School

Chick, Chick!

March 16, 2017

Cheep, cheep!

I say, “Chick Chick” to a class and the class says, “Cheep,cheep!” back, because we hatched!

6 little chicks hatched in our incubator and thanks to the live feed, we didn’t miss a beat!  To say that there was some excitement at our school, would possibly be the understatement of the year.  We prepared a brooder in the tri-corner window of the library.Then let them out!We needed to build a wall to keep them in the small end of the window, so…being a library, we just use books!4 golden chicks named Stuart, after our school, Mt. Stuart Elementary.

2 dark chicks named Dan, after our wonderful principal Dan Patton.  They were briefly going to be called ‘General’ for Mr. Patton’s cousin, but then we realized…General Chicken…is a Chinese dinner, so that would not be good!Next week is spring break, so all the Stuarts and the Dans will come to live at the farm, but for a few more days the library windows will stay smeared beyond belief with even more finger prints…and the kids, they…are delighted.

Carrying their lunch trays down the hall, we heard more than one child say,

“Hide your lunch, we don’t want to scare the chicks.”  (The menu…chicken legs!)

We are blessed!

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Hatching A Plan

March 10, 2017

My Librarian and I hatched a plan.  We (the library) had incubators.  I (Glory Farm) had eggs.  I taught about ‘broody hens’, the difference between grocery store eggs, and eggs that had a rooster around, what jobs the mother hen did and how the incubator worked.  One dozen eggs from the hen-house to the incubator.  A school full of excited kids and adults.  Each child knows that it takes 21 days to hatch chickens.  They know that the hen turns the eggs and so does our incubator.The glass on the library window is perpetually smeared with finger prints, nose prints and foreheads pressed against the glass.  My Librarian set up a flip chart to show what day we were on and what the developing chick would look like.I explained what color Mr. Buff is, how many different colored chickens we had and that we didn’t know how many eggs would hatch or what color they might be.

I love to watch some of the smaller kids standing outside the window explaining to their parent, what exactly is going on and how very much they know!Hatch day is just around the corner.  We will be adding a ‘chick -cam’ to the window, live news hatching feed available for every class!

As one boy put it, it is ‘egg-citing’!

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Growing Pains

October 31, 2016

My Sweet School is crowded.  There are 3 schools in town and the over enrollment at all 3 schools would almost fill a fourth school.  We do not have that fourth school…and therein lies the problem.  Every year for the last 3 years, classrooms have been added and this year it just feels different…tighter…like wearing your thin jeans when you’ve gained 10 pounds, everything’s covered, but it is not comfortable.

The Good, Bad and Ugly…

The Good

The Good is very good, in fact you might even say it is great!.

In order to get everyone ‘in’ and give all the teacher’s their planning time, we (the library) have all upper grade kids, 3, 4, 5th grade kids one class everyday, so sometimes we have them twice in one week, while we have K, 1, 2 grades every 8 days, except they come to the library every week, but not always to be taught by us.  If you think this is confusing, well, you are right and more than one teacher has turned up in the right place on the wrong day or the right place on the right day for the wrong thing.  Ok, do you understand our schedule now?

Having the older kids more often has given us (My Librarian and I) the opportunity to create a Makerspace opportunity in the library.

A makerspace is a collaborative work space inside a school, library

or public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing.

We run a library program for 3 days and then we run Explore.  Explore is our makerspace time.  We offer engineering play & challenges, creative endeavors, and teach strategic and fun games.   We also believe in the power of age-old play…blocks, coloring and puzzles.  We have more ideas than we have time.  If you enter the library on an Explore day, you might see paper airplanes soaring across the room, Lego cities being built, Zentangle drawings to name a few.  This week the kids were learning to play cards.explore1

Many of our kids had never played cards before.  We taught Crazy Eights, taught them to deal, shuffle and how to play.  What to do when you loose.  You’re allowed to say, “Good game”.  There is no ‘cry, whine, fuss, fuss’ and if you are my sibling, you know who coined that phrase.  If you win, you are allowed to say, “Winner, winner chicken dinner!”

Our library is not a very quiet place.  When the noise is that of kids learning, playing and laughing…well, it is a very good thing.  Hearing a Special Ed kiddo happily announce “Winner, winner chicken dinner” and seeing he’d beaten one of the brightest kids in his class, Explore seems to make a level playing field and we love what we get to do.

The Bad

In every creative way possible, every available teaching space and room has found a use.  Our school is built like a 4 legged spider.  Each leg a ‘pod’ with classrooms built around it.  Two of the four pods serve as lunch rooms, so those pods are only available for a fraction of the day.  Supporting teachers and students by pulling students out of the classroom is a vital role I play for 1/3 or my day.  Except…finding a quiet place to work with kids is a challenge.  We’ve run out of rooms and quiet space.  We sneak into spaces already being used by others and teach kids to read in whispers.

