Do the questions about different races, ethnicities, and backgrounds ever come up in your classrooms/homes? I teach in an inner-city district where we have many different minority groups and ethnicities that make up the framework of our district's children. Every once in a while I have a group of students who are very curious why  we are all a little different. What are your responses to those questions? I know EXACTLY what I would say when I am teaching Sunday School or what I would say to my own children. But in a public school's well a little different.

Without going into detail, one of my students didn't want to sit next to another due to the difference between their skin. My policy in my classroom has always been that skin color DOESN'T matter. I don't look or judge them according to the color of their skin. I love them all for who they are on the inside.

I always use this opportunity to bring up the book A Bad Case of Stripes  and ask my students if I came into school with stripes all over my skin would that change who I was on the inside?  Would I still be their teacher with crazy curls? Yep. Our skin is our body's LARGEST organ that is integral to keeping out germs and protecting us from harm and keeping our internal organs safe. I explain that it's not the wrapping that we really care about but what the wrapping is hiding (the inside!) that counts.

When I got home, I was still thinking about what had happened in my room while making dinner. Our not so cute chicks (let's face it they are awkward adolescents at this point) are finally laying eggs and we are LOVING having farm fresh organic eggs right in the back yard. I looked down at the carton of eggs my hubby had washed the night before and this is what I saw. (Ignore my ugly counter top, my kitchen is still in the stages of being remodeled!!)

I had pieces of egg shells lying on the counter. All different shades. Some light. Some dark. Some with speckles. Some with spots. Once they were all cracked open and on the griddle, they all looked the same and I couldn't tell which egg came from which shell.


I showed this to my class to make a point the next day. I don't like one chicken better than the other for the color of the shell because the shell isn't what I care about. I love each of them for who they are as a person and if they walked in with stripes, polka dots, feathers, or fur I wouldn't care.

We were made perfect in His image and if He thinks we are perfect just as we are...who am I to judge?


Frozen Themed Pom-Pom Garland

I swear Christmas sprung up on me. Does anyone else feel that way too? If you don't, I'm seriously envious, annoyed, jealous I don't know how you do it! I have all my shopping, wrapping, and baking done but it feels like it was just the start of the school year.
My previous garland did not survive the last family move. When I went to pull it out of storage last Christmas, the box had gotten wet and my beautiful ruby beads were moldy. Serious disappointment. I thought it would be fun to have a bunch of different garlands I could use on both my indoor and outdoor trees. So I'm starting to create them. ONE. AT. A. TIME. I mean it's hard when you have a 3 1/2 year old, a 5 month old, and your parents and sibling are currently living in your house to get really creative!
I saw tutorials on making pom-pom garlands and I wanted to make one that looked like Frozen (yep, my boys LOVE Frozen!!) and have a little fun this year.

Here's what you need:

2-3 spools of yarn (Depending on how many strands you want to make, I used 3)
twine, rope, or extra yarn
plastic bags (for all the little pieces you don't want all over the place!)

This is the brand I purchased from Wal-Mart.

Step 1: First, I read if you use a fork it helps keep things organized. While this is true, the pom-poms are REALLY small so I used all 4 fingers to wrap the yarn around. I looped around about 50 times (give or take) and then gently slid the yarn off my fingers and cut a piece of yarn about 6 inches or so and tied a knot around the middle making the yarn look like a bow. I tied a knot and then looped the pieces around the opposite side and double knotted the yarn again. I wanted them SECURE.
I did this right on my lap and had no problems with the yarn falling apart.

Step 2: Cut the looped ends on EACH side. Be careful not to cut the ends of your string that formed the knot. You'll need those later. Be sure to hold the center where the knot is tying the strings together.

Step 3: While holding the fanned out pieces, trim the edges in a circular pattern. (Great time to use those trash bags!)

Step 4: Repeat the step with as many pom-poms as you wish.

Step 5: Tie the pom-pom onto your string/rope and arrange with as much/little spacing between as you wish.


Step 6: Add to the tree. Step back. Admire your craftiness!

What does your Christmas garland look like?


Monday mornings are rough...I walked into my classroom knowing that this morning I wasn't going to be able to talk (thanks to a lovely asthma attack) to my students and all I had to do was get through my reading and spelling test. I kept telling myself we only have 2.5 days this week so really it was like Wednesday. That works, right? I mean, I tell my students at 12:30P.M. that it's ALMOST lunch so this week is ALMOST over.

