Monday, June 6, 2016

CAMP! -A Great End-of-Year Activity for your Classroom

WOOAH!  It's been a LONG time since I've written on this blog! I had shared my "First Grade Camp" pictures on my Class Facebook Page and a teacher friend of mine asked me about camp and I realized THIS IS SOMETHING EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT AND DO!!!
Which is why I just shouted that...
So you may be wondering~ What is this camp???
In a nutshell, it's a fun way to end your school year and make fun memories with your students.
If you're interested, I will certainly write more blog posts but I'll just give you an overview.
First, you transform your room which is actually SO much fun for the kids!

I (along with help from my mom, husband and three of my four kids) transformed my class to a pretty cool camp site. It has trees made of paper and a few from my house along with some little Christmas trees a parent let me borrow for the week... YES ASK PARENTS FOR DONATIONS!).

I got some table cloths (very camp-like, don't ya think?) to cover my regular tables and put them in a "picnic" area which is also where they work on their camp journals (AKA work).

I got a little tent from Meijer for 20 bucks. It's a two-person tent but that translates to three first graders.  We draw sticks so everyone gets a turn to read in the tent.

And speaking of reading, they also get to read under the stars so I strung up some of my white Christmas lights for the night sky and have been showing THIS on my interactive white board for the sounds and awesome visual. The kids bring sleeping bags and pillows which they keep in my room for the week and we get them out twice a day to read (about 15 minutes each).

What you can't see (but can smell) is I have some evergreen plug-ins so we even have that outdoor smell going! I told you this was cools stuff!!

You also need a camp fire! I used real logs and some left over pavers my folks had and stuck some tissue paper and these little candles I found at the dollar store to look like fire.  The kids LOVE it.  We sit around on the fire on our "Sit Upons" that we make the first day and learn about science and other things. It's also where we do mail call and have class meetings.  
Mail Call is awesome! The families write to their child each day (and for those kiddos who may not get a letter, we get letters from upper ele kids and staff members) and care packages.  We end the day writing about what we did at camp that day.
Of course there are lots of other fun things we do like hikes, songs and a craft because this IS camp after all!

Us teachers also made Camp shirts for us. I made this one for our team last year with those iron-on things you can get at Michael's (or probably anywhere).

My kids also get to make camp shirts.  I was playing around tonight (which is what made me think I should write on here). This is what I'm going to have them do (this was my playing around with it).

So write on a shirt with sharpie markers (I have loads of colors at school but I am at home so only had black). They can color it anyway they'd like.

I then put some rubbing alcohol in a squirt bottle (actually, that's what I'll do at school- I just took the spray bottle top off and put it right on the top of this baby and it fit! whoo hooo!).

I squirted the shirt with the rubbing alcohol and it's pretty neat what happens...

The colors start to run! Of course this would look better with more colors and a better design but I think I just got myself another camp shirt to wear to school (my teaching friend who actually taught ME about camp also made a shirt for us so now I have three shirts- I should take a picture of her's but it's late and I have camp tomorrow! ;-)
Happy Camping!!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday Projects

So I'm pretty excited about this project I started this school year in my classroom.  To be perfectly honest, it was born because my Thursdays are REALLY. LONG. DAYS.  No breaks for kids until lunch which is at 1:10!  I had a friend whose daughter who was in need so we took about 20 minutes to make her cards to lift her up and the rest as they say, is history...

After seeing how doing good positively impacted my students (and me), I knew it was going to be something we repeated.  We do a "Thoughtful Thursday Project" each week.  The kids look forward to it, the families look forward to it and I look forward to it.  I've gotten great feedback not only from those  who receive a Thoughtful Thursday package from us but those who know the people receiving the package.

We've sent letters to people who have had cancer, alopecia, ALS, paralysis, horrible accidents, MS, those who have lost a loved one and more! 

I'm pretty fast on iMovie so I also take pictures of the kids cards and put them together in a movie.  To see an example, you can click HERE or check out below.

I think this is something that every classroom should do.  It helps you think of others and reflect on your blessings (without really needing to talk about it).  I teach first graders and if they can do it, anyone can!

Here is what Thoughtful Thursday looks like in my classroom:

The children gather around and I tell them about someone in need of some lifting up.  I tell them a little about what they're going through, show them a picture of the person (I think this is REALLY important because it helps them make a connection) and we also talk about some of the things they like (it helps them choose what they're going to draw/say).

That's pretty much it.  I pass out paper~ give them about 20 minutes to color as we listen to 'fun' music and wait for the magic to happen.  I cannot say enough about the positive feedback I have gotten from this project and I have many friends who are doing something similar (with your own twists of course). ALL of them have had great feedback too!

If you are on FB and would like to see our previous projects and see our future ones, you can "like" our Thoughtful Thursday page by clicking HERE.

