Monday, June 24, 2013

The Wild Ride Begins

Today marks the unofficial end of my summer break. I have had two weeks of lovely laziness - now the work begins. Here's my next five weeks in a nutshell.

16 credits of summer school.

Week 1: Drive to Walla Walla (4 1/2 hrs.) for three days of school. Drive home.

Week 2: Drive to Walla Walla for three days of school. Drive home.

Week 3: Drive to Walla Walla for the whole week of school. Drive home. Fly overnight to North Carolina for a wedding. Fly home. Drive to Walla Walla.

Week 4: Week of school. Camping for the weekend with friends :)

Week 5: Week of school. Drive home for the last time.

Fly to Kauai for a much-needed vacation. Yay!

In the midst of all that craziness, I have a lot of stuff for TpT I need to finish up. I'm revising my poetry unit and am almost finished with a big biography unit. Send your tips for good productivity my way. I'm afraid I've become a great time-waster.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Butterfly: Social Studies Mentor Text

When I was a kid, I was totally into Holocaust books. As terrible as it was, it's something I've always been interested in learning more about. Every time I went to the bookstore, it was usually to pick out another book about the Holocaust - or check one out from the library. It's such a hard subject, though, and harder to introduce to younger grades. I want them to know what it is and be sensitive to the culture without getting into the more mature parts of it.

One way to do this is by using a picture book. There are a number of them about the Holocaust that are written for a much younger audience. I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties for their Must Read Mentor Texts to talk about one of them.

While we're on the subject of favorites, let me tell you about another one of my favorite things: Patricia Polacco. Don't you love her books? I have a million of them, and always need more. Today's mentor texts combines the Holocaust and Patricia Polacco in a beautiful book called The Butterfly. 

This book takes place in France, which I like, because it's a little harder to find a Holocaust book set in France. It is the story of a girl, Monique, who wakes up in the night to find a "ghost" in her bedroom. The "ghost" quickly disappears, but the turns up again on another night. Monique is surprised to discover that the little girl is not a ghost, but an actual child who is living in her house. Sevrine and her family have been hiding under the floor in Monique's house for a few months. They are Jews and are hiding until they can be smuggled out of France. Monique and Sevrine get together often in the evenings until as they look out the window one night, they see their neighbor looking them. They quickly make plans to get Sevrine and her family out of the house that night.

During the book, Monique sees a butterfly outside in her garden one day. As she is admiring it, a Nazi reaches and squishes it with his hand. Later in the book, after Sevrine and her parents have left the house, Monique sees three butterflies in her garden, followed by a hundred more, which she takes as a sign that Sevrine and her parents are safe. (the afterward in the book tells you later that in real life Sevrine lived, but her parents died). This could be used to talk with your students about symbolism (oooh, a language arts lesson :)).

The butterfly part of the book reminds me of another book that I own - I Never Saw Another Butterfly. Have you read it?

It's a collection of poems and drawings done by children who lived in the concentration camp of Terezin. This camp was known for having people who were artists, poets, musicians, etc. It is a book more for teens and adults than young children, but you can select a few poems and plenty of drawings to show to them to go along with The Butterfly.
Anyway, I just love Patricia Polacco's books. This one is a great story of friendship and bravery, while introducing a historical event. As in many books, this one is based on her own life. The little girl in the story, Monique, is Patricia's aunt. If you haven't read it already, go buy yourself a copy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tried it Tuesday: Quick Meals by One-Time Chopping

Today I'm linking up with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper to share my tip for Tried It Tuesday.

I worked at a new school this year that takes me between 45 minutes and an hour to get there. Since my other school was 2 1/2 miles away, I was not used to this. My new job is much less stressful, but my hours are longer. 

I like to cook, but hardly made a real meal last school year because by the time I got home I didn't really have the energy to cook (plus my house wasn't usually clean and that helps contribute to my wanting to do nothing but sit on the couch). Anyways, if I didn't have a plan for dinner, we ended up making some quick meal that wasn't so healthy or ordering a pizza (this happened unfortunately often). 

I've been trying to come up with a better way to do meal planning and make dinners so I don't dread it when I get home. My most hated (is that a phrase??) task is chopping things, and my husband's favorite food is those things don't really go together. 

In addition, I find that we waste a lot of food. Mostly because it gets hidden in the drawer and I forget that it's there, or I don't feel like cooking for a few days, so then they go bad. I've seen many things on Pinterest about getting prep stuff done ahead so that meals are a breeze, so I thought I'd give it a try. 

