Chasing Cheerios

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Playing in the Rain

We planned to spend Tuesday morning on the beach since O(4) and I have Spring Break this week, but it rained all day. After hanging out in the house for a while, O asked if she and E could put on their boots and play in the rain. I've let them jump in puddles several times, but I've never let them actually go outside while it's raining to play. However, it was not thundering or lightening, so out we went!

The girls had a fantastic time running around, dancing, and singing in the rain..."If all the raindrops were butterscotch and gumdrops, Oh what a rain that would be..." They spent some time standing in a puddle and exploring all around the puddle. Then we went to our front yard and played on the swingset and slide for a while. It was so much fun, and I'm sure they'll be begging to go out and play next time it rains (we are VERY strict about going inside the minute we hear thunder, and I emphasized to the girls that we were only outside in the rain because there was no thunder or lightening).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dyed Paper Towel Art

We had a lot of fun dyeing eggs last Friday...

but we had even more fun folding and dyeing paper towels!

The girls had SO much fun (and I did too!), and we were proud of our finished paper towels! After the paper towels dried, the girls folded them and handed them out for people to use as napkins on Easter Sunday. They were very proud and excited about this!!!

Decoupaged Easter Eggs

My mom decoupaged these Easter eggs using Leggs pantyhose eggs, fabric, ric rac, and mod podge more than 35 years ago, and I love them! We've talked about making updated versions for the past few years, but it still hasn't happened...maybe next year.

This is my favorite one.

My mom bought each of the girls a set of huge, plastic Easter eggs from Hobby Lobby last year, and we're hoping to eventually decoupage them using either paper or fabric.

We used the HUGE eggs to change our Easter morning tradition a little bit this year...we usually have a treasure hunt that eventually leads to an Easter basket full of goodies. This year I hid a bunch of small eggs around the room, and 2 large eggs (for each girl) on the futon. The Easter bunny filled the largest egg with goodies for the whole family (chocolate and card games). I'm really, really, really trying to cut back on all of the "stuff" that I give the girls, but it's SO hard because I love toys and children's books even more than they do. This year both girls got swim shirts and shorts (I prefer for them to wear swim shirts and shorts rather than traditional style bathing suits unless they are swimming in an indoor pool...I like them to be covered as much as possible!). O(4) was estatic to open her egg to find a Kit Mini Doll (American Girl),and E(1) was very happy to find a "peebo" classic wooden hippo in her egg. They also got several Schleich animals that I bought at deep discounts from Target. I love the schelich animals since they can play with them on the beach and in the bathtub. Fun times!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Model Magic Birds' Nests

O(4) and E(1) had a bag of Model Magic in their April Fun Box, and we used it to make birds' nests a few weeks ago. The girls loved squishing and shaping the model magic.

We collected twigs before we opened our model magic, and we planned to put the twigs into the nests. However, O didn't like how that looked, so she buried a few twigs within her the walls of her nest.

We left the nests on the porch to dry overnight, and it poured down rain. They got wet, but were ok. We had leftover Model Magic, so we rolled it out and made handprints. Model Magic handprints are SO much better than plaster of paris handprints!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Notes to a New Teacher

My cousin, Anne, recently wrote and posted "Notes to a New Teacher" on facebook, and I found it very inspiring. Anne teaches 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts and Reading. "Notes to a New Teacher" is a portion of a letter Anne wrote to give to her intern on her last day of student teaching, and she gave me permission to post it on this blog. I hope you will read "Notes to a New Teacher" and will find it as inspiring as I did!

The following is a portion of a letter that I will be giving to my intern tomorrow on her last day of student teaching. She has been phenomenal!

As you know, there is much more to teaching than just writing a good lesson plan and reporting grades to the parents. These are those things that I want to make sure you don’t leave your student teaching without having heard at least once.

