Saturday, August 23, 2014

we are surviving!

 We've had two full weeks of school and we are surviving!  This time last year is was evident we were barely treading water.  I was barely treading water.  I think all the ground work I did last year with my lesson plans and such is making this year an easier start.  Hopefully that only continues!
We've got a second grader and third grader and fourth grader this year. 

Hubby's parents came down this year and stayed with the kids so I could do all the back-to-school meeting and work time without stressing about getting home as soon as possible.  Last year the kids went to summer day camp that last week of summer and wanted picked up as soon as I could get free each afternoon. It was not the best way to do that.

Our third grade team has a new addition and Bee's teacher from last year went off to have a baby.

My class is really good too!  There is less testosterone than I had last year, three fewer bodies and a nice balance of academic needs.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the first two weeks feel in the classroom can carry on awhile longer.

One of my sweet students showed up with these shoes the first day!

My youngest sister sent the kids a piñata in the mail so we could start our school year with a 'bang.'  She filled it with good candy too!  It came just like that... with the mail stickers right on the piñata.

Look at these two sweet girls I get to enjoy this year! Here we are at the first chapel of the school year.

The homework has started... Bee has a good amount of fourth grade homework!  Here, grandma was helping Bee with homework, I was grading papers and Lou was to be working on a handwriting paper.  As you can see, it was the world's hardest handwriting page.  He'd do a word, cry that it was hard and lay down.  It took him about 8 times as long as it should of... then we saw it had a backside!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

classroom sneak peek

My third grade students walk in the room Monday morning (tomorrow!).  After I go back his afternoon and reset everything, it will be ready for them!  I have to tear down a good deal on Friday afternoons and reset either Sunday afternoon or early Monday morning.  Little kid Sunday school meets in there on Sunday mornings.  I also have a group that meets in there on Wednesday, but they are older, like divorce recovery or Boy Scouts or something.  Add that to afterschool care, which meets in there after school everyday until about 6:00pm and this poor room is busy busy.  Those groups pose a lot of restrictions on my room set up and decorations, but I think I learned last year and was able to work my restrictions this year.  It's honestly freeing almost that when I walk out the door to take my kids to their parents at 3:00, the room is ready for the next group at 3:01 and I can't do some of the cute things I see on Pinterst as far as room set up goes.    Plus ,our Fire Marshal is a stickler.  I have anther name I call him, but I'll just say stickler.   (last year pictures)
This is the back of the room.  It's the library and calendar area. Everything along the back wall has to get turned around or moved on Friday.  A lot of things get pushed against the wall with the windows, which is where they shove all the student desks too.  The bulletin boards can stay up of course. 
The AR % tracking display is being reused from last year.  I did it in vinyl so I could leave it up, otherwise everything comes down and is packed away over the summer.   The school gives me three laptops and then I've acquired two other old ones from family members, so I have  5 going.  We have a mobile lab that the third grade shares, but it's nice to have several I don't have to worry about reserving to use each morning or for centers.   The blank wall space will be used for displaying anchor carts.
I'm going to try to be better about using the student jobs.  It's easier for me to just ask students who are done with their work to do all the jobs. 
This birthday display is new this year and hopefully, if no one picks at it, should last a few years.  I cut the pieces out on my silhouette in sticky vinyl.  It was a shape I had to create through the tracing feature. 
This is the view from the back.  It turned out a little blurry, I'll have to re-take this picture. I have a table in the front that I use for my small groups and also do a good bit of teaching from.  Others in my hall don't have a table up front and I don't know how they do it.
I redid my two front bulletin boards.  This one will always display the sheets that go with our story of the week.  Last year, I hung them on a clothes line and no one could see them.  My team purchased these as part of a packet for each unit for our reading series from teachers pay teachers online.  It is a wonderful supplement to our curriculum. 
I reworked the CAFE board too.  I only want to have a few strategies up at a time.  My student and I did not reference them last year... at all and it was wasted space.  I have to have something CAFE up, so this may be a solution.  My third graders all read so well, some of the CAFE items are below what they need.  I'm excited about having the whole pad of chart paper up at once so it's ready when I need it. 
This is the room as you walk in.  The far wall with the windows is 'my space' where the other groups aren't supposed to touch, which means a lot of stuff is shoved against it.  Most of these pictures were taken on back to school night so the info folders are on their desks.  If they ordered a school supply kit they came in cardboard boxes, so that's what you see on those friends desks.  I love school supply shopping, so we'll never order a kit at our house!  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

birthday chair

I wanted to do a little something to make birthdays fun and special at school, but can't do treats.  The office gives a pencil, but that's about it. I made this little seat cover to fit over the chair of our birthday friend.  I love it and can't wait until the first birthday!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

and the winner is...

