Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Planning Projects

         Inspired by the March Slice of Life Challenge I have a couple ideas spinning in my head that I will be trying out within the next week. 

         After learning about Goodreads.com and being excited by all of the great literature everyone was sharing, I mentioned it to my librarian and thought it would be awesome to do something like this with my students. Would you believe she said we have access to a program that is built into our onloine library card catalog system (Destiny) that would do exactly that! It is called Destiny Quest but no one had ever taken the time to learn about it let alone incorporate it into their classroom.  It allows the students to set up thier bookshelves (Books I've read, Books I am reading, Books I want to read). Then they can rate the books (1-5 stars) They can even recommend books to freinds. Isn't this exactly what we want kids doing? reading books, talking about books, sharing books with friends! My librarian was gracious enough to stay after school with me and get everything set up for my students. I can't wait to share it with them!! I know they will be excited to dig into it too!

2nd project- Book Spine Poetry (of course, inspired by you guys)
I shared this idea with my Libarian when I heard about it. So her and I have been planning to do some Book Spine poetry with my students for poetry month, this month!!! Does anyone have any suggestions on the logistics of having a class of 24 students doing book spine poetry in the library? A couple of ideas we thought of:
  • assign each student a section of the library shelf (This will keep them somewhat contained not running all over the library, still lots of books but will provide them with a focus)
  • we plan to bring several rulers per student (They will use the rulers as shelf markers.  They will be able to reshelf the books themselves.
  • When they have their final book spine poetry created, I will take a picture of the spines of the books stacked together.
Any other helpful hints?
I will let you know how these both go next week!!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Our Easter Sunday poem

S.O.L. #31/31

                                           It was a ..

picnic packing,

                     jelly bean snacking

eggs a hiding,  

                        children finding

                                                                                    kind of Easter Sunday.

                                              It was a .....

playground playing,

                        grass a laying.

soccer ball kicking,

                                 chocolate lip licking
                                                                   kind of Easter Sunday.

                                           It was a .......

sunshine shining,

                 scooter riding

wind whipping,

                         kite tails flipping

                                                                 kind of Easter Sunday. 

                                             It was a ........

family strolling,

                       hands a holding

lake waves lapping,

                            children laughing

                                                                 kind of Easter Sunday.  

Saturday, March 30, 2013

An Easter Egg Tradition

S.O.L. #30/31

My family has always had a unique way of creating Easter Eggs.  It is just a little twist to the normal egg dying process.  We use melted paraffin wax to give a multi-colored effect.  I don't know how this tradition actually started but we have been doing it this way for as long as I can remember.  In fact, if took me a long to figure out that not everyone did it this way.

First , gather the egg dying supplies. 

You will need:
    -  lots of freshly boiled eggs (make sure they are dry but still warm)
    -  the traditional egg dying colored tablets (with a splash of vinegar in each cup)
    -  white/clear paraffin wax
    - small paint brushes
    - clothes or paper towels to dry the eggs (They always end up as pretty as the eggs.)

1.  Begin by melting a small amount of white(clear when melted) parffin wax.
     We've always used what my mom and dad had around that house that they had left over
     from canning.  I bet you could use a few white birthday candles or such. We melt it
     using the double boiler method.  A small pot with the wax inside a bigger pot with a
     little bit of water that you bring to boil or at least until the wax has melted. 

2.  Dissolve your traditional egg dying colored tablets in warm water and a splash of vinegar.

3.  Get one of your freshly boiled eggs.  It needs to still be warm (never cold) but not
     too hot either or the melted wax will just run away.

4.  Dip the small paint brush into the melted wax and apply it to the white egg shell.
    "Paint on" the clear wax in whatever design appeases you.  polka dots,  zig zags,
    names, etc (This area will remain white. )

5.  Now place your egg into one of the colored solutions.   Note: We have learned
     this process works best if you begin with a lighter shade and work through to
     the darker shades.

6.   Take the egg out once it reaches  he desired color. Pat it dry with a paper towel
      or cloth. See the area where you applied the wax stayed white!

