Happy Canada Day!

30 June 2011

Tomorrow is my first official day of holidays (FINALLY), and to make it even a little more perfect, it's Canada Day!  We love Canada Day - for us it's a fun-filled family day of crafts, cooking, backyard BBQs, and all topped off with some fireworks - what could be better???

We <HEART> Canada Day!

We made these super cute Canada Flag placemats two years ago.  My kiddies were ages 1, 3 and 5 then, so this was a nice and easy craft.  We simply picked maple leaves from our tree in the front yard, painted them red, glued them onto white paper, and added red stripes down the sides.  I laminated them, and the kiddies used them for their Canada Day suppers.

This year I'm going to something similar.  I'm going to draw the flag image on a piece of white paper, and let the girls cut out all sorts of red images from old magazines.  They can then glue these pictures onto the stripes on the side and the maple leaf in the centre, and voila - a Canada Flag collage.

For dessert I'm going to make a Jello Poke Cake with a Canada Day Theme.  My sister made this last year, and it was a HIT!  We have a great crop of strawberries from our garden this year, so I thought this would be perfect!  I can also get my girls involved by letting them mix the cake, and then poke all sorts of holes in it.  The more holes, the better for this cake.  They can also spread the cool whip on the top.  You can check out her recipe here. She just posted some new Canada Day recipes today - you can check them out here.

I LOVE summer holidays, and I LOVE Canada Day!  Looking forward to tomorrow!  Happy Canada Day!


Wordles - Kicked Up a Notch

29 June 2011
I just found the COOLEST site tonight - Tagxedo.  You've just got to check it out!  It's just like Wordle ... only better.  You can enter text from any site, blog, search, etc.  The site automatically turns it into a word cloud, but with Tagxedo, you can CHOOSE a shape!  You can even pick a picture or photograph from your computer to use.  How ridiculously cool is that?  It took me about 5 minutes to make this apple - I entered the URL from my blog for the text.  The site also includes a link to a google doc slideshow for 101 Ways to Use Tagxedo.  You could use Tagxedo to summarize books, create logos, create autobiographies with students' pictures (would be so fun for a back-to-school activity) ... the possibilities are endless!  If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go play a little more with this site.  I'm sooooo excited!

How would you use Tagxedo in your class?

Too Many Eggs!

27 June 2011
I have too many eggs!!!  Five dozen, to be exact.  Why, you might ask?  Well, I work at a rural school, and I get fresh eggs delivered once a week.  I sometimes forget to bring them home ... I'm juggling two kids and at least two school bags every day on the way home, and have no extra hands left for eggs.  Last week I saw a post by A Special Kind of Class, where she had her students participate in an egg drop.  I thought this would be a perfect and fun solution to my egg problem.

I told my students about it last week, and today they came prepared with materials for our egg drop (well, most of them did).  Our custodian was going to throw the eggs off our roof.  Unfortunately, today he was away, so our "Egg Drop" turned into an "Egg Chuck" where the students got to throw their protected eggs at the school wall, or throw them into the air as high as they could.  We invited our junior kindergarten reading buddies to join us.  The students made predictions on whether they thought the egg would break or not.  Even though two thirds of the eggs ended up breaking, we had a GREAT time!  SO.MUCH.FUN.

Throwing the eggs:

Some eggs survived:

And some did not:

What a fun day, and the perfect solution to too many eggs!


A Harry Potter Confession ...

23 June 2011
I have a confession to make.
It might be quite shocking.
Okay ...
here goes ...

I've never read any of the Harry Potter books.

Whew - feels good to get that off my chest.  It's actually quite unbelievable considering I'm an avid reader and have had at least 60 students read the series while in my class.  I have two full sets in my classroom library.  My husband has read all the books, and we have all the movies ... I've just never really wanted to read them.  I always figured I've heard enough book talks and read enough book reports to get by ... right?  WRONG!

A few weeks ago my oldest daughter (in grade 2) came home super excited to tell us that her teacher was reading them the first book, and when they finished the book they were going to have a Harry Potter party.  She was loving the book, so I shared in her joy, without revealing my little secret.  A few days after that she told me that all the students in her class had been grouped into "houses" and she was part of the Hufflepuff house.  Mmm hmmm ... sounds good, dear.  THEN she proceeded to tell me she had to dress like one of the characters from the Hufflepuff house for her party.  OH.  I had to admit to her that I had no idea who was in the Hufflepuff house.  After she got over her shock that there was a book I didn't know and love, we turned to the internet.

