Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Day at the Patch

The pumpkin patch that is.

Our PTO funds this field trip and the entire school goes. Thanks PTO!

There was a great playground with slides, swings, teeter totters, and a corn table with toys. That is where we started.

We also had a hayride (but there was no hay, can it still be a hayride), we better call it a wagon ride out to the pumpkin field. Steve gave a short presentation about the varieties of their pumpkins and pumpkin health.

Then Steve sent the kids to the field with instructions on finding the perfect pumpkin. The pumpkin must be orange and small enough to fit into a huge hole.

So many smiles from the children as they held their "perfect" pumpkin.

It was a beautiful day. Cool in the morning, and warm in the afternoon, which was spent being outdoor kids. Playing and learning with only found toys.

I started the day with a headache and it never went away. But I tried very hard not to complain or whine. So I was glad to be on the bus for the 45 minute ride back to school and a time to close my eyes.

That worked for most of the trip. And I always sit in the front, because I could get motion sick. So, I was almost asleep and I heard my teacher friend next to me asking if I was awake. Groggy, I said yes.

She had brought a student up to the front. To sit with me. He had a bloody nose. Here is the red bag. OK, now I am awake!

I really like this kid. He is in my homeroom. He always says hi to me. Even last year he would say "Hi Mrs. Bartel" and I would say hi back, but I did not know his name. I am so happy to get to know him this year.

So, we are sitting together, my arm is around him and then the student on my other side says... "Mrs. Bartel, (girl) is crying." She is sitting across the aisle from us.

I turned and looked, so awake now. She has HUGE tears running down her face.

I'm trying to decide what to say. Girl next to the crying girl explained..."She told me to punch her in the nose really hard, so I did."

I was full of disbelief then. Now I am laughing myself silly.

Never thought I could ever love a class like I did last year's class. But I certainly do.
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Monday, October 29, 2012

Don't Try This At Home

"Don't try this at home," said Principal Vogt, from the top of the school.

As a reward for completing their required reading for the month of September, my class went outside and listened to their principal read Room on the Broom.

It was a bit difficult to hear her. Because of the wind. And we were cold (nobody can listen when they are cold). And she was on the roof.

But they giggled, and smiled, and had a blast.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012


What a big day at school today. So much for easing back into the school zone. Nope, not us. We tore right into it today!

This sight made me sooo happy. Know what it is? It is our sheep coming back!

About 9:30 this morning.

They went right to their pen. It was like they remembered. I wonder if sheep can really remember.

Currently Lily and Wooly are sharing a pen with the little goats. But I heard that our sheep were head-butting the goats. We don't encourage bullying at our school, so, soon the goats will move to their new pen, right next door.

Lily (wool faced) is the one marked blue, and Wooly (plain faced) has been marked red. And... We are expecting babies in February!

They have not taken a pregnancy test, or had a sonogram. So, nothing is certain. But Mr. Harris (the nice man whose place they were at), knows what he's doing when it comes to breeding sheep. It's his job, and the paper was written by him. So, I'm saying, yep, they are pregnant. 

I feel like such a pro. Having the sheep last year, but I think I am just kidding myself. 

Hopefully they will lamb like last the middle of the night, needing no assistance. Let the waiting begin.
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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tell Me Something Good

Jennifer over at
is having an awesome linky party. Focus on a good thing from home and school. A great way to start the week. I love it.

Here are mine.

Something good at school: Our sheep are returning tomorrow. They left last May. They went to their happy summer home. Then they went to the breeding farm. Tomorrow the nice man whose farm they were at is bringing them back. And he wants a tour of our school. And if we are really fortunate, we will have pregnant sheep and lambs in the spring. Exciting times.
This was Lily and Wooly last May. I wonder what they will look like tomorrow. I am worried that I will not be able to tell them apart. Will they remember us/our school?

Something good at home: I had a great 3 day vacation so far. Time with my boys. Time with my boys and my husband. Movies. Netflix. Downton Abbey. And I have today as well, with a possible road trip  with my family and in-laws to see more family. Even if that doesn't happen it has been fun to think about it.

