Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bad Spelling and Grammar, Part II

I am always on the lookout for misspelled signs.   I like to show them to my students and have them correct the mistakes.  I also think that this makes them more aware of their own spelling; people do see it and will notice it.

     Before I comment on the ones with pictures, there was one that I unfortunately did not get a picture of, but wish I had.  
It read:


     This is why my elementary students often hear me ask, “What letter almost always comes after a ‘Q’?  And I always smile when I hear their loud, “U!”  Hopefully when they are older, they won’t have any “sqaush” for sale.  (FYI, one of our favorite words to use when in a bind for Scrabble is "qaid" [a variant of "caid" which is a Muslim tax collector].) That's why I say "almost always".  They know how to use "qaid" in a Scrabble or Banangram game too.)

     I blocked out the name of the proprietor in this picture to protect the not-so-innocent.  

     I don’t know who Brian is, or why he needs to “IMRPQVE”, but he certainly isn’t MY Brian.   Surely they spelled the words like that on purpose?

     My husband and I love to find strange and funny names of Chinese restaurants, like “Happy Lucky”  and “Soon Fatt”.  I’m not sure about the two “t”s in “Fatt”, and I certainly don’t want to get fat soon either.  
     This sign was in the bathroom at a gas station.  At least they spelled “you” correctly, which is more than we can say for that pharmacy.

     This one reads, “ATTENTION Truck buyer’s”, which either means “truck buyer IS if you have a credit score” or that the truck buyer owns the “if you have a credit score”.  Neither one is correct grammar.  The funny thing is, the driver of the truck, as well as his boss who puts the bad grammatical signs on the back of the truck, probably make more money than I do.  Maybe that isn’t so funny after all.
And, these people have “Egg’s” for sale.  Now, either there is only one egg for sale, and it means “egg is [for sale]”, or the one egg owns something, like the “egg’s yolk”, or they do actually have multiple eggs for sale, and they just threw the apostrophe in there for fun.  
     Well, other than my watch, which really wouldn’t qualify as jewelry, I don’t wear much “jewellery”, thank you.  
     Participles, participles!  These are not really “damage” scraps, they are damaged scraps, as in scraps that have been damaged.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Third Day of School

     School has begun!   And with it, all the fun like having to rearrange schedules to make sure we have enough time for all of our classes, and morning science time.  This morning we had a brother and sister who both brought in beaver-hewn pieces of wood.  The brother was having fun "gnawing" on his, and the sister went along with the fun and "chewed" on hers too.  They got these from their grandparent's farm this summer in Indiana.  They got to see the beaver's dam too.  School is never boring.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Hamburger, I Mean the Helpful Helpers

Okay, their official name is the “Helpful Helpers”, but after the Hamburger Helper people filmed our school on a field trip, we kinda like to use the name whenever we can.

The Helpful Helpers are the gentlemen in the orange room, grades three through six.  They help and encourage others.  The last week of school they made a little treasure hunt for all of the ladies in the orange room, and at the end, the ladies found little candy prizes. 
     Then, on the last day of school, the ladies in the orange room got together and filled pretty cups with candy, wrapped them up, and put a nice bow on them.  The ladies don’t have an official name yet, but I’m sure it won’t be the Hamburger Helpers. 
      A wonderful environment is created when the students are surprising and implementing nice little plans like these to be nice to each other.  God bless them, every one.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Birds, the Bees, and a Mini House; What Students Can Do in the Summer, Part III

     While I was visiting some of our students recently, they showed me some of the creative activities they had been enjoying this summer.   The sister was bird watching.  This is a scissor tail swallow nest in a tree so low you could just walk up to it and look inside.

      Her brother was learning to be a bee keeper.  It was going pretty well until all the bees escaped.  But before they flew off to wherever it is that bees go when they escape, they made these really neat honeycombs he can bring in for science next year.


     One day the brother and his father made this neat little cardboard house, with a door, window, and real metal roof.  Their mother has both her son and daughter enrolled in a summer reading club, and the sister is continuing her piano lessons             during the summer.

