Schoolhouse Rock vol. 50: Christmas is Coming!

The weeks before winter break at kindergarten are always… well, they’re something. Fun? Exhausting? An adventure? you warm my heart

Yesterday spontaneous Christmas caroling occurred in the middle of math. I may have told the children that they needed to be quiet so we could finish our math lesson, and then followed that up with this pearl of wisdom, “You might be singing in your heart, but your ears can still be listening.”

Today one child was reading a book from their book box and exclaims, “It’s Baby Jesus!” “Nope, that’s a turkey…”

Today was pajama/polar express day. When we brought them to gym, one boy asked me, “Are we going to take our clothes off in gym?” and all I could think of is when my pastor quotes Princess Bride saying, “I do not think it means what you think it means…”

Did I mention the kiddo who can’t go a day without wearing a sweater vest so he wore one OVER his pajamas?? Awesome.

And I’m always on high alert to intervene in case of conversations spilling the beans about Santa.

Have you seen our Christmas tree forest? Our friend Jessica provided the most beautiful picture in the middle, which has been an inspiration for us all… Photo on 2012-12-18 at 16.00


Schoolhouse Rock vol. 47

Guided reading can sometimes be quite interesting.

I encourage children to read in an accent whenever possible.  (Ok, I do not encourage this.  It just happened on its own.)

Today though, it was brilliant.    It was something.

A child in my group was not paying any attention.  At all.  He suddenly saw that everyone else had been rewarded for be on task and following directions.  He must have thought, “Oh, I’d better read this so I can get a sticker too”.

So he quickly pointed at the title of this book, and pointing carefully at each word, (mis)read the title:  “I can’t read.”

This is the book cover and the title he was reading.  So I guess in summary, “nope, you sure can’t.”  Let’s work on that this year in kindergarten.

Schoolhouse Rock vol. 46: election edition

Our fifth grade hosted a great mock election today for the kids at my school to go and vote.  But this meant that we’d better talk about what voting is, what the president does, and who the candidates would be on the ballot.

I talked to the kids in my group for centers in place of a guided reading lesson (which was a bit of a bummer since I was hoping for a repeat of yesterday’s kid that read his entire book in a British accent).

I started out showing them a picture of the White House and asked: Do you know what this building is?

  • The light house!
  • It is so beautiful and big!
  • It looks like an apartment.
  • It is the United States of America.  There are 10 bedrooms there.
  • I saw that building in Ohio!
  • I saw it at my grandma’s.
  • I saw it in Africa.
  • My mom doesn’t even know what that is.
  • That’s called the White House?  My house is called the Green House!

Who lives in the White House?

  • Orock Obama
  • Robama
  • Obama lives there!  He is the Pressiman.

What do you think is in the White House?

  • Money
  • Tables
  • The president, of course!

What does it mean to vote?

  • It means to go on vacation.  (I wish!)

Do you live in the United States?

  • No.
  • No.
  • No.
  • Yes.
  • No.
  • No.  I live in a house.

Friends, we all live in the United States of America

  • We do????

What does the president do?

  • Protects the house
  • Eats food
  • The president had computers to do somethings
  • If a bad guy comes here, the president click the thingy and say to the kids, “Go sit down and be safe.” (apparently the president has a national intercom system for lockdown drills…)
  • He helps people.  Keeping dogs and kittens safe.
  • He teaches people about letters and words and how letters make sounds
  • Presidents clean stuff.
  • Presidents go to sleep.
  • Presidents are rich.
  • You can be king of the world.  The king is the guy with a crown.  He rules the world.
  • Presidents run for Student Body President.

What does the president talk to people about?

  • Presidents speak to people about bad things.  Like people getting dead.
  • Presidents go out to people and talk to them about stuff.  They talk about spirits.
  • He talks to people about things that are happening in Minnesota
  • He talks to people about furniture.  And people who work and play together.
  • I think he talks to people about being more better.  And how to take care of their little kids.
  • I see the flag!  I know the speech to that flag!  (I asked her to say it).  Silence…

On the topic of filling out a ballot and only voting for ONE person and getting to vote for who you want to vote for, not who someone else tells you to vote for:

  • You can’t force someone to do what you want.  That’s called forcing.
  • President Obama is the best because he helps people learn.  President Obama is black and he likes people.  He’s always been our president.  And George Washington. He’s the goodest person.  He says good things.
  • I’m gonna vote for Mitt Romney because he’s the nicest.  He’s got a nice shirt, and nice hair.  And because he’s never been president

And in conclusion: The White House is of course near Mount Rushmore, so that the president can be close to all four of our other Presidents.

And kids, remember that if you are having an election party, be sure to hang out patriotic mistletoe and say the pledge if you happen to stand under it at the same time as someone else… 

Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings Time stresses me out.

My roommate thinks I am ridiculous for this.

But I have a distinct inability to trust technology with this issue.

Did you really turn back time while I was sleeping?  My alarm clock, my computer, and my cell phone all agree that it is 7:30 am.  But is it really 7:30 am?  Or is it 8:30 or is it 6:30 or what is happening?  There is no way to know.  I might just be late or early forevermore. 

I rely on the analog clock in our bathroom to confirm that time has indeed changed.

My technology has never let me down when it comes to DST, but I still panic every fall and spring…

T. Swift + Pepperoni

Tonight I went over to my brother’s to help hand out candy, since we don’t get a lot of trick-or-treaters at my house.  This was the right choice for a couple of reasons.

1)  We don’t really get a lot of trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood.

2) A former student just came to the door.  Win!

3) I am getting quite the workout – whenever the doorbell rings, I have to get up, run around the couch, obstacle course my way past two dogs, run up the stairs, turn the corner, hurdle over the tiny piece of cardboard that mysteriously keeps the dogs away from the door, and greet the young children with a smile and a piece of candy.

