Monday, November 29, 2010

Funniest Kindergarten Moment!

Said during a discussion about angels, and how they are always with us:

 "I think our angels must laugh their heads off at how silly we are sometimes." 

Yes, child, I think they must.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Funniest Kindergarten Moment!

Funniest Kindergarten moment of the day...
 Me: "What does this letter say?"
 Student: "That's an H."  
 Me: "What sound does it make?"  
 Student: "It's like Horse."  
 Me: "Yes, Horse starts with H.  What sound does it make?"  
 Student: "Neeee-iii-ggg-hhh.  HAHAHAHAHHA"  

*Student falls off of his chair in hysterics.  So does the rest of the class.*

I nearly died laughing.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rice Flour Cookies

Student Opinions: "Yum!" "Much better!" "I like this!"
My Opinion: "Yick. Grainy. Aftertaste.  So not worth my time."

Experiment Result:  I discovered that it's yucky to try new things without all of the proper ingredients (ie, a full mix of different kinds of wheat-free flour).  I also rediscovered that I'm very very very grateful to not have food allergies of my own.  Real ingredients make a massive difference!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Allergies, Part Two

So, we tried our cookies today. The dough was passable, but the cookies never really hardened enough in the freezer to be edible.  That means (to the students' great excitement!) that we'll try another "experiment" tomorrow.  It will involve rice flour (instead of the oat bran) and brown sugar (instead of the white sugar).  We'll see!  The dough should be stiffer, which will help.  I'll let you know!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Allergies, Politics, and Staff Meetings...

It's sad when a person has a wonderful day, which is then spoiled by the politics of staff meetings.  What a way to spoil a day!

Then, how about adding a last minute cookie baking requirement to my Thursday?  I actually knew it was a possibility, but was admittedly ignoring it.  There is something really intimidating about the following scenario:
--make cookies with your class.  Your students have the following restrictions:  wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, no candy, no artificially coloured/flavoured ingredients.  Oh yes, one student hates chocolate.  Really, really hates it.  The kitchen is unavailable.  PS--you have no brown sugar, the store is closed, there isn't a chance to hit the only grocery store in town after it opens tomorrow.

Seriously?!?!  This is not some random optional challenge, either!  The cookie-making is part of School Spirit Week, and was just a victim of unfortunate timing when it comes to kitchen availability.  The allergies/food restrictions are a very real part of my every day reality.

So, this is the plan.  I've got a recipe for Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls.  These are the listed ingredients: butter, brown sugar, vanilla, water, flour, chocolate chips.  These are the ingredients that we are going to experiment with tomorrow:  margarine, white sugar, vanilla, water, oat bran (I don't have any oat flour, of course), and chocolate chips (which the chocolate-hater can skip!).  If I broach the idea as an experiment, a science project, the kids will love it.  Using margarine will eliminate the need to soften the butter.  I'll take my own mixer, and will fight for/beg for/borrow/steal freezer space.  We'll make them early in the that if it all falls apart I can call in reinforcements (aka: Soy Boy's mother to bring in a wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free treat!).

If they turn out, I will share the recipe tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

School Spirit Week

I love School Spirit Week.  Granted, much instructional time is "lost" due to the changes to the schedule, but it's worth it!  Yesterday was "Stuffy Day",  where each student could bring a favourite stuffy or two to school.  We had to do full-on introductions for each visitor to our classroom, of course!  Today was "Pajama Day"...which was awesome.  The kids were darling and oh-so-comfy.  One little one wore a fuzzy polka-dotted pair of footed pajamas...and looked so very very little!  Another commented that "this is the most comfortable that I've EVER felt at school!"  I enjoyed it as well.  Sweatpants, t-shirt, and fuzzy slippers are so much easier when sitting on the floor!  Dress clothes? What dress clothes?
Tomorrow is Skating Day...bound to be awesome...and amusing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sesame Songs!

In the spirit of being happy that the long weekend was so awesome, sad that tomorrow is Monday, and yet happy to be back with the kids...a medley of Sesame Songs, to match my mixed up mood!  I couldn't narrow my choices down very pick one at random and see if it doesn't make you smile!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remembrance Day

Every year I am saddened by the declining health of our veterans.  We had a special Remembrance Day ceremony this week, and had a local veteran come and talk to the students.  Amidst all of the expected talk of war and guns (popular conversations, of course!) I really appreciated the way that this lovely gentleman emphasized that most veterans are "pro-peace, not pro-war."  That's what we needed to hear!  That's the focus I try to give for my students.

These veterans are getting old.  They're getting sick.  They're not around anymore.  I haven't checked this statistic for myself, but according to our guest the WWII veterans are dying at a rate of about 2000 each month. Even if his number is exaggerated, it's sad.

