Friday, July 20, 2012

Here's my big accomplishment this week:

Actually that was just the first step. The end result is that oh-so-satisfying stocked larder shelf, dear to the heart of every closet domestic goddess:

I'm experimenting with recipes requiring less sugar, not because I am averse to sugar - most assuredly not - but because I am averse to preserved fruits that taste primarily of sugar, rather than the fruit itself. The most spectacular tastes-of-fruit example I have ever inhaled nibbled is this one. The sour cherry jam, to be exact. The strawberry vanilla jam recipe is new this year - last year's was nice and all but generally sweet rather than a sudden mouthful of ripe, bursting June accompanied by an unseen orchestra striking up Vivaldi. You want that on a dank, dreary March morning. Trying out Pomona's Pectin - one that requires little or no sugar to jell - to see if it helps bring out the taste of fruit.

Will post the results of its use with blackberry jam after the jam is done.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lazy Days of Summer

So here we are, another year gone. I return to each parent that which said parent hath wrought. Admitted - I return them full of sugar and beans. I hold a "summer birthdays" party on the last day of school each year. Hey, parents fill their kids up with sugar every day at lunchtime. This is my one chance to do it back. Meanwhile, summer included a few notable events.

The arrival of this individual:

And the arrival of this item:

Yes indeed, a few changes. Other change at the top of the list - going back to teaching K-5 music at my old school! No classroom again, but looking forward to preparing another ferocious year of torturing expanding the minds of the fifth grade. Stay tuned, vacation won't last forever! Sob...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March Madness

Any teacher knows, April doesn't cut it. March is the cruelest month. It's typically still cold, dark and dreary, and there are zero vacation days. The kids get, let's say, extremely squirrely. They get tired of rules, tired of tests, tired of sitting, tired of the weather, tired of school lunch, tired of behaving, tired of the rat race, and just - tired.

So do the teachers.

So we all start being crabby, and that's no way to run a classroom.

In order to remedy this situation, I have hit upon a few new strategies. One of them is a sort of mid-year redecoration. I'm having a good time putting up new signs about our rules, changing the bulletin board border, getting new baskets for the library, re-organizing the signs on the baskets (we're getting more sophisticated, instead of "Non-Fiction" now we have "Non-Fiction: Health and the Body" and "Non-Fiction: Earth Science," and the like. I also reorganized my supply closet. Gaze upon its beauty:

Then, because we had a Science Fair project to complete, and because I thought it might be more fun than watching stuff float in salt water, we did this:

That is correct, we made ice cream in class by jumping up and down, basically. Instructions for this little beauty are here:

And, finally, I have decided that while we are working on a non-fiction genre in reading and writing, we need a little levity. So we're reading all of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories. If you don't know them, go look them up at your library. The first grade is in stitches - every single day.

And by these methods, we hope to claw our way through to spring, the sweet spring. Which technically is only another three days away.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Here's a nifty little energizer for anyone who works with children. When they get cranky and need to re-focus, this is a good one:

Do this with your hands:

Tap tap (on knees) Clap clap (repeat ad nauseum)


Flee (children repeat each line after you say it)
Flee fly
Flee fly flow
Flee - fly - flow - mosquito
Oh, no no no more mosquitoes!
Itchy itchy scratchy scratchy
Oo! I got one down my backy!
Get that big bad bug with the bug spray.
Shhhhhhhhhhh (make bug spray noise)

A variation is available here to get the general idea of how it's performed.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Thin Pink Line

Elementary school teachers are supposed to be sweet. We're supposed to be kind. We're supposed to be mild-mannered. We wear pink. We hand out birthday pencils. We explain how rainbows work.

As the Powers-That-Be continue to rain down new requirements upon my children, I find myself getting less so by the minute.

No six year old should sit in his classroom weeping because the testing is stressing him out. Last month said PTB began demands to I test my children on things that are not even in our curriculum - the curriculum I was assigned, not one I chose.

More and more, I am the person standing between the educational policy makers and my children. More and more, I stridently insist that I will not disseminate this insanity to the first grade.

This, folks, is why I need tenure. Not just to protect me - to protect THEM.