Your turn. Head over to Rowdy in First Grade to read other's good things and add your own.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hide and Seek

Just another lazy afternoon. I was sitting on the couch thinking about doing some exercise. Thinking is as good as doing it right? I could even feel my muscles contracting.

Then out of the blue an idea popped into my head.

Where are the iPods (that are property of school) that I loaded some audio books onto yesterday?

Did they accidentally get put into a bag that was taken and delivered to the local second hand store?

Or, perhaps, if I was lucky did they make it to my classroom when I dropped off my new play kitchen today?

I could not be sure where those iPods were. So I made a plan. Breathe. Only tiny breaths, because the big ones wouldn't come.

Run to my vehicle, drive the speed limit to my school (13 miles away), and continue to make a plan.

More tiny breaths. If the iPods weren't at school, call the manager of the store and tell her my story. Try not to cry. I did not mean to give them away, please can I have them back. If she says no, I will have to buy 2 iPods for school and tell my principal that I lost the ones that I had. (Not a conversation I ever want to have.)

Almost to school now. Breathing is a bit easier. How I managed to walk into school and unlock every door that need unlocking I still do not know.

Walk closer to my desk, I see the bag. The one with the spider rings. Oh no, what bag were the iPods in? Look inside the bag, there are 2 iPods in it! Hallelujah! Big breaths coming easy now.

The drive home was much more relaxed.

To celebrate my sons and I will watch Pirates of the Caribbean, Curse of the Black Pearl.

Now I can spend the rest of my weekend planning for a spidery good week.
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Friday, October 19, 2012

My Friday Five

It has been many hours since I have seen my students (I had a work day on Wednesday so they had the day off and Thursday and Friday are Fall Break), so I don't remember very clearly what we did and what was fabulous. So this edition is going to be a bit different...

1. I love that my almost teenager helped me charge and set up some iPod touches that I inherited with my classroom today. Now I will have 5 iPods for listen to reading!

2. I love that I spent yesterday in my sweat pants and that I did a minimal amount of school work.

3. I love that for lunch today I will be eating Pizza Hut Buffet with my husband and 2 sons.

4. I love that tonight I will be at a party with my school friends.

5. I love having time to read blogs and get more ideas than I can possibly use. Thank goodness for Pinterest so that I can save those great ideas for whenever it works to use them.

Yea, it feels like vacation around here. We all needed it so much.

I hope you all get a mini-vacation and have a great weekend!
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pumpkin Writing

Today was a much better day. I remembered to have our class meeting at the beginning (that is where we talk about jobs, practice being calm in the face of uncalmness, and sprinkle the class with something--today was helpfulness), and that made such a big difference. Didn't use the cranky cream. Didn't even think about it.

Yesterday we needed an activity. Quick. Lucky for me I remembered an idea I saw from Buntings, Books and Bainbridge. A fun Pumpkin craft. We all made one yesterday.

Then today we wrote about it.

*****Side note...Years ago (ok, maybe not that long ago), when I was at home all day with my young children I was thrilled when naptime worked out just so and I could watch tv or a movie (it certainly did not happen every day). One movie that I watched too often was How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I feel like the editor woman. Whenever something happens in class I think (and sometimes even say out loud) now let's write about it. I like to say it using her voice.*****

Like I said, today we wrote about our pumpkin. I did the model thing: what to do if I don't know how to spell the word, capitals, punctuation, more than one (two and three) sentence(s).

I was impressed with some, and not impressed with others. Here are two examples. I did not pick the best or the worst. Just two off the top.

My pumpkin has wings. It is a vampire. It has sharp teeth. It has evil eyes. It has bloody teeth.

I am at the pumpkin patch.

Vampire pumpkins seem to be a theme. I saw that more than twice. Can more than twice be a theme?

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Cranky Cream, Scarecrows and Volcanoes

With only 2 days of school this week I was anticipating a great week. Guess that will teach me to be overly optimistic.

