Friday, 31 May 2013

Building the Aztec Civilization continued...

With 4 weeks left to go in school and our big Open Day for parents rapidly approaching on June 25th my little Aztecs are moving fast!

This week we made calendars (4 kids still haven't finished)...


It took me ages to draw the templates
for this calendar 3 years ago but they turned
out really well :)

....mosaic serpents (the same 4 still haven't finished) the walls of the big Aztec house completely finished and daubed the inside with mud (i.e. painted with sponges and reddish brown paint). Roof panels are progressing slowly due to the fact that the 4 non-finishers are all on the big house team and thus never GET to their construction site. I've had to draft slaves from the mini houses to assist.

Yesterday we started our warrior helmets - I cover all the kids' heads with tinfoil (which is hysterically funny to see and they all love it!!) then we papier mache them and then decorate them to look like animals (e.g. jaguars, eagles etc.) They're very effective and a lot of kids choose to be warriors on Open Day just so they can wear their helmets. I always display the rest around the room and they look fabulous.

Here's the start of the papier mache - the finished products will look much better :)

So yes, we've done a lot but the Emperor (that would be me) is beginning to panic just slightly at the thought of what still has to be done before Open Day!! (And reports are looming on the horizon - 2 weeks till they're due and I am SUCH a procrastinator!!)

I am consoling myself with the fact that I panic every year and it always comes together in the end and looks awesome. Hopefully this year will be no different and hopefully my 4 slowpokes will get moving next week so their parents will have something to LOOK at when they visit!!!

Have a happy weekend all :)

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Feed My Lambs

Our school has recently decided to partner with Feed my Lambs ministry - an amazing organization (founded by a Bermudian) which is doing awesome work in Haiti. Although we haven't decided exactly what we are going to do to help Feed My Lambs is such a fabulous charity that I wanted to share it here.

My own class already corresponds with a tiny school in Bois d'Avril, Haiti but we now have an opportunity to be more involved with a larger school and orphanage located about an hour from Port au Prince.

School now in session :) (photo from website)

The founder of this ministry, who spends most of his time in Haiti now, has been visiting schools and other organizations in our island, sharing what has been done so far and what he hopes to do in the future. Bermuda, as a whole, has donated generously to this project and some true miracles have been seen as things have come together in amazing ways to get help to the Haitian people when it was most needed.

 I am so proud of my country and my church for taking on this ministry with open hearts.

In the 5 years since the conception of the idea to now, Feed My Lambs has become a registered charity both here in Bermuda and in Haiti and has built a clinic, an orphanage and now, a school, educating more than 400 students.

I am hoping to go on a mission trip next year to work at the orphanage and school - assisting with whatever projects are ongoing at that time. It will only be a short trip but I really hope it will be possible because I know it will be a life changing experience.

Please visit the website at the links in the text and see what Philip and his team are doing to bring hope to many Haitian children.

Philip Rego and some of his children

The clinic being set up - this picture was taken soon
after the devastating earthquake. Feed My Lambs, with
Bermuda's help, was able to send a cargo plane of
medical supplies so doctors were able to get straight
to work.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Just Stuff...

I had rather a discombobulated week and haven't felt like blogging at all... but today I read a post on Krissy Venosdale's Venspired ( a blog I just LOVE!) called Share Your Story - and it made me think about why I started blogging in the first place.

I really started just to share things we did in the classroom - almost like an online photo album for myself - and when I re-read my earlier posts I can see that I was being very careful in what I wrote. I guess I was a little uncomfortable about putting myself out into cyberspace because those earlier posts strike me now as being very impersonal.