Here's my messy fridge.
I grabbed all of my fresh produce out of the fridge and started chopping. Here's what I had with me: 

Carrots: I snack on these, so I cut them in sticks (just make sure they're not too tall to fit in your container). I put these in a jar with some water to keep them moist and crunchy. 

Green onions: Chopped these up to put in my husband's salads. 

Sweet onions: I use these for many things, so I wasn't sure what size to cut these in, but I figured I chop them most often, so that's what I chose to do. 

Broccoli: Cut in medium-size florets - we mostly put broccoli in our salads.

Red Cabbage: I don't use this very often, but happened to have some in the fridge, so I chopped it up for salads. 

Radishes: I love to snack on these, so I just cut them in half and put them in some water.

Lettuce: I knew this needed to be dry to stay fresh, so I threw it in the salad spinner. I cut a bunch of it up so that it would entice me to make lots of salads before it went bad ;)

After all this, my fridge looks great! It's all organized and colorful and pretty :) See?

Look at those beautiful veggies!
My husband and I can applesauce every fall, so we have lots of mason jars hanging around. I decided to use those as my container of choice just so I didn't have to go buy anything. You could use whatever you want, of course. 

This is just a trial run, so I have no idea how long my beautiful veggies will last. But since a lot of our food gets wasted anyways, this was bound to help me use it more frequently and hopefully eat healthier in the process. 

Yay for healthy eating and quick meals. Hopefully I can keep it up for next school year.

Monday, June 10, 2013

First Day of Vacation, 2 Linkys, and New Classroom Decor!

Today was my first official day of vacation. It was so nice to sleep in a bit and I actually made dinner for my husband and I (I like to cook, but didn't have much time this year). The rest of the day I spent on my computer working on a new product that I'll show you in a bit.

I'm linking up with two bloggers today. First with The Applicious Teacher for her brand new linky:

And also with 4th Grade Frolics for her linky:

Today, The Applicious Teacher's linky is focused on classroom decor. This happens to be an area I love! I think organizing and setting up my classroom is my favorite part of the year ;).

I've mentioned before that I was in an itty bitty classroom this year. In order for it to not feel overcrowded and stuffy, I had to have it organized very well. I also chose to go with a special color palette so that everything matched. I chose mostly three colors - turquoise, pink, and lime green (with a hint of orange) that I used for bulletin boards, decor, etc. I used only black or black patterned borders on my bulletin boards so they seemed to go together well.

I purchased a design pack from TpT that had all of these colors in it. Here's a link to it.

Here's the size of my cute little room :)

I'm not sure what room I will be in next year. I'll have more students than can fit in this room, so they're either expanding of finding me a new space. However, I already know what it's going to look like wherever it is :)

I've been loving the chevron over the past year or so and wanted to create my own set of decor to use in my classroom. I found this beautiful clip art/paper pack from Megan at I Teach. What's Your Super Power? It sparked all kinds of creative juices in me. After working for over a month, I finally finished and I'm super excited about how it turned out. I'm sure I will add more to it this year as I actually get back into my classroom, but it's a good start. I'm using it today as my Monday Made It. Here's a look at the things I'll be putting in my classroom next year!

I'm super excited that I'm done with this because I've been obsessing over it lately. Hopefully now I can get something else done, though tomorrow I'm going to buy one of those toolboxes from Home Depot to make my own teacher toolbox like the ones that have been all over Pinterest. Maybe that will be next week's Monday Made It :)

If you're interested in seeing more of my decor for next year, click on the picture below.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy

Now that school is out, I should be finding myself with tons of extra time, though that hasn't happened (or will ever happen) yet. Our last day was Friday, but we're on contract all this week cleaning up and doing grades and such. It's one of my favorite parts of school because I can organize! 

Look at the beautiful colors!

I just got these beautiful containers from The Container Store and I'm so excited to fill them up, even though they're really for next year. These will hold all of my guided reading and math center stuff. If you've never used these containers, you totally should. They're open top file boxes, and they have handles on the sides for easy carrying. I hate having to open lids to get to things, so this makes them very convenient for me.

I'm struggling a bit with clean up this year. Traditionally, I clean up my room as I organize for the next year. I don't like to have to do it twice, so it takes me longer at the end of the year because I'm planning how I want the next year to go. It does save time in the fall though. This year I'm not sure which room I will be in, so there's only so much I can do...oh well, there's still plenty to organize. 

Otherwise, this week has been filled up with figuring out how to get my foot to heal, my second Kindergarten graduation, and desperately trying to finish a big TpT product in my little bit of spare time. I'm so close...

I have two more weeks until summer school begins, and I'm hoping for lots of productivity, some rest, and desperately needed exercise!!