1.Tell kids you love them as much as you can. You might be the only one saying it.
2.Teach what you care about. If it doesn’t move you, it’s probably not going to move the students.
3.Parents are sending you their very best so treat their child that way.
4.As teachers we are planters, not harvesters. Just because you don't get to reap the fruit of your efforts doesn't mean that your effort was wasted!
5.You teach children before you teach standards.
6.Different does not mean wrong. This applies to your teaching, your kids’ products, your colleagues’ opinions . . . you get the picture.
7.Don’t get angry with kids who don’t have supplies. Their parents might have had to choose between food or pencils.
8.Always have a back-up plan.
9.Technology fails . . . frequently. Be prepared for that failure, and the technology will work beautifully.
10.Your kids are amazing teachers. Take time to learn from them. They know lots of amazing stuff that they want/need to share.
11.Don't ever let a 12-year old make you cry or intimidate you.
12.Say yes when you can.
13.Giving a middle school student a 0 for a homework grade means nothing compared to losing recess time to complete that homework.
14.Having a good lunch will make your afternoon go better.
15.Arguing with a kid will make you look foolish and usually end badly.
16.Even though a middle school kid’s body is large, there is still a child inside.
17.Your textbook is not the curriculum.
18.It’s okay to have days when you let students answer the questions at the end of the chapter.
19. Master the art of reading aloud and kids will LOVE you.
20. Even if you’re not a “game person,” learn at least one good game that kids will love.
21.Eating in class is not a crime.
22.Keep food in a drawer for that kid who needs something to eat. There will be many of them.
23.Sometimes kneeling next to a child’s desk and having a few quiet words with a child will be your most effective moments of the day.
24.Get to know your colleagues – those down the hall as well as those online. These people are powerful and knowledgeable and will likely become family to you.
25.Lock the door of your classroom if you arrive really early or stay late. It’s just common sense.
26.Always place your teacher desk in a corner where you cannot be seen from the door - so you can have a few quiet moments if needed.
27.Having a good attitude is contagious and will spread to those around you.
28.Never meet with an angry parent without an administrator or counselor with you.
29.Always be nice - especially to the cafeteria ladies, your custodian, the computer repair people, the librarians and to that kid in the hall who’s having a terrible day.
30. Read lots of children’s and young adult lit so you can put good books in the hands of kids quickly.
31.Some things are meant to be said over the phone or face-to-face but never written down in an email.
32.Read emails repeatedly before sending them to parents. The tone you intend might not be conveyed.
33.Kids who are quiet and polite in first period are likely to be loud and obnoxious after lunch.
34.You can get fired easily over handling money and children. Keep your hands away from both as much as possible.
35.Some kids need a hug, so master the art of the one-arm hug – especially with middle school boys.
36.A bug or mouse in your classroom can make a middle school boy cry and ruin your entire teaching for the day.
37.A little humor goes a long way.
38.Don’t let kids get away without saying the pledge in the morning. There are soldiers risking their lives to preserve the right for these kids to say the pledge.
39.Kids need to hear it AND see it AND do it if you really want them to learn it.
40.Let kids move as much as possible.
41.Advance your degree as quickly as possible to get yourself in the highest pay scale quickly.
42.Get your National Board Certification as soon as possible – even if the state is not offering a stipend. It’s worth it. Believe me, I would do it all over again even without the stipend.
43. Open a 401K soon and aggressively save for retirement. You can get a loan for a house, but you can’t get a loan for retirement.
44.Take advantage of your summers. Try not to work and use them as a time to renew yourself.
45.Don’t complain about your job. The community doesn’t want to hear it, and it gives teachers a bad rap. Besides, it’s the greatest job in the world.
46.Make yourself valuable to your principal – especially in difficult economic times.
47.Solve problems that you see happening in your school rather than whining about them.
48.Whether you like it or not, you will be seen as a role model. If you don’t want to live like one, choose another career.
49. Make wise decisions in your private life so that your professional life will run smoothly.
50.As much as you might dread calling a parent, afterwards you always feel better and wonder why you didn't do it sooner.
51.Take pride in your school. If you see a piece of trash in the hall, pick it up.
52.Get to school early to get your thoughts straight before the students come in.
53.If you grade everything your kids write, then they are not writing enough.
54.If you need to confront a boy about an issue, speak side-by-side with him rather than face-to-face.
55.If you need a boy to do something quickly, make it a race and you will be shocked at how quickly it will get done.
56.Kids crave structure and they want to know what to expect from you. Be stricter and more structured than you need to be and it will pay off in the end
57.Whenever you’re weighing an important decision, the answer should ALWAYS be whatever is in the best interest of the child.
58.During the moment of silence, ask God for his Grace, and He will walk you through your day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wet Felted Easter Eggs

The girls, my mom, and I wet felted Easter eggs about a month ago. I still haven't taken a picture of the finished eggs, which is why I haven't posted about this yet. I just realized that I needed to write this post before Easter, so I apologize that I don't have pics of the finished products!

