Friday, October 26, 2012

Tally Dem Bat Bones

Wahoo for Friday! 9 weeks of school are officially completed and I am wondering how time flies by so quickly???!!!????

It is finally starting to feel like fall here in Texas. Several days this week it was in the upper 80's and tonight it will get down in the 30's! You have to love Texas weather. I know to leave the short sleeves in my closest still because on Thanksgiving it could be back in the 80's....because here in Texas we do our own thing! =)

Here is a quick and easy math center for next week that some of my kiddos practiced today. We have a pumpkin die-cut at school. I whipped out some pumpkins, pulled out the pumpkin seeds that are reeeaaalllllyyyy old and let my kiddos use the bottle glue...and that might have been THE best part of this activity!!! =)

Here is a peek at their pumpkin patches. =)

Click on the picture below to grab your pumpkin patch label. 
Isn't that font the cutest??!!!???

On Monday, we will have a delivery...BAT BONES. Shhhhh, they are really pretzel sticks I dipped in white chocolate!

We will use the bat bones to practice using tally marks. Here is a picture from last year. The kiddos LOVED this...and they of course believed they were REAL bat bones!!! =)

Sorry for the bad iphone picture. =(

We also learned this Bat Bones poem.

Click here to grab your copy.

Click here to get your bone tally activities.

I would love to hear what you think about these. When I shared them last year, I still had less than 100 is hard to believe I am still blogging! I still get nervous and scared sharing my thoughts and activities....but your sweet hearts notes always make my heart smile. =)

I hope you each have a wonderful and relaxing weekend. I am going to procrastinate grading a little bit longer. Grades are due by midnight on Monday but right now I am ready for some spiced tea, my book, and cuddling with my kitty and my bunny. =)

From My Heart to Yours,

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Shining Our Pumpkin Lights

This past week seemed to go by sooooooo slowllllllllllyyyyyyyyyy....and I was even out of the classroom for 2 days for Engineering training and  for writing Science curriculum. I think having a sub for 2 days in a row erased some of the things we had been working so hard to learn. Does that happen to your class when you have had a sub????!!!????

At one of the meetings we talked about how the time period from mid-October to the middle of December is so hard for teachers but especially for our kiddos. It is a time for meetings, programs, crafts, fun activities, holiday celebrations, Red Ribbon week, bright intense colors like red and orange, and then the stress that our kiddos might be feeling at home as their parents prepare for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. For many of our kiddos and their families, the holidays that we LOVE are stressful for them as they try and find the means to buy Thanksgiving dinner stuff and Christmas gifts. Meanwhile, any routine in our classrooms is starting to be disrupted by all of the fun activities and programs of this time of year.

This helps to explain why our kiddos start going a little nutty and by Christmas Break we are ready to be the Nutcrackers and find ourselves telling the kiddos we are in contact with Santa and have been telling him all of the things going on in our classrooms.

Thursday some of my kiddos we definitely a little squirrelly and I had to stop myself from going a little nutty too!

What popped into my head was the poem about God picking pumpkins.

It seems to be that "yucky stuff" that we let get in the way of so many things we do. I let it get in the way of remembering to be patient and even at times from stopping and looking at all of the blessings in my life. It is easy to get caught up in the negative "yucky stuff". 

I think I need to try and remember to scoop out all of that "yucky stuff" before I even get out of the car each morning. Part of our job is to keep the light inside of each pumpkin God puts in our classroom burning. I think of each year when we put "Jack" our jack-o-lantern in a jar. For the rest of the year, we watch him decompose. It is nasty. Last year to my horror Jack almost was knocked off of where he was sitting...I would have died if all of his nasty, smelly smithereens were splattered on our already nasty carpet.

I think we sometimes feel if some of our little pumpkins might already be rotting. We might not take the time to even see why their light might not be burning very brightly.

When I went to find the pumpkin poem, I also came across this one.

I am a Jack O’ Lantern
My lights will shine so bright
For I’m a Christian pumpkin
My symbols tell what’s right

My nose is like the cross
On which our Savior died
To set us free from sin
We need no longer hide

My mouth is like a fish
The whole wide world to show
That Christians live in this house
And love their Savior so!
The story starts at Christmas
My eyes are like the star
That shone on Baby Jesus
And wise men saw from far

My color, it is orange
Just like the big bright sun
That rose on Easter Day
Along with God’s own Son

I just love this! What a great way to let your love for the Lord shine out to others this month.

