Week 6: September 21-25

It was another busy week in Grade 1 as we thought about peace and celebrated the Moon Festival and our writing too!

Unit of Inquiry

We completed our work in How We Organize Ourselves where we looked closely at communication. Grade 1 will continue to work on seeing how English is organized as we investigate words and letter sounds as the year continues. We began investigating Who We Are as students were provoked to create their own balanced day. You will find the unit overview on below. Please reinforce the vocabulary we will be using in your home language so the children are able to make school and home connections.

In Shared Reading we have been looking at the text Where’s My Teddy? By reading together we are able to highlight the thinking that takes place when reading. The students think about what they KNOW, make PREDICTions, ask QUESTIONs, VISUALIZE the story, make personal CONNECTIONs and finally SUMMARIZE the important parts. They are also learning decoding strategies that they can apply to new words in their own reading. You can help support these strategies by continuing to read with your child nightly using our Grade 1 schedule of home readers, RAZ Kids, library books and choice. Remember that books that go home on a Monday should be reread all week to build up fluency and comprehension and then returned for cleaning on the Friday.

We also had a writing celebration this week. The last six weeks we have spent building up routines as writers and establishing all the different things that writers can write. Our first unit comes to a close as students shared their own writing with a group under the thinking that Authors Write Everything. As teachers we were looking to see that students could write in a variety of genres, across a range of topics. It was wonderful to witness their creative thinking and risk taking.


Using the knowledge we have built up about 10 in the past weeks we were now able to take this thinking and expand it to teen numbers. Here we looked at 10 and some more to make a teen number. We investigated these through number line ups, 100s boards and tens frames. With the help of Ms Jill we also investigated what an important role pronunciation plays when we say the teen numbers. Can you hear the difference between 13 and 30? We will continue to build on this next week as we use other manipulatives, word problems and number bonds to see how teen numbers are composed.

Thank you for your support at home with home reading as well as sending the students to school prepared for swimming, dressed in white and blue for peace and in an ao dai for Moon Festival. It has been wonderful to make these memories with your children.

Read alouds this week:


October 1: Learning Conferences. There will be NO school for students. We will join you on zoom at your scheduled time.

Grade 1 Swimming: Next week is Week A, we will have swimming on Tuesday and Friday.

Family Readers: Let me know if you would be happy to read through zoom and we will set up a time. As we explore language and communication and celebrate diversity, reading in your home language or English is welcome!

Parent Representative: We are still looking for a parent representative. Please consider volunteering. Thanks!

Week 5: September 14-18


         Thank you for all your support with Dot Day earlier this week. It was great to see so many ‘dotty’ outfits!

Building Community

This week we began building a kindness chain. 1C students have been paying attention to acts of kindness. At the end of each day, we add another link to our chain after we write down the kind act. Here’s a photo of our chain so far. If you notice your child being kind at home, send us a note and we’ll add a link.

 We start each day with a greeting. Ms. Lindsey taught us how to say hello using an elbow bump. We learned a new group game called ZOOM. It helps students work together. Ask your child to tell you more about it. Make sure you ask them what the EEK button does.  

Taking Action

Hannah took action this week by writing the class a letter about a girl who is working hard to be a communicator. She brought the letter in and read it to the class during our morning meeting. 

Here we are participating in our elementary virtual assembly. Despite our distance, this has helped keep us all connected.

Unit of Inquiry

This was our final week of our How We Organize Ourselves unit with the big idea: Language is a system of communication. Students had many ways to show what they learned. Some students chose to create a poster about their language, others made a video of a good conversation, others invented their own language that could be used in a grade 1 classroom. All students drew and/or wrote what a communicator is. We enjoyed looking at and discussing everyone’s different perspectives on our unit. Next week we will launch a new Unit of Inquiry on Who We Are. This unit will focus on balance in our lives to promote health and wellbeing. 


In Math this week we built our knowledge of the tens frame and of numbers that go together to make ten. We extended this into teen numbers and using number bonds to decompose teen numbers into tens and ones. We talked about the meaning of quantity and units while completing a word problem. 


Thank you for helping us to get our home reading program up and running this week. We have book bags to send home on Monday next week with the students’ leveled Home Readers for the week. These should then be returned to school on Friday so that they can be disinfected in time for redistribution on Monday.

We have loved getting back into the UNIS library with Monica every week. This week we enjoyed experiencing picture story books with very few words in them to understand how the pictures and a small amount of vocabulary can help us understand a story. We are trying to use this skill in our own writing and to add words, details and speech bubbles to the many different books we have already created in Grade 1C during writers’ workshop. 

