Sunday, November 29, 2009

Busy with Holiday Photos; Advent Links

With so many of our friends and family living elsewhere, our family likes to take candid photos to include in our annual holiday letter and cards.  Hoping that Mother Nature would choose to cooperate with us today, the kids and I found an extra strand of twinkle lights, turned on some Christmas music, and got comfy...

Dear Daughter:

The Pre-Schooler:

Me and the Pre-Schooler:

A blurry but wonderful holiday hug:

...and me, ready for FORTY!

Tomorrow I'll be back to school and my Super Stars will be chomping at the bit to get the rest of autumn put away, replacing crunchy leaves and pumpkins with "gingerbread" men, Rudolph art, and festive decor.  Each year I have my students make an advent chain so they can count down the days left until St. Nick visits.

My version is the traditional red/green/red/green/red/green paper chain, with a yellow link at the top with the following poem attached:

December first until Christmas 
is the longest time of the year. 
It seems as though old Santa 
never will appear.

How many days until Christmas? 
It's mighty hard to count. 
So this little chain on links 
tells you the exact amount. 

(Students tear off one link each day)

But I've found some other sweet versions online:

~ A cookie sheet advent calendar that uses magnets (easy to simplify for kindergartners and great for a number order/counting center!) over at Anya's- Life is What You Make It...

~ Advent inspiration over at Kids Craft Weekly (easy paper cones and repurposed tissue rolls!)

~ ...if non-traditional is more your style, Poppytalk has some great photos of creative advent calendars  that again, would be simple to modify (or make construction paper versions of) for a classroom.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

HAD to Post: Muppet Rhapsody

...because you *know* how I love the Muppets, especially Beaker and the Ma-Na-Ma-Na guy:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Seizure Information

I attended an afternoon seminar hosted by C. Vaughn of the Epilepsy Foundation of Kansas and Western Missouri today, and came away with so much pertinent and helpful information, I felt the need to share.

Please remember that I am NOT a doctor nor medical expert.  The information I share in this post merely reflects MY understanding of Mrs. Vaughn's memorable and easy-to-understand presentation as well as the brochures and information she brought from The Epilepsy Foundation.  Any snazzy phrases or quotes that you find memorable I gladly credit to her/them.   More information can be obtained by your own physician, school nurse, and from The Epilepsy Foundation,

After what I learned today, I'd recommend that everyone familiarize themselves with this information just in case.


Understanding seizures doesn't have to be scary, though witnessing a generalized/grand mal seizure might freak people out the first time.  Whatever your brain can do normally, it can do abnormally.  It can help you choose to get up and walk around, and it can make you get up and walk around when you don't intend to do so.  Your brain can help you fasten a button on your shirt, and it can make you repeatedly paw for a button on your shirt that isn't there.  

If a student, a colleague or a family member is diagnosed as having a "seizure disorder," they are epileptic.  A seizure is a symptom of epilepsy.  The same goes for you.

If you practice throwing a ball, you tend to get GOOD at throwing a ball.  The more seizures you have, the better your brain gets at HAVING SEIZURES.  Yes, "practice" makes perfect when it comes to seizure activity, which is why having them diagnosed and treated as soon as possible is important.  

Anyone can develop epilepsy at any time, but no, it's not contagious.  In roughly 70% of those persons diagnosed with epilepsy, the cause is not known.  In the remaining 30%, the most common causes are:  head trauma; brain tumor and stroke; lead poisoning; infection of brain tissue; heredity; prenatal disturbance of brain development.  In other words, WEAR A HELMET WHEN RIDING A BIKE (MOTORCYCLES TOO!), SNOWBOARDING, SKIING, SKATEBOARDING, etc.  Protect your head. 


A "generalized tonic clonic" seizure involves the whole brain and a complete loss of consciousness briefly or for longer periods of time. These can be referred to as "grand mal," and can last for up to five or more minutes. Should you witness a person beginning to have this type of seizure, look at your watch or a clock and note the time. Make sure the person is on the ground/floor and on his/her side.  Do NOT restrain the person in any way, merely act as a buffer between him/her and any sharp, hard, or otherwise dangerous objects.  If the person wears glasses, or has something tight or constricting around his/her throat, remove those items. Put a pillow, rolled up jacket or sweater, or even cup your hands under the person's head so s/he doesn't sustain a head injury.  Move furniture out of the way.  Do NOT put anything in or near the person's mouth (no, we can't swallow our tongues) to include ORAL anti-seizure meds.  It is not necessary to speak to, hold, or console the person having the seizure as s/he can't hear you- it's more important to keep track of the time elapsing.  

Remember, the person "seizing" should be carefully moved on to his/her SIDE in case s/he vomits or produces excessive saliva during the episode.

You cannot stop a seizure by restraining the person, in fact it's more likely that you will injure him/her or yourself if you try.  

ORAL anti-seizure meds will not work once a person has started to seize.  Diastat is, to put it bluntly, a *rectal* med similar to Valium that can only be administered by a nurse/doctor or TRAINED parent/teacher.  It is a prescribed medication, so not all people suffering from seizures will have it as a treatment. 

