05 December, 2012

Musings of a 4th Grade Teacher

Time is flying! Is it really December? How did that happen?

Life is good. Life is wonderful.

I get my first new student tomorrow. I am excited. It brings my count back up to 33 where it was for most of the year. After Christmas break it will be back down to 32 students. I like having 32 students. 8 tables with 4 kids each. No odd one out.

They are a great group of kids. I gave an honesty quiz the other day. You know. The type of quiz where they hand it in, you grade it (but you don't mark anything and you don't tell them it's been graded), and then you hand it back for them to grade. They all passed. Except perhaps one.

My one bully girl is now friends with the girl she used to bully.

My students have worked with lots of sand and glitter without getting any of it on the floor, chairs, or even desks.

I have successfully managed to get most my little boys to tell me who they have a crush on. I had no particular reason to do that; I just wanted to know. They all told me, no questions asked, when I inquired.

My 4th graders are the very best class at every assembly. They do not talk to each other and sit on their pockets the entirety of the presentation.

I have been wearing my shortest pair of heels (3") to school on a regular basis in hopes that my feet will get used to them and I can start to wear some of my favorite pairs that are quite a bit taller than that.

We have half an hour for music twice a week and they love it. I start by playing 5 minutes of a classical music piece with the name and composer on the board. I quickly give a short overview of the composer and where he (no she's yet) is from. Then some of them get to say what they were thinking of during the music. I played an excerpt from Jupiter by Holst the other day. Many of my lovely students thought about aliens on another planet. I think their favorite so far was the Hungarian Rhapsody by Lizst. We are starting on the recorder. Those lessons are really to help me with patience.

I love teaching. People keep asking me if it was different than I thought or if I am starting to go crazy. It just feels to natural. I am definitely going to be bummed when it is summer vacation and I will not see my sweet students.

05 November, 2012

Synonym Roll Template

One of my favorite language arts lesson to do in teaching students about synonyms. Using the idea of a "synonym roll," every year my students are extremely engaged by the lesson.
Want a terrific synonym lesson complete with the outlines for the cinnamon rolls themselves? Here is my lesson plan typed up along with 36 words with synonym examples, 3 different sizes of rolls, and a synonym brainstorming page for students.
Synonym Roll Lesson Plan
You can also head over to my TPT store and download the outlines.

31 October, 2012

This one's for you Grandma

My darling grandmother, who was a schoolmarm herself at a school that still stands in Orem, mentioned that she enjoyed reading my blog, but that I had not posted lately. I apologize. I have been meaning to take pictures of fun activities that we have done lately and how my classroom looks, but I keep forgetting.
So. Here is a quick post about what has been making me smile as of late.
In my lovely class, we do class meetings. During these meetings, we have a discussion on any problems the students would like to discuss. (We have only done problems twice. I do not know if they are just little angels or they do not quite know what the concept is.) The problems they have discussed pertained to the noise level. They want the whole class to be quiet for periods of time during the day. (Art projects, free time, science time, etc.) Another part of our class meetings is dedicated to compliments. I have compliment slips that my students can fill out, directed to another student, to be read during our class meeting. This past class meeting was the first time any student had written one to me. When it rains, it pours. Not only did I receive my first compliment paper, I received my first 4 compliments.
I would like to give Mrs. Jaeger a compliment by saying: she is a very nice teacher. She helps pepol under stand thigs and is awesome! Signed L.
I would like to give Mrs. Jager a compliment by saying: she is funny. She is nice all the time. She is the best teacher I have had so far, and she teaches really good so I can learn. Signed B.
I would like to give Mrs. Jeager a compliment by saying: she is the best teacher in the world. And she always helps me with what I have trouble with. Not only me. Everyone in my class. She is the best teacher in the world! Signed K.
I would like to give Mrs. Jeager a compliment by saying: She's the best teacher out of the whole school maybe even out of the whole world she's always willing to help she's never getting her temper out of control she loves everyone and some times I think she's an angel with a little halo and she's very very butiful your number one! Signed love M.

My other favorite quote of last week: "This is the best day of my life!"
As a class they decided they wanted a pajama/dance/treat day. This involved wearing pajamas, and then having a dance slash treat party for twenty minutes during the day. (It was a good prep for me to prepare for what Halloween was like.) In the middle of the dance party when my lovely fourth graders were literally stuffing their faces with treats, one of my shyer little girls ran up to tell me it was the best day of her life.