Just over six months later, I'm a lot more comfortable in my blogging skin - and realize that it's ok to just be me. Much as I would love to be a deep thinker, or an inspiring writer... I'm really not and... that's fine. There's room for lots of different types in this world :)

I like talking about my class and sharing our photos and fun times and I like the fact that I've met lots of inspiring and motivating teachers/people. I've made one really good friend on this venture so far and hope to get to know others in the same way :)

So, yes, I like my little blog - and I'm happy with it :) And I think I've just given myself permission to write about whatever I feel like - even if it's nothing to do with the classroom at all :)

But... having said that :) I'm sharing some photos of stage 2 of Aztec construction because it's going quite well!

My poor hubby was drafted to put the roof frame on our Aztec house - I knew his carpentry skills are rather makeshift but they're 100% better than mine so together we got a more-or-less straight roof up. Actually it totally slopes downwards but when all the palm branches are on no-one will notice - at least that's what I've told the kiddies :)

We ran out of wall paper so had to paint more on Friday but the walls are looking good. The kids used up ALL the palm branches I laboriously collected from the bushes around my house on ONE roof panel. I'd thought we would have enough for half the roof but no - my mistake was in giving them control of the glue guns!! The roof looks a bit like a palm tree tutu! :)

The builders in action
Staring to look more house-like

Meanwhile the miniaturists were making tiny clay pots and Aztec people. I know it's a really blurry photo of the Aztec warrior (and it has the largest eyes I've ever seen! Blue ones too!) but I think it's pretty cute even so. Naturally it has dripping-with-gore weapons :)

We have enough pots for an army!!
I think this is cute!
 Next week we'll (hopefully) finish the big house, make the fire and start weaving and the little house people will be making furniture and chinampas. Plus we'll be starting our Aztec helmets - I just love the way the kids look with tinfoil molded to their heads :) Like a bunch of little aliens!!

Hope everyone enjoys their week - those of you who are still in school and those of you lucky enough to be on holiday already :)

Monday, 20 May 2013

Today I am...

tired :(

Yes, I am!!

My kiddies appear to have shut down and we still have 5 weeks (more or less) of school left!!! We still have to do internal exams, get reports done, finish our genre study, finish our Aztec project - there is TONS still to do and they have all gone into "end of year" mode.

Plus, I'm dealing with friendship issues constantly - tears and notes and delegations to my desk.
Do they EVER tell the teacher on duty when these things arise at lunchtime play? No.
They wait to tell me. After lunch. Just when we're about to start a lesson.

Like I said, I'm feeling very tired. It's a pizza and book night - with pjs and slippers and a cuddly Boxer dog curled up beside me.

 I'll worry about all this tomorrow.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Testing is FINISHED! :) Construction begins!!

Yay! We have finished - and survived - the national curriculum testing. Three days of intensive misery (for the kids) and intensive worrying (for me) but now it's OVER and we can relax - well, sort of. We still have to do internal testing, lots of work and write reports and we still have about 6 weeks of school left but...

... the BIG exams are finished!!

To celebrate we started construction on the Aztec civilization today :) Stage 1 of turning our classroom into an awesome display for the parents to come and see at the end of term.

This year I gave my kiddies their choice:

They could build one large Aztec house - life-size - as a group project or build small individual model houses.

After heated debate I realized there was going to be no general consensus and agreed that 10 children could build individual models and 6 could work on a group project. (I am kind of regretting this after this afternoon when I felt like I was going in 10 different directions at once trying to organize life-size and miniature activities at the same time!!)

Have a look at our construction site - large and small :)

Walls for large house
...and for the small houses

Weaving mats...large
... and small

large house - frame only
small house :)

Check back for more photos as we keep building :)

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mothers Day

From a visit to Duthie Park with
my mom :) We watched the bumbles
for ages, sitting on a bench in the sun.
I'm posting late today - at the end of Mothers Day but I'm still wishing all the moms out there a blessed day. I know that Mothers Day is difficult for some and ignored by others - for many reasons - and for those moms/children I hope the day passed painlessly.