7.  Go back to the wax and use the paint brush to "paint" a few more strokes of
     wax onto the now colored (green) egg shell.   These areas will remain

8.  Place the egg into a second color. This time a slightly darker color.  I placed
    it in pink. Do you notice where you applied the wax this time stayed green?

9.  Continue this process with the same egg until it becomes to your liking.
     I dunked mine in blue for the last time.  (kind of came out dark purple)
     But you can still see the pink polka dots left behind. 

Each and every eggs always come out so unique and beautiful and colorful!!!

I was so excited to share this tradition with my children (6 and 2 years old)  this year.
I was beyond excited that they got to do it at Grandma and Papa's house too.

  Thank you mom and dad for making this such a special activity when
I was a little girl. Thank you even more for making it a special memory for
my little boy and girl too.   You have created a tradition that I know will live on
through my children as well!

Friday, March 29, 2013

It matters!

S.O.L. #29/31
I had a “first” in my career that I wish would never have happened. A former student took his own life. Sam* (named changed) was an intelligent boy. In fact, he was in the gifted program at our school. He was the boy who used his intelligence in all the mischievous ways, if you know what I mean. I had Sam for 4th grade, only my second year of teaching. Sam’s and his family were actually the first neighbors I met when I moved to this  town. They lived right across the street. I knew before I actually had him as a student that he was going to be a challenge. Boy, did he ever keep me hopping. Although, he was very likeable and witty. For instance, after getting into some trouble in art, he wrote the art teacher a seemingly heartfelt apology note. At the end of his letter, he writes,
“How can I ever repay you? Oh, I know,......

(signs his full name like an autograph).....

This will be worth millions some day!”
Unfortunately, I don’t think this young boy’s autograph will ever be worth a million dollars. However, it has been worth a million laughs.

I shared that story and many more as I reminisced with his mom and dad when I attened Sam's memorial. I was teary eyed as I tentatively walked along the tables viewing the displays of photographs and keepsakes from Sam’s life. The wide toothless grins of a baby in a bathtub; a young boy with tousled hair proudly wearing his boy scout uniform--This is someone’s baby boy who has grown up in her arms within her reach but now he is gone.
       Then it caught my eye a small Christmas wreath made of puzzle pieces painted green that encircled a wallet sized school photograph. Sam made this as a gift to his mom in my 4th grade class!!! A few of the puzzle pieces were missing, some of the green paint was chipped away and the picture was a little faded and bent but his mother obviously treasured this gift and kept it all these years. Now tears stream down my face. It mattered! Of course, it mattered it was created by the hands of her precious little boy. It would matter to me. I am so thankful that I have taken the time each year that I have taught to gather old puzzle pieces, paint them and let my students great a gift. Somebody’s mommy just might treasure it forever.

Love em while you got em!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Author Visit

 S.O.L. #28/31

My students were fortunate enough to visit with an author, Kate Klise, today.  Kate's website intro begins:

"Once upon a time there were two sisters named Kate and Sarah Klise who wanted to make a book. And they did! Or rather, we did."

         Kate and sister create children's books together. Kate writes. Sarah illustrates.  My fourth graders  could really relate to Kate because Kate revealed that she wrote her first book in the 4th grade!  She has written many picture books and children's novels.  During her talk, she shared a few writer's secrets that she has learned along the way.
     We've all heard that standard comparison that  story elements follow the structure of a mountain.  You know,  it begins,  then builds up to a climax and back down again. She claimed her trouble with that organization was  her stories started off boring, followed by more b-o-r-i-n-g,  then really good part, then a little bit more BORING. The end!
      To cure this issue, Kate Klise suggests that writer's use the circular motion of the  hands moving  around a clock when creating their story's plot.   For instance, the story begins at 12:00 on the clock .  To engage the reader's, the character should face the problem immediately (about 1:00).  This problem leads the character along the adventure/quest to solve the problem ( the largest part of the story).  Editors even say that the main character should "suffer" so the readers will empathize with him/her.  About 7:00 on the clock, there should be an OH NO! moment.  When something tragic or shocking happens.  Followed by the Ah Ha! Moment  (around 8:00-9:00) when the character learns something about life or has a chnage of heart or feelings.  Then of course the story has come full circle (by 11:00-12:00) when the problem is solved and all is well.  She even did impromptu story creating following this clock model as a guide and suggestions from the audience of students.   She made it seem so simple and easy!
      The next time I read aloud a picture book I plan to compare the story's structure to her writing model.  I loved these simple suggestions that I can pass on to the writers in my classroom.   I hope my students will attempt to use this as a way to organize their future stories. I know she has already inspired them to be reading more!! Several of my students bought copies of her books and got them autographed.  And there is a mile long waiting list for her books we have in our school library.