I had a Grandmother Reading lunch all set up for this fall.  One lunch each week for 3, 4 & 5th graders, to eat their lunch and be read a favorite chapter book.  A delight for some kids who are not read to and for others who always crave another story.  It is amazing which 12-15 kids show up each week, anxious to hear the rest of the story and know that this adult came just for them.  Except, now we have no room.  The library is being used to often to squeeze the weekly lunch in.  Darn (or something like it).

The Ugly

To meet the needs of all the children, we are sharing our library space.  Even though we are not ‘on child duty’ while we are sharing the space, it still impacts us.  My Librarian and I lack the ability to spread out, create and collaborate.  We often joke that we share one brain and some days now, our brain seems to be missing altogether.  My desk/realm is smack dab in the center of the library.  Sharing our space is a bit like trying to pay one’s bills while sitting at your kitchen table all while your kitchen is full of guests trying to cook on your stove.

I love my school.  I love the kids.  I am not an extrovert.  I recharge by quiet or time with close friends or my family.  There is nowhere in my day for me to ‘get away’…no classroom to escape to while the kids are at recess.  I can sneak in about 10 minutes at lunch before the library gets utilized again.  Because of this most of all, I come home exhausted.

The Final Good

I’d say all the adults at the school have a good attitude toward our situation.  Everyone is trying.  Everyday I try to be an encourager and a positive person to those around me, even when sometimes I just want to say a Bad British Word.

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Back On The Trail

September 17, 2016

trail-rideSchool is back in session, so My Loving Spouse and I did what we’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  We hit the trail.  The September evening was gorgeous and perfect for a trail ride.  Out the back gate, along the John Wayne Trail with a loop back along the canal.  This also brings us up close to Our Friend the Farmer’s Parked Up Project Lot.  Don’t judge, remember our bathtub came from this treasure trove.  Every time we ride by, My Loving Spouse comments on a particular truck, “he’d love to get his hands on”…trail-ride-junk-yardI’ll be honest, I spent most of the time riding along the canal keeping my eye at the bottom of the water.  I was working on getting the ‘Mother of the Year’ award, by locating a certain Son’s car key he lost early in the summer, while floating the canal.  trail-ride-2School is back in session.  I love my job.  This week was the first week for kindergartener.  We have all day kindergarten….thought up by some bright spark, who has never actually taught all day kindergarten.  The last hour of all day kindergarten is a bit like herding 20 cats and then someone throws water on them, cold water…yep, it is like that.

We had 20 in the library, sitting on the rug, which looked a bit more like wiggling live bait.  Ten minutes into our library time:

  • One boy looked up burst into tears, crying with gusto…  “I miss my Mommy!”
  • A lost 5 year old wandered in from another class, noticed we had books and thought he’d stay
  • A teacher in an adjoining room asked if I could watch her class, while she went to look for a girl who had not returned from using the bathroom

After giving up or giving in or getting smart, we broke out lots of legos and let the poor little ones play until it was time to go out to recess.  Upon, being told it was time for recess, one little boy exclaimed,

“Outside!!  I was just out there!  Nope, I am not going!”

…and so, when I get the opportunity to take a trail ride…I will take it!

 

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A Spoonful of Sugar

May 14, 2016

Sometimes I take on large tasks (like this house).  Usually, I have no idea at all of what I have gotten myself into! Perhaps, I see the end of the journey and not the steps/stress to get to the goal.  I had a dream or God gave me the dream…of taking 100 kids on a field trip to see Mary Poppins the musical.  I have never organized a field trip…how hard could it be?

Many of you made the field trip possible as you sent in donations.  Blessing our kids…in case you are wondering…you’ve touched their lives…and their eyes light up whenever the musical is mentioned.  You trusted me and believed in the dream.

The easy way would have been to:

  1. Take fewer kids
  2. Take a total classes
  3. Not worry about how they were dressed

I did not want to do it the easy way.  I wanted to touch the lives of those kids…who needed to go.  Those who may never have gotten this chance otherwise.  I wanted to bring those kids that struggle and those kids that are quiet and do not always shine out in good or bad ways.  100 3rd, 4th & 5th graders pulled from 9 different classes.  I could not do it alone.  My team at school saw and supported the ‘vision’.  Was it easy?  No.  Did everyone think I was doing ‘it’ right?  No.  One teacher was difficult.  She did not feel one student ‘deserved’ to go.  Let me tell you, she was right.  He did not ‘deserve’ to go, but my dream was not about ‘deserving’.  My dream was about a gift.  Grace.  This teacher sucked the wind out of my sails.

Some of our kids live in trailers.  Some of our kids do not have two parents.  Some of our kids do not have lots of food in the house.  Some of our kids come to school dirty.  Most of our kids have never, seen anything like this amazing play!  It was…’practically perfect’!

