Monday, January 21, 2019

Travel Achievement Party 2019 with "The Thang"

After the students received their passport invitations on Monday  telling them to bring a suitcase, passport, gloves, a hat, a spoon, a pillow, and a hostess gift; this is what the ladies' bathroom looked like Thursday morning.  

And this is what was wheeled into my classroom and opened,  much to my surprise, at lunch. 

After school the students played basketball for awhile while we set up.  Then they arrived, were given their tickets, had their luggage scanned, went through our fancy metal detector, and sat in the waiting area until we boarded our flight.  Check-in agents were (L to R) seventh-grade teacher Caleb Martin, Levi Swanson, and sixth-grade teacher Wanda Hoover.

After take off, we watched a safety video compiled by our very own Shalom Supersonic Airlines crew. (Here are our pilot, Major Discomfort, and his helper, "The Thang".) We "landed" in Mexico, had our passports stamped, and enjoyed appetizers and mariachi music.  

Our host in Mexico was first-grade teacher Laurie Martin.  Afterward the students took their hats out of the luggage and we learned the Mexican Hat Dance.  

Back on the plane the flight attendants served drinks and a choice of pretzels or peanuts.  After landing, our next stop was in Italy where the students were served Italian wedding soup and salad at a fancy Italian restaurant.  

The activity in Italy was for each table of four to stack their luggage up as high as they could.  We call this the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  The winning group somehow got four suitcases up to ninety-six inches.  
Faith Builders' student interns LoisAnn Landis and Yolanda Lichty were our gracious hosts in Italy.

After leaving hostess gifts, we ran back to the plane.  We had a loss of cabin pressure and had to don oxygen masks during this flight.  (Flights aboard Shalom Supersonic Airlines are never boring.)  

Our next stop was in Lebanon where the students sat on the pillows they had packed into their suitcases. Our hosts here included fourth-grade teacher Dorcas Shirk and teacher apprentice Mary Swanson.  We then partook of a Middle Eastern meal and broke bread, dipped it in olive oil; and ate fish, raisins, olives, grapes, and cheese.  After dinner, we had to vacate the premises when some intruders chased us off as strobe lights flashed and alarms sounded.  

On the last leg of our journey, we braced in crash position as our plane accidentally landed in the Swiss Alps.  All of the passengers were unhurt, and we crossed over a mountain (a snowy parking lot) and begged for refuge at a Swiss chalet (Jeff's music room at Terre Hill Mennonite High School) where the kind homeowner (Kay Fisher) served us hot chocolate and apple strudel.  After we were warmed up, we sang one of my favorite songs, "An Austrian Went Yodeling", and said our good-byes to the chalet owner.  

The students, as usual, were a great help to us in cleaning up all the mess which covered three classrooms, the hallway, the stairway, and the all-purpose room.  They even vacuumed my classroom for me!  Appreciative students are such a blessing.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Fraktur (German: [fʁakˈtuːɐ̯] A Calligraphic Hand of the Latin Alphabet . . .

I learned about fraktur* while reading a biography of Christopher Dock.  He would create these beautiful pieces of art using paint and the lettering style called fraktur, and then give them to his students for rewards.  Here is a picture of an actual one that he made.

 I studied it a little more when I found a large capital fraktur "S" at a thrift store and then hung it in my classroom.  

I thought it would be educational for my students to learn how to do this sometime.  So, after we had made our homemade journals, I figured this would be the perfect time.  I gave each student a copy of a relatively easy fraktur alphabet and asked them to make at least one fraktur initial for a Creative Art Journaling Friday assignment.  As usual, several of them did way more than that and surprised me.  

The next week, I found these examples of hearts, birds, deer, and a horse from other fraktur examples and printed out small copies of them for the students to use.  Their next assignment was to add at least one of these drawings, with color, to their name or initial page.  

Here are some of the results from my students' homemade journals.  Two of them were done by gentlemen :-).  

I looked like so much fun that I made one as well.

*From Wikipedia:
Fraktur (German: [fʁakˈtuːɐ̯]) is a calligraphic hand of the Latin alphabet and any of several blackletter type faces derived from this hand. The blackletter lines are broken up; that is, their forms contain many angles when compared to the smooth curves of the Antiqua typefaces modeled after antiqueRoman square capitals. From this, Fraktur is sometimes contrasted with the "Latin alphabet" in northern European texts, which is sometimes called the "German alphabet", simply being a typeface of the Latin alphabet.  Similarly, the term "Fraktur" or "Gothic" is sometimes applied to all of the blackletter typefaces (known in German as Gebrochene Schrift, "Broken Script").