Since pumpkins have been on my mind, here is a little *freebie* that I hope you enjoy. The kiddos roll a dice and add 10. The first player to cover 5 in a row wins. This is to help with place value and those tricky teens. =)

graphics by Scrappin' Doodles

As you get ready for a new week, remember to look for the light in each one of your little pumpkins. Be sure and keep the light going with your love and patience...and you'll see it shining through their little jack-o-lantern smiles. =)

From My Heart to Yours,

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Do You Have a Hoover?

I get a new one every year.

Some years I get more than one.

I have had the mini kind and the deluxe ones.

I love each one despite the fact they do not always make things easier.

There are days when I see my little Hoover and I start getting a headache.

Then, there are some days when my Hoover is out of sight and I can breathe a little easier. But even out of sight, my Hoovers are usually in my thoughts and on my heart.

But I am not talking about vacuums.....

I am talking about our little ones who seem to suck everything out of us.

One year I had a few Hoovers that were part of the Ponytail Posse....GIRL DRAMA.

Another year, there were a few Hoovers that were part of the Tears, Tantrums, and Tiaras group.

I have seen the Hoovers in other classrooms. You can hear the whoosh as you walk down the halls.

I see Hoovers being part of the chain gang as I walk by the playground...they are always standing against the chain linked fence.

Somewhere on a Hoover you will find the tag that reads Handle with Care.

Here is the thing about our Hoovers. They are often the children that we find ourselves repeating the same things to over and over. We seem to always be talking to them about not talking too much, about being kind, about keeping others safe, about using their words when they are upset, about not taking things from others, PLUS many, many other things that seem to just wear us out!!!

Have you ever stopped to think about how we have all the patience in the world for our kiddos who have trouble learning to read or trouble with math....we would never, ever, EVER think about having them stand in time out or moving their clip when they were reading and couldn't decode the word "jumping". BUT, when we have kiddos come to school and start hitting or screaming bad words at another child when things aren't going their way, we find ourselves getting frustrated with that child for not meeting our behavior expectations.

When I first started teaching, I had the amazing opportunity to hear Ruby Payne speak. If you don't know who she is, you must read her book about understanding children of poverty.

When I heard her speak, she also shared how you can tell when someone is lying. She gave a little tutorial about asking questions and watching a person's eyes. After establishing a base line, you can then ask the question that you are trying to determine whether someone is telling you the truth or a lie about....and based on what they do with their eyes you'll know. It has been AMAZING and so true!!!!

**********end of squirrel**********
I know I will always have a Hoover in my classroom. This could be a child that is a HUGE behavior challenge or this could be a child who is facing HUGE battles themselves that I often don't feel equipped to help them face by myself. The other day I was looking through my class pictures. I could easily remember each child that tugged on my heart strings. Seeing some of those little faces made me start crying again because I remember the battles some of those Firsties were facing. I then looked at some of the faces of the Hoovers who were HUGE behavior challenges. I wish I knew some of the things I know now and could have helped them and MYSELF more.

Most of these things are things that I have learned through Conscious Discipline but some of these things are lessons God has taught me while in the trenches with the kings and queens of the HOOVERS. =)

*The Only Person You Can Change is Yourself:
Whether we admit it or not we all want others to meet our expectations. We want our husbands to do certain things without being told. We want our children to clean up and make responsible choices without being told. We want traffic to move quickly when we are in a hurry. We want for things to be easier for us and those we care about. What we have to realize is when we try and make those things happen we are usually going to end up disappointed and frustrated.

I can only pray that I start to change myself so I can be ready to face those frustrating challenges with more patience and understanding.

No 6 year old wakes up in the morning and decides he is going to try and drive his teacher up the wall today. He doesn't decide on the bus in the morning that he is going to try and hit as many people as he can. Whatever obstacles our kiddos face each day are what affect the child we greet at the door each morning. I can only try my best to be the person I want others to become

*Children are either extending love or calling for love
Our kiddos use the skills they have been taught to meet their needs....and most of these are skills they have modeled for them on a daily basis at home or even through TV, movies, and video games. We often see this in the classroom when they scream at others when they are angry or hit when they are frustrated. We teachers often find ourselves being manipulative at times threatening to take away some privilege or to reward those who exhibit the behaviors we want such as being kind, helpful and respectful.

Our little Hoovers are crying out for our love and help. And like the time we pour into helping our learners who struggle academically, we need to make a commitment to help our kiddos who continue to find themselves in situations where they don't know how to handle their emotions. I always try and tell my kiddos that I will always love them but I might not always love the things they do. Part of my job is to help others see the beautiful heart I see in each one of them.

