Friday, March 29, 2013

another friday (five for friday)

Another week of linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five for Friday, even though today doesn't feel like Friday (loving spring break still).

My week this week:
[1] As I mentioned in my last entry--the All School Unit is over and it is spring break.  I so needed this break, even though it hasn't been very "spring" like yet.  We got about six inches of snow on Monday--and had a two hour delay.  The snow was mostly melted by Monday evening, except for a few small patches for the pups to still roll in.
[2] As much as I needed this break, I still love my first grade kiddos.  Check out this love letter I found in my mailbox this week.
[3] We're spending spring break at my Gram's house and taking time to visit with my Grandma and Pap Pap.  While the pups loved spending the day with me yesterday, they love it even more here.  They get to run around my grandparents' field, playing and smelling stuff without their leashes.  At our house, they have to stay on their leashes and chew on Frisbees.  They just discovered that they had one yesterday.
[4]  Along with my grandparents, we're spending a lot of time with this guy--my almost four year old cousin.  We may or may not be taking him to a candy store today.

[5]  I have two weddings to go to this month--and need to get two dresses to wear to these two weddings.  I'm hoping to do some shopping this weekend--real shopping, not just online shopping.  I did enough online shopping and I waited too long to order the dresses--they're sold out now.  I need to  do some impulse dress buying!
Have a wonderful and blessed Easter!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

a mexican fiesta!

Caps for Sale!  Poor me, this is how I had to carry all the first graders' sombreros.Thank goodness it is finally Easter break.  As I mentioned before, during the entire month of March, our entire school was studying Mexico.  Our month was NUTS!  Each teacher took a turn teaching the entire school about a different aspect of the country--geography, history, government, animals, plants, religion, economy, art, and the culture itself.  Of course, it being my first year here--first time doing All School Unit, first time teaching the entire school, first time this, first time that--I was super nervous about the entire month.  It is such huge relief to have gotten through the entire month mostly in one piece.

We started the month with the All School Unit opening earlier in the month--the parents brought Mexican history to life through a tour starting with the students meeting a pirate who was searching for treasure in Mexico and invited them to join him.  They got to visit with a Mayan woman, an Aztec ruler, a Spanish conquistador and Pancho Villa in a very elaborate set up, complete with painted backdrops, gold and trees filled with handmade Monarch butterflies.  I wish I had pictures to share--but I was so excited/anxious/nervous about Opening Day, I left my camera behind!

Throughout the month, each teacher took an afternoon and taught everyone.  I taught the whole school about the history and government of Mexico.  Not an easy topic to make appropriate for K-2 and make teachable in 45 minutes.  I ended up really focusing on the ancient cultures of Mexico--the Olmecs, the Maya and the Aztecs--and quickly going over the Spanish takeover and modern Mexico (the teacher who covered religion went more in depth about when the Spanish came and the teacher who taught about the Mexican economy was able to focus more on modern Mexico as well).

A not-so-good quality picture of my minibookAlong with each teacher's lesson, each of us was responsible for making a minibook to showcase what the students learned in our lesson.  At the end of the month, we put all of the minibooks together and each student had a lapbook to showcase everything they learned all month.  A lot of us took the concept of a minibook very loosely--we had pockets with review cards, maps, and little books.  My minibook ended up involving much more work than I had originally envisioned, but it still turned out really great.  I created 5 tiny tiny books (about two inch square books) with a bit of information inside, and then the kiddos glued those on a strip of paper and accordion folded it to create a timeline.

My first graders never fail to amaze me in their creativity and abilities as the year goes on.  I had them decorate the covers of their lapbooks on Monday.  Over the weekend, I cut out the letters to spell out "Mexico" with my Cricut and gave the first graders the option of using those letters.  Some of them chose to use them, and others chose not to.  I also had a selection of small coloring pages for them to color and cut out if they wanted.  Some used them, others did not, and many of them used the Flag of Mexico coloring page. 

The kindergarten teacher and I went back and forth on whether we would have our kiddos do this or if we would do it for them--she ended up doing  it for her kids, and I ended up letting mine do it themselves.  I am so glad I decided that!  We glued all their minibooks inside on Tuesday.  Before they went to work, we talked about how this was going to be like a giant puzzle, that we needed to fit all eight things inside, and not to glue anything until you were sure where you wanted everything to go.

Tuesday night was the closing ceremony, and the whole school was again involved.  The sixth graders performed a skit, the younger kiddos sang a song and the bigger kiddos did a dance.  Almost all of the parents were there to see this--including my mom and mother-in-law.  The kids brought their parents down to their classrooms afterwards and showed them everything they had made during the month.  When my kids came to our room, their lapbooks were on their desks to show off, along with the Ojo de Dios they made hanging on the wall and their Flat Friend (like Flat Stanley) hanging on the bulletin board with a speech bubble telling what they had learned in Mexico.
Add in the crazy fun of Food Day, Fun Day (piñatas!  games!  more food!), and the luncheon, our month was nuts.  Today is my first day of break--and I have so far enjoyed sleeping in, going for a run, playing with the furbabies, a nice looooooong shower and debating what to spring clean first.

