Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cheese, Chocolate & the Children's Play

Christmas in Niger means I get to hang with the R family for at least a full 24 hours and when it's Christmas Eve that means there will be Cheese, Chocolate and a Children's play.  I didn't take any pictures of the cheese or the chocolate that was a part of our fondue Christmas Eve celebration but I did take pictures of the Children's play.  Due to a last minute migraine, there had to be some minor adjustments to the roles but these kids are pros and the show went on.

The angel visits the shepherds.
You've got to love Carrot Top, the wise man.
Moe, the rabbit. filled the role of the Baby Jesus.
And the cast takes their bows.
I'm so thankful for the gift of this friendship at Christmas and every day, for that matter! 

Signs of Christmas

Here in Niger there aren't that many visible signs of snow, not many twinkling lights or Christmas trees in windows but one sign that Christmas is on its way is the Christmas program our elementary children usually put on.  This year it was called, "Signs of Christmas."

Under the direction of my friend Bev, they did a fantastic job! 

One moment that made me want to bust out laughing was when this cutie got up to say her line along with several others.  After she finished, she took the time to pose for some pictures and threw up the victory sign just for good measure right in the middle of the program.
The little girl holding the purple bundle in the middle was Mary and let me tell you, she took her job seriously.  There wasn't a chance that anything bad was going to happen to Baby Jesus!
After the program, one of my students took it upon himself to write down the words to one of the songs they sang.  Can you figure out which Christmas carol it was?
Pretty sure this was the first time I've ever been asked how to spell virgin by a First Grader and I have to say I love the fact that it says, "Sleep in Heavenly Pees."  Oh my!  I have no end of entertainment when reading First Grade Writing!
Sleep in Heavenly Peas, friends.

Friday, December 20, 2013

What Are They Doing?

What exactly are my students doing?  

And the answer is - praying.  At the beginning of the year, when we had our prayer time I had one student who would get down on his hands and knees and tuck his head down while we prayed.  Over the months, one student turned into a few and before I knew it prayer time looked like this almost every single morning.  I have a hard time hearing what they are praying but God hears every word. :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Tailor Made Super Hero

Contractions have been cropping up all over the books my students have been reading.  Without a little direct instruction, First Graders have trouble reading contractions properly so I decided it was time for some lessons on the topic.  There are lots of great free resources out there for contractions but I have to say Captain Apostrophe caught my attention.  You can click on this link and be whisked away to another blog where you can find a great little story about how Captain Apostrophe has the power to join two words by swooping in, knocking out some letters and then flying high and hovering above the new word.  I wasn't in love with the look of Captain Apostrophe so I sought out another image. 

When I came across this one, I was pretty sure he would be a hit with all the boys but particularly Blue Man, my little friend who is desperately in love with the color blue.  So who should appear in Blue Man's writing several days later but....

Dun Dun Dudun....Captain Apostrophe!
Did I call that or what?
Now clearly, I have got some work to do on how you actually use apostrophes but hey, at least one person is enamored!  Speaking of work to do....

I should probably teach my writer's how to spell "write" so that we don't have to be "ritting stores" during "Whiters Workshop".  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Coming to a Mailbox Near You

Someone's been making Christmas cards...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash and other Rhyming Fun

The concept of rhyming seems to be particular difficult for my little English Language Learners this year.  So recently I took a couple of weeks to try to move them in the direction towards grasping the concept and being able to produce rhyming words themselves.  I happened to have on hand Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash in big book form. 

And who doesn't love Mrs. McNosh?  She's certainly not a traditionalist when it comes to doing the laundry.  Everything from the laundry to the mail to the turkey is fair game for a good washing.  As stories go this one is great fun with lots of vocabulary and rhyming practice thrown in too.  Here's a little preview of the story done by one of my students. 

I love the view of Mrs. McNosh in the top box.  Too cute!

In searching the web, I didn't find many resources out there to go along with this story so I made up a rhyming activity myself.  This is my first attempt ever to attach documents to my blog and my hand drawn pictures pale in comparison to all the cute clipart out there but the kids had fun so maybe yours will too. 

Feel free to print and enjoy the following activity.

