Five for Friday ~ Spring Break Version

It's Friday! Whew ! What a great week I have had!
First of all, I was off all week! Nuff said about that!
Let's recap by joining Kacey for:
Day 1 of Spring Break...
My To-Do List said "Clean out closet". That was before I walked out to the laundry room and found this:
A flexible hose on the hot water heater had ripped open and was spraying water everywhere. Not just a leak. It was spraying. Which meant that water inside the closet was on everything in the closet and had built up a layer on the floor as well. Many towels later I had it sopped up and hubs came to the rescue, turned off the water, and repaired the hose. I really need to learn how to turn off the water myself....
BTW, that is Luigi and Roo investigating the mess. Wookee was there, but didn't make the photo!

Day 2 of Spring Break....
I took off early to go to Hoover, about 90 minutes away. First I went to the fabulous Galleria and came away with this gorgeousness:
I normally do not spend a lot of money on clothes because I teach science all day and wear t-shirts and jeans. But I need something pretty for a summer travel thingie (like the TpT conference) so I grabbed these at J Jill. Trust me- they are just beautiful. You can find the pink stripe {HERE}, and the green tunic {HERE}, and the floral {HERE}.

I also went to my favorite store and found a pile of books!
Gotta love Second and Charles for marked down books. That pile was $43!
I was reading a book by Jason Motte called The Returned, but after 100 pages I put it in my give-away pile. Not holding my attention at all. So, I started the David Baldacci book! Super!

I also visited my daughter's first grade class to take them some lab coats and safety goggles! We had a little STEM challenge and they were precious. You can read about STEM with firsties right {HERE}

Day 3 of Spring Break....
Why, yes, those are papers for the IRS....
Ugh, Teachers Pay Teachers, I love you so much! You have made me a better teacher and changed a lot of things for us....
but it really hurts to send off that tax money.
On the other hand, it was such a relief. I sent 2014's estimated tax and also the first quarter of 2015. I think it is going to be really cool at the end of 2015 to send in the last quarter and not have the whole year hanging over my head.
(BTW, hubs is also self-employed and our taxes are just stupidly complicated, so we file an extension every year and do not finish the tax stuff until August.)
Just for your info, if you are a TpT seller, 
GET AN ACCOUNTANT to advise you on what to save and deduct. Mine answered a lot of questions I had!


Also, Day 3 of Spring Break...
I finally went back to cleaning out the closet....
This is a twice yearly thing for me. I actually have three closets....I know.
It's pretty weird. My regular closet is rather big, but I also have an off-season closet, and a totally extra stuff closet.
So, first I pulled out all the obviously winter clothing and took that to the off-season closet. The spring and summer stuff was moved to my main closet.
In the midst of all this, I GET RID OF STUFF.
I firmly believe that if I have not worn something in a while it is time to go. That huge pile in the floor is stuff that:
1. is ugly (and I cannot believe I bought it, much less ever wore it)
2. is worn out (which is pretty rare for me, but it happens when I really like something)
3. never did fit right, too sheer, too long, too short, too tight- or any of those other reasons that it was just plain uncomfortable
4. not age appropriate....this is sad, but I do occasionally have something that is just not right for my age- like ruffles. RUFFLES! I found at least 6 tops and one dress in my closet that had ruffles. Girls, I think there are two rules of fashion you need to always, ALWAYS follow:

NO ruffles after age 8
Leggings are not pants.

On a happy note, my spring closet is wonderful. Cleaned, vacuumed, and ready for warmer weather!

Day 4  of Spring Break....
I finally broke down and purchased a new microwave. Take a look at this:
Okay, stop laughing. That thing on my kitchen table is a microwave we have had since 1985!
1985, people.
Why is it so big?
And it took two of us to lift it out of the cabinet thingie and move it. Seriously, why is it so heavy? What were they made of 30 years ago? And the big question is why did it last so long, cause you know the new one will not!
One more thing. See those smaller pictures. Can you see those smudge looking things?
That is NOT dirt. It's where the button pad is worn by being used for THIRTY years.....
jeez....

Okay, join my science linky when you have time to blog about science in your classroom!
Click {HERE} to get to the post!

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Team Work Time - It's Same Materials & 2 Tasks Challenges!

Same supplies.

Two different tasks.
But.....the tasks connect in the end!
It never occurred to me how challenging this would be and how much COLLABORATION the two groups would need to have. Take a look and you will see what I mean.
STEM Challenge: Two groups with the same materials. Each makes a different item and in the end the two devices must fit together and work to solve the task! Fantastic collaboration opportunity!


