Friday, January 30, 2015

Compound Word Day

This is what happens to you when you plan a special event, forget and then have to do some last minute scrambling!  Yep, that's spend the day looking like a fool but it's all for the children, I tell you.

So I ran across this fun idea of having a Compound Word Day.  No better way than to start the new year with a little fun, the goal being that everyone would come to school wearing as many compound words as possible.  So on the actual day my mind was elsewhere and I completely forget that I planned to wear my t-shirt with "sunshine" and my "baseball" cap and "earrings".  You know, things that normal people wear!  So when I got to school and remembered I had to improvise.  After consulting a list of compound words, I decided that I could quickly transform myself into a "waterfall" with a "rainbow".  So that's how I ended up spending the day looking like this.

As for my students, they did a much better job of remembering and came up with some fun compound words.


Sunglasses, headscarf, lipstick, necklace and snowman

backpack, necktie, swimvest 
(not sure about this one but hey, we were all looking crazy together)

bathrobe, butterfly, handbag, baseball, sundress

Compound Word Day was awesome!

Don't be surprised if you see me wearing my super smooth costume again next year!  Ha!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Christmas 2014

No sooner had school ended for the Christmas break than I headed out with some friends to Burkina Faso.  People always talk about Burkina admiringly because it has quite a few more stores than we do and often has treasures that we only dream about getting here in Niger.  But one thing that is not better is the road!  It was full of potholes and 70 something speed bumps by our count.  However, a change of scenery is always interesting because just a country a way, they can do things so differently.

For example, women ride bikes.  There are bike parking areas and they neatly line up motorcycles and bikes on the top of buses and vans so that the people can ride inside.

Here we all are crossing the border out of Burkina and back into Niger.

After our quick trip to Burkina, it was time to get ready for the annual Christmas with the R family.  That equals fondue and family fun - like a nativity.  I think this year might have been my favorite as the story of Jesus birth was told via song styles through the ages.  Here we have the wise cowboys serenading the baby Jesus.

We ended the evening with a reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Grandpa R to his grandchildren.  Those naughty boys in the background!

After Christmas, I returned to my apartment only to find that something unexpected and quite unwanted had come to visit - A RAT!  I was standing at my kitchen sink when I heard a rustling in the cupboards that was quite unusual so I threw open the door and came face to face with a rat.  We scared each other.  While he ran to a dark corner of the cupboard, I retreated to my sink leaving the door hanging open.  After a few minutes, I came to my senses and realized that leaving the door open was quite a silly thing to do because technically, I had him trapped if the door was closed.  So I closed it and began to consider my options.  A trap - that had been wholly unsuccessful the last time there had been a rat in my apartment.  A cat - what cat wouldn't want a free meal?  That seemed like the sure solution so I called my friend Jeannie and asked if she would kindly lend me hers.  And that was how Puddy came to visit on Boxing Day.

Look at those claws, doesn't he just look ready to kill a rat?

Was it performance anxiety?  Was it a shrew and not a rat?  We will never know.  But we can say this for sure, Puddy wasn't too keen on killing it.  The rat ran back and forth directly within the sight line of Puddy multiple times as I chased it back and forth between rooms.  Puddy sat calmly in just about this position even during the moment etched in my brain where the rat scurried across the floor, hit my green tupperware bowl and went airborne.  I've not seen or heard from the rat since that day so I'm hoping that the mere presence of Puddy scared it away for a long while.  And that my friends was Christmas 2014!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Christmas Tree Ornaments

I remember back when I was a boarding student at Kent Academy, my elementary teachers would always take time at Christmas to help us make a gift for our parents for Christmas.  They were simple but they were cherished.  One of them was a little container that my Mom kept stamps in forever!  Anyway, because I know how special it was to be able to give my parents a little gift that was a surprise to them, I always like to help my students make something for their parents for Christmas.  

I was at home during the Christmas of 2012 and did some after Christmas shopping, hitting up the sales where I found this little ornament.

It caught my eye because it looked like something a First Grader could make and after looking at the construction of it, I was convinced.  So I started gathering supplies and packing them in my trunks to bring along.  Thankfully, the container got here before Christmas this year so my class could give it a try.

Here's the supplies we used:

Strong Wire (or in my case a long twist tie)
Jingle Bells
Christmas felt - Cut into various size squares.  I had about 4-5 different sizes and tried to keep them sorted that way.  I also cut a little hole in the middle of each square for threading.
Small felt stars enough for two per child 
Sequins or fuzzy balls for ornaments
Ribbon for Hanging

We each got a long twist tie and threaded a jingle bell on to it.  I helped each child secure the jingle bell.  Then we began threading the largest squares on to our twist tie.

After adding the largest squares, we threaded on some medium sized squares.  

Halfway there!

Some of them paid attention to turning the squares, others didn't but the beauty of this ornament was that it didn't seem to matter.  

We added smaller and smaller squares until there was just enough room at the top of the twist tie to make a loop for hanging.  Then it was time for some finishing touches - sparkly, fuzzy, little ornaments.

For the top, each student had two stars which they glued around the twist tie and then held in place until they were secure.

All that was left was a ribbon for hanging!

Tada!  A simple, fun gift for parents and all with very little mess!

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Who put me in charge of this little piece of blogland anyway?  I've been an utterly irresponsible owner.  I'm not sure it's even possible to catch you up so I'm going to hit the highlights.

In October my students made Synonym Rolls and ate Cinnamon Rolls and I hung weird things on my apartment wall just to prove that I do decorate once in a while (a real highlight, I know!).

My First Graders had an awesome cheer for Spirit Week!

In November, my friend Kathy celebrated her 60th birthday.  We all enjoyed a night at Parc W and an early morning safari.  Kathy is on the left in the blue scarf.  She is an amazing lady.  My life would be minus a whole lot of laughter without her!

We had a praying mantis and a walking stick join us for the safari.  They enjoyed seeing the water buffalo with us which was a first for me!

 It was also the first time I had ever seen a baobab tree with leaves on it.  They were so colorful that it kind of reminded me of fall.

What's not to love about the dawning of a new day?

November saw the return of my students' Kindergarten teacher.  She took time to come in and sing their favorite song from Kindergarten with them and share an awesome book.  They were over the moon!  If they could, I think they would sing this song every day. :)

We also had a staff retreat during the month of November which was a huge blessing to me personally and to many of our staff.  November is also the month of our annual field day but I'm not sure where those pictures have disappeared to.

So I'm off and running trying to catch up. Hopefully, December's highlights will be right around the corner. :)
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