Thursday, July 21, 2016

Five for - the last six months!

Okay, let's try this again.

See, first there was this:

That's an elbow brace for tennis elbow.  Because I play a lot of tennis. (*snort*)  No, because I -apparently- shouldn't spend too much time on the computer typing or mousing (is that even a word?).  

See, back in January, I was working on teaching my kids how to attack two-step word problems.  So I made a bunch for them (using their names and their interests), and they loved them.  Then I thought, "Hey, if I needed these, and if my kids liked CHOOSING their numbers, maybe other teachers would like to use them, too!"

So I worked it up for TpT.  Type, mouse, type, mouse, ouch, type, mouse, ouch, type, ouch, mouse, ouch, ouch, ouch.  But voila!

Each child chooses which set of numbers to use.  Want "easy" problems?  Circle the first three numbers, 14,6, and 12, and plug them into the blanks in the word problem in that order.  Want harder math?  Circle the second set of numbers.  Write your answer in a complete sentence on the lines provided!
Since these two-step problems are focusing on the problem-solving skills and the procedures necessary for solving a multi-step equation, I don't really care whether they're using "easy" or "hard" numbers; we do enough other computation tasks that it doesn't need to be a focus here.  I want them to be able to concentrate on the problem and how they're going to solve it, and not get stressed out by the math.  For some struggling students, being able to choose to do "easy math" is huge. :)

Several doctor appointments later (by which point the pain was constant and excruciating, and I couldn't use my arm, and let's not talk about how much OTC pain medicine I was taking), he said, "You have severe tendinitis.  You need to rest your arm.  Don't use it at all.  Here's a prescription for physical therapy."

And so I stopped using my arm.  And my right hand, which is attached to that arm.

No more typing.

No more mousing.

No more driving with the hand that knows how.

Hello, left hand.  Learn to type solo.  (Slow and frustrating.)

Learn to mouse.  (Awkward!)

Learn to drive.  (Yikes!  Exciting in a bad way.)

And eventually, thanks to rest, some good physical therapy, and more REST, I have less pain.  So I'm back. :)

I'm going to have a new teammate next year!  We've worked at this school together for 12 or 13 years now, but she's always taught first grade and I teach second  Next year, we'll finally get to work together!

I crocheted a baby afghan for her baby shower in May.  I had to choose a pattern that would work up quickly and not aggravate my elbow, and I really like how it came out:

The baby, of course, is ADORABLE. :)

One day in May, I gathered my students on the rug and asked if they'd like to see pictures of my new pet.

(Don't you just love it when you suddenly have 100% attention from 100% of the class?  Twenty one rapt little faces, eagerly guessing, "Is it a dog?" "I bet you got a cat!" "No, she's allergic to cats. It's a dog!")

Then that lovely moment of stunned silence when i showed them this picture on my phone:

("It's a BEE?!")

I explained that I had gone out onto the deck a couple of evenings ago to check the baby tomato plants.  I needed to transplant some of them into other pots soon, and I had to see if they were big enough yet.  Well, they weren't, but floating in the rainwater in one of the empty pots was a carpenter bee.

Now, we have these bees flying around our deck all the time in the summer.  My daughter named them last summer: Buzzy (the boy) and Fuzzy (the female).  (Like we can tell.)  They don't sting, because the bees who are out and about are males and they don't have stingers.  So we don't mind them.

And I felt horrible that one had drowned in our plant pot.

So I fished it out and brought it inside, and I put it at my daughter's place on the kitchen table, thinking she'd enjoy getting to see one up close the next morning.  I laid it on its back so she could see its legs and mouth parts - which we rarely get to see - when she came down in the morning.

And I forgot about it.

The next morning, I was eating breakfast at the table, sitting across from the dead bee, when she came downstairs, approached the table, and jumped back about six feet.  

"There's a BEE on the TABLE!"

"Yes," I said sadly.  "I found him outside.  He drowned in the water in the pot.  Poor thing."


"No, honey, he's been there for" - checked clock - "eleven hours.  He's dead."


So, being a good mom, I checked.

Well, lookee there, a leg moved.

(*panic*) (*I brought a bee into our house and left it unattended for 11 hours and it was ALIVE?!*)

So I very calmly scooped the bee into a bug observation box and it promptly looked very dead again.  Once it stopped moving, that is.

Later, we soaked a paper towel in sugar water and put it into the bug box (with the dead bee).

Later, I opened the bug box, tipped the (dead) bee over onto the paper towel, and quickly covered it up.  I had done some research by this point and learned that bees - like butterflies - can taste with their feet, so I figured if I made it stand on the sugar water, it would be able to find food.  If it ever became alive again, of course.

