Sunday, May 31, 2009

Winn-Dixie Party

Okay. . .so we have been doing a few productive things at school. I've referred to it before, but I am doing a novel study with the kids in my class. We are just about done with it. . .so last week we had a Winn-Dixie party. If you are familiar with the book, opal and Gloria Dump organize a party for all the "sad" people they know--to bring joy and celebrate friendships.

So I risked having my kids organize a party of their own!!! Just like India Opal! So. . .they planned the menu (of course we needed egg salad sandwiches (We are a peanut-free school, so the peanut butter sandwiches were out!), Dump Punch, candy and pickles! they decided a few other items were necessary as well. The sad part is that I was so busy at the "eating part" of the party that I have no pictures!!! And its kinda sad because we decorated the tables with pink, yellow and orange, just like the book, and posted dog pictures just like little Sweetie Pie! I guess you just need a camera around your neck!!! (The next greatest girl invention should be a "bling camera"--where it looks like great funky necklace, but it is really a camera! If you are the one who creates it. . .please remember me!!!) Anyway. . .here is the best I can do for you!
Another part to the party was making a bottle tree. We did the opposite of what Gloria Dump did. We made bottles (out of baby food jars and ribbons) and put a coloured slip of paper that said a positive thing we had done.
Then we gave everyone in the class an opportunity to write positive comments or comments that celebrated accomplishments each student had made during the school year. This part blew me away! I had cut up a bunch of slips of paper for this purpose, but I had to cut more 3 TIMES!!! They loved doing this part!!! Then we hung them on a tree, trying to make a similar one to what Gloria Dump's might have looked like.

After all that, each of the students had to prepare a part of the book to read to the class. They had to choose a part they liked, a part that was funny to them, or a part that was meaningful. They submitted their passages, and I put them in order, so we could have a "brief reading" of the entire book! I loved the expression--and the passages they chose!
"Good times were had by all!"

Busy with Other Things

Oops! I haven't really been keeping up with my posts lately. We've been busy with a few other things around here. . .
Okay, so for me. . .a few small decorating things, like changing the "trim" colour on this old bulletin board. . .again for my daughter's room make-over. A few more things to do. . . but this is all peanuts in comparison to. . .
And there had been our laundry room, which is still a work in progress. We did put in some pantry-type cupboards (and got a little organized again!!!), but I'm still looking for an IKEA-type counter top-table or something for the corner (so i can keep the baskets for sorting laundry underneath, but have the counter space I need there. . .and maybe pair it up as a sewing table. . .I don't ask for much! If you have any ideas for me, I would welcome them!!!) and some shelves in the corner for the laundry soap and cleaners. But it is a start anyway!
And then my hubby has been renovating the downstairs bathroom (its been on-going!) and we are finally at the "install type" line on the everlasting checklist of things to do around the house. I was talking to a student's mom a few weeks back who had done tile on her own and her advice was, "Go to YouTube." Home Depot has a few good videos posted there. . . and hubby just did a great job!
And then while he was tiling, I started another BIG project. . .one that has been needing to get done since. . .well, just about 2 years ago. The weekend before my daughter was born, we (okay, mostly he and some friends and hired people and my dad. Yah, give credit where it is due. . .HE did it! But I did take down the inside trim around the windows and destroy some stuff, entertain the 2 year old running around, and make some food for the troops while he) redid the windows and siding. So for about 2 years now, our trim has looked like this. . .primed board.
So we are finally trying to make it all look like this! (Just for all you curious people out there. . .one way to make your hubby tackle a HUGE project with you is to start it, and then give him the choice between taking care of the kids--aka: keeping them away from the paint--or doing it. So. . .i can't take ALL the credit for this!!! But I do love having a handy hubby!!!) I'm hoping our neighbors will like us more now! We won't be quite the eye-sore we were before!
And this is just an on-going frustration of mine. . .And my poor flowers and little seedlings are suffering because of it!!! Those dumb moles are trying to make homes where the roots need to grow!!! Grrr. . .

Soon. . .I will post regular stuff again. . .soon!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Words from Wednesday (Devotional)

Being Jonah

I read the story of Jonah tonight before bed with my kids from The Beginners Bible (Questar Publishers, 1989). God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell the people to stop doing bad things. But Jonah 1:2 says, “But Jonah ran away from the Lord . . .” He pretty much found a place in the opposite direction of what God had asked him. There is a huge storm, the people on the ship wonder what the cause is, and Jonah has himself thrown overboard. God has him swallowed by a fish, he gets lots of time to think and pray, and then when God saves him by having the fish spit him out. He listens to God and goes to Nineveh. When Jonah tells the people to stop being bad, they listen to him and start doing good things.

Now I realize that is the “simple” version of the story. . But it made me think about how many times we are in a position to tell someone to “stop doing bad things” and we don’t. We may stay quiet, we may avoid the situation, we may make up excuses (and we have some really good ones!), we may do a lot of things. But in the end, we are all acting like Jonah did and not obeying what God asked of us. It is a hard thing to do. It might make us look bad in front of others. We might not have the confidence to do it. But the reality is that God calls us to use scripture to teach, to correct, to rebuke, to train in righteousness, and be thoroughly equipped to do this (2 Tim 1: 16-17). And He might be calling us to certain situations, just as he called Jonah to talk to the people living in Nineveh.

My study Bible linked Jonah’s running away to Jonah 4:1-2, where Jonah didn’t want God’s goodness, compassion, and forgiveness to extend to the Gentiles (aka: the enemy, the competition, the non-in-crowd). Or maybe it was too much for him to understand that God’s grace could reach beyond his expectations.

And then I wonder again, why do I remain silent when God is calling us to do the words of 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with patience and careful instruction.”

The Beginners Bible’s last sentence in the Jonah story (p. 264) says, “God was glad that Jonah had obeyed.” I sure hope that the next time God is calling me to do or say something that maybe I may not want to do or say, that the final words of that story will be that God was glad that Susan obeyed, no matter what the outcome may be for me or those I was associated with.

Other verses to read: 2 Timothy 3:10-4:8, Luke 17:1-5

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I'm early this week. So. . .enjoy.
Take note. . .if you like fish (which I am quite picky about), the Salmon is good! A personal favourite (and super easy!) is the BBQ Chicken!

Monday- Salmon (just covered with sun-dried tomatoes, feta, hoisin sauce, and a few herbs, baked in oven or on BBQ), rice, mixed veggies

Tuesday- BBQ Chicken (follow this recipe, or use chicken and add your favourite bottle of BBQ sauce), cut veggies

Wednesday- Hamburger Helper (or a "Homemade" kind), salad

Thursday (Crock Pot Day)- out to a BBQ

Friday- Chicken Strips, noodles, beans

Snack for Saturday- Tsatziki

Sunday (B4S)- Crepes and Fruit

Tsatziki- this recipe comes from Appel Farms, published in a Lynden Tribune March 2003 Favorite Recipe Cookbook

1 (16 oz.) container Appel Farms Quark (Note: I use sour cream)
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped (aka: grated)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoon fresh mint or dill, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients. Serve with pita bread or salad with grilled meats.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Being Crafty

It's about time I did something crafty again . . . and today was that day. In anticipation of changing my daughter's room into a "big girl room," I've been SLOWLY working at some things to do that. I remember making one of these kinds of things back when I was a Calvinettte. And I wanted to try recreate it. . kind of. and update it! LOL! (Like, not using the frilly lace and tacky fabric we had used!)
Here is what I did today:

I cut out fabric, quilting batting, and used these pre-cut wooden hearts (They were cut from about 1/2 or 3/4 plywood). The next step is to wrap the fabric around to the back. My problem here was I didn't have that much fabric left (the rest went to a quilt, bed-skirt and curtains), so I REALLY had to stretch the fabric over to fit the heart size that I had picked. My poor hands were ouch from the glue-gun!
I cut strips of pink ribbon to criss-cross over the front of the heart. I also made a hanging loop. Here is what my back and front looks like.

This step was too hard for me. I wanted to screw the hooks in, but I bought white painted hooks to match everything else in her room, and realized if I used pliers, I might scratch the paint off. So. . .I used a nail to hammer a starting hole. then I was a weakling and got my husband to twist the screw in. (He'll hate me if he finds out I posted a picture of him doing this!)
And here is the finished product. Now there will be something to hang up necklaces, belts, barrettes, and other odd "girlie" things
If you are looking for ideas like to this one, this project (valentine heart holder if it makes you search the crafts) is quite similar. Other bulletin board sites can be found HERE and HERE.

All Creatures Great and Small, Part 2

Sunshine. . .I'm loving it!

So are the kids! We have been outside discovering bugs and beetles, picking up worms and millipedes, and finding new homes for slugs and snails. And after noticing so many searches that have let to previous "All Creatures Great and Small" post, I decided to do a little "educational" work for it. (Yes, this is where my "blog-geek" side kicks in!).

This year, when I planted the garden, my kids helped me. Gardening takes a LONG time when kids are around. But we were also blessed with a few good "teachable moments." Those, and dirt everywhere, followed by some good baths. . .only to do it all again the next day! Now I am teaching my kids NOT to dig in that dirt anymore. . .otherwise all my gardening efforts have been in vain! Well, vain might not be the right word. the efforts would be fun for them, disappointing for me!)

So. . .if teachable moments don't come naturally for you , or you are looking for a little more information on some of these great small creatures, read on:

Snails and Slugs:


* http://pestcontrolcanada/Kids/bugs_for_kids.htm



*I'm very intrigued by container gardening with kids. I saw it on an episode of "The Mom Show." They made a pizza container garden. . .so that when it is all grown and done, the kids can help you make pizza from what you planted (tomatoes, peppers, herbs, spinach. . .stuff like that). I suppose you could make a Spaghetti Container Garden or a Salad Container Garden. . .hmm. . .I might have to do more thinking on this one. . .

And to top it all up. . .here is a sight with some Creation Bible Verses for you. . .all organized by category/topics:

Checking out the worms that were hiding under planters.
Collecting the worms and bugs!
The flower garden trying to grow. (No vegetable garden pictures. . .it is just dirt right now!)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Silly Sentences (Grammar)

One thing that is (stereotypically) pretty boring to teach and to learn is grammar. I started the year with this activity jsut to guage how much my students knew, an it turned their thinking around a little bit.

We made Silly Sentences. Then we made them into a silly flip book. Here is what I did.

First is the "boring" part. I did review what a noun, verb, adjective and adverb was. If you don't have something in your many teacher books to use, check out Super Teacher Worksheets for some basic helps. In our review we made a list of examples of each of the parts of speech.

Second. . .we made them into sentences. For writing the first sentences, I kept up the lists of examples that we had brainstormed. We followed this sentence pattern:
Noun with an adjective (either before or after the noun)->verb with an adverb (either before or after the verb)-> phrase.
For example: The yellow alien ate vigorously after landing on Earth.
The yellow (adjective) alien (noun) ate (verb) vigorously (adverb) after landing on Earth (phrase).

We wrote one and shared each students' example with the class. Then we wrote another one without the help of the lists. Then, the next day (just to be sure we knew what each of the parts of speech really was), we wrote three more sentences . . . and pair shared (to check for corrections, editing practice and accuracy).

Third, we made our good copies. (Good copies were written on special paper--see the example for how to create it). This was actually tougher for them than I expected. I showed them an example, I did an example for them, I had them explain back what they were supposed to do. . .and it was still tough for some of them to understand! (Maybe we were just having one of those days!) Once we got the hang of it, it was easy! Split your sentence up into three parts: noun and adjective, verb and adverb and phrase. (This is why it is kind of important to follow the sentence pattern.) The noun and adjective needs to be written in the top section. The adverb and adverb needs to be written in the middle section. The phrase (the rest of the sentence) needs to be written in the bottom section. (See photo). Each sentence needs to be written that way on a separate page.
Fourth, we made the picture to go along with the silly sentence. This part needs to follow the pattern as well! The "head" or top of the noun described needs to go in the top section of the picture box. The "body" or "trunk" or middle of the noun needs to go in the middle section of the picture box. The "legs" or bottom section of the noun needs to go in the bottom of the picture box. The top and middle of the picture is linked by the noun's neck and the middle and bottom section are linked by the noun's lower body. (One of my students did a sentence about a book shelf. Another did one about a shark. I showed them how their picture had to still cross or attach at those same points. . .for later on, when we put it all together in a book.) Because. . .we are going to put all of our sentences together to make a flip book of MANY Silly Sentences! See. . .
(oops, photo still coming!)
And here are the photos:
This is one students' page. Below is how the pages look mixed up in this silly flip book!
In our class we made a "girls-authored" book and a "boys-authored" book. I was amazed at how often the students chose those books to read when they were finished their work or doing quiet reading. You can adapt this to other grade levels by adding more adverbs, adjectives or other parts of speech, deleting them for younger grade levels, making specific requirements for the "phrase" part, changing tenses, plurals vs. singulars, whatever fits your lesson. This is more exciting than worksheets, in my opinion! . . .but a little more work as well.

Isn't grammar fun?!?

Okay, so if this wasn't rewarding enough for you, check out this link for a grammar computer game called Grammar Park.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Words from Wednesday (Devotional)

This a little presentation/speaking thing I did yesterday for the Connections group (Women’s Ministries). . .I tried to adapt it to fit here in the devotional part of my blog. . .

Encouragement: Being an Israelite Servant
Text: 2 Kings 5

[My leader] called with a request that I share a few thoughts. And I thought about it for a day. And then I made a deal with God. If he magically gives me a topic to speak on, I’d do it. And like every time I make a deal with God, ask for a clear answer, or wait for his lightning to strike, he doesn’t answered me, which I am sure you can relate to. I know I’m not the only one in this situation. And that really bums me out. It disappoints me. So I am here today, still, to tell you a few thoughts on encouragement.

And I even chose a very unlikely story, without even a woman in it! So bear with me, as I read from 2 Kings 5. . .