She ultimately decided she wanted to be Tonks.  (It looked like a pretty cool choice).  Well then the hunt for a costume began.  Do you know how hard it is to find a Halloweenish costume in June???  But, it's now the night before her big party, and I think we're set.  We had to enlist the mother-in-law's help to finish a cape, my husband whittled a wand (and has the blisters to prove it), and he had to take all three girls on a shopping trip while I was at graduation ... but we're ready.

I think she looks fantastic!  And she LOVES it - which is all that matters.

I wanted to do something special for her party, so I decided to make some treats.  Now keep in mind I only just finished writing my report cards 5 hours ago, so I was looking for something quick and easy.

I decided to make magic wands.  They were super easy to make, and thankfully didn't take a lot of time once I had tracked down the ingredients.  I melted some chocolate to dip the wafer straws in.  Then I rolled them in black sprinkles.  I used maple cookies for the tops (they were the closest in shape to stars, and I didn't want to make cookies from scratch).  I covered the maple cookies in white icing, then dipped them in yellow sugar.  Once the chocolate wafer straws had set, I dipped the ends in more melted chocolate so I could attach the stars to the top.  30 magic wands ... done!

So, I think I survived the whole "Harry Pottergate" incident unscathed.  But I have to admit, I've put it on my summer reading list.  And I need to finish it quickly because Elizabeth is already asking me to start reading the second book to her.  ;)


Origami Father's Day Cards and a Friday Freebie

17 June 2011
We made the cutest Father's Day cards today.  I wish I was organized enough to show you these earlier, but such is the way my week has gone.  (If you have pinterest - my new favourite obsession - you can "pin it" for next year).  Anyhow, I found this idea in one of my Martha Stewart magazines (yes, I want to be Martha).  Unfortunately, I found the instructions a little difficult to follow.  So I was very happy when I found this video on youtube.  I played it once through in its entirety for my students, then played it through again, pausing at each step until all students were ready to move on.  The results were fantastic!  Each student created a wonderful and unique card.  I let the students make any message they wished inside the card - some wrote an acrostic poem, a few wrote personal messages, and one students even made a haiku.  The youtube video recommends using scrapbook paper (which I think would be really neat), but we used cardstock and had great success.
This is the video I showed the students:

Okay - I've got a Friday Freebie for you as well, today - "Lights, Camera, Action - A Collection of Commercial Assignments". This FREEBIE has three different media / drama activities that I have used in the classroom. We've been making commercials in class this week, so I wanted to share this collection with you. Click on the picture to bring you to my TpT store to download your own copy.

Have a great Father's Day weekend!!!


14 June 2011
Are you looking for a reason to smile??? I know I am - I have the craziest week! Kids' soccer games last night and tomorrow night, dance dress rehearsal tomorrow (have to get off school early), dance recital Saturday, Father's Day party Sunday, report cards are due on Monday, and need to have the gr. 8 graduation slideshow finished for Tuesday (graduation night)! YIKES! Good thing my body thrives on stress ... and coffee!

Anyhow, when I saw these cute little smiles on my sister's blog, I knew I had to share them with you. She made them for her kids' first visit to the dentist (she does the cutest fun food), and I thought I would make them for my kids' upcoming visits. But I also thought they would make a fun summer snack to celebrate a happy day or special day. They could also be made for school on a day where the dentist visits, or during a tooth unit. The kids could help make them and complete a procedure writing activity. So cute!!! If you haven't seen my sister's blog already, you really need to go on over and Meet the Dubiens.

Did you read my last post where I shared about the new word I learned? Well, I actually learned TWO new words that day (feeling smarter by the second). Have you noticed my new FAVICON? (That's the new word, by the way). A favicon is the little symbol in the left corner of the page tabs for your websites. It also shows up beside the website names in your favourites or bookmarks. I love it!!! I saw the idea on Ladybug's Teacher Files - she has so many wonderful ideas. If you want to make your own (it's very easy, trust me), check out her post here.

I Learned A New Word Today ...

12 June 2011
Do you know what a paraprosdokian is? I didn't until I received an email from my mom full of them. And I'm totally embarrassed to admit my ignorance, seeing I'm an English major, and all. A paraprosdokian is a humourous figure of speech in which the beginning part is commonly known, but the end is often surprising or unexpected. For example: "I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car."

My students love figurative language activities - especially those with idioms. I thought it would be fun to make up a little activity to keep them engaged and entertained during these last few weeks of school. I had quite a few chuckles researching paraprosdokians on the internet to make this activity (for that matter, trying to pronounce the word is worth a few laughs).

In this activity, students learn what a paraprosdokian is, read a few examples, create some of their own, then create a final piece where they illustrate one of their paraprosdokians. This final piece could be handed in for a quick assessment, or posted to create an entertaining bulletin board. Click on the picture to bring you to my TPT store to download your own copy. If you like the item, please consider giving it a rating.