In reading, we continue to work on stamina to get ‘stronger for longer’ and we are beginning to explore the different reading strategies that help us decode a text. These are skills that you can also talk about at home to support your child’s reading. This week we practiced thinking what we know about a topic before reading, predicting what might happen next, and asking questions as we read. Ask your child about the cow that went OINK.

Read alouds this week:

Week 4: September 7-11

This Wednesday we had our photos taken. Here we are practicing our smiles.

Building Community

This week we visited the Maker Space for the Marshmallow Spaghetti Challenge. We worked together in small groups to build a tall tower using only spaghetti, string, and tape. The challenge was attaching a marshmallow to the top without letting the tower fall over. We had only twenty minutes for the task. We learned many things: 

  • How to research ideas by studying images of possibilities
  • How to make a plan
  • How to communicate together while working in a group
  • How to share responsibility and the work
  • How to work under time pressure
  • How to share and borrow ideas from other teams
  • How to reflect and improve on what we accomplished

Unit of Inquiry

We continued our thinking about what language as a system of communication means to us. We tried to synthesize our thinking by looking and organizing images that represent the ideas we have talked about. 

We made our own communicators books using what we know about the different ways people communicate. 

We are practicing how to be good communicators by:

  • Making eye contact when we speak
  • Speaking loud enough so others can hear
  • Speaking and listening when having a conversation (taking turns)
  • Asking follow up questions
  • Nodding or using other body language to show you understand

Please remind students to practice their communication skills at home when you have family discussions.


This week in math we have been exploring shapes in the room. We went on a scavenger hunt and found that our classroom was filled with identifiable shapes. The most challenging was the hexagon. Students realized that they could put two tables together to make the shape. 

Students explored Geoboards on their iPads this week. This app allows students to manipulate shapes using virtual rubber bands on a board. 

Students also used pattern block shapes  and popsicle sticks to create designs and build numbers out of shapes. 


This week we explored wordless books and learned that we read illustrations carefully to determine the beginning, middle and end of the story.  We noticed that the first page already gave us clues as to what might happen in the story. We shared our thinking with others in the class. This week we also tried reading online using the RAZ Kids app. Students now have their login information and should be able to access the RAZ Kids at home using kstrenio as the teacher name and then clicking on their name. If you have any login difficulties, please let me know. 

Students were inspired by the wordless picture books and began to create their own. Many chose to use words or speech bubbles to help tell the story. We learned that writers make many decisions when writing and that planning out a beginning, middle and end before writing is helpful.

Finally, we continued exploring the English language by examining our alphabet. We have now developed hand movements for many of the letters. We also inquired into what happens to words in English when we add the suffix +er to the end of the word. Ask your child how the word changes when we add +er to dance, build, write, play, or sing. 

Read alouds this week:

The Word Collector: Jerome collects words from everywhere and inspires children to do the same. This book has inspired 1C students to begin collecting interesting words in any language. We will display them around the room when we are finished. 

Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon: Molly Lou teaches us all how to be confident no matter how challenging it may be. Let’s all walk proudly!

The Dot: Vashni decides that she is can make a simple dot become an amazing piece of art after her teacher believes in her. 

Baby Signs: We learned some simple sign language that can be used at any age. 

Art and Max: This book’s illustrations showed us how art can make magic. 

Ask your child to tell you more about these books. 


  • September 15th: International Dot Day (make a dot and come dressed with dots if possible. More information in the Tin Tuc)
  • September 21st: PE Swimming unit will start
  • October 1st: Learning Conferences via Zoom
  • Please consider reading to our class or volunteering to be our room parent.

Week 3: August 31-September 4

Week of August 31-September 4

Building Community

Today we learned how to work together as a group to complete a puzzle. We noticed that there are some strategies to use when completing a puzzle. 

This week we have continued our work on using mindful bodies to help get us in the “learning zone.” Today we were able to sit still for three minutes. Some tips we shared were listening to the sounds around us, saying hello and goodbye to thoughts or worries, feeling our breath on our chest or belly. We use peppermint essential oil to help energize our learning space in the morning and after lunch. 

Students now know everyone’s name in class and we are learning each other’s preferred learning styles. Some like to work in groups, others prefer some alone time, some like to sit and listen, and others are courageous discussion starters.