Friday, March 22, 2013

friday, friday! (five for friday)

I am so pumped to be linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five for Friday (and actually on Friday, for that matter!).  So here we go--five random things to tell you about my week.

[1] Mark's best friend from college and his fiancée got Mark and I started on the Couch to 5k program.  This week, I finished Week 2...  Mark is taking some time off because he's starting to develop shin splints.  I am loving it.  Or maybe I'm just loving the cute running clothes I have slowly been collecting and pulling out of my storage bins.  Either way, I've been running and not feeling like it is making me die a slow painful death.
[2] This week was the last full week of our All School Unit at school.  Every class has been studying Mexico for the month of March.  My first graders have loved learning about the Mayans and the Aztecs.  Yesterday, one of my classroom parents, who is a chef, made a Mexican feast for the whole school.  There was delicious food, and the parent association arranged for all of the teachers to have lunch together.  It was so much fun to have the opportunity to chat with ALL of the teachers at once during our lunch time.
My favorite kindergarten teacher and me
[3] Tonight, after my run and my shower, I accomplished one of my New Year's plans that I did not blog about (I didn't think it was appropriate to share, but now that I've accomplished it, I'm too excited about it not to...).  I have officially worn every pair of underwear I own once since January 1.  I even managed to weed out a few pairs that I'm over.  But this former Aerie girl may still have too many pairs of underpants.  Oh well.  (And Mom--if you read this, this is NOT an indication that new  undies in my Easter basket would be frowned upon!)
[4] Scooter and Mattie Mae are in terrible need of a hair cut.  They both look about five pounds heavier than they actually are because of the fur on them.  We're waiting until spring really comes (what the what...  4-6 inches of snow coming our way this weekend).
This is Mattie Mae.
[5] Target has my new favorite yoga pants.  I kind of really love going from teacher clothes to pajamas after school...  and yoga pants are perfect.  I may go buy another pair.  Or seven.  But probably just another pair (teacher salary).
So there we go.  I did it!
Extra confession: I'm a nerd.  I've been watching my one TPT freebie product that I have (yeah.  The ONLY one) and got super excited as it approached 100 downloads. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

spring cleaning!

I am so sick of snow, winter, and cold.  After having numerous two hour delays for the snow and cold temperatures (and no snow days), I am ready to say good-bye to all of it to welcome in spring and sunshine.

Tomorrow is the first official day of spring.  My kiddos have been keeping track of "Lion Weather" and "Lamb Weather" all month and are, perhaps, more excited for spring and Lamb Weather than I am.  While March is a busy, busy month at my school with our school wide unit study of Mexico, we are still going to do some special spring activities tomorrow.

At home, I'm working on my spring cleaning and organizing (I am even scrubbing down ceiling fans and blinds.  My mom is probably so proud!), so it's only natural (and to be honest, quite necessary) to continue that theme at school.  Tomorrow, my kiddos will be using my Spring Cleaning Checklist to organize their desks while taking an inventory of what they find inside.

Spring Cleaning Checklist

And the best part?  I totally just upgraded my TPT account to a seller's account.  The first thing I have available is a free download of the Spring Cleaning Checklist.  Keep an eye for more exciting things to come (and me actually making my shop look nice!) soon!  Click here to download!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

a dream is a wish your heart makes

This past weekend, Mark and I went to Frederick, MD for his college roommate's fiance's bridal shower.  I was super excited about this--Mark and Matt are best friends, and we had not gotten to meet Jillian until this weekend. 

Jillian and I had started getting to know each other through Facebook chat and discovered we have quite a bit in common.  One of the most significant things we have in common is a love for all things Disney.  Jillian and Matt will be going to Disney World for their honeymoon, and since Mark and I did the same thing (and then went again to celebrate our first anniversary...  and I hope to go again this summer to celebrate year number two), I decided that a Disney photo album would be the perfect shower gift.

Of course...  I decided that a little too late.  Looking online for a 2013 Disney photo album didn't turn up anything that I liked.  So I thought I'd make an album.  Decorate the cover, "Jillian and Matt's Honeymoon, 2013" and call it a day.  But nooooo.  I had such a vision in my head, and couldn't find the exact photo album I needed.

The Cover--I added the words and got the best compliment ever--"Are those stickers?!"
I ended up spending each evening last week after school putting together a Disney Honeymoon Scrapbook.  I found a spectacular scrapbook album at JoAnn's with Mickey on the cover, and combined with Disney scrapbook paper, black polka dotted paper tape and a Mickey punch, I created my new favorite scrapbook.  All Jillian needs to do is take pictures on their trip, get them printed when they come home and tape them in.  Some pages I made really specific ("Replace this paper with a photograph of the newly weds kissing  in front of Cinderella's castle"), and others I made more flexible.

 The first page--how stinkin' cute is that Minnie and Mickey sitting on a park bench sticker?
Jillian loved it, and I had such a good time making it--I might actually try to get around to putting together our honeymoon scrapbook.  I'm thinking first, though, I should probably get a photo book from our wedding put together.
 One of my favorite pages--Top 5 Lists for Matt and Jillian to fill in after the trip.

The last page--I will always encourage anyone to immediately start planning your next trip (especially if it is with me).