I can't wait to see what my students will come up with!

Filling the Bucket

09 June 2011
The other day one of the fabulous blogs I follow posted about two great little books, Have You Filled A Bucket Today? and How Full is Your Bucket?. We also use these books at my school. At the beginning of the year we had an assembly and two of our grade eight students read the book to the school while it was projected over the large screen. Each classroom has a collection of raindrops which we fill out when someone has filled our bucket. The completed raindrops get turned into the office where they are read during the morning announcements, then they are posted on a central bulletin board. "Filling the bucket" is part of our daily language at school. That being said, I have the cutest story to share with you. This evening at supper, I leaned over to give my husband a kiss and tell him that I loved him. My little three-year old piped up, "you just filled Daddy's bucket". Apparently, she has been reading and learning about the books at her daycare - I had no idea. It was such a sweet moment, that it filled my bucket!

Tonight I'm going to try to fill your bucket by sharing two of my favourite interactive websites for the classroom. These sites are especially fantastic on the SMARTboard because the students can physically manipulate the information while they are learning.

The first site is Math 6 Spy Guys. It is a collection of interactive mathematics resources covering all the junior math strands. Printable worksheets, parent notes, problem-solving strategies, and a glossary are included. Although it was designed for the grade 6 curriculum, it could easily be used in grades 4 - 7. My students LOVE this site!!! They dance along to the music, laugh at the "cheesy" expressions, and beg to come up to the board to complete the problems. It's a fantastic way to review concepts learned in class.

The second site is Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus. This isn't a free site (although you can try it out for free). I think I pay about $20 for the yearly subscription. It is so worth it, though. It is a great tool for my writing lessons. When you type a word into the search box, synonyms and antonyms pop up in a web and move all around the screen. It also has a side bar which groups the words by their parts of speech. Students can click on one of the many new words to get a full definition, find its synonyms or antonyms, and explore the various parts of speech. It's such a fantastic and entertaining tool for grammar lessons, teaching word choice, and banishing those BORING words!

You can click on the images to bring you to the websites so you can explore a little more. Have I filled your bucket today???
Now if only I could get blogger to fix my followers gadget, that would definitely fill my bucket!).

Weekend To-Do List ... Check!

05 June 2011
Well, it's been a busy weekend so far - I'm happy the weather cooperated, but maybe it cooperated a little too much ... that sunshine makes me want to throw away the list! Thank goodness many of our activities allowed time to enjoy the sun. And the "to-do" list ... almost done!

1) I used up the rest of the rhubarb given to me by a co-worker ... Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie - check! My two older girls weren't huge fans (just scraped the ice cream off the top), but hey - that leaves more for the rest of us, right?

2) My hubby got the rest of the vegetable garden planted - check! Here in Northern Ontario we have to wait a little longer to dig in the garden, but the veggies are planted, and the berries and herbs are weeded and thinned out.

3) Last dance classes of the season - check! My middle girl is the cutest little ballerina you've ever seen (in my completely unbiased opinion). Dance season is winding down, and we're looking forward to her recital in two weeks.

4) First soccer practices of the season - half a check! Oldest daughter had her practice, middle daughter goes later today. I LOVE summer soccer season - yes, I'm a true soccer mom, complete with soccer van.

5) Enjoy the weather - check! Dinner on the patio last night, bike rides, and cars washed in the driveway. Family summertime fun.

6) Recycled crayon project - check! How cute are these summer-themed crayons??? I've made them before to put in loot bags for a butterfly-themed birthday party. Super easy and super cute. I melt the crayons on an old cookie sheet (sprayed with non-stick spray) at 275 degrees for about 10 minutes. I spread out the crayons so they cover the whole sheet. When the crayons are melted I take them out of the oven and let it cool a bit. When they have cooled enough that they have just started to harden, I use a metal cookie cutter to cut the shapes out. LOVE them!

7) Beautiful bouquet - check! I picked some lilacs from my backyard for a fragrant bouquet for my dining room table. The girls felt the bouquet needed a little yellow, so now it's a beautiful lilac / dandelion bouquet. Not quite the look I was going for, but still pretty.

8) Find some time to relax - ummmm ... still looking for that - maybe after the kids go to bed tonight!

9) New product posted to TeacherspayTeachers - check! Even though I still have a month of school left, I'm also already thinking about next year. Next year I have the class with "the reputation". I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about. We're going to be spending A LOT of time discussing and practicing character education. My cootie catcher products have been so popular, and so much fun to use in the classroom, I thought I'd create "Character Cootie Catchers." Click on the picture to bring you to my tpt store to download a preview.

10) Blog entry - check!

Now, it's off to soccer practice I go ... enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone!