Saturday, December 14, 2013

Remembering Sandy Hook

As educators, we remember and honor our fallen colleagues and their students from Sandy Hook School. We honor them each day in our classrooms in which we continue their dream of teaching our children. We honor their memory with our service. Join with teachers everywhere in committing random acts of kindness to show our love for Sandy Hook. #love4SH

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Don't let them suck your fun circuits dry

This month in my classroom my students and I are being very super secret elves and spreading random acts of kindness throughout our school and community!  We are doing this for many reasons but one is very close and dear to all of our hearts: Sandy Hook.  The anniversary of that tragedy is fast approaching and it's hard to believe that only a year ago our whole world changed.

My school is over 2,000 miles away from Sandy Hook yet even we felt the ripple of sadness and outrage.  We've seen the changes to our school security: a new fence around our playground, scan card entry into the school building, security officer on campus, etc.  All valid security measures, but each and every one is a sad reminder as to why.  This month the people of Newtown, CT have asked everyone to commit random acts of kindness in honor of the students and teachers of Sandy Hook.  Our class could not be happier to answer their call!

I told the kids about my morning and how I was in line at McDonald's to get an orange juice.  When I pulled up to pay, I told the cashier to pay for the man behind me and tell him it was a random act of kindness.  As I was waiting for my food I saw him try to pay and the cashier shook her no and started talking to him.  He looked VERY confused, which was funny but sad at the same time. As a society we are more shocked about people doing something nice for one another than we are when someone is rude.  Then all of a sudden she took his credit card.  Well this girl's Texas/Irish sass flared up!  I was so mad that she would make him pay for a meal that was already paid for, but then in a split second I saw him point behind him and realized he was just paying it forward :o)

As a whole, we then came up with ways we've helped someone and how it made it us feel.  After much discussion and excitement, we came up with different ideas of things we could do around the school and our community.  They came up with some GREAT ideas but the first one they wanted to do was create holiday book marks for another class!

With every act they do, they leave one of these little calling cards!  Click on the image below to grab five different designs of this card for FREE!  My act of kindness to you for the day :o)

Many things will stick with me from this tragedy but this is one of the most moving things I have ever read and it has been a mantra for myself and many other teachers this past year, "Don't let them suck your fun circuits dry."  If you have not read this letter from one of the parents at Sandy Hook, it is very heart-felt and moving and a powerful reminder of why we do what we do.  Through all the ups and downs, the changes from people who have never even stepped foot in a classroom, to the people who tell you "you aren't doing enough" when you're up at 1 am coming up with different ways for Johnny to learn his multiplication facts; always remember why you're there and don't let them suck your fun circuits dry!  Click here to read it.

No matter what is thrown our way, always remember we are there for our kids.  To love them and help them grow in any way we can.  They don't remember that you're the one who taught them how to bubble in an answer sheet.  They remember that you're the one who decorated their desk and made them feel special on their birthday.  You're the one who noticed the new haircut or backpack and complimented them when they thought no one was looking.  You're the one that showed them their special talent was worth something in life and taught them to always reach for the stars. 

As educators, we remember and honor our fallen colleagues and their students from Sandy Hook School.  We honor them each day in our classrooms in which we continue their dream of teaching our children.  We honor their memory with our service.  Join with teachers everywhere in committing random acts of kindness to show our love for Sandy Hook.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pumpkin Fest 2013: Pie in a Cup!

Yep, you're reading it right!  TWO POSTS IN TWO DAYS!  Be amazed y'all.  Be.  Amazed.  Yesterday I told y'all how our class got down and dirty with pumpkins using math and science labs to explore and learn.  Today I'm going to show y'all the second half of Pumpkin Fest: Pumpkin Pie in a Cup!  Mmm....

A teammate of mine did this with her son when he was in Pre-K but my fifth graders loved it none the less!  We poured 1 1/3 cup of cold milk and two 4 oz. boxes of vanilla pudding into a Ziploc bag.  Make sure you get all the air out and seal it tight!  Then pass the bag around your circle and have the students knead the bag for about a minute or until everyone has a turn.  It will turn this yellow color when it's ready.

Once everyone has had a turn, open the bag back up (be careful it's messy!) and add one 15 oz. can of pumpkin, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. ginger.  Seal the bag again (remember to remove all the air).  Pass the bag around the circle again and let the students knead the batter once more.

Set the bag aside (I doubled the recipe and used two bags) and pass out little Dixie cups to each student.  Give each student half of a graham cracker and allow them to crush it in the bottom of the cup.  This will be their crust!

When everyone has crushed their graham cracker, cut a corner off of your Ziploc bag and proceed to fill up everyone's cup with the pumpkin filling.  It's fun to pretend to be a pastry chef!  I then let the kids come up and get the whip cream topping and begin the feast!

The kids thought it looked like baby food but really liked it!  I was surprised by how many students had never had Pumpkin Pie before.  I will say that with my 21 fifth graders one bag did the trick with these little Dixie cups!  So you have two options: 1. Fill 'em up a second time.  OR 2. Give them a little bit bigger cup (like the one's the dentist give you to swish with).  I hope you and your kids enjoy this activity!  I got the recipe from Making Learning Fun, so hop on over there for a printable version.
Happy Fall y'all!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pumpkin Fest 2013

I know, I know!  It's winter now and everyone is in the winter spirit but I was out of town for Thanksgiving and still wanted to share what my kiddos did to celebrate fall!  And let's be honest...  I actually have time to write a blog post so I have A LOT to catch up on, lol.

Right before the holidays my kiddos and I got elbow deep in some serious pumpkin activities!  These were not all done in one day mind you.  In fact, we did one activity for Halloween and one for Thanksgiving!  I know some schools are stricter on their holiday policy, so some of you might not be able to do this during those times.  Thankfully you can do these anytime during the fall season and it is still applicable and fun!
The first activity we did was Pumpkin Fest Labs!  Thanks to Jennifer Runde from Runde’s Room and her wonderful unit “The Pumpkin Pack” that was filled with all sorts of science and math labs that correlated with dissecting a pumpkin!  Here are just a few of the labs we did in class:
Sink or Float

Measuring the Circumference
Counting Seeds
Can't forget the rotten pumpkin!  Always fun when the kids cut into that ;o)
Graphing and Finding Correlations
All in all this activity took up the first half of our day but my kids were using their math and science brains THE WHOLE TIME and they LOVED it!  I will absolutely be doing this every year from now on.  Come back tomorrow (yes, you read that right... TOMORROW.  I know, I can't believe it either - two posts in two days) to find out what we did for the rest of Pumpkin Fest.  HINT: IT WAS DELICIOUS!

Happy fall y'all!