We had 160 entries for the pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies.  The winner of the amazing awesome pencil sharpener is #15, Emily Z.  I'll be in touch Emily!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

and then summer was over- back to school gift for the teachers

It seriously seems like summer just started and here we are getting ready for back to school week.  What happened?  It totally freaks me out too when I think that I only really get few summers of the kids being little and being at home with me and now half of those are over for Bee.  She'll be all grown up with places to go so soon.   

Anyway, we threw a little something together for the teachers.  Let's call it preemptive. I didn't want to spend a bunch since I'd already spent... um... more than I intended for my own classroom, not to mention the long school supply the kids needed.  I also wanted something cute since once school starts,  all creative energy is blown on other areas.

 Sam's club had packs of 40 gel pens for $14! This let me give 10 to each teacher and keep a handful for myself too.  That worked out well... for me!  I just used some scrapbook paper, free form cut some different flower shapes and hole punched a few times in the middle to make the hold big enough for the tip of the pen to poke through.  We did a little folding and rolling of some petals to make them not just lay flat and gathered them in a little flower pot. 

At the last minute I remembered we still had a few of these adorable little labels left from like three years ago.  I've used them here and here.  They are from Skip to My Lou.   I think they turned out pretty cute and it's a item the teachers will like and be able to use. 

I'm back to school on Monday and the kids have a week before they come. That means, my fun, fun giveaway ends in two days!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

friendly reminder

Don't forget, that awesome giveaway is coming to an end in just a few days, Monday to be exact.  Click here to enter!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Great Read Alouds

Our favorite family read aloud books
(and great 2nd/3rd grade class read aloud books)

Bee and Lou July 2014
We have read all of these books at home aloud together in the evenings.  I've also read most of them aloud in the classroom at some point over the past 10 years.  I don't like to read the same things each year, I get bored.  This probably explains a lot about me.  Bee and Lou are now 9 and 7, but we've been reading chapter books aloud for years.  This is a collection of our favorites. 
1.  Diary of  Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney   ***Lou was into these books this winter,  so we read them all.  They are funny and kids love reading them because of the artwork and funny sketches  and fonts on the pages.  A kid keeps a 'diary' of his time in middle school, with the worries of fitting in and finding his place.   Don't watch the movie if you want to like the book character.  The movie made him seem so arrogant and selfish. 

2.  Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls-  ***My favorite book of all times!
  Favorite. I cried, Bee cried. We were a mess!  You can't go wrong with a story about two 
  coon hounds and a boy who loves them. I read them to my class last year and I ugly 
  cried.  Seriously, it was ugly. 

Bee and Lou Feb 2012
3.  How to Train your Dragon (series) by Cressida Cowell   How To Train Your Dragon,  How To Be A Pirate, How To Speak Dragonese, How To Cheat A Dragon's Curse, How To Twist A Dragon's Tale, A Hero's Guide To Deadly Dragons, How To Ride A Dragon's Storm, How To Break A Dragon's Heart, How To Steal A Dragon's Sword, How To Seize A Dragon's Jewel, How To Betray A Dragon's Hero    ****This is our current read aloud at home.  We are on book 2. It's interesting just how very, very different the movies are.  In fact, it left me wondering if Cressida just looked at the movies and cried when she thought about how they changed her work or if she just enjoyed her books getting extra attention via the movie.

3.  Wonder by R.J. Palacio  ***One of my students brought this in for me to read the class.  Wow, what a powerful read.  It made for a great read aloud in class and also at home.   In this book, the main character has major facial deformities and he shares how others treat him and what school is like for him. Its told from various character's points of view.   There is a second shorter book, but I haven't gotten a copy yet.

4.  One Hundred Dresses by Elenor Estes   ***This book has a great message about bullying and being a good friend.  It's not just for girls, despite the title.  It makes you think!

5.  Adventures of Mohan and Mohan in the Jungle both by Ella Grove.  ***They were lent to us by a homeschooling friend and are published by the folks at Rod and Staff.  Both were good quick reads. A good tool for discussing missionaries and their role. 

