Wednesday, November 25, 2015

This Beast Is Amazing!

 My husband and children think that gigantic, sick-looking, alien-like creatures are sweet.  I don't.

Sooooooo . . .  this is a coconut crab.   Growing up to sizes of three feet, three inches, and attaining weights of up to nine pounds, these are the largest land-living arthropods in the world.  They can also live to be sixty years old.  While they do climb coconut trees and are able to open and eat coconuts, these are not their main diet.   Although their appearance is rather intimidating, they are actually quite docile creatures.  Docile and scary.  And gross.

Harp for Sale

This is a lever harp with 34 strings.  It is approximately 56 inches tall with removable 8-inch legs. It comes with original soft carrying case, tuning wrench, and tuner.   It has some cosmetic dings on the back of the soundbox, but has a nice sound for its size.  (Click HERE to hear it played.)

 The current owner is not sure of the exact age, but she thinks it is about 15 years old.  She is selling it because she just bought a pedal harp and won't be playing this one any more.  She would like it to go to a good home and is asking $1400.   The harp is currently residing in Harrisonburg, VA.  Please contact us for the owner's phone number if you are interested.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Still Life with Washable Markers and Water

This is a simple art project, but it has a special effect that makes it different and unique. 
First, my  husband raided my refrigerator.   He took apples, oranges, lemons and bell peppers out of it, then he grabbed a few bananas from the counter and a pumpkin from my fall table decorations.  Next he asked me to go to the grocery store and buy an eggplant and grapes.  Then, because he is exercising by riding his bicycle to school every day (and hasn't missed a day yet --thank you), he asked me to drive all of these fruits and veggies up to the school so that they wouldn't get squished in his backpack.  Being a good wife, I did.  

For the next art class, he let each student choose one or more of the fruits or veggies to sketch in pencil.  Then they outlined their sketches in Crayola Washable Markers.  (That last part was important.  Washable markers should be used, or this might not work.)  After doing this, the next step was to take a paint brush dipped in water and to "paint" the washable marker lines, pulling the brush toward the center of the drawing.  The color from the washable markers then bleeds in, coloring the rest of the drawing in a lighter shade for a really neat effect.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Out of the Mouth of Babes

One of the perks of being a teacher is receiving occasional notes like this one.   This one came from a second grader.   The testimony of this note, and the encouragement I received from it have been much more than I would have originally expected.  As for the profundity of this simple message, I can add nothing.
- Jeff  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Shredded Paper Art Project

   This is an enjoyable, tactile art project which explores using torn paper as texture.   The older students first drew their own pictures, then shredded tiny pieces of paper to glue within the lines.  Because this takes longer than one art period to complete, and because it has therapeutic effects, it is nice to spend three to four art periods on it.  To see more samples of torn paper art, click HERE.

The younger students were given a few different "stained glass" type coloring pictures to choose from as the lines are thicker and it is easier for them to stay within them.  They then shredded the paper and glued it inside the lines.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Honor Roll Comes to Shalom Mennonite School!

It was time for the first honor roll party to be held at Shalom Mennonite School.  The 7th and 8th grade teachers decided to hold a "Bible Times" honor roll party for the students.  I made the invitations by burning the edges of the paper with a candle, tea-staining them, and then baking them in the oven until they were a little crunchy.   Rolled up and tied with a ribbon, they looked like little scrolls.  

The evening of the party the all-purpose room was transformed into a Bedouin tent by adding rugs, sheep skins, candles, strings of lights, pottery, plants, and draped fabric.  A large piece of fabric hid the locker area. 
 When the candles were lit and the lights turned off it looked more like this.
The  students arrived and were led down the stairs to the room by candlelight where they were asked to remove their shoes.  We then seated them in groups on the rugs and they reclined on the pillows there were asked to bring.  The teachers served their students grape juice, bread with olive oil dip, cheese, raisins, grapes, fish, and fig cookies.  Next we all enjoyed a candle-lit reading of "How the Leopard Got Its Stripes" by Rudyard Kipling.  The evening ended with one of our favorite games, pass-the-pillow.   (If the students are asked to bring an item [in this case a pillow] we incorporate it into the evening.  First they reclined on the pillows while they ate, then they were used in a game.]
 the 7th and 8th grade teachers:   Jeff Swanson, Whitney Burkholder, Jeff Swanson . . .  
 (and friends)

To read about more Bible Times Honor Roll party ideas, click HERE and HERE (and scroll down a bit).  

Friday, November 13, 2015

Holding a Baby Squirrel

This was absolutely adorable.  A cute little baby squirrel was orphaned and rescued by a sister of one of the teachers at the school where Jeff teaches.   The teacher then brought it to school and let all the students see it.  It was darling.  I had to run some papers up to the school and I got to hold it, too.  Students who appreciate God's creation, and teachers who teach them to do so, are priceless.  

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Poetry Is Hard. I Like Bacon.

Recently I noticed that a student had a book cover with pictures of bacon all over it.  It reminded me of this poem that I had seen.
                                                  Roses are red                                                       
                                                   Bacon is too
                                                  Poetry is hard
                                                   Mmm Bacon

I put the poem on the door of my classroom, because I thought that it was funny. (Well, it is.)  It elicited  some interesting responses from both older and younger students.  A common reply was, "I don't get it."  A fourth grader said, " It doesn't make sense--it doesn't rhyme."  A few actually just got the humor of it.
As I pondered their  responses I realized that this was a rather absurdist poem (think Kafka's Metamorphosis), and that they were looking at it from young minds, seeking logic and order.  I know, I know, logic and order from a bad poem celebrating the glories of bacon. . . . well, I actually find their musings fascinating.