Despite this, I am so pleased by the responses of my students to our Remembrance Day discussions.  They gave me such gems as this:

"The soldiers are like the Mommy at the end of Love You Forever...we have to finish the song for them."

What an amazing connection for a little one to make!

Shannon Gerber

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Long Day is Over...

Today served as a good reminder for me...a reminder that two grades is easy, three grades isn't so very bad, but four grades is miserable.  Our Grade 2-3 teacher was unable to teach today and her students joined my class. This still kept me well under the provincial classroom cap, but felt like easily twice as many kids as there actually were!  It was really nice, actually, to see how my students from last year had progressed.  The kids were all (K-3 inclusive) remarkably well behaved, especially seeing as everything was different with the addition of the second class.  However, I have come to the following conclusions:

1.  The amount of energy required to keep on top of all potential behavioural conflicts in this group needed twice as much coffee as I'd had this morning.
2.  If I ever have to run a big grade spread again, I will ensure that I spend the extra kazillion or so hours to match up all of the curriculum and units of study (as much as possible) so that I'm not having to teach four entirely different curricula to the four grades.  Differentiated levels within the units, absolutely.  That said, my provincial curriculum just doesn't lend well to blended classrooms of more than two grades (in specific combinations).
3.  A ration of 3-1 in the boys-girls category is just not fun.
4.  It is especially important for teachers of many grades to get a break at some point in the least for five or six minutes!  The more grades you have, the more crucial it is to use absolutely every minute productively.
5.  Finally, I am so glad that I had the opportunity to really hammer in the importance of being able to sit still for increasing periods of time in order to do seatwork/read stories, from a very early age.  It made all the difference in the world today that all of the students were capable of working mostly independently so that I could work with other grades.  (Granted, I don't have a tendency to plan very much "sit still and work quietly" time through the day.  It is important, but active learning is so much more effective.)

So, now that I have crashed on my couch for the rest of the evening, I'll leave you with one of my favourite Norah Jones songs!

Monday, November 8, 2010


I will freely admit that I love long weekends.  Don't get me wrong, I love my students, I love teaching, and I usually don't mind the interactions with other adults...but I love long weekends!  This is a three day teaching week, as Thursday is Remembrance Day (a school holiday) and Friday is a Non-Instructional Day.  When you live here, that's code for "work your butt off at the beginning of the week so that you can go downisland (one word, in these parts) and shop/visit people/schedule medical appointments/stop at Costco/go to concerts/catch a hockey game/stop at Starbucks without feeling guilty".   Professional Development days (all three) are ok, but Non-Instructional Days (again, three) are gold!  Everyone understands that students, parents and teachers alike need to get to a bigger center!  This weekend I'll be meeting up with my Mom and we'll spend a few days OFF! No lesson planning, no grading, no guilt.  Granted, we'll probably both be guilty of buying school supplies and resource materials.  However, it's our OWN time!  Yaaaaaaaaaay!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Muffin Tin Mondays

One of the exciting changes to my classroom this year is the addition of an event called "Muffin Tin Mondays", where our lunch every Monday is served in a muffin tin!  All of it!  This may not sound exciting to you, but to five and six year olds this is pretty darn thrilling.  It's also pretty awesome for the parents (and teacher) who get to have a day off from packing a lunch.

I began planning for this over the summer, found my muffin tins on sale at Michaels, and started planning what I hoped would be exciting menus for our meals.  I had visions of mini sandwiches, muffins, cutely shaped fruits and veggies, etc.  I knew that I would have a small class, so I pictured having parents rotate through helping provide the meals, each bringing in a "class set" of something every two or three weeks.

My school is a Peanut-Free zone, which is actually pretty easy to work with...but then I was hit with a triple whammy.  One of my small fry is allergic to eggs, wheat, and dairy.  Eggs, wheat, AND dairy!  Not only that, but to get specialty food items which he can eat is freaking expensive and nearly impossible in this more isolated region.  Another student is not allowed candy.  Sweet treats, yes, but no candy.  Ever.  Even at Halloween.  What a curveball!  

So, our Muffin Tin Monday meals are slightly different than anticipated.  Heavier on the fruits and veggies (a good thing, I know), very little dairy (and when there is cheese, this student brings soy cheese.  He calls himself Soy Boy.  It's hilarious!), lots of popcorn, very little wheat, and next to no treats.  Fortunately this dear student's mother is a prolific baker who is always willing to provide the class with something safe to eat!  For the most part, I've found it easier to provide much of the meal myself, in order to avoid all possible allergens.