After whispering directions to my students, handling several phone calls, attendance, sending students to the nurse, reviewing morning work, and settling my students down for their test, a student approaches my desk and hands me a note.

I must admit my first instinct was to tell her to sit so we could start our test. But when I read the note she handed me, it made me pause. I had been getting little "get well" cards from my students all morning. (It's so cute. They think that because my voice is gone I really am sick and they should whisper back to me!)

After reading her note, I realized again how much of an impact we as teachers have on our students. I love how she circled the word "because" in her note. My students are learning to support their answers in their writing by adding the word because. She will have no idea that her sweet little words were just what I needed to hear. A little pick me up and a reminder that regardless of the kind of day I am having, they are watching me and learning from my actions. I saw this picture on FB and it seemed to tie into my darling little note beautifully.

So for any of you who needed a gentle reminder of why our jobs are so important, I hope this was all the encouragement you need to make it through the pre-holiday craze.

Keep inspiring, friends. It's the best and most rewarding job...but no one said it was easy!

DeSiGn Reveal & Dinosaur Week

I feel like I am finally getting into my groove this school year. Last year I had so many "new" things going on in my life {new grade level, moving houses, moving school buildings, and to top it off I was pregnant all school year!} that this year seems like a welcomed relief. I am finding myself coming up with so many ideas to engage my students and not enough hours in the day.

I think I truly may end up being that teacher who brings her pillow and sleeps under her desk. Maybe then I will finally get caught up with my never ending "to-do" list. Hmm...probably not. Spending more time in my classroom would only add to my list. Yep, I'm better off driving my 50 minutes back and forth to school!

Last year I wanted to start a blog to share things that were going on in my life and classroom but just could not add one more thing to the list. Recently, my blog (if it even could be called that before she got her hands on it) had a makeover by Tenille from Designs by Tenille {here}. She did an AH-MAZING job at understanding my notes and comments and incorporating them into the design. I am thrilled it is finally ready to share and am looking forward to sharing this with everyone!

My sweeties recently wrapped up our dinosaur unit with a hands on science experiment...a fossil dig! We used our interactive notebooks throughout the unit {here} as we learned about the large creatures that once roamed planet Earth. We incorporated our non-fiction unit into our reading and science during the week and I wanted to end the unit with something hands-on.

One of the many nights I was surfing the web (and by web I mean Amazon...serious addiction there!) I discovered they had dinosaur skeleton figurines for a steal! I have Amazon Prime and was able to score 12 different dinosaurs for about 7 bucks. Hello, no brainer! {Dinosaur Skeleton Figures} 

The day before the dig we created a large anchor chart detailing all of the things they would be responsible for as paleontologists. Each group was to look for distinctive characteristics that would assist them in determining which dinosaur they discovered.

To say they were excited was a huge understatement.

One student walked through my classroom door saying she could not sleep the night before because she could not wait to get to school. When I heard that, I could hardly contain my smile. I mean, isn't that what every teacher wants to hear? Comments like that are what make difficult days more manageable.

I wanted to use dirt but figured my custodians might not like me as much once we were finished so ice it was! It's getting cold in McKeesport so I figured ice would fit right in! I froze the figures in clear storage containers so I could split the kids into groups.

Each group was given:
  • a container with 3 frozen dinosaur skeletons
  • 2 cups of salt (iodized and sea salt)
  • clipboards with recording sheets for their notes
Here they are trying the different types of salt to see which type helped thaw the ice the fastest.
Their initial reactions were priceless.
I kept hearing comments like "It's cold!" "My fingers are freezing!" "It's melting, the salt really works!"
The kids started to see the salt making holes in the ice but they were still a LONG way from retrieving their fossils. After giving them about 10 minutes or so with the salt, I gave each group 2 plastic cups and they were able to fill them with warm water (thank goodness for a sink in my new classroom!) Once the warm water was introduced, the ice began to melt faster and they quickly began to "dig" out their fossils.

Once our little fossils were thawed and rinsed off, the students were to take some measurements and look for distinctive characteristics to help them dig through our reference books and name which dinosaurs were frozen in our classroom. This was so much fun and definitely something that I am going to do again in the future!