Yesterday I was one of 3 speakers at our church for our Mothers Day service and I started with a personal story about my mom. Even though I'd practiced in advance - and thought I would be ok sharing - I still broke down when I read it out loud. My church family rallied around, with one of my fellow speakers coming to stand by my side for the entire 10 minutes I spoke and the rest of them calling out their support. It made me sniffle more... but I know I am blessed in my church family...

My mom lives in Scotland now so we're reduced to Skyping, emails and summer visits. We had our rough times and battles when I was growing up; we still have the occasional problems - she's a very strong woman! - but when I most needed her in my life she was by my side in a heartbeat and got me through the worst moments of my life.

I want so badly for my children to say that of me: that I accept them for who they are; that I love them no matter what; that they can always call on me for anything and know that I'll be there.

They're 22 and 24 now. One is married; one is at college. They're both living their own lives and I don't know what the future will bring. It's likely that we'll all end up living on different sides of the Atlantic and I'll only see them once a year - like my mom and me. How can I be there for them if I'm nowhere near them?

I don't know what I'll be doing next year at this time - I may be preparing to relocate to live near my mom and away from my children...

I don't know where my children will be... my son has plans to leave for England this year; my daughter is applying for college transfers.

All I know is that this year, this day I realize, as a daughter, how much my mother means to me, how much I love and appreciate her - and, as a mother, how much I love and appreciate my children.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Testing, testing, testing...

Sigh... why do we have to have tests?!

I wasn't overly fond of the things when I was a student and now, as a teacher, I just find them exhausting!!

Next week we do our national curriculum tests so we have been reviewing and reviewing and reviewing. I KNOW my kiddies know this stuff; they're able to produce fantastic, amazing, creative, Math projects; they can solve 2 and (sometimes) 3-step problems and explain their thinking to me; they can line up gleefully in front of the board arguing about who "gets to go first" to solve the really tricky metric conversions I've plastered all over the board; they ASK for computer Math homework... why, today, did they have a collective brain freeze 3 days before the test and couldn't tell me what 7 + 3 + 5 was?

Well, I know why. Because it was a mental math assessment that's why!!

Only 5 seconds to answer the "easy" questions like "what is 1/3 of 24"

and 10 seconds to answer harder questions like "An eraser costs $0.25 and a pencil costs $1.10. How much do 2 pencils and an eraser cost?"

I think that's quite tricky for 8-year olds to work out in their heads in 10 seconds. Really, it's no wonder their little brains are blinking.

We're going to do one more practice tomorrow under "test" conditions and then I'm just going to hope for the best next week. Every year I stress and every year my class astonishes me with their results so hopefully this year will be no different.

But boy, will I be glad when these tests are over!!

Does anyone else do mental math assessments? What are they like? How do you prepare for them?

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Sale and Giveaway...

Lots of goodies available this week! :)

TpT is having a site-wide Teacher Appreciation Sale on the 7th and 8th of May. :) The cute graphic below is from Ink n Little Things (who said that no credit was required but really, I think credit should ALWAYS be given!!) You can find this cute little store HERE.

My own Fun in the Fours store will be on sale for 28% :)

I've just added a new Problems set (Problems Once Upon a Time) and have bundled 4 Problems together into a savings pack. (All Problems include an open-ended project as well.)

Don't forget to use the code to get the extra discount when you clear out your wish lists. I can't wait to go through mine - it's chock-a-block with things I'm dying to own! :)

Tons of clipart from Glitter Meets Glue and Susanna at Whimsy Workshop not to mention Christine O'Brien and I have a whole pile of other things as well :) The hard thing will be deciding what just can't be purchased this time - decisions, decisions!!

What have you got on your wish list?

And another fun opportunity:

 Ms BBZ's Giveaway has only 3 days left to run so if you haven't yet popped over to enter, make sure you do :)

The giveaway is divided into grade divisions so you're sure to find something you like.

You can find Ms. BBZ


Have a happy Sunday, all :)

Friday, 3 May 2013

Getting to Know the Aztecs

This term we are doing the Meso-American civilizations for our Topic work.

