helpful to have an updated set of extra clothes.

Thank you!

Mrs. Fox, Mrs. Lesenski, and Ms. Hirst


First Grade

March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb! We are certainly hoping so! We’ve been experiencing many different kinds of March weather from snowy and windy to sunny and warmer. We studied weather during the month of March with a special focus on the wind. We learned about what causes the wind and how the wind can be helpful or harmful. We have done some fun wind experiments as well. We also worked on a social studies unit about mapping. We learned about how to read and make maps. We will be able to locate where we are on a variety of maps. We are currently learning about light and sound. In writing we have been working on writing Persuasive/Opinion pieces. We are picking our favorite movie, game or restaurant and are trying to convince someone else why it is the best movie, game or restaurant. We give reasons why we like it, use “sparkly” words to describe it and use our best persuasive language so that we can convince our audience to agree with us. In math, we are learning about how to add and subtract teen numbers using story problems and equations. We have learned to count and write 2 digit numbers and how to add and subtract tens from 2 digit numbers. At the end of the month, the new math unit will be focusing on graphs, tables and answering comparison questions that have use the words more and fewer. We will use graphs to compare two quantities and to compare multiple quantities. We will move from collecting and using data for graphing to using it to make tables. It is a busy, exciting month!

Therapeutic Classroom

In the therapeutic classroom we are using a behavior management strategy called 1-2-3 Magic. This easy to use and effective strategy uses specific techniques to stop undesirable behavior, as well as to encourage positive behaviors.

There are several parts to the 1-2-3 Magic behavior management strategy which work together to contribute to a positive classroom environment where children feel comfortable and more available to learn.

*The first part of the strategy involves managing undesirable behavior by counting to 1, 2, and then 3. If 3 is reached, the student is asked to take a short break in a pre-determined spot in the classroom. This simple technique gives students time to reflect on their behavior and make corrections often before 3 is reached.

*The second part of using the program is to encourage good behavior by using positive reinforcement systems.

*Lastly, strategies for maintaining healthy relationships with children, including active listening, shared fun, and class meetings are used.

If you are interested in trying 1-2-3 Magic at home, a parent version of the program called 1-2-3 Magic, Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 is available in both book and CD format in our local library system.

Michelle Tirrell & Liz Chagnon


English Learner News from Ms. Wulfkuhle

Kindergarten English Learners have been learning the language of sequencing, recounting stories they have read and telling what happened first, next, then, and finally. They are also learning language for comparing and contrasting, using children's literature to talk about the similarities and differences.

In the First Grade English Learner groups, the students are learning about animals and habitats. One of the main goals of the unit is to discuss by inquiring in order to build and present knowledge gathered through research. Two of the habitats students are exploring are the forest and the ocean, so they stopped by a trail in the forest at Barton's Cove to feel what it's like in the forest firsthand. Then they went to the Discovery Center and did a scavenger hunt to find animals in the forest and ocean habitats. Finally, they went to the Carnegie Library to get their own library cards and find resources to answer their own research questions on an animal of their choice. Now, students are working on answering the questions they have about their animal using the resources they checked out at the library.





Happy Spring! Kindergarten and first grade have been experimenting with four different voices; whispering voice, speaking voice, calling voice, and singing voice. They have been experimenting with loud and soft sounds. Preschoolers have been excited to sing our own version of “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” where each student had the opportunity to sing a solo. All students have been moving to the beat of a drum. They must move fast or slow to match the beat of the drum.


Hello from the Health Office 

March is National Nutrition Month. National Nutrition Month is an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


10 Tips for Making Healthy Foods More Fun for Kids

(from the USDA Choose MyPlate Nutrition Education Series)


