Friday, 29 March 2013

Blue Skies, a Beach and a Kite

 Here's something to warm up all of you in colder climates :) We spent our afternoon on the beach trying to get the kites up (and failing dismally - they kept nose-diving into the ocean). Beautiful weather although you can see by the sweaters that we still consider it to be a little chilly. :)

There's supposed to be a kite somewhere in
this photo but I can't see it. Perhaps it had
already gone down by the time I clicked.
This kite went down as well!

These two just gave up trying to fly
their kite and posed instead :)

This was the first day of my holiday - I'm already feeling better. :)

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Holiday Time :)

School ended today at noon! Two weeks of glorious holiday time - I am so excited!!

To start the holiday I am going to sleep in tomorrow and then go to my dad's house to celebrate our Good Friday (it's a public holiday here) with hot cross buns and fish cakes and hopefully a log fire (cause it is supposed to drop to a freezing 59 degrees here tomorrow!!) Don't know about the traditional kite flying because it is really windy - and while a little wind is good too much may mean the kites snapping and flying out to sea.

This is a traditional kite - not mine
although I have made them in the past :)

For a three and a half day week this feels like it's been a very long one. I haven't been feeling very well (nice spring cold!); the kiddies have been super excited by their concert (3 days of performances) and the upcoming holiday; co-workers are tired and we've all been a little over-sensitive in the staff room. It'll be nice to have a break and go back refreshed and ready for work again. :)

In between concerts I squeezed in some review with equivalent fractions - we played with fraction strips and fraction circles and plastic eggs.

Yesterday I gave the kids a Problem of the Day egg hunt - I hid their POTD in a plastic egg in the classroom (it was pretty amazing to see how keen they were to find it!) then they had to solve the problem and come to me for the next clue. Two eggs for each child were hidden in the library - but they had to use their library research skills to first find the eggs and then answer the question on the clue (most of them were to locate an author or a title in the library :) ) They weren't allowed to ask the librarian for any help and they weren't allowed to help each other. Most of them found their treats and came back quickly but a couple of children really don't know the library that well!!

To finish up the week we had our Rainforest ice cream sundaes for the entire year group today - delicious (I had 2 cups!) - and then we shaving creamed our desks so they are super clean and smooth and have fresh new name tags on them for the start of the new term. :) This term we managed to keep the bathroom clean and only one child got shaving cream on her clothes and they were (relatively) quiet. By next term they'll be pros! :)

Then we handed out reports and headed for the ramp. :)

So now I have 2 weeks of time to plan and get organized. I am going into an empty school next week with the firm intention of emptying the shelves behind my desk, organizing all my resources and redoing the Math shelf so that it is tidy and efficient - and I have to find places for all my sparkly counting gems. But first I'm going to enjoy Easter and have a couple of days to just vegetate.

Happy Easter to all of you.

Monday, 25 March 2013

The Noun Game

I love these Let's Get Acquainted Linkys that Flying into First Grade is hosting. :)

This week you simply list your favorite person, place, thing and animal.


No contest here - it's definitely my husband :) We're best friends and he's stuck by me through thick and thin during 25 years of marriage. He even tolerates my dogs inside the house - now that's true love :) And of course I can't forget my children - my son is 24 now and my daughter is 22. They're good kids!!

My son and daughter-in-law
My daughter and her boyfriend


Again, no contest. Scotland is the place I love more than anywhere else. My mom lives in Aberdeen and I visit every summer. I love hiking in the mountains, staying in remote glens in cute little cottages, hanging out in Aberdeen and walking the railway trail with my mom, visiting castles and garden centers and having tea and scones and shortbread and... the ultimate Scottish treat... tablet!! (Kind of like vanilla fudge - highly addictive and LOADED with sugar!) The plan is to move to Scotland permanently in 2014 but since we've already moved the date once I'm not getting my hopes up until it looks more certain. One day though, that's for sure!

This is the view from the house
I'm intending to live in one day!
My mom enjoying the snow :)


Well, this is really things, plural. I love my books! Specifically I love my collection of old school stories like the Chalet School series, the Drina series - and the 1920s and 1930s mysteries written by authors like Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, Patricia Wentworth and Dorothy Sayers to name a few. I treat myself to a couple of out of print books every year for my birthday and since they are usually British authors (and not available in the US) I ship them to my mom and then have a great time in the summer opening my boxes and indulging in nostalgic read-athons.


I love my dogs - Bear the boxer and Panda the border collie/cattle dog cross. Panda is a bit hyper but is just beginning to settle down now that she is almost 2 years old. Bear is 5 now and is very sedate - she is the cutest dog I have ever had and I've had a lot of dogs in my life :)

Bear when she was a baby :)
Bear just loved Panda when we first
got her :)

So there you go - my set of nouns :) You know, I was thinking this would make a very good grammar review class blog post for my kiddies. I think I'm going to borrow the idea for next term :) 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Fabulous Fractions from Fourth Grade Studio

If you haven't stopped by Fourth Grade Studio lately you should know that Meg has finally released her fabulous fraction unit - based on her 16 blog posts about fractions. I have a copy and it is truly AWESOME. I've used parts of it already but am planning to do the whole unit next term as a fraction review with my grade 3s. It is absolutely worth the price - I promise you won't regret it if you want your students to think critically!!!

