Currently- January 2015!


Happy New Year Friends!
I certainly hope this year is the best ever for everyone!

Of course the year, and month, must begin with Farley
and Currently!

Join this fabulous linky and tell us what you are Currently up to....
Here's mine!



LISTENING:
The cockatiel is having a restless morning. He has chirped non-stop for about an hour and it is purely driving me crazy. 
This is Harry, the cockatiel that lives in my STEM Lab. He spent a week with my principal and then I fetched him to my house for the rest of Christmas break. He is shut in a room with a street view and music playing to keep him company. I have to keep the door closed because of the three fur babies that live with me...very sad.
Tropical birds should never be pets. Harry was donated to us, but what a sad life for a bird.

LOVING:
We had a wonderful trip to Colorado to ski. There were some funny moments as we kept running into trouble, but to be honest, our trips almost always have those moments. We had great fun skiing and lots of family time- no computer, no Pinterest, no TpT....maybe some Instagram...
Me, hubs, and kids! I am bundled up because I cannot stand the cold air on my face. We really should have removed hats and goggles for the photo, but it is so hard to get all that back in place. Have you ever been skiing? Getting dressed is the worst. It takes an hour to get all that equipment in place....


THINKING:
I have so many ideas for STEM challenges for the coming months. I have two ideas to begin January with and will blog about the results as they happen. I am hopeful this will be successful, but sometimes I have experiments that go awry!
This photo is from a challenge we completed during the first month we had a STEM Lab. The challenge was to build a model of a pulley system that could be used to hang food out of the way of animals. The idea was that you are out in the desert and need to hang food up at night and you must build a pulley device only from what is in your backpacks. Sounds great, right?
NOPE.
Nada.
We worked on this for 4 class sessions and probably only had two teams that built a successful pulley system. There were a lot of great ideas, but not many that worked.
Boy, did I learn a lot!


WANTING:
I would really like to feel better! This happened this week:
Yes, after a very awful Sunday and Monday, I finally went to the doctor and I have the flu. Tuesday morning I could not stand up even to make some coffee or breakfast. Hubs came to my rescue and brought food and shuttled me to the doc. I am able to breathe better, but I still don't feel great. The body aches were really awful- it even hurt to touch my skin....ugh!

NEEDING:
I need to announce a really big deal!
If you follow my TpT store then you will be receiving a message soon. Check your inbox!
Here are a couple of hints:



I have some big things planned. If you don't follow my store, well, you should!

YES,
I need to exercise daily
like I used to
before
TpT....

MAYBE,
read more
which goes along with what I used to do before TpT.
I have read some great books during Christmas break so I am taking that as a clue to what I need for sanity's sake.
Here's my book list:
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (she wrote Gone Girl) - to be honest I dislike this book, but it did keep me reading.
The Rosie Project- a laugh out loud book about a man with Asperger's who formulates an application for potential wives to fill out.
A Feast for Crows-  Book 4 of the Game of Thrones series. I had to make myself read this book and plodded through it for about three weeks. The last 100 pages made it worth it- spectacular things happen. I can't wait to get started on Book 5!
The Son by Phillip Meyer- profound generational book about a family whose oldest member was kidnapped by Indians as a young man.

I WISH...
Everyone says you will just know when it is time to retire. I am there... teetering on the edge of making that big step. Will I do it this year?
This almost, kinda, relates back to TpT......

Well, bloggy friends, have a terrific rest of your break! Say Roll Tide a few times tomorrow night for my hubs, and enjoy those chiddlers when they return next week!
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How to Have a Great Ski Vacation....in 7 Easy Steps

....maybe.

Hope your Christmas break is going well everyone!
Mine started at 3:00 am on December 21....and if you follow these simple instructions you, too, can have a really fun ski vacation...

FIRST, book a really early flight.
Preferably at an airport that is 1.5 hours away.
That is why we got up at 3 am, loaded down the truck, and took off for Nashville. Our local airport did not offer good rates for six adults, so we opted for Nashville.