19 September, 2012

A Woman So Heartless

This evening, I was enjoying actually being able to breathe. (School by 6:45, faculty meeting that runs 25 minutes late, activity days for 90 minutes, finally home.) I set myself up on the couch with an episode of Top Gear on the television and a small pile of papers to grade on my left.
I was beginning to get a tad bit hungry. (One of my students asked me the other day if I ever eat lunch...I may not be eating as much as I should be right now.) After texting Wolfie for a few minutes, I decided to join him for a romantic dinner consisting of a salad in the setting of the mall. I grabbed my teacher bag and slipped on my favorite pair of ballet flats as I headed for the door. Suddenly my phone announced that an unknown caller wanted my attention. Normally I do not answer unknown numbers, but today I risked it.
I heard a muffled voice and giggles on the other end.
"Mrs. Jaeger?"
.......slight pause.......
"And who is this?"
"This is E."
"Hi! How are you? What's up?"
"I was just calling to tell you that I broke my collarbone."

Oh. Dear.


I was enjoying my 40 minutes specialties break. My aide and I were chatting about my students and life as I mentally prepared for what my students would be like as they came back from P.E. As I heard the bell that signifies the end of lower grade recess and the end of 4th grade specialties, I put down my snacks and went to retrieve my little ones.
They walked, bounced, and shuffled down the hall to my classroom as I observed the damage done by chasing each other around in a game of steal the flag. Most of the class had passed when I noticed one of my girls comforting another as she sobbed.
"E, what's wrong?"
As my darling little E with the help of her classmate relayed to me the story of how she accidentally fell or was tripped or something, she valiantly tried to stop crying while grasping her shoulder.
"So your shoulder really hurts? I am so sorry. Do you want to go down to the office with C to get some ice?"
A sad nod followed and I watched the two go down to the office.
At this point, I was not sure if my little girl was they type to milk her injuries and get the most out of her sorrow. She arrived back in my classroom with a bag of ice and more tears. Her head was bowed as I gave instructions for the next assignment. Sobs escaped occasionally she avoided eye contact with everyone except myself.
She approached me as the class began to work on their project.
"Mrs. Jaeger? Can I call my mom and leave?"
"Oh, E, there are only 20 minutes left until lunch. Can you wait until then and see if you feel any better?"
"I don't think I can."
What to do, what to do. I was dubious. From the few weeks I had gotten to know her, I thought she might milk it a bit. I was torn.
"Okay. If you think you cannot wait, you can head down to the office."
Off she went and the rest of the day went on.

Then I received my phone call.
After talking to me about it for ten minutes, I learned that she had fractured her collarbone, a chiropractor was the one that diagnosed her, she had a homemade sling from an apron on her way to the doctor, they couldn't find the particular sling that the doctor suggested, she was a crazy sleeper, her mother was going to let E sleep in tomorrow, one of her friends calls her sister, and that she loves talking.
We decided that the class would have to hear her story tomorrow and that we would also make her a get well soon card.

So. One of my students broke a bone and I did not believe her.
(Reminds me of the time my sister Rebecca was babysitting a crybaby and when he broke his leg--or arm or some other bone, she did not believe his cries and his parents discovered he broke his bone later.)

(Can I just say I am glad she was not in my care when she broke this bone?)

Anything exciting happen to you this week?

31 August, 2012

Artwork and cutesy paper

So the school year has started and I absolutely love it.
I have the best group of kids and I love every single one of them. I will post pictures of my finished classroom as well as other such stuff later.
My students love to make me stuff. I get, on average, 6 love letters, artwork, or creations of some kind every day. I don't know what to do with it all! One of my girls draws me at least ten pictures a week and last week at recess, she went around to random students to have them write down what they like about me. They have braided yarn, made wands, created fish, butterflies, and drawn just about every imaginable thing.

One of my favorite things I have done so far this year is provide them with "cutesy" paper to work with during free time. I realized halfway through the summer that I was throwing away lots of scraps from making things for my classroom. Many of them were still large enough to use for a small craft but I did not want to spend the time to organize them. I cut them up and now have hundreds of small, medium, and large pieces of scrapbook paper that my students love to use. They love to ask me if they can use the cutesy paper. Lots of them make cards for their mothers or friends and several have made me creations out of it. A great use of something I would have just thrown away. (I called it cutesy paper on the first day of class and the name stuck. They get confused if I call it anything else. It is a little amusing to have ten-year-old boys coming up to me to ask if they can use my cutesy paper.)

05 August, 2012

Table Numbers

I had been trying to figure out what on earth to do for my table numbers. Because I had been going all out on other classroom decor, I was about to cute little circles with the table number listed on each. Out of desperation for something a little more different, I Googled "table numbers" very well knowing that it would come up with table number ideas for weddings, but hey, that's different. Most of the table numbers that showed up in Google Images were the kind that you set on the tables themselves or they involved fire or water. Surprisingly I skipped past all of those without much thought.
I then found this picture:

It was love at first glance. Then I read that they took bouncy balls and painted them. That was something I certainly did not have time to do. I researched it a bit more and found the perfect solution for me. My husband, bless his little heart, bought me a Silhouette Cameo for Christmas. The best Christmas present ever. I found a balloon shape and made a box shape and quickly found pieces of paper that were the different colors I was using for my tables.
The balloons were easy enough to cut out and assemble. I used 4 different patterns for each balloon to add a bit of a more vintage-y feel. (mixed patterns are vintage, right?)

