Monday, August 31, 2015

To Paint, or Not to Paint?

     Well, we did it.  We moved.  We left our beloved students and school to  move to Terre Hill, Pennsylvania, where Jeff is the director of music and art at Shalom Mennonite School.  I, Deana, am homeschooling our children for at least the next year to recover some long-overdue one-on-one time with them. 
     So . . . . welcome to our, well, mostly Jeff's, new classroom at Shalom.  
     To paint, or not to paint?  That is the question.  For Jeff,  the answer was not to paint.  The answer was to buy about five of those big bulletin paper rolls and to stick them all over the walls like wall paper.  This is not difficult to do if you have a wife who is willing to take rolls of masking tape, make them into those little sticky loop things, and stick them all over the wall for three days straight while you cut out sea creatures from posters and stick them on top of the wall paper stuff.  

      Then, of course, we had to hang stuff from the ceiling.  This is not too difficult if you have two sons who like to cut fishing line and climb up on ladders.  There is a lot of interesting stuff to observe if you look up in this classroom.

One of these things is not like the others.  One of these things just doesn't belong.  Can you guess which one is not like the other, before I finish my song?  Yes, boys and girls, the long horn steer does not belong with the other things that are all found in the ocean.    He says he put it up there to see who will notice it first.  It does make one think a little bit.
     Someone asked if he was teaching science or something like that.  "No," he replied.
     "Well, then what do all the sea creatures and ocean stuff have to do with music?" they asked.
     "Nothing," Jeff replied with a smile.  "But the students sure will love coming to music and art class."  But the more we thought about it, it has everything to do with art, beauty, and God's creation. The students will be surrounded by beautiful and interesting things every time they come into the classroom.  And that is exactly the atmosphere we want to provide for the art and music students.


Friday, August 28, 2015

A Teepee Made out of Rhubarb?

      Here is another misspelled sign the five teachers in the car discovered.  By this point of the trip we were tired and giggling.  The one man in the car, my husband, kept assuring us that all the signs were indeed spelled correctly because he just wanted to get home.  But the other four of us were being diligent and we spotted another sign, made a U-turn, and snapped a quick picture.  Did you find the mistake?
     They spelled "peaches" correctly, but rhubarb has an "h" in it.  To teach my students a word like this one I have them pronounce the "h" in an accented way sort of like "ra-HOO-barb".     We would all smile and giggle a little,  then they would know it was time to be quiet again.  And they would know it was time to make sure that the "h" did indeed get included in "rhubarb".
      And, although I am usually decent speller, I don't do as well at gardening.  Once some friends of mine told me that they were making teepees out of "rhubarb" in their garden.  I was quite perplexed.  Not knowing a lot about rhubarb, I asked them if rhubarb grew that tall and strong.  Then they gave me a rather perplexed look and explained that they were making teepees out of rebar to support their tomato plants.   Spelling A, Gardening C.

      To see more of this sort of thing, click HERE.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Five Teachers in a Car Finding Misspelled Signs

      There were five of us in the car, and all of us are teachers.  We were on our way to a seminar which happened  to be about an hour's drive away.  On the way home we began looking at signs and trying to find ones which were misspelled.  We found four.  Here are the first two.

       I do the "potato trick" to teach this one.  Whenever a word ending in "ch", "z", "sh" etc. is made plural, you add an "es".  Then the word has two syllables.  So we make a "potato" with our right hands and pound them into our left palms twice as we enunciate "peach-es",  "fix-es",  "church-es" etc.

      And for the second correction, if a vowel is at the end of a syllable, it is usually long.


To see more misspelled signs, click here.  


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Salad Dressing Vs. Apple Laptop

       I cannot help it.  I see words misspelled and it bothers me.  Maybe I'm strange, maybe I'm weird, maybe I'm a teacher and I want my students to spell well.  So, I noticed this lovely sign, and I turned around, drove back, and took a picture of it.
      Now let us make the correction.  It is supposed to be spelled R-A-S-P-B-E-R-R-I-E-S.  And when I teach my students a word like this one, I would have them enunciate the "P" very loudly and on purpose.  They never actually say it that way, but they do spell it that way because saying it funny helps them remember how to spell it.  And I do want them to know that even in this day and age of text typing (no comment--I do not have an hour to delve into that topic) spelling does indeed matter.  
       In fact, it matters so much that as I was typing this post, I had to stop and make several corrections to make sure that it doesn't have any dreadfully misspelled words because a certain member of my family who will remain unnamed spilled salad dressing all over my laptop keyboard.  Now, I have ruined computers by spilling Dr. Pepper and coffee all over the keyboard, but salad dressing doesn't exactly ruin it.  It actually kind of oiled the keys on the right, and then it really slowed down the keys on the left.  So I have to really punch the "E"s, "K"s, and a few letters on the bottom.  

