Saturday, April 28, 2012

Seeds, Kid Quotes & Rain

We are in the middle of a unit on plants.  We've planted some flower seeds and we are watching them, hoping against hope that they will sprout but we have some overzealous gardeners and I think they may be over watering.  In talking about the different parts of plants, we read the book A Seed is Sleepy.  The illustrations in this book are beautiful!  Not to mention, it fits right in with the work we've been doing with adjectives and it's filled with interesting facts about seeds. 

This particular page led to some funny second grade quotes.

After thinking for a few minutes, one little girl said, "That's really inappropriate."  Another little boy offered, "My sister can sew it some clothes."  Funny, funny little second graders.

Speaking of funny kid moments, you may remember Microwave Man, the little first grader who desperately wanted to use the microwave at the beginning of the school year.  He was back again this week.  I saw him standing in front of the microwave with his fully popped popcorn on a plate.  "You aren't trying to warm that up, are you?" I asked, "because you don't need to."

With a disappointed look he responded, "Well, it says popcorn (on the microwave)!"  Ha...we don't exactly know about microwaveable popcorn around these parts! :)

And now for the rain...

Sitting in my classroom after school yesterday afternoon, I was surprised by the sound of rain on the roof.  I hadn't noticed that the sky had been overcast but when I went out side the rain was definitely coming down.  It was just enough to wet the dry ground and plenty to provide a little time to dance in the rain and start a game of barefoot soccer in the rain.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oh, Yes He Does...

...have a snowboard here in Niger!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Oh, Yes She Did...

...take that whole plate of grasshoppers with the intention of eating it all!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Celebrating Our Unique Cultural Heritage

Friday was Multicultural Day at Sahel Academy.

We began our celebration with a Parade of Nations. 
There are 22 countries represented in our student body and that's not counting the students whose parents come from two different countries.
New Zealand
United States

Our students were dressed to the nines in traditional clothes from their homelands.

They got to enjoy traditional foods from a variety of countries - things like sushi, grasshoppers, maple syrup, chin chin, grits and apple pie.

The students got to enjoy or participate in dances from a variety of countries.
Here's the Africa group breaking it down:

In each room the students learned interesting facts about the countries represented.  They saw a variety of artifacts from the countries and they got to participate in games or activities unique to those countries.  There were wrestling and taekwondo matches, a type of Korean jacks, a fashion contest, "snowball fights" and even a chance to get a little henna on your hands among other things.

Here the Swiss kids sing a song about a Cuckoo Clock:

 Celebrating the amazing mix of cultures at our school brought a smile to many faces!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Desk Love

Remember how I covered up my desks like this so my kids could collect interesting words for their poems.

Next week we'll be taking a standardized test so we uncovered them
so that the desks can easily be moved apart. 

This was an amazing moment for them! 
Apparently, they have missed their desk tops. 
They couldn't stop going on about how beautiful they were.  
They were hugging them. 
Yes, that's right - hugging and kissing them! 
One was waxing poetic about how they had been
passed down
from generation to generation. 

I think next time I won't even bother passing out skittles for graphing and eating 
since uncovering one's desk is far more exciting!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Adjectives & The Old House

If you've never been exposed to the books of Pamela Duncan Edwards, you are missing out.  She is the queen of alliteration with books like Dinorella and The Worrywarts.  However, the focus of the book we read this past week, The Old House, is not alliteration.  Rather it was chosen as a great way to introduce a study of adjectives.    The house goes from being a rickety, lonely old house to a beautiful house, full of life and love.  My students were fascinated with the transformation.   After reading it, we made a chart using adjectives to describe the old house before and after its renovation.

Then the kids made acrostic poems using adjectives beginning with each letter of their name to describe themselves.  This idea has been floating around pinterest and is definitely not orignial to me but my kids sure had fun with it.  I also gave them the Awesome Adjectives book (a little dictionary of adjectives) from this unit to help them think of words.  Here's the longest name in our class:

She did a great job choosing and thinking of words on her own including the word itchy!  A few weeks back I wrote down a funny quote from her where she proclaimed that she was so hot that her elbows were itchy.  You don't hear that every day! :)

And here's the newest addition to our class. 