There was this man named Naaman from Aram, which is also known as Syria. He was the commander of the Aramean army. This meant that he and the king were the best of friends. This means he had just about as much power as the king. The boring history here is that the Arameans were a fierce people. Their king set out to war with surrounding nations and his war involved plunder (taking whatever they wanted) and destruction (killing and burning down the cities). During this time period, Israel and Aram, were constantly at war.

So here is Naaman. He is the enemy. He gets leprosy. More boring history: if you had leprosy, your future included living outside of the city and becoming a beggar. You were thought to be unclean, contagious, and a less of a person because of it. So Naaman’s thinking now that his career and friendship with the king are just about over because he will have to leave his city and live as a beggar along with every other person who got this terrible affliction. But an Israelite servant girl—someone who was most likely taken captive when Naaman sent his army to take over a city (the plunder part)—makes a bold statement: that Master Naaman might be cured if he goes to see the prophet Elisha. This is bold because she could be killed just for suggesting there is some good in the country she comes from; that maybe some good could come from Naaman’s biggest enemy. And after all, she was only a measly little servant girl to Naaman’s wife. But Naaman is desperate and brings the idea to the king. The king endorses this for some crazy reason, sends a letter of request to Israel, his enemy, and waits to hear what will happen to his commander.

When the king of Israel, King Joram, gets the letter, he stresses out, trying to figure out what he is supposed to do . . . Does this mean he must plan war on Aram or send this commander to this Elisha, who is in his opinion, some “bozo” who thinks God is so-o-o good. By God’s grace and perfect plan, Naaman, in all his wealth, in all his glory and along with his entourage, goes to Elisha’s house for healing. He is expecting a grand welcome, a ceremony of healing, and medicine to cure him on the spot, as most Eastern religions practiced. But to his dismay, he is only greeted by Elisha’s servant and is given this message: “Go wash 7 times in the Jordan River.” Today, that would be like your doctor’s receptionist telling you to hop into the middle of [a certain local lake] for a bath. Not my idea of healing. It wasn’t Naaman’s either. Naaman is mad.

Here is the part I want you to notice today. Because not many people do. Usually the story of Naaman focuses on his pride and him being humbled by God’s greatness and miraculous power. Which is a HUGE piece to this story. But here is just a small part that I want to share with you today. It’s verse 13. “Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more, then, if he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’.” [I showed this same part from the Children’s Story Bible.]

Now here is where that boring history part comes in handy. Chances are very high that these BOLD servants are Israelites, just like the servant girl who suggested he go to Elisha in the first place. And being Israelites . . . if they know there is an Elisha out there, they know this Elisha knows what he is doing. They are aware of God’s saving presence with his people through this prophet, Elisha. They know this God who can heal. And they know this God who asks for obedience. They even know all the rules and consequences for not obeying God. (Remember one simple example: God told his people to gather enough manna for today only . . . anyone who saved leftovers . . . woke up to moldy crackers! Gather enough for the Sabbath the day before. Anyone who didn’t went hungry. God demanded obedience! The reason these guys are servants today is because God had punished Israel‘s disbelief—their choice to follow other gods, God had allowed the enemy to go to war and capture them.) They used to live with God—their faith in God— as a daily part of their life!

So here they are trying to convince their Master to do the unthinkable! Take off your gold and your purple cloth. Go down to that dirty river where no one washes. And people might be watching, they might be staring, they might even be thinking poor Naaman went crazy. But that is what you have to do. And these servants are so convincing—so encouraging—that Naaman finally gives in. Can you imagine the thoughts running through his head each time he washes, and nothing happens? And then, on wash number seven, God rewards his obedience. Naaman is cleansed of his illness and his skin is restored. Not only that, Naaman then goes on to proclaim, “Now I know that there is no other God in the world except for the God Israel serves.”

And those bold, encouraging, convincing servants got to witness a miracle. They got to see a glimpse of God. They didn’t just see a miracle, but they saw a change of heart in one very unlikely man. They got to see the reward of God’s blessing through obedient living. Could you just imagine what that might have been like? To see your God at work because you obediently encouraged someone?

I need someone like that in my life! I need those Israelite servants in my life. Maybe you need those Israelite servants in your lives. We need people of God to come along side of us, in both our joys and pains, in our sufferings and healings, in our uncertainties and our daily living, to say to us, “You can do it!” “I’m praying for you.” “Trust in God, even though it is hard right now.” “Trust in his goodness, trust Him even when it doesn’t seem good to you.” “Celebrate in him and the blessings he has given to you.” “Go ahead; take a step forward in faith.” We need someone who will come along side of us and boldly tell us to take a step in faith, to say the words that God might be trying to tell us, to push us on in our lives.

To assure you I didn’t just pick out a small detail in a story to prove my own point, I want to assure you that those encouragers are not limited to the servants of Naaman. Moses was told to encourage Joshua who would be leading Israel into the Promised Land. Ruth acted as an encouragement to Naomi to keep going. Paul, Timothy and Silas said much to encourage and strengthen their brothers in Christ. Most of the books of the New Testament are letters to encourage, strengthen and direct the new churches and church leaders!

Romans 12:8 talks about the parts needed in Christ body and the different gifts given to each member to make the body work harmoniously. These include teaching, prophesying, hospitality, leadership and also encouraging. By offering an encouraging word, we are helping the body of Christ. We are not only helping others, but also ourselves. Just like the Israelite servants, you have to know what it is God desires to pass that along. It pushes you to a closer relationship to God because you will want to speak His truth to someone in need. Encouraging is not making someone feel good about a bad situation or in a harmful situation. Those Israelite servants didn’t say, “Yah, the waters are muddy. What a dumb suggestion! Lets go find someone better to talk to.” No, they tried to persuade him to do what they knew was right. Encouraging is lifting another up in a worthwhile accomplishment. It is drawing someone closer to God and His grace: to His love, His forgiveness, and His salvation.

One verse I want to share with you is this: “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)
It is today. Today is that day. Today, you can be that Israelite servant to someone, and allow God to work out His grace, His miracles, and His blessings. We have been meeting together each week—for some of us just a few months, for other for the entire year. For me it has been a time to have a break from the regular life, to grow in God by digging deeper into the Word, but also to be encouraged by the rest of you here. I need to know that I am not the only one out there with a certain struggle. I need to know that there is someone out there who is committed to praying for me or my situation, like our groups have provided. I need to laugh at the jokes told and hear the stories you have shared. God has called so many of you into my life just by being you, just by coming here, just by being in a leadership or service position here at this particular time. Sometimes your encouragement can be intentional. At other times it just flows naturally from you! I think the very first time I met [the leader] was soon after my daughter was born with an infection, and she made a dinner for my family. What an encouragement and much needed help it was then, and now she has blessed us each week with her words, leadership, and vigor for the Lord.

I recently was invited to witness the Profession of Faith of a student I had taught some years ago. This student grew up in a Christian home, but there was a particular time during his first grade year when he came home and asked his mom a little more about making a deeper commitment because his teacher had talked about living your life differently because you love God. Years later, I was told that I was the vessel God has used through my words to him.

A big bunch of years ago I was invited to a wedding of a high school friend. I have to admit, I wasn’t much of a friend to her in high school. But there was one particular day when my other friends were running off to avoid hanging out with her (yes, those mean, rude things high school girls can do!), that I felt compelled to stay and be a friend to her. That choice that day and the times I did the same in the weeks following, must have made a difference. In her reception line she introduced me to her new husband, who I didn’t know at all. I remember clearly though. He grasped my hands and said, “Thank-you.” Because I had been the one person way back in high school to give her the confidence she needed to go on and turn into the bride she was for him that day.

Earlier I asked: Could you just imagine what that might have been like for those Israelite servants? To see your God at work because you obediently encouraged someone? And I say: Look what you can do! You can give a healthy meal for someone in need, you can offer uplifting words to the women you have a passion for. You can spur someone to make a commitment to Christ. You can save someone’s life.

Application: So now it IS your turn., 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Write an encouragement or prayer for someone you know of who may need it today. Take time to pray and write a prayer or encouragement. It doesn’t have to be wordy or perfect. It just needs to be encouragement. Commit this person in your devotions or prayers throughout the summer months, so that by doing so you might be encouraging them and building them up in the Lord.

Encouragement Online: Here are a few sites to browse. . .

Song: Check out Natalie Grant-Better Hands

Monday, May 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Well. . .Monday again. happy long weekend! (for all you Canadians, anyway!)
This past weekend and this coming week are busy ones for me, with a few too many commitments and work hours. . .we will see how the "menu" goes.

Monday-BBQ Chicken Wraps with veggies and fruit salad

Tuesday- Homemade Pizzas, Salad (See previous post for dough)

Wednesday- Meatballs or Muffin-Sized Meatloaves, Harvest potatoes, corn

Thursday (Crock -Pot Day)- Creamy Italian Chicken, noodles, salad

Friday-Sloppy Joe's, French Fries

Sunday-Crepes with Fruit filling

So. . .about that Snack for Saturday. . .I LOVE the Freckled Lemonade at Red Robin's! Love it. So that link is my recipe for it. With all this great weather we are having, I'm totally thinking it is a great on-the-deck kind of beverage. That link also links to other great beverages with fruit bases. Yum! Then while searching for a recipe, I also found those adorable cupcakes! So. . if you have some time (which I probably won't!), give them a try!

My recipe for you is Homemade Tortillas. Super easy. . .minus the rolling out part.
This recipe comes from the LCS Cookbook, and was submitted by my friend, Sue!