     If I do not, it comes out like this:

      Dear family member who spilled salad drssing all over my computer eyboard, I completely forgive yo for doing that.  I hold o ill will against yo.   Althogh it is rather frstrating when certain letters do ot come out when I press on the keys,  I loe you ayway.  
Loe, Mo

To see more of this sort of thing, click here.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Summer School = Butterflies and 8-Foot-Long Bicycle Thing

     Today was another project sort of day.  We need to enjoy these special days before school starts and we will be spending more time inside and less time outside.   We will also be spending more time on math, English, science, and ironing (for me), and not as much time making huge messes in the garage and getting our clothes all dirty and greasy.   

     Each of my younger children had a little project today.  My son took the engine to our old lawnmower which did not work any more, mounted it on a board, took it all apart and showed me the pistons, spark plug, gas squirter thing, oil squirter thing, timing gears and I’m not even sure what else.  He could manually move all the parts around and he is really learning how all these parts work.  That is educational.  Maybe that is why he has learned to build weird stuff like this out of a unicycle, two-by-fours, an extra bike wheel, lights and brakes.  Yes, he added brakes and lights, too.  Pretty neat-o.  It worked pretty well until my eighteen-year-old tried to make a sharp turn into the park and ended up in the woods.  

     My daughter noticed that this morning our chrysalis had hatched and we watched a lovely swallow tail butterfly stretching its wings.  I was so excited that I forgot to snap a picture as it flew up and away over the top of our house.  That was when I was distracted by the engine.    

      After that we observed several of these lovely creatures on some of our trees.  

     Next we all loaded up the car and went to help dad finish decorating his room.  For now though, we are relishing these last days of summer before a different kind of fun begins.  
 And the title of this picture is "Cats Sleeping on Chairs with Engine".

Friday, August 14, 2015

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Maggots Stink

     This morning began with my husband and I sanding our hardwood floors.  After sanding, we varnished the beautiful 120-year-old wood.  Next it was time to open all the windows, turn on all the fans, and get out of the house.  Before we picked our older son up at work and took him out to lunch, we ran several errands.  As we were driving around I began to tell my youngest two students how I wanted them to do a few projects over the summer and during the next school year.  I told them they could pick anything which interested them and that I would help them do it.  I had no idea how seriously they would take this, but they did. 
      At our first stop my daughter spotted a greenhouse next door.  They had a great special--fill a flat for $10.  We did.  As soon as we arrived home she headed for the flower bed beside the garage and began weeding and digging.  It soon looked amazing.  Daughter learns gardening, yard looks better.  Daughter’s grade:  A+
     After lunch we were running a few errands when I spotted a large “FREE” sign by the side of the road.  I slowed down and peered over at the pile.  Old windows.  I’ve been wanting one of those ever since I saw one painted with chalk board paint at a garage sale.   And the time I got 24 of these for my students, I was too busy to do one myself.  (To see the results of those, click here.)  It was time for me to have a project too.  Supply acquisition: A+  Time to paint: ? Mom’s grade:  “I” for incomplete. 
      After stopping by the Churchtown garage sales we were headed back home.  Uh-oh-- we spotted a road kill.  My family knows I stop for road kills.  We have found and studied a crane, a coyote, hawks, an owl, a squirrel, a pheasant, and now a near-perfect rabbit. (I’m still upset about that red fox I passed up on I-81 last March after my husband convinced me that the friends whom we were staying with would not appreciate my skinning and tanning a fox in their backyard, or saving it in their freezer.) There were only two problems.  The rabbit’s head was squashed, and it reeked.  Unfortunately, prime time for acquiring road kills is first thing in the morning, and this was the afternoon.  Its coat was gorgeous.  “Stuff it in this plastic bag,” I told my youngest son as he picked it up by the leg.  “They won’t be able to smell it if we tie the bag up tight.”  As we walked back to the car we twisted the top of the plastic bag around several times and then jumped back in the car.  Immediately the entire car smelled like a dead rabbit which had lain by the side of the road baking in the sun for eight hours.  I hastily rolled down all the windows and looked over at my husband.  He was holding his nose making a horrible face, but he didn’t tell us to get rid of it.  We had less than a mile home.  I accelerated to the speed limit and just kept going.

      Once we arrived home he ordered my son to get out of the car as soon as it had stopped.  I began unloading the car as my son deposited the rabbit in the grass under a tree, then ran and grabbed a utility knife and the gas mask my husband had used to apply the stinky varnish.   By the time I made it back to the car to unload my free windows, my son had begun to cut the skin down the middle of the rabbit’s underside and he was calling for help.  He said it was dirty.  It was dirty indeed-- its underside was full of maggots.  I looked at that beautiful coat of fur, held my breath so I wouldn’t smell the awful stink, tried not to think about all those maggots, and decided it was worth it.  I ran and grabbed the hose, but alas, as I was squirting off the dead, stinky rabbit, its skin began peeling off along with all those maggots.  Evidently the underside of the rabbit had baked somewhat on the hot pavement.  Son’s grade:  A for effort.  
      So, we learned a few things today.
1.  Annuals are cheap in August and look pretty in flower beds.
2.  You can always find neat stuff for free in the trash.
3.  Road kills need to be picked up before 3:00 p.m. on a hot summer day.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

