Friday, April 24, 2015

Non-Hunting Wimps Get Sweet Taxidermy Bobcat

    This week, after waiting for over a year and a half, we finally received our bobcat from the taxidermist.  The poor creature had been hit by a car, and one of our students picked it up on the way to school.  For more on that, click here.
     So, we took it home and wanted to see what our real cat (the calico) would think of it.  At first she was frightened of it, then she sniffed it cautiously, then she curled up and took a nap with it.  Here is another picture of the bobcat resting in its new home at school.  I think I may want to learn more about taxidermy.  I seem to end up with a lot of amazing road kills, sadly.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lewis and Clark Art

     In the beginning of the year as we were learning about the Lewis and Clark expedition, I was intrigued with their journal entries.  Besides the poor spelling, the writing around the drawings, as well as the sketches themselves,  were very interesting.  I thought it might make a neat art project, and they would be learning some science too, about the anatomy and habits of a specific animal.

     Several months later, we tackled the project.  They all found a picture of an animal they liked in encyclopedias and nature books.  I made a copy of each one’s animal, then they drew squares on top of the copy to transfer the drawing in proper proportion onto their blank papers.  Next they drew faint lines and wrote in cursive all around their drawings.  They had to write real facts about their animal.  The results were quite appealing, I thought. 

“A” is for attractive, accomplishment, artistic, and aesthetic.  They all got “A”s in art, too.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Drywall Cardboard Trashcan Desk in the Sewing Closet

     I sometimes let my students go into the fellowship hall in the next room to take tests.  It is quieter in there, I can peek in on them every so often, and they know they can come ask me a question (about the directions only) anytime they need to do so.  So, I went in to check on the sixth graders one morning.  The two ladies were seated at separate tables using normal chairs.  And the gentleman, well, . . . this is what I saw.
 He had a little first grade chair stacked on top of the principal’s outside chair, and he was using a piece of cardboard balanced on a piece of drywall balanced on top of an upside down trash can for a table.  And he was inside the sewing closet.  He usually makes excellent grades on his tests.  (Once my husband found him face down on the bathroom floor sick after a test.  He had insisted that he come to school to take his English test that morning.  After his mother came and picked him up, I graded his test.  He got a 100.) So, I left him on top of his stacked chairs with his cardboard drywall trashcan desk.  He got an A.
 And these gentlemen made honor roll grades as well--and they were taking a five-page American history test complete with maps and essay questions.  Awesome!  I separated all of the students who were taking this test so that they would “avoid every appearance of evil”.  No tests were within eye shot of any of them.  But to do this, we have to really spread out and use extra tables, desks, the couch, and the bench.  As long as they are making good grades and behaving themselves (which they truly do), I give them some leeway. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Emigrant Shipwreck Fishing Village Honor Roll Party

The Invitations
The Crew
A Few of the Passengers

     I honestly don’t remember who had this idea, but someone did:  Let the orange room (grades 3-6) plan an honor roll party for the rest of the school.  So we did.

     They decided to have an “Emigrant Shipwreck Honor Roll Party”, and they even spelled it right!  That was from our 6th grade vocabulary book; emigrants leave a country, immigrants arrive in a country.  They wanted a dock, a ship, and a trek out into the woods behind the school.  So we did.

     We began at the Irish emigration office where each of the emigrants had their picture taken with their ticket, which was also their invitation to the party.  They were told that we were leaving Ireland because of the potato famine.  

      Next we had a clothes relay where they had to exchange a vest, scarf, and hat.
     Then they lined up on the dock and boarded the ship, walking along a twisting gang plank.  If they touched the grass, they had to go to the back of the line and try again.  This was made a little difficult by the fact that many of the bricks that were supposed to be used for holding up the planks ended up being used to hold down the "ship".  We had some great ideas to make the hull of the ship and the sails, but the blustery March winds blew away the sails, the hull, and even the chairs we tried to use instead. 
     Once aboard the ship we enjoyed hardtack, cheese, and tangerines so we wouldn’t get scurvy.  (That was a student’s idea, too.)  The younger students “fished” over the side of the “ship” and received little prizes.  The older students got fake coins and flower seeds.
      Then the storm clouds came (supposedly) and the whaling song changed into thunder and storm sound effects.  (We had a stereo hidden underneath the landscaping plastic hull of the ship.)  The crew, the boys in grades 3-6, began to spray us all with water.  We leaned and rocked back and forth, feigned sea sickness, sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “Peter, James and John Had a Little Sailboat,” and “I Will Make You Fishers of Men” to calm our nerves.  Then the ship “wrecked” and we all passed out.  
Our captain (principal) informed us that we had landed in Greenland, and that according to his map, there was a little fishing village about a mile’s walk away.  After leaving the first mate and another crew member to "fix" the ship, we took off.


     After a long trek through some muddy trails and bramble bushes, we found a kind Christian fisherman (a brother from our church) who happened to be out fishing.  He took us to his little fishing village and shared what they had with us.  We sat around a fire beside a pond and enjoyed fish, rolls, carrots, stuffed baked potatoes (there was no blight in Greenland), and blue jello with gummy sharks swimming around in it.  After we had finished, we were informed that the crew members had repaired the ship.  We thanked the fisherman, sang him a song, and headed back in the dark through the mud and brambles to the ship.
      After a bit more comic relief from our captain and crew, we landed safely in America where we were informed that we had to learn a new American game, kick-the-can.  The younger students played, the older students helped us clean up all the stuff, and I really enjoyed working with these fabulous humans I am so blessed to have for students.

