Saturday, May 30, 2015

Five for Friday

Warning...this is a Five for Friday end of the school year edition. My memory is like a scrambled egg.  It is possible that my five topics are combined from this week and last week.  Forgive me. I want to blame it on the fact that I teach Kindergarten and when we finally reach this point in the year it's so crazy I'm not even really sure what day it is half the time.  Just take my word for it.  Anyway, here's my Five for Friday..Saturday Style.
We officially have 4 days of school left.  FOUR DAYS! I know most people think that 4 days left of school means parties galore, teachers dancing and cheering as we get closer and closer to the last day, and lots of fun and games.  Not true.  In fact, it's the exact opposite.  We are closing down, reorganizing, cleaning out (my favorite part), trying to inch our way through Kindergarten report cards, and so much more....AND...WE ARE STILL LEARNING.  We've been working on making sentences and writing them and I have to say I've been pretty impressed with how well they're doing at this time of the year.  Here's a little snapshot of our sentence building.  We are still ALL ABOUT the butterflies.
IPad mania.  Our school has a mobile IPad lab.  Pretty cool right? I have a love/hate relationship with technology and IPads.  First, I love them.  I love anything that will totally engage my students and most of the time technology has a 0% fail rate.  On the flip side, we can't live our lives glued the computer, TV, and IPad, although some people do and that creates a whole other set of issues.  Moving on..I research apps ALL the time and I've found two that my class has really enjoyed this year and also engage them and allow them to practice multiple skills.  

These are my favorites. They are both created by Thup Games.  Monkey Math incorporates shapes, number recognition, basic addition and subtraction, patterns, and other Kindergarten skills.  When students successfully complete the activities they are awarded an ocean them prize to place in their aquarium.  My kids love it!  Monkey Word School is very similar to the math only word school is strictly reading activities.  Some of the games include letters, sounds, blending words, rhyming words, and basic sight words.  Once students complete a few of the games they are awarded objects to put in their terrarium.  They are both so much fun!
 More IPads.  In addition I've also been in charge of maintaining the IPad lab at our school.  I have a love/hate relationship with this too.  I love having access to an IPad lab.  I love finding new apps and testing them out and learning as much as I can and sharing it with other teachers, but technology is extremely overwhelming, especially for someone who is determined to live her life on the cutting edge of just about everything.  The latest and greatest features and apps and programs can sometimes be yesterday's news in a matter of days.  Also, it can be a tedious job.  Some of our apps needed updated...manually..yikes! It's a ton of work and time but it really is worth it.  I reserved the lab one day this week and we played Monkey Math School.  It was sort of a reward for surviving this crazy year AND a way to still do math the last week and a half of school.  Some memorable quotes from our IPad lab session....
"Whoa I am so good at this game"  "Look at my aquarium!..I got all these  right and look what I got!" "Hey Ms. Neptune are we going to do math today?"  "This is math?! I love math!!" 
Best day ever!
Our last bulletin board! Truthfully, I had every intention of riding out the rest of our school year on our autism awareness bulletin board from April.  I know. Use the same bulletin board for two and half months?? It was wrong but I had every intention of doing it.  That is, until graphingpalooza took over our class a couple weeks ago and my little, mini, graphing, rock stars made to coolest caterpillar graphs ever.  We were so impressed by their work we decided to put them up for everyone to see.

Last but not blog was nominated for an award! No. Not a fancy award, but still an award!  Do you know what this means??? It means that someone OTHER THAN MY MOM is reading this blog.  So cool!! This particular award is the Liebster Award.  From what I understand right now, this nomination allows new bloggers to get more connected in the world blogging world.  It think it's a very cool concept and I'm very excited!  I don't know all of the details but I definitely plan on posting something about this over the weekend. 
And that's a wrap for this week.  My goal today is to get outside but the humidity is so thick you can cut it with a knife so I don't know how promising that will be.  This time next week we will officially be on summer break! 

Monday, May 18, 2015


In my Five for Friday post I briefly talked about releasing the butterflies we've been housing for a few weeks now.  I was so excited to have caterpillars this year and learn the life cycle of a butterfly.  I really wanted to do it last year but it was my first year of teaching and I had no clue what I was doing and before I realized that you have to actually order the caterpillars separately...when you're ready for them...the year was over and my hopes and dreams of teaching life cycles when out the window.  Luckily! I save my caterpillar coupon from last year AND order ANOTHER coupon this year so our class was graced with TEN caterpillars!! 