Here is a cover from her 43 Old Cemetery Road Series


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kaitlyn's comedy

S.O.L. #27/31

Here are just a couple of moments with my 2 year old daughter this week that I wanted to be capture so we can be sure to look back in a few years and chuckle. 

We had an incident  with the crayons, (I blogged about earlier "peeling the paper")  I asked her to come help  mommy pick up all of her crayons that had dumped out on the floor.  I "threatened", "If I pick your crayons, then they will be mine and I will put them up, far, far away." She calmly replied, "Ok, I have mawkers."  Grrr..

I picked her up from daycare and the day care teacher told me that Kaitlyn said she was excited to get a tattoo.  My head cocked with curiousity to hear the rest of the story when the teacher said she asked her, 'Does you mommy have a tattoo?".  Kailtyn matter of factly answered, "Yes." ( No I don't! My eyes began to bug out as I looked at the teacher to hear her continue. The teacher said, " Oh she does? Wow." To which Kailtyn explained further, "Yeap, up in the cabinet!" (whoo! she only knows about temporary tattoos! relief)

I picked her up from daycare and the daycare teacher approaches me to relay to me another "story" Kaitlyn told her. 
Teacher: "Does your dad live with you?"
Kaitlyn: No. (Yes he does! I was thinking infactically.)
Teacher: "I thought he did.  He goes to work but doesn't he sleep at your house?"
Kaitlyn: "No, mostly he sleeps in the woods!"
(You have to know my hunter husband to know who completely funny this was.  He spends a lot of time in the woods and I am betting he occassionally catches some ZZZZZ's there too..)

Oh the joys of a two year old who likes to talk.....What is to come?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Writing on the.......


S.O.L. #26/31

            Ahhh! Yeahh!! That is the feeling I get when my 2 year old little year crawls up into my lap cluthing her pencil and paper asking, "Mommy, do you know hoew to make a K? Show me how to make a K."  She's ready to absorb, ready to learn. These are the  moments to be savored, tiny momnets of acquisision that  shape who she is.
            I wasn't even aware that she knew so many letters of the alphabet until we were waiting in the doctor's office.   I got a pen from my purse (not wanting her to touch the toys or books in the exam room) and I began writing on the paper that covers the examination table.  Soon she was shouting out the names of the letters as I wrote them. Astonishingly, she could recognize 20 out of 26 letters!  All those repeat readings of her favorite board books, assembling alphabet puzzles thousands of times, "playing" games on starfall.com & watching the letter factroy DVD has its effect.
              She is now gripping a pencil properly and scrawling these letters herself.  Just last night, at the dinner table she asked, "How to you write MOM?" So I called out the letters and she moved her hand in the up down, up down motion forming an M on the napkin.  Then she eagerly wrote the "O". That one's easy because she plays tic-tac-toe with her older brother and always gets to be "O"s.  Then again she formed a mountain to make the last "M".  There is was .......MOM !! My 2 year old has written MOM on the napkin before me.  Priceless!!
             My husband was surprised that I didn't snap a picture or save it for the baby book.  Maybe it is because I can already sense the inner writer in her and I know there will be more where that came from!!!      Let's just hope it isn't on my walls!! I'd probably still frame it! :)