2 c. flour
1t. salt
4 1/2 T. butter or Crisco
2/3 c. cold water

Mix flour and salt together in a bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Add water and blend until soft dough forms. cover with damp paper towel and let rest for 5 minutes. Knead slightly on floured surface. Divide into 6 equal parts. Roll each one out until very thin and about the diameter or a dinner plate. Heat a dry skillet over medium heat. cook as you would pancakes. Flip when slightly bubbly. Cook remainder. Excellent served with warm soup or cover with pizza sauce and cheese and broil.
*My note: Brush olive oil and sprinkle that Greek spice from Costco, and broil for a minute. .. yum!
*I'm post #349 at What post will you be?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Poetry Books

We're making poetry books. We've been busy making all the poems. Poetry is hard to teach at the upper grades. Poems have patterns to follow; rules to follow. Sometimes, kids just don't like to follow even MORE rules. Or maybe it's because poetry seems so different. It's not something you read as often as you would a short story or novel. (Which is something I will commit to changing in my teaching years to come.)

But we're making poetry books. And here is how we are doing it this year. Like I already said, we have made it through the tough, laborious part: the writing part. (I'm sure if you are a teacher, you have TONS of info on writing poetry. HERE and HERE are two great poetry units if you do not have anything to work with. HERE is one for more of the upper levels.) Now we want to "publish" them and share them. What I have done is made an example for the students. My example includes both how to write each poem and an example of each poem. I did this so that the students know exactly what is expected of them. Their work should be like the bottom half of my book. If they are not so sure about a poem while editing or proof-reading, they have the instructions to go back to (less work for me, more focused work for them!!!)

Here is my cover (I went with the theme "Poet-tree." Neat, eh? Hee-hee!)
Another skill I am integrating into this project is the use of a Table of Contents. I figured this would be a natural way to integrate making them (rather than just reading them or using them for research) if we used them as part of a project like this. (Making our books just like the poetry books we have been reading in class!) Did you spot my mistake?
(It's supposed to say biographical poem, not bibliography poem. I wonder what that kind of poem would turn out to look like. . .)
So here is a crooked example of my page.
(Poem helps (from book) come from the Evan-Moor Co. I credited it to the right spot, so I'm okay now, right? I'm not a big fan of reinventing the wheel. If you bought the book, cut these little cards out and mount them into your examples! I have found that these cards are also great to use for the kids who can write poetry quickly/easily (or use as enrichment). Once they are done their poems, they can pick a card and write another poem- something different than what the rest of the class is doing).
The top shows the pattern of the poem and what needs to be written on each line. The bottom part is the poem. The students are required to add art (pictures, cut-outs, drawings, decorations, etc.) to at least 4 of their poems.
The last page is a poetry review. Each student gets to pick one of their own poems and write a review on it. They are to give their opinion (whether they liked it or not) and then give me 2-3 reasons why they liked it or not. (We have been working on writing paragraphs as well, so this ties in with that nicely--giving them a good purpose to their writing). If all goes well, we will write a review on a poem by one of our peers, too!
I am assessing this project using a rubric. I like rubrics. They give the kids a great outline for what they need to do. I used this one and added some components of my own (like the table of contents and poetry review page, I changed some of the requirements and the points awarded to suit my class). Here is another example, more for teachers to use as guidelines in making a project; not really for kids.
So. . .that's just one idea for you. . .

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Words from Wednesday (Devotional)

Christmas in May

This past week, we asked my son to pick something special that he wanted to do for his birthday. We figured he would pick something like going to the swimming pool or going to the zoo. Those were fun things we have done together before (maybe once or twice), and he had been asking to do those things again. After thinking for a little bit, he said he wanted to set up the Christmas tree, “because that is what you get to do on special birthdays. Jesus has a special birthday and he gets a Christmas tree.”

My husband and I couldn’t help but laugh at such an innocent answer. Probably not going to happen . . . To pull out all those dust-covered boxes now . . . and I can just imagine what the neighbours would be saying . . .

But he has a point. A very good one. And he sure taught me a thing or two when I sat back and pondered his answer.

