Schoolhouse Rock Vol. 5

Subtitled: Times they are a’changing…

My sister was in a fifth grade music called Kids and if I remember correctly, it kind of had the theme of “what are we going to do with kids these days” throughout it.

This has been a week like that.

Exhibit A:  I mentioned my middle name is Beth.  Naturally the response from a five year old boy would be, “I’ve heard the name Beth before.  In Little Women!”  and then we proceeded to discuss all the sisters in Little Women, our mutual love for Little Women, and he even included the detail of, “Yeah, and the dad had to leave to go to fight in the war.  Then his arm got hurt.”

Exhibit B: Today I confiscated a cell phone from a kindergartner.

Fortunately tomorrow we are going to the Children’s Museum, so the kids can take some time to play in the giant ant hill and remember that they are actually kids.  🙂

Schoolhouse Rock Vol. 4

subtitled: Where are the children when I need them?

On Sunday I was sitting in church and dying of being overly hot.  Tiffany tried giving me a blast of winter via a mint, but it wasn’t enough.  I fanned myself with my worship folder.  Still uncomfortably warm.  I took off my scarf.  No good.

Then I remembered back to last week at school.  

The Scene: Dramatic Play/The Book Corner

The Conversation: “Hey, Miss K, you should sit on that couch and we should use that leaf to fan you!”

Where are you when I need you, kids?

The Perils of Texting

We hear a lot about the perils of texting while driving.  The law agrees.

But what about the danger of texting in other situations?

Texting while bicycling?

Texting on stilts?   Texting while mountain climbing?

Texting while on your pogo stick?

Texting near a toilet?

Texting while walking?

Texting on the trapeze?

Texting while marching in a parade wearing a half-horse costume?

I’m hear to tell you that texting can be a dangerous sport in a multitude of circumstances.

Take for example, texting while walking.  Consider this highly fictionalized, completely made up scenario.

You are walking down Lyndale in Minneapolis, meeting a friend for lunch.  You are running about 7 minutes late because of some trickiness with a calculator earlier in the morning.  You are walking moderately quickly, and pull out your phone to text your friend that you are close (you don’t want your friend to give up on you and go home) when all of a sudden, you lose control.  You try to channel your skills from the Wii balance board.  Is that success in the air? – you are close to regaining your balance!  No. Epic fail.  Down you go.  Face plant onto the slushy cement sidewalk.  Your phone goes flying into a pile of slush.  Two kindly strangers stop to make sure you are ok.  You stand up, feeling foolish (and in a slight amount of pain) and attempt to brush off the snow caking your jeans and jacket (not to be confused with a jean jacket).  You assure the strangers that you are in fact alright.  They compliment your landing, and you hobble away.

How could you avoid a situation like that?  Simply by not texting while walking.  Safety first, people, safety first.

And yes, that is the story of my afternoon.

This is an example of much safer phone usage. Note that I am both seated and using a 4 finger + 1 thumb grip on the phone, supporting the phone on two sides and one corner.

The End.

If you don’t see me…

Normally February is one of my favorite months, what with Valentine’s Day, all the cool kids’ birthdays, Presidents Day, Groundhog Day, etc.  So much amazingness happening!

But this month, if you don’t see as much of me around here, it is because I’m here: at my newly unorganized work station to write my capstone paper for grad school.  Have I mentioned I am in grad school?  Because I am.  And I just started my last class.  And I just want to have this paper written and done with.  Because you are probably wondering, I’m writing my paper on using music and movement in the classroom.

With much sarcasm and dread in my voice, I will tell you I love reading journal articles, analyzing research studies, and scouring books for something, really anything, I could add to my paper to get it to the proper length of 1,000 (or 30) pages.  And let’s not forget using APA format.  Seeing as I write all my posts in APA format with a scholarly voice, you probably already know I think it is awesome.

Nothing slows me down from BSing my way through school like APA…

(Disclaimer: if you like writing in APA format, I am happy for you.  So glad there is someone in this world who enjoys it)

I have a puzzle box of Times Square that I got from my secret santa at cousin’s Christmas Dinner sitting in my line of sight.  Motivation that when I get my paper done, I can clear off my parents’ sketchy card table and use it for puzzling instead of papering.

Then again, I can’t stay focused on a task like this for very long anyway, so maybe you will see more of me around here as I procrastinate and distract myself from excessive thinking.  There is no way to know what (the last three days of January and) February will bring.  Time will tell.

Schoolhouse Rock Vol. 3

MLK Day!