By 9:25 I was pulling out a special bottle from my school bag. Yep, I created the "cranky cream" right in front of the kiddos.

I very slowly and with a quietish voice explained that cranky cream is for a person who being a star or breathing is just not working. I put some cream on my hands, rubbed it in, and immediately started feeing better. (I used a bottle of Vaseline lotion with a sticky note on it that says "cranky cream". Nothing spectacular, but the result was spectacular.)

The students created scarecrow glyphs during one station in math time. I hung them by the hayride graph and a poem.

Later in the day we (and when I say we, I really mean I) created a volcano and watched it erupt. We did this to go along with a story in our National Geographic Young Explorers.

Empty water bottle, baking soda and vinegar. It was fun.

First the students drew the volcano pre-vinegar. Then the eruption. Then talking about it using our science vocabulary. Finally, drawing the erupting volcano.

As the students were lining up to leave for music and library (the last part of the day before heading to the bus), a sweet little friend came to me with a somber, sad face. He said, "Mrs. Bartel, I need some cranky cream." We went together to the cream, I put some on his hands, and rubbed it in. He didn't really seem cranky to me, but maybe he needed to have a connection with me.

The thing about this student is that we have not really clicked this year. I am so happy that he initiated this interaction with me. Here's to hoping that there will be more.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tell Me Something Good

It's Wednesday. Mid-week. Time for a pick-me-up pep talk.

I can do it. We can do it. It will get done. It will be done well.

Last month Jennifer from
had a linky party about telling something good from school and home. I joined. You could read about that here.

As far as I can tell, she is not doing it today, but I am in the mood to "tell something good."

School: Every other week our social worker comes into my class and gives a lesson to the kids. Today was that day. Her focus was on greeting friends and new people. They talked about how a greeting looks, what it sounds like, and how it feels. Then they got to practice. Giggles, smiles. So fun to see them do this.

As she was leaving I bragged on the class a bit. I told her that one of our class jobs is the "greeter," this person greets visitors to the class. She was intrigued by this and had our greeter show her what "greeting" in our class means.

This is what he did... Stood up, stuck his hand out, made eye contact and said, "Hi, my name is ______. Welcome to our class." Very shyly he looked at me and grinned--making sure he did what was expected. I grinned back at him and got teary. Then she looked at me and smiled real big. It was good.

Home: I love listening to my sons play the piano. They do not like playing piano. Practicing piano. Going to piano lessons. Or anything that has to do with the piano. But I am so lucky to be listening right now to my son play some really cool songs.

What's good in your home and school?
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Monday, October 8, 2012

Flexibility is not just for gymnasts

So I had a grrreat day planned for today. Everything was ready and waiting. (That is not always the case, but more often this year than last year.)

And when I got to school today I remembered that we need to have a birthday party. And there would be a fire drill with a program done by the local fire department.

Together those activities take about 1.15 hours. Ugg. But I guess that is the beauty of flexible teaching at my school. Stuff is always happening. And our sheep are not even back yet.

We had the birthday party during science and writing. I love that most students can write one sentence about why they like the birthday kiddo (and I can usually make out what was written--that was NOT the case for the first birthday party we had). I love that they know our birthday routine.

Then, right in the middle of reading groups (which was going marvelously!) our computer lab teacher came for some kiddos (I forgot about that) and our gardener came for some kiddos (I forgot about that too). Oh well, take whoever you want as long as they are not at my table.

I was so tickled when during my small group lesson I had about 3 friends (who were not in the group) not working on their reading or word work, but rather were intently listening to me and trying to do what we were practicing. Oh yeah.

And before I could get my third group in, yep, fire drill. Fire prevention program. Music and library. Home.

I am going to try to squeeze that group in during writing tomorrow. Because there will always be something.
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Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Weekly Favorites

It is good for me to think of the good parts of my week. This week I am going to do a school version and a home version.