You can find it here.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Truth revealed

I participated in a linky by Flying into First Grade a couple of days ago entitled 2 Truths and a Lie.

These are the "facts" I posted about myself:

1. I was ranked number 2 in national women's squash in my country

2. My husband started working for my father when he was 17 years old. I met my husband at 17 when I was working for my father at the same job.

3. There has never been a time in my life when I have not had a dog.

I'm obviously not a very good fibber because quite a few people guessed which statement was not the truth!

1. TRUTH: I actually was ranked #2 in women's squash for a couple of years. This is not as amazing as it sounds because I live on a very small island and the pool of women isn't really that big. However, I did get to represent my country at tournaments which was awesome :)

2. TRUTH: My husband left school when he was 16 and began to work for my father at age 17. I was only 10 at the time so I don't really remember him at that age but when I was 17 I had a summer job working for my dad and he assigned my husband to be in charge of me. We started dating 2 years later :) and got married 3 years after that.

3. FIB: I have had a dog all my life except for 3 months in 2008. Both my dogs died that year within a month of each other and by November I was dog-less. After about 3 weeks I couldn't stand it anymore and went puppy hunting. A litter of boxers was born in December and we were lucky enough to get one of the puppies. Bear came home in February 2009.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

I just love my class blog...

And I REALLY love the questions the kids ask, the posts they create and the comments they make! :)

Here's a sample. This was last weekend's post - I decided to make it a Math problem and it was optional homework.

A little blurry - sorry. It's obviously a lot clearer on the blog itself. Here was the star answer.

And this was the comment of the day about this post - when I gave them all the answer and awarded house marks to all those who tried :)

I'm actually not exactly sure what this means but I'm assuming it means that the next problem I pose on the blog should have their names in it. I think I'll create an Easter Math mystery for them - they can read it in installments over the break and solve each section. I'll even offer an incentive reward for those that complete the whole thing. Now all I have to do is sit down and create something :)

This was today's post - they have to complete their own response post by Sunday.

Is this not the CUTEST photo? I want one of these little guys
so badly!!

One little girl had free time today so she checked out the blog in advance and squealed when she saw the photo. The entire class rose to their feet and I had to use my outdoor voice to control the stampede and keep them all in their seats. Obviously one student went online as soon as she got home and posted this comment tonight.

I really wanted to say I took the photo in my garden :) but I resisted the urge and just said I couldn't give away all my secrets. :) I just LOVE modern technology - it keeps the magic alive. If I had seen a photo like this when I was 8 years old I would have spent HOURS searching for little dragons. :)

I feel a dragon project coming on! Dragons lay eggs - I'm sure I can come up with some sort of Easter dragon activity before term ends - and it would make a FABULOUS art activity. Lots of glitter :)

What's everyone doing for Easter fun? We celebrate Good Friday here with a public holiday, kite flying, hot cross buns and fish cakes. School ends next Thursday at noon for 2 weeks so I need to get any spring/Easter activities done before then. Has anyone got amazing ideas? Share them :)

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

123 Teach With Me Giveaway

Tammy at 123 Teach With Me  is having a 600 follower giveaway - she's on round 3 now (grades 3 - 5) and will be choosing the winner on Saturday so hurry over and enter before then :)

Fraction Bracelets

We've just reached the end of our second set of Math block rotations and have come back to fractions.

After a quick review of fractions of a shape and mixed fractions we moved on to fractions of a number this week. We've been playing with cubes for the last few days but today we broke out the jewels!

These are my new math manipulatives - guaranteed to gladden the heart of any little girl (and I have 16 of them).

We practiced making different fractions of numbers (2/3 of 12; 3/4 of 20 etc ) and I was pleased to see that most of the class seem to have grasped the concept (in fact a few bright sparks have seen the multiplication/division connection and don't even need the jewels anymore. They were making up their own problems by the end of the lesson!!) There are a few students who'll need more practice but we still have time this term and we'll come back to it all again next term.

Then we moved on to the Math project of the day - making a Fraction Bracelet.

Last night I spent a considerable amount of time poking through my boxes of beads and making up 48 bags of bead combinations - enough for every child in the year group.

Each student got a bag with 30 beads, a long string of beading elastic and a sheet of directions.

First they separated their beads by colour and counted each colour - this was so I could make sure I'd counted right!!

In order to thread their beads they had to work out different fractions of a number and thread the answers :) The number of beads limited the number of fractions we could use but actually it was better to have simple ones for this activity. 

2/4 of 8 (pink beads)
1/3 of 6 (blue beads)
1/2 of 8 (clear beads)
A completed bracelet :)

My girls LOVED this project. We dressed it up by putting the bracelets into jewelry boxes that some kind person donated to the school a couple of weeks ago - and then decorated the boxes that the jewelry boxes came in!