SECOND, save even more money by renting a vehicle instead of flying right to the ski resort.
So, we flew into Denver and then needed to get to Crested Butte. We could have taken a small plane to Gunnison and then shuttled to our condo, but we chose to save those dollars and drive....
Looks like a long way, right?
It was.
It should have been 3.5 hours.
But then this happened.
It snowed like that for more than half the drive. I drove between 15 and 30 mph for a lot of it. 
Funny thing... we stopped at a local convenience store and asked about the bathroom. We were pointed toward the porti-potty outside....seems the local plumbing is not great and that is how they provide customer potties.

Anyway, the three hour drive took six.
SIX.

THIRD, try to save time by getting groceries on the way.
It was dark and still snowing by the time we got to Gunnison, so we decided to go ahead and get groceries. Now, mind you, we were in a minivan with six adults, nine pieces of luggage (that included two ski bags) and various carry-on backpacks....we had ZERO room for anything else. But we got groceries for 4 days anyway and just piled sacks around and in our laps and everywhere.
Seemed like a good idea.

FOURTH, book a condo on top of a hill.
We drove on to Crested Butte and found our condo. We were starving and ready to be out of the vehicle!
Then we tried to get up the hill to our place.
Three times.
Every time the van slid right back down. Without chains on the tires we were not going up that hill.
Thank goodness, we were able to contact the emergency on-call person for the complex and he came and drove our stuff up to our room.
We had no idea what the surrounding area looked like until the next morning and here is the view from the balcony....
That is a lift that we could easily ski to.
Yes, those cars are covered in about two feet of snow...


FIFTH, have a birthday while you are there!
Yes, my birthday is on Christmas Day.
So, on Christmas Eve, my kids presented me with this:
It was supposed to have candles, but they disappeared. Probably lost in the hectic driving up the snow covered hill the first night. Anyway, it would have been just like my daughter to have fifty-something candles to put on it, so I am glad they were lost...
I ate one whole corner with all that gooey icing in a swirl. It was fabulous.
And I don't usually eat dessert!

SIXTH, check out on Christmas Day! Because holiday condo rates can change and it saved a few more dollars....
Now, mind you, traveling on Christmas Day is a way to save money, really. Airline rates are lower on holidays- we have flown on Christmas in the past. However, this time our flight was for December 26th. We needed to drive back to Denver on the 25th- remember that long drive....

Anyway, here's the problem we had not counted on with driving on Christmas Day.
NOTHING is open!
We had a hard time finding snacks.
Once we got to Denver it was about 2:30 in the afternoon. We decided to eat and go to a movie.

BIG mistake #1:
What restaurants are open on Christmas?
Do you know?
Waffle House and Chinese.
We opted for Chinese, but the restaurant was slammed and we were there for 2 and a half hours. It was delish, though.

BIG Mistake #2:
We decided to see The Gambler with Mark Wahlberg.
AWFUL.
AWFUL movie. Don't go see it.

SEVENTH: Did we have a good time despite all these funny moments?
We did!
Two of our ski days were blue skies and fairly good temps. It was awesome!
 That's me in the middle (Turquoise jacket)!
 My daughter and her husband.
 Hubs!
All four of us. Course with all the ski equipment on we look like aliens. But it was cold on top of that mountain! (Not sure where almost daughter-in-law was for the photo and son-in-law took it!)

Crested Butte is a place we would go back to!
How has your Christmas break been?
2

Some Reflections....and You Might Cry

Subtitle: Never Quit

Hello Friends!
Merry Christmas to you! I hope this post finds you ready for Christmas break and spending time with your family.

It is rather unusual for me to find moments to sit and watch television, but in the last few days I have caught bits of several shows that left me reflecting on many things. It is also unusual for me to write a blog post that does not contain funny moments...just warning you....

Derrick Coleman
Do you know who this is? He's an NFL player- on the Seattle Sea Hawks team.
And he's deaf.
I watched a little special about him and was totally amazed by his attitude and words of wisdom about his life. Get this, when he was a kid there were bullies that would beat him up and take his hearing aids.