And I came up with two thoughts:
1. Thought Number One: Look at this verse in Psalm 8:2. “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.” Just on its own this verse spokes so much truth to me. Can you just sit back with me and imagine Jesus just embracing my son or sending a chorus of angels to celebrate him for “getting it?” For understanding in his own little mind, at his own little level, in his “theologically-challenged” way that Jesus is so special? And that he wants to be just like Jesus? And that he recognizes Jesus for who He is? In Matthew 21:14-16, Jesus gets angry in the temple because it had been made into a place for market and personal affairs. God wants it to be a house of prayer. They are making it a den of robbers. Only a few verses later, Jesus quoted this same passage to the high priests in response to their indignant attitude toward the people being healed and the children shouting praise to God in the temple. When I read this small passage, I felt it points out the contrast between how a child sees Christ and the way we as adults tend to carry on life without speaking of or even noticing the things that are praiseworthy. Look at the way those who were extended grace through healing and how those who didn’t have the self-consciousness to care about what the high priests thought were acting. They had it right! They were speaking the truth!
2. Thought Number Two: In Matthew 18, the disciples are trying to find out who might be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. In verses 2-4 we read, “He [Jesus] called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Don’t we do that? We try to figure out if our life matters, if we are keeping up with the popular trends, the American dream, the best neighbours on the block, and we forget that all God wants of us is the innocent faith, just like that of a child. Not faith that has God all wrapped up in a box. Not a faith that has limits. Not faith that agrees with the status quo. He wants faith.

So today I pray for that same kind of faith. The faith that recognizes that a Christmas tree can be put up in May because it reminds me that Jesus is so special. I want the faith that will proclaim who God is in public settings without the fear of shame or embarrassment from my peers. I want the kind of faith that will heal me simply because I believed. I want the kind of faith that emits praise in all I do. I want the faith of a child.

Today I pray that God will humble me. I pray that I hear and see and smell and feel and taste my Lord in the same way a child would. I pray that I can be so bold as to ask for a Christmas tree for my birthday, too.

Other verses to look up: Matthew 18: 10, John 1:12-13 & Matthew 11:25

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day was a busy one!

Church. . .coffee with the Oma (and Auntie Pam). . .coffee with Grandma. . .

Eli and Daddy gave me some time on my own while they went to the creek and released little baby salmon (aka: the fishies"). Pretty much what happened what that you went to the tent set up by the creek, they would catch some fish from their big stash, you got an ice cream pail or two, and you got to release them into the creek. Most people just dumped the whole ice cream bucket, but that was too boring for my boys. They had to release them one at a time all down the creek. I think they went through seven buckets! Here are a few pictures of Eli having the time of his life catching and releasing fish.
We actually got one captured on that camera!!! (Our camera is SO-O-O slow, so this is a big deal for me!)

For Mother's Day, Eli and Daddy did some "woodworking." They made birdhouses to give to Oma and Grandma. Eli got to use the nail gun, and do all the painting. Here is the finished product! (and my non-photogenic kids!)
A close up of the fine workmanship!

And finally. . .my little surprise! We usually don't do gifts for Mother's Day. . .but this is something I have been wanting for forever! My new bike. . .my FIRST new bike EVER!!! (Yep, it only took 30+ years to get a brand new bike!) Now we can actually put that bike trailer to use!
Happy Mother's Day all!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Today I am ahead of the game!!! I actually am trying to post this on Sunday night! I've added {too many} comments in the posts. . .so enjoy!

Monday- Honey Garlic Chicken Breasts, buns, pesto noodles (pesto recipe-it's home-made. When I make this, I freeze it in ice cube trays and then it goes in a zip-lock in the freezer to pull out whenever I need pesto), salad
(*Please also note, I add salt and mayo and butter to the pesto noodles. I find the recipe link weak {no offense to the one who posted it!}, but a good idea. . .and easy!)

Tuesday-Perogie and Sausage Casserole, corn

Wednesday- BBQ Chicken and Potato Bake (the recipe came from an Air Bake pan). cut veggies
(My frugal tip for today: This recipe is easy and yum. . .and i have to get rid of some of my potatoes. the "potato" part calls for hash browns, but I make my own--cutting up potatoes and putting them in oil, then in the oven at 375 for 20 minute or so. A good way to get rid of too many potatoes. I try to do lots in one day, because it is boring work! I also freeze them in zip-lock bags to use just as hash browns.)

Thursday (Crock-pot Day)-Chili and Buns (or leftovers)

Friday-Crispy Baked Fish with Tropical Fruit Salsa, rice (I know I posted a breaded fish-type of recipe a few weeks back, and I want to apologize for doing so! This recipe, on the other hand, is AMAZING! and not so difficult. I often add other tropical fruits to the salsa, and corn kernels. My kids gobble it up. . .but they call it chicken with the fruit sauce. We don't correct them. If they are eating, they can call it whatever they want to. :)

Snack for Saturday-Birthday celebration over this way. . .so nothing to post yet. . .I have to do some thinking on this one yet. . .come back my way some time soon. . .

Sunday (Breakfast for Supper)- Apple Puff Pancake. My friend, Tara, recommended this one. She recommends some pretty good stuff. I am going to give it a try. The kids love pancakes, the kids love apples. . .what more could you ask for? Looks like a great recipe, and a fantastic blog!