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Five for Friday! Book to Share for March

Subtitle: It's all about Reading!
Mostly....
I tried to find a theme for today cause that's what I like to do.
Finally, I thought about this.
Next week is my Spring Break.
I plan to read about four thousand books.
Maybe you would like some recommendations. You have come to the right place!
I keep a book list by title and I also have a book journal. Sometimes I write my opinion and a brief summary of books I read. But, only the really good ones that I actually finish and don't skim the last 75 pages. So if you are not a reader then just go to #5 at the bottom for the latest Brain Pop I had in the STEM lab....and a cute bulletin board!

Let's join the Five for Friday link with Kacey and talk about Books!
SB Reason #1
  Have you read this? You should! I bought it because it was compared to The Help which I loved. This book is similar. It's a story set in in the 1830's about a family that owns slaves. The chapters alternate between telling the story of Sarah and her personal slave, Hetty. It is heartbreaking  and beautifully written.
Have you read this? You should!
I bought it because it was compared to The Help which I loved. This book is similar. It's a story set in in the 1830's about a family that owns slaves. The chapters alternate between telling the story of Sarah and her personal slave, Hetty. It is heartbreaking  and beautifully written. It's a long book- 400+ pages, but a fast read. You will find yourself re-reading parts just for the beauty of the words.


SB Reason #2
  What a delicious book this was! It is set in Australia and the focus is three moms. All have very young children. Boy, does the gossip fly in this little community. You know rather quickly that someone might end up dead, but the book is filled with humor.
What a delicious book this was!
It is set in Australia and the focus is three moms. All have very young children. Boy, does the gossip fly in this little community. You know rather quickly that someone might end up dead, but the book is filled with humor. I enjoyed it immensely!

SB# 3
  I know you have heard of Where the Red Fern Grows. If not, you should also read that book. This book was written by the same author. He only wrote two books in his lifetime and both are based on his boyhood adventures. This one involves trying to catch about 30 monkeys that escaped from a circus. There is a big reward for catching the monkeys and Jay Berry sets out with his dog, Rowdy, to get them. Their adventures are purely hilarious!
I know you have heard of Where the Red Fern Grows. If not, you should also read that book. This book was written by the same author. He only wrote two books in his lifetime and both are based on his boyhood adventures. This one involves trying to catch about 30 monkeys that escaped from a circus. There is a big reward for catching the monkeys and Jay Berry sets out with his dog, Rowdy, to get them. Their adventures are purely hilarious! I read this book aloud to so many classes and we always rolled in the floor laughing at the things those monkeys did. Our favorite chapter was the one where Jay Berry and Rowdy discover the monkeys drinking sour mash at an old whiskey still back in the woods. After Jay Berry and Rowdy both drink a little too much, the boy awakens to find the monkeys have stolen his pants! There is also a very sweet side story about Jay Berry's sister. She needs an expensive surgical procedure. I promise you, cross my heart, you will sob all the way through the ending of this book. 
Read it!
By the way I own a copy of a video showing a presentation that Wilson Rawls did in an elementary classroom. He talked quite a bit about his boyhood and how he came to be a writer. He grew up very poor and didn't have writing paper so they wrote on the backs of envelopes. When he went away as a young man to work in Mexico he wrote on paper sacks and envelopes and rolled the writings into tubes. He saved them for years and one day just threw all those stories away. After getting married his wife encouraged him to write again and she actually edited his work. His is the voice you hear on the original Red Fern movie. When that movie was being produced he was asked to be a consultant and be the narrator. His two books are just priceless!


SB#4: 
This one is also going to pull on your heartstrings. It's the story of Ha, a refugee from Vietnam. Her trials with learning the English language and fitting in with a new community in the United States will make you angry. The book, however, is breathtaking. It is written in poem form and contains the most amazing passages.
This one is also going to pull on your heartstrings. It's the story of Ha, a refugee from Vietnam. Her trials with learning the English language and fitting in with a new community in the United States will make you angry. The book, however, is breathtaking. It is written in poem form and contains the most amazing passages.
"Dinnertime, I help my mother
peel sweet potatoes
to stretch the rice.
I start to chop off
a potato's end
as wide as
a thumbnail, then decide
to slice off only a sliver.
I am proud
of my ability to save
until I see
tears
in Mother's deep eyes-
She says, "You deserve to
grow up
where you don't worry about
saving half a bite of a sweet potato."

This was a Newbery Honor book a year or so back and you will understand why when you read it. I think it would make a great read aloud for older students. 