Some individuals affected by a seizure disorder might opt for VNS, Vagus Nerve Stimulation, a device implanted in the chest (and back of the neck) to deliver electrical stimulation to the Vagus nerve located in the neck.  A student with such a device will usually have a para/aide who will keep a magnet that is "swiped" across the VNS device at the onset of a seizure- 30-ish% of people who use the VNS experience great results (seizure averted), another 30-ish% only have so-so results (duration of seizure diminished), and an additional 30-ish% of receive no benefit at all.  The last ten percent seems to account for the scientific "-ish" fudge factor.  

Atonic and absence seizures have symptoms that might manifest themselves as:

~ A limb or part of the body that twitches or jerks
~ Sensory messages that no one else can see/hear/smell/feel (a story shared with us was about a woman who smells something burning as her seizures begin though there is no fire/heat source/smoke etc. near.  Another seizure patient experiences the feeling of terror as he seizes, true there's-a-gunman-coming-to-shoot-my-family emotion).
~ Performing repetitive actions (involuntarily trying to fasten a button that doesn't exist)
~ Wandering around while "glazed over" or "zoned out" 
~ Aggressive behavior while wandering (person might even make vocalizations, noises or speak)
~ Hallucinations
~ Undressing oneself or behaving in a way s/he normally wouldn't in public
~ Complete loss of muscle support (person suddenly collapses to the floor but does NOT thrash or spasm)- this one results in a lot of injuries 1) because it's so fast no one can catch or soften the fall and 2) it can happen anywhere, at anytime (shower or tub so a person drowns)- this is the "drop" or atonic seizure
~ Staring off, eyes open (but person is unconscious)= "absence" seizure (also known as "petit mal")


During partial seizures, the individual might be able to hold a conversation with you as her arm flails uncontrollably.  The part of her brain "seizing" controls her arm function, but not her communication center.  Another person might stop speaking in mid-sentence, zone out for 3-10 seconds, then begin speaking again right where s/he left off, unaware that a seizure has taken place.  Again, keep track of the time that elapses during these seizures, as well as how often they occur.


Not all seizures require medical attention, but make sure to know what your district's/school's plan is/requirements are in regard to emergency procedures.  Some individuals can recover after a seizure quite quickly.  Others might be disoriented, nauseous and/or tired.  Some seizure patients may have to spend the rest of the day in bed.  


What triggers a seizure?

~ For individuals *already diagnosed and treated* with a seizure disorder, missing or deciding not to take prescribed anti-seizure meds can bring one about.  Keppra is expensive, so sufferers might try to stretch out their supply.   While less expensive generics are available, they're not always prepared the same way, so patients might be able to use one generic brand, but not another.  There's no way to know which generic brand might work except by trial and error.  When pharmacies decide to change their drug supplier/manufacturer, they don't always tell seizure patients, and the swift-o-change-o is only discovered after the new-unknown-to-them drugs don't work. 

~ Stress/anxiety

~ Hormonal changes (in women, puberty, pregnancy, and menopause are tough times for individuals suffering from seizures- estrogen is NOT your friend, big surprise)

~ Dehydration

~ Lack of sleep/extreme fatigue

~ Photosensitivity (but no, disco balls/flashing lights will NOT cause everyone to have seizures!)

~ Drug/alcohol use, drug interactions

You never know when a student, colleague, or even undiagnosed family member might have a seizure and require your help.  Fliers, brochures, and first aid for seizure posters (I have two on notebook-sized pages- I'm going to suggest to our nurse that we obtain enough for every staff member) are available from the Epilepsy Foundation: or at 800-332-1000.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Link Time: Turkeys, Turkeys, and More Turkeys

One student's departure, a new student's arrival, meetings galore and Open House make for a busy week... and hey, it's only Wednesday!

We're getting *awfully* close to Thanksgiving however, so just in case you aren't completely turkeyed-out yet, here are some links that will push you dangerously close to the gobble-gobble-gobble ledge.

Obviously I'm already over it.

Sweetly Edible Turkeys:

~Keebler Fudge Striped Turkeys by Cakespy at Serious Eats

~Oreo Turkey Cookies at Make and Takes

~Rice Krispie Turkeys at Alpha Mom

~... and thanks to D., a.k.a. "The Candy Corn Fairy," our family will be making these turkey cookies this weekend

Turkey Centerpieces:

~An updated version of the paper bag turkey at

~eHow's paper turkey (this one includes the ever-popular t.p. roll for the body!)

~...and a cute turkey made from a styrofoam egg over at All Kids Network...


Here's my favorite Thanksgiving song, "I'm Gonna Eat on Thanksgiving Day" by Laurie Berkner.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Giveaway Winner: Katie from Katie's Literature Lounge!

Congratulations Katie from Katie's Literature Lounge!  You're the winner of my 600th blog post giveaway- shoot me an email with your mailing address so that I can get your goodies in the mail to you a.s.a.p!

And thanks to **you**, Dear Readers, new and old friends, for stopping by, following, and tweaking my ideas to work for you and your students.  You make BlogLand a wonderful place!

