Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Crafty Side of Things

Ok so its been awhile since I have shown the crafty side of things around what I've been doing. No I'm not showing the house yet. Instead, I'm going to show some of the things I've been doing at the school. We have been talking about sea life for the month. So everything is built around the sealife theme.

Paper Plate Port Hole: For this, we cut out the inside of a paper plate. Painted the outside with brown paint and then hot glued brown buttons to it. It could be done in greys (or any color you want you port hole I guess) as well. We attached the sticky backed precut sea life foamies to blue construction paper. To make it look more like we were looking through glass into the water, we covered the construction paper with saran wrap. The back has a rectangular piece of thin card board glued to the back to make the whole thing a little more sturdy. We then took pop tops from drink cans, slightly bent them and hot glued them to the cardboard so it can be hung with ease.

3-Dimensional Sea Star (NO they are NOT Star FISH): This was one of the easiest projects we did--I won't say the messiest as we had a LOT of messy projects this time--but definitely one of the easiest. This is sea star that was printed from one of the preschool coloring book sites (no I don't remember which one) that we then cut out. As sea stars are not flat, we took a cotton ball and glued it to a piece of construction paper. Then we glued the cut sea star over it, making sure that all around the center of the seastar was down around and sealed over the cottonball, giving it a puffed up middle. Each leg also glued down. Glue was then smeared (yeah, that's the fun part, you get to smear it with your fingers!) to cover all of the area in white (ok so some of ours didn't cover completely). We sprinkled (NO, we POURED) a light-orange colored sand over the glue making sure every bit of the glue was covered. We tipped it over so the excess sand could be reused on the next one and VOILA--a sea star, complete with the texture somewhat resembling a real sea star.

Fish Bowl: This is another easy project. And as you can see, again it uses paper plates (No, I didn't take stock in paper plates). We painted the backside of the paper plates blue then cut them in the shape of a fish bowl. We painted green and orange squiggly lines to make it look like grasses and coral. Along the bottom of the plate, we spread glue and sprinkled colored sand for the bottom of the fish bowl. Unfortunately our glue didn't dry properly and it didn't turn out as we'd hoped. Now for the fun part--as we enjoyed eating as well as glueing the next pieces to it. We used colored, baked goldfish crackers, whales crackers and the Finding Nemo jelly candies. We glued them onto the plates (as well as ate some of them). After covering all with saran wrap you have a fish bowl that you don't have to worry about finding dead fish floating at the top the next morning.

Paper Plate Sea Turtles: Once again, with this craft idea we started with two paper plates and thin cardboard cut roughly into shapes that resembled legs, a head and a tail. The cardboard shapes were hot glued to the inside (the side most people eat off of). The second paper plate was then hot glued on top of the first plate and cardboard pieces. The end result should be that of two plates bottom sides out with cardboard pieces sandwiched in between them. We painted one side totally green, the plate and all cardboard pieces. After it dried, we painted the other side so that everything was green. After everything is thoroughly dry, we got glued precut foam pieces to make somewhat of a symmetrical design (and no two of ours were alike just as it is rare to find two sea turtles with the same markings) to one side of the plate turtle. Gluing on googly eyes was the finishing touch this turtle needed to come to "life" for the students. They loved being able to pick out the colors and shapes for their turtles, not to mention painting them. I don't know if we have any green paint left in the bottle--but there was plenty all over the tables and disposable aprons they wore!

On to the the next project, and final one using paper plates for this unit, the Paper Plate Crab: This picture does NOT due this cute thing justice. The legs and claws were from a preschool site (no I don't remember which one). It originally had a body and face that the legs and claws were to be colored and glued together. Instead we painted both sides of the legs and claws and the bottom of a paper plate red. After everything was dry, the paper plate was folded in half. The legs and claws were then sandwiched in between the folded plate and all was glued together. Once the glue was totally dry and we knew the legs would NOT fall off, we glued fluffy red pipe cleaners to each of the legs to give them a little bit of depth and some texture. In addition, we took red leaf shaped "sequins" and glued two onto each claw. Once again we glued googly eyes to the paper plate and drew on a mouth with paint. We had used LOTS of glue on the legs so it took several days (in our humidity) for the legs to dry where we could hang them up. Just be aware of that in case you don't have somewhere flat to lay it until it dries.