Sparkly beads, bracelets and glitter - and all part of a Math project! The only problem my kiddies couldn't solve today was who they were going to give their project to! :)

Monday, 18 March 2013

2 Truths and a Lie Linky

Flying into First Grade is doing Let's Get Acquainted linky parties - I missed the first one but thought I'd join in. It's fun getting to know other bloggers like this :)

Here's how it works - think of 3 things about your life. Make two of them truths and one of them a lie. List them in any order on your post but don't give the answer. People should guess in the comments section. :)

There are some really neat facts out there! I haven't been able to figure any out so all my guesses have been complete shots in the dark. Fun though!

Here are my three:

1. I was ranked number 2 in national women's squash in my country

2. My husband started working for my father when he was 17 years old. I met my husband at 17 when I was working for my father at the same job.

3. There has never been a time in my life when I have not had a dog.

Which one is the lie? I think I'll go for Friday as the "reveal all" date :) Feel free to leave your guesses in the comments section - and go and read some of the other posts. They're really fun! :)

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Even though my family's Scottish my step-mother is from Dublin so we all get to celebrate St. Paddy Day with her :) We'll be heading over to her house for pancakes and (hopefully) Irish soda bread very shortly - I'm making shamrock cookies as well :)

I expect also that the leprechauns will be visiting our classroom even as I write, leaving green glittery footprints and their annual treat of chocolate gold. I believe that this year they may be stealing some lessons and turning them into treasure hunts - we will find out tomorrow what mischief the little guys have been up to. :)

On Friday we got ready for the leprechauns by planning a party for them. I have to say that my girls are really good at open-ended projects now!! I just handed out all the directions and supplies and they were off and running. I sat and outlined giant painted fish for the spring concert and listened to them work.

"Oooh, another one of these. I love these projects!"
"Are we really going to do this party?"
"We've only got $140 to spend so let's think about what we really need."
"We have to invite 15 leprechauns so we need to get a hat for each one. Let's get the cheapest hats cause then we can get the band as well."
"Do we have to buy a stage or does that come with the hall?" (it was free)

For nearly 2 hours they worked out prices,

 multiplied and added, chose decorations, drew leprechauns...

party design in progress - apparently
they have to add a lot more!

It was a great project! :)

Sending the luck of the Irish your way - enjoy the day. (I'm going to try and write some reports now!)

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Visiting the Rainforest

This week we had our Sample the Products of the Rainforest Expo :)

An all-spice branch. The trees grow like weeds here.
The entire year group crowded into my class to wander around investigating and sampling all the different rainforest products that we, the teachers, could come up with.

We had bamboo and allspice branches, orchids and chocolate, chewing gum (that was a great hit because the kids are never allowed to have gum in school :) ) lots of spices, coffee beans, pau d'arco tea for them to taste and gold and diamonds! (There was a moment of panic when my engagement ring disappeared but luckily it re-surfaced under someone's worksheet!)

After looking at, smelling and tasting (where appropriate) the samples and reading the information cards by each product, the girls chose 4 different items to write about and illustrate. It was a very successful morning - much more fun than looking at pictures - and considering we had 48 children in one small room the whole project ran very smoothly and quietly.

Chewing gum and tangerine slices

Tasting the pau d'arco tea. It's quite bitter
but some children actually liked it.

Writing about nutmeg and orchids

Probably the most popular sampling station of all!

We borrowed this beautiful orchid from our principal.

Not only fun and educational but my classroom smelled divine for the rest of the day. There's something about cinnamon, coffee, allspice and cardamom - I love it!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Report Procrastination Day 2

I'm getting a little worried - I just cannot get motivated to write these reports!!

I stare at them, I write a name, I fill in the "consistently" "usually" "beginning" chart and then I stall...

Today was a day of tears and headaches, of fevers and frustration, of a "is something worrying you that you want to talk about" conference on the steps outside the assembly hall with a child and quite a few "HELP ME" conferences with my co-teachers in the corridor!

(The children indulged in the first three, we shared the frustration and the conferences were mine alone - the countless emails to parents and the running around the ENTIRE building 3 times looking for a parent who just wouldn't stay in one place to collect her child were also mine :) )

It was a day for serious chocolate bingeing but sadly, since I'm trying to be a healthy vegan, there is not one single bit of this delicious, delectable, delightful rainforest treat in the house!

So, to the melodious background plucking of my husband's new guitar (he has thankfully abandoned his attempts to play the saxophone and has moved on to the guitar which is SO much more pleasant!!) I went pinteresting instead and found quotes to inspire me. Here are two that I found tonight - one for me and one for my class :)

This one is for me.

And this one is for my kiddies. This could be a good art project someday.

And this is what I need for one particular child - the one who makes me take lots of deep breaths and try to remember quote # 1 before I do anything else!!

Tomorrow I will write 2 reports while they are all at PE and I will write 2 more at night. I will then have completed one quarter of them (we're starting fractions of a number tomorrow so I am practicing terminology :) ) I. will. write. 4. reports. tomorrow. without. fail!!