      There are many creative activities students can do and much they can learn in the summer.  Teach them to be looking at the world around them, and to always be learning something new, or to be busy with something they already know how to do and enjoy.  This type of learning continues beyond the classroom.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I sometimes feel as if my teaching experience is one big reenactment of my childhood.  I used to love treasure hunts.  I would even make them for myself.  But now I have students.  YAY!

They received their invitations a few days before.  They were four different colors designating their teams, the Purple Pilots, the Yellow Yodelers, the Magenta Minstrels, and the  Blue Balladeers, and other than the date, time, and place, all they read was, “Take me to your leader”.  On their desks, the leaders had a list of what they were supposed to bring: a compass, a shovel, a hat, paper and pen, a camera, a maritime flag code, and four quarters.  
They went all over our little metropolis of Rosebud-Lott.  They visited church member’s houses, climbed trees, looked inside newspaper machines, dug through the rubble of old storefronts, and performed a variety of other strange tasks.  After three hours, no one was done, the dinner was getting cold, and the cooks said we had to stop.  We should have done a trial run.  We were a little disappointed, but it was getting late.  We headed back to the grain bin and enjoyed barbeque chicken, rolls, potatoes, and apple pie.  The next day everyone who made honor roll got to go up to the grain bin on the property in back of the school and find a treasure chest full of cold drinks and peanut M&Ms.  

       Here are the clues; feel free to use whatever you want if you would like to try this with your group.  Many of them we gleaned from other sources.   

CLUE #1  Welcome to the Honor Roll Treasure Hunt.   Follow all the clues correctly, and you will find a little treasure at the end.       First, Draw a funny picture and go hang it on the “Lott Mennonite School” bulletin board.  You will find your next clue there.  

Clue #2

job 3
(They had to all look inside their Bibles; one team member had a clue in their Bibles at Job 3.)

Clue #3
Potty stops will slow you down, so make sure that everyone in your group goes to the bathroom before you leave. 

(Clues were in the bathroom.)

Clue #4
Your driver is ________________________ . 
Go and get in the car.  
Ask your driver for your next clue.  

Clue #5 
Some of the words here are misspelled.  Fill in the correct letters and you will find your next clue.
But first, you nead to find a fire hydrant.  Then dresh it in cloahes like a person.  Take a pfoto of your lovaly fire hydnant percon.  Then go to 

___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___ ‘ ___ . 

(When they got to Esther's house they got this clue.)
Clue #6 
Iron me on this side.
(The clue was written in lemon juice.  When they ironed it, light brown letters and numbers appeared. Esther had an iron and ironing board all ready IF they asked.  If they didn't and ran off with their clue, then they had to go find someone and ask them to use their iron.  This happened, of course.)

Clue #7  YY
a z w i n g l i n y t c o
d j u b v p q r e m o a r
i t b y a r p i w o y t r
d n o t m h j t r p v h y
w y b c u b u t x s u o b
y t m x u p r w c s r l p
r n l l i t s u n b y i m
x d o h j r d c p y f c m
a i y b f g d c p y r s n
__ __ __ __ __ __ __     __ __ __    __ __ __ 
__ __ __ __    __ __    __ __ ,   __ __ __  
__ __ __   __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ 
__ __ __ __ __    __ __ . 
(This one was a word find, but it didn't come out right when I pasted it here.  When all the blanks were filled in it read:  "Zwingli did not pray to me, but the Catholics still do."  A little information from our Anabaptist history class here.  By one of the statues at the Catholic church were the clues. My group was the first one there.  I was horrified to find a lady out trimming the bushes by our clues.  I kindly explained what we were doing and she said that was fine.  I didn't tell her that her forefathers killed mine.  I didn't figure that would go over too well with her, and I wanted to keep doing the treasure hunt.)

Clue # 9  YY
Look at your shirts and dig.

(There were stakes in the yard with the team colors on them.  All they had to do was to find their team's color and dig.  I got a phone call on this one.  It was dark and my husband's team could not figure it out, nor could they find their stake.  I had to explain it all to him.  He complained about this one the next day. Then I remembered this clue and the digging thing was HIS idea.  We all had a good laugh about it the next morning at devotions.

