Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Make-over?

Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with one of my sweet girls who has just started to warm up to me. (And today is day 100 of school!)

As we are walking to PE she asks me, "Can I bring my sister's makeup to school tomorrow?"

I think a little and say, "No, I do not think that is a good idea." (Or it might have been "no.")

She responded, "I could give you a make-over." She used a very sweet and sing-songy voice.

Me incredulouly, "Do you think I need a make-over?" 

Then she said, "You need to wear make-up to be cute." More sing-song.

So, we were at the gym and I didn't say anything else. I wear hardly any make-up, and I wouldn't win a beauty contest, but that is ok with me. 

Apparently, I should think about getting some.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Paper and Planning

Like I've said before, my students are wanting to write, but I have not supplies them with wonderful paper (or any paper at all). What to do?

My wonderful husband has this "copy center" at his job. He said that he could get me some paper.

Look what we brought home today...

Tall stacks of small notebooks. We will make at least 30 hand-sized notebooks out of this. Each child will get one, and I am going to keep a supply to have at my reading table for when I have the kids write sight words or words that we are studying. (I cannot wait to get that "The McCrackens" spelling book!)

Planning. I spent a lovely afternoon perusing blogs. I love when my friends post their ideas/lesson plans. It inspires me so much. 

Today I found Mrs. Wills Kindergarten, and her poetry station unit. LOVE it. What I loved most is that it taught me how to use poems more. The kids have a poetry notebook, but I have been way under-using it. Now I have some ideas of how to bump up the learning using poetry. 

So, what is a great afternoon? A walk outside with my husband and more ideas written into my awesome composition notebook that has all of my thoughts/ideas/wonderings/book study information since last May. I think tonight for my before bed reading, I may have to reread my notebook.

Rereading is good for fluency, right?

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Five for Friday (January 26 edition)

This is one of my favorite parts of the week (and weekend). Writing this post of five random happenings of the week gives me time to pause, reflect, assess, and enjoy. I love thinking about ALL of my many experiences during the week and then choosing five that are significant in some way (to me) and sharing them here.

Kacey from Doodle Bugs hosts this party and I have loved writing for it and reading so many of my friends' Five for Fridays.

1. On Friday after school I felt "the bag" of Lily. She is our ewe that could lamb sometime in the next two weeks. Her official due date is February 3, 2013, however, if she is like humans (how often do we give birth on the due date, I was 0 for 2), I am giving her a two week window to have this baby. It could be a single birth or a twin, we do not know.

2. My students are so into writing notes (and apparently I have not supplied them with enough paper) that they are getting a paper towel from the sink to write me notes. When I'm with a small group they need to leave me alone, but they have figured out that they can slip me a note... This week I got one that said "mis bartle can i go to the bafrom"and another said...

(The message is great, and look--capitals and punctuation! Woohoo!)
Today I will locate some (a lot) of paper for these writers.

3. A favorite toy at recess is the little barn. I loved watching the kids play in it on Friday when the weather was finally nice.

I am told by this little guy that it seats two comfortably, three is a squeeze. I can barely bend down to look inside!

4. Just about anything I give my kids to read they are starting to notice "hunks and chunks" that we have learned. A few are doing this unprompted, and most can locate the hunks if I mention there might be something they recognize. Applying their knowledge is so exciting for me and for them.

5. At boys have learned an awesome piano duet for Greensleeves this week. It is wonderful to hear them play together. They do not do this because they want to, but I do love hearing it.

That's it for this week. Hop on over to 

to read other Five for Fridays, maybe you want to create your own post and link up as well. I would love to read it!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Power Panther Pals

Our school participates in Power Panther Pals and today we started our 8-week journey of "Eat Smart, Play Hard."

We get a big notebook of 8 lessons, and money to buy the food that goes along with each lesson.

This is a natural fit into our Cloverbuds time, but instead of being twice a month, it is weekly for 8 weeks.