I hope you'll join us in spreading kindness in whatever way works best for you!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Roomba iRobot 620

So my husband got me this for my birthday... it's not diamonds but turns out I love it just as much!  It is an iRobot Roomba 620 and it is the Best. Invention. Ever.

We are pretty busy people. Full time teachers. Four Active Kids.
We are also pretty dirty... Four Active Kids. Shedding dog. Bird. 
(At least the fish and Tortoise aren't messy)

There are two things that I need to have each night:  
1. Vacuumed/ clean floors (we used to have two shedding dogs)  
2. A clean kitchen (no dishes in the sink).

This little Robot is A-MAZING!  You plug it in and when it's charged it turns green.  You hit the green button and VOILA, it starts vacuuming your house.  I have no idea how it works but I know this.
1. Somehow it gets EVERYWHERE (under couches, around chairs, close up to walls)
2. It goes over dirtier areas more than once to get it all.
3. It can go from hard wood to carpet.
4. It picks up stuff even after I vacuum with my beloved Dyson!!
5. When it is done vacuuming, it goes right back to its little charger all by itself to charge for the next day!

To empty it is simple~ You just pull this little part out and empty it in your trash.

It's kind of neat because you see what it picks up (I found an old earring (probably under a couch) and I also have saved a lot of Lego people (not sure if that is a great thing).

They are a bit pricey, but in my opinion, worth EVERY penny.
I made a review on YouTube (don't worry... it's quick 2 minutes) so you can hear it and see it in action (plus there is an Amazon link so you can read more reviews and go ahead and buy one!).

You can view the video by clicking HERE.

Thanks for reading!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

When life gives you lemons...

So I just realized it has been a long time since I've posted to this blog, but when life gives me lemons... 

So last month I went for my first mammogram.  I was supposed to get a baseline at age 35, but I am a few years late.  To be honest, I didn't feel a huge push to get it done since I have really no cancers in my family (except my dad who had prostate cancer and he tells me that if you are a man and live long enough, you're bound to get it... He's doing great now by the way).

Anyway, long story in a little nutshell, my mammogram showed "something".
"Something" brought me back for another mammogram.
And then that "something" had me laying on a table getting an ultrasound.

And this ultrasound wasn't nearly as fun as the kind when you get to see the heartbeat of your new little baby.  I had no idea what I was looking at~ but I could tell it wasn't good.

As I was laying on that table waiting for her to come back and give me the terrible news, I got to thinking... I was actually expecting her to come back and tell me I had cancer.  There is always a first, and I was going to be the first in my family.  Oddly enough, I felt a strange peace about it~ that I was going to be OK.
But then when she DID come back and tell me I was OK, I didn't feel OK.

All that and then I'm fine?!?!?
Turns out I had a nodule that they determined was benign.
I have no idea how they can determine something is benign from a picture but oh well...

All this got me thinking... and thinking... and thinking...

And in effort not to ramble anymore I will get to the point of this blog~ 
When life gives you lemons....

I'm serious!  
That is what I have been doing for the last two weeks and amazingly it works!!
(and I can sniff out B.O. ~even mine~ a mile away)

Did you know that sweat actually doesn't stink?
Did you know it is actually the BACTERIA on your skin that makes you stink??
Lemons kill bacteria!
How awesome is that?!?!?

So here again are the reasons you should use lemons as deodorant...

1. IT WORKS!  And I mean it works for a long time.  I use it every morning and the next morning after a day of work, exercise, sleep and sometimes 'other' stuff at night, I still wake up smelling just fine!

2. IT'S CHEAP!  Lemons are WAY cheaper than any deodorant I've ever seen and I have been doing this for two weeks and am just about halfway through ONE lemon (you'll have to watch my video to see how I slice it to make this happen).

3. IT'S ENVIRONMENTALLY BETTER!  Hello?  Lemons?  No plastic container, or packaging or factory pumping pollution into the air... Lemons grow on lovely trees and they're organic- meaning they come from the earth and can go right back into the earth just fine!

4. IT HAS NO ALUMINUM!! And while I'm not saying that that is what causes breast cancer, I have heard there are some links and anything that stops your sweat by clogging your pores with something else can't be good for you...

So I'm serious... Try this out!  Take the Lemon Challenge!  Steal this and share it!  
No tweaking needed!

Check out my video below to see more (if you want~ otherwise just go grab a lemon and throw out your deodorant- recycle it)


PS.  And go get your mammogram!!!!!!
And pray for my friend Lori who was recently diagnosed and could use prayers! <3

Thursday, April 24, 2014

BEST MASCARA EVER!!! (+ my favorite eyeliner)

So I'm not a big make-up gal... never have been... I've tried, but really the only staples I use are eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss.  Let's face it, these things take no time to put on and in my case I find it necessary.  My eyelashes are so short and light that it almost looks like they don't exist at all.

I was fine with my current mascara but when my friend (who I had met through blogging/emailing because we had both lost babies) started selling this mascara, I became intrigued.  The pictures she would post looked too good to be true.  I was a bit skeptic but for a friend was ready to take the leap.  The mascara is about $30, but if it did what it said it did and lasted 2-3 months I thought it would be worth it!