Clue #10 YY

Go to the 

ecnmxi      lija     repekes.
_____________   _________  ______________
(Mexican jail keepers)

(One of our school board parents who had dressed up in Mexican outfits for all four honor roll parties this year did it again and made a Mexican obstacle course.  It was a blast.  At the end she gave them a pitcher of cold water.  They had to figure out that their clue was frozen in the ice inside the pitcher.  Be careful if you try this one.  Use heavy-duty freezer bags.  Two of the clues worked, but two were all wet and unreadable.)

Clue #11 
 This clue was a Google map to Miller's Country Market

Clue #12   

La madre y el padre de un Tio Juan.  
(The mother and father of "Uncle John" -- the church brother who dressed up as "Uncle John" at an honor roll party last year and rowed us across the Ohio River in his canoe at the Underground Railroad Honor Roll Party.)

Clue #13 (Given to them by Uncle John)

Look up.

(There was a Medieval money pouch in their team's color up in a tree.)

Clue #14 
Within one tenth of a mile of your present location you will find your next clue under a picnic table.
(A few groups went to the picnic tables next door at school where they found the next clue: )

Fail.  Try again.

(Then they had to figure out that it was at the rest area picnic tables across the street.  When we got there two ladies were having dinner at the picnic table, so we had to ask them if they minded if we got a treasure hunt clue from under their table.  They laughed and let us.)

Clue #15 

Forester is Mrs. Swanson’s maiden name.
Uncle Heman rests here, just the same.  
(My long lost Uncle Heman was found buried within a tenth of a mile of the school where I've been teaching for three years.  No joke.  The clues were on his grave.)

Clue #16 

was a picture of  a rosebud  and a donut-

Clue #17

Oink, oink.  
Main Street.
Clue #18 
Here you can pay your water bill, 
Here you watch a cop sit still,
Here you can sit and rest a spell,
Here find your clue if you think it out well.  
(This clue was behind the benches in front of the Rosebud City Hall.  One student was all excited and ran in to "pay a water bill".  The problem was that the door was actually unlocked [at 7:00 at night] and there was an official meeting going on.  I apologized to the members while one of them ran to the window and pointed to the bench where the clues were.)

Clue #19  
                     This clue had a $1 bill taped to it and then a picture of General George Washington and a picture of a roll of toilet paper.  (Dollar General -- the clue was in between the packages of toilet paper.)

Clue #20 
While you are here (at the Dollar Store), buy a little present for the newlyweds and take it to them.
(There is a newly married couple from our church which lives nearby.)

Clue #21  

This clue had a logo of our school newspaper, the Cotton Caboose, and a picture of an ice cream cone.  The clue was at the local Dairy Queen behind the issues of the Cotton Caboose.

Clue #23 

Pony truss bowstring from the 1880s.  
(This clue was under the bridge at the park.  There was an article on this bridge, a pony truss bowstring bridge, in the last issue of the Cotton Caboose.)

Clue #24

Burgers, but not any more.  
Close to Mexican food.  
(The clues were taped under chairs in front of a defunct burger joint next to Los Camales Mexican Food restaurant.)

Clue #25 

75 cents will buy me.  


(This was one of the funniest clues of the night because not one of the students knew how to put the money in the machine and then pull the lever to get the clue out.  They kept pushing the coin return and getting their coins back, or pulling on the lever at the wrong time.  We laughed about this one the next few days too.)

Clue #26  

Claang  Claang   
Whooo   Whooo   
Nobody uses me anymore.

Clue #27 YY

Go to the Cefco.  
Face SW
Go exactly .3 of a mile.  
Find Paul.
(The clues were behind the sign at St. Paul's church.)

Clue #28 
Alley.  (Um-hm, ALLEY - you know who you are :-)
(They had to find the deposit drive-thru in the alley behind the bank.)  

Clue #29

You’ve reached the last clue.  

Now go get your prize.
Slaves hid here once and sang.

They were instructed to bring a maritime code decipher with them.