 You can watch a little of his story right {HERE}
You should watch it. It's pretty inspiring to think that a deaf man can play football.

Willie Burton
I saw this video right after the one about Mr. Coleman. This is the story of Willie Burton, a young man with cerebral palsy that decided to try wrestling in high school. The video is right {HERE}. It's about 13 minutes, but I promise it's worth the time. There's a scene near the end when Willie wrestles in his last match and then all his teammates kneel with him in a very large hug. You will cry. 

Amelia Dickerson
Have you read about her? She runs marathons.
She's blind.
You can watch a video about her and read her story right {HERE}.
At the end of the story another blind runner says this, "I just get brave and do it. I never quit."


This resonates with me. When I had a regular classroom this quote was painted on the wall above my door:
“Never quit. Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit.”    ~Paul Bear Bryant

I also have a charm I wear sometimes that is engraved with these words: "Never Quit."

Which brings me to reason for this post.
It is so easy to let these busy days of the Christmas season get the best of us. With our students, our family, our own children, our pets, ourselves....It's just easy to be a little grouchy and tired and out of sorts.
Especially with the little people entrusted to our classrooms, let's never quit on them. Today I watched an eight year old cry. She was making an ornament to take home and had cut the paper the wrong way. The ornament was not working. I took the paper from her, re-cut some it, and strung it together for her. It took all of 2 minutes to help this precious child.

Give out some extra hugs, find a surge of extra patience, and get through the next few days with some memories these kids will have forever. 

 Merry Christmas everyone!
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Bulletin Boards and Tennis Ball Towers!

This is going to be a very random post with just some quick, but fabulous updates!




First up... my latest bulletin board.
There was this little board last week:


If you missed the step-by-step on that board click {HERE}
and I mentioned on that post that I had a second board to do...just look at this deliciousness:



 How awesome is that! That space is 7 feet in length so the butterfly by itself is about 4 feet wide. I drew one side free-hand and then folded it and cut it out so the sides would somewhat match. The inside is all drawn by hand (while looking at a butterfly photo). I outlined it all in sharpie and then the black is all a black  marker. The color is colored chalk that is smeared with tissue. The title I wrote by looking at it printed on paper. You might recognize that font! I wrote it in pencil and then went over it with a black paintbrush and craft paint.

THIRD GRADE PROJECT!
Ok, y'all, my third graders are studying about the rock cycle in their classrooms. I decided to have them make a 3-D model of the rock cycle......

I am still trying to decide if I like this activity or not. You look at these photos and help me!
The group in the above photo spent time making water animals  and gave little thought to the rock cycle.

This group above placed stones in the water to represent sediment and their river connects to the ocean water. They used greenery around the river.


The group above had elaborate use of beads- no wonder I ran out of red and orange beads. Also, when they explained the cycle to me they used the beads and simulated lava flowing and rain falling.

The one above it not 3-D. They made it all flat and then held the tray up so I could take the photo.

Pipe cleaner river.

Love the green grass and the water!

All in all, I like this concept, but definitely need to rethink the materials available. I made a list of all the supplies they could use (which was about 20 things) and they chose what they wanted.
The success for me was what happened when the models were finished. Each group had to use their model and explain the rock cycle. This was really cool! The explanations were interesting, but the use of their models was priceless. 
My problem with the activity is:
1. Too many supplies.
2. Too much waste of supplies.
3. Too messy. I am not a fan of all the tape showing in the models.

These were third graders. I taught this grade for 18 years- I should have known!  I will re-work this project with revised supplies and constraints! 



Fourth Grade
Tennis Ball Tower Time 
My students love to build towers. We
have tried so many versions. 
This week I tried one with tennis balls!

Kids had a small amount of supplies- with the task rules to build a tower that would support a tennis ball. The ball had to be 10 cm off the table.
The BIG rule: Use ALL the supplies!
Wow, did that throw a monkey wrench in the designing. They came up with some really clever ways to use supplies as decor. Here's a few towers:


\
The group in the above photo found a way to use the string to help hold the structure up. Most groups just draped the string around the final tower.
This challenge was very challenging. Over and over again I had groups that started over and started over. When it was all finished we had some great discussions about perseverance. We were very proud of solving this challenge!