We divided it into 4 rotations (like Cloverbuds). Each lasted approximately 30 minutes. Then we had just enough time for recess, lunch, another recess and 2 hours worth of lessons. I felt like I crammed a lot in, but always wonder if I am doing enough "teaching reading." That's a whole nuther discussion. And then we need to talk about math. Big sigh. I can only hope they are ready for second grade despite what I am not doing and because of the "stuff" that we add.

Oh yeah, and we had visitors today. I'm done counting how many visitors we have had this year, let alone in the past 6 weeks!

One rotation was cooking. They made some delicious looking "rainbow fruit cups." It was a thumbs up from my kids.

Another rotation was learning the lesson and specifically what muscles need.

My group made chef hats. I think I got the BEST rotation today. It was fun, the kids loved making and wearing the hats, and it inspired great writing this afternoon.

He is explaining to me the healthy foods that he has drawn on his hat.

I loved taping the hats and then sending the kids to the mirror to see how they looked. I think their smiles tells it all.

The last rotation was physical activity. They played some tag games. And when I came in to take their photo they were doing ABC push ups. What a great way to be active and practice the alphabet. We may be doing that again.

We were so fortunate that the temperature was high enough to be outside today. I was at both recesses, so no break for me, but at least the kids screamed, ran, had fun, smiled and acted goofy as much as they wanted.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Indoor Recess

Many years ago (like 13 or so) I took a day off of teaching to hang out with my sister and her adorable little boy (he was 2 or something).

She said, "Let's go to McDonald's for lunch. The one with the indoor playplace." You bet, I love the fries and a good Big Mac.

As we were eating, in the play area, I was appalled. Shocked. Horrified. My heart was hurting from fright. 

Remember, this was before I had any children of my own.

Kids were running. SCREAMING. Eating while running. Sliding on the slick floor in their socks. All the while I was looking around for the mother who had this "recess duty." But I never found her.

When my nephew finished his Happy Meal he was allowed to go play. But he did not venture very far. He stayed close to his mom, where he was safe and it wasn't so scary with all those big kids running around.

And I continued to observe the scene. An indoor recess gone bad.

Back in the safety and quiet of our own car I told my sister how I felt in there. The place where indoor recess had maxed out a safe limit. Or perhaps it was me trying to get those kids quiet and to stop having fun.
Now I have had 13 years of mothering experience. More years teaching. And a different understanding of how kids release the steam of the school day.
We are having a cold week or two here in Kansas. If the air temp or wind chill is below 32 we must stay in. The gym is either being used for PE class or lunch when we have our recesses.

So recess happens in our room. I love these kids, but sometimes I just have to use the ladies room. Or get something stronger to drink than water.

I hold my tongue at the noise. Oh the noise. I watch from afar. I busy myself with other tasks so that I don't spend much time thinking about how they are behaving (like children--wait, they are children).

Today I maxed out my ability to let the running and screaming happen in our room during recess. I made them stop. I said they had to stop for the safety of themselves and others. But really? Are they really going to run into a desk? And if they do what might happen? Perhaps they will need a cuddle, hug, and an ice pack. No biggie.

From the looks of the weather forecast we will be inside AGAIN tomorrow. I hope I get enough sleep tonight that tomorrow I can let them be the kids that they are. For 15 minutes. Twice in one day.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Five for Friday--January 18, 2013 Edition

My friend Kacey at Doodle Bugs has this linky party. It is so much fun. I like to go to her party.

Kinda crazy that I start my Fridays now thinking about what will I post tonight; do I need a picture of that; and Wow, that would be great to put in a "Five" post.

1. Some guys (a writer and a photographer) from Reuters came to my school this morning to interview us, take pictures, and have a look around. I had my speech ready, but they did not come to talk to me.

2. Because these guys were in the building, we all tried to do "Ag Project Based Learning." My lesson wasn't really PBL, but it was ag. We talked about farm safety. Specifically what kind of shoes are a good idea to wear when working with animals. 

Our experiment was: in which shoe would the hot dog not get smooshed if a horse stepped on it. Here are the results...

