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Everything you need to know about First Grade

November 26, 2019 | Becca Brasser

Welcome to the First Grade blog!

This blog, hosted by the teachers of the Sun and Moon first grade classes, will contain information about classroom procedures and parent requirements, updates about what we’ve been working on, and photos of our day-to-day activities. Below are some things you should know about first grade.


In order to have a strong start to the day, your child should arrive at school between 8:10 and 8:20.  Children need ten to fifteen minutes to climb stairs, care for their belongings, greet their friends and teachers, and get ready for the school day.  By the end of September, children will also need to hand in their homework, plan for their morning work periods, and go “book-shopping” during that time.  

At the beginning of the year, we do invite you to accompany your child to the classroom and observe as your child gets ready for the day.  However, we ask that you allow your child space and time to complete his or her tasks independently

As the year progresses, we do ask that you begin to allow your child to add more independence to the morning, arriving alone to the classroom on most days. Perhaps you will say goodbye in the stairwell and meet us in


Our school day ends at 3:00 P.M. Between 3:00 and 3:15, our classes will meet you along the fence outside the main door on 5th Street. For safety’s sake, each child must say goodbye to one of the teachers (or both of them!) before leaving.  At that time, teachers will make sure that they see you (or the person designated to pick up your child) before the child may leave.

If someone other than you, the parent, will be picking up the child, please write a note in the morning or contact the office no later than 2:00 P.M. Teachers do not typically check email during the school day, especially in the afternoon, so contacting the office is the best way to make sure the teachers get messages about dismissal. Remember, unless teachers are informed of the change by the parent, they cannot release the child to anyone but the parent. If a child-care provider or relative will usually pick up your child, please make the office aware of that as well, by 2:00 P.M. on the day on which the arrangement will start. 

If, by 3:15, your child hasn’t been picked up, they will be brought to the office to wait for you. You must come to the office to pick them up, and sign them out from the office.


First grade students need practical and comfortable clothing and shoes for the activities that take place during school hours.  Encourage your child to wear clothes that will allow them to climb stairs, run, jump, walk, and work with materials such as paint, water, and clay.  Your child should come prepared to work hard, play hard, and get a little dirty.  Children are also expected to wear shoes that will allow them to run and walk safely.  (Shoes with “high heels” or with no heel strap are not appropriate for our activities.) The shoes known as “Crocs” are not appropriate for school as they slip off easily while running and using stairs.

Please also note that on Thursdays, both the Sun and Moon classes have PE, so your child should wear gym shoes and comfortable clothing on those days.

On Fridays, first grade children will typically spend much of the day outside in all types of weather as part of our new “Field and Forest Fridays” program. We will explore the ecosystems around us in Hoboken and farther afield: rivers, parks, forests, and more. Please note that your child should be well-prepared for being outdoors in all types of weather each Friday, even rain and snow! Rain boots and a rain coat or poncho are essential for rainy days, snow boots, gloves/mittens, and a winter coat for snowy and cold days.

And….remember, we go outside during all kinds of weather for our daily park time. Only extreme cold (below 20 degrees Fahrenheit), icy conditions, or heavy rain will keep us indoors. Therefore, please do dress your child in appropriate outdoor clothing EVERY day.


Each day, students will need to bring a nutritious lunch.  Sandwiches, chunks of fruit, cheese and crackers, and raw vegetables are great lunch ingredients. Need other ideas? Ask us or ask your fellow parents!

If you pack juice boxes, please keep in mind that many children cannot finish the whole box—a junior size may be more appropriate.  

A closeable, reusable water bottle is a great way to provide a non-sugary beverage, keep your child hydrated, and reduce the amount of trash we produce.  Reusable lunch containers also help the environment!

Also, please note that soda and bubble gum are not allowed at school.

Please note that the Moon classroom is entirely peanut-free and tree-nut-free due to some severe allergies in the class. Moon class parents: Please do not send these foods to school with your child for lunch.

At this point, the Sun Class may have these ingredients in lunches. We will update you if this changes.


Each day, the Moon and Sun classes will share community snacks in the morning—this means that each family will buy and bring snacks for all 14 Moon or 14 Sun students for several weeks out of the school year. Snacks will be eaten “family-style” as students serve each other, share food, and develop healthy eating habits and table manners.

Since families will not need to provide children with daily snacks, we hope that this will not be a financial burden for most families; however, if this does present a problem for your family, please let us know and we will work out a plan.  Because we have several nut and peanut allergies in each class, please do not send snacks containing these ingredients.

The full snack schedule will be posted in the classrooms and handed out at Welcome Back Night. You can also find upcoming snack assignments on the blog.

Please see the list below for ideas about what to bring for snacks.  You may bring all the snacks at the beginning of the week, or each morning before school.  

We hope that sharing a snack as a class will nourish all of us as a community.  

First Grade Snacks: What to Bring?

During community snacks, we are hoping to share balanced, healthy finger-food that will provide energy for the late morning and Park time.

