Monday, February 19, 2018
Saturday, February 17, 2018
Each year in January, I ask my students to write down suggestions in their journals for new February Fun Days. They always come up with some amazing suggestions, and these were two of them. One student suggested art day, and another suggested story day. We decided to do them both on the same day.
In between most of the classes I would read a story as the students sat together in the all-purpose room. I read Rachel, a Hutterite Girl and Matthew Grady Loves His Enemy, both of which are based on true stories.
Then they had a few minutes to work in groups making art projects out of recycled materials. We had so much fun that I think both ideas merit their own days next time. (We had too many good ideas and not enough days in February, so we combined a few.)
Friday, February 16, 2018
Have you ever played Pass the Pillow? It is one of our favorite inside games. The instructions are below, but before that, please allow me to explain the picture.
A few days after a concert, Jeff likes to reward the students by playing some team-building, fun games. One of these is usually Pass the Pillow. Well, as we were playing this out in the all-purpose room, it got pretty rowdy and loudy, and we were disturbing the other classes. (My classroom opens into the all-purpose room as well, and I can vouch that it can get mighty loud.) So, Jeff said, "Everybody grab a chair and we'll play it outside!" And we did. I think it was twelve degrees out there. We only made it through one or two rounds, and wet, cold pillows were flying everywhere. Then we quietly tiptoed back inside, glad to be warm again. Memories are made when we do something like this :-).
How to play Pass the Pillow
1. An even number of students or humans sits in a circle.
2. They number off -- team 1 or 2 -- so that every other person is on the same team.
3. Two pillows are given out -- one to a person from team 1, and the other to a person from team 2. The pillows should be across from each other on opposite sides of the circle.
4. Someone yells "go" and the pillows pass around to every other person -- the team 1 pillow only to team 1 members, and the team 2 pillow to only team 2 members. (It helps to have different colored pillows.)
5. The first team to pass up the other team's pillow wins.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Monday, February 12, 2018
Saturday, February 10, 2018
The saga continues . . . .
On the third stop, the Time-O-Matic landed in Norway, the land of the Vikings, in A.D. 988. The passengers on the Time-O-Matic now found themselves having to row Thor the Viking to Iceland. Grabbing their oars (brooms), they jumped aboard the Viking vessel and began obediently rowing.
Upon their arrival in Iceland, they were welcomed into Thor and Helga's longhouse where the Viking servers threw rolls at them and served them chicken legs, carrots, and potatoes.
Some of my eighth grade homeroom students from last year, Sarah Martin, Sheridan Burkholder, and Glenda Beiler were a tremendous help setting everything up and serving.
The students then asked for more oil. The Vikings gave them a barrel full of seal blubber oil for their rowing efforts. Before dessert was served, Thor got upset and ordered them all to leave his longhouse. The students ran back to the Time-O-Matic once again.
At this point we realized we had only twenty minutes left before the parents would arrive to pick the students up. We had to turn the Viking longhouse into a Medieval banquet room, which we did -- very quickly.
After a very short trip in the Time-O-Matic, the students exited the doors to find themselves in England in 1215. King John was just about to sign the Magna Carta . They hurried in, took a seat, and witnessed the event. Jeff made a pouty face and wrote, "I won't be king anymore," on the paper before he signed it.
We then enjoyed English pudding and wafers.
Brianna Nolt from my 8th grade homeroom class last year helped us as well.
The parents soon arrived. Several of the students, parents, and teacher apprentices from Faithbuilders stayed for almost an hour helping us clean up quite a big mess. (Creating four different settings in four different time periods makes a mess.) However, it was a blast and I think all the trouble is well worth the effort. The students enjoy themselves, try harder to make good grades, and actually get to experience what we are learning in history. Camaraderie and teamwork are also developed as we all work together.
Thursday, February 8, 2018
As part of our study on the Industrial Revolution, I like to give my students cotton bolls and have them pick the seeds out of the cotton. This usually takes them awhile and they marvel at how difficult it is to do, and how much easier using Eli Whitney's cotton gin must have been. Next, we roll the cotton into lengths of yarn by hand and discuss the Spinning Jenny. Then I cheat a little and give them balls of yarn which we use to weave on 2 x 4 looms. And to think that nowadays we can just go to the store and buy fabric . . . .