Quick teacher's tip:

Use black lettering as shadows when you want to make words in a display or bulletin board assemblage *POP*:

I cut two sets of  matching letters using our die cut press at school out of black and tan construction paper.  Carefully placing the black letters down first, I then off-set the tan letters on top of them, and glued them down to the back of a sentence strip.  Not liking the blue line that was peeking out from between the letters, I used a white-out pen to erase it... the black "shadow" letters really make the words stand out, don't they?


I'm working on a little pre-Christmas giveaway as well, so stay tuned!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Giveaway Teaser

A teacher-themed hanging basket (which certainly *won't* be empty!), a wreath form and kindergarten-print fabric...

I'm thinking a ~finished wreath~, gift basket of teacher goodies and possibly a bitty banner will be ready for tomorrow's drawing!

Which means you still have time to enter (remember, becoming a follower of my blog puts your name in the hat twice!) and to send your friends over to leave a comment on the Terrific Textured Turkeys post.  Dear Daughter will draw a name on Monday and I'll contact the winner shortly after.

If you don't have a blog but would still like a chance to win, just leave your e-mail address in your comment at the end of the textured turkey post!


Then again, teasing isn't nice, is it?  And certainly nothing we encourage in kindergarten...

So here you go:

You'll win the wreath and the hanging basket containing a bitty banner, composition-style memo pads, a mini calculator, and a package of "Winter in Narnia" bulletin board trimmer!  Thank you Dear Readers- you're awesome!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You Veterans

... and gratitude to you, Dear Husband, as you spend this day so far away.

We miss and love you.  Stay safe.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Terrific Texture Turkeys; Giveaway Time!

Parents donated rice, fabric, faux fur, sunflower seeds, aluminum foil, cotton balls and dry pasta so that the Super Stars could add texture to their colored turkey feathers!

We painted wet glue onto the colored tag board and added bumpy, smooth, fluffy, bristley, crunchy and pokey details:

We used a hole punch at the back of each turkey's head, ran a pipe cleaner through the holes and then tied them through a small hole made into the center of each tag board sheet (click here for directions on how to make the turkey body):

Gobble gobble gobble!


It's easy to make a turkey-riffic display for Veterans Day too:

I found a cute turkey stamp, blew it up using an overhead projector, and traced and colored it on plain white paper.  I used a hand-shaped die cut to make red, white, and blue paper "feathers" for the turkey, but it would be fun for students to trace their hands instead.  Laminate the turkey for future use, and then add a small flag, securing it with clear tape.  

*This* is my 600th blog post! 
 I'll be hosting a giveaway later this week, and all you have to do to be entered is comment on THIS post!  Each comment will count as one entry, but if you are (or *become*) a follower of my blog, your name will be tossed into the hat one more time!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

November is for the Birds...Turkeys!

After the ghosts, witches and jack-o-lanterns make their way to my Super Stars' homes for Halloween, the room looks a bit bare.  I'm always thankful that my students enjoy taking ownership of their surroundings, decorating the room to follow our monthly or seasonal themes, but November is always one for the birds... turkeys!

From the traditional construction paper variety: reminders of sight words (color words in this case): a work in progress:  an open-bodied turkey form that will be fastened to the front of a textural background later this week (students have colored a turkey feather outline on heavier cardstock and will be gluing various materials representing several different textures onto it before adding the construction paper body):

He looks pretty bare without his insides and his tail feathers, but I'll photograph the finished project by this weekend!

If you'd like to make an open-bodied turkey so that the background art can show through, here's what you'll need (and NO, this project is NOT the friendliest for kindergartners, so have a parent volunteer, classroom aide, or upper-grade buddy class standing by to help you and your students assemble the body if it's one that you think will work with fancy tail feather art) :

Light brown construction paper cut:

2 pieces 2 inches by 18 inches
2 pieces 2 inches by 15 and 1/2 inches
2 pieces 2 inches by 13 and 1/2 inches
1 piece 2 inches by 9 inches

Dark brown construction paper cut:

1 piece 4 inches by 6 inches (head), folded in half

Orange construction paper cut:

1 inch by 6 inches, folded accordion-style (legs)

Small triangles cut for the beak

Black construction paper cut:

2 inch by 2 inch squares from which students may cut triangles for the feet

Eyes can be drawn onto the face, but the google eyes are a bit more fun!


Here's the head, (dark brown construction paper) folded in half and stapled then *smooshed* so that the stapled end is in the back (eyes and beak will be glued onto the flat front):

See the *smoosh?*

Arrange the pieces in the following order: (1) 2X18, (1) 2X15, (1) 2X13, (1) 2X9, (1) 2X13, (1) 2X15, and (1) 2X18.   Make sure all the ends meet/match up on one end, and staple it (I'm holding the stapled end in the photo):

Then match up all of the opposite ends so they meet up. Staple. There's the turkey body!

Have students accordion-fold the legs and glue black triangles on for the feet. Add google eyes and beak to the head piece and slide over the top of one end of the turkey's body.

I can't wait to see how our gobblers look with their textured tail feathers!


(What will all of these turkeys eat?  How about some corn?)