Later, I gave up any hope that the thing was going to live, and gave it way more sugar in the water, and took it outside where it was warming up, and hello, it got a little more active.

And then it drank, and that was just the coolest thing ever.

First, check out the little pink tongue!  It was all I could do not to coo at the way it lapped up the water from the towel.  Second, sorry about the video quality . . . but really, how cool is that? :)

And eventually, SHE flew away.  After she had a lot of sugar water and a little self-bath and I got a good look at her very long stinger.  (!)

Our school year ended on a half-day Monday.  It was supposed to be a half-day Friday the week before, but we had snow in January and missed a week of school, and you have  to pay for those little vacations, don'tcha know.

No, the shoveling probably didn't help the elbow.

So I gave the kids their end-of-the-year gifts BEFORE the last day of school, which just seemed wrong, but ended up being awesome.  Because I didn't have to do it the last day, when they're all slightly out of their minds. ;)

I always read The Mouse and the Motorcycle aloud to my class the last full week of school.  This is a yearly tradition for me, because then on the last day we can watch the movie, and then we can make a Venn diagram comparing the book and the movie, and WE'RE ACTUALLY DOING ACADEMIC WORK on the very last day of school when nobody walks in to see what an amazing teacher I am.

This year, Scholastic had Runaway Ralph on sale in one of their Reading Clubs for $1.  In January.  And I bought one for every student as an end of the year gift.  And then I felt very smug for the next five months, knowing that was already taken care of. ;)

So on the second to last day of school, I read the last chapter of The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and we got to the last page, and I read it and then closed the book.  There was a moment of silence, and then one little voice said, "That was a really good book."

And then another little voice said, "I don't want it to be over!"

Talk about a great segue.

So I said, "Yes, it was a good book, wasn't it?  Aren't you glad Beverly Cleary wrote it?"  Momentary pause for all the nodding and "uh-huh," and then I said, "Well, guess what?  She actually wrote THREE books about Ralph, and this was the first one, and for your end of the year present, I'm giving you the second one."

And I hauled out the Scholastic box that sat on my shelf for five months labeled "EOY 2016" and took out Runaway Ralph.

And I must say, I have NEVER had an end-of-the-year gift so excitedly received.


But a book needs a bookmark, right?  So I made these for my kiddos:

And I explained that their name is on one end, with blue and gold beads (because blue and gold are our school colors).  The ribbons are blue and gold for the same reason.  At the other end is "my name" - and here I paused, and sure enough, one smart cutie said, "Because you like rainbows!" and a little moon charm because we learned about the moon in one of our science units.

Thus ended an awesome year.

Now it's summer, and we've been on our family vacation, and we've spent many evenings on the deck and eaten more burgers and hot dogs on the grill than in any summer ever, and my daughter has a killer sunburn from her first three days at camp this week, and we've had:


and lettuce

and beans

and we're about to have tomatoes

and I no longer feel like this

So life is good.

How about you?


  1. I found you from Doodle Bugs' Five for Friday (I don't have anything up regarding that but still haha). I had no clue about computering (?) and tennis elbow. I LOVE your bookmarks! I will have to keep that in mind for my EOY gifts this upcoming year.

  2. Welcome back! Mousing is definitely a word. I'm sure of it. We've gotten three cherry tomatoes and one weirdly-shaped, small tomato from our garden. And that's it. There are some itty-bitty, teeny-tiny beans and cucumbers growing, but I'm not sure they're going to make it!
    Laughter and Consistency

  3. Wow! What a disaster! Well done for making the best out of a bad situation and welcome back! I am also super jealous that it is Winter where you are right now and your wonderful veggies!

  4. I loved your bookmarks for the kids and your garden looks beautiful. It looks like a lot of fresh food coming your way.

    The bee show and tell was very funny.

    The Very Busy Kindergarten

  5. Those bookmarks are great! I'm happy they were so into their gifts :)

  6. Sorry to hear about your tennis elbow, but glad you're feeling better. All that sitting and creating can definitely take a toll!

    Team J's Second Grade Fun

  7. That afghan is beautiful!! I can't believe you made that while your elbow was hurting! Actually, I can't believe you made that at all... (That is a skill set I most definitely do not have!) Glad to hear you are feeling better and having a good summer. :)

    1. Ha! I just saw your comment on my blog and had to come back... I think we did meet at the conference! Now that you say you know Reddishann I am almost sure of it. Your photo looked very familiar... I think we were together in a line... maybe for the meet-up Wednesday night (?). I am terrible with names but pretty good with faces... What a small world! :)