Monday, September 7, 2015

All About Me

Every year, I ask students to do an "About Me" book. We do a page each day, and the pages are laminated and bound and put in a basket to share.  And the kids LOVE sharing their books and learning about each other. I learn a lot about them too...who their families are, what's important to them, what their hobbies and talents are. And I always begin by showing them a sample book about me.  But my book is from a few years ago, and I realize that as the years pass, I change. The events in my life change me little by little, hopefully for the better. So here is the "about me" of 2015:)
This is my 35th fall school picture. I do not get a choice in this and it is what it is:) I wish I could edit the wrinkles.
This was my 22nd first day of teaching and my 18th first day with my lovely assistant.

Let's see...if I were filling in the blanks of my autobiography, it would start like this:
My name is Alicia.
I am 46 years old.
I have  0 brothers and sisters.
I live with my husband and two daughters and one crazy, stinky dog.

One of my favorite places is the NC coast. It isn't my absolute top choice of places to be, but it is pretty close to the top of my list.
 My girls are my heart and soul and my favorite sound in the whole world is the harmony they make when they sing together.

 This one is the younger one and she inspires me to keep my attitude in check. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during her sixth grade year, she never once complained, never asked "why me?", never seems to get discouraged, even with 8 finger sticks a day to monitor blood sugar and 4 shots a day, battling lows and highs and the crazy comments people make (her favorite- "My grandma has diabetes.") because they just don't understand. Bottom line is she inspires me because no matter what comes at her, she deals with it constructively and always with a sense of humor.

 This is the older one. This is what she looks like now, on her first day of college. I know, because I took this picture. I might have just had to drive up to see her for a very important reason. Like going to dinner. And because I had a hard time getting through the weekend looking at that clean, empty bedroom. And the empty spot on the couch.

And although I realize she is ready to be on her own, and independent, and incredibly smart, I still see her like this. On her first day of kindergarten. When she was also independent and smart. And she adamantly said "You're not going to follow me are you Mommy?... because I know where it is." I was lucky to get this picture. Sigh. Time goes incredibly fast in retrospect, so my advice to parents of young children would be to APPRECIATE EVERY MOMENT. Even when you're busy.  Just make the time, because it passes way too quickly.
And then there is this girl. This is the doleful,"please play with me" face.
And this is the "I've trained you well" face. This silly dog makes us laugh every day.

Things that make me happy... hiking for sure. Spending time in the mountains, being near or in  water, breathing fresh air, enjoying sunshine...I am definitely an outdoorsy person.  Not to be confused with athletic.  That, I am definitely not.

I recently did the Color Run in Charlotte, with these two teacher friends. THAT was fun. And I want to do another one. This was taken in front of the happy wall and it made me happy to be there. Because it was really close to the finish line.  And that made me happy:)

This also makes me happy, because it is where I spend 80% of my summer.  I drive an old car so I can have this and it is worth it to me (although my husband thought I was crazy).  I think of it as my own private lagoon and I can think of few things I like better than sitting out there listening to music, hanging out with friends, or reading.

 Which brings me to this. I will read ANYWHERE. If a person can be a book addict, I am one.

"Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them all."~ Henry David Thoreau

This is my escape during the school year. After spending the week indoors in fluorescent lighting and block walls, I recharge in nature. Preferably on a mountain top.

Which brings me to how I spend my weekdays. I will not say my job is easy. It is a challenge on the best of days. But I am incredibly blessed EVERY day because of the company with whom  I have the pleasure of spending time. My class this year has already stolen my heart.
My girls told me this bulletin board was creepy. As in "Really? You Wished for them, and Poof, they appeared?" I thought it was sweet.  And I am a victim of Pinterest, after all:) I did wish for them...I wished for a really sweet class, and I got one!  (and I did change it already, but that's beside the point.)
And there is something about first graders and new shoes that make the beginning of a new school year seem more exciting.  Of course when are new shoes not exciting? Now if they could tie their own, I'd be especially happy.
Who has heard of "Fancy Nancy"? She is a children's book character who likes to use a lot of "fancy" words. and French words. We are keeping track of them and trying to use them in conversation. Words like "Dazzling", and "crestfallen".  Our first word was "collywobbles". Mainly because that's what I never fail to feel on the first day. I think I have high anxiety. I tend to worry a little. Sometimes a lot. I've covered that in another post.

 So every year, on the first day of school, for the benefit of those who might also have collywobbles, we make this:  Jitter Juice... We make a big batch, we write the recipe, we read the story, we write  about our own jitters, etc.  Only this year, on our first day of school, the county superintendent visited our classroom with three board of education members as we were making labels for cups. It was highly educational. My jitters might have gone up a notch or twelve.

And then there are the "Kissing Hand" cookies. I know you know this story, so I won't summarize. I make these cookies every year, only this year I used different dough and they came out of the oven looking like giant baseball gloves, so I had to improvise.  There's a good word. One I use a lot:)

 And then there was the bus safety day. We have 17 car riders. Sometimes 18. These children are excited about bus safety evacuation drills, let me tell you. When you don't GET to ride a bus, it's incredibly awesome to sit on a hot bus and hear all about new bus signals and what to do if a bus turns over, and how to get out safely, and how to stay in one's seat, etc. As a reward for watching two safety videos and being fantastic listeners, we made bus cookies:) Another fact about me. I will use any excuse to eat cookies.