Thursday, January 10, 2019

How to Make a Homemade Journal

When studying history, I have occasionally read about people making their own journals when it was costly to buy one, or when they just weren't available.  So, one day in history class, we made these.  Then we used them to actually write and draw in for our English class journal entries.  Here's how we did it.

1.  Fold paper.  (We used one piece of brown construction paper and two pieces of off-white construction paper.)  
2.  Use a ruler to mark the edge of the folded paper every half inch.

3.  Using a writing pen as an awl, poke holes all the way through the paper.  (If this was difficult we did one page at a time using the pen marks as guides.)

4.  Using the pen as an awl again, push yarn through the holes and pull until tightened.

4.  Tie the yarn in the middle and wrap the leftover ends around the journal. 

5.  Write in it!  My students loved this.  They said it felt like they were "really old-timey people."  

We have done all of the following:  fraktur (or fractur -- pictures coming soon), a Lewis and Clark animal drawing, and a slave narrative.  I have plans to do more.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Basketweaving 101 -- Seriously!

I found these kits and thought that this would be a great hands-on project for my eighth grade history class.  It would be a neat skill to learn, and it would be something that covered several periods of history -- medieval, colonial, and Native American.  And, I thought it would be easier that it was.  Even though these are supposed to be in the "easy" category, they were more challenging than I thought they would be.  Nevertheless, my talented students pulled it off, and the results were lovely.  I always take one home to complete myself so I will know exactly what to expect.  The project took me two hours, but with all twenty-one of them it ended up taking us four hours, but it was worth it.  We were satisfied with our results and only a little bit frustrated.     

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Turkey Lurkey

The first time I saw this I didn't have a camera with me, and the second time I saw it someone (NOT I!) had corrected it.  So, since I was editing the phone number anyway, I tried to create it in its original state.  Lovely.  

And, whoever corrected it added an "e", but they left the apostrophe there.  Minus 10 points for punctuation as well.  

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Seventh Grade Chapel and a Very Hairy Man

Our last all-school chapel was presented by our creative 7th grade class and their teacher, Mr. Caleb.  We traveled to eight different stations all over the downstairs of the school and learned all about the apostle Peter -- how he trusted God, followed God, doubted at times, but was faithful.  This is a picture of Mr. Swanson with one of the seventh graders in his costume -  incognito!  

Monday, December 31, 2018

Journal Assignment: Draw Squiggly Lines

One reason I really enjoy our Creative Art Journaling Fridays is because they give my students a chance to do exactly that-- to be creative with art.  And that is good for their brains.  I have seen the results: their projects are more creative; their writing is more creative; and they are, in general, more creative.  And that is a good thing.  

To encourage this to happen I do three things.

1.  I give them the assignment. (If you would like a list of the creative art journaling assignments, or regular journal writing assignments, email me at littleflock7 at and just ask.) 

2.  I give them a few ideas.  (For example, for this one, "Draw squiggly lines," I told them that they could use different colors, and that they could draw hearts or animals or whatever, as long as they were all connected together in a line.  The limitations help their brains think differently.)

3.  After I grade their journals each week, I read or hold up the best ones (so that the other students can't see whose journal it is) so that the other students can see or hear their fellow students' work.  This encourages the ones who did extra good work, and it motivates the other students giving them ideas.

Is it okay to draw a hanging green gorilla man hanging on the lines?  Of course, it is. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Non-White, Non-Rectangular, 3D Poster Projects

I get so busy during the year I often don't post things I would have liked to, so here is a flash back to last spring's poster projects.

For the last history project of the year (the easiest one after we've done our three-dimensional projects and our research papers), the students complete a poster board project.  The topic must be one that we've studied in the last semester of world history.  There are a few specifications that I think really help their presentations.
1.  The topic must be something we've covered in the last semester of world history and must be approved by the teacher.
2.  The poster board may not be white.
3.  The poster board may not be in the shape of a rectangle.
4.  It must have a three-dimensional object attached to it that directly relates to the topic.
5.  It must include the following:  title, dates, a map, a photograph or drawing, and two paragraphs: one which states the main events or details on the subject, and a second which describes how history was changed or affected because of the topic.  
These specifications almost force them to be creative.  It works.