*What we say to our children becomes their inner speech for the rest of their lives.
I think we can all relate to this one and recall hurtful words from our childhood that still linger in our heads. These are the words we often remember when things are not going well and when we are having struggles of our own. When someone has told you that you are worthless, those are the words you remember when things at work are not going fail to recall all of the kind words that once encouraged you because it is easier to remember the "bad" things about ourselves. I will admit  that I have told a child that they are being hurtful and mean. I know because of my frustrations I did not help the child realize that I was talking more about their behavior than them. But to a little kid, all they probably hear is the teacher they love more than anything thinks they are mean.

WOW! Does this make you stop and realize how important our words our not only to our Hoovers but to ALL children in our classroom???!!??? I know I always try and apologize to a child when I think my words might have been hurtful but I know I might not always do that.....especially when I am telling the child for the 59th time that day that hitting hurts and when you want a friend to move you say "May you please let me back in my spot." Once our patience starts to wear thin so do our words...and it is those words that pierce the heart.

I pray that God helps me each day have the Heart of a Teacher who just tries the best she can to love and teach from the heart. Although this little movie gives me the warm fuzzies, I know reality hits me Monday morning at 7:40. I hang up my Wonder Woman cape up at the door because when I step inside I know I am not the Super Teacher the world expects us to be. I can only pray to have a Heart of Patience and to remember that God put each child in my room for a reason....and they are often the ones to teach me a lesson. =)

From My Heart to Yours,

Monday, October 8, 2012

Stretchy Snake Fun

When we came back from lunch one day, we had a package waiting at the door.

The package was from Stretchy Snake.

This is Stretchy Snake.

Here is the letter he left us.

You can grab your letter from Stretchy Snake here.
There are 2 different letters: one talks about Eagle Eyes and the other one does not talk about Eagle Eyes in case your class doesn't know who he is.

In the letter, he told us he was a friend on Eagle Eyes and he was going to teach us another way to decode words. He even sent us some goodies to help us be super duper Word Detectives!

This last minute teacher Stretchy Snake forgot to put a few items in the package.

One of our favorite goodies are the Stretchy Snake Boxes.

Inside the boxes are cards. As you slowly slide the box out, you say the sure to teach the kiddos to not slide it out all of the way. You slide the box back in and then slide it out faster while blending the sounds together. When you think you know the word, you slide the box out all of the way and check your answer with the picture. I'll try and find the labels for the boxes and post them later. =)

This is an activity both the kiddos and I ADORE.

The next thing we made were our class sound boxes. We made this with the tape Stretchy Snake put in the package. Our sound boxes help us s-t-r-e-t-ch out words...and the kiddos LOVE to HOP IT OUT!!! Can we say fun for our little ADHD energetic kiddos!!!! 

Here is how you use the sound boxes. A kiddo starts by standing to the left side OUT of the first box. If the word is bus, he hops into the first box and says /b/. He then hops into the 2nd box and says /u/. He hops into the 3rd box and says /s/. Finally, he hops OUT of the box and says the word bus. I hope that makes sense. =)

We can use the sound boxes for this fun activity. =)

Grab your copy here. Kiddos hop out the word and record the answer.

We also meet Stretchy Snake's friend Stretchy Giraffe.

He also helps us stretch out words.

Stretchy Snake also left us some slinkies and some words to stretch out and read.

I hope you and your kiddos enjoy these activities. =)

If you grab the *freebies*, please take a few minutes to leave me a heart note. =)

Question of the Day:  How do you handle tattling in your classroom?

From My Heart to Yours,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Spooky Cover-Up

Stretchy Snake is in the house and my kiddos L-O-V-E him. One little friend was a bit concerned that Eagle Eyes might want to eat Stretchy Snake but then it was decided that since they are both part of Our School Family now that everything was groovy! Hearing this conversation was TOO, TOO CUTE!

I am finishing up the Stretchy Snake *freebies* and I am excited to share them with you later this week.

One little kiddo remembered to use Stretchy Snake to help decode a word during a reading group. He then asked permission to leave the reading group for a minute. He goes up to Stretchy Snake to thank him for helping him be a better reader. Very sweet but I am concerned at times that the children in my class will need therapy as they get older due to believing everything I tell them!!!

Here is a quick ten frame *freebie*. My kiddos love cover-up games and they can always use more practice, they can practice subitizing! Do you know what that means????

I am working on some October math work stations that I will share when I am finished. What kind of games would you like to see the most: place value, money or number lines?

I feel like it should already be Thursday tomorrow. It seems like I am always having to go to meetings and most of the time the meetings just remind me how behind I am in everything that I am supposed to be doing. So my question of the day is this:

How often do you have meetings? Do you find them beneficial?

If you grab the *freebie*, please take a minute to leave me a heart note. Each note is always so encouraging and they are such motivation for me to create and share more *freebies*!!!! =)

From My Heart to Yours,