Fun Fridays...woohoo!! These sweeties have racked up the gold tags because they are serious about their Fun Friday free time! This one is the science center and it has been the number one pick for two weeks in a row. (That's a milk experiment, in case you're wondering:)
 The teacher center...the whiteboard...ohmiword. It's a little embarrassing, because little girls like to pretend to be me and Mrs. Mitchum. And it cracks me up to hear them imitating the things I say...

 The writing center...
 The Lego center...

 THIS one was priceless. I dragged out the CASSETTE tapes with books for the listening center. (And yes we have ipads and new headsets, but this is a little history of technology lesson too:) I have a whole collection of books with cassettes..and an ancient (probably 1975 model) tape player with four headphones. This little guy held up the tape and said "WHAT IS THIS?!) And when he learned what it did, this was the look he gave. As I said, priceless.

 Fun Friday also includes ice cream. Did I mention that this class is precious?? And I do feel lucky to spend my days with them.


 A random day in Letterland.. doing live spelling with props.
 The prize for cleaning up the centers and not leaving me with it on Friday afternoon...Color Changing Straws. I'll pick a healthier alternative next week:) This one did the trick though!
 Here was a prize I found on my desk during Fun Friday... first little girl- "Mrs. Raby, I made you some flowers."
Second little girl - "Mrs. Raby, I made you some poop." (giggle giggle) Gotta love 'em.
 Can't wait to share next week's fun. We will be continuing a camping theme, then County Fair throughout September. Stay tuned:)
I guess my "All About ME" is mostly about the people around me who make my life rewarding. These little sweeties keep me laughing, keep me thinking, keep me busy, and keep me young:)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Our Year at a Glance


     As I sit here on a snow day, organizing photos and reflecting on all my little first grade sweeties, (and I admit that they do seem sweeter as I am having a nice, calm, quiet day:) I realize how much each one has grown in a few short months. And in just another few months, they will transition on to yet another grade. I truly am thankful for each one of them and for the opportunity to spend my days surrounded by such energy! I wanted to share some of our highlights of the year with you.
Beginning where I left off in October?
Below are banana ghosts and popcorn hands. We eat really well in this class!
                      Skeletons made from Cheetos: I'm not sure they are proportioned exactly...
Sink and float experiment with a pumpkin. Of course we had to gut it and count the seeds. By tens and ones:) Then we toasted them and ate them.
We talked at length about bats and spiders. We also went on a spider hunt, which was great fun.  We sprayed the webs with water to identify the type of web.

And then there was the day of the tornado warning/watch...not once but twice.. and school was dismissed late. The kids were great, considering how long they had to sit still in that hallway! (and yes, they did assume the "tornado position" until their legs started falling asleep!)


And then we had the fiftieth day of school!!

                                                      The greasers....
                                                      The sock hoppers....
                                                      Doesn't get much cuter...
                                                  Reading some "Dick and Jane"

                                       I guess he just prefers the ice cream in his root beer float:)
                                                     Cheerwine floats must be better!

November is always fun, We learned about Native Americans, early NC history, and made some pumpkin bread in the Crockpot. We talked about Sarah Hale, the woman who never gave up on persuasive writing, and basically saved Thanksgiving as we know it.

And we made turkey cookies. I knew we ate a lot, but I'm not sure I realized how much we celebrate with food in this class!!




What did we ever do before the elves started making themselves visible??
In December, we did Christmas Around the World activities, and did some themed activities with the books "Mooseltoe", "Gingerbread Baby", "Gingerbread Goes Animal Crackers" and "Polar Express". The pictures below were taken on our pajama day when we watched the movie of "The Polar Express" and had a chocolate fountain in our room.

                             I only had myself to blame for the high um..."energy"...that day!

 Gingerbread house making is always a special time, and we had plenty of help, thank goodness! I know the kids really enjoyed this activity and having their parents and grandparents help!




Such creativity!

And a finished product to be proud of!
 We began January with days cold enough for delays and a hot chocolate bar. We also turned it into a math opportunity with marshmallows and hot chocolate themed calculations and graphs.
                               And then there was 80's Day!!
 We listened to eighties tunes, compared technology and tv shows, clothing, hairstyles, and did an entire unit based on radical vocabulary words and Pac Man math.

 These two were vintage...wearing their parents' clothes! PARENTS people...from the eighties!! I'm feeling really OLD.

And then we took a close look at the moon. We identified the phases using Oreos (I'm starting to feel a little embarrassed about the food activities at this point:) We took turns taking home the "Moon Bag" and charted our observations in a notebook.

                           This was a "moon mobile". Can you name all the phases?
We explored magnetism.
                                               We took a break and made a little music...

We played a math game called "Stack Em Partner" to compare numbers and find differences.

 And then we had a Valentine Party. I so love Valentine's Day with the firsties. Everybody gets cards, everybody gets candy, and everybody feels loved. And the valentine boxes were outstanding!

 These were only a few of them. I wanted to add every single one, because they were all precious.
 And this sweet girl missed our party because she was sick. So I wanted to include her and her Rapunzel cute.
 GUNG HAY FAT CHOY! We learned all about Chinese New Year and things about China that even I didn't know. (like Cormorant fishing..yuck!) We learned how rice is grown, about the Great Wall, Mt. Everest, animals of China, New Year traditions, and best of all, how to eat with CHOPSTICKS!

 Coming up next....Dr. Seuss Day...March 2nd! There will be food. And fun. And a little chaos and a whole lot of noise. And we will learn in the process:) But for now, I shall sit by the fire and enjoy the rest of my snow day in my fuzzy socks with a book!