To wet felt Easter eggs you need the following items: plastic, wooden, or styrofoam eggs, wool roving (I bought our wool roving from Hobby Lobby), warm water, and liquid dish soap.

First, we wrapped our eggs in wool roving. Then we dipped our eggs in a bowl of warm, soapy water. We squished the eggs and shaped them with our hands while they were in the water.

After the eggs were well covered with the wool and it seemed somewhat felted, we rolled the eggs on a cooling rack. After they were well felted, we left them to dry. This was a fun and simple activity!

Both girls LOVED this activity!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fun with a Flower Press

I gave the girls a flower press in their April Fun Box, and they were so excited.

Both girls love to pick flowers, and they enjoy arranging them on the paper before smashing them in the flower press.

I thought about making a flower press, but I saw this for only 3 dollars and decided it would be much easier to just buy it :) It's simple and well made, and it will be a great addition to our nature bag.

Monday, April 18, 2011

E's Montessori-ish Bedroom

Several readers have asked (many) times for me to post pics of E(1)'s bedroom. I've always planned to do this, but just never got around to it. Now that we are about to move E into O's room, I decided it was now or never!

This is the view from the door. The shelf under the window is from IKEA. I used to have one basket in each space. The baskets each held a set of toys...knitted fruit, blocks, and beanbags. Once she grew out of these, I replaced them with books. The wall shelves are rain gutters that we installed a couple of years ago. They are great for storing books!

My favorite part of the room is the bird mobile (hanging over the rocking chair). My mom and I made it when I was pregnant with E. E LOVES birds, and I think that seeing birds fly around her room has inspired this love!

This is the closet door. There used to be a mirror on the bottom of the closet door (in addition to the mirror on the wall), but it fell off. Since, we rarely used it, I didn't put it back up.

E's floor bed. It's a double bed, so that we would have room to sleep with our little snuggle bug. We used to have books in this rain gutter bookshelf, but she started pulling up on it and it started pulling out of the wall. We'll move this rain gutter shelf to O's room soon (along with E!).

I'm sorry it took so long to write this post! Hope it helps someone out there who is planning their baby's room :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Planting Seeds

The girls received daisy, sunflower, and basil seeds in their April Fun Box, and we planted the seeds in baseball card sleeves! This idea came from Family Fun magazine.

We put a little bit of dirt in the 6 bottom pockets and taped the sleeve to the sliding glass door with clear packing tape. We put seeds in each pocket. The soil was wet, so we didn't water them for a couple of days.

Within about 3 days, we saw growth! It has been very exciting to watch our seedlings grow!

O(4) uses a medicine dropper to water each seedling.

They are growing FAST! We'll transplant the sunflowers and daisies to our yard and the basil to pots very soon!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Coffee Bean Jewelry

Several months ago, I hosted a giveaway of unique handmade jewelry. The jewelry is made by women in Guatamala who are seeking shelter from abuse. Several of you have asked where you can buy the jewelry. Here is a link to a website that is now selling the jewelry.

Also, here is a message from my friend about the women's shelter (she left this message in the comments section of the original post, but I wanted to be sure that everyone sees it!).

Thank you all for your comments! I just got word that the shelter may close due to lack of funding! The link above is where you can purchase the jewelry! They have finally gotten it up and running through a partner group that has added it to their website! Spread the word, please!

Also, if you know of ANY organizations with Grant money or other money to donate, please, let me know. B/c they are faith based (but DO NOT force or require faith) they are often denied funding.

Thanks for your support!

Making Goop

Making goop on our beach is one of our favorite Spring/Summer activities, and we did it for the first time this year on Sunday afternoon. The girls mixed equal parts water and cornstarch and then mixed it together with their hands. We kept adding more cornstarch, and O(4) eventually added sand "just to see what happens."

We talked about how the consistency seems to change from a solid to a liquid as we played with the goop. We usually add food coloring to our goop, but I decided to make it a little simpler and skip the food coloring this time.