Monday, 30 December 2013

Thanksgiving on the 2nd last day of the year

Today I sent the donation to Pencils of Promise - the proceeds of a Thanksgiving resource I made.

The donation will fund the building of three classrooms in areas where schools are scarce.

Visit Pencils of Promise to learn more about this wonderful organization.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Totally Random Post

I've had a very nice, lazy holiday and still have the prospect of a week more to enjoy lazing around in pjs, sipping tea, watching movies and thinking about doing some work :)

Here are some random photos of my week.

 Let's start with Christmas Eve. I drove down to the post office to pick up these extremely cute ornaments that were sent to me as part of an ornament exchange...

...and... rear-ended by the car behind me who apparently didn't see my indicator or notice that I had STOPPED to turn!! We now have the car tied up until the garage opens again after the holiday. Sigh.

The stress of this caused my husband to collapse on the sofa - accompanied by the dog who, I think, was just sleeping in solidarity...

Christmas Day was wonderful - we went to my sister's, ate too much, played silly games, laughed a lot and took this photo of us and my daughter and her boyfriend. My son spent Christmas in Scotland with my mom :)

And... the highlight photo for Boxing Day :)

Bear has an itchy tummy right now and has been rubbing it on the carpet so she's now taken the skin off!! My daughter decided to cover the tummy in cream and then put a shirt on Bear to stop her scratching. I think it's adorable!!

And finally, today - a super lazy day!! Here's the only thing I've managed to do today (other than chatting on Facebook and emailing people :) ) - my mom's traditional shortbread!! And, if I do say so myself, I have finally MASTERED the making of it. (It only took 3 years!!)

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Hope your holidays were as fun as mine :)

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Gingerbread, snowflakes and penguins

And we continue to create a little bit of winter in  a tropical island classroom. :)

Last week was a BUSY one.

We celebrated our annual surprise Gingerbread Day on Monday. My team teachers and I were ready to greet our kiddies, wearing our gingerbread crowns and "as close to brown" clothing as we could get.

We started with fun gingerbread glyphs

and then gathered the whole yeargroup into my classroom to do the now traditional Gingerbread Body Part graphing activity. The kids LOVED it - and my team teacher who leads this activity was as awesome as ever! Our kiddies were rolling with laughter. All my other colleague and I had to do was demonstrate how to secretly eat a body part. :)

After recess we moved on to Language and completed little booklets on adjectives and verbs and read Gingerbread stories.

After completing a pictograph - a quick little Math review - in the afternoon we finished the day with icing gingerbread cookies (and eating them, of course) and making gingerbread house cards. It was a fabulous day!

On Wednesday our reports were due - I managed to get them in a day early!!! (unheard of) so decided to celebrate by starting Borax snowflakes.

No-one in my class had ever done these before so it was a brand new activity for them and a lot of fun for me. I've included the recipe below if anyone wants to try - it is the single BEST science activity and always works brilliantly!!

Mixing borax into boiling water

Pipecleaner snowflakes suspended in solution

Carefully making sure the snowflakes don't
touch the sides of the jar

The next morning - great excitement as snowflakes
are taken out of the jars

Not the greatest photo but here's a crystallized snowflake.

You'll need:

a pipecleaner (we used pink, purple and blue ones) 20 Mule Borax, boiling water, glass jars (we used the mason canning jars) measuring cup and tablespoon, pencil, string, masking tape, spoon to stir solution.

Cut the pipe cleaner into thirds (actually we cut ours into quarters and then only used 3 parts - it was easier for my little people to divide into quarters than thirds :) )
Twist together to make a snowflake shape
Tie the string to one end of the snowflake. Attach the other end of the string to the middle of the pencil.
Label your pencil with masking tape (child's name)

We used TWO cups of boiling water in our jars and added 4 heaping tablespoons PER CUP. (A lot of recipes call for 3 tablespoons but we've found you sometimes don't get any crystals so we pile in extra) 
Stir the solution until as much dissolves as possible. It's usually pretty cloudy to start with.