Translation: You’ve reached the last clue.  
Now go get your prize.
Slaves hid here once and sang.
(They were to go to the grain bin behind the school where we hid and sang at the Underground Railroad Honor Roll Party.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Coyote Roadkill and Tanning: Science Anyone?

      On the way to school one morning we saw an amazing road kill.  It was a coyote.  She was lying in the middle of the road with hardly a scratch on her.  I couldn’t resist picking her up and putting her on top of a trash bag I just happened to have in the back of our car.  As I did this, I waved for a man in a truck to pass us but he wouldn’t, he just waited.  I think he was being respectful as he thought I was some poor, bereaved woman picking up the remains of the family pet to take home for burial.  
     After we observed it at school, one of the students noticed that it was absolutely crawling with fleas.  Donning plastic gloves, two of our gentlemen carried it outside.

At morning break my science-loving son asked me if he could try and tan the hide.  “Ummm, . . . I guess so,” I muttered as I was pondering fleas, rigormortis, blood, skinning, and tanning.  “Put it in a trash bag and squirt water all over it,” I added as he smiled and ran outside.  “Oh dear, what have we gotten into now?” I wondered.  I should have known that those anatomy dissections last year might lead to this.  

That night as we headed out to a school board meeting around 7:30 p.m. the coyote was hanging from the back fence and two of my sons were beginning their task.  They were still at it, having moved to the garage when we got home.  They made it to bed by 2:00 a.m. and the coyote skin was safely soaking in salt water-- ears, nose, and tail included.  

    Next we submersed it in a vat of water, salt, and alum.  The alum was something new we wanted to try that I read about from a Viking reenactor.  Yes, he does real-life Viking reenactments.  After two weeks we took it out, washed it off, and kept it moving and stretching as it dried out.  He now has a lovely tanned coyote skin which adorns his piano bench.  And we had a unique opportunity to learn more about animals, anatomy, and tanning in the process.  


Saturday, August 9, 2014

What Students Can Do in the Summer, Part II

      The first week of our summer break a salesman appeared at our door.  A satellite dish salesman to be exact.  My husband politely explained to him that we don’t have, or watch television, or cable, or satellite or whatever it is they call it these days.  The man was very surprised, and intrigued.  He asked my husband some interesting questions.  One of them was, “What do you do all day?”  My husband explained to him that we spend time with our children, mainly.  

      That same day he and I had to go up to the school and take care of a bit of after-school business.  When we returned home, this is what we found our three school-aged children doing:

chemistry experiments, 

reading a missionary biography (I always give all my students an educational gift at the end of the year and this was hers this year),

and our youngest son took apart a vent-a-hood and then wired the fan and light and hooked it up to an extension cord.  It makes a really annoying noise when you stick cardboard in the fan blades while they are moving.  I didn't get a picture of this before he recycled all the metal, but here he is trying to put a chain saw motor on a moving dolly to make some sort of vehicle.  

      So, there begins our list.   In a way, they all three were essentially doing the same thing:  feeding their interests.   This all didn’t happen by accident.  Ever since they were very little we’ve been trying to figure out what interested each of our children.  And that changes, of course.  Our seventeen-year-old was crazy about volleyball and carpentry when he was ten years old.  Now it is chemistry, physics, and memorizing pieces by Franz Liszt on the piano.  
       I heard a fantastic series of lectures at a homeschool convention one year when we were homeschooling.  It changed my world, and my children’s world, for the good.  
There were two main points.