Shoe Fish: I think I lied earlier. This was the EASIEST by far of all the projects we did for the month. This simple fish is made from a tracing of the student's shoe. Trace the shoe onto construction paper. Cut it out exactly to the shape of the shoe to begin with. After it is cut, then decide where the mouth will be. Cut a v-shaped slit for the mouth. Then cut the heel into the tail fin. Make it the shape you want for the fish. from the remaining construction paper that was cut from originally, make fins and glue to the body of the fish. Use any scrap construction paper to add "distinguishing marks" to the fish. Glue on a googly eye and the shoe print is now a fish!

Coffee Filter Fish: This craft was made by simply coloring a coffee filter with wash off markers. Be sure to cover as much of the coffee filter as possible with color. Also (as a word to the not so wise like me) be sure to have SOMETHING UNDER THE COFFEE FILTERS when coloring!! The coffee filters are thin enough that even the washable markers go through and will leave marks on your table. Luckily they ARE washable so they come up fairly easily. After they are colored, sprinkle with water--do NOT soak them totally or the color will fade out completely. The colors will meld together into very unique patterns. Allow to dry overnight. Once they are totally dry, begin cutting the coffee filter into a fish shape. We didn't use a pattern so each of our fish were different shapes. Use the left over filters to make extra fins, designs on the fish, or save to use when you need colored tissue paper for a collage later. Glue on a googly eye. We covered ours in saran wrap on both the front and back as they are working in our building and we have come in to find water has dripped and changed some of our art projects. As these have already been "water bled" on purpose, we didn't want any more water getting on them.

And for the final project that I'll show, I have saved our favorite project for last. It may not be the cutest; but it could possibly be termed the most original of the works we did. This one did not come from another teacher nor a search through the internet. My assistant and I came up with this one on our own. It is our version of Jellies: This jelly (not jelly fish, as they are NOT fish) started out as a full piece of newspaper that was painted and allowed to dry over night. The next day, we took a second full sheet of newspaper and filled it with torn and crumpled up pieces of newspaper. We pulled the corners in and tucked in all the sides and then bunched them tightly in the middle. that was then all taped together securely. The painted newspaper was then placed over this and the corners were brought together and then scrunched together over the first layer of newspaper. Again it was taped securely together. Crepe paper streamers were then cut into lengths of about two feet. We used two shades of pink and two shades of yellow. Each streamer was cut down the middle in half (well approximately--we weren't real accurate with things on purpose). These were were all glued randomly around the bottom of the newspaper . We made sure that several pieces covered the area we'd scrunched up so that it was hidden. Once hung, they resembled jelly blobs with their "stingers" floating in the water. The breeze that comes through our hallway's end door helped with the "illusion" as the crepe paper streamers gently fly on the breeze.
This is a general idea of what it all looks like when hung in the hall. Of course several of the things were hung on the wall as well. But this is what people see when they first come into our end of the hallway. Hope this gave some of you that have little ones an idea of ways you can help teach them about sea life.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Field Trip to IMMS-Marine Education & Research Center

Outside my window...It is cloudy, it was raining earlier in the day and down right storming in the morning--threatening to ruin a great day. Yet the rain cleared and left us with just a cloudy day so we were able to go on our field trip.

I am thinking...that today was one of the best field trip days I've had with my class. I've had some great field trips; and this one is up near, if not on the top, of the list.

I am thankful for...the paid workers and
volunteers that work at the Institute for Marine Mammals Studies Marine Education and Research Center. Those folks are AWESOME. They took my special needs students and gave them a field trip experience that was one that was so great. They treated them similar to general education students and at the same time were patient and ready to do things WITH them.

From the field trip...our students were able to see and touch (in some cases) hermit crabs, blue crabs, horseshoe crabs, seastars, shark teeth, shark & dolphin skulls, sawfish saws, sea life fossils, and so much more. They were treated to a big (theater size) screening of