Tuesday, 28 June 2016

One more step down the road ahead......Still alive!


Well... it's been a whole term since I was last here.... sad, sad, sad. I will endeavour to do better!

To celebrate making it to school holidays, I have joined Kelly and Kim's linky party with a sale in my TPT store until 3rd July. Everything is 20% off! Starting right NOW!!

What a perfect opportunity to get one of my wonderful take-control-of-your-life-again teaching/home/life organisational binders! Change your life! Take your time back for yourself and your family!

Our Easter trip was A-MAZ-ING.

The kids absolutely loved it, and we didn't have a single argument.
Drove through a storm the first night and had no place to stop, which caused us to end up a full day ahead of schedule.
My husband even lost his phone on the first day, and even that couldn't stop him from completely loving the trip.
Camping was colder than anticipated.
Made it back home in record time. Instead of taking 3-4 days, we left Monday morning and arrived back on Tuesday night. 36 hours without a stop. Lots of caffeine was consumed. Many songs were sung. Loudly. Poorly. With great enthusiasm.

It's my favourite family holiday so far!

This term, we have had a lot of events. Probably the biggest one was our school fair. Talk about huge! Lots of pictures were taken, but none by me. We did get to wear really cute 50's style ice cream parlour aprons and hats though. So cute. Our class' stall was decorating ice cream cups or cupcakes. And then eating them. Because who wants to have cake if they can't eat it! That saying has never made sense to me. Of course I want to eat the cake. What else is the point of having cake if it isn't to be eaten!?

Our class also created an art gallery this term, and invited their parents. I had a completely awesome prac student (final prac!) who organised the kids to do little jobs to get ready for the art gallery. We did have a late night hanging it all up, but it was worthwhile to see the kids telling their parents all about it!  Here are some pictures!

This is a blurry, not-so-great picture of our 10 apples up on top bookmarks. Not sure where I saw these, but the kids fingerprinted 10 apples on top of an animal.

These are our scratch art pictures. We covered a blank page with colourful oil pastels, then painted black over the top. We then used toothpicks to scratch our pictures on them. I love how the colours just POP when they are laminated!

These are good old-fashioned marble paintings. We actually use the lid off the A4 paper boxes. They are quite literally the perfect size :)

Our starry night inspired pictures. Some looked kind of like the original, some took their own ideas and made a completely different kind of scenery. They turned out so gorgeous! My absolute favourite is the red one on the right hand side, third from the top.

These are family portraits. We actually did these right at the beginning of the year, but kept them hidden away until now :) They drew their families just in pencil, then went over it in a plain wash. We were supposed to use different colours to do clothes etc. but my instructions were a little lacking that day. We then went over the pencil lines with black texta. My family is even on there!

These are shape pictures. They were 'supposed' to use 10 shapes to create a picture. We had just been learning about the 3 little pigs, so we got lots of houses. And lots more than 10 shapes!
These are basic butterfly pictures we made while experimenting with colour mixing.
These are really amazing. When they are hung properly! They are butterfly paintings of the students names. If you turn them sideways (so you can't read the names!) they look like really cool aliens! Just look sideways at the screen and try not to see letters :)
These are paintings done while listening to Peter and the Wolf
These are plain canvas boards. They were 'supposed' to put 10 pieces of plain masking tape on the board and paint over it. They still turned out amazing. I displayed them on a bookshelf I had turned into a sorting board/feltboard. It's main function is to hide the mess on my desk from anyone who comes in. Yep, my desk is right behind it!
Scribble pictures! I know these have another more technical name, but we just call them scribble pictures. lots of fun to do!

Gingerbread men decorations. Again, use *10* things to decorate! I love Afro gingy!


And we actually ran out of room to put up our fingerprint garden pictures of plants and insects. Again, *10* fingerprints... except, not really.

So, that was our art gallery!

And then to think I had report cards all to be done at the same time! No wonder I haven't had time to blog!

We are moving through the year so quickly! I can't believe it is already the end of June! That's the halfway point in the school year for those of us in Australia. 19 more school weeks and we'll be handing our munchkins on to Year 1. So much to do, not nearly enough time to do it all in.

One of my goals from New Years Eve was to identify an area of weakness in my class to work on this year, and report back to you all about it. Getting it in by the deadline! I have two days left! This year I have noticed many children in my class seem to suffer anxiety, and much of that anxiety is connected to perfectionism and a lack of resilience. Of course, there are always going to be kids like this, but I have seen an increase in my classroom over the past few years, and this year has increased even moreso. I don't know if it's something just in my demographic or a 'thing' that's happening with kids now. 

