Friday, October 31, 2014

Native American Indian Honor Roll Party

      I’d been wanting to do this one for awhile.  We are studying American History this year, and it was perfect timing to have an Native American Indian Honor Roll Party.  

      The invitations were just rocks with “Iddo’s 6:15”, “Porch 6:15”  or both written on them.  They figured out they were to meet on Iddo’s porch at 6:15.  Once they had all arrived, the eldest student was given an envelope with a letter inside explaining that they were colonists, that they had run out of food, and that the supply ship wasn’t coming anytime soon.  They were instructed to find the nearest Indian village and try to survive by living with the Indians.  (We have studied about the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island and Jamestown--two of my favorite history stories.)

     So, I gave them some corn nuts I had in a wooden bowl and led them across a field, over a ravine, up a little hill, and to our village. 

     When we arrived, the chief wasn’t very impressed that all these lazy white men wanted some food.  He told them that they had to work first and made them gather firewood.  

     Then he told them he wanted them to entertain him by playing a few games.  In the first one they had to throw the hoop over the animal skull. He said they could not eat until both a girl and a boy had a successful throw.  The first graders amazingly were the best at this one.  

     Next he made them play the bean game.  They sat down around the fire in pairs on old blankets that they had been told to bring.   Each pair was given ten pinto beans in a wooden bowl.  Each bean had a black dot on one side.  Then they shook the bowl until told to stop and counted the dots.  

      At this point, the chief said if they sang him a song they could eat.  They sang.  In true hunter-gatherer fashion we served them water, beef jerky, bread, corn on the cob, pop corn, peanuts, raisins, and dried cranberries.  A helpful mom had made pumpkin muffins, but in my hurry to gather everything up after school, I left them there.  We enjoyed them the next day instead.

     After the meal we moved closer to the fire and read the story about the Hosteler??? family which was non-resistant when they were attacked by Indians.  (Our students are well aware that the whites attacked the Indians too, as well as infringed on their land and did not honor treaties.)

     Next we had a “talking circle”,  which several tribes actually practiced.  Anyone who wanted to could say something.  A teacher blessed the students for their good attitudes and uniqueness, a student complimented fellow students, another asked for forgiveness, and we all looked up and enjoyed the beautiful, starlit night.  Then sadly, it was time to go home.

      While two teachers each took a carload of students home, the third teacher stayed and supervised the tearing down of our quaint little village.  They worked together as a team, singing in three part harmony as they worked, and soon the teepee was disassembled, the baskets and bowls were stacked, the bones were collected, and the fire was smothered.  I honestly didn’t want to leave.  

     Here is where we got our “stuff”.  (One of my favorites quotes is:  “Good teachers have lots of stuff.”)

Jerky, bread, corn on the cob, peanuts, raisins, cranberries - Sam’s Club

Bones -  we have collect these throughout the years when the students bring them in for morning science

Teepee-  Four ten foot 1/2 inch conduit poles for $3.50 each at the local hardware store

Teepee fabric -  Stuff a huge bag for $1 at some fabric store in Lancaster County, PA
(I stuffed two bags full, then squished them under the van seats on the way home.)

Baskets, wooden bowls, wooden spoons -  Goodwill 

Costumes - Goodwill and homemade from brown fabric

Rocks- Dollar Store

Accessories - feathers from my chickens and ducks, leather scraps $3 a bag at a craft store - the strips of leather were hot glued together and then feathers were glued on top of these

Monday, October 27, 2014

Gross Skeleton--Yummy Grasshopper

      A student brought in this headless snake skeleton for our morning “science time”.  All that remained were bones and a little skin.  When we were picking it up to take a picture of it, he noticed something stuck between its ribs.  A closer look revealed the legs of a grasshopper--presumably the snake’s last meal.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Perplexing Hexagons

     I always knew that yellow jackets built the cubicles where they lay their eggs in the shape of a hexagon.  What I didn’t realize is that if the nest is unhindered by obstructions, the nest itself can be built in the shape of a hexagon.  Additionally, if you look closely you’ll see that the eggs were also laid in stages, all three of which are—you guessed it—in the shape of a hexagon.   Our Creator is an amazing scientist, a master mathematician, and an awesome God. 

Other fall finds include these lovely pink and purple flowers, berries, and a fig leaf.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Disc Golf: HOLE IN ONE!

