Wednesday, February 11, 2015

An excerpt from the tale "Lark and the (Re)Actions of Learning

Dear World,

These days I find myself teaching in a one(ish) room schoolhouse. The schoolhouse is my own house and the rooms are the living and dining rooms. The back story to my current events is a conversation for another day, it is a story that is still in progress, still evolving, still taking root. It is a good story. I can't wait to see how this tale of Lark and the (Re)Actions of Learning ends.

Our days have structure and routine. One of the ways we manage to get all the work done is by rotating through several stations set up throughout my main living area. Our morning starts with a morning meeting where we talk about the upcoming day, explain stations, assign daily jobs, and get our day off to a good start. This is a foundational stone in my day, a stone I deliberately set. It is a chance to look each one in the eye, to ask how they are, to be attentive to the emotional status of each one. It is a way to establish trust and for them to see that they have value here, a chance to make a connection.

After morning meeting we pray and gather around for a "break" chant. That varies from day to day. They take turns picking what we will say. Today it was something like, "One. Two. Three. Don't fall asleep like a panda bear!" Random, I know. It is an envied job and I laugh at the silly things they make us all say. It starts our day with smiles on our faces and usually an inspirational phrase to encourage us.

We break into five main stations. I have a couple of math stations where the bigger kids work on their Teaching Textbook programs. We are available for any assistance but they are pretty self sufficient. The first graders have a time of one on one instruction with my co-teacher. (More about that another day, as well.) We also read one on one with most of the students. The top readers have an alone read aloud time as well. We also work on spelling words and handwriting in the morning.These stations do not vary from day to day.

The remaining stations do change daily. Our computer station is tucked into a corner behind the couch. Here they work on typing lessons , a fun video usual from here, math drills, and a chance to either play a game here for a few minutes or have a drawing lesson from a subscription based service I ordered for the year at Mike Kessler's Draw 3D.
Computer Station

Our most favorite station of all is the THINK! table. This table is tucked near the couch and featured STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) last year, and this year I added art to make it a STEAM station. (In my own defense, I did this BEFORE Pinterest told me it was a real thing!) This week our THINK! table rotation looked like this:
Monday - iPads with coding games
Tuesday - drawing lessons from this site
Wednesday - surface tension of water experiment from here
Thursday - chalk pastel lesson, if I can find where I stuck the chalk pastels! I love her free videos and a search on youtube will lead you to several great ones!

The THINK! table
Exploring the wonderful forgiveness of chalk pastels
Adorable art! 

Our last morning station for the rotation is our "free time" station. This is a chance to work on things that I can't easily fit into a more traditional schooling setting. Currently we are featuring several great finds from around Pinterest.

For the first graders - Skylander themed learning pages -  I picked the skills I wanted them to practice and bribe them with a trip to the prize box when it is all filled out correctly. Shameless, aren't I?

The bigger kids had their own learning packs. Aren't these Language Art Lego Packs great fun?

Soduko is a great brain grower. I downloaded varying levels from here. Poke around. I like to print from the book option, because I get 4 to a sheet instead of 1 per sheet. I have noticed that today's children don't know how to take a problem and turn it about, teasing the truth out. They are in a hurry and want it to be easy and apparent. Soduko and KenKen seem to be helping them develop patience, and some stick-to-itiveness as they work out the solutions.

For the younger set, try Kiduko!

My personal favorite is KenKen, though.

I also have an assortment of mazes this week, a lego game and Spot It for a chance to play together, building relationships, enjoyment, and a place for helping someone else be successful. They really do help each other here. There is always someone with an encouraging word for their neighbor, someone asking if they can help the pre-schooler with a game, someone who will happily celebrate the accomplishment of a classmate. We are blessed.

So, there you have it. A very long winded look into this week's morning routine. I have more great stuff planned for the afternoons, too. Maybe if I get another burst of late night energy I can share what that looks like these days, too.

With sincere regards,
Ms. Lark, aka Head Teacher, Zoo Wrangler, Educational Wizard

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Tap Tap Tap…. Is this thing on?

Dear Blog,

Well, it has been awhile, hasn't it?! Last post was August of 2011. This is February 2015. It really feels as if I only took a few month break. Lots of humorous things have happened in the last 4 years. Lots of sad things have happened. More hard things have come my way than I think should be absolutely necessary for one average life. I am thinking I would like to take up the ole blogging habit again.

A person can change a lot in 3 years. I have grown a lot. 

I laugh less, I think. 

I take less crap.

I love harder, but take a little more care in the people I choose to love deeply.