She is from Sweden and doesn't speak any English at all. I told her she could do it in Swedish but according to the lady who is interpreting for her there aren't many adjectives in Swedish so she went for English instead.
Well, there you have it - we learned a lot about about adjectives and something interesting about the language of the Swedes!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Put Something In

It's been back to school this week after two weeks of break.  Before the break I was thinking about where to head next with my students in Writer's Workshop and I was reading this awesome free book which inspired me to tackle poetry for only about the third time in my teaching career.  I have a fascination with it but I'm intimidated by it at the same time.

Since the First Graders join my Second Grade Class for Writer's Workshop, I decided that we needed to begin with exposure. So we spent the first day reading and exploring all kinds of poetry books.  Then we came together at the end of Writer's Workshop and made a chart recording what we had discovered about poems - some rhyme, some don't, they are short and usually have capitals at the beginning of each line, etc.  Some of the students chose a poem they really liked and shared it with the class.

On day two we read the poem Skimble-Scamble (from R is for Rhyme) and Put Something In (from A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein) and we talked about how poets have permission to play with words - to enjoy the way they sound and maybe even make new words up.  I had covered the tables, desks and walls with paper and I invited them to spend the time reading again but this time to collect words that intrigued or inspired them, words that sounded serious or made them laugh.  They loved this!
The next day I used the poems Pencil Sharpener and Ceiling both by Zoey Ryder White to talk about how poets try to look at everyday objects in new ways.  Then I sent the kids off for the first time to try their hands at writing poetry.  It was great!  Some kids tried using the words they had collected the day before.  One student wanted to write about the fan but he said he couldn't hear it very well so I turned it on high and then he went to town and wrote this poem.
Thursday night, I decided to get in on the action.  The shoe picture I posted inspired me and I wrote this:

I shared my poem on Friday and then I let my poets go outside if they so desired.  The trees and rabbits directly outside our classroom inspired these two little gems.

I think when
The wind blows
The leavs run
Away from the
Trees runing dashing
Till the wind stops

Usually I leave spelling alone but this poem is so great I'm fixing it for ease of understanding.

The Runt Rabbit

Little runt rabbit!
Little runt rabbit!
Little runt rabbit
Hungry little runt rabbit!
Runt rabbit, stop eating
I am hungry too
I'm a runt like you!

I love the way these ones are exploring.  I hope that in one way or another all of my little writers will be able to experience the joy of putting something in...

Put Something In
By: Shel Silverstein

Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
'Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly into the world
That ain't been there before.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

You Know It's Time for Home Assignment....

when your shoes and socks can't contain your toes any longer!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Answers to Prayer

This year at Sahel Academy we were blessed with a great staff!  There were definitely some places where we could have used another teacher but there were members in our community who stepped out and were willing to help us when we were desperate and overall things have worked.  Here's the good looking bunch!

One of the privileges we have as a staff is that as we hear of new individuals and families coming to join our staff we get to pray them through the process until they finally arrive here in Niger.  Usually we start hearing a little bit in the fall and more as the year continues.  However, by January of this year we were a bit discouraged because the picture with all the outgoing staff looked like this...

and we only had one family who were in the pipeline and for whom we were praying.

The amazing thing about the mission community that we live in is that when there is a need so many are willing to help by praying and by spreading the word to their sending communities.  The above pictures were shared at our SIM conference and word of our need began to spread.  God has been doing some amazing things in response to our needs.  I, for one, have been a little bit blown away by what I see Him doing. 

One of the first answers to prayer came in the form of the Falk family.  She is a kindergarten teacher and he has a background in construction and together they have two girls.  So they are learning French and raising support and getting ready to take on kindergarten and ....

This is an awesome provision for us because in this next year the school expects to begin and hopefully complete the building of a large covered court/auditorium type building and begin construction of some more staff housing on the grounds.  You can read more about the Falk family here.

There are a couple more families interested one from the United States and one from Australia.  There is at least one couple and then some singles who are also headed out this way.  Many of these have either visited Niger or actually spent some time here which is really neat.  In fact, one of the women who is a lawyer at home but will be teaching Sociology at the school came on an exposure trip this past year.  She expressed her desire to come and one of the other individuals on that exposure trip offered to fund her entire first year!  Wow!  See what I mean, God has been doing some AMAZING things!

