Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Snowy Days

I was freezing! I pulled the blanket tighter around me. Then I see a small snowflake fall down from the sky. It reminds me of little crystals on sparkling wedding rings. I call to Mamma if I can go outside. She says, "Ye-es! Dress warmly!" I button up my coat, pull on my snow pants and boots, and run outside! I see the snow dance gracefully down to the ground, like little white ballerinas twirling and spinning on stage. I hold out my tongue trying to catch one. The smallest snowflake fluters down to my tongue. As soon as I close my mouth, I jump into the soft cushiony mattress of snow. I roll around and make snowmen. I do this until supper. Then my Mamma calls me inside. I see a cup of hot cocoa sitting at my seat!

-a story written by one of our 2nd grade friends

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


We are well into our Egypt studies for the year and are just wrapping up our studies of Joseph as we get ready to enter the fascinating world of mummies after Christmas break. The story of Joseph is one that is at least in part familiar to most kids, so we spend time focusing on the Egypt side of things- how the Joseph story fits into Egypt, what was going on in Egypt during that time, and later, getting into mummification and why Joseph would want his body to be mummified when he didn't worship the gods of Egypt. 

A couple years ago, I attended a Sight and Sound production of Joseph. Their portrayal of the story, the songs, the costumes, and just the overall spectacularity of the production made me wish that I could take my class to see the show. However, both Branson, Missouri and Lancaster, Pennsylvania are just a little too far to take a field trip. But Sight and Sound theaters make films of their shows that are available for purchase so I ordered a copy, and this week, we watched it as a class. 

The movie is a filming of a live show. You can see and hear the audience, there is applause, and mics and wires are often visible. To some, this is a turn off. But this class loves and understands theater. They want to act out everything and love to perform in front of an audience. They know how to watch a show and appreciate good acting, singing, and special effects. They loved watching Joseph. They applauded along with the audience, gasped and laughed at the right times, and couldn't wait to keep watching when we took a break. 

Sight and Sound productions are powerful, but even more than that, forgiveness is powerful. The story of Joseph is a story of remarkable forgiveness that can only be achieved through the grace of God. Despite knowing the end of the story well, these kids were moved to tears at watching and hearing it play out in front of their eyes. I pray that we would all have that same reaction as we dwell on the forgiveness of our heavenly Father. 

Saldavor Dali

We are studying our fourth artist for this year and our December artist is Salvador Dali. Dali was most certainly an interesting man with a very strange life that is reflected in his work, but there was plenty of cool stuff to learn about him as well. He spent some time working with Walt Disney, was a contestant on the 1950's game show What's My Line?, and had a really cool mustache! We enjoy studying artists who connect in some way to other artists we have previously studied and were fascinated to learn that Dali was a Picasso fan. 

The first painting that we learned was what many people consider Dali's most famous work, The Persistence of Memory and we based our project for the month on this work. 

I was able to find an image of the background of this painting online. We made and melted clocks to add to this image to make our own version of The Persistence of Memory! 

We drew our clocks on shrink film and colored them in with Sharpies, then cut them out. It was a great math lesson review also! While we used a tracer to make the outside of the clock in order to maintain a reasonable size, the rest of the clock was free hand drawn and each clock was unique.

After the clocks were cut out, I took them home to bake them. I can't say that I have ever spent an evening baking clocks sixty before...but mission accomplished!  

Once they were shrunk, I brought them back to school and everyone added their clock to the background of the Persistence of Memory and had their very own version of Salvador Dali's famous work. 

It was a fun and somewhat different project as most kids had never worked with shrink film before (probably because they weren't around in the 80's when Shrinky Dinks were popular), but they loved it and enjoyed having that tiny plastic clock to take away with them as a "treasure". 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Christmas Boxes

We have an amazing high school student council at our school and this year they arranged for us to participate in Operation Christmas Child. While most events they organize are for our upper grades, we in the elementary do get to be included as often as is possible and reasonable. This was one of those times. 

For the past few weeks, the student council has been collecting supplies to fill boxes. Our school family sent donations of toys, hygiene supplies, clothing, money etc. Today, we had an all school assembly to pack the boxes. The kids (K-12) were divided into groups of about seven and went to three stations- packing the boxes, writing letters, and prayer groups. 

It was truly an amazing thing to watch our high school students take charge leading in prayer, organizing the younger students, and making this a successful event. As a school, we were able to pack over forty boxes! 

We wrote in our journals about our experience today and here is some of what we had to say.

"Today as Operation Christmas Child day! In my box I packed markers, socks, and soap but the one I liked most was a Teddy Bear. The box was so full it almost didn't close. On a card I wrote "Dear Friend, Merry Christmas!"

"Today I did Operation Christmas Child. We packed socks and clothes and crayons and more. It was fun but most of all is I hope she is okay. I hope she loves God."

"Today was Operation Christmas Child! I wrapped presents and wrote a card. It was fun but the most fun thing of all was helping others."

"Today we packed boxes for Operation Christmas Child. It was very fun. I hope the child that gets the present will be very happy. It was a girl. I was very happy that we could do this."

"Today I helped Operation Christmas Child. I helped pack boxes. I helped make cards. I'm so glad I got to help. I am so happy! This is going to be great. It was very fun. I prayed for the box to get home."

And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." -Matthew 25:40

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Our reading unit for the past few weeks has been themed around communities. We have been talking about community helpers, how to contribute to a community, what makes a good community, and learning about different types of communities. 

This week, we teamed up with our kindergarten and first grade friends to teach each other about three types of communities- rural, suburban, and urban. Our class was tasked with learning and sharing about urban communities. So we got to work!
We worked together to make a huge city on a roll of paper. We drew streets, buildings, and a parks. Then we added some little toy people and cars to our scene.  

We also made a city diorama in a box. Everyone drew a building to add to our city and we made little cars out of play dough. We made a night scene complete with twinkling lights. 

We memorized a poem by Langston Hughes called City and recited it for our friends when they came to see our projects. We wrote the poem on poster board and decorated the posters to match the words of the poem.

Throughout the week, we read a number of books together about life in the city. We found one book about a city that I started to read but soon stopped because I don't know any Spanish and it appeared on almost every page. I asked one of our favorite seniors to come down down and read to us during study hall and he happily obliged. 

After finding and reading city books, a few of our friends filmed a "Reading Rainbow" style book review, complete with the Reading Rainbow sound effect (for my own enjoyment). We shared those books reviews with our friends to encourage them to be great readers. 

After our presentation, we visited first grade and kindergarten to hear what they learned about rural and suburban areas. It was a great end to our community unit and fun activity to share with our friends. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

First Quarter ✔

       We have finished a quarter of our school year. These seventeen crazies are reading books, learning to do two-digit addition, begging to spend more time on our Christmas program scene, loving our artist of the month activities, and singing non-stop. They are full of ideas and wiggles and non-stop excitement and are so kind to one another. They love the attention of the high schoolers they know and look for them in the halls and on Fridays in the lunchroom. 
       This crew learns best by doing. We are constantly on the move in our room saying Bible verses while jogging around the room or standing on top of our desks to read our sight words. The love our hands-on science labs and work together to get things done. 
        They are imaginative and creative and love to dress up or be a character. They read with great expression and love to make one another laugh. They love to play and to play together. 
        We have one quarter of the year left down and lots more to learn, do, play, sing, and create this year. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Summer Drama Camp

         I have often expressed my feelings about the beauty of a K-12 school and the benefits of interacting with kids of such a wide age range. If you haven't heard me talk about that, feel free to read about it here. We did something new this past summer that really gave us the opportunity to take advantage of this. I am in charge of our school's high school drama department and this summer the high schooler students hosted a summer drama camp for some of our elementary kids. 

         It was a week long camp that took place at school in the mornings. Each day we worked on various theater skills including acting, singing, dancing, and set design. Each morning also included a mini lesson taught by one of our high schoolers on topics like back stage etiquette and theater vocabulary. Our high schoolers filled the roles of directors, choreographers, music directors, and scenic artists as well as shoe tie-ers, snack passer-outers, hug-givers, and all the other jobs that come with working with kids. 

          We only do two shows a year at our school and we do not give our high school students opportunities to direct, so I loved to see their creativity and talents shining through as they worked with these excited learners. It was fun to see who excelled at handling a large group of kids and keeping them focused and interested, and who patiently worked one-on-one going over the same lines or notes until they had it just right. I heard our big kids be encouragers and cheer-leaders and promise to be right there if anyone forgot a line or wanted someone to sing with them. They well deserved the the trust and admiration they earned from of our young thespians. 

          Throughout the week, they were working on Pirates Past Noon: Kids, a Magic Treehouse musical. They learned songs, sang solos, learned dances, wore costumes, and painted a set. It was a lot to do in a week but the kids were excellent workers (fueled at times by popsicles in our hot auditorium!). On Friday evening, parents and friends came to see the performance. It was a great evening. Parents were impressed, kids were thrilled, high schoolers were proud, and everyone had a great time. Our headmaster asked that we perform for the school body once the year started, which we did. 

           All of this happened a number of weeks ago but I am still seeing the lasting effects. Our elementary kids are still singing the songs, but that doesn't surprise me. But I am also seeing confidence in our young thespians when they stand with their class in front of the elementary school for memory time. I am hearing clear articulation and loud volume when practicing Bible memory in the classroom, and I am seeing more excitement about the upcoming Christmas program than I have seen in a while...and we've only had one year of camp. We've had little kids, parents, and big kids all express excitement about the camp next summer. They are excited for the fun of the activity, but I'm excited to see the confidence and skills that our kids will learn after a few years of summer drama camp.