Steel toe boot was the winner. Then the kids created a poster that spoke to something "farm safety" for a state contest.

Once a sheep stepped on my foot. Ouch. I was wearing tennis shoes, now I do not do sheep chores without my boots.

3. My Amazon order came today. A book about a Disney vacation, and some cool resource books for my class.

4. The kids are really learning that I value neat, tidy, and readable handwriting. Today during the handwriting lesson a little friend who had trouble with a p in her name, brought her paper to me, to show me that she did it correctly. I started to sing "Celebration" and the kids looked at me like I was an alien. Then another friend made a g that gave her trouble the other day and I sang "Celebration" again. Now the whole class decided to quit working and just have a party. Oops!  Thanks to Teacher to the Core for the unit Print Like a Jedi Master. We have fun and we learn to make neat and tidy letters. Sometimes I call the kids my "younglings," other times "padawan." It doesn't crack them up (like it does me), but they love the game of it.

5. If something has to be left out of the day, it is our writing time. But not today. I made time for it. The kids worked for 10 minutes (independently, I know, wow), we had a little powpow to regroup and they went for another 10 minutes. Then it was time for the museum share. Again I loved walking around and then letting the kids brag on each other. 

My brilliant idea was to have the kindergarten teachers come in (spur of the moment--their kids were off at PE or something) and walk around and brag on the kids and see how much they have grown since May 2012. Many smiles (and some tears) from kids and adults alike.

These pictures are oozing LOVE. Walton first graders are amazing. What a great place for me to grow up!
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

More Dancing

Last night after school I had a "Come to Jesus" moment with my friend, a kindergarten teacher. 

I let her know (in no uncertain terms) that I expect all children who come to first grade next year to be able to print their letters neatly, so that I can read them. She laughed and said, yeah right.

Ok, I tried.

Our first dancing song today was YMCA. We haven't danced that yet this year. So, I fumbled through, with the thumbs, wash windows, roll, pull the air horn and clap. I was doing alright. But I did keep my eye on the leader. 

The 'YMCA' part is a nother story. I'm never quite sure what to do with my arms, and it goes so fast. So, do something, and all is good, right?

I'm dancing and having a good time. Then Miss Kindergarten teacher comes to me, interrupts my dancing and whispers something like "you want the kindergartners to know how to do their letters, but your 'C' is backward."

What? C goes like this, and I show her.

Then other teachers start giggling. I said again, and demonstrated, "C goes like this" bigger this time.

One teacher then laughs and explains, it is supposed to be so it looks right to me, not you.

What? No one ever told me that!

With smiles and laughing they (the teachers) said they still like me, even though "I'm backward, haha."

Lucky for me the next song was Cupid Shuffle. I can do that one.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Knew It (Finally)

Two years ago this month I started working at my school. Yep, I was the crazy one to start a teaching job in January, after being home with my kids for 7.5 years.

These last two years have been amazing. I love my school. 

We dance (line dance that is) during homeroom when it is too cold, snowy, or icky to be outside. So I figure that is a lot of days for me to learn to dance. But, I'm really slow at learning.

Today was a break-through for me. When the dance was announced--The Electric Slide--my head started doing the steps. The correct steps! First time that happened. Ever.

I enjoyed dancing it today, because I could dance and not have to "think" about what I was doing. Yep, a "slow" dancer.

Next song was Cupid Shuffle, again my mind knew what to do! This was amazing.

The last song was a no brainer. I have been dancing that one for many years. Macarena.


The ewes are coming in at night now. Today when we brought them in we checked them. Lady Town is changing. I saw it. The bags aren't really doing anything. But it is so exciting. 2 1/2 weeks away from the first lamb date. I hope they are on time.

I will keep you posted.
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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tell Me Something Good

Here is another chance for me to "tell something good." Thank you, I will take it.

Something good from school: At the end of writing Thursday we had a "museum share." I saw that somewhere this week...(I read so much, I cannot remember where...sorry) The kids left their writing on their desks and we strolled around, reading and looking. We had a chance to see who is writing neatly, and read what others wrote. We all really loved it. That is definitely going to be a weekly event.

