Monday, December 31, 2012

26 Acts of Kindness

Happy New Year's Eve, friends! I've spent the afternoon curled up on the couch watching movies and napping. I think I have this break thing figured out. I've certainly missed my students, but I can't complain about the extra sleep and quality time I've been soaking in this past week. 

While I'm enjoying my relaxing Christmas break, I know that many families are still suffering from the tragic events that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. My heart has been with those poor families. I wanted to do something, but I wasn't exactly sure what I could do until Ann Curry's tweets stuck out to me. Here's her challenge:

I'm in, Ann. I'm in! Check out the Facebook page here

Before I share my first three acts, I must post this disclaimer: I am not posting these for personal praise. I'm simply sharing my participation in hopes to spread the word, and to possibly encourage YOU to take part as well. That being said, here is what I've done so far!

In my bf's apartment building, there is a pretty stingy vending machine, so I stuck $1.25 on the machine with tape and bought a drink for someone. 

For number two, I went down the road to Red Box and taped $2.00 on the machine. Now, I understand that Red Box movies are bought with a debit card, but someone needs that $2 more than me!

For my third act, I bought a $10 gift card for a meal and stuck in on a car windshield. The car and the card were gone this morning, so I hope it was enjoyed!

When Chip (the dog) and I got home from running all over the city, my heart was LEAPING out of my chest. I can't explain it! My spirit was incredibly uplifted and I felt like one of Santa's elves. It only made me want to do more and more and more and more. I have no idea who benefited from these acts, but I can only hope it made them smile. 

This truly was an incredibly way to get a jump start on the new year. I am not rushing to finish my 23 acts, but I'll continue posting as I finish a few. I would love to include my class in on the fun. Since I have 21 students with huge hearts, I know that they would be more than willing to share a little love around the area. 

Have you participated in a "Random Acts of Kindess" challenge? Are you taking on Ann Curry's challenge? Do share!

See you next year! :)

Friday, December 28, 2012

InstaFriday - Christmas Edition

I hope everyone is having an excellent holiday vacation! I certainly am. Today, I have LOTS planned... just kidding. I have a book to read all afternoon. I think I may even find time to squeeze a nap in there. Here's a look at the past month through the eyes of my favorite app, Instagram.
life rearranged

Don't be fooled, my friends and I are in our 20's and we decorated these cookies. It may seem like children had a hand in these, but nope! 

Stacks upon stacks of snail mail to be sent out for Christmas! 

Homemade Italian Wedding Soup one chilly evening made just for me. I'm a lucky gal! 

Blessed to work in a school with such fun and uplifting elves... oh, I mean teachers. 

My bf and I tackled a TURKEY! Yes, yes we did! We successfully cooked our first turkey. It was ah-maze-ing. 

My sister and on I on Christmas Eve... we were trying to convince Santa to let us on his sleigh. 

Throughout this holiday season, I've felt extremely blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful family members. My bf and I celebrated our second Christmas together as well. My heart is full and happy happy. I hope you all feel the same!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

In Whoville They Say...

WARNING: After the consumption of these tasty Grinch Cookies, your heart will definitely grow three sizes and you'll be overcome with the true meaning of Christmas. Side effects may include speaking in rhyme, changing your last name to Who, and possibly eating a roast BEAST.

You can't say I didn't warn you. 

Grinch Crinkle Cookies

You'll Need:

1 18.25oz box French vanilla cake mix
6 T butter
2 eggs
Green food coloring (I used 60 drops)
1 C powdered sugar
1 t corn starch

Now click here to follow the Cowgirl's procedure for baking these little gems. 
I hope everyone's holiday has gotten off to a great start. Squeeze your families and keep them close. I know I will!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer... singing LOUD for all to hear! My class took Buddy the Elf's advice and spread a little content Christmas cheer.

Let me back up. 

Earlier this week, my students and I began brainstorming a list of everything we have learned in science and math to create content Christmas carols. My students were floored by the amount of topics we were able to come up with. I heard several kids exclaim, "WOW! We've learned A LOT."

Then, I gave my students a packet of traditional carols that we've all grown to love. I challenged them to rewrite the traditional carols into CONTENT carols. Instead of singing about Christmas trees, winter wonderlands, and little drummer boys... they would be singing about plants, the Moon, and clouds.

Santa Baby Gets a Facelift. 
After students partnered up and wrote carols, I had them type their carol to share with their classmates. Today, we took our Christmas carols through the hallways and spread a little content cheer! A big thank you to the teachers who let us interrupt their days to sing a song or two. I know my kids enjoyed every minute of it. I have to admit, I was tapping my foot along with them. Such a talented group of singers and song writers I have! :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Landing Back on Earth

As second quarter comes to a close, our outer space unit is quickly ending as well. The inner space cadet in me is very sad and I'm not quite ready to move on.... but alas! There's always next year. 

Here's a peak at a few of the activities we did this month to learn about Earth and its planetary neighbors. If you would like more information on any activity, please email me! I love chatting with teachers around the country. []

Toilet Paper Solar System. Read more about that exciting adventure here

How Far Can You Jump in Space? A fun activity that tied math, graphing, science, and technology together. 