My School Favorite Five:
1. When grading math papers Friday afternoon I saw that two of my students who seem to struggle in many areas academically had written all the numbers to 100, and completed an addition page with no errors. And they did this independently! I ran around after school showing all the teachers that had not yet gone home.
2. Our October quilt that I bought off TPT from Reagan.
3. Being consistent with my expectations for whole class and independent work really paid off. When I speak my expectations outloud (nicely and politely), they can live up to them, and we all really have a better time together.
4. Some of my kids that just didn't understand what "blending the sounds together" meant started to get it on Friday morning. So, more repetition and we should really get it!
5. Student birthday party Friday afternoon with homemade cupcakes.

My Home Favorite Five:
1. Conference with my 7th graders' teachers. He is doing well academically and socially. Love it.
2. Left school early on Tuesday to go to my 7th grader's soccer game. They lost, but did well.
3. I got to watch Grey's Anatomy when it was broadcast on Thursday night.
4. Wearing slippers, boots, and flannel pants. It got chilly this week.
5. Grandparents that support our family with time/drivers and prayers.

This picture has nothing to do with anything I wrote. My 4th grader loves Lego. He created this in April. I just wanted to have a cool picture to go along with this post.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

October Currently

The beginning of the month brings a chance to reflect, and join Farley's currently linky party.

Here is mine.

The book was supposed to be my favorite fall/autumn/halloween book. But I'm really not sure that I have one, so I put down the book I am reading aloud to my class. We started Ralph and the Motorcycle on Tuesday, and they are getting into it. I think when we are done I will show the movie version and do a compare/contrast lesson with the book and the movie.

So, hop on over to

and read some more good currently's.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cloverbuds and a Quilt

My school has 2 kindergarten and 2 first grade classes. both first grade teachers are new to the grade this year. So the 2 kindergarten teachers tell us what to do (in a good and loving way).

One of the subjects in our school is Ag. We try so hard to make Ag current in everything. And one way we do that is with Cloverbuds (the pre to 4-H).

Our group meets during the school day. The first Wednesday of each month. From 8:30-10:30. It really is fun. With 4 teachers, we have 4 rotations: Cooking (either granola or with the crop of the month), Nutrition (with crop of the month), Crop of the month, and Pigs/cattle.

I am in charge of crop of the month. Really a good job. Teach the life cycle of the crop. September was apples (easy--so much on TPT to help), and October was pumpkins (thanks again TPT).

So, how does this work in real life?

All 80 kids meet in a Kindergarten room to say the 4-H pledge, then we split into groups and teach each lesson 4 times.

Here was my lesson:

Teach the life cycle of the pumpkin.

Then we compared and contrasted with pumpkin and apple.

Next, I reviewed the pumpkin's life cycle and let them make a book about the life cycle. They took the book home and can color the books there.

What were the other rotations doing?

1. Talking about the granola they will make (our group sells granola throughout the year, and we use that money for a field trip to Wichita in the spring).

2. Talking about and learning about pigs. (Sorry, no picture available.)

3. Playing a nutrition game on the SmartBoard.

I have been planning waaaaay too much to get done every day. Boohoo. There is so much to cover. I did not want to give them a recess at 10:30, but decided that we all needed a bit of freedom and fresh air.

There was just enough time to do calendar before sending them to lunch.

Our math lesson was putting together the quilt for the month. Boy howdy, it went better than last month. And I was all alone with 22 perfect little cutters. I went step by step, they were hard workers, and only 3 needed assistance getting the triangles on the square! I showed them how to look at their square and my model to decide how the triangle should go. They really stepped up to the plate on it and did their best work. Hip, Hip Hooray!

I almost ran out and got my principal to come and see them working! It was a first grade miracle and I wanted her to know about it. But I didn't. Maybe next time. Or maybe I can just keep this miracle to myself. Or maybe it will happen again.

My firsties were so excited to see this quilt hanging on the wall when they came back from music. I will put a portion of the September quilt on the wall somewhere (not sure where just yet).
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