(This is from our first special lunch!)

It's a good thing that the little ones are always excited to eat their meals from the muffin tins...even if they are eating grapes and carrots.  Again.

Tomorrow's menu?  Carrots, blueberries, apple slices, pear slices, crackers with Nutella, popcorn, and cheese cubes.  Yummy!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Forest Adventures!

One of the things that you quickly learn when living in a island community like this one is that sunny days are few and far between (especially at this time of year!), and when they come you have to get out!  This was one of those "Quick! Get your coats! Get your outside shoes! Get your explorer hats! Get your shovels!  We're going on a bear hunt!" kind of moments!

That first picture is from the beginning of our forest adventure...after the hats, paper binoculars, and shovels had become more of a hindrance than a help.    :)  Would you believe that this is only about 100 metres from our classroom?

We hiked for about 10 minutes before finding this excellent clearing.  Hills, stumps, fallen logs, standing trees...lots of dirt, and lots of fun!

We found a bear den!  Only, it wasn't really a den, it wasn't big enough for a bear, and it was completely unoccupied.  That didn't stop the imaginations!

We hacked several fallen logs to smithereens with our little shovels...yay for wet, rotting, crumbly wood!

There were plenty of opportunities for climbing, balancing, and scaring the teacher!

Unfortunately, the only pictures of the kids investigating with magnifying glasses has too much detail of their faces, so I can't post them here.  

What a great way to spend part of an afternoon!

PS--Check out the short update on the cookie baking endeavour, found on the previous blog post...

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Joys of a Small School...

One of the unique things about teaching in a small school, located in a small community, is that teachers have the opportunity to interact daily with many students who are in many different classes. This year, for example, in addition to teaching all subjects to Kindergarten and Grade One students, I also teach P.E. every day to Grades Two and Three and Music once a week for Grades Seven and Eight. I was one of the sponsors for the flag football tournament two weeks ago, which involved 22 hours of driving (round trip), four hours on a ferry (round trip), three hours waiting for the ferry, multiple stops at gas stations/stores/etc, and camping out with the entire team at my Mom's place over a four day period.

*side note* Whenever possible, do long trips with a group of kids who are accustomed to the mantra that "if we miss this ferry we have to wait at least two more hours"...they know to keep their bathroom/snack breaks really fast. Man, that part was easy! Even stopping at the mall with a bunch of teenagers was easy! Nothing like living over four hours away from the nearest big center to really increase the amount of desire amongst everyone for some "big city shopping!" Also, EB Games is a wonderful babysitter. I dropped my collection of boys off there, told them not to leave, and did a ten-minute whirlwind tour of the bookstore, chocolate shop, and Starbucks. Fun times!

*back to the point* The trip was actually very fun, and quite painless, and tonight the football team is having a scavenger hunt party. Sometime in the next hour I expect groups of students to be converging upon my apartment to bake cookies, eat cookies, and deliver cookies to someone else, before heading off on their next task.

Why am I saying all of this? Why am I rambling on with atrociously long run-on sentences? Here's why. I love teaching in a school system where this is all "ok"...where I don't have to worry that someone is going to flip out about their preteens stopping at a teacher's house on a Friday night (with their drivers, of course), and where we can enjoy time spent in and out of school with a variety of people. Don't get me wrong. The system in which I work has it's downsides. Major downsides. The community in which I live has it's downsides, too (*cough* over four hours to the nearest bookstore *cough*). But, I get to bake cookies with the big kids on a Friday night. Awesome!

Now to end with the funniest Kindergarten moment of the week!

Small boy, "E", sticks his juice box and straw in front of my face and says "Open It."

I, obviously, respond with "E! You need to ask me nicely!"

He flutters his eyelashes, looks endearingly at me, and says in his most convincing voice... "will you please open my juice box, Sweetheart?"

I die.


Grade Seven and Eight students learned that it's not possible to make cookies "bake faster!", and had to be deterred from trying the "turn the oven up to 500 degrees" method...too fun!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Midweek Madness

It's amazing how one little thing can throw off an entire week. For us it's Week of Prayer. That means that the first half hour of every day is over in the church for assembly. Sounds good, and they've been enjoying the meetings, but it means that the routine of the day is different. Routines being as crucial as they are, this is a bad thing! We'll survive for one more day, then have a three day week next week...then a long weekend! Woohoo!

Joke of the day: Why do we carry umbrellas when it rains? Because umbrellas can't walk!

Non-Joke of the day: What do you get when you combine a sunrise at 8:26am, dark clouds, heavy rain, a migraine, a couple of burned out lights, a change in routine, and cranky children? Grumpy Teacher.