An Owl, a Cat, and a Pearl

      Every teacher needs some enrichment, and summer is the perfect time to accomplish that.  Our family spent last week at Faith Builder's Teachers Week, and it was delightful.  Jeff took an art class which he, as well as our children, thoroughly enjoyed.  While my husband painted a cat on a branch, my son painted bats flying around.
      And I reveled in being assigned to read The Pearl by one of my favorite authors, John Steinbeck.  Oh, to be a student again is so good for us teachers.  I loved it!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Frezer for Sale

     My husband and I were on our way to an important meeting when I spied this sign on a refrigerator for sale in someone's driveway.   We didn't have time to stop, but hubby promised me we could come back after the appointment.  I was very lost at that point (this is typical; I have to have a GPS attached to my hand when driving), but he got us back to the spot and I jumped out to take a picture.
And that was when I noticed not just the one mistake that I had seen while we were whizzing by, but three.
Can you find all three of them?

1.  The "e" sound is long and therefore it should read, "freezer", not "frezer" as in "e-e-egg".   

2.  It doesn't work GOOD, it works well, because "well" tells how it works, and the word "work" is a verb (in this case anyway), so the word "good" adds to the verb; it is an adverb and should be "well".  
     I always ask my students, "How does she sing?" And they answer:  "She sings well."  Then I ask, "How does he write?"  And they answer:  "He writes well."   I do this about four times to make sure they understand it.  Then, I try and trick them.  "What kind of a book was it?"  No fooling them.  A book is a noun, and therefore needs an adjective to modify it.  "It was a GOOD book," they tell me.  And they are right.

3.  Squint and look closely at the word "works".  Do you see it?  Yep, that little apostrophe again, thrown in just for fun when it isn't needed.  The "frezer" neither "work is good", nor does it possess the "good".  

      The end of the story is that even though I did need a refrigerator, I did not need a "frezer", nor a freezer for that matter.  So I did not buy it, but I did get close enough to get a good picture (not a well picture) of the lovely sign.  As we drove away I began to wonder how funny the sign on the motorcycle that I forgot to look at must have been, too.   For more of this type of thing, click here:  Frezer work's Good.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Suger Peas Anyone?

      First of all,  I have to admit that I am not a very good gardener.  While I have grown a few melons and peas, I could never mass produce produce.  (Get it?)  But I can spell.  And I can feed chickens and it is fun to collect eggs.  But anyway, to help my students remember this one we say it funny and pronounce it the way it looks, like "sug-ar".  Or I make a rhyme like "I drive my car to get su-gar".  Or I would say something like, "I need A cup of sugAr."  And I would write it like that on the board so they would see the big ol' capital "A".   Thus, I have just demonstrated four different ways for them to remember the "A" in "sugar".  No, they will not remember all four of them.  They probably won't even remember two of them.  But almost always, they remember one of them; the one that made the most sense to them whether they are verbal, visual or kinesthetic, and that is enough to make them better spellers, better students, better thinkers, and better sign-makers if they ever mass produce produce.

      To see more of this same sort of thing, click HEAR.  (Just kidding.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Coffee Is Mine-- A Lesson in Using Possessive Pronouns

     "PUT TRASH IN IT IS PLACE."  No.  Neither does the "it" own the place.  When using possessive pronouns, the rule is to never use an apostrophe, because the word itself is already possessive.  So, if we do add one of those little apostrophes in just for fun, it reads like a contraction.  "PUT TRASH IN IT IS PLACE."

      And just for fun, this is how I teach possessives.  Every morning I am usually holding my coffee cup during English class as we accomplish math and English first thing in the morning, and while I am busy teaching, I never have enough time to take enough sips of my coffee.  Thus it is that by 10:30 a.m., I've (I + have) been teaching for two hours and have a half-full, cold cup of coffee.  So, I grab my cup of coffee and the students know what is coming.  I always say, "I own my cup of coffee; I possess my cup of coffee."   Then, while holding my half-full, cold cup of coffee, we all chorus together:
"It's MY cup.  The cup is MINE.
It's YOUR cup.  The cup is YOURS.
It's HIS cup.  The cup is HIS.
It's HER cup.  The cup is HERS.
It's ITS cup.  The cup is ITS.  (Notice no apostrophe there except where it is supposed to be:
                                                  It  IS  its cup (the cat's cup).)
It's OUR cup.  The cup is OURS.
It's THEIR cup.  The cup is THEIRS."

     To make this even more fun (and it is fun, even the grades which are not having a lesson on possessives stop the work they are doing and go along with us), we point to ourselves (my), the person closest to us (you), the boy (his) and girl (her) at the back of the room, the frog in the fish tank (its), all the people in the class (our), and the classroom next door (their) while we are all saying it together.
(This sign was not made by one of my students.)
      Bottom line?  It works.  My students rarely miss a possessive or put an apostrophe in the wrong place.   They see those intimidating words "possessive pronouns" on their lesson or a test, think for a minute, envision the coffee cup, remember the chant, and begin writing correct answers.  Mission accomplished.   For more lovely signs like these, click here and keep scrolling all the way to the bottom.  Then, if it says "Older Posts", click on that and you'll (you + will) see even more.   :-)