The mascara comes in what looks like a hard, glasses' case and there are two mascara wands inside.  The directions on the product are a little different than the way I use it (they say you can start with your old mascara but to be honest, when I got this stuff, I threw out my old mascara).

The way to apply it is to use the long wand first.  It basically looks like a regular mascara but is also a gel.  So you use the long wand and apply mascara.  Then you take the short wand (which contains the fibers) and put the fibers on (similar to putting on mascara).  The fibers really only need to be on the top half of your lashes (not all the way down to the base like you would put mascara).  The fibers are what stick to your lashes and make them look longer.  You can apply as many coats as you'd like to make them as long as you'd like.  I made a video tutorial/review that you can see HERE if you are a more visual learner.  You can also see my before, pitiful little lashes and feel sorry for me! ;-)

Here's a close up so you can see what my lashes look like with this mascara on!  If you want to order some, you can contact my friend, Deni.  There is a link at the bottom of the video I made and the product is shipped directly to your house.
(Thanks for your order if you choose to place one.)

And while I'm talking about mascara and make-up, I thought I'd share my new favorite eyeliner!  It's awesome!!!  I found it (ironically) by checking out reviews on Amazon and then picked it up at my local store to try.  Turns out that Amazon was cheaper.  If you want to check that out too, click HERE.

4.5 Stars and over 400 reviews is pretty good!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Helping Parents Help their Children

"This is a stupid question, but..."

I feel like I am the QUEEN of stupid questions!! But because I am a teacher, I feel that sometimes parents are afraid to ask me their "stupid questions."  I LOVE when some brave soul asks me a question that I had no idea was out there because it gives me the opportunity to clarify something and give better directions (therefore making me a BETTER teacher).

I love how we do homework on my first grade team.  We send a packet of homework each Monday in a homework bag and the homework bag is due (completed) the following Monday (and repeat).  This allows families to manage their time and establish their own routines at home.  Homework for us consists of writing, two math practice sheets, a handwriting practice sheet and an independent paper take-home book that we make from the A-Z reading site for each child.  I also include a check list for all my families for the parents to sign off on, including a place where they assure me they saw the weekly blog that I write for our class.

Sometimes when reviewing my students homework from writing, I may see pieces where I have NO idea what it was the child was trying to write about (no familiar sounds/ spaces etc), or the reverse... The perfectly spelled and punctuated piece (a near impossibility for the average 5 or 6 year old).  It dawned on me that the parents don't know what I (stress on that I) expect of them.  Does the teacher want me to help... not want me to help...

And so I set out to help them, help their writers.

I did this by working with my own son and taking some movie clips of how I do it and what I'd like them to do.  I also included some voice over clips and text to further help the parents.  

I have had some good feedback so hope to continue this, perhaps with reading and even some math strategies that we do in school.  My goal is to make what we do in school as transparent as possible and to help every parent feel like THEY have the power to help their child.  They are (after all) their child's most important and influential teacher.

To see the video I made for writing, you can click HERE or check out below.  Feel free to share my video (and if YOU make one) please consider sharing the link with ME.  I'd love to steal it! ;-)


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Making Mini Comp Books

I am so excited!!  This explains why I am writing a quick blog post close to midnight when I didn't leave my classroom until 10pm, came home and cut out laminated things and stuffed envelopes and have to be at work for a staff meeting tomorrow morning, but I digress...

I am so motivated and excited for my math workshop this year.  I've always enjoyed teaching math workshop but I'm adding a few things this year in hopes to really build number sense and get my first graders to be problem solvers and to understand and be able to express their thinking (since those days of just figuring out the sums and getting the right answers seem to be gone).

One way to do this year is to have my students share their thinking in a math journal.  I didn't want another full composition book though, I wanted a mini composition book.  If you look at the cost of those, it's crazy.  They are half the size but double the price.  I had heard of people getting regular comp books cut at Home Depot, but after calling and talking to many people from there (all who thought I was crazy), I realized they wouldn't be helping me so I did what many people do...
 Turned to mom and dad!

This is what we did to make these (Thanks Mom & Dad!):

Rip out a page and fold it in half (to find the middle of the book).
Draw a line marking the middle of the comp book.
Then use a table saw and cut on the line.

It looked like it was snowing and some of the edges needed sanding (or just picking) to smooth out, but it worked like a charm (and saved me loads).  It also took my dad no time to rip through all those books.  I'm one happy gal!

If you (or your folks) don't have a table saw, I'd just bring your books to Home Depot anyway and ask them to cut them on their table saw.  Tell them you know someone who did it and it does work!

To finish off my books, I added a big label to the front (the off-center white cover not being the same bugged me... I admit to being a bit anal about things).  I think they turned out so cute and I can't wait to start using them with my kiddos!