When a large part of your student body has a free or reduced lunch, you can not just tell kids to bring a lunch from home.  Lunches have to be ordered, except the kids do not like the school bagged lunch, so some of them will find a way to bring a lunch from home…except…the lunch ordering needs to be done a week in advance… 100 kids to ask about lunch next week?

I didn’t want to make extra work for anybody else at school…but I did.  Unfortunately, a lot of extra work…I might owe them a few martini’s (off school grounds of course).

I wanted to raise the bar for our kids.  “We dress nicely when we go to the theater”, I told them, “We come to school with clean hair and we look our best.  This is special and it shows respect to the actors who have worked so hard on this performance”.  I knew when you dress up kids, they act differently.  I knew when you dress up kids, people respond to them differently.  I knew when you dress up kids and they receive positive responses it is a win-win.  I wanted to make this special in all ways.mary poppins kidsCan you tell which kids have little?  mary poppins boysDo you like our flower boutonnieres that My Librarian made to show which group each child was in…after all we were getting ‘dressed’ for the play.  She only had to make…110.mary poppins selfie kidsThe morning we left…two teachers took it upon themselves with peanut butter and bread to make sandwiches for those kids who forgot their lunches.  A parent was at the store buying shirts and ties for boys who had nothing…good work can be done alone…great work takes a team…mary poppins elijahWaiting for a show that started late…100 excited kids.  10 chaperones…and my hopes.mary poppins kids wigglingThe show ended late, we missed the buses when we got back to school.  I made a lot more work for a lot of people, teachers who stayed to call parents.  Phone calls and chaos…  Was it easy?  No.  Was it worth it?

Just mention the play to our kids…

their eyes lite up,

they smile and that’ll tell you…that it was awesome.

We are blessed to be a blessing.

Thank you for blessing them.mary poppin thank you

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Lego and Read

May 9, 2016

lego readIt was time for the bi-annual read-a-thon at my elementary school designed by My Librarian and I.  It is 2 weeks during which we push reading time and checking out books with the energy and enthusiasm equal that of a girl scout cookie sales girl high on Thin Mints.  We were trying to do something ‘simple’.  Recording reading minutes for 20 classrooms, for two weeks is not simple…effective, yes, simple…sort of…exhausting…yep!lego tubMy Librarian and I had both seen a post where a library handed out a Lego for each book checked out of the library.  We loved the idea and wanted to emulate/copy/steal/plagiarise it.  With Team Offspring’s 20 galleon tote of Lego’s, we were set and read to roll.  lego landEvery single book checker-outer added a Lego to our Library Lego Land.  One teacher intentionally checked out a new book for his class, because as he said, “I want to add a Lego.”  (His class loves the book he is now reading to them!  Library WIN!)

Paper Legos were awarded for each 100 minutes a class group read which they could then add to their class ‘wall’.lego paperWe went through 8 glue sticks, as we learned that part of the reward was letting the kids put on their paper Lego’s for their class.lego wallAny class that had 100% participation for reading at home earned a Lego Person.lego challengeIt was a great success…and the Lego Library Land??? lego peopleIt became something of a disaster.  The kids were VERY excited to  add their Legos, however, they were not so excited when they found that other people put Legos on ‘their’ tower, causing it to collapse.  Clearly, they lacked finesse and by the end of week two….it was a colossal mess.  Apparently, they did not see ‘my vision’ of team work, artistry and engineering….they did score on earthquake and mayhem.lego land messThe class the reads the most, what do they ‘get’?  (I am beginning to believe that ‘getting’ is not always needed.)  The winning class ‘gets’ to spend $100 of the Library’s money to buy different Lego packages for the Library to have in the….Library!  Woo and Hoo!!

The power of the paper Lego…it worked, it really did.  One first grade class walked by their ‘wall’ looked at their paper Legos and said,

“We need to read more!!!”

…and we are blessed.

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Blooming

The conversation with My Principal was short.  I was very excited.  I had an idea! “I have this idea and I promise I will do all the work!” ‘Hmmm, okay…’ “I want your permission to take 100 of our kids to the theater.  CWU is doing Mary Poppins and they are putting on a special […]

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The Power of The Buddy System

It is easier for me to tell you stories about my learning curve in driving a tractor or sharing the excitement of calves being born, than it is to share that I had an idea and it might somehow be brilliant. We, My Librarian and I are a great team, mostly I believe, because she allows me […]

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Sharing the Magic

When Number One and Two Sons were small boys, I was searching for something new to read aloud to them.  A friend handed me an advanced readers copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and so the magic began… Creativity is exciting and fun.  J.K. Rowling is quite simply creative…creative on a different level…and […]

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School Snow

We’ve had a bit of snow.  The great thing about snow at the farm is that it hides all the animal poop, so for a while there is the illusion of a clean, white, tidy farm.  It is quite beautiful…until it thaws…then it is a bit ghastly. There has been a bit of snow at […]

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