*Go over to for more great MPs!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Playing. . .and Learning

Here are a few things that have kept us busy this past week. I forget their real name and brand, but my son always wants to play with the "Magnets." It is a set of balls and two sizes of sticks that are magnetic. He can play with these things for hours! At first it was building towers, and trains. But when he plays with me, we try to make letter forms or colour trains and patterns, although patterns to him are just big lines of mixed up colours. (That's what you get with a teacher for a mom!) And of course the little sister wants to get in on the action as well! It's so funny to watch them figure out (aka: go into hysterics or tantrums over) the sides that attract and the ones that repel.
Our other big thing lately is our "Mickey Mouse Cards." We have obviously gone to the Home Depot too many times in the past little while, and aside from the tractors, these cards are the next best thing about that place in the eyes of my kids. They collect the colours, they use them as "trading" cards (as much as pre-school and toddler-types can), and they match them to colours in the house. And, well, they smoosh them, destroy them, and glue them together, too.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


While working on a curriculum review team this past summer, a colleague and I were responsible for taking a piece of that curriculum and showing some creative teaching ideas that could apply to it. It was requested that some of these ideas could apply to other areas at all elementary grade levels as well. Hmmm . . . that doesn’t seem like a big assignment at all (note my sarcasm!).

But my colleague had an idea we could use, and together we were able to “flesh it out” a little more.
Something he had done in the past was a small assignment that he called Sketch-A-Story. He had used this as a means to involve his students as he did storytelling for Bible. First, he had his students fold an 8 ½ x11 page in half and then half again, making four boxes. These boxes would provide room for 4 sketches or pictures. Then he gave his students the following instructions: “After I (the teacher) have read (or told) a section of the story, you need to do a “sketch” (a quick pencil drawing) about what you have heard. I will do this four times. Each time I stop, you will make one sketch in each block.” He would allow the students to finish and perfect their pictures later, as well as giving them time to write a sentence describing the action in the picture they drew.

So we put our heads together on this. . .

Here is an example of this "new" page:
This page was created for a Bible assignment. Below is a close-up on one of the boxes and title area. (Oh, the bliss we will experience when I figure out how to add files and documents. . .)And here are some steps (few and brief--add your own or mix it up or change it all together to make the idea work for you!) to follow when using this page:

Teacher Prep:
1. Copy enough pages for your class. (unfortunately at this point, you are going to have to make one of your own. . .)
2. Pre-read the story you are going to tell. Split it into four parts (four main actions or four things you want your students to remember from the story).
3. If you are an over-achiever, you can make an example!

In Class:
1. Distribute pages. Have students write their names and the story title on the page.
2. Instruct students that they will be listening to a story. At four points in your story-telling, you will stop. At that time they will be required to sketch a picture in the box. (The first time you stop, sketch a picture in box #1, the second time you stop, sketch a picture in box #2, etc.). The picture has to show the most important parts or events that occurred in your reading. Once you have stopped for about 2 minutes, you will go on to read or tell the next part of the story. It is okay that the students are not complete because they w ill have time after the entire story is done to complete each box. Students MUST stop their sketching when you move on to read the next section.
3. Go ahead and do it. Read section #1, then pause for two minutes allowing students time to sketch. Then move on to the next section, repeating these steps.
4. When each section of the story is read and sketched, allow students time to go back and do two things. First, students should finish their pictures. They can add colour, detail, out outlines to their sketches. Second, students should write a sentence about what each of their pictures is about. (This step can also be done after each sketching opportunity—Step #3).
5. After the pictures and sentences are done, you may want students to write a Story Summary Statement or a sentence telling you about The Big Idea in the story they heard.
6. The last step is to edit their work and hand it in.

Teacher Review:
* When reviewing this assignment, you might want to look for the following things: First, did the picture sketched in each box have to do with what was told or what the story was about at that time? Do the sentences correspond with the story selection at that time? Is your student able to pick up on the main idea or the most important part of the story selection? Did your student add colour, details and outlines? Is there evidence of “editing” if needed (or required)?

Possibility of integration? I think there are many ways to integrate this kind of assignment into various subject areas . . . and various grade levels. The “hand-out” might not look identical, the steps or directions might look very similar. For example, if you are teaching a new math concept that includes 3 or 4 steps, talk about how to do each step, and then require students to write down each step. This might be a good way to check if or where any misunderstandings took place when teaching a new or more difficult concept. It would also serve as reminders or notes to which the students could go back to if they need a refresher on a concept being used.
At lower grade levels, this could be used as a report. If the teacher is reading a book or teaching on a topic, these four boxes could report what the student learned. For example, say the teacher was talking about Polar Bears. One box could be all about what the student heard/remembered about the food a polar bear eats, one box for the place it lives, one box for the appearance, and one box for other interesting facts.
See? There are a few uses to this nifty little paper!

Have you used this idea or a similar one to it in your teaching or tutoring? Feel free to drop me a line!