We are thankful. We read The Thankful Book by Todd Parr at our closing meeting. We learned that being grateful makes us laugh and feel good. We will try to think about what we are thankful for every week. Here’s the list we generated so far:

We are thankful for:

  • The cleaners because they keep the school clean.
  • PE because we get to be stronger.
  • Hats because they keep us shady.
  • Watermelon because it is refreshing.
  • Friends because they play and help us. 
  • Teachers because they learn with us. 
  • Books because they make us laugh and think. 
  • Students because they keep us young!
  • School because it is fun to be here. 
  • Nature because it gives us life. 

Unit of Inquiry

This week our morning meetings have been hosted by different language teachers. This has helped students hear the sounds of other systems of communication. On Monday, Ms. Zung taught us the alphabet song in Vietnamese. We learned that there are three letter As in the Vietnamese language. Students listened to a book in Chinese read to us by Ms. Aikin on Thursday. On Friday, Mr. Christoff read to us a book about a French escargot on a journey for a salad with croutons and vinaigrette. We learned that we are all Magnifique! 

We also compared and contrasted some of the languages spoken in the classroom. Students listened to recorded conversations in different languages and we tried to describe what they sound like. Students compared the numbers of letters in each alphabet. We found out that Chinese has more characters than we can count. We found out that Korean has 24 letters and that both Vietnamese and Swedish alphabets have 29 letters each. We also tried to write some letters or characters from different languages. 

Finally, we began our deep inquiry into the English language. This will continue all year. We found out that vowel letters are like glue. They keep all the consonants together. We counted the vowels and consonants in our names. We started a review of all the letters and sounds in the English alphabet. We met Pinky who makes us laugh as we practice our sounds. 


This week we continued expanding our ideas of what math is. We had a small debate in class about whether math is a language. Most believe that math is a language with the alphabet being numbers. Some students said that math has signs that communicate. Others don’t believe math is a language because it doesn’t have writing like Korean or English. What about you? Do you think math is a language?

This week we read a book called Infinity and Me. We tried to understand what infinity means and use words or ideas to describe it. We noticed that we could count all the letters in the alphabet but could not count all the numbers. 

We continued our practice with making tens in different ways. We used tens frames, number bonds and unifix cubes to represent ten in different ways. 


This week we began our review of the sounds and letters of the English language. We practiced making words. We brainstormed the words we know that begin with certain letters. 

We also started reviewing “Magic Words”. Students all had a chance to read as many gold and red words as they could. We will continue working on reading and spelling these most common words in English the rest of the year. 

Students listened to many books this week. They each are sharing different ways of responding to the books they read.

Read alouds this week:


  • Healthy snack: Thank you for the healthy choices!
  • Hat: It’s so hot outside!
  • Masks: Keep a clean spare or two masks in your child’s backpack.
  • PE shoes: Sneakers are a must for running and jumping. 
  • Personal headphones: Please send in a set of headphones 
  • PE Kits: If you need to purchase new UNIS sports clothing for your child, you can order via the School shop: Please find the form linked here.

Your role in our 1C community

Please volunteer to read to our class. Your child would love to invite you via Zoom to read a book. If you need book ideas, let me know and I can send one home. 

We still need a room parent. Consider volunteering for this role. Email me if you are interested. 

Save the Date:

September 8: School Photos

Week 2: August 24-28

Building Community

This week we finalized our classroom agreements. Students collaborated to make a sun with everyone’s signature. We all agreed that we want our classroom to be a happy place. In order for this to happen, students must work together to be:

  • SAFE
  • PERSISTENT (keep trying and not give up)

We will work together to ensure that our students take responsibility for making our classroom a safe and happy place for all of us.

 Ms. Kris, our school counselor, came to talk to us about her job. She also taught us about mindfulness. We practiced sitting still. It’s not easy but we are determined to keep practicing.

Unit of Inquiry

This week we officially launched our unit with the central idea:


We read a book written in a made up language called Du Iz Tak? By Carson Ellis. Students studied the images carefully in order to figure out what was happening. We enjoyed figuring out what some of the words mean. We also graphed the number of languages spoken in our classroom. We found our that there are 9 different languages spoken by our classmates. On Friday, we Zoomed our fellow first grade classrooms and found out about what languages are spoken in their classrooms.

This week, our morning messages have been in different languages every day. One was in Du-Iz-Tak language, in Spanish, another in morse code, and another by a squirrel that lives in Tay Ho. 

We had an evacuation drill on Thursday and decided that alarms and sirens communicate messages just like languages do.  We will continue to explore this central idea over the next few weeks. If you have any books in your home language that you would like to share with the class, please let me know. 

Please see the information below for details and an idea of how you can support your child at home.


This week in math we learned different ways we can represent numbers. We used the language of math as we sorted objects into categories of shape, size, texture, quantity, and color. 