One of my sweet 3rd grade students reading with her 1st grade book buddy 

6.  Bread for the Winter by Harvey Yoder.  ***This book has a strong Christian messages and an amazing moral lesson.  I will read this to my class next year. 

7. Miss Piggle-Wiggle series by Betty MacDonald. ***Honestly, we really enjoyed the first book, but didn't like the second and didn't bother with any others.
8.  Pippi Longstockings series  by Astrid Lindgrin:    Pippi Longstockings,  Pippi in the South Seas,  Pippi Goes on Board, The Adventures of Pippi Longstockings, Pippi Goes to School,  Pippi's Extraordinary Ordinary Day.   ***These books led to weeks of creative play at out house.  Pippi goes on adventures and is just plain silly.  She lives creatively without her parents, and isn't that something every kid has wondered about?
9.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- by Roald Dahl: ***Always a favorite.  The kids even asked for early baths a few nights so we had more time to read it.   Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator-  not a favorite-  almost didn't finish, but we stuck through it!
10.  Matilda  by Roald Dahl:  ***A favorite!  We could hardly put it down.  We loved, loved this.  Bee and Lou felt so sorry for poor Matilda.  I read it last year in class and the kids couldn't wait for the next chapter.  That's my favorite part of the day- teacher read aloud. 
3rd graders doing a little outdoor reading
11. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH  by Robert O'Brien    I can't believe I did not read this until I was an adult.  We all couldn't wait for the next chapter.   This is a great one for boys and girls both, even daddies!  It's starts with the story of a mother mouse trying to save her children and ends with an exciting adventure of super smart rats setting up their own self sufficient habitat.  I had meant to read this at school last year, but ran out of time.  I'll get it in first semester this year.
   12. Dr. Doolittle series- by Hugh Lofting:   The Story of Dr. Dolittle, The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, Dr. Dolittle's Caravan,  Dr. Dolittle's Circus, Dr. Do little in the Moon, Dr. Dolittle's Garden,  Dr. Dolittle's Return    ***Really, really good, I didn't even know it was going to be so good!  We all loved it!  It was hard to track down, and I never was able to locate all the books.  It's my mission this year.  He talks to animals and goes on wild adventures with them in order to help other animals.
13. Holes-  by Louis Sachar   ***This is a favorite read aloud at school.  I was thinking the plot was a little too intertwined and thick for Bee and Lou to get it when we read it (maybe 5 and 7 at the time), but they loved it.  We watched the movie too, and it's probably the closest book/video combo out there.  a boy gets wrongly set to detention camp where he is forced to dig holes. It's a wonderfully intertwined story with tales connecting many characters and plots and many generations.
14.  Trumpet of the Swan by E.B.White:  We liked this a lot.  Lou followed the plot line so closely and still talks about it. He would like a trumpet now.    ***Such a nice story about a swan with some very human characteristics. It's a great read aloud. 
15.  Cricket in Times Square-  by George Selden ***This is one of those books that I've had in my classroom library forever, but hadn't read myself until not too long ago. What a sweet story it was.  Animals who are friends- one with an undiscovered talent.   I read this last year aloud at school as well and we all liked it.
16.  Stuart Little by E.B.White:   ***This is a cute story about a boy who looks like a mouse but whose parents treat him like a regular boy.  Many parts of this story seemed to bother Bee and Lou because they were always worried about Stuart.  I think reading it was stressful for them in a weird way.  The movies are cute, but of course different from the book. 
17.  Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner. ***This is one of the novels we read as a class in 3rd grade.  WOW,  surprise ending to this book!  It was so good that when we read it at home,  we read it in two days.  The kids couldn't wait for me to read more.  They even asked me to read during dinner, which I did one day. It's about a boy and his dog and his grandpa.  Major surprise at the end. 
18.  Charlottes' Web  by E.B. White:   ****A classic that everybody loves.  At my current school, we study it in third grade. Now I get to read it every year!  A girl, a pig, a spider, friendship, a classic story.
A few of my lovely 3rd graders discussing a book during Literature circles. 
19.  Captain Underpants series  by Dav Plikey-  ***Actually my own kids asked not to read others and to get back to 'real stories'.  Not exactly good literature but they are a fast read.  My students used to enjoy them and I've ready several aloud.   Goofy toilet humor  Boys love it.
