Thursday, 28 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

To all who are celebrating the holiday I hope you have a wonderful day.

Even though we are in school today (making turkeys and doing some fun stuff) I'm celebrating Thanksgiving in my own way by sending my Turkey's Feast donation to Pencils of Promise. 

And I am immensely thankful that the donation will fund THREE whole classrooms! A wonderful gift.

We always focus on the reasons we are thankful in school. I went round and took pictures of all the activities. :)

Year 1 thankful turkey

Year 4 Turkey Feast math project and
"direction following" turkeys.

Year 1 cranberry sauce :)

Sometimes, though, I'm so busy seeing what the children are thankful for that I forget to write down my own blessings.

So here they are:

I am first and foremost thankful for my God. He's brought me through trials in the past and is always there for me. My faith slides sometimes; I forget to pray; I question; I doubt - but somehow, always I reconnect. I'm grateful for that!

I'm so thankful for my family - for my husband, who loves me and tells me so all the time (in actions - like feeding the dogs when he hates to do it - and in words. ) for my children, who are grown up now and living their own lives but still email and Skype and let me know they love me; for my parents and my sister and my nephews and all my family at home and overseas. I know that I can always go to them and they will be there for me.

My friends are a blessing - both the old ones that I've known since I was a child and the new friends I've "met" but haven't actually met yet. One day we'll meet in person. :) Sometimes months go by without seeing each other; sometimes we don't even have time to send an email but when we finally get together for that coffee or afternoon tea or flying visit it's as if no time has passed. No judgement, no recrimination, no "where have you been?" - just acceptance. That's a true blessing.

I'm truly grateful for the school I work at and for my teacher buddies. I spend so much time there and love the fact that it's a warm and welcoming environment, that we all are there for each other - personally and professionally. I'm grateful for the teachers on the top floor especially who have helped with my tears, laughed with me, found pipecleaners and paint and tissue paper when I'm panicking, gone for coffee with me, listened to me, advised me and just been there! I love my job and am blessed to have such wonderful colleagues!

And finally, (well not really, because once you start counting blessings you could go on forever! :) ) but finally, for now, I am thankful for the very different little people who erupt into the classroom every day, full of beans, ready to learn (well, ready to have fun anyway) and who teach ME things every day. This year I've watched my class adjust to a new student and I have been amazed, humbled and inspired by the way in which they have accepted and loved this quite different child. If the world could show this same spirit of acceptance and helping and love and caring and kindness.... well, we would be living in heaven already. (There's truth in Matthew 18:3)

So happy Thanksgiving everyone. May your day be blessed.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

December: here we come

We started our traditional giant advent calendar this week since we have to get it up on the board by Friday so we can start opening windows next Monday.

It's still under construction but it's going to look amazing. I've managed to stand back and watch the painting - and didn't even say anything when one snowy hill started to turn purple (which I think was very restrained of me!) There's a big debate going on as to who gets to paint Rudolph - I may have to draw straws! - and who gets to glitter the snowflakes but I'm sure we'll get it sorted out. :)

Roll on December - we are getting ready!!

Monday, 25 November 2013

It's beginning to feel Christmassy!

Today was COLD!! By island standards anyway. :) All the fleeces were out and my kiddies came to school in wooly hats and mittens.
What was the temperature you ask?

A high of 62 degrees F or 17 degrees C.

We are thin-blooded down here. :)

So... since it was so cold and "almost frosty" I made a Christmas freebie just for fun.

A little logic puzzle to share.

I'm going to use it in a center next week - it shouldn't take my girls too long to solve (at least I HOPE not!) but it will be nice and festive and I think they'll have fun with it.


Sunday, 24 November 2013


Our school is a Round Square school (you can read about what that means here) and just recently my class repeated our class assembly on the Round Square IDEALS for the Secondary department.

They did a fantastic job - although they all said they were very nervous to perform in front of "the big kids"!

The IDEALS of Round Square stand for:







I loved my kids art work for this - they took their time and produced some amazing pictures.

On the Roman front we've moved on to making our shields and swords. Each of the three classes in Grade 3 are making slightly different shields so that when we start our mock battle we can tell which legion we belong to.

My class voted to be Legio LXXXVII or Legion 87. Why? Because a few of them are still 7 but most of them are now 8 years old. :)

Our swords are still under construction but are becoming suitably gory with pre-shed blood. :)

This week we'll finish up our Thanksgiving math project and move onto winter-themed stuff.

I can't believe it's almost December!!! This year is just FLYING by!!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Read a Rainbow

I had a brainwave this week while chatting on Facebook to a teacher friend of mine about reading - and how to get my kiddies more motivated about finishing books. As we discussed incentives for reading and chatted about AR (accelerated reader) and how we are using it in the classrooms this Read a Rainbow scheme evolved.