We counted the letters in our names and represented that number using unifix cubes. We found out that the shortest name in the class is JAY with 3 letters and the longest name is CATHERINE with 9 letters. 

We discussed, as mathematicians, how we could represent the number of the day using different items. We used bear counters, cubes, lines, racks and chain links. Students were then introduced to number bonds and tens frames. Ask your child how they can make a number using any of these strategies. 

We ended the week exploring the hundreds chart and counting by ones. We looked for patterns as we practiced skip counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s. We will continue our work with this throughout the year. 

Math Games Menu:  (an ongoing list of maths games we have learned)

  • NEW! Number 6 
  • Roll and Record
  • Five in a Row
  • Garbage


We learned how to “read images” this week by studying closely the illustrations of books. We found out that good readers can read a book without even reading the words on the pages. Students came up with many strategies for looking closely such as:

  • make connections to what they’ve seen already
  • imagine what came before or after a picture
  • look at faces and guess how they might be feeling
  • look for a problem in the image.

This week we talked about where to find inspiration for writing. We learned that writers look for ideas everywhere. Ideas can come from places we visit, people we know, and things we love. We tried these ideas out and found inspiration in the objects we brought in from home. Students were excited to draw and write the stories surrounding their favorite things. 

Read alouds this week:

The Color Monster: When creating their self portraits, students learned that color carries meaning. Students selected the background color carefully to evoke the right feeling. 

You’re called a what?: This story shares the crazy but true names of animals in the world. 

We don’t Eat Our Classmates: This book was read during our Elementary assembly. It’s a story about what happens when a young dinosaur finds her human classmates uncontrollably delicious. 




Crocodile Tears: Animals go on a hunt to find out why Crocodile is crying…ask your child to tell you what they found out.






  • Healthy snack: Thank you for the healthy choices!
  • Hat: It’s so hot outside!
  • Masks: Keep a clean spare or two masks in your child’s backpack.
  • PE shoes: Sneakers are a must for running and jumping. 
  • Personal headphones: Please send in a set of headphones 
  • PE Kits: If you need to purchase new UNIS sports clothing for your child, you can order via the School shop: Please find the form linked here.

Your role in our 1A community

Please volunteer to read to our class. Your child would love to invite you via Zoom to read a book. If you need book ideas, let me know and I can send one home. 

We still need a room parent. Consider volunteering for this role. Email me if you are interested. 

Save the Date:

September 8: School Photos

Week 1: August 17-21

Building Community

This week we spent a lot of time getting to know each other. Every morning we start our day with a morning meeting. Our meetings consist of four parts: greeting, sharing, group activity, and morning message. We learned many ways to say hello without saying anything. Ask your child to show you some nonverbal greetings. Most students can name at least half of the members of our class. We review our names in many different ways. We have used a rhythmic game called “Categories” to help us remember each other’s names. The morning message is read aloud each day and then read together as a group. This message gives students an idea of what will be happening that day. Every morning we share something about ourselves in order to get to know each other. This week we shared our feelings about coming back to school, the languages we speak, our favorite food, and our likes and dislikes. During our group activity, each student tapped out a pattern with a bamboo stick for the rest of the class to repeat. We also created a hand gesture or action for others to copy. Ask your child about what they have learned about members of our class. 

We went on a scavenger hunt to learn about different places on the UNIS campus. Students worked in small groups and had to take photos of the places they found.


Class Inventory: This week we counted everything! Student groups worked in small groups to “take inventory” of the loose parts we have in class. We counted dominoes, wooden blocks, buttons, Lego, wood chips, markers, and magnetic tiles. It was not an easy task but each group came up with their own solutions on how to group objects in order to make counting easier. 

Math Games: We learned how to play three math games with partners.  We played: Roll and Record, Five in a Row, and Garbage. We practice addition, counting, matching, rolling dice, flipping cards, ordering to ten, and taking turns.  

Numbers About Me: We learned more about the members of our class by collecting the numbers in our lives. We recorded our height, number of family members, our birthdate, the floors in our house, and then we counted the number of things in our pencil boxes.

Exploring Tools Mathematicians Use: We discussed the tools that different people use. We made a list of what we thought mathematicians use. The list that students came up with included: pencils, each other, erasers, rulers, math racks, hundreds charts, unifix cubes, counters, and our hands. We took time to play and explore all the tools we have in our classroom. 


Book Shopping: We spent time on Monday “shopping” for books. We browsed our classroom library for books we might like to read. Each student now has a collection of books in their book box to read. 