As a kindergarten teacher, I always struggle with how to share about Martin Luther King Jr. in a way that is age appropriate: not completely glossing things over, but having the kids walk away with more than, “Why did they shoot him?”  Because I know from experience that once they hear that, it is the only thing they fixate on.

I know that our world isn’t perfect.  But I do love that my students are growing up in a school where there are African American, Latino, Asian, Caucasian, Native American, and many different nationalities of African kids.  And in kindergarten they may notice skin color, but it doesn’t stop them from being friends.  Diversity is a part of their everyday lives. Martin Luther King Junior’s work helped to make that possible.

This year, our lesson started with two eggs.  A brown egg and a white egg.  I asked the kids if they are the same or different and why.  Then I cracked the eggs open into clear cups and repeated the question.  This time their answer changed to “the same.”  I told them that Martin Luther King Jr. was a pretty smart guy, because he knew that even though people might look different on the outside, on the inside, we are all the same – people who want others to be nice to us, who want to be cared about, and who want things to be fair.  At this point one student interrupted and said, “Yeah, we are all the same because we all have blue blood” (Um, what?)

Moving on, we skimmed through the book Martin’s Big Words, and talked about those “big words” that he found important: love, peace, friendship, together, etc.  The kids then painted their own picture of his “big words”.

I didn’t focus the lesson on race – we mentioned all sorts of differences in the way people look, and I wasn’t really sure how much they got, but then I looked at their finished products. I loved their art.  It is so innocent, yet so hopeful, and true to what they believe.

Then there is the painting in the bottom right corner.  What is it of, you ask?  Well, naturally it is of Martin Luther King Jr.  And his tree.  Then there was the kid who gave him a crown and couldn’t be convinced that he wasn’t a real king.

But for the most part, I was really proud of my students’ understanding and reflection on such an important person in our country’s history.

Good job, kids!

Welcome Sweet Baby Girl!

I was so excited to have the opportunity to take pictures of this sweet little girl.  Andi was born to my friend Becky and her husband Adam just over two weeks ago.  She may be two and a half weeks old, but she is still just a petite little peanut, not even really fitting into newborn clothes yet.

She was quite convinced she wanted to stay awake for her photoshoot, but after some sweet talking (ok, after eating, a diaper change, and some rocking) she was an adorable little sleeper for the rest of our time.

Forgive us the fact that we kept her laying the same and just switched out the color headband 🙂  We were trying to encourage her to continue her nap, so we didn’t want to move her around too much… But I think her pictures turned out adorably!

Silver and Gold*

It is important to have good friends.  Friends who will have fun with you, pray for you, speak truth into your life, laugh with you, and be there for you in the good times and bad.

In January, I tend to hibernate.  Maybe it is because it is cold.  Maybe it is because Christmas is over.  Maybe it is because January is my least favorite month.  There is no way to know.

But this weekend has been a gift.  Instead of staying in, I went out.  I went out to a delicious breakfast with a dear friend.  I went out sledding with a family I love.  I drank hot cocoa and ate clementines and homemade kettle corn and laughed with the girls.  I had dinner with my awesome family.  I went to Trader Joe’s with my sister (which we figured out is actually code for run lots of errands, maybe spontaneously see a movie, and always go with to the gas station).  I taught Sunday school with my awesome co-teachers.  I met a friend’s baby and took adorable pictures.

I feel so refreshed and ready to take on the week.  Which is a good thing, because it is parent teacher conference week.

Friends, thank you for being in my life.  I like you an awful lot.

*the title of this post is a tribute to my mom’s voice, ever singing in my ear… “make new friends, but keep the old.  one is silver and the other’s gold.”

Schoolhouse Rock Vol. 2

Some sweet moments:

With one little girl, we are working on the basic skill of being where she is supposed to be. Honestly at this point it doesn’t even matter if she is listening or working.  If she is in her right place, then that is such a great improvement.  Today she was doing really well, thanks for a new intervention I’m trying, but suddenly I saw she was up over at her journal with a crayon.  I tried calling her over back with the group and was a little frustrated she was totally and completely ignoring me.  Suddenly, she rips the page out of her journal, and brings it over to give to me.  She drew me a heart.  🙂  ok, forgiven.

At the end of the day today, I called a parent to tell her that her child had a great day of school today.  As soon as I identified myself as her child’s teacher, the parent’s tone of voice changed to disappointment and irritation because she usually gets phone calls about her child’s misbehavior.  She was so so happy that I was calling to report her child’s good behavior – you could hear the smile, relief, and excitement in her voice.  It almost made me cry just to hear her happiness.  It was a good reminder to take the extra minute it takes and tell people about the good things, the things you appreciate, or the things they have done well.  It really does make a world of difference.