Anyway, it is funny.  And poetry is kind of hard.  And bacon is good.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Heart and Voice Storms Ontario

We spent this past weekend in Ontario, Canada, with Heart and Voice Men's Chorus and our friends from Rescue Junction.  (The video clip of Heart and Voice is from a rehearsal; both of the concerts were full.)
(Click HERE for a free Rescue Junction download.)

While the men rehearsed, fellow alto Janice Kraemer and I did fun touristy-type history stuff.  We ended up at Rheo Thompson's enjoying the holiday decorations with lots of chocolate in our baskets.

Jeff sums it up like this:
Canadians are great.  (At least our Canadian Menno music friends are anyway.)
Rescue Junction is great.
Choral music is great.
Canadian salads are great.
Milk in weird little bags is great.
Parker and his beard are great.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The "King's" Singers

We had a wonderful time singing three of the real King's Singers pieces with this fun group of people Monday evening at the Ephrata Bible School.  Good job +Leah Barnard , Abigail Nolt,  +phoebe beiler ,  +Vlad Kravets , +Yuriy Kravets , +Drew Barnard , +Sergey Kravets .
 ( +Claudia Esh helped out too but didn't get in the picture.)
And it was really nice to include the younger people who also did a great job.  Thanks for including them, Yuriy.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Eighth Grade Student Rescues Spaced-Out Teacher

My husband was exiting his principal's office yesterday afternoon and absent-mindedly turned to go into the restroom.  Both the ladies' and the men's restroom doors are side-by-side in a little squishy hallway.  As he pushed upon the door, one of his male 8th grade students who is 7" taller than he and loves basketball made a loud, high-pitched scream and tackled my husband in a bear hug, pulling him away from the door.  After the shock wore off, my husband realized that he had just been saved from entering the women's restroom.  (That is a faux pas.  Big time.)  They both laughed and my hubby thanked his student profusely.  The student was definitely in the right place at the right time.

faux pas |fō ˈpäˈfō ˌpänoun (pl.samean embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation.ORIGIN late 17th cent.French, literally false step.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Bust Out the Flute Trio -- Whoop Whoop!

      A group of us played at two nursing homes this past weekend and had a lovely time.  It was especially fun to have three flute players together  (+Esther Keehn and +Leah Inman) so that we could play a flute trio with piano accompaniment (thanks, Abbie Inman).

*Photo credit Daniel Crawford

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Must-Read for All Teachers

One my favorite authors and altos, Esther, wrote a fabulous post about education.
Did I mention it was fabulous?  All teachers should read this.

Click HERE.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Dead Squirrel in My Refrigerator

Part II of the Yellow-Jackets-Eating-Squirrel-Flesh Incident

To read Part I, click here.  

I kept going back to that spot by the tree looking for another dead squirrel with yellow jackets entering and exiting its flesh.  Nothing.  Then last night I was out in my garage looking through all my hands-on-science-and-history bins for a real starfish and sea horse another teacher had asked if she could borrow.  (To see more on hands-on science and history stuff click here.)  As I was digging through one of the bins, I happened to look down by our bike rack and gasped--there lay a ripped-open dead squirrel.  In my garage.  It must have been deposited there by our great hunter cat, Amadeus.  (With a name like that he should be a peaceful music-loving cat that sits on our front porch listening to us practice.  No.  He's out in the back yard killing poor, unsuspecting gray squirrels.)
I immediately thought, yellow jacket bait.  I picked up the deceased squirrel by its tail and deposited it by the walnut tree in exactly the same spot where I had found the first squirrel.  I waited until dark. No yellow jackets.  I wasn't about to let it stay out at night and lose a squirrel a second time.   I put it inside a plastic bag and put it in my refrigerator for the night.  This morning when I opened the door to the fridge there was a strange smell and I couldn't figure out what it was until after I'd finished a cup of coffee and woken up a little bit.  Oh, yes . . . . 
I asked my eldest son if he would unwrap it and take it out by the tree to attract yellow jackets while I was teaching.  "May I please not touch dead stuff?" he politely asked.  I grabbed the bag, ran outside and deposited my bait and waited all day.  Nothing but a wet, cold, dead squirrel.  I think it was too cold and rainy for yellow jackets.  

So I figured it would at least make a good science lesson as Amadeus had already kindly exposed part of its anatomy for us.  We grabbed a good pair of scissors and cut it open down to the pelvis.  We found its heart, kidneys, liver, stomach, and small and large intestines.  Then we cut open its stomach and found chewed-up walnuts.  Lovely.  She is in the freezer tonight.  I think my friend who wanted the sea horse and starfish would like to show this to her class as well.  It's all in a day's work. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Another Suggestion for a Christmas Program

                                     Once in Royal David's City

This is another lovely Christmas song which I had not previously known.  It can be found in the new Hymns of the Church hymnal.  We are planning to sing this at Shalom for our Christmas program.  The little soloist guy does a great job of exploding those "d"s.