BRAIN POP!
My latest and greatest of all time!
So I was thinking about the fact that we use a lot of the same supplies in the lab all the time. This came about after a student commented about all the straws we use. That made me start thinking about having the kids use the same supplies but design different structures.
Then I had the AMAZING BRAIN POP!
What if two groups had the same supplies and each built something different
and
then
they have to combine their structures!
I will devote a whole blog post to this idea one of these days, but for right now here's a teaser photo:
One team built the cranking device and the other built the carrier- using the same supplies. The scenario was about rescuing someone that has fallen over a cliff.
Let me just tell you this:
The two groups had to COLLABORATE big time to make this work!
It was spectacular!
 Speaking of spectacular, look at this cute bulletin board I just did:
All the seaweed pieces have events on them that are coming soon at my school!

Also, coming soon....

My Spring Break!

Have a great weekend and week ahead. I will be reading four thousand books...

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Five for Friday ~ March 13!

It has been an AMAZING week!
First of all we actually made it school everyday!
That's something!
Then we had all kinds of successes or just really nice things happening and that is always a good thing. So read on and find my Five Amazing Things!

Ah-May-Zing # 1
It was all about pipelines in my fifth grade groups. I told them the story of the pipelines in Panama and then talked about how those water pipelines are built and how unreliable they are. I challenged them to build a pipeline model and of course it would be made of something wacko.
Yep, Paper.
They told me it was hard and I am guessing it was because I required that the pipeline have two 90 degree turns in it and be at least 5 feet long. It had to transport a ping pong ball!

They came up with some pretty genius ways to connect the pipeline pieces!
It was a great experience in creating a template for a real device! They also learned that Panama is NOT in Florida!

Ah-May-Zing # 2
I was following a thread in the Seller's Forum at TPT in which the July conference was being discussed. Then someone mentioned needing business cards.
Well, I need that....don't I?
I think so! 
So, I tried to make my own and then just gave up because I was not loving it and then I found this store at TpT:

Laine has beautiful backgrounds and clipart and guess what? She also designs business cards! Go to her Blog and find out more! Here's the one she made for me!




Ah-May-Zing # 3
I have seen pins on Pinterest about 4 hundred times showing students solving perimeter and area problems by using the tiles on the floor. So, this week I taped off some shapes and we tried it!


It was amazing! The kids loved it. They walked around and around the shapes to count the sections and find the perimeter. I also had them draw the shapes on graph paper and that was interesting. So many of them told me they had fun!
FUNNY MOMENT: One kid noticed that a few of the shapes I made looked a little like an outline of a body.....you know, like in a crime scene. First thing I knew there were kids laying down on the floor trying to form the shape of the dead bodies.....

Ah-May-Zing # 4
Book of the Week:
   
The movie for this is out right now and Julianne Moore won the Oscar for it. I have not seen the movie. (Yet!)
But, y'all you should read this book. The main character finds out she has early onset Alzheimer's and the book is spectacular in presenting her progression with the disease. If you have elderly parents or you are my age, you need to read this. It will really enlighten you.


Ah-May-Zing # 5
Okay, now back to the bestest thing ever and that is the TpT conference in July! Are you going?
Yeah, I know that doesn't look like Vegas! It's actually Red Rock Canyon which is close by. I have been there and this year we are going to drive to Grand Canyon National Park after the conference is over!
The first session I have signed up for at the conference is called "Fix Your Brand and Take Your Store to the Next Level"! How cool does that sound?
Anyway, if you are going and if you are in that session then we need to meet!

Have a great weekend! Hope it's Ah-may-zing!


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It's All Ah - Mazing!

Students just love making mazes! Of all kinds! Mazes present plenty of opportunities for problem-solving and in the end, you get to play with them!

Take a look at our mazes!
Take advantage of your students' curiosity with mazes and have them build a maze in STEM Class! Our mazes have some specific rules to follow and the kids love making those twists and turns. Can their marbles make it all the way through the finished maze! STEM Challenge Mazes are spectacular!


We have completed two different versions of mazes and both have been spectacular.
I just realized the other day that I have barely mentioned these on this little blog of mine!
So, here ya go!!

Mazes # 1

Our first maze challenge included using boxes, cardboard, paper, and tape. Kids had to draw a blueprint for the maze first! For some of them, this was tedious!

Take advantage of your students' curiosity with mazes and have them build a maze in STEM Class! Our mazes have some specific rules to follow and the kids love making those twists and turns. Can their marbles make it all the way through the finished maze! STEM Challenge Mazes are spectacular!

They wanted the drawing to be perfect! I did not expect this, but on the other hand, it is not surprising! Isn't this exactly what an engineer would do!