Then this afternoon, a child approaches me and asks why teachers don’t have name sticks.  I told him that teachers get lots of turns to do things in the classroom and we have name sticks so I can pull out kids’ names and then they can have a turn too.”  He replied, “[sigh] oh, but I want us all to be one big happy family!”

Today a child drew this picture of me.  I loved it. I showed it to my assistant, and she asked if there could be a better representation of me.  I kind of had to agree.  If I could go through life with long blonde T. Swift hair, wearing a princess crown with flowers on top, I totally would.  Since that is not really socially acceptable, instead I will live vicariously through this portrait and continue to fill my heart with sunshine, princess crowns, and flowers.  

Dessert in a Jar: Twix Trifles

We had a cousin’s dinner this past weekend.  I needed to drive 40 minutes to my cousin and his wife’s home, so keeping in mind my recent struggles in dessert transportation, I thought to myself, what is the easiest, most fool-proof way to transport a dessert?  Naturally, the conclusion I came to was to transport the desserts, ready to serve, in individual jars.

fool-proof dessert transportation, right??

I called my sister to confirm how many guests were going to be at the dinner.  The total was 11.  I had 12 jars.  Since I had an extra jar, I thought it made sense to throw the spare jar on the ground so it would shatter into millions of pieces.  Or I accidentally dropped it after washing the jars and it shattered and I was sad that I now needed to clean up broken glass.

Now on to the trifles. So cute, right?

I don’t know about you, but when I think trifle, I immediately think of the episode of Friends where Rachel is making a traditional English trifle for Thanksgiving dessert, and the pages of the recipe magazine she is using got stuck together and she is unknowingly combining two recipes.  One for trifle and one involving things such as beef and peas.  

I was hoping no one would pull a Chandler and say, “This is so good I need to go enjoy it on the balcony” when I served my Twix trifle.

Using instant pudding sounded too easy, so I made my pudding from scratch.  First though, I chopped up some twix.  Then I put a layer of twix choppings in the bottom of each jar.  Then I made homemade caramel pudding.  I was shocked at my baking abilities (let’s be honest, I really mean my recipe following abilities) and was excited that I actually made pudding!  After that chilled, I made the chocolate pudding (doubling the original recipe) and layered it on top.  I topped that with more twix pieces, then whipped cream, then put the lid on the jar.  Ready to go!  

It was delicious.  I would totally recommend this recipe.  The only thing that would have made it better was these cute little red bows.  But I ran out of time.  So we went bow-less to the party.  I would also recommend that you remember you have a cousin who is lactose intolerant before you serve a milk-based dessert at dinner.  Sorry again, Elizabeth!  Next time I will bring something dairy-free… And thanks Steve and Kaia for hosting and serving us a delicious dinner!  Cousin’s dinner success!

Click here for the Twix Trifle recipe

Schoolhouse Rock Vol. 1

I totally am stealing my title from a friend.  Last year her Schoolhouse Rock blog series was numbered according to the number of days we’d been in school.  I can’t be bothered with such counting, so we’ll just go consecutively starting with 1.  I decided that I am running out of clever titles for the randomness that is kindergarten… so you will now know it is a post of hilarity from the children because it will be designated under the Schoolhouse Rock title.  Enjoy!

First, some artwork: Obviously this is me – I mean, the resemblance is uncanny.  I’m sure you can tell what is going on here, but in case you are in need of a bit of interpretation, I am enjoying a red sucker.  I have a can in my hand because I am helping my mom make supper.  I’m guessing we are having soup.

Secondly, we sing an alphabet song in class that has a chorus that goes like this: “Learning letter sounds A-Z; Learning letters sounds you and me; Clap three times: 1-2-3; Letter sounds can help me read… and write!”  One student starting adding to the end of our song, “And text!”  And really, you can’t argue with that point.  Letter sounds DO help you text.  Way to apply your learning to real life.

And finally, I have a student who likes to know about my personal life.  “Hey Miss K, what are you doing tonight?”  “Well, I am going to have dinner with a friend so that we can plan for a Bible study we are leading together.”  “Oh.  What are you studying in the Bible?”  “The book of James.”  “Oh.  What else are you doing when you get home?”  “Um, I might exercise, and read a book, and go to bed.”  “Oh.  Why aren’t you eating any ice cream?”  “well, I guess because I don’t have any ice cream at my house right now.”  Oh. That’s sad.”