There are 3 classes in our year group so one of us does the Incas, one does the Mayans and I get to do the Aztecs :)

We turn our classrooms into one enormous project with displays and dioramas and fabulous art and then we have Meso-America Day during the last week of school. We all dress up (I am the Aztec Emperor and have a few hand-picked slaves who follow me around all day with nibbles :) ) and invite the parents to see the project books and art work. We serve hot chocolate and tortillas and "guinea pig" stew. Each class visits the other 2 classes to compare civilizations - it is an AWESOME project.

I'll blog about it sometime in June - and I'll even post photos of myself with my incredible yet-to-be-created-by-my-slaves feathered headdress and gold jewelry :)

In the meantime however I want to boast about my kiddies' amazing work so far!

This term their project is completely independent. I made a webquest 2 years ago (for all 3 civilizations individually - it was a killer!) and the kids research by navigating through the links. Each Friday we have a 90 minute block that they use to gather facts for one or two parts of the project (depending on length and detail) and then they have the rest of the week to create the matching pages in their Topic books. I give them set time and they can also work on them during free choice time as well.

They have rubrics so they know exactly what an average, good and excellent project looks like - and they also understand that they have to manage their time. (Of course, they don't all do this - I have a couple who haven't completed pages 1 and 2 this week so they are now WAY behind and will have to do some serious catching up if they want to get their marks up!!)

However, most of them are doing an INCREDIBLE job and I wanted to share the first couple of pages of some of their projects - bearing in mind that they are all only 8 years old. :)

The first two pages

Careful gluing

Love this interactive
Look at these
'Did You Know?'

This year's projects are really being enhanced by the GORGEOUS clip art I found by Christine O'Brien. I can't tell you how thrilled I was to find it! I've already started an Aztec Math Problem set using it and the kids are just loving having access to some pictures. They'll draw their own art of course but it's nice to have some really good quality pictures for them to cut out as well.

Just in case anyone is studying the Aztecs check out these beautiful products that Christine made!!

Have a great weekend everyone :)

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Once Upon a Time in Math

We had SO much fun today!!

After working hard all morning on our Aztec projects (which I have to say are looking AMAZING!) we did a new open-ended Math project after recess - a Fairytale Feast.

The kids had to create a menu for a feast for 12 different fairytale characters, making sure that each guest got food that he or she would really like.

The food choices were all tied to the stories and I loved hearing the girls talking about what Jack would really like and was it fair to give Snow White apple tarts when she'd been poisoned by an apple!!

They had only $50 to spend so some careful budgeting was required. Each guest received an individual check and an overall cost for the feast was produced as well as an attractive menu that showcased all the food items that were consumed at the feast.

But the BEST part was that we sampled the feast ourselves!! I brought in honey graham crackers, honeycomb cake, apple tarts, strawberry tarts, oatmeal cookies, sugar cookies, sausage rolls, ham sandwiches, golden egg salad sandwiches, baked beans, porridge, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, scones, tea and lemonade. (I couldn't find any pumpkin pie and didn't have time to make it so we didn't get to sample that treat :( )

If I tell you the guests were: Jack (of the Beanstalk), Cinderella, Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Merlin, a Unicorn, Red Riding Hood and Grumpy Dwarf can you guess which foods they ate? :)

Everything was in miniature sizes (and I mean, tiny!)  - it was a fairytale feast after all :) I even took in my Japanese and antique tea cups and made them all tiny cups of tea to sip while they worked. :) My girls were in ecstasy!

Here's our feast before we gobbled it all up.

Tea and porridge :)

Discussing what to serve.
The BEST way to do Math - with nibbles :)

A tea break :)
Budgeting the fairytale way

A finished poster with guest checks and menu
 I've just finished making a whole word problem set with a fairytale theme and will add this project to it. Should be uploaded by the weekend :)