Sharing with a partner: We practiced sharing our thoughts and feelings about books by using post-it notes and emojis. We will continue working on this process all semester. 

Sharing our Stories: In order to get to know each other as a class community, we began sharing our stories in many ways. We used our backpacks to spark conversations about what our interests are. Some drew family portraits or shared family photos. Others drew maps of places they have traveled to. Many drew their homes or pets they have and labeled their pictures. We created a  map of our heart to use as a source of inspiration for more stories we can share. 

Read alouds this week:

Lola by Yayo: This book was written by my father about my cat Lola. Students learned how she drinks from the sink and plays hide and seek with my son. 

Alma by Juana Martinez-Neal: This book is about a girl with a very long name: Alma Sofia Esperanza, Pura, Candela. She thinks her name is too long but after finding out where each name comes from, she thinks it fits her just right. 

Everyone Counts by Kristin Roskifte: This book is filled with colorful illustrations. Each page challenges students to count in order to answer a question. We’re still reading this one.

Este es Lulú by Camilla Reid: This is a lift-the-flap book about a girl named Lulu. She introduces us to her family, house, friends and favorite things. It helped us think about how we would tell others about ourselves. 

The OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld: This book explores many of the things we do and how it’s not always important to do those things well…yet. Ask your child which was their favorite book and why?


What’s Your Story?: Today we sent home a brown bag with a note. Your child should spend some time this weekend brainstorming what object they might bring to share or write about in class. Bring the object in the bag on Monday.

Healthy snack: Please remember that the snack your child eats at school affects their mood. Make sure the snack is healthy and nutritious. 

Hat: Students should bring a hat to keep at school. Please write your child’s name on it so we can return it if lost.

Masks: Please praise your child for wearing their masks all day. This is not easy. In case masks are lost, please send in a few spares to keep in your child’s backpack.

PE shoes: Students have PE Tuesday and Friday on week A and Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on week B. Please make sure your child wears sports shoes on these days so she/he can run and participate in all activities.

Family photo: Thank you for sharing your family photos. It has been fun learning about you this week. If you haven’t already sent one in or emailed one to me, please do so at kstrenio@unishanoi.org

Here is our weekly schedule for our class.

Your role in our 1A community

We would love to hear from you if you are interested in being a ‘mystery reader’ for the class via Zoom, or if you would like to come in to share a celebration that is important to your home culture. 

Thank you very much already for supporting the students through returning our parent questionnaire and in helping them remember to bring in an artifact to share. 

SeeSaw – The student platform

This year students are using ‘Seesaw’ to share and communicate with families! Your child will post to Seesaw to share their learning. Seesaw is private; only people who are invited to view will see posts created by your child. It is also a great way for other members of your child’s extended family to share in what they are up to at school.

Please Sign Up Now

  1. Click on this link here
  2. Choose your child from the list
  3. Create your account
  4. Once I approve you, you can see content from your child

After you sign up, download the free Seesaw Family app and sign in. You can also access Seesaw from a computer at https://app.seesaw.me

If you used Seesaw last year or have more than one child using Seesaw, follow the link above, then click the ‘Sign in’ tab at the top of the screen. You do not need to create a new account.

Articulation and Language screenings

UNIS’ speech-language pathologist, Brian Walker, will begin the start of year speech and language screenings next week. This is a very quick look at your child’s ability to say sounds clearly, describe some things with short sentences and follow some simple directions.   If you child has some challenges, Brian will reach out to you in a couple of weeks.  If your child is in the distance learning or bridge program, Brian will screen your child when they return to campus. If Brian worked with your child last year in K2, he/she will also be screened with therapy resuming by the end of September. 

Tin Tuc Weekly News

Our primary communication platform at UNIS Hanoi is the Tin Tuc weekly email.  Every Friday afternoon, you will receive Tin Tuc in your inbox, which contains information that is curated especially for you.  The Tin Tuc weekly news will contain links to news and blogs from the following: 

  • Your child’s homeroom and specialist blogs.  If you have more than one child, you will receive ONE email, with news from each of your child’s teachers. 
  • Your child’s school division (Elementary, Middle or High school)
  • Whole school news 

If you do not receive Tin Tuc this week, please send an email directly to tintuc@unishanoi.org  

Save the Date:

Thursday 27th August: I look forward to meeting you, via Zoom, at our ‘Virtual Back-to-School Night’ on the evening of August 27th. You can also drop me an email at the following address kstrenio@unishanoi.org  I do not answer emails while I’m teaching, so if it is important, please contact the ES office.