Each set of caterpillars comes in a jar with their own food.  I was so excited when they dropped the package off in my room that I tore it open only to find these teeny tiny little black spots.  Literally..they looked like spots.  Like I do everyday, I ran frantically next door to the teacher across the hall and in my not so dramatic voice..and by not so dramatic I mean over dramatic and I said "ARE THEY ALL DEAD?!?!" Fortunately they were not.  They were just VERY tiny caterpillars.  They started moving and eating and breathed a sigh of relief that my students would not be traumatized by a jar full of dead caterpillars.

So we left them in their jar and watched them grow.  It's so easy.  You simply leave the caterpillars in the container with their food.  They crawl and eat and crawl and eat for a week or so then they slowly make their way to the top of the jar.  Once they've made it to the top they start to make a chrysalis.  After they make a chrysalis, leave them alone for a few days just to make sure the chrysalis has time to harden.  They look something like this..
Next is the first stage of grossness in this life cycle process.  You have to take the paper with the attached butterflies out of the container and pin it to the top of the butterfly net.  Yea..gross.  You might touch their food, or get caught in their spiderweb like webs.  It's a little gross but it's not that bad and trust me if I can do it YOU can do it.  So now the butterflies are in the net!

I asked a lot of questions before I actually ordered the caterpillars.  What do you put in the net?  Will they need more food? How will I know if they haven't died?  Another teacher told me to put some paper towels in the bottom of the net because there will be a little blood and guts that come out when the butterfly opens the chrysalis.  Now I'm going to be very honest with you.  I'm not a nurse for a reason.  Blood and guts are not my forte.  So I prepared myself for a little blood.  Well, a little bit of blood turned into a-lot-a-bit of blood and the next thing I new it looked like the St. Valentine's Day massacre was reenacted in our butterfly garden.  Seriously, I had teachers down the hall coming in to check on the butterflies progress and they were all shocked!
"Is that blood?"
"Are you're butterflies dead?"
"Did you know there would be THAT much blood?"
"Oh wow I didn't know there would be so much blood!"
These were some of the questions and comments I received daily.

I kept my fingers crossed that the butterflies would open.  I'm always terrified that my projects will be to only ones that don't work because somewhere I missed a critical direction and everyone will be left sad and disappointed.  I suffer from perfectionism people I don't know what else to tell you! I was a nervous wreck but THEY DID OPEN..all except one. I was a little sad but I did not tell the kids how many caterpillars there were to begin with so they were not sad or disappointed.  Brilliant plan!  We watched together after snack time one day as our first butterfly emerged from it's cocoon. 

My class was so excited.  Immediately they wanted to name the butterfly.  The next day two more butterflies opened up and by the end of the week all NINE butterflies were fluttering in our butterfly garden.  I decided to try to let them name the butterflies...bad idea.  No one could agree on a name.  They wanted to name them after themselves or their mom or their cousin.  They wanted names like snowflake and Santa.  I kept trying to give them examples and help guide them in the right direction..they voted all of my names down instantly.  It was madness.  I eventually let it go and let them call the butterflies whatever they wanted.

We released our butterflies on Friday.  They were excited and ran around the basketball court as each butterfly flew from the net.  They cheered and yelled goodbye to Butterball, James, Emily, Hotdog, Juliet, Sparkle, Flutter, Christoff, Flutter Shy 1, Flutter Shy 2, Flutter Shy 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 and many other names that I can't remember now.  Then they looked at me and asked.."are they coming back?" They were a little disappointed when I told them no.  Their sadness was short lived and they proceeded to ask the usual questions "is it time for lunch?" "is it almost time to go home?" and I new we were back to normal.  So if you see a painted lady butterfly flying around town in the next few weeks chances are you're seeing Butterball, or James or Emily or Flutter Shy 1-9.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Five for Friday

It's Five for Friday...on a Saturday.  I love to read Five for Friday posts but I never feel like I have enough highlights in my week..or enough that I can remember by talk about. This week however was pretty eventful!
This week was my first attempt at teaching the life cycle of a butterfly.  Our caterpillars arrived a couple of weeks ago and they were so tiny and still that I was afraid  they were all dead.  They grew quickly and after they each formed a chrysalis we put them in the butterfly garden and waited for them to hatch!