I cut the boxes out on left over paper I used to make my cabinet numbers. On the assembled boxes, I put the table number out of the 4 patterns I used for the balloon and 4 different fonts.

All that was left to do was assemble them. they all are. Please forgive the terrible lighting. That is one of the only things that I wish I could change about our current place. (You really can see all the numbers on the boxes.)

What do you think? What are you going to do for table numbers this year?

Book Recommendation Tree

So. A while back I got the idea for a book recommendation tree from Lessons With Laughter. The idea sounded perfect to me! I thought it was such an adorable idea to have students recommend books to other students in this way. It also helps with their summarizing main ideas skills.
And thus my book recommendation tree was born.
The idea is simple enough: take some dead branches, spray paint them, and put them in a pot. The reality of the idea was not much harder. There is an old, dying pie cherry orchard behind my parents' house that provided me with a multitude of dead branches. I just had to pick a couple and I was good to go. The pot I used was purchased for a dollar at a craft store. Some Martha Steward paint added just the right shade of blue that I thought went very well with the gray painted branches. I found the most adorable vintage tags at this website so all I had to do was add text. I put foam in the bottom of the container to have something that would hold my branches and I filled the rest of the container with pebbles purchased from Ikea.
This was the result:

I decided that green 12x12 paper would be perfect for the "leaves" on my tree. I also want to brag and say that I managed to get 36 2x2 circles out of the 12x12 paper with my circle cut. Instead of making the circles reusable, I am just going to have them keep a maximum of two up at all times. I can make the circles for less than a penny each and it does not take long to cut the circles out.

Do you have your students recommend books to other students?

02 August, 2012

Back to School Present for Students part 1

On August 20, I am going to be a nervous little wreck. August 20th is the day before school starts and more importantly, Open House night. I have been trying to find the perfect back to school presents I can give to my students. I had the hardest time finding something that I didn't think was cheesy or something the students would just throw away or forget about as soon as they got home from Open House night.
I was cleaning out my craft room the other day and found some red felt fortune cookies I made for my husband on Valentines Day and suddenly an idea clicked in my head.
Fortune cookies are a perfect idea! No They are fast to make and extremely inexpensive. All you need is felt, matching 3/8" ribbon, wire, and glue.
Here is how it's done:
I took a cute little plastic cup from Ikea and managed to fit ten circles on each piece of felt. (Yes. There are only 9 circles on the piece below but I fit ten on all the others.) These fortune cookies were a little small especially compared to the ones I made for my husband but any size will do.

Next you get to cut all the circles out. Like so.

For wire, I used what I had: floral wire. Measure it so it is about a centimeter smaller than the diameter of the circle.

Like so.

Cut out all the wire you need.

Now you get to cut out the ribbon. The ribbon makes it so it looks nicer and makes the glue hold it better.

Glue the ribbon down with the wire right in the middle.

Now you just have to bend it. Bend the wire so that it forms a loose V shape. (The arch shape you see on the bottom of a fortune cookie.) Then just flip the felt so that it creates a perfect fortune cookie shape.
Slip in a fortune on a small slip of paper and you're all set!

You can just put them in a plastic bag (you know, the ones that come 100 for a couple bucks) or you can spend 50 cents more per student and buy the baby Chinese take out containers to put the fortune cookies in.

It makes the gift look extra cute.

For the fortune, you can put something cute like "You will do well in school this year." But I think I will give them extra points on an assignment or an extra punch on their punch card. Something like that.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the back to school presents I am giving my students this year.
Do you give your students back to school presents? What is it going to be this year?

30 July, 2012

Habits, Job Chart, Bulletin Boards, and Curtains

I have been putting my classroom together like crazy! I want to finish it in the next week or two so that I can concentrate on lesson plans and the likes after that. (22 days until school starts!) I have a bunch of projects that are almost complete and some that I have completely put out of my mind because they are finished. Lots of cutting things out this week. I may have quite a few large stacks of paper, so I am starting to really go through the thousands of colorful pieces I have! How do you use the ugly pieces that come in paper packs?
Here is what I have been up to lately:

These are part of my table numbers. Half of them. I am more excited about these table numbers then anything else I am making.

I finally hung up my picture frames. Because I bought cheap dollar frames, they were sticking out from the wall at the bottom. I solved this problem by pinning down the bottom corners. You can't tell, can you?