Pray for each one of these people as they prepare.  Pray that others will come alongside and support them in the ministry God is calling them to here at Sahel Academy.  Also pray for the continued need for a Chemistry teacher, another elementary teacher and a youth pastor.  We are waiting expectantly because we know God has great things in store for us!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Flashback Friday

Way too much of my break has been dedicated to giving my blog a facelift.  One of the things that I did was to go back and label all my posts.  (Note to anyone who would like to start a blog - label your posts from the start!  You won't be sorry!)  Although it was tedious, I did enjoy it because it gave me a chance to go back and read everything I had written for the last five or so years. 

Here are the top five things I discovered in the process:

5.  I have not written nearly enough of my stellar poetry . (I mean really, I clearly have a talent for it!)

4.  I discover so many great children's books.  I should write more about them.

3.  I love teaching kids to write and I love reading the amazing things they have to say.

2.  I'm surprised by the things that happened which never got recorded here on my blog.


1.  Overwhelmingly, this blog is about THINGS THAT MAKE ME LAUGH!  I think I may have misnamed it. On that note, I am linking you back to this post because it happened in the early days of my blog when not too many people were reading and frankly, it's just flat out funny and who doesn't like to laugh?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pillows, Pillows, Pillows Everywhere

You saw a picture of these fabulous pillows that it only took me three years to make yesterday.

I bought the green striped material before leaving the U.S. to come to Niger because I have a thing for that color green and it was on sale.

Then just before leaving I stopped in at the fabric store in Canada and  I bought the green and blue flowered material which is peeking out from the box pleated pillow.

So I have had them for a long time but I haven't been inspired to create anything with them for one reason or another until this spring break.

Inspiration hit when I discovered I had a third coordinating material but we'll get to that in a minute.

The two green pillows are a very simple design with a hidden zipper.  I used this tutorial to help me with the zipper.  It's simple and easy to follow.
We have a store here in Niamey that sells second hand clothes that come from thrift stores in the U.S.  I picked this shirt up awhile ago thinking it would be fun to make rosettes out of it.  But while looking through my material I realized that it coordinated perfectly with my other fabrics and that I could easily turn it into a pillow with a button closure.  So I went for it.  It didn't happen as easily as I imagined because the darts in the shirt made it difficult to get it straight but I finally got it close enough to be satisfied.  If felt like it needed something else so I added the rosettes which I love!

After surfing the web for pillow tutorials trying to find something I liked for my third and final fabric, I finally decided on this box pleat pillow tutorial.  If you are looking for a pillow tutorial I would highly recommend starting at this site because this tutorial is easy to follow and has a good balance of visuals with written instructions.  Not to mention that the site had scads of other pillow tutorials.  Anyway, I visited a local fabric store and picked up the chocolate brown linen and I have to say that I think this is my favorite one of the bunch.  So cute!  Here's a close up of the box pleat on the side.

So there you go...what I lack in cute pictures on the wall, I've made up for in cute pillows on the couches. 

Plus, if teaching ever falls through for me I might have a future as a pillow maker - as long as someone out there has a good tutorial for me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Out With the Old

Two week mid-semester breaks were made for catching up with all the things you've been meaning to do but just haven't got around to yet.  So in my little corner of the world it's been out with the old

and in with the new!

Some of you may remember when I posted this on facebook.

It happened this summer on the day before I was leaving for Canada.  I heard a loud bang and went out into the kitchen to the scene of my $800 oven with it's front pane of glass strewn on the ground.  At the time, I didn't know if I could continue using the oven so I went ahead and bought another one in the U.S. and had it sent on a container out here.  It arrived back in January but it took a while to locate a needed part so thanks to some help from one of the SIMAir guys my new white gas range is installed and being used.

Awhile back I noticed that the bottom of my shower curtain was being eaten up by mold.  I found some material that matched my towels and rug and so I made a new shower curtain that I can use when I come back after home assignment.  I figured I better make it now so that it will be ready. Otherwise it might not be made for a long time.  Case in point - those pillows in the picture above.  I brought the material to make those pillows with me to Niger 3 years ago and I just now finished them! 

And then there's the old blog which has gotten a little bit of a makeover.  I decided to try a new design.  I'm not sure that I'm completely satisfied.  It seems like it might be a little busy but after looking into other options that are far more complicated, I think I've decided to be satisfied with this for the moment.  I'm also working on learning how to use picasa and watermark my photos.  There's a learning curb!

So there you have it - my little mid-semester break projects.
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