Something good from home: I get to be home all day, except for the hour at a basketball game (which was in town). My goal (and it is partially complete): find or create a wonderful, digital lesson plan form that is functional and fun to look at. Love my blog buddies and TpT friends. Good ideas, freebies, and information. 

If you have some good things to up with Jennifer at  Rowdy in First Grade. Or head on over and read some more good things. It is a great way to share the positive events in our lives.

I also want to thank Allison at Teacher Life in Room 102. I won her giveaway earlier this week. 3 novel units. I think this might be great for my higher readers. Thanks again Allison!

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Five for Friday

TGIF. Do I need to say any more?

There were a lot of good things that happened this week, but I'm so glad for the opportunity to relax, regroup, watch some 4th grade basketball, and have the final Christmas celebration of the season. 

Kacey at 

is having a party. List 5 random things from my week or day. Here is my list:

1. I collaborated with the other first grade teacher, and we have started teaching a mammal unit. It is super awesome. I got it on TpT from Teacher to the Core. Reading, science, art, ideas. Perfect for us teachers new to grade one.

2. I looked at a cooked pig's foot. And I did not try it. I didn't have a knife to cut pieces and share with my class, but I didn't look very hard for a knife either.

3. I got three sweet notes from kiddos. They like me. I know it is not a contest if these wonderful kids like me, but my heart sure swells when they do something nice for me.

4. I had the superintendent drop in on Tuesday, Cloverbuds on Wednesday, Legislators on Thursday, and district provided professional development today. I think I want to have a "special" drink tonight while I watch tv.

5. Report cards went home yesterday. I am pleased with many of them, but don't like it that a handful of my first graders are not reading at grade level standard. We are definitely going to buckle down the next 3 months. And work even harder. It is difficult for me to tell parents their child is not at standard, and I feel all yucky inside.

Now, off for that drink and read more Five for Friday's.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

We Made Butter

Our school had visitors (Kansas State Representatives and Senators) today. And that means, we strive to have lessons that are more project-based in nature.

So, things are usually a little different, but always good. (The report after they left was that we impressed them, and they did not even stop in my room! Way to go other teachers!)

The other first grade teacher and I tried to figure out what we could do. Since I'm reading Little House, I thought it would be cool to make butter. She immediately took my idea and made it HUGE. We scaled it back and then proceeded. 

Oh, were the kids excited to get started today. Before we began I had a quick chat with my aide/friend. She was glad to be in my room, because she had been pinning making butter. I am sure lucky to have her. You'll see why.

1. Pour the cream (heavy whipping cream) into pint jars. 
2. Make a prediction how long we would have to shake. (10 minutes and 203 minutes were two predictions.)
3. In table groups, shake, shake, pass the jar, shake, shake, and repeat for 20 minutes.

My aide and I also shook a jar. Crazy to hear it slosh, and then go quiet. This is when she said, now it's whipped cream, keep shaking.

The plan was that the other first grade teacher would make butter and bread with her kids and share half the loaf with us, to eat as a snack. Her kids must not eat much, because my kids could definitely eat through a whole loaf for a snack!

My aide had the idea that we could add chives to the butter. So she walked to our green house, cut some chives, washed them and snipped them. Love her so much! Here is a cool note--when my aide was in first grade she had a teacher. DUH, I know. Her teacher then, is an aide in our school now. And when she was in first grade her teacher led her class in making butter. What great memories. Perhaps this group of 22 will have some good memories in 15 years.

Now it is time to separate the butter from the buttermilk (and talk about solid/liquid--a state science standard).

See the butter?

Next, add some chives and stir. No pictures of that. Or of the bread that we ate it on. We had so much butter that we also had it on saltine crackers and the dinner rolls that came with lunch. It was tasty and the kids got to eat as much as they wanted. 


We celebrated another birthday today. He is a little cowboy and goes to rodeos and rides horses and probably hunts. His treat was a disguise. 

