Monday, December 19, 2011

A Jolly Little Bit of Fun

If you have kids or you are a teacher in need a little bit of Christmas entertainment for your students then today's post is for you. 

Last year at our class Christmas party, my kids had a blast dressing up as characters from the Christmas story.  We had Mary, Joseph, an angel, some sheep - you get the picture.  These children were then sent to hide around our campus while their classmates tried hard not to peek from inside the classroom.  When everyone was safely hidden away, the students in the classroom went searching for the Christmas characters.  It was highly entertaining watching them try to locate their classmates some of whom hid themselves quite nicely in garbage cans and toy trunks and behind bushes.  So there you go a little game of Christmas Hide and Go Seek will keep the troops entertained. 

Now being in a hot environment like Niger makes Christmas Hide and Go Seek easier than traipsing about in the snow, freezing to death and wishing that someone would just find you already so that you could go in and warm up.  So this year's game is for you if you live in a cold place but it will still get your kids moving and they'll have a great deal of fun.  I printed off the cards located here and then I let my kids draw one and everyone did the actions.  I wondered whether my second graders would enjoy it and I had thought about having a spinner to make it more fun with categories like choose one to do the action or you and two friends do the action or everyone do the action.  But we ran out of time so I just let them draw a card and do the action and they loved it.

There you go a jolly little bit of fun for the kiddos this Christmas!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Field Day Celebration

Cheering Nation



eyes on the destination



no disqualification



time for celebration

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Time for a pop of color and a crafty post since it's been a while! 

The colors in this card make me happy.  My friend Kathy has an amazing relative who sends her this magazine.  I'm not huge into decorating but I love perusing the magazine for color schemes and patterns.  This advertisement was the inspiration for my card.
Hope your day is just a little bit brighter!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Back in my good books (as if she had ever left them)...

The giver of the water scorpian redeemed herself by bringing me an apple! :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

What happened to the good old apple for the teacher?

What ever happened to the beautiful time honored tradition of placing an apple on your teacher's desk?  In my classroom, it's been replaced by an ugly water scorpian placed lovingly on your teacher's desk. 

NICE!  Way to give your teacher a heart attack!

Is this because I rejected the fruit and sent it packing way back during Teacher's Appreciation Week of 2008?  Oh if only I could have that banana back!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don't Say You Weren't Warned

I love the little writing gems I find when it's report card time.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Super Readers

It's Spirit Week here at Sahel Academy!  Monday was Heros and Villains day.  We started an author study on Eric Carle so my first & second grade writers were reading and exploring Eric Carle books in their costumes.  What better time to amuse myself taking pictures!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Some Days Learning is Just Hard


Four parts of the water cycle...easy enough, right?  We've spent two days watching a video and doing an experiment to illustrate the cycle.  Today I had my students partner up and draw the four parts of the water cycle which they had to put into order.  After explaining at least one part to each group individually I thought it would be pretty easy.

Think again!
 We thought
 and thought

and thought some more.  But it was hard work for our brains!  At one point, I mentioned that I thought it might be a good idea if we all banged our heads against the wall for a bit.  When the last group had gone, one little girl sat down and announced, "That was easy!"  I gave her my "What you talkin' 'bout girl?" face
and said, "If that was easy, I would hate to see hard!"
We all busted up laughing!
And really, that's the way the hard days should end.

When it Rains

When it rains
you might as well sit down
and soak it all in.
It will be more fun that way!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Open House Night

Every year I have teacher friends who post their fresh new classroom pics on facebook and I enjoy looking at the creativity reflected within.  Tonight is Open House Night at Sahel Academy so I thought, "What better time to give you a tour of my classroom."  The door is open so come on in and have a look around!

Here's our lovely big blackboard with some weather posters displayed below.  We've been learning a lot about the weather.  Here in Niger you have to take advantage of studying the weather now because once October hits there will be very little change in the weather.