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Last week was Missions Week at Shalom Mennonite School, and we were blessed with several different presentations. One of these was made by Larry Deck, a man who decided to race his car at the age of seventeen and has been a paraplegic ever since. Larry's story about his own personal choices and their consequences was shared with honesty and candidness; it was very challenging and thought-provoking.
Larry gave us permission to share the information in this post and is willing to share his presentation with other schools or organizations. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in having him present his story to your school or group.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Since yesterday was supposed to be Draw the Schedule Out of a Hat Day, and we ended up having a two-hour delay, we went ahead and drew the schedule out of a hat today and had Eskimo Day as well. I don't think any of the visiting parents for open house saw me in my furry hat this morning, thankfully. We enjoyed bear paw biscuits, sardines (the ones in mustard were more popular), and ice cream sandwiches, of course. Happy winter, everyone!
Monday, February 5, 2018
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
For the January achievement party, I suggested having another travel party theme as the students really had enjoyed that one last year, only this time with different destinations. We decided to do something even better -- where they would land in different countries and time periods and take part in different events which happened in history.
Seventh grade teacher Mr. Caleb was the crazy scientist guy who had made a time travel machine, the Time-O-Matic, complete with strobe lights and a fog machine. (The rental place was cheap and gave us a school discount.) He got sound effects as well. We removed all the desks (with a lot of help from our former students who are now in high school) and set up chairs. They were instructed to bring a sack with work gloves, six foot of rope or chain, a broom, and a metal spoon inside it. They know better than to ask why. They seem to enjoy the surprises.
The Time-O-Matic ran out of oil and landed in Australia in 1788. When the students disembarked, they found themselves in a snowy field owned by a husband and wife who assumed that they were the occupants of a prison ship sent to Australia by Great Britain. They were told to put their ropes or chains on their arms and to go out and pick all the potatoes and carrots out of the field and to put them in their sacks. They obeyed. Once they emptied their sacks (no thievery permitted around here), they were served fruit kabobs and punch from nearby Oceania. They were also given a barrel full of coconut oil for their labor, and when the ranch owners were distracted, they took the opportunity to dash back to their time travel machine.
Safely back inside the Time-O-Matic, Mr. Caleb filled up the tank with the coconut oil and they were off again. This time they landed in China in 1322.
I met them at the exit doors, told them that all local villagers must help build their portion of the Great Wall, and then put them into teams. I had gained permission to go to the local concrete block company and to take as many of their chipped and broken bricks as I wanted. After a snow storm the day before, Jeff convinced me that even if I did want to go and load up concrete bricks in the snow, that I would have to get several hundred of them for the students just to build a four-foot high wall, or something like that. I acquiesced. Instead we did a quick relay and I measured who had the tallest rock stack.
They were then led inside our enclosed "Stonehenge" and greeted by the teachers and helpers bowing to them and reciting in unison, "Welcome most honorable wall builders." After they were seated, they were served authentic egg drop soup and hot tea in as many authentic Chinese soup bowls and tea cups we could find. Eggrolls followed. Yum!
It was at this point that one of the gentleman remarked, "Hey, my tea cup looks pretty American." Evidently he wasn't listening during the speech I had given them before the party began about having a good attitude and playing along with whatever we had worked so hard to present to them. I reminded him of that. Although we have a lot of fun, we do expect the students to always be respectful and to have good attitudes.
When they had finished their soup, tea, and eggrolls, Jeff appeared in costume to entertain them. He made them recite a few phrases like "Choppy," "Wasabi,"and "Choppy-Wasabi!" I know, but they had fun. Then he chopped up a few carrots and potatoes leftover from Australia with a giant knife, bowed graciously and left. The time travelers had again brought their barrel and asked for oil. After filling it with sesame oil, flaming arrows began descending upon us from above. I screamed that the Manchurians were attacking. They grabbed their barrel and ran through another secret exit door back to the Time-O-Matic.