My kids are loving it - and are super motivated by it. Remember that I have a class of girls so multicolored ribbons are very appealing. :)

First we hung up "book ribbons". (I saw this idea ages ago somewhere and for the life of me can't remember where so I can't give anyone credit - if anyone knows please tell me!!)

I chose the colors to make sure that they would be soothing and pretty. (It's all about soothing this year in my classroom. :) )

The way it works is: when a child finishes a "just right" book she does a final reading response on it and then does an AR quiz. My kids have to do three reading responses per book - one predictive response at the beginning, one half way through and one at the end. They also have a log to fill out and a genre graph that we fill in each month. (That way I can keep track of which children need to branch out a little - read a historical fiction instead of only fantasy and so on.)

Once the child passes the quiz with our approved percentage (and so far, most are succeeding beautifully!) she gets to write the name of the book on a small colored book. (Gorgeous clipart from Creative Clips - you can find them here!) and we staple that to the ribbon above my desk. Each child has her own ribbon.

Then each child also has a Read a Rainbow bookmark and a Read a Rainbow card on the bulletin board. (The card is my back-up plan in case the bookmark gets lost!)

These have color coded punch holes that get punched when a certain number of books have been read. We thread the corresponding colored ribbons through the holes and my kiddies can keep track of how many books they have read.

Two books = a red ribbon; 4 books = an orange ribbon; 6 books = a yellow ribbon; 10 = green;15 = blue; 20 = indigo and 25 = purple.

When a child has read 25 books, she'll have 25 books on her ribbon above my desk, a rainbow of ribbons on her bookmark and card and will be able to a) put her name on the Read a Rainbow bookshelf of fame and b) get a special reading prize. :)

Seriously, these kids are READING!! I've never seen them so enthusiastic about getting their reading logs filled out, their responses written, their genre graphs colored.... it's awesome. Today six of them were rushing to the library first thing in the morning to change their books and I keep finding little people at my desk, clutching their reading binders and asking whether they can write a reading response. It's pretty cool!

To make sure everyone is getting just right books we use ZPD cards in library. Every child has her reading range (based on the STAR tests) on a pink card and she uses that to help her select books in her reading range - and, of course, reads a little bit to see if the book is interesting, reads the blurb etc. etc. I encourage my kiddies to read toward the top of their range - and even go a little beyond it if appropriate.

And our final "get everyone enthusiastic about reading" incentive is Book Trailers! These are super popular! When someone finishes their book they get to do a Book Trailer - sort of like a movie trailer. The idea is to try to make everyone in the class really, really want to read your book! It's great fun listening to my kids do this. :) And it's another way to help me see how well they've understood their book. :)

I love my little Rainbow Readers :)

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Life in the Roman Army

Our topic theme this term is Invaders and Settlers - specifically the Ancient Romans and the Celts - and we have been having a lot of fun learning about the two civilizations.

This week we've been learning about life in the Roman army, making shields and swords and building our garrison town - which is a Math project as well. It ties in very nicely with our Math unit on symmetry and making 3-D shapes from nets and we can throw in a little metric measurement as well. :)

We start by drawing nets for cubes. We'd already cut and folded some nets but this was the first time for my girls to draw their own so we used grid paper and went through it step by step. There were a couple of mistakes but overall they did a pretty good job.

Next we folded and cut a giant square for the base of the camp and glued it onto our Celtic land.

We measured and marked the midpoints of the square to make sure that our "roads" would be exactly in the center. Then we folded the roads to find their midpoints - and glued them into place. You can see some little Roman buildings being placed into the town already. :)

The walls came next. More measuring and cutting and folding - a little help was needed here but I was really pleased with how cooperatively everyone was working. :)

Once the walls were in place everyone decided how to place their buildings so that the garrison town would be perfectly symmetrical.

And then it was time to make the legionnaires! We're still working on this - and we still have to make the legion banners - but our towns are starting to look pretty awesome! :)

Stay tuned for more Roman fun in the following weeks. :)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

All New Giveaway at The Teacher Studio

My good friend Meg is celebrating her blogging anniversary over at  The Teacher Studio!! Formerly Fourth Grade Studio, Meg has a brand new look to go with her new name as well as an awesome giveaway.

An All New blog look, an All New name, an All New year coming up - and lots of All New resources for teachers to find.

My own personal all new resource is the result of a request by a co-teacher of mine. She asked for an open-ended Math project with a Christmas theme, that involved dollars and mixed cents so I made her

For today to help Meg celebrate it will be on sale :)

Open-ended Math projects are great for cooperative learning, critical thinking and lots of fun!! 
(Check out this post to see some of the projects we've done in my classroom :) )

Open-ended Projects in action

Happy blogiversary, Meg! I'm glad we've met!! :)