A perfect opportunity came up at the end of May- our school has signed up for an action research project with a university (which will later report our findings to the government) working with age appropriate pedagogies. I won't get too much into all of that amazing stuff in this post, but the project is allowing us to target those anxious kiddos, focussing on growth mindsets! There's other aspects as well, such as following child interests and giving them some choice in their learning...So very excited to get back in next term and see how it works out!

We have previously talked a little bit about growth mindset (using the first set of the amazing ClassDojo videos), talking about the brain a little bit (MindUp), and even making clay brains with pipe cleaners stuck in them to show all the connections. The kids loved it, and I am really looking forward to going into it more deeply with them!

What are your favourite hands-on growth mindset activities!!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

It's been so long!

I haven't totally disappeared.
It's been a big start to the year.
A great start.
Gorgeous kids.
I could keep these guys. They are so sweet.
But SO intensely busy with life, the universe and everything.
One step at a time.

We have absolutely loved ClassDojo's growth mindset 'bideos'  (I love how these kiddos talk!)
It fit's in with our mindup stuff and also talking about our schema in English. It all just kind of fell together rather conveniently to form a sort-of mini 'how my brain works' unit. It's been great fun.

We even made mini brains out of clay and stuck small bits of pipe cleaner into it to make the connections.

It's amazing to hear parents talking about how their kid not only can say 'hippocampus' but can actually explain it! Or how they have neurons making connections in their brain, or how their mum needs to relax her body by doing some breathing after a rough day.

Someone once told me that if a kid can say 'tyrannosaurus rex', they can learn anything.
It totally changed the way I teach complicated concepts. We use the big words. We make them easy to understand. We explain them to our parents and shock their socks off. I love it.

On Friday we had our own mini oz animal Olympics. It was fun, even though I really don't like our Olympics unit, and even more so on years we actually have the Olympics.  There's nothing wrong with it. Just a deep seated distrust in anything remotely athletic.

We have moved through some phonemic awareness skills and have just started jolly phonics. So far, so fun!

Just two more weeks until we are doing parent teacher interviews.  I both love and at the same time dislike parent teacher interviews. I love the opportunity to get with parents and talk about their kid with a dedicated non-interrupted time. I dislike the 10 minute appointment slots.  You can't talk about a WHOLE child in ten minutes. The intricacies of their little personalities. Reassure their parents that they are making friends.  Discuss how they have settled into school, follow routines, behaviour, and quirks or concerns, academics, and basically, whether they are becoming a reasonable person.  I like that it is a special time tat I can connect with those parents that I never seem to see.  I dislike that it is always the parents that I need to see most that don't make it.

As a parent, I am not so much concerned with my kids academics- they are pretty bright so I haven't ever had any concerns there anyway, but there is plenty of support available to them if they were in any kind of struggle. Their mum is a pretty amazing tutor :D

I am much more concerned with what kind of human being they are turning into. I know I always see the potential in them. But it is nice to know that their teachers see what I see. It's nice to know that they have integrity and don't act differently when I'm not around. You have a whole life to learn book stuff (albeit, with some difficulty later on), but character development is really difficult to fix in adulthood. It really is one of those uniquely timed opportunities that you don't want to miss.

So yes. Goals for the year are well underway, I am completely booked out for tutoring and we are leaving on our amazingly huge road trip in a little under three weeks. I lost my USB with all the activities and games for the car that I was going to print at officeworks. Even though the organisational book I had thermobound there was done poorly. And the print job I did for someone's Christmas gift was also dodgy. Not to mention a few bible college assignments due before we go.

Having fun, but I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

Don't miss my new product- short and long vowel sorting mats. I couldn't find any that actually had the vowel in the picture, had long and short sounds and followed a theme, so I made these cute little animal ones up.

Vowel Sorting Animal Mats

Also, on my freebie page I have uploaded a 10 commandments display/sequencing activity that I've used with my class this year. It's pretty simple, but it has really helped my kiddo's remember them!
Some of them think number 7 is to get married. But at least they are thinking about it! We used this to talk about our school rules and how even God made up rules for us,  alongside our memory verse John 14:15 "If you love me, then you will obey my commands."

Starting our new memory verse this week- Colossians 3:20 "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord."  Also have an amazing Sean W Smith song to go with this called "Stop and Listen to Your Mum".
I'm looking forward to finishing off the term strongly, and I could use with a rest... but I'm not seeing one coming soon!

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