Saturday, November 29, 2008

Back Home

Despite my family's sniffles, snorks and daughter's quick exits to the bathroom the day before (oh, the creeping crud is really going the distance with us this year), we managed to fly to Indiana to see family over Thanksgiving break. We were good- we kept our Kleenexes to ourselves, covered our mouths and noses, and kept a mini container of hand-sanitizer nearby. Other than the preschooler using his feet to express his interest in the items he found in the airline catalog (apologies, Poor-Woman-who-was-in-the-seat-in-front-of-him), the flight was short and uneventful. We landed in Chicago, and drove from there to my in-laws' farm.



The fresh air worked its magic on the kids. They spent a lot of time outdoors, running with the dog, chasing the farm cats, climbing over tractors, and swinging in tree swings. I wrapped and packaged steaks and ground meat from the deer my husband shot while hunting with my father-in-law a few days before. I crocheted, cleaned up after the kids, and played with the settings on my camera:











We drove back Friday, getting home at bedtime. Though ten hours long, my husband and I enjoyed the extra chat time, and fancied ourselves the "cool travelers" that helped kids playing License Plate Bingo win some extra points... Alaskan license plates seem more common around military bases than they are driving through the Heartland. We're having our own turkey dinner with the fixin's tonight, with pumpkin pie later for dessert, since Thanksgiving on the farm featured roast beef, delicious, though non-traditional for us. Family, nummy food, and quiet snow...a wonderful way to say goodbye to November.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving



(comic from DryBones)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hooked on the ABC Song

I'm not sure why the ABC song keeps grabbing my attention...

Here's one by Super Simple Songs:


...and Elmo singing with India Arie:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You Know You're Sick (again) When...

~ You use an entire large box of opened-that-morning Kleenex before noon.

~ No matter how much you fiddle with the knobs, there is no comfortable shower temperature to be found.

~ The only thing keeping your screaming, yelling, wrestling, fussing, overly-assertive All-boy preschooler alive is the fact that you're (lucky for him) *not* the type of carnivore that eats her young.

~ You can't swallow, because it hurts. You can't blink, because it hurts. You can't breathe, because it hurts, though the blogging drive seems to keep one's typing fingers pain-free...

~ You point blank say "Excuse *you*?" to the "parent" behind you in line at WalMart (buying more Kleenex!) after you hear her repeatedly address her child as "Turd" as she tries to pry his fingers off of the candy, toys, magazines, etc.

~ It's either too hot or too cold in the house...never "just right."

~ The cat, who usually craves your constant attention, won't come near you with a ten foot pole.

~ Your cold meds and pain relief tablets start to give you heartburn at bedtime...joy.

*****

Though there is so much in my life for which I'm thankful, this week I'm craving long term good health. This one week on, one week off routine is incredibly draining.

*****

Check out these germs from 52 Freckles:





Monday, November 24, 2008

Updated the Blog

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Don't mind me, I've updated the blogroll so that dead links were tossed, a few bloggers relocated to new categories where they seem to "fit" better, and new links were added.

I'd like to add another category, "Talking in the Teachers' Lounge" that will feature posts from teachers who use their blog primarily to reflect on their teaching practices. Many of the teachers I feature in my "Nationwide PLC" category are terrific resources, providing links to materials, ideas, media releases, and educational policy topics. Many new and not-so-new teachers also post about day to day successes and frustrations, chronicling their adventures in teaching, and it's their voices I'd like to add to the mix.

If you blog responsibly (you don't use students' or colleagues' names), you know how to use the spell check feature (hello, we're teachers), and would like to be considered for addition to my blogroll, leave a comment with a link back to your blog and I'll drop by after Thanksgiving for a peek.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hello Winter, it's Glitter Time!

The Stars enjoyed making their patterned trees for their winter forest, but in December, we'll learn about some family holidays too, such as Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hannukah, Los Posadas, etc.

When I asked my Stars who their favorite winter character was, they surprised me with their overwhelming response:

RUDOLPH the Red Nosed Reindeer! I admit, I was expecting Santa or some elves, but thankfully, I had enough red glitter on hand for the Stars to use on their chosen art project:



Cut a large tan triangle from 9"X12" construction paper, make a stencil for antlers (or just run off a pair on construction paper and have the students cut them out), and use three construction paper ovals, two white for the eyes, one red for the nose. I think glitter sticks best to wet/liquid glue, so my Stars used a sponge-y brush to paint a thin layer onto the red noses before shaking red glitter on top.

I've asked my students *why* Rudolph has a red nose- their responses will be posted around the reindeer display next week:



*****

Adding some red and green into the mix, our Fifth Grade Buddies helped us make elf characters! We chose skin color crayons to match our own complexions, cut out the face, mittens and shoes, and glued them together with a large rectangle body and rectangle arms. Their names were written in glue on the hats and multi-colored glitter was sprinkled on top (still drying when I took this photo):



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I've added multi-colored wooden star garland around the tops of the staple boards, and our winter forest display in the book/calendar/morning message center is ready for us to add winter words/vocabulary:



The pattern above our desks this month is *Christmas tree, candy cane, snowy tree, snowy tree, Christmas tree, candy cane, snowy tree, snowy tree*:



*****

In case you're worried I've jumped the gun in having my students help me transform our classroom before Thanksgiving, never fear:

~ Open House was Thursday night, so all of our November artwork, writing, and special projects were shared with families. Friday, all of it was sent home so that students could prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday.

~ This week, we'll only have class on Monday and Tuesday, having the last three days off for Thanksgiving Break. When the students return to school, it will be December 1.

~ Students will only have three weeks of school before Winter Vacation (and the last two school days will be spent enjoying our classroom party, taking artwork down to use at home, and prepping the room for January (I see mittens and snowflakes in our future!).

~ Students benefit from having ownership of and say in what happens in our classroom. With very chilly weather visiting us for the first time this week, it became obvious winter is here to stay. Not surprisingly, the Stars were eager to say goodbye to all things autumn-ey.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter!

In this corner, not a turkey, cornucopia or cluster of maize in sight:



While in this corner, a lone cornucopia, autumn quilt, and honeycomb turkey are slowly herded out by snowy border and a bare staple board:



December is a short month, so I stretch the room's seasonal decor and student displays with a winter forest theme instead of just winter holidays:



I cut large trees in green, light blue, and white off-the-roll paper...



...and use the larger scraps to make smaller trees for my students:



I stapled two trees together and stuffed them with tissue paper or coffee filters (which can be re-used for other crafts at a later date):



I love how the happy colors peek through:



Then I added some fiesta fringe (I find rolls of it in the gift-wrap section of stores like Michael's or Hobby Lobby):



And voila! Three stuffed paper trees...



...which join the plain trees, as well as the patterned trees my students made (here's purple/white/blue/purple/white/blue):



Now our math board looks like this:



Our hallway board looks like this:



... and as soon as these dry, we'll have a touch of winter glitter to add to the forest:



*****

The Stars used red glitter too! Check back tomorrow to see what they made!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Quick Post, Native American Craft

Just a quick post (never fear, I'll be sharing more this weekend) now that Open House Night is over (despite my sniffles, it was a great night!) and November decor is coming down today to be sent home with students in time for Thanksgiving. I'll be sharing more photos of the November to December transformation too, so make sure to check back.

Dear Daughter made these Native American characters for my Stars out of cardboard tubes (a paper towel roll yielded two medium sized or three short sized Indians) so that they could use them for napkin ring holders, though we had fun using them as props as we sang One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians...

One little, two little, three little Indians
Four little, five little, six little Indians
Seven little, eight little, nine little Indians
Ten little Indian boys (girls).

Ten little, nine little, eight little Indians
Seven little, six little, five little Indians
Four little, three little, two little Indians
One little Indian boy (girl).



She made extras so that siblings who visited during Open House didn't leave empty-handed~ great thinking!

Though we didn't make Pilgrim characters, the Stars also enjoyed using their Indian characters as props when we read and re-counted

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where, oh Where...

...has Mrs. Sommerville gone, oh where, oh where can she be?

I've spent this week reading, lurking...crafting, making banners... and cleaning the house after Dear Husband left a trail of destruction in his wake from packing for his hunting trip. Our laundry pile is significantly smaller, freeing up my time to read, to cuddle on the couch with the toddler, to watch "girlie" movies (and Twilight previews!) with Dear Daughter. Tonight, I might...even...*crochet.* I've been veggin' out, can you blame me?

Tomorrow is Open House at school~ my students have made Thanksgiving place mats, and are ready to give their parents the tour of our classroom and school. We've already started some December decor projects ('tis the season to use glitter, fa la la la la, la la, la, laaaaaaaa), though you'd think Christmas was next week by the way my Stars have been bouncing off of the walls! Happy excitement and enthusiasm, it's not so bad!



*****
And what have I found in BlogLand this week?

~Vanessa at A Fanciful Twist shares the perfect no-sew Christmas stocking...

~ Lisa at Crazy Adventures in Parenting shares an address I hope many of you will add to your Christmas card list, for "A Recovering American Soldier..."

~ And Mrs. G. at Derfwad Manor had me rolling (again!) with "Blueberries for Sal...The Director's Cut."

*****

Here's Tilly and the Wall with the ABC song (how cool is this group- they have a tap dancer instead of a drummer!):

Tilly & the Wall on SESAME STREET from Team Love on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lost Time, Aliens, and True Love (not for kiddos)

Another TED Talk, this time, humorist John Hodgman (you might recognize him from the Mac ads) on lost time, aliens, and true love (no, this one isn't appropriate for kiddos so give a listen when little ears aren't in the vicinity).

Enjoy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Simple Saturday...Thankfully

The to-do list was short:

*~ visit the post office, mail a few items

*~ pick up groceries...eggs, milk, batteries, lunch

*~ wander through some consignment and antique/collectible stores

*~ work on some holiday banners after the recent finds were put away



The little rocking horse (along with a small stuffed Santa) will help me get into the Christmas crafting groove... can't ever have too many Russian lacquer boxes or buttons...



The new crafting nook...just a table, and everything stored in a hand-me-down armoire and nightstand:



Christmas music playing in the background...banner time!




*****

If *you're* in the mood to craft:

Lisa at Celebrate Creativity in all Its Forms shares a Falling Leaves Dinner Napkin tutorial...

Kelly at Trans-Craft-intental sweetens up the holidays with a "candy" garland...

'Tis the season to make Origami Wreaths at Domesticali...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wonderful World of Randomness

Because there's no rhyme or reason to what caught my eye (and ear) this week...

1) My students ~*love*~ this song:



2) Edible...Pilgrim...Hats (many thanks to Michelle at Scribbit!)

3) Kelli shares how to make corn husk dolls at There is No Place Like Home

4) The EduBlog Awards are now open for nominations (categories include: Best Individual Blog, Best Group Blog, Best New Blog, Best Resource Sharing Blog, Most Influential Blog Post, Best Teacher Blog, Best Librarian/Library Blog, Best Educational Tech Support Blog, and more!) so read, blog, and nominate your favorites!

5) A Storybook Life shares Prim Gumdrop Ornaments (no, they're not edible, just very CUTE!)

6) Doug at Borderland is a great read (as usual) with Assessments for Learning, advocating "for high quality assessments that offer quality feedback to teachers and students, parents, and policy makers." And he's right, "classrooms at every level should be more like kindergarten."

7) Mrs. T. at Chucheria posted a video about compassion that hit a nerve with me today, in all the right ways:


I hope you have a wonderful weekend~

...and before you can count to one, two, three I'm *up for the pumpkin pie!*

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Linking You Up, part 2

...with crafty goodness!



~ Crafty Carnival shares free Christmas printables: A letter to Santa and tags/toppers for home baked cookies and reindeer food...

~ Ga-Ga for Garlands shares a "Giving Thanks" pennant style banner in time for Thanksgiving...

~ Michelle at Scribbit shares a pretty cute Thankgiving Turkey Mitt (you can figure out how to make it as long as you have felt, googly eyes, a needle and thread, scissors, and some eager kids!)...

~ Little Birdie Secrets is helping me out in my gift-making and gift-giving this year with a tutorial for hooded bath towels...

~ Wise Craft shares Tomorrowland Trees that will be perfect for my home AND classroom...

~ ... and TipNut links to 20 Sweet Softies patterns and tutorials (I love the platypus, fat bunny and mice!)...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Messes

I've been cluttering up spaces to de-clutter them.

I excavate the essentials from my desks at home and work weekly, preventing their permanent burial. I then sort and organize the rest of the rubble, get it all redistributed and put where it belongs for the long term...student cubbies for home delivery, file folders for portfolios, my inspiration binders for...ahem...inspiration, and now, thanks to the gift of an old bedroom set past its prime, all of my craft supplies are awaiting my next creative burst of energy, organized into my very own work area.

Downstairs, I pulled all the furniture away, swept, vacuumed, re-arranged, bruised my shins, scraped my arms, shuffled donations into a corner and keepers into their new homes, alarming the cat in the process. I pulled and slid a dresser behind the futon, a short armoire against the not-nearly-used-enough treadmill, and a nightstand against the end of a folding table. I found two small framed corkboards that will get drilled into the side and door of the armoire (oh yes they will!), and then I vacuumed again. Dear Husband helped me haul my tubs of paper, glue, chipboard, embellishments, stickers, cutters, paper punches, wreath forms, fabric, felt, ribbon and tulle from their upstairs home to their new downstairs place of honor.

My creative construction zone. My banner and wreath table. Land of the Hot Glue Gun and Deckle Scissors. The preschooler still has his play area downstairs, and guests still have the futon and t.v., but now I have a crafting nook, all for myself, that won't take over our living room floor or dining room table. No more picking up dried glue-y strings from the carpet, no more bent banners thanks to the preschooler running through them. The shelves I've wanted to use as a pantry can now be filled with cans, bags, and baking essentials...just in time...now that all of my craft supplies are out of the kitchen.

I like things organized. I like things stored logically and efficiently, prettily even, if I can work it. As I type, I'm amazed at the sudden leg room I have under my computer desk. Pardon me while I stretch- now that I'm not bumping or kicking paper storage bins and ribbon boxes, this seat has become much more comfortable. I'll finish transforming this into my correspondence desk this morning, and tweaking my craft table downstairs during the preschooler's nap time. Now that Dear Daughter is feeling better, perhaps I'll even work a bit ahead on ironing and laundry so I can free up time in the evenings and next weekend...

...to make a creative mess!

*****

Someday...someday... I will have my "dream craft room." Until then, here are some peeks from Flickr:
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1. My crafts space, 2. New Shelves in Craft Room!, 3. Craft Room, 4. New craft studio - WIP

*****

Though if ScrapboxUSA wanted to send me one of these to adopt and use, I'd be more than happy to sing their/its praises and write up a great review for them! Oh Santa...



Talk about *perfect* for the highly mobile military crafting family!

(This is the Knotty Alder Raised Panel Workbox though the Vanilla Beadboard is gorgeous too!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Linking You Up, part 1

...with recipes!



~ Smitten Kitchen's home fries sound like the perfect weekend breakfast (if you throw in some eggs and toast on the side, of course!) and I've bought the ingredients to make silky smooth pumpkin pie...

~ The Secret Recipe Blog shares its copycat McDonald's Big Mac Sauce...

~ I should have read Lifehacker's recipe for "Grandma's Penicillin" a few weeks ago- perhaps it would have helped to speed up my recovery from the creeping crud...

~ The Pioneer Woman Cooks cake balls (for Halloween), but I'm thinking they'd be a nice treat for Christmas or New Years with white frosting and sparkle sugar...snowballs? Ree also shares pumpkin cake with whiskey whipped cream...

~ Laura Rebecca's Kitchen bakes low-fat banana bread...

