Monday, April 28, 2014

Egg-stra Special Art

     We are putting the final touches on our Peeps experiment write up, so I thought I would share what we did for art the week before Easter.

     I was feeling rather guilty that we didn’t do an egg hunt this year.  We aren’t allowed to have candy or sweets, and I didn’t have a spring party, so I got to thinking, “What can we do that is exciting, free, and engaging?’’

     My next-door neighbor and teacher friend was doing this really cool, intricate art project based on Rechenka’s Eggs.   Based on what I could see that was going on at the picnic tables outside our classrooms, there was some coloring and some black watercolor painting going on, monitored by a bunch a sweet parent volunteers.  Whatever it was, it looked amazing, but I didn’t have the expertise or the manpower to pull it off!

     Enter Jan Brett’s The Easter Egg book.  We are big Jan Brett fans in my room, and the kids are always up for listening to one of her stories, always paying close attention to the beautiful illustrations.  I am equally in awe.  After finishing our book.  I knew what we would do!

     I gathered some white construction paper, oil pastels, markers, and a whole bunch of Q-tips.  Since I taught fourth grade for a zillion years, I was certain that the firsties would also know the baby oil meets oil pastel trick. Boy, was I wrong!  They were mesmerized by the magical abilities of the oil!

Here are the directions to slip in your back pockets for next year.

-trace a large oval
-students design egg using patterns-no pictures, portraits, or landscapes
-trace the pencil lines with black marker

-color each section with oil pastels

-use Q-Tips and baby oil to blend color in each section
-cut and mount

Now you are all set for Easter 2015!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Peeps Extravaganza! Part 1

April 24, 2014

Hi Friends,

I’m popping in to talk Peeps!  Last week, we jumped on the Peeps experiment bandwagon to see what would happen when we dunked our fluffy friends into five different liquids. 

We started off by watching a Brain Pop Jr. clip to review the scientific method. We are very fortunate to have a hands-on science lab at my site.  The kids visit the lab every other week to participate in experiments run by a credentialed elementary science teacher.  She chooses experiments that support the units we cover in class.  She teaches a lesson for  K-5 classes every day with only a five minute break/prep in between. To clarify, she teaches kindergarten and then they leave.  Then, she has five minutes to set up for first grade, and then we come.  After we leave, second grade comes.   Did I mention how lucky we are?

The kids are very familiar with lab procedures so we started by posing our question, “What liquid will make the Peeps dissolve the quickest?”  This question kinda bugged me because I am not sure if it’s grammatically correct…Maybe it should say, “….dissolve the most quickly?”  I.D.K.  All I know is that it’s been bugging me!

Students predicted if water, vinegar, soda, juice, or laundry soap would be the most efficient liquid to dissolve the Peeps.  I surveyed the class and we tallied our answers on a white board.  Next, I passed out a labeled bowl of each liquid to my table groups.  Since I have five groups of six kids at each table, the student who did not have a bowl was the supply monitor.  He or she was in charge of passing out the Peeps.  After each child had a Peep in hand, we gently placed each one into the liquids.  We made a quick observation of the color of the water upon starting the experiment and we noted that all Peeps started out purple.

 Fast forward 24 hours.  Within those 24 hours, we learned a few things.  Not only did some of the liquids dissolve the Peeps, they also dissolved the bowls I used.  I would have preferred to have used the hard, clear, plastic cups, but alas, the random bowls I had on hand were super appealing because they were free!!  After placing the leaky bowls onto plates, we noticed that two of the Peeps (at the same table, mind you) had completing disintegrated.  What in the world?  We did some deductive reasoning and quickly concluded that there had been some Peeps tampering.  Two sweet students “Pillsbury Dough Boy-ed” the Peeps’ bellies into ity bity bits of floating mallows.

 After the mangled mallows were discarded, we got back to business.  I had a representative from each table group bring the bowls up to the document camera.  We displayed each bowl-o-Peep and I gave the kids a few minutes to discuss their observations.  I recorded a “share” from each table group to be used later, during our lab write-up.  Lastly, I passed out the Peeps recording sheet.  Each student drew a picture of the Peeps after 24 hours of being submerged in the liquids.  They also recorded whether or not their prediction was correct.  Luckily for me, most of us were wrong.  In our experiment, the laundry soap, not the soda, caused the Peeps to dissolve the quickest.  My heart is full of relief and love as I can now go about drinking my Diet Coke in peace, knowing that my stomach lining is safe.

Tomorrow I will share how we turned the experiment into a writing lesson.

Erin J

Saturday, April 12, 2014

An Introduction

April 12, 2014

Hi friends!

As I enjoy the last few days of Spring Break, I would like to take a few moments to introduce myself and share some tidbits about my life, my teaching background, and my goals.

I live in sunny Southern California with my family, my toothless dog, my tailless cat, and my American Bull Dog puppy that is currently my favorite thing on the planet.  I am sure she will make it into many a blog post story.  I have taught at the same school since 2000, with thirteen of those years spent in fourth grade.  Last year, I did some soul searching and lots of reflection, and decided it was time for a change.  I asked to transition to first grade, and here I am today, the teacher of 31 bright, funny, caring, insightful, and energetic six and seven year olds.  I have a wonderful new team, and still get to visit with my old teammates each day. 

When I am not working, I am constantly seeking out new knowledge, adventures, and creative outlets.  Last summer, I discovered river rafting.  Hello?  Where has that been all my life?  This summer, we are headed to Hawaii, and zip lining is on the itinerary for sure!  I love reading.  That is an understatement.  Reading is such a crucial, vital, living part of my world.  Many of my memories are associated with what book I was reading at the time the memory was made.  When my son was born, I was reading A Hundred Years of Solitude in the hospital!  I also have a passion for making quilts.  I love art and creativity and quilting is a necessary outlet for me.

Fun Facts about Me

-I can’t stand any type of melon, but I make myself try them every summer, just in case.

-I really struggle with exercise and drinking water.  My esthetician told me I wasn’t making water-drinking fun enough.  Seriously?

-I am a chronic binge T.V. series watcher.

-When I travel, I have to start the trip with a newly purchased, unopened toothbrush.  Bringing the one from home grosses me out.

-I am an only child.

-I want to go to Italy and France and see all the cathedrals.

-I need to shed some pounds.  Again. Sigh…

Goals for the Blog

I love writing and I also love teaching, so blogging is a natural marriage of the two.  I am throwing my hat into the blogging ring to share strategies that have worked for me, to communicate insights I have had that may resonate with others, and to reach out and seek the friendship of my fellow teachers world wide.  I am starting to develop products for Teachers Pay Teachers in hopes of being helpful to others in my field.  I also plan on discussing books related to education.  Hopefully, my summaries and commentaries will pique your interest in an education-based topic. The Read Aloud Handbook is first up on the docket.

Thanks for popping in.  I am off to figure out how to participate in linkies and all that bloggy stuff!