We enjoyed reading some weird weather facts in Pink Snow and Other Weird Weather and using our imaginations to create other strange kinds of weather like gumball rain, jewelry falling from the sky or a whole schoolhouse coming down complete with rulers and pencils and every item needed to have fun at school.

Here's our meeting mat. Our First Grade friends join us for Writer's Workshop.  This is one of our favorite times of day!

 We use our word wall frequently.  Displayed below are some of our favorite books so far this year.

 Of course, we had to display some of the great stories we've been writing.

Last but certainly not least on this illustrious tour, stop by our book center and cubbies.
Well, I sure hope that you enjoyed the tour around my classroom as much as my students and their parents did!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Can you solve this mystery?

Everyone loves a good mystery, right.  Here's one to be solved taken right from my house this morning.
Why is my trash not falling into my trash can?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cutting outside the lines

I was crafting on Tuesday night with my friend Joy and ran across this beautiful add with a picture of a bride.  It's hard to see it but the paper is all beautiful and shimmery, I couldn't resist cutting her out.  The only problem is that across her shoulders and around her face there were no actual lines to cut out so I had to make a guess.  Thinking that she was surely going to end up with the world's weirdest nose, I decided that it was nothing ventured nothing gained.  Wonder of wonders, she actually looks like a normal human being.  I added the ribbon around her waist because I couldn't resist!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In Which Tom Learns that I Have Eyes in the Back of My Head

Friday, I was writing something on the board and happened to turn around while Tom was sitting at his desk with his hand up in the air and his head turned away from me.  I could tell that he was finished with his work and wanted to get it checked.  Turning back to the board, I called back to him, "Tom, you can put your hand down.  I'll be with you in a minute!"  It would have been interesting to see his face at that time because he had no clue that I had been looking at him. 

"Miss Botheras, do you have eyes in the back of your head?" he asked.

I can neither confirm nor deny that fact.  Ahh, what am I saying?  Of course, I confirmed it! :)

Rover Takes on Calculus

Apparently even Rover, the school tortoise, wants to get in on the learning.  Tuesday night he made his way through the under-construction admin building and into the secondary math room where he spent the night, trusting that his perseverance would win him the best seat for Mr. Rupnow's math class.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's All New When You're In First Grade

August 17th...the official first day of school.  Though I'm not teaching first grade this year, I did enjoy a funny first grade moment.  For Sahel Academy First Graders it's their first year of staying all day and eating lunch.  There's a novelty to getting to use the microwave for the first time on your own.  One of the first graders saw everyone warming up their lunches and decided he'd like to try that too.  So he brought me his carefully selected item - a package of cheese & peanut butter crackers.

"Will you help me warm these up Miss Botheras?"

I tried not to laugh as I said, "No, I'm sorry, buddy, they don't need to be warmed up." 

"But I like them warm," he said earnestly.

Oh my!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Little Italian, A Whole Lot of Canadian

I have some friends who are staying cool by watching the 2010 Winter Olympics and that means a whole lot of Virtue & Moir.  I love their 2011 exhibition program.  Simply AMAZING!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tall Tales & Other Occurances in the 1st & 2nd Grade

Wagons, Ho!  We've been studying the pioneers for the last month or so. I thought that it would be fun to read some tall tales at the same time so we put our desks into a circle of wagons which technically looked a little like a square but it was the only way to make it work.  Anyway, during our reading time we met in the middle of our circle for a campfire and a Paul Bunyan story.  Yes, we did have a campfire!  I put sticks in a box with construction paper flames coming out of it.  What I love about first & second graders is that they dug it and they were falling all over themselves to light the fire (i.e. bring the box of sticks to the middle of the circle and make the flames stick up like a proper fire).  Now, J who cleans my classroom had a good laugh over my "fire".  I told him that he could go home and tell his family about the crazy white woman's version of a fire.