  1. Smoothie Creations--Blend fat-free or low-fat yogurt or milk with fruit pieces and crushed ice. Use fresh, frozen, canned, and even overripe fruits. Try bananas, berries, peaches, and/or pineapple. If you freeze the fruit first, you can even skip the ice!
  2. Delicious Dippers--Whip up a quick dip for veggies with yogurt and seasonings such as herbs or garlic. Serve with raw vegetables like broccoli, carrots, or cauliflower. Fruit chunks go great with a yogurt and cinnamon or vanilla dip.
  3. Caterpillar Kabobs--Assemble chunks of melon, apple, orange, and pear on skewers for a fruity kabob. For a raw veggie version, use vegetables like zucchini, cucumber, squash, sweet peppers, or tomatoes.
  4. Personalized Pizzas--Set up a pizza-making station in the kitchen. Use whole-wheat English muffins, bagels, or pita bread as the crust. Have tomato sauce, low-fat cheese, and cut-up vegetables or fruits for toppings. Let kids choose their own favorites. Then pop the pizzas into the oven to warm.
  5. Fruity Peanut Butterfly--Start with carrot sticks or celery for the body. Attach wings made of thinly sliced apples with peanut butter and decorate with halved grapes or dried fruit.
  6. Frosty Fruits--Frozen treats are bound to be popular in the warm months. Just put fresh fruits such as melon chunks in the freezer (rinse first). Make “popsicles” by inserting sticks into peeled bananas and freezing.
  7. Bugs on a Log--Use celery, cucumber, or carrot sticks as the log and add peanut butter. Top with dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, or cherries, depending on what bugs you want!
  8. Homemade Trail Mix--Use your favorite nuts and dried fruits, such as unsalted peanuts, cashews, walnuts, or sunflower seeds mixed with dried apples, pineapple, cherries, apricots, or raisins. Add whole-grain cereals to the mix, too.
  9. Potato Person--Decorate half a baked potato. Use sliced cherry tomatoes, peas, and low-fat cheese on the potato to make a funny face.
  10. Put Kids in Charge --Ask your child to name new veggie or fruit creations. Let them arrange raw veggies or fruits into a fun shape or design.

Image result for inhaler clipart black and whiteASTHMA: The arrival of warmer weather and pollen can sometimes trigger asthma symptoms. If your child uses a rescue inhaler (such as albuterol) and does not yet have one here at school, please bring one in with a signed doctor’s order and a completed parent/guardian permission form (see below for how to access the form on our website) so that your child can be treated at the onset of their symptoms.

Have you seen the Hillcrest Health & Wellness webpage? It contains information related to Flu, Head Lice, Allergies, and Hillcrest Health Policies. You will also find some of the health forms available for printing at home. If your child has a physical you can print the Massachusetts Health Record Form to bring with you to be completed by the provider. If your child needs medicine at school you can print the Medication Administration Permission Form and have the top part completed by the provider and the parent/guardian completes the bottom part. Where is the Health & Wellness webpage? If you start out on the Hillcrest website and go to For Parents you then click on Health & Wellness.

Spring is here and with it comes mud season. Recess can sometimes involve getting wet. Please send in extra clothes with your child so that a change is available when needed. The health office has some extras, but not always what is needed. If you have any gently used clothes you’d like to pass on to the health office we are most in need of socks and elastic-waist pants (larger sizes needed). Thanks very much!

Nurse Francis


Counselor’s Corner

Getting Found

Kindergarten classes continue with their Keeping Kids Safe lessons where they learn skills that will help keep them safe from dangerous situations. Recent lessons have focused on what to do if you become separated from your grown-up. They practiced important skills for all of our students.

Many students realized that they didn’t know the names of their caregivers beyond Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, etc. Students were encouraged to go home and ask you what other adults call you and talk about making a safety plan so they know what to do if they get lost.

You can help your child know what to do if he or she gets lost by making a plan. Have your child generate some ideas, then select the ideas that work best for you. Then go over your plan right before you go out with your child so he or she knows what to do if you become separated. In our lessons, students were instructed to stay put and wait for their adult to come to them. If they are waiting a long time they were taught how to find an “official” adult at a variety of locations to ask for help. You may have other preferred ideas such as designating a meeting spot.

  • Before you go out, make sure that your child knows his or her first and last name and also your first and last name.
  • Write your phone number down and place it in your child’s pocket or practice with them to memorize your number.
  • Determine a meeting place or plan for what you’d like them to do if you become separated.

You can practice with your child by generating ideas for different situations. Then choose the idea that works best for your family. Here are some sample situations you can go over with your child:

  • Pretend that you’re in a store. You get separated from me. What would you do? (For example, identify a salesperson and ask for help). How do you know who is a salesperson? Pretend to tell the salesperson my name and phone number.
  • Pretend that we’re at the park and you lose sight of me. What would you do? (For example, wait where you are or designate a meeting spot such as by the slide).

Halina Radosz