     To date we’ve hosted twenty-five honor roll parties, and I think this one ranks in the top three.  Why?  Because of the way the students worked together.  The wind messed up our original ideas for the boat and the sails, the rain and all the mud made the trek to the woods much more difficult, and at one point I thought the whole thing might not work and we’d have to call it off.  But, we pulled together.  The students had great, creative, ideas and used things we’d learned in history.  We improvised, worked alongside each other, and prayed together when things didn’t go right.  I laughed so hard at the five funny crew members and their captain on the “ship” that I had tears running down my cheeks.  None of that would have happened if everything would have gone perfectly, or if I didn’t “bother” to let my students have a part in it.  One of the sixth graders said something that made it all so worth while.  She said, “Now, we’ll know what to do for our students when we are teachers some day.”  Mission accomplished.  

    Sometimes things don’t go the way we had planned, or the way we would like them to, or even in a way we think we can handle.  It is then that I remember that God will never leave me nor forsake me, that His ways are not my ways, and that He will not ask more of me more than I can handle.  I cling to those verses.  My hope is in God.  Him will I serve.  Master, here am I.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Attack of the 8" Hedgehog

       Okay, it wasn't exactly an attack . . . .  On Friday afternoons the mopping crew mops, I finish up my grading, and my husband changes the wood shavings in the hedgehog’s bin.  This day he set the hedgehog in his upside-down house on my desk for safe keeping.  I wanted to be a good babysitter, so I had to make sure he didn’t try to climb out of his house and accidentally fall off my desk.  He kept peeking his little nose up and sniffing--hedgehogs sniff a lot.  Their sense of smell is very keen.  I didn’t get paid for this babysitting job, but I sure enjoyed it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bathroom Art

     I was returning to the front of my classroom when I happened to glance through the door, across the hall, and into the boys’ bathroom-- which I normally don’t do, but the door was open and no one was in there, and . . . I saw . . . bathroom art.

     You see, one of our more creative students has the job of cleaning the bathroom.  And, I guess when he was done cleaning, he got . . . artistic.  I thought it was wonderfully creative.  Here is how it looked from the outside.  Yay for stacked toilet rolls, half-empty spray bottles, and creative students.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Texas Bluebonnets and, errrrr . . . Whitebonnets?

      I was born and raised here in Texas.  My mother taught me to love spring, and one of her favorite reasons was the bluebonnets.  Every April the roadsides are covered in gorgeous wildflowers-- Indian paint brushes, fire wheels, buttercups, and bluebonnets.  In all of my fifty plus years, I have never seen an albino bluebonnet . . . until today.  One of our third graders brought this in for morning “science” time for us all to enjoy.  I though it was absolutely lovely. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Flamingos Score Big with Pizza Party

       We had several home economics projects all lumped together, so this last cooking unit one we waited to do until we weren’t so overwhelmed.  As they did last year, the Fabulous Feminine Flamingos decided to have another pizza lunch party for the whole school.  They planned better this year, and we didn’t have twelve pizzas leftover.  (Not that anyone at our house complained about leftover pizza.)

     First they planned, then we shopped.  That is always fun.  At the store a man asked us if we were a basketball team.  I guess they didn’t see the girl who is only four foot ten. 

     Next they came to school early and got busy.  The school smelled marvelous.  We enjoyed a delightful lunch, and the last home economics cooking project was completed.  They all got an “A” on that one.

The last two pictures were taken by Lexi Miller.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Neat Art Project -- My Husband Thinks I am Crazy

     I have always liked old stuff--antiques of course, but I also like rustic old doors, windows, metal--anything like that.  So I got this idea . . . . 
     What if I could find enough window frames for each student to have one, and then they could each decorate one?  Little did I know what I had gotten myself into.  
     First of all, I had to go to a “recycle” yard and dig up all the frames.  I was climbing on top of old boards, digging through piles of old junk and glass, and getting my arms all scratched up, but I did find enough.  
      Then the owner told me I could only have the ones with broken window panes for the price I wanted to pay.  More digging.  I finally had them all lugged up to the street where I could try and fit them into my car, which I managed to accomplish.  
Husband:  “What have you been doing all morning?”
      Next, since it was Thanksgiving weekend and I had Friday off, what better way to spend it than to clean, paint, scrape, and varnish all those windows?  By the end of the day I was questioning if this really was the best way to spend my precious day off, and limping around from being bent over old window frames for hours on end.  
Husband:  “Honey, are you okay?”
      Then, the great moment came.  I took all the frames to school and told each of the students that they could each pick one and decorate it.  They looked at me like I was crazy.  (Maybe they were right.)  I gave them a few ideas, and soon things began to shape up.  (Maybe I’m not crazy after all?)   Some of the finished products were amazing.  Husband:  “Please don’t do any more big art projects.”