Anyway, I think the whole tall tale thing may have rubbed off a little too well on one of my friends who told some whoppers this week.  They were working on their handwriting book and they were supposed to write a story about a snowy day.  When I dropped by to check on K's finished story my first question was, "Were you intending to write a tall tale?"  What else could it be when one has written a story about the time it snowed 7 feet of snow in Senegal?  "No, no!  This really happened," insisted K.  So we checked with our resident expert, the other student who has spent some time in Senegal.  "L, did you ever see it snow in Senegal?  No, never.  Well that is truly shocking! K, do you think this might have taken place somewhere else like America, perhaps?"  After a few minutes of listening to the logical arguments of her second grade friends, reason prevailed and K changed the location to America.  But that wasn't the end of the whoppers!

The bridge that runs across the river right in front of our school was closed one particular morning this week so we all had to use the new bridge which was lately constucted by the Ch*nese.  It was quite a novelty and definitely occupied the first few minutes of our morning conversation.  But this led to a conversation in which the very same child informed us quite smartly that an American President named Benjamin Franklin had built the old bridge and that he was later killed in a car on the bridge.  Bad teacher that I am, I didn't even try to stop myself from laughing.  What a melange of stories that was!  After I finished laughing, I told her that it was JFK who built the bridge but that he was not killed in Niger but rather in the U.S. 

Oh, my goodness!  Those were some good laughs this week!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Little Bit of Sunshine

I saw this little yellow car from the Echo Park Little Boy collection and inspiration hit.  A little bit of yellow ribbon and that cute little button that Jane of plain jane created and voila, a happy little card!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


It's a sad, sad day!  My bottle of footloose & fancy fizz is empty!  Vide!  Finnito!  Gone!  This stuff comes from Bath & Body Works and let me tell you, if you are coming to Niger it is worth every cent  you spend on it because your feet feel SO GOOD when you soak them in this at the end of a hot & dirty day!
Speaking of things that are gone, yesterday one of my first graders started to cry when she got distracted and forgot the word that she wanted to write on the board.  I told her it was okay not to worry and then I tried to make her laugh by telling her that if I cried every time I forgot something, I'd be crying all day.  It didn't make her laugh.  I guess you have to be old to understand that one!

And while I'm on the subject of children, let me tell you about some very entertaining ways that first graders like to pass the time while taking a standardized test.  I caught one of my boys admiring his muscles while he waited for his classmates to finish.  Sleeve up...flexing...hmm, that looks pretty good!  Then a little later in the test they were using a ruler to measure an eraser.  So when he gets done with his test, he was back to muscle admiring and he decided to pull out his ruler and measure up the height of that bulge.  When I caught his eye, we both had a good chuckle over his "muscle love."  He really should get some bonus points for knowing how to use his ruler in a pratical way, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Victory that Brings Hope

I watched this video this morning about an eight year old who was pepper sprayed during a violent outburst.  This was the third time that the police were called to deal with him.  Eight years old and that is your reality.  How crushingly sad!  This is a child who at the age of eight is losing hope that life will be different.  In his own words he said, "I kind of deserved it, but -- when I also behave like that I'm thinking my future is going to turn around into the homeless, bad thing way."

The sad reality that this child is living makes the words that I read from Reclaiming the Future of Christian Education by Albert E. Greene all the more pertinent.  "The need for hope is perhaps more apparent today than ever before.  The promise of the Enlightenment has proved false.  Physical convenience in lifestyle has grown immeasurably, but human relations have rarely been as demonic as those we have experienced in the twentieth century.  As a result, many modern people have fallen into hopelessness.  But hope is a prominent element in the gospel.  Christ died in weakness, and His disciples thought their hopes had been completely dashed.  Then He rose from the dead, and in the hope of that victory the gospel spread throughout the Western world...The basis of Christian hope has not changed, and hope must be a prominent characteristic of the Christian teacher."

Tonight I'm thankful for Christ's victory over death and sin that gives me hope that I, too, can find victory over the sin that enslaves me.  I'm thankful that this hope filled message is intended for every heart that is losing hope.  I pray that as a teacher I communicate that hope to my students and that somehow this little boy will also come to know this very same hope.

Isaiah 9:2
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Everything but the Kitchen Sink...Wait They've Got that Too!