My life has changed pretty dramatically from the last time I stopped and questioned the very things that make my life interesting. I think it is time to take this little blog idea and morph it to match my current life. Isn't that what life is all about anyway? Evolving and morphing, changing and growing?

Stay tuned. 

Always changing, 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blondie Moments...

Dear World,
We are now up to proof # 32,298 that I really am blonde. 

I couldn't get my front load washer to work yesterday. It would turn on, but none of the buttons on the front panel would work. I was frustrated. 

Turned it off. 
Turned it back on. 
Turned it off. Turned it on. Off. On. Off. On.
Poked all the buttons. 

Walked away mad before I punched it in it's little blank face(plate).

Went back. 
Unplugged it. Waited. Plugged it back in.

Still no buttons would work. I finally bent down to look at the front and noticed a new picture symbol was lit up of a smiling face.
Wanted to curse and scream, not smile. 
Wondered what the smiling face was for. 
Started thinking it the "call a service repairman" light.
Wondered why it was smiling. 
I wouldn't be smiling if I had to call a tech. 

Waited for Don to get up to look at the washer. 

He gets up and looks at it. He is not blonde and knows that the little smiling face is not to call a service tech. It's the little smiling face that comes on when you put on the child lock. It's to remind you to smile as you keep your adorable little monsters from PUSHING THE BUTTONS and reminds you to not scream "I'M GOING TO TAPE YOU TO THE WALL IF YOU TOUCH THAT ONE MORE TIME". 

It's the "smile because I'm smarter than my kids" button. 
Ironic, no?

Going to go dye my hair brunette, 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Idiosyncrasy or Idiocy? You tell me.

Dear Lark, 

You are so weird. I know this is not really a news flash. But do you know what I noticed you doing last night? 

Picture this with me.

Hanging on the couch, surfing the web on your iPhone. Ring a bell? Ok, then you wanted to cut and paste a web address to email to yourself so you could look at it later. Remember this? Well, then I saw you do something so silly. 

You touched the screen to copy the address... and then held that pointer finger in the air and used your other finger to navigate to the new screen, THEN put your pointer finger back on the screen to paste the info. 

Do you understand what you just did? You acted like you stored the info in YOUR FINGER. 

Laughing at you, laughing at me, 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Top 10... errr, I mean Top 5 List

Lark's Top Reasons for considering a life as a hermit.

5. You don't have to clean the bathrooms for company.

4. No one talks behind your back if you wear your jammies all day.

3. Everyone secretly wishes they could be you, at least for an afternoon.

2. Hairshirts may soon be all the rage. It could happen! "Fashion" from the 80's have reappeared. Anything is possible. Shudder gag barf

And the number one reason to be a hermit is.....

Drum Roll please.........

1. No peer pressure!

Considering trading it all for a quiet shack or RV, 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Gyped. And didn't know it.

Dear Homeschool Experience, 

I want to first say that I have been more than pleased with my homeschooling as a child. I loved the freedom and flexibility that it offered. I didn't ever feel like I was missing out on anything too important. 

Until today.

I was happily blog surfing and stumbled upon a blog post about a treat this lady learned to make in 7th grade home. Now, I have always laughed at the things people made in home ec. After all I had baked bread,made cookies and brownies for years. I knew how to make a full home cooked country meal. I laughed in the face of English Muffin Pizzas and doughy pancakes. 

So, today, I snickered at this treat. Cinnamon Snails. Ha! Flattened white bread (white bread!! How plebeian!), smear of cream cheese, rolled in butter and cinnamon sugar. Easy peasy. I could do that with my 6 year old. (Not a 7th grader. Ha!) So, my baby girl and I started making this treat, chatting and enjoying our time together. I popped them in the oven, set the timer and read a chapter in my book. Never realizing how much I had missed by not attending public school. I pulled out the snack, let her try the first one and sent her out with a bowlful to share with her brothers. I sat down to munch on the couple I had left aside for my snack. 

Well, shut my mouth. Crispy, buttery, sweet bites of deliciousness! I have missed out. I feel cheated that I am almost 36 years old and have never tasted a Cinnamon Snail before. I have a lot of time to make up for. Honey, bring home a loaf of bread. Mamma needs a snack! 

Licking my fingers and knocking the kids down to steal their Snails, 

PS I can't find the original blog post. But I looked up the recipe for you. You'll thank me later.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Lark's Dating Service

Dear Mother Nature,

I think that your phone must be disconnected, your email box full of spam, and your Facebook account has been deleted. Otherwise how could you NOT NOTICE that we are not pleased with your continuing relationship with Old Man Winter. 

Lady, it is past time for you to end this fling. MOVE ON. In fact, I think it is time for a dance card full of dances with someone with a little spring in his step.