20.  Little House on the Prairie  series by Laura Ingalls Wilder:     Little House in the Big  Woods, Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie,  On the Banks of Plum Creek,  By the Shores of Silver Lake,  The Long Winter,  These Happy Golden Years,  Little Town on the Prairie,  The First Four Years   ***Bee and Lou both liked this series.  We devoured them.  They are classic, rights of passage, must reads.    Most people know the premise, they follow Laura from a tiny tot through her marriage years as her family explores and settles out west.  The girls tend to especially appreciate the details about domestic life.
21.  Sarah Plain and Tall series- by Patricia McLaclin:   Sarah Plain and Tall, Caleb's Story and Skylark.   ***We read them in just three days each.  Everybody liked it.  I remember my mom reading these to me when I was in 4th grade.  I didn't want to read them but she made me sit with her.  She read and cried.  I sort of wanted to do anything else but be there.  I like them now, although I don't think I cry as much.
22.  The Littles series by John Peterson:   The Littles, The Littles Take a Trip, The Littles to the Rescue,  The Littles Have a Wedding, The Littles Give a Party, The Littles and the Great Halloween Scare, The Littles and the Trash Tinies,  The Littles go Exploring, The Littles go to School, The Littles and the Terrible Tiny Kid, The Littles and Their Amazing New Friend, The Littles and the Big Blizzard,  The Littles and the Lost Children, The LIttles Get Trapped, The Littles and the Secret Letter, The Littles Do Their Homework, The Littles Have a Merry Christmas,  The Littles and the Best Christmas Ever,   The Littles and the Big Storm   ***We read all we could get our hands on.  I don't think we managed to get all of these but they were a great, quick read.  The kids loved them and the sparked lots of creative play at our house.  Basically, little people live in the walls of big peoples houses, using cast off items for their own use.   We read these when Bee and Lou were a bit younger. 
Oct. 2012
23.  James and the Giant Peach  by Roald Dahl: ***A favorite for the kids, one of my childhood favorites too.  My class last year was so surprised at how different it was from the movie, I don't even care to watch the movie for this one actually.  
24.  Ramona  Quimby series by Beverly Cleary:   Beezus and Ramona,  Ramona the Pest,  Ramona the Brave,  Ramona and Her Father,  Ramona and Her Mother,  Ramona Quimby, Age 8,  Ramona Forever,  Ramona's World    ***Again, rights of passage reads.  I read them in third grade, I read them to my third graders.  They are a must read.  I usually get them started with Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and let the kids read the others on their own. 
 25.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang- series by Ian Flemming  ***We've only read the first book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but apparently there are others in the series.  I didn't even know!  The kids were afraid of the robbers.  The movie was a little dated for me.  The kids surprisingly enjoyed it a lot.
26. Ralph S. Mouse series by Beverly Cleary:   Ralph S. Mouse, Runaway Mouse, Ralph and the Motorcycle  ***Lou enjoyed these! to no end.  He asked me to read them  again when we were done.  We watched the video afterward and it was cute.  A little mouse gets a toy motorcycle and he can make it go.  Adventures follow.
Oct. 2012
27. Indian in the Cupboard series by: Lynn Reid Banks  The Indian in the cupboard, The Return of the Indian,  The secret of the Indian,  The secret of the Cupboard, and The secret of the Key.    ***My kids LOVED this series.  It sparked lots of creative play. You may remember, we needed costumes.  A boy discovers a cupboard and can make his toys come to life.  I have a special cupboard put up that I get out for kids to play with after I read it.   I think the kids would vote these at the top of the list  as favorites.  As with many series, the last book (Secret of the Key) was not as good as the others and frankly just got weird.  There are a few words I needed to skip over, minor infractions, but enough that when my students at school see them they ask for white-out.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

good fishing

This picture wins for sure for best facial expression.   I think I'll use it at school for an inference lesson.  You can't see what is in the towel but you can sure use clues from the picture to tell. 

Hubby's parents have gotten a little place in town to stay part-time.  With me working and hubby traveling some, and both kids playing sports, it's going to be nice to have an extra set of hands, or two, with the kids from time to time.  

Their community has a few lakes and one is right behind their building.  

And the fishing is good!  We caught blue gill, sun fish, and bass.
I'm sure the fish will catch on, but it was one of those times when you throw your line out and pull one in, and repeat.

We fished maybe 45 minutes this evening and each fisherman caught 5-6 fish.

Lou has decided we should just keep our poles in the car so whenever we get the itch to fish, we're ready to go.  Good idea buddy.