Oreo Cookie Moon Phases. Now that we've eaten both the Sun and the Moon, one student has requested that we eat all 8 planets. I told him that I'd work on that one. :)

Google Earth. Yesterday, I blogged about using Google Earth to explore not only Earth, but the Moon, Mars, and the sky! Read about it here

Designing Constellations with Chalk. We spent a morning outlining constellations on black paper. Read about it here

Phases of the Moon. Thank goodness for Mr. Parr and his oh-so-creative Youtube channel.  My kids LOVE his science songs and it's a hoot watching them sing along. One of our ( favorites is the Phases of the Moon one. Check it out below!

SKYPE! Today, we had the pleasure of chatting with both John and Barbara down in Texas. My kids were incredibly excited to speak LIVE with someone who works at NASA. What an incredible experience! 

That's just a snapshot of what we've been up to this month. Also just a snapshot of everything I remembered to take a picture of. Next, we'll be studying force and motion. 

Tips? I'm all ears!

Monday, December 17, 2012

It's Only Monday, and We've Already Been to Mars

The other day, I accidentally opened up Google Earth and a tip popped up that said, "Explore the Moon!" I shrieked at my desk and started exploring. My exploration didn't stop there. With the simple click of a button I was exploring Mars and the sky too! Needless to say, I had to find a way to work this into my lesson plans. Lucky for my students (and me!), we had to talk about why Earth is the best candidate to support life in the solar system. I felt this would be an engaging and meaningful way to explore other celestial bodies in our galaxy. 

This morning I posed the question, "Why is Earth the best place to call home?" Our plan for the day was to contrast Earth, the Moon, and Mars and determine why Earth is the best place for us to live. We hopped down to the computer lab and opened up Google Earth. I gave very few directions, because I wanted my students to do most of the exploring. In a whole group setting, I demonstrated how to navigate between the planets (Click View then Explore...) and sent them on their merry way. Each student also had a triple t-chart in their notebooks to write down features of Earth, Mars, and the Moon. To conclude class we watched a BrainPop video about Earth and wrote down all of the reasons why Earth is perfect for us. 

Exploring the Moon with Neil Armstrong!
While students were working, I moved around the lab and suggested different areas to click and showed students a few more neat features. For example, you can take a guided tour of the Moon and Mars complete with narration! 
Just Taking a Tour of the Moon...

I strongly encouraged students to Explore BEFORE Asking...that way, they wouldn't be dependent on me. Most were very excited about the lesson and teaching me new things about the program. It was a great start to our Monday. 

We Landed on the Moon!
Tomorrow, we are participating in an incredible Skype session. Thanks to the wonderful Barbara and her beautiful blog The Corner on Character, for making it all happen. 

Before I scoot, I must say a few things about the heartbreaking tragedy that happened in Connecticut on Friday. In my mind, I cannot piece together an appropriate set of words to even make sense of the unthinkable situation. My heart is with those affected and those poor children and faculty who lost their lives. I made sure to tell all of my students how wonderful it was to see them and their bright shining faces this morning. After all, they are the reason for why we do what we do. The Cornerstone For Teachers wrote an incredible post titled, "What Do You Say at a Time Like This?". I leave you with her words, because I can't seem to find my own. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

DIY Ornament or Two...

This year I decided to add a personal touch to my Christmas tree. To make my tree a little merrier and brighter, I felt it needed a DIY touch. Plus, I love things that are sentimental and mushy. Which means... I had a blast making them. To make the ornaments, I used glass ornaments purchased at Michaels.   

Picture/Photograph Ornament

Using the glass ornaments purchased from Michaels and some photos I snagged from an album, I made two ornaments of fond 2012 memories. One for me and one for my bf! Along with the photograph, I stuck some crinkled white, red, and green paper inside the ornament. That was much easier than adjusting the photo. This idea came from Life of a Thrifter's blog here. She gives more detailed instruction than I will. Basically, you roll up the photograph and use tweezers to adjust the photo instead. Along with the tweezers, you're going to need high levels of patience and skinny fingers for when things go wrong. Let's just say, this took a couple of tries. I had to take a break because my frustration levels were getting high. 

For the second ornament, I destroyed (literally) a few pages from my Mizzou Alumni magazine. I took pieces of the magazine with great photographs and words and cut them into strips. Then I rolled the strips around a pencil and stuffed the curled paper in the ornament behind a photograph. I also cut up a few football tickets to add to the ornament. 

Scrappy Mod Podge Ornament

I grabbed my final glass ornament and scraps of fabric and started mod podging! There was no rhyme or reason to my layering, I just went for it. The end result turned out bright, lumpy, greenish, and kind of wonky. Just my style!

Of all of the ornaments on the tree, I think that this one is my favorite. I'm sure you can see why!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 3, 2012

NASA, Call Me Maybe?

Here's a weird question for you, what do Carly Rae Jepson and NASA have in common? Well, click the YouTube video below to figure it out. Some quirky folks compiled video and images from the NASA Curiosity Rover mission and made themselves a little parody video. It was also a catchy way to get my students thinking about how we study space. 