Our school year is winding down which also means my students are less and less interested in school.  We've been doing  A LOT of addition and subtraction practice and I was so afraid that I was going to send them to first grade without understanding subtraction! I was really panicked.  We've learned a couple subtraction strategies and this week made our own birds and a fence and used them to solve subtraction equations.  It was a very cool freebie from teachers pay teachers and my kids loved it!

I ordered some science supplies in March and when my order came about a month ago I was still missing one item on back order.  I was sure of a couple of things.
           1. It would most likely never be delivered
           2. If by some chance it was shipped, I'd still never see it
Days and weeks past...still no weather station.  I was responding to e-mails, calling the company, doing everything I could to find this item before the year ends and I'm left with one less weather station.  As we were cleaning up and getting our room ready for the annual school carnival we found the box! Deep under a pile of empty boxes there was the unopened weather station.  I don't know when it was delivered or who dropped it off in my room or how it was thrown in with my storage boxes but there it was! Mystery solved!

Friday was our annual PTO sponsored school carnival.  We have an awesome PTO and I'm always amazed by their events and fundraisers.  Being a PTO officer is a full time job and I don't think they realize how important they are to our school.  Our students continue to benefit from their hard work and as a teacher I can't say thank you enough for that!  

Each year a prince and princess are chosen from each class along with a King and Queen of the entire carnival.  This is mostly a big deal to the 3rd and 4th grade students BUT THIS YEAR...the queen of the carnival just happened to be one of my students.  I think the rest of our class, her family, and I were more excited than she was. She looked beautiful at the coronation and it was really exciting for Kindergarten to represented this year!

Our butterflies hatched this week! The first hatching happened right before we started packing up to go home earlier in the week.  I was trying to get everyone settled after snack so they could hear me announce their buses when two or three of my little minis said "Ms. Neptune..look!!" Out crawled our first butterfly.  The rest followed in the days after that and we were able to watch most of them hatch.  So cool! We tried to name them...bad idea.  Mostly because there were NINE of them and no one could agree and they all started calling them whatever they wanted to call them so I just let them and we were all happy.  On Friday we released our butterflies...all NINE of them.  It's been quite an experience.

So that's my week.  How was yours?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Very Unlikely...continued

I truly am the very unlikely teacher.  I grew up in education.  My entire life my parents have been teachers, coaches, administrators, directors, you name it and I've been able to witness the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between in the teaching profession.  I've heard that if you're a "teacher's kid" you either love or hate teaching and me, I hated it.  It was not for me.  I didn't like the thought of living a world where I'm allowed to go so far and then I have to go back to the beginning and do it all over again.  On top of that, I still watch my mother, who is a way better teacher than I will ever be, work countless hours that she will never be paid for much less appreciated most days.  Nope.  No way.  NOT FOR ME.

I wanted to move to the city.  I'm fascinated by people and I wanted to explore what goes on in the world and share it, most days I still want that.  The first time I went to New York was on a school trip in high school.  When asked what our favorite part of the trip was everyone else in my group said they liked seeing the Empire State Building, Times Square, or the Broadway show (I think we saw Chicago).  My favorite part...touring NBC studios.  I don't remember every detail of the tour but I do remember seeing the set of the Today Show.  My first thought was wow this is a really small space, my next thought was I've died and gone to heaven.  That was it.  That was for me.   

I had a rude awakening when I graduated from college with my undergraduate degree. Finding a job a nightmare.  I wasn't quite ready to move to the city.  I wasn't even quite sure as to what kind of job I wanted and the options for a public relations/communications graduate in a small town is...well...nothing.  

I started substitute teaching, partly against my will and partly because I wanted a job.  My dad had just become the principal at a small elementary school and I spent a lot of time working there.  I worked at other schools also but I got the most experience at his school because I got to know the teachers and families there and it gave me a clearer picture of life as a teacher.  Next thing I knew...I was in  grad school. After that it was applying for job after job after job after job AFTER JOB.  That was part was a little frustrating.  A little long term subbing here and there and one magical day I became a Kindergarten teacher.

So there you have it.  A little background of my teaching journey to this point.  I hope you visit often and share your thoughts and advice as I continue on this very bumpy, unpredictable, amazing road.  Kindergarten is a humbling experience and Lord knows I need all of the help I cant get!