Suspend the snowflake in the solution and leave it. If you do your snowflakes first thing in the morning they'll be ready by 3.30 (one of my team teachers did it on Friday morning and it worked beautifully) or make them in the afternoon and they'll be ready the following morning. Be prepared for chaos - my kiddies had to take their snowflakes all over the school to show every single teacher, they were so proud of them. :)

I thought it might be fun to try to make trees or bells or hearts (for Valentine's day maybe) - it's such an easy and spectacular experiment. We've also used white pipe cleaners and food coloring or just white pipe cleaners. It's pretty versatile - play with them. :)

And finally - our penguins. :) I think they're very cute - and they all have snowball facts above them. :)

Have a great week :)

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Winter Wonderland

We've been turning our classroom into a winter wonderland these last couple of weeks. It's kind of exciting being surrounded by snow scenes in a classroom on a tropical island - and circumstances dictate that we stay away from Santa and elves this year.

So here are some of our "learning decorations".

1. We've created Snowman Simile chains...

In retrospect I think I would have the kiddies write their words on alternate chain links so we could actually read the entire simile on the chain. I typed out their completed similes and posted them above the chains this year but next year I'll get it right. :) The kids had fun doing them anyway and it made writing similes a lot more "hands on".

2. Our Fraction Snowmen are up again - it's interesting to see how different they are each year and it's a great introduction to fractions!

3. And we just had some fun in art creating winter tree collages and close-ups of snowmen - courtesy of both pinterest ideas and Deep Space Sparkle. We adapted our projects slightly but it's always nice to give credit where credit is due. :)

Winter Trees

Snowmen - Close Up

And here's our bulletin board when you walk into the classroom - it creates such a wintry feel! :)

Tomorrow we celebrate our annual surprise Gingerbread Day - the cookies are made and cooling in the kitchen; all the activities are copied and piled on our desks; my glittery crown is made and all I have to do is...

find a brown shirt that will fit! This is going to be difficult (perhaps impossible) due to recent expansion of the waist so I may have to wear black and be a scorched gingerbread cookie instead. :)

Oh well - it's the thought that counts. Perhaps my sparkly crown - and the provision of cookies, icing and skittles will make up for the lack of appropriate dress. :)

Monday, 2 December 2013

Counting down!!

Our Advent calendar is finished - and barely in time, let me tell you! We were still sprinkling glitter at 3:15 on Friday!
I had to add some extra animals at the last second due to moaning and groaning from some children who wanted to paint more - but they look cute and there wasn't too much smudged paint. :)

This morning I'll boost two children up onto the cubbies to open the first two windows - and let the countdown begin!

Welcome, December! :)

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Deck the Halls with TpT Linky Party

And thanks to Christina at Bunting, Books and Bainbridge for organizing this fun and festive linky just in time for the big Cyber Monday sale at TpT. :)

And here's the PLAYLIST!!!

(Check out the cool MP3 player and Santa in shades by Zip-a-dee-doo-dah! One of my favorite clip artist's - you can find her store HERE.)

And here are my three songs for the season. :)

1. An oldie but goodie - I'm Dreaming of a Holiday Product:

Well, since it's Christmas I thought I'd play:

This is an open-ended Math project where students have to fill two sacks for Santa's sleigh. The sacks can only be 50 kg (or 100 pounds for those who use imperial measurements) and students must try to get as many toys of as many different types as they can into the sacks without going over weight.
A fun project for practicing conversion of weight units as well as addition and multiplication (and possibly subtraction if the sacks end up being too heavy! :) )

2. This is one of MY favorite holiday songs! It's Beginning to look a lot like Reading!

I use Book Nook Nibbles in guided reading centers. Every month we study one book in depth - reading responses, visualizing, making connections and predictions, sequencing, vocabulary activities, character trait studies, story mapping and book reviews. Christmas Tapestry is our December pick. :)

(In October we did The Pumpkin Runner and in November our Nibble was Thunder Cake.)

I find the Nibbles a great way to really dig deep into a book and the packs are a good formative assessment tool for language. I can differentiate for ability too by picking and choosing which activities to put into individual packs. Plus... they're fun. :)

And my third playlist pick:

3. Walking in a Math Wonderland

Our Math is taught in blocks which repeat each term and the final block of each term is always fractions. I LOVE introducing our fraction unit with holiday fun! We make fraction snowmen and trees and we use the printables in this pack - filled with presents and snowmen and trees - as well as a Reindeer Pizza Party and a Fraction Frenzy matching game to have some holiday fun in the classroom.

So those are my picks for the season. :) Head over to Bunting, Books and Bainbridge  to visit other "musical" blogs and see what's playing over there.

And don't forget the song: I'm making a list and checking it twice! That's what I'm doing for the TpT sale!! Fun, fun, fun!!!