They were waxing the floors at my elementary school last week so I could not get in. On Monday I was finally able to put up some of my bulletin boards! I put some gorgeous purple and blue for social studies and science (I need to change the color for my science bulletin board). Sadly, the colors are pretty dark and they are up against my darkest wall so they look really dark.

I put some lovely vintage looking fabric up on my largest carpet covered wall. I love the way that it looks.

And...a place for my students' work.

Don't you just love the fabric on the right? It's my very favorite.

Next, I made these cute little curtains. Why can't you ever take a good picture of a curtain when it's hung? I used some of my favorite designer fabric for these cuties.

Because my windows are surrounded by brick, I ended up hanging them up from the ceiling. (Do you see the twine my husband attached to the metal on the ceiling? He's a rock star.)

I made some awesome habits signs. Looks like and sounds like for different habits (instead of rules) my students get to do. My lovely students will be the ones to come up with what each habit looks like and sounds like when we do them. They will be laminated so that I can use them year after year.

Don't you love the gorgeous quilt my darling sister made for my wedding? She is a quilt making machine! I like having a different poster for each one because this way, I can hang them up in different parts of the room depending on where the most optimal viewpoint is.

Last but not least, I almost completed my job chart. I cut out seven different designs of green paper for pockets (21 jobs).

The name of each job will be put on the outside (e.g. pencil sharpener). A description of the job will go on an insert sitting inside the pocket so that the students never have to ask me when they can do their job or what exactly their job entails; they just read the details on the card. The students will rotate through with their names on sticks. I'm pretty excited about this.
Do you have class jobs? What are they?

Lots of cutting out, but I'm nearing the end of my crafting for my classroom!

25 July, 2012

Now I know my ABCs

As I looked around my classroom for the first time, I noticed the stereotypical cursive alphabet above the white boards. That made me think...there is not a lot of variation between cursive alphabets that you see in a classroom.
You know. The ones that look like this:
I decided then and there to make my own.
After grabbing a role of brown kraft paper at the dollar store, cutting out my letters, and gluing them onto the vintage looking paper, I had the (almost) finished result.

All that's left to do is laminate and hang them up.
Another project I am working on that excites me more than anything I have done yet will be done soon. Here is a sneak peak:

I cannot wait to finish!

23 July, 2012

Ruler container

I have been trying to find space saving and cute ways to store some of the school supplies my students will be using. Last year I worked with some of the 6th graders at my school and found that they hardly knew how to use a ruler so I knew I wanted to incorporate measurement just a bit more than the core suggests.
Cue the wine tubes I found for $2.00 at Joann's.
They are compact and one will fit about half of the rulers I need for my class. The only problem was that they needed a bit of a makeover. (The designs were cute but they had wine words on them.)

I grabbed some gray spray paint (leftover from my wedding last year; I love working with free tools) and got to spraying. I left the lids on so that the cute design would still be visible.
All I needed to do after that was apply vinyl. Because I felt as though I had been wasting lots of the space between vinyl letters lately, I took advantage of the letters and the outline this time. No wasted vinyl.

I think they will be just about perfect for what I made them for!

Linking up...

16 July, 2012

A wreath and some objectives frames

This is what they looked like before I hung them up. Sorry for the glare from the lights. I am loving them. Especially the paper in the Objectives frame. They are now hung up and ready to go

I also finally put up the cabinet numbers on my cabinets. I still cannot decide where to position them on the cabinets though...

Today I made a wreath. I am a little obsessed with cute wreaths. I made this one a few months ago. It is pretty wonderful, if you ask me. I love how simple it looks and the red satin ribbon it was hung to the wall with.

I wanted to make a wreath for my classroom for my sake. Something a little vintage-y and I knew for sure I wanted ruffles. I love ruffles. So. Much. It is ridiculous.
So I headed to the nearest fabric store (Joann's is only a quarter mile away from where I live right now) and snagged some faded red linen for only a few dollars. Score. Then I grabbed an ugly wreath for free. (I will try to find pictures of just what I had to work with.) Basically it was a wood wreath with some painted wood figures attached on. Birdhouses and sleds and a sign about snow.
I wrapped the wreath in pieces of the red linen like so:

After that I could not for the life of me decide what to do with the ruffles. I originally wanted to wrap ruffles around the whole thing until I realized it would take a long time for me to make enough ruffles to wrap around the whole thing so I came up with this:

I only ruffled enough fabric to wrap around the top of the wreath, made some fabric flowers, and attached a hello sign with some yellow butcher string. And, yes, the wreath looks a little lopsided in the picture, but I promise that my OCD kicked in and I unlopsided it (otherwise known as straightened it out) I still do not know what I think of this wreath. I do not love it as much as my white ruffle one, but maybe it will grow on me.

Linking up...
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