1.  Don’t force your child to read before their mind is ready.
2.  Feed your child’s interests.

          I listened to those at a very good time, because my special-needs son began reading at age six and progressed pretty well in that area.  And my normal, bright, son still couldn’t read at age eight.  I still worked with him every day with phonics and sight reading, but we didn’t get much accomplished until the end of third grade, when at the age of nine, he finally began catching on.  He’s taking calculus, physics, Spanish II, and trigonometry next year.  He loves to read and he loves learning.  I’m so glad I didn’t force him to read before he was ready.
       The second piece of information, “feed your child’s interests”, has also proved invaluable.  For our family it has included music lessons, hours spent in Radio Shack, animals, and research, lots of research.  Research is free, fun, and fabulous.  We have learned how to wire dimmer switches, make kites, shear sheep, build rockets, play oboes, sew large pink tents to cover girl’s beds, and many other fascinating things.  
      We “feed” what our children want to do.  If they read a book about something and want to dig a huge hole in the back yard, we dig with them.  If they want to go visit a castle, we find one and plan to go on a vacation there.  If they want to hear classical music concerts, we find free ones at the local universities and attend. 
       This year our youngest son was really interested in ducks--mallards to be exact, so we now have a breeding pair swimming around in a kiddie pool in our backyard right now.    We also research and build kites with him, and carefully allow him to take apart just about anything-- fans, clocks, vent-a-hoods, and weed eaters.  This week he is trying to build a go cart using an old chain saw motor we got for free from our lawn mower repair man.  Our daughter loves to sing, so we got her voice lessons, and after the Anabaptist Orchestra Camp last year, we bought her an oboe as she wanted to learn how to play that.  One of our sons wanted to learn piano, so after someone gave us a free piano, I taught him for about a year until he had advanced enough and proven to us that he was serious about it, then we found him a good teacher.  Our oldest son loves electronics.  We have always inexpensively provided him with gadgets that he could reconnect, build, construct, etc.  Now he loves to ride around our little town on his bicycle taking pictures.  He edits them on his hand-me-down computer and helps me with the webpage for his syndrome, Floating Harbor Syndrome. 
       This all didn’t happen just by accident. Before they were old enough to do all these things, we talked, read, went on walks, and did lots of puzzles.    Which brings me to the next post . . . . 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Old McDonald Had a Farm: Singing and Traveling with the Oasis Chorale, Part XII

     The basses were an interesting ensemble of men.  Here they are dancing with their arms locked as our conductor Wendell led us in singing "Old McDonald Had a Farm" after they put these masks on during a rehearsal.   Someone has a picture with them all wearing Burger King crowns in another rehearsal as well.   
     The last rehearsal and concert were both exhilarating and sorrowful.  The music was at its best as this was the end of the tour, and the parting was melancholy as we had gotten to know and appreciate each other, yet were now about to head off to our separate parts of the world. 

Adieu, Oasis Chorale 2014.  God be with you till we meet again.

The Class of 2030

     It was a softball night at church.  Normally I don’t even like to go.  I don’t like bugs, sweating, or anything that has the word “ball” in it.  I don’t run, and I can’t hit a ball with my foot or hand, much less a bat.  I only went because my husband begged me to, and I figured I could get next year’s seniors’ graduation requirements updated inside the office,  so I went. 

      Things went pretty well.  I was inside in the air conditioning, and it was quiet until . . . The Invasion of the Toddlers.  Here they came, three of them, and each one had a ball.  Bounce, bounce, bounce, thud, bang, whack.  Kick, hit, roll, bounce, bam, bounce.  I tried to work for awhile but it was useless.  And I already explained how much I love sports.  So, I got out a few puzzles, some dominoes, and then my daughter found a few farm animals.  (I specifically keep these things in the office for the preschool-aged children.  Whenever the little ones are in the school building, they know where to go.)  I gave a puzzle to two of them.  I showed them how to find the biggest or most obvious piece first, and then how to spin it around until it fits in the right place.  Next, the third little boy and I made a domino train.  Then we made a fence with the dominoes and put the farm animals inside it.  The play dad fed them while the play daughter climbed up on the silo.  Then the other two wanted to switch puzzles so I helped them again.  It was beginning to get a little boring over at the farm, so I decided that part of the fence would break and all the cows and horses escaped.  I was having fun now.  Forget the seniors’ paperwork.  We had cows to bring home.  
     So, we played for an hour or so.  They were having fun, thinking, figuring out how to stack dominoes, fit puzzle pieces in the right places, and how to get the cows back inside the fence.  By the time the softball game was over our little playgroup had doubled as a few of the older children wanted to join in the fun.  These little ones are going to be ready for school when it is their turn.