We hope this will be a task where students will be preparing, serving, and eating independently, so please do not send snacks that might cause spills and stains (yogurt, dips, applesauce, fruit cups, etc.), or that need extensive preparation.

Please note that we do not have much refrigerator access for community snacks, so please avoid snacks that need refrigeration if you plan to drop them off before the day they are served.  The teachers will provide filtered water for the students, so it is not necessary for families to provide beverages. 

Please choose one snack from each category described below for each day.  Contact Ms. Brasser or Ms. Streelman if you have other ideas!  

Cracker/Carbs Category:
Two medium boxes or two bags (
enough for 14 servings)
Slices of homemade bread (nut/peanut-free)
Wheat crackers (we prefer ones without many additives, like Triscuits)
Unsweetened cereal (Cheerios/Chex)
Rice cakes
Homemade muffins (nut/peanut-free of course!)
Graham crackers

Fresh Food Category:
Bunches of pre-washed grapes
Whole bananas
Raisins (1 large box)
Whole apples or apple slices (enough for each student to have ½, cut by teachers at school)
Clementine oranges (1-2 per student)
Carrot sticks/baby carrots (no dips or hummus please!)
Chunks of cheese/string cheese
Chunks of melon
Cucumber slices


One of the ways we celebrate our students is by acknowledging their birthdays. Each child is honored with a book presented to the library in the student’s name. These books are carefully chosen by the staff to represent the child’s interests or a topic of study in his or her class. Teachers present students with a book during community worship on the day of or a day near to their birthday. Children with birthdays in July or August receive a book on their half birthday.
In addition to this, the child has a choice of receiving hugs or spins (one hug or spin for each year of their life) to celebrate. We celebrate birthdays at the very beginning of worship, so if your child is being celebrated, we suggest that you arrive early so you don’t miss the celebration. Please be aware that “roving photographers” are distracting to young children, so we ask that you remain seated during the celebration.

Finally, students in first grade may bring in small, easily managed treats to share with their classmates and teachers. Some popular items in the past have been mini-cupcakes, cookies, fruit skewers, and chocolate-covered pretzels. Please do not send anything that requires cutting or refrigeration. Also, please do not send any treats that contain tree nuts or peanuts,.

The Moon class has 14 students. The Sun class has 14 students.


Writing Homework: 

Starting in the middle of October, students will be expected to independently:

  • write at least 2 sentences in the homework journal (a main idea and a detail sentence)
  • create a detailed illustration
  • reread their work
  • pack the homework folder in the backpack and return it to school.

Writing homework in first grade serves primarily as a tool that:

  • enables students to become confident writers
  • gives students an opportunity to express their thoughts and experiences to their teachers
  • provides teachers with a daily assessment of student writing.

Parents should not be involved in homework, except to make sure that it is done daily. The teachers want to see the mistakes and spelling habits of students. If parents are providing erasers and giving spellings, the teachers do not get a clear picture of what each student is capable of writing independently.

Writing Homework should not take more than 10 minutes! If your child is not finished after 10-15 minutes, please give them the choice to put it away. Also, please note that sometimes it is easier for children to draw a picture first, then write about it. 

Reading Homework: 

The role of the parent at this time is to read aloud to their child at least 10 minutes each day. Then, the parent should record the book’s title, the date, and the parent initials on the reading log found in the homework folder.


Every week, parents receive an email newsletter from one of the first grade lead teachers (Ms. Streelman or Ms. Brasser). Within the newsletter is important information about current and upcoming projects and events, as well as links to the first grade blog.

Parents are expected to read weekly newsletters and check the blog at least once each week.

Questions about individual children or other questions that are not answered on the blog may be directed to Ms. Streelman, the lead teacher in the Moon class, or Ms. Brasser, the lead teacher in the Sun class, as appropriate.

Ms. Brasser: [email protected]
Ms. Streelman: [email protected]

Please know that teachers typically do not read or answer emails after 7PM or before 7AM.

Additionally, emails that are sent during the school day might not be seen until after school, as teachers are not often online during the school day (the first grade day is too busy for much “screen time”!)

If you have an emergency need or question during the school day, calling the school office is the best option–they can get a message to a teacher during the school day.

For example, if your child’s dismissal plans change, the teachers will not likely see an email about this during the school day. It would be best to contact the school office in this situation. The main office can be reached at 201-653-5548.

Becca Brasser

Teacher, Grade 1

Becca Brasser has been teaching first grade at Mustard Seed School since 2002. She’s passionate about teaching children to read, write, experiment, and take risks as they explore the world around them. Her own studies (including a Master of Arts degree from New Jersey City University) have given her expertise and experience in the area of literacy education.

Ms. Brasser especially enjoys taking her students on field trips all over the New York Metropolitan area, traveling on foot, subway, bus, commuter train, and ferry. Some favorite trips: the Hudson Hike, the New York Transit Museum, and the Central Park Zoo to study penguins.

Although she lives in the city, Ms. Brasser loves escaping to nature and finding it in her everyday life as well. She loves to explore rivers and lakes, woods and mountains with her husband Matt, their daughter, Annika, and son, Theo.

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