After more discussion about telescopes and satellites, we started talking one of NASA's current missions, "Curiosity". They were floored when I informed them that it had just landed back in August. To get a better look at the Rover, we spent some time playing on this incredible "Explore Mars!" web application. Click here to check it out for yourself. In a nutshell, students could drive the rover around Mars, check out the crater in which it landed, and read about various tasks the Curiosity is working on.

Call Me, Maybe? NASA photo
I only have 6 student computers in my classroom, so we had to do a little sharing. While one set of students were on the computer, I was explaining a fun writing assignment to the others. Using images taken from Curiosity of Mars found here, the students were to write a postcard BACK to Earth from Curiosity. I let the students click through the gallery and select which image they wanted to write about. Here are a few of my favorite images from the gallery. 

Small Debris.
Wheel Scuff.
Exploring Mars was AWESOME today, but we did run into a few hiccups. The application was running very slow on our student computers so some students didn't get the full experience. I hope to pull up the application again so we can try it out another afternoon when we have some free time. 

For the next couple of days we'll be talking about our Solar System.
Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Galaxies & Constellations

There are many reasons why December is one of my favorite months, but one BIG reason is because we are studying OUTER SPACE! There's something about teaching outer space that makes my heart skip a beat. We're just diving into our universe, but we have started by identifying our location (in the Milky Way) and how that compared to other groups of stars (also known as...constellations) In 5th grade, we do not assess constellations or put much focus on them, but it connects to how our Earth rotates on its axis. It was enlightening for many students to understand how we see different constellations at different times of the year... depending on where we are on the globe. 

To compare constellations and galaxies, we created a Double Bubble Thinking Map. Side note, in this unit I'm REALLY trying to incorporate the use of more and more thinking maps. They're incredible ways to organize information and another great way to take notes. For example, we created a brace map at the beginning of our unit to write down vocabulary words and associate them in groups. Now, back on track! Below, you see a student working with his group to pull information from a resource page and the text book and create a double bubble. After the small groups worked for 5-7 minutes, we shared out our new information and created a class double bubble. 

After we had ironed out the differences between galaxies and constellations... we started creating! Students were given months, chalk, a guide, and stars. Badda bing... badda boom! 

Today, I was trying to decide what to DO with the constellations and I thought, "Duh.. we need to look up." I hopped on a table and started tacking them to the ceiling. At the end of the day, we all stared into the "sky" and found constellations! 

Tomorrow, we're continuing our conversation about the SUN ... our closest star! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Glitter Blast!

In continuation with my "It's not you Thanksgiving, it's me" series, I bring to you another Christmas craft. Sunday was a whirlwind of DIY-mania. Hopefully, this post may bring a little peace and joy to your evening!

At Michaels I bought white wooden block letters and gave them a little make over. I spray painted each one a metallic gold and glitter blasted them with paint. I wish I had coined the term, "Glitter Blast", but the spray paint company beat me to it. I plan on incorporating it into my vocabulary more often. 

 It's a puzzle. Can you figure out what the word is supposed to be? I'm glad I painted the letters in the wrong order and then took the picture. 

I glitter-blasted (according to the spray can) my letters to give them a little sparkle. I love the way they shimmer and shine in the sunlight! Practically Edward Cullen in letter form. 

I stuck the letters on a wreath and added a few pine cones and berry garland to give it that classy Christmas feel. The letters are little wonky on the wreath, but that's my middle name. Wonky. Jordon Wonky F. Nothing is ever straight or in perfect order... every thing I do has a little wonky touch. The more I say "wonky" out loud the weirder it sounds. 

Peace on Earth and goodwill to men.

In addition to my "peace" letters, I also bought larger white block letters at Michaels. I painted them metallic gold with a glitter blast as well. They are happily propped up against my lamp next to a photo that brings me joy. 

That's all folks! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Chalkboard Christmas

First, I must apoligize to Thanksgiving. Mentally, I have already moved onto Christmas. My house, too, has already moved onto the winter holidays. It's not you, Thanksgiving, it's me. 

This two day work week mentality has my crafting juices flowing. My grades were exported on Friday (hip hip hooray), so I'm ready to enjoy this week with all of the people that I love the most! One of my many projects this afternoon were chalkboard creations. I purchased these little wooden cut outs at Michaels today and gave them a new look. 

Several hours later, I gave each one a cute little holiday quote. It seemed appropriate to write something about chilly weather on the snowflake. If you're getting technical, it's really not cold outside. Actually, it's quite wonderful outside right now. But, we're not technical here. 

For the bell, I picked a quote from my favorite Christmas book, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Because you know, in Who-ville they say the Grinch's small heart grew THREE SIZES that day!

Lastly, I gave an old poster a new look with, yes... you guessed it! chalkboard paint. Now, proudly hanging in my living room is a quote from one of my favorite movies, Elf.  Buddy the Elf provides a lot of my motivational quotes around the holidays. He's a wise 'ol elf!

 Happy Sunday!

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