For those who might be looking for some ideas for fun ways to practice rhyming with their students, there were two other group activities that we did to practice making rhyming words that are worth mentioning.  Let's call the first one Rhyme Around the Room.  I placed quarter sheets of poster paper around the room with one word at the top.  Groups of students were assigned a paper.  They used the marker and wrote as many rhyming words as they could think of in about 30 seconds.  After 30 seconds were up they moved to a new paper, read the words added by the group before them and then continued adding new words of their own. 
We'll call the second game Rhyming Encore.  The students were once again placed in groups and given a white board and marker.  I gave them a word such as "fish" and then the groups had to write down a word that rhymed with "fish."  As soon as they had a word they could share it.  Play continued until a group repeated a word, gave a word that didn't rhyme or wasn't real or couldn't think of any more rhyming words.  At that point, the group with the last valid word got a point.  

Just last Friday I was walking with one of my students at our Track and Field Day, our minds about as far away from the classroom and rhyming as they could be.  This student happens to be one of the ones who has had the most trouble with this concept.  He was playing with words as we walked and suddenly he came across two that rhymed, "Mat and bat - those are rhyming words!" he exclaimed.  Even if he didn't win any races, throw the farthest or jump the longest, that was a moment worth celebrating.  He understands the concept of rhyming!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Library Love

As I shuffled through one of my student's writing folders, I found a little love note tucked inside.

It's a sentiment shared by a great many Sahel students.  We are blessed with a spacious and inviting space, over 18,000 books and one amazing lady who has invested a great deal of money each year in providing us with new books. 
And then there is our librarian...
And boy, does she ever know how to create anticipation and invite participation! 
Before you know it you'll be paddling through the wilderness,

joining the army,
building a robot
or exploring the depths of the ocean.
Is it any wonder this place is the recipient of adoring fan mail?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

To Inspire Acedemics

A helpful suggestion from a former student.  The vocabulary and spelling just kill me! 
Now back to inspiring acedemics....

Friday, October 18, 2013

Magnify the Lord

"O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together."
Psalm 34:3
Magnifying the Lord - rejecting the desire to complain about circumstances and instead focusing on God, his character and how I see him at work.  It's a daily challenge.  I'm working on it, though I'm sorry to say there's probably been more failure than success. I'm thankful for the grace God extends to me despite my failures!  Anyway, what better way to magnify the Lord than to share a moment in the classroom when it was clear that the Holy Spirit was at work. 
We were just finishing up a Social Studies unit on Me and My Family and were waiting for a special celebration with our families to begin.  I had covered just about everything that I had planned but I had yet to get to the little lesson I had wanted to teach on being a part of God’s family.  Fifteen minutes remained.  Not much time but God just directed my thoughts back to that lesson.  So I called my students to the mat and we talked about God’s family – how God wants everyone to be a part of His family and how we can do that by accepting the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus through His death on the cross.  Before long, one little boy right in front of me raised his hand.  “I a-a-am part of Go-o-od’s fa-a-mily,“  he stuttered.  “I’ve a-a-sked Jesus into my heart.” 
“Wow, Junior! That’s amazing!” I said.  “Did you know that when you are a part of God’s family, God takes cares of you just like your Mom and Dad take care of you and your sister?  God takes care of you because He loves you!”  I wish you could have seen the smile that just lit up that little boy’s face.  It was beautiful!  Before me was a child who knew the confidence and peace that comes from knowing that you are cared for not only by an earthly family but also by Our Heavenly Father.

Next, a hand was raised on the back of the mat and a little girl said that she too had asked Jesus to come into her heart THREE times.  Thinking that not unlike me as a child, she might be struggling with fear and wondering if she really belonged to Jesus, I assured her that she really did belong to him and she didn't have to keep praying to receive him as her Saviour.  She promptly raised her hand and assured me that she wasn't afraid.  She had asked Jesus into her heart three times because SHE LOVED GOD SO MUCH!

Our fifteen minutes were drawing to a close.  I just asked my students if anyone would like to pray and thank God for making a way for us to be a part of His family.  We pray every morning together but my students rarely volunteer to pray so you can imagine my surprise when several hands went up all over the mat.  Being part of God's family is A BIG DEAL and there were lots of little thankful hearts so we had some popcorn prayers.  Everyone prayed out their sentence or two thanking God that they could be part of his family.  I listened and my heart was blessed and I'm pretty sure that God must have been smiling too.