Anyways, pack to the point: we decided to order pizza for dinner.  So the question was: what sort of pizza should we get?  I went to a couple of a different websites to see if there are any good deals for David’s neighborhood.

The best deal I found?  Ordering a Taylor Swift CD with your dinner.

Excuse me, WHAT?!?  

Yep,  you heard me right.

What I’m wondering is if anyone has ordered a little T. Swift without the side of pizza…

“Quick!  I need some Tay-Tay in my life STAT, and I can’t be bothered to run to the store.  Amazon will take at least one whole day to ship it. I almost feel really sad, but then I remember that I can just call my helpful pizza delivery guy.  Another crisis averted by my local pizza heros.”

Pizza Hut, if that is what your competitors are offering, we are never ever ever getting back together.

That was a lie.  Your competitors don’t even deliver to my house.  We are friends forever by default.

Schoolhouse Rock vol. 45

We are sharing our projects we made about community helpers.

I wish that we had our presentations on videotape for you to see.  Except that would break all sorts of privacy laws.  But seriously it was hilarious.

There is the child who made a bakery project and told me that when she grows up and has her own bakery, I can come and work at it.  I asked her what my job could be.  The answer: “You can get me all the things I need.”  I did some negotiations and in addition to this role of assistant to the head baker, I also get to be on sprinkle detail. Score!

Another child made an elaborate school scene.  The unveiling of the project included me nearly breaking the shoebox and people glued to popsicle sticks.  The unveiling was made complete when in the midst of my juggling her project and struggling to open it up properly, we caught sight of the giant Michelle Obama magazine cut-out in the front of the classroom diorama as the teacher.  Winning.

However, my personal favorite project was the student who brought in a small pink box with two mermaids in it.  I’m sure you will agree with my roommate’s feedback on this project: “I can’t even count the number of times I’ve thought that mermaids don’t get enough recognition for helping the community.  Glad somebody knows what’s up.”  Although not everybody was convinced.  While the kids were waiting for bussing to begin, I heard a little girl say, “Mermaids are NOT community helpers.  Do you see them back there [on the communities bulletin board]??? No.”

Schoolhouse Rock vol. 44

Sometimes, even if you have been teaching for 8 years, you just make rookie mistakes.

Rookie Mistake #1 – not thinking through the answer before asking the question.

Today I thought I would be a good teacher and take advantage of the few minutes between using the bathroom/washing hands and heading down to the lunch room to practice some rhyming. (You know, rather that ignoring the children and let them go wild for 3-5 minutes, like I usually do).

So I looked around the room for some inspiration and said, “I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with…. door.”

Answer #1: Whore!

I didn’t want to repeat it so I just said, “Nope, that rhymes, but it isn’t my word.”

The next three children who answered also suggested “Whore!” As if it was a brand new idea. (really kids???) Finally I had to break down and loudly say, “My word is not whore. Please stop guessing that word.”

Lesson learned:

Don’t try to sneak in learning opportunities. Just let the kids sit and socialize…

but on the bright side, they are learning to rhyme! Yay!

Cows, motorcycles, and… Wizards??

Joseph, one of the directors of Rafiki Africa Ministries, put this photo on Facebook.


I felt like it needed to be shared for many reasons.

First of all – let’s just talk about that it is a COW. On a boda boda. Say what?!

Secondly, while this might be the most ridiculous thing I have seen on a boda, it is certainly not the only time I have been in awe of things on a boda boda. Entire families all fit on one… A giant stack of mattresses have been piled up to the sky, and so much more.

And finally, Joseph’s caption read something like, “unsafe! Where is the ministry of transportation?” And while I fully agree that this seems incredible unsafe, the “ministry of transportation” makes me giggle. I know that in places like Britain and Uganda that is what they call it, but I just immediately think Harry Potter. And now am picturing some wizards flying alongside the cow riding the boda boda.

You are welcome.

Schoolhouse Rock vol. 42

Yesterday was Community Helper Day at kindergarten.  We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’ve had some really great people come in over the years – but I think we all agreed that this year’s presenters were collectively the best we’ve ever had.  Everyone did such a great job of talking to the kids and they all had really cool things to say about their jobs.

The kindergartners also had some HILARIOUS things to say to them.  I don’t think I’ve laughed (silently in the back) this hard in a really long time.

Here are some snapshots of the epic-ness of our morning:

While visiting the firefighter:

“I wanna be a fire drill!!”

“My mom won’t buy me [a fire evacuation plan]!”

While visiting the financial planner:

Q: What if you can’t afford a new bike?

A: “Go to the Dollar Tree!”

While visiting the Chef:

Q: “If I need to cook for more people, what do I need?”

A: “More Moms!”

Actual Answer: A bigger pot.

While visiting the musician:

Pretty much anytime he touched his guitar, the kids exclaimed in awe, “DANG!”

After visiting the window washer:

Me: Boys and girls, did you know that he is my cousin??

Student 1: He is your brother!?

Student 2: He is your dad?!

While visiting the medical clinic worker

Presenter: I went to Haiti, a country near Florida.

Student 1 leans over to Student 2: She went to Katie!?!?!

While visiting the architect (who did building projects in Uganda):

Presenter: Does anyone know what an orphan is?

Student 1: A house!

Student 2: (with great confidence) I know!  An orphan is an animal that can swim in the water.

Actual Answer: An orphan is a child that might not have a mom and dad to take care of them.

Student 3: My mom told me I am going to Africa tomorrow.

Presenter: Ok, well have fun.  Tell my friends I say hi.

And perhaps the most important thing we learned today is from the city worker: snow plows can kill.  So let’s stay safe this winter, kids.