~ ...and if you just *have* to have your fill of pumpkin before Christmas rolls around but are also craving a bit of chocolate, Smitten Kitchen shares a recipe for pumpkin swirl brownies...

*****

Sunday, November 09, 2008

And the Winner is...




















Gladys!

**YOU WON THE CHRISTMAS BANNER!**

Congratulations, and thank you so much for visiting Kindergarten's 3 R's- I'm off to email you to get your snail mail address.

Thank you dear friends and readers~ at this rate, it shouldn't take me long to reach 500 posts!

(P.S. A creative friend and Dear Daughter are urging me to put my other Christmas banners up for sale on Ebay- I'll post here when they're available for purchase...)

...and Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Blogging

I fell off the face of Blogland for a whopping two days, but have returned in time to warm up my speed-typing fingers so that I can blog about who won my 400th blog post Giveaway (you still have time to enter, I'll draw a name this evening and post the winner before bed time!) later today.

Two days ago I meant to show you a recent yard sale treasure I'd found:



But I had already filled it full of these by the time I was ready to take the picture (oh yes, the creeping crud required intensive chemical intervention...peanut m-n-m's weren't working their usual magic for some reason):



Something tells me that butter or a garnish of some sort would look more "Thanksgiving-y" in place of the medications.

Yesterday I meant to share the pile of magazines that I was working myself through to pull recipes, ideas, etc. out of for my inspiration binders so that I could buy new magazines that Dear Husband wouldn't have a cow over tidy up the home in preparation for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I ended up buried in said pile to the point that Dear Daughter and the Preschooler had to dig me out so I could make dinner. No, no, they didn't try to save me before that point... apparently I'm expendable until their stomachs start growling.

*****

Today I thought I'd mention a realization that hit me when I was under the magazine pile: my family and I have been here for four months, and we're still not settled. We're moved in- we've BEEN moved in. We're unpacked. We're arranged. We're sorted. But we're not settled. I'm thinking it's a side effect from moving four times in the past five years. We've gotten so good at unpacking, decorating, and going through the motions of school and work routines, knowing in the backs of our minds that we're going to have to pack it all up again, say goodbye, and make a long drive, in eight months, in seven, in six, in five, in four, in three, two, one... always on the go, always preparing to leave and relocate, not really living in the moment because preparations take up too much time.

I'm hoping Uncle Sam lets us stay someplace longer than a year or two. I haven't "done lunch" with friends since last February when Dear Husband let me escape from Texas for a weekend to return to Oz for visits and shopping. In Alaska, the Loud Ladies had breakfast together twice a month, regularly, for years. I'm a social creature when I'm amongst friends. Time to stay someplace long enough to make some.

*****



I picked up the newest edition of Artful Blogging yesterday, and it is as wonderful as I expected it to be. Not a kindergarten teacher in the group, but creative bloggers who can also answer "why do you blog?" with "why not?" The readers who visit me here, and the fellow teachers, moms, and crafters who comment on my posts are not only a part of my personal and professional learning community, they are kindred connections. I may not be a member of an Army Wives group or a Crafters Clique, but no matter how often I move, I belong, and can be found here.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Some November Classroom Cuteness

Making a book cover for my students' "I'm thankful..." pages:





Patriotic handprint turkeys for our Veteran's Day hallway display:



And the *cutest* pumpkin delivered to me by a student from her family (can you tell what it's made out of?):



*****

I apologize for forgetting to post my students' election results!





Favorite Story: Green Eggs and Ham

Favorite Song: I Like to Move It, Move It

Favorite Lunch Entree: Chicken Nuggets

*****

My Super Stars *loved* taking part in Kindergarten Voting. They "registered" to vote by signing their names on a class list, they reviewed their ballot, voted behind the privacy curtain, folded their ballots and slid them into the ballot box, and received their "I Voted!" pins to wear for the day. You should have HEARD the cheers when the election results were posted!

*****

Don't forget to leave a comment on my 400th blog post for a chance to win a paper Christmas banner in time for the holidays! I'll be drawing the winner's name on November 9!