Friday, October 11, 2013

You Had Me at Hello

Love is a many splendored and fast moving thing in the First Grade.  Someone has been exploring the depths...

 (Hearts & butterflies set the mood!)

Clearly "You had me at hello" wasn't just for Jerry McGuire's girlfriend.  It works on numbers and fish too.

No beating around the bush here!
So a few lessons to be gathered about love in the First Grade...
  • Every love story begins with a "Hello".
  • When it comes to love and declaring your feelings, just get straight to the point.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Variations on a Theme of Blue

This picture received high praise from me this week.  My teacher's assistant and I "ooohed and ahhhed"over it.  You might be wondering why.  The answer to that question would be because the student branched out from his normal color palette - BLUE.

Judging by the work in his writing folder, I think it's safe to say that blue is this kid's favorite color.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that in 12 years of teaching I've never had a kid so obsessed with one color.  I wonder if he's ever heard of the Blue Man Group?  It could be his dream job!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

My Apartment Fell in a Bucket of Fresh Cut Grass

It all started with dirty walls and an inspiration photo. 

I was planning on painting and had been toying with the idea of some accent walls, particularly a green one in my living room/dining room area.  Then along came my friendly neighbor, lover of adventures in color, who found this inspiration photo in an HGTV magazine.

She was lobbying for not just an accent wall but green cupboards too.  My cupboards were about three different colors of wood and not in the best of condition. In the magazine, I loved it!  Painting over my actual wood - agonizing decision.  I'd like to tell you that I had just dipped my paintbrush in the bucket of "fresh cut grass" when my neighbour reached out her foot and tripped me, forcing my hand but she's far to nice for a trick like that!   Somehow, with my full consent, my apartment fell into a bucket of "fresh cut grass" and I'm still deciding how I feel about it.

My very own version of "The Big Green Monster."
Just enough paint to do the bottom and then decide about the top.
Pretty Close Match
I found this cool material shortly after returning to Niger and decided it would be fun in my office/guest bedroom.  So I decided to go for some bold color in here too.  I may still be deciding about my big green monster but I can tell you this, I'm sold on this room!
So what do you think, should I go all out and do the top cupboards too?  And how about taming the green monster - any decorative thoughts?  Feel free to drop by and see it in person. :)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Thinking, Always Thinking


Children are thinking, always thinking.  It can be oh so entertaining to get a glimpse into what they are thinking.
This week during Writer's Workshop we've been reading some Mark Teague books and comparing the setting, characters, problem and solutions.  I began by reading the book Baby Tamer.  Amazon's summary says, "The noisy and clever Eggmont kids, otherwise known as a baby-sitter's worst nightmare, meet their match in Amanda Smeedy, baby tamer."  After reading, one little boy raised his hand and very seriously said, "I was baby tamed once." I just about cracked up!  I'm pretty sure he may now think that being "baby tamed" is the correct verb for being "baby sat." 

Sometimes it surprises me the connections that kids make.  I went into a few classrooms today to take some photos in an attempt to get a little bit of new content for our school website.  My camera was with me in the lunchroom and I was taking some pictures when a third grader asked me, "Are you leaving, Miss Botheras?"  I kind of laughed and said, "No, why would you think that?" To which he responded, "Well, you have your camera and you're taking lots of pictures.  People usually do that when they're leaving." And that, my friends, is a Third Culture Kid - never too young to be aware of the comings and goings in their life, they learn to recognize the signs early on.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

For Old Time's Sake

Do you remember when cheese came in a can?  During my earliest years growing up in Nigeria, if we had cheese it had either crossed the ocean with us on our return from furlough or it came from a can just like this one. (At least that's the way I remember things...I wasn't exactly doing the shopping!)

We have no lack of yummy cheeses here in Niamey but I was in a little store on Saturday that happened to have cheese in a can so I decided to buy some just for old time's sake.  You know how the nostalgia of things from your childhood can get to you sometimes!
It was just as I remember it and the only thing that would have made it better is if I had been pulled over somewhere alongside a road eating cheese sandwiches under the shade of an African tree with my family.  Mom, Dad, Kent, I can send you a can....on second thought, perhaps you should just go out and buy yourself some Kraft cheese slices.  It's about the same thing!

Friday, September 27, 2013

From the Rising of the Sun

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
Psalm 113:3

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