      There are always those few “firsts” of the school year.  The first test, the first one hundred, and the first hole in one.  At our school, that means a disc golf hole in one.
      We have our very own little five-hole disc golf course right here at Lott Mennonite School.  You see, our principal enjoys playing disc golf, and he taught the students how to play.  When some of the playground equipment broke and needed replacing, someone suggested getting more than just our one disc golf basket.  It worked.  Now we have five.
     The first hole is about a hundred foot par two where the students tee off from the school entryway between the columns.  Every break, at lunch, and recess we hear “fore” yelled every time the front door is opened.  Our principal kindly offered 32 ounce Cefco drinky (as we call them around here) as a reward to anyone who could get a hole in one.    There have to be witnesses, of course.  So, we all rejoiced when a high school freshman got the first hole in one of the year.  His choice: Dr. Pepper.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Found: Native American Texas Artifact

      My great-grandmother was a Cherokee, so I love learning about the Native Americans--especially those who lived in this area before we were here.   Another wonderful perk of living in our lovely little metroplex of Rosebud-Lott is finding Native American artifacts.  We are currently studying American history, and as it is still early in the year we are studying the sad story of how the European settlers displaced these indigenous peoples.   I hope we have learned from our past mistakes.  

      The family of one of our students was digging the foundation of a house when they found this fine example of a scraper (top right).  The youngster proudly displayed it at school.  I told him to get a shovel and to go and dig up some more in that area.  About one hundred and sixty years ago bands of Apache Indians roamed these parts, and there are still a few proofs left of it.  I have yet to find an arrowhead myself, but the two smaller scrapers I found in the Marble Falls, Texas area.  The arrowhead in the picture was found locally by one of the church brothers while he was plowing.  The use of the rock with the hole in it is yet to be determined, but we have found several around here.  I was guessing weights for fishing nets?   If you have any insight please let us know. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Of Rats and Rain

     Every specific locale  has its own meteorological quirks, and one of those in our area of Texas is drought followed by deluge.  We had one of the latter this week, and it prompted an unusual series of events which ultimately affected our morning science time here at school.  Here is what happened.

1.  We received a deluge of rain.
2.  The rain infiltrated rodents' dens.
3.  The rodents evacuated their homes.
4.  Cats pounced upon the rodents.
5.  Cats brought dead, partially chewed rodents to their owners' doorsteps.
    (Whether the owners actually appreciate this or are impressed by their cat's prowess in hunting will remain undiscussed at this point in time.  Why the cats even do this, instead of eating their prey, will also not be contemplated yet.)
6.  Students at our school discovered dead rodents on their doorsteps.
7.  Students brought them in to get credit during morning science time.

    Yesterday morning we received two of these, a vole in a sandwich baggy, and a wet rat with one front paw missing in a bowl.  (How appetizing.)   Sorry about the blood on the history test; I needed a white background for the photograph.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Stinky, Rotting Bird on Student's Desk During Test

         My youngest son asked if he could get a dead dove he had found to take to school for morning "science time" the next day.  

       "Yes, you may get that dead bird out of our next door neighbor's yard.  But please don't touch it.  Use a shovel and wash your hands when you're done."  It spent the night in the freezer, inside a zip lock baggie, mind you.

        The next day I noticed the bird again, where it was not supposed to be.

       "Why is there a dead bird on your desk while you are taking your spelling test?" I asked.   I assumed he thought that was all right because it was frozen, but that was not acceptable at all.  I enjoy science, but dead birds on students' desks during spelling tests is not what I consider to be conducive to a good academic atmosphere, or any atmosphere for that matter.

       He gave me a strange look, like having dead birds on one's desk during school was just a normal everyday occurrence.  I tried again, "I know it is frozen, but it's going to start stinking.  Please put it outside after you've finished your test."

       Closing thoughts:  Yay for teaching.  Yay for science.  Yay for little boys.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Menno Science Geeks Unite!

     We so appreciate God's creation and love science.   Recent student finds include fall leaves, shells from the Pacific Ocean (where a brother was building houses for tsunami victims with Christian Aid Ministries), a bird's nest with eggs, and a long feather.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Playin' Opossum

       During our morning "science time" this week, I was surprised.  If students bring something in a plastic bag or bin, I never know what to expect.  This week, this is what I saw.
     And I thought it was dead.  But when I went to take a picture of it, it moved.  I yelped.  Students laughed.   Next we had a discussion about how opossums really do "play opossum", and how some students' fathers catch live opossums by their tails for their children to bring in for science and surprise teachers, or something like that.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms by Anabaptists

Anabaptist Orchestra Camp 2014
      We recently returned from a fabulous four days full of beautiful music.   Beethoven melodies are still ringing in my ears.  The rich sounds of cellos, violins and French horns are resounding vividly inside my head.  I am so thankful that God created music.

         All photos were taken by +Karl Zimmerman.
     Besides rehearsing, we enjoyed lectures on music history, played games, and had intriguing discussions.   More information and videos of the concert are available at

      If you are interested in participating next year, choose an instrument and start practicing.  Everyone is welcome.