The next step was to create the mazes. I gave the kids gift boxes to use as their base- simply because I had tons of these at home!
They bent cardboard and paper and used tape to make the paths of their mazes.
Take advantage of your students' curiosity with mazes and have them build a maze in STEM Class! Our mazes have some specific rules to follow and the kids love making those twists and turns. Can their marbles make it all the way through the finished maze! STEM Challenge Mazes are spectacular!

This ended up being quite an exercise in trial and error as they would make the paths too narrow or the walls too short. Many of them wanted to make the boxes more decorative so I let them use construction paper to line the boxes.

Take advantage of your students' curiosity with mazes and have them build a maze in STEM Class! Our mazes have some specific rules to follow and the kids love making those twists and turns. Can their marbles make it all the way through the finished maze! STEM Challenge Mazes are spectacular!

Then the most amazing thing happened!

I had one group ask if their maze could have a theme and that idea just took off. Soon we had all kinds of decorated and themed mazes. The one in the above picture had a volcano and trees!
I had not planned on this feature, but it gave the kids an opportunity to be even more creative. The best part was that some kids kept working on the actual maze while others in the group began to work on the decorative parts. It was a true team effort!

Take advantage of your students' curiosity with mazes and have them build a maze in STEM Class! Our mazes have some specific rules to follow and the kids love making those twists and turns. Can their marbles make it all the way through the finished maze! STEM Challenge Mazes are spectacular!


Take advantage of your students' curiosity with mazes and have them build a maze in STEM Class! Our mazes have some specific rules to follow and the kids love making those twists and turns. Can their marbles make it all the way through the finished maze! STEM Challenge Mazes are spectacular!

The group in the picture above wanted two boxes because their maze just got so big. Can you see in the center how they joined the two boxes together?
Ah-may-zing!

Mazes # 2

So, we tried a different kind of maze one day.

I once had a third grader that would sit all day and just draw mazes on paper. He'd bring them to me to solve. I would have preferred he, like, maybe, do his school work.....just sayin'

Anyway, the next maze challenge was to use only two supplies!

Straws and tape! This time I gave them a flat piece of heavyweight poster board and the kids actually drew their mazes on the board rather than graph paper.
Take advantage of your students' curiosity with mazes and have them build a maze in STEM Class! Our mazes have some specific rules to follow and the kids love making those twists and turns. Can their marbles make it all the way through the finished maze! STEM Challenge Mazes are spectacular!


You can see their pathways in the photos. The biggest problem we had with these was, again, that the kids would make the paths too narrow. We also found that sometimes the marble would jump over the walls of the maze.

In both events, the part we liked best was.....trading mazes with other groups and trying them! Have you ever tried a maze with your class?    



1

Five for Friday! March 6

Two more Fridays and it will be
SPRING BREAK!

If you read my Currently then you know I had a crazy week. Go {HERE} if you need to catch up! 
Just kidding, but you can read if you want to!

Or you can just continue right here with Five Random Thingies!
I know you are tired of reading and hearing about the weather.....
Me Too!
Look at this:
That's the temp on my phone on Thursday.
On Wednesday it was 75 DEGREES here!
Thursday we had ice and sleet and another day off.
Jeez... 
guess what... we are also at home today!
The roads are a MESS!

So, this week in the lab (for the TWO days of school we had) we worked on using blueprints.
I had the kids look at an array of supplies and then we decided as a group what we would build. The class in the photos wanted to design and build playgrounds.
What can I say? They are 3rd graders.
Next, they had to draw a blueprint
AND
THEN
build the playground exactly like the blueprint!

I am not sure what the second photo is showing, but it does look like the blue print!
I had a kid say this to me,
"I think, like actually, this is the best I have ever done!"

Need a quick and easy challenge for kids? Maybe it's one afternoon when you just need to throw something together that will keep them engaged! Maybe it's a sub day!
Here's a great and Quick STEM Challenge!
Give the kids a box of supplies, one of which is a plastic spoon.
The challenge is to build a tower using all the supplies and the spoon must be at the top!
You will be so surprised at how hard this is!


You will also be surprised at how tall the towers will be!


Have you read this?
You should! It would make a GREAT read-aloud for your class and I would be reading it right now if I had a regular class! The main character has dyslexia and it's all about her struggles to read and write. There are mean kids and bullies and friends....and a perfectly powerful ending that you will sob through.
READ IT!


You know you teach science sometimes, right. Well do you ever write about it on your blog? You should because then you can join my Bi-Weekly Science Linky! Next week, March 11th will be the next time you can join!
C'mon, mark it on your calendar, send yourself a reminder, whatever you do to help remember stuff! When I really want to remember something I tape a note to my car keys.....

Have a great weekend!
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