We loved this activity!
Basically, we love any STEM Challenge!


Thanks for stopping by!

8

How to Create an Amazing Science Bulletin Board

Subtitle: How to Spend a Lot of Hours Working on Something That Might Turn Out Cute

Yeah, I know, it sounds funny.

But, you've made bulletin boards, right?!

Sometimes they are inspirational! This one was so colorful and bright we left it in the hallway for a very long time.

8

Five for Friday- the Bridge Version!

Happy Friday and happy because next week is short!!

Don't forget to  join Kacey at Doodlebugs for Five for Friday!

So this is all about bridges.....one of our favorite activities in the lab!
STEM - This post is all about bridges we have built in the STEM Lab! So many different versions and all super fun (and full of learning)!

 First bridge we tried...

Okay, I know kids love making bridges. It's a challenge I have used with my science club years and years ago and then again in the STEM lab one year ago. For some reason, any time we build something and then test it by adding weights, kids go nuts. It's a competition thing, I think. They especially love it when they get to 100 pennies, because that is ONE DOLLAR! (They race across the lab to tell their friends- like one dollar is just so much....)

Anyway, the first bridge we tried last year was a platform bridge.

STEM Bridge: This is a platform bridge that uses only one materials! It's a lot more challenging than it looks. Kids will be intrigued at designing one that will hold the most weight!

This was super easy, one supply, and had unexpected results. The platform bridges held a lot of weight! The main thing we had to determine, however, is whether or not this is a bridge. I had kids do the research and here is what they found: 
Granted, it's not the Golden Gate Bridge, but it is a platform that appears to be solid on the bottom and still works as a bridge. We also thought decks and floating boat docks might be considered platform bridges.
You can see more details about Index Card Bridges {HERE}!

 Next Bridge!
We loved , loved this one. Well, who wouldn't? Two supplies, easy prep, and it took some brain power to determine how to connect all that and still have a structure to connect the two banks (tissue boxes). Then we placed a bowl on top and counted pennies into it. Total fun!

STEM Bridge- This bridge is made of two main materials. It must span a gap and hold weight. The real dilemma is in how to make those building materials less flimsy!
More details about Marshmallow Bridges, {HERE}!

Next Bridge!
Now this one had more supplies, but was still easy prep. The biggest dilemma was how to connect straws together. You might notice that the bridge in the photo has toothpicks stabbed through the straws- not the best of ideas. I did this bridge experience with  5th graders. 

STEM Bridge- Another great design challenge with building a bridge that will hold weight. The main materials are straws and toothpicks. The challenge is in how to use those materials together to span a gap!
Details about this bridge made of Toothpicks and Straws can be found {HERE}

Next up, the best ever, most amazing bridge!
This is one of best bridge building experiences. I created a homework video and put it on my classroom website! My fifth graders had to watch this and come to class prepared with ideas about building a suspension bridge.
I will have to tell you that I have not seen such excitement over anything we have done (even pancakes)!
STEM Bridge! Let's build a suspension bridge using craft sticks and glue! Can you add string to make it resemble a rel suspension bridge?

STEM Bridge! Let's build a suspension bridge using craft sticks and glue! Can you add string to make it resemble a rel suspension bridge?
The photos show two bridges in the beginning stages.
Here's a finished one!
STEM Bridge! Let's build a suspension bridge using craft sticks and glue! Can you add string to make it resemble a rel suspension bridge?
The Suspension Bridge details are {HERE}

Finally, do you think first graders can build bridges? YES, they can! I tried something with a group of littles that was just amazing.
First Grade STEM: Each child had ten counting cubes and four craft sticks. All I told them was, "Build a bridge." Check this blog post for more!
They used two materials and after watching a short video about engineers and talking about bridges they set out to build one!
You can try a post I wrote just about this experience right here:

Thanks for stopping by to read all about bridges.
You might also want to check my Pinterest board that is all about them!

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