Can you see the frog on the cupcake? Adorable.
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

We have been back for 5 days now. And we are digging in for loads of learning.

I am enjoying reading The Little House in the Big Woods to the kids. Personally I find the book a little long, and sometimes it is difficult for me to follow, but somewhere I saw that it was on an exemplar list, so we are going for it. I knew it was a good choice when I was reading it on Monday and at a very appropriate part more than half of the class started laughing. Wow, that surprised me. They were listening, comprehending and communicating their understanding. 

It was at one of my favorite parts. Charles' pa was coming home through the Big Woods, without his gun and a panther was following him. He described the way the panther sounded--like the scream of a woman. Oh, how they laughed. It was a great moment for me.


Cloverbuds rotations today. But no pictures. Sunflowers was the commodity. One group made sunflowers out of coffee filters. I showed a short video (2 minutes) about the life cycle, and then they created a 4 part drawing of the life cycle. Another did pig stuff (cuts of meat I think). And finally a cooking group, peanut butter balls with sunflower seeds. Good times.


One sweetie made my day when he came in after recess and saw supplies on his desk to make the January quilt. He said, "oh, a quilt, I LOVE this!" Thank goodness it was not as difficult as the December quilt, but it did take some doing. Cutting a 3 inch square into 4 triangles is tricky, but they are certainly getting better. I got the quilts off of TpT. Check it out here.


My good friend Julie has been at it again. She created a January alphabet chant, along the lines of The Phonics Dance. I printed it while the kids were at PE and Music, and had it hung before they came back. I wasn't going to say anything, but they noticed. :) So, with our coats on (we were just heading to the buses) we went through the new chant. Score. Two times through in one day. That is called repetition and exactly what my firsties need to become better readers. 

Julie is giving this away this week for her followers. It is amazing. Check it out (at First Grade Critter Cafe') if you want a cool January alphabet or if you want to read an inspiring blog.


It is time to start checking the sheep. We did this last year also. Feeling for a bag, looking under their tails, looking for changes. We always ask permission, and feel sort of weird doing it, but that is what our sheep expert told us to do. Please, Lily and Wooly (the ewes), lamb during the day, so that I do not have to sleep in the barn. This is especially important, because there is loads of evidence of critters living in the barn. I think you know how I feel about mice.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Five for Friday

Happy Friday everyone! So glad this was a short week, although I kept being confused about what day it was yesterday and today. I almost sent my kids to the wrong specials classes. That would have been bad. I did that once. I hope it doesn't happen again.

Doodle Bugs is having a party. I love a party. Especially on a Friday. Not many rules, list 5 random things of my day (or the week). I'm going with the day.

1. The snowman pictures that we made yesterday and wrote about today turned out so much better than I thought possible.

I guided them through a drawing, then they outlined with a sharpie, and finally they colored it in. The idea came from Pinterest. The blog is Art Projects for Kids.

I wish you could see the writing better. Trust me. Good.

2. The kids got to go outside for the second recess. It has been too cold yesterday and early today. I let them play in the small covering of snow on the ground. Watching them pick up snow and throw it at each other was wonderful. I decided...let them play like children, if they got wet, oh well, we have a dryer at my school.

3. At the birthday party today the kiddos created a spontaneous clinking of the plastic Kool-Aid jugs. Before they did it the second time, I stopped them until I had the camera ready. 

It's kinda like they like each other. Love all around.

4. Collaborating with the other first grade teacher at my school today (and yesterday) has been so good. Today I popped in on her teaching while my kids were at Art. I had never done that before, but we are like-minded and I was pretty sure it would be ok. It was. Later, she popped in on us. So good to have another grown-up come in and see the good things, and be able to talk about it later.

5. Our class got some games for Christmas from one of our classmates. Today we really dug into them and played. Candyland. Ants in My Pants. Don't Spill the Beans. Memory. I love that these kiddos are old enough to play with minimal adult assistance. They have really grown up since August.

Stop by Doodle Bugs Teaching and read some more "Five for Friday's."

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