Friday afternoon usually finds us dropping by Four Corners to visit the local vegetable stands.  One of the corners features a barely formal outdoor shop where the vendor lays out all manner of treasures from the western world on the ground.  Magazines, books, three ring binders, decades old apple computers - these  items are all displayed and perused by passing customers.  Imagine our delight last week when we discovered that he even had a kitchen sink for sale!

But that's not all.  This week I was shocked to see a man examining a pair of these:

Hmm, what are those doing in Niger?  Of course, I had to get out and ask the vendor how much they were.  He wanted $20 dollars for them.  I'm not even sure that he knew what they were for.  I declined, of course, and opted for the free picture instead!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cause for Celebration

It's clicking! And that is cause for celebration!

When you start the year with 6 and 7 year olds you sometimes wonder how long it will be before they

...can sit still
...follow directions
...write a complete sentence
...recognize that they've written a complete sentence
...use capitals and punctuation in that sentence
...count by 2s, 5s, 10s, and 25s
...count money

and the list could go on and on.

This week as I've been doing some end of quarter evaluation, it's been good to look back and reflect on the growth that has taken place (a good reminder for me especially when my patience has been tested the last couple of weeks!).

It was just about two weeks ago when we pulled out the coins to work on counting money.  I asked one of the second graders a question and with a deer-in-the-headlights look, she asked if she could talk to me privately.  "I don't know how to count money," she whispered.  "Don't worry, honey, that's what we're working on."  After working diligently in small groups with the kids, they took their math test today.  What a joy to celebrate with that student who went from being afraid to being a confident counter of coins!

And that's not all.
They are...
following directions,
writing paragraphs,
recognizing complete sentences,
mostly using capitals and punctuation,
counting by 2s, 5s, 10s, and 25s,
and a whole host of other things.

Now I'm just waiting for them to sit still! :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Far East Festival

There wasn't enough excitement packed into this week so we had to pack in just a little bit more - the Far East Festival!  Everyone put on their best duds for this banquet.  Here are all the first and second graders all dressed up and posing with the dragon.

Moments before the dragon's mouth was under thorough investigation.
The lovely ladies of Table 12.
Everybody practiced with their chopsticks.  Some were more successful than others.

There was dinner entertainment including a Korean song sung, a fairy tale acted out and we even had a dancing dragon and fireworks, if you can believe that.  There were shreaks and gasps for every firework at my table.  I'm pretty sure they had a good time and won't be forgetting it anytime soon!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Delightfully Diligent Dinosaurs Celebrate 100

Excitement has been building these last few days leading up to the 100th day of school!  One morning meeting found the second graders in particular plying me for information about how we were going to celebrate.  "Do you have anything in your head?," they asked. 

"Why yes, in fact I do.  A brain, eyes, ears...etc. etc."  Make them work for the answers is my philosophy.

"No, no, any ideas in your head." 

"Oh, I'm supposed to have ideas in my head?" and I strung them along a little further until finally, I asked them if they had any ideas in their heads.  A few came up but the one that caught everyone's attention was a Dinosaur Day.  We've been learning about dinosaurs in Science and they wanted to dress up which seemed pretty appropriate since we were celebrating 100 and all things very "old" and so that's how we came to be dressed like dinosaurs and playing with the number 100.

Everybody knows that if you don't want to become extinct you must DINOSIZE!

We had a DINO DOLLAR DIG and tried to pick out exactly 100 pennies.

We had a DINO DASH and tried to be the first to make it to 100.

We made DINO ZEROS - a googol, a number with 100 zeros.

We measured the DINO DISTANCE of 100 cubes and compared it to some dinos we know.

We played DINO Heads or Tails.

We made our own DINO DICTIONARY using the letters of some famous dinosaurs.

We discussed the DIFFICULTIES that having a DINO as a pet might create.

We played DINO DOT to DOT and

some of us even did a DINO DANCE.

When it was all said and done we had even DEVOURED our own DINO cake.
They are a vicious bunch!  Sure hope I survive the next 70 to 80 days.
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