Thursday, October 24, 2013

mammals, blubber and the zoo (oh my!)

During the entire month of October, my class does a very thorough study of mammals.  We learn about many, many different mammals, but my favorite to teach about are the Arctic mammals.  I'm pretty sure I could teach the entire month just talking about polar bears, whales and the many other creatures you can find up north.

My students' favorite thing we did this month has to be, hands down, the all too famous blubber experiment.  A little messy, a lot of fun--my first graders couldn't get enough of it!  It's super simple to do as long as you have all of the supplies and a great demonstration of how those Arctic animals keep warm.

You can find many how-tos for this experiment all over the internet, I'm sure, but this is how we did it:

vegetable shortening
two pairs of plastic gloves

1. Before the experiment, I filled one of the plastic gloves with vegetable shortening and made sure it was in all of the fingers and the hand/palm area.  I then put a clean glove on my hand and stuck that hand and glove inside the shortening glove.  The shortening acts as the "blubber" for the experiment.
2. I filled a bowl full of ice and added water to about two inches from the top of the bowl.  
3. I had each kiddo wear the blubber glove on one hand and two clean gloves on the other (we did a little discussion of a "control" for the experiment).  After each first grader got a turn, we talked about which hand felt colder faster and the blubber helped to keep one hand warm.  We, of course, recorded our discussion on a giant piece of chart paper (love chart paper!  I wish I had taken a picture of it, though!).

Note:  While year old shortening does work for this experiment, it also smells funny.  Live and learn.  Probably a good idea to buy new shortening for next year!

In addition to this experiment and all the other in class things we do to learn about mammals, we also take a trip to the zoo in our city.  We have a very set curriculum of animal studies, and our students learn about different types of animals during each year in the primary grades.  Of course, the zoo is one of the only field trips we can utilize for these studies, so we take care to really focus on the animals we are studying at that point.  To help my first graders at the zoo find all the mammals, I created these mammal tour guides for them to take with them.  

I use the map from the zoo website to help me break them down into the different habitats and put them in the order that students will see them.  I personally get a kick out of seeing the first graders so intently searching the zoos with their tour guides and pencils, ready to check off each mammal as they see it.  When we get back from the zoo, we use these to help us with any writing we do about our trip.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

run, run, run!

I'm super excited to link up with Curious Firsties for the Wednesday WOW!  Head over and share something super fantastic about school or home yourself!

I mentioned this time and time again this past spring and over the summer, but I'm so pumped about it, that I have to share it again.  Way back in March, I started the Couch to 5k training.  Sometime over the summer, I completed it, and kind of sort of started a 10k trainer (I've been loving running 4-5 miles at a time for the last two months, and I'm probably going to keep doing that for awhile).

The before...
BUT!  This past Saturday, I (finally) ran my first official 5k race.  If by "race," I mean run with many people--because let's be honest here.  I did the Pittsburgh Color Run--and it is neither timed nor competitive.  And it was SO MUCH FUN.  Run for fun and get colored cornstarch powder thrown at you--it was awesome.

Since this was the first time I had ever run an actual 5k in a plotted out 5k course, I was excited to time myself and track all of my stats for it.  Using the stats I had collected on myself on all of my other runs, I thought a reachable goal was to aim for running the race in 35 minutes.  I was SO EXCITED when I finished in 29 minutes 6 seconds!

And the after.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

a new pirate generation, everybody shout... let's go bucs!

Yes, I know this is supposed to be my teacher/home/organizing/craft blog.  But I named it the mrs. b blog so I could write about anything I want.  And today, I feel moved to share something with you.

I am a Pittsburgh Pirate fan.  Always have been, and always will be.

 It goes all the way back to when I was really little.  My grandparents watched games all the time.  I remember getting to their house to visit, and the game was on.  I wanted to play with Grandma or Pap, but I had to wait until the game was over...  and over time, I got more and more into it.

When I was in first grade, there was some big, school wide reading challenge where we somehow earned tickets for drawings and raffles.  I don't remember the details to the whole system, I just remember that there was a school assembly at the end of it, and Jay Bell from the Pirates came to do the drawing.  I don't remember what I actually won, but I do remember Mr. Bell pulling my ticket out more than once and getting to shake his hand each time.  I was thrilled.

Fast forward to when I was in middle school and high school, my poor Buccos were terrible.  Awful.  I was a Pirate fan when they lost 100 games in 2001.  Funny story--that's when PNC Park opened.  I was a Pirate fan when they lost 105 games in 2010.  I saw my favorite players get traded numerous times (and eventually got to the point I wouldn't vocalize who my favorite player was because as soon as picked favorites, they got traded).  I loved Jason Kendall, Jack Wilson, Oliver Perez and Jason Bay.  I loved watching Salomon Torres go up to bat with a huge smile on his face.  I bet my choir teacher in high school for six years running that this was the year the Pirates were going to win as many games as they lost.  And I lost that bet every year.

But more importantly, over all those losing seasons, the Pirates gave me something really important--something to bond with my Gram, my Pap Pap, my cousins, my sisters, my parents, my entire family, over.  There is nothing like talking baseball with your ninety year old grandfather, hearing him call players Fish Lips and arguing whether this is their year or not.  There is nothing like listening to your grandmother go on and on about how handsome Nate McLouth or Neil Walker is one minute, the next, cursing out the radio for the error they just committed.  I've gone to so many games with my sisters and cousins--freezing opening days, melting hot summer night games, in April, in June, in September.

Fast forward to this--the 2013 season.  After two end of season collapses the last two years, I was still saying this was their year.  This was the year we were going to hit .500.  I went to eight games this season, and the first was on April 14 against the Reds.  Then, in September, my boys--Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen, Mr. Hurdle and the rest of them--won their 81st win.  For the first time in 21 years--we were guarenteed to at least have as many wins as losses.  I cried.  I freaked my husband out with the happy tears that were streaming down my face.  Then, they won again, and we had our first winning season in 21 years.  I didn't think the season could possibly get any better.  Everything I had ever wanted for my Pirates had happened.

And then, they made the playoffs.  I watched the team celebrate with champagne on TV while I sat on the couch yelling right along with them, clutching a Kleenex and drying my happy tears.  The electricity in Pittsburgh is insane.  We've been waiting for a winning season for so long, and our boys delivered big this year.  Never have I been to games in September at PNC Park where the crowd has been as big, as excited, as this season.

My Pittsburgh Pirates are playing in the National League Wild Card Game tonight.  And you better bet your bottom dollar that I will be there.  I'm packing my snack bag, wearing black, wearing my Post Season cap and taking some Kleenex.

These Buccos have already made me one of the happiest baseball fans in the country.  And tonight, they're going to make me even happier.  It doesn't matter to me now whether they win or lose (although, I would love if they beat the Reds again...) because these boys have finally done what I have known they could do since the time I was five.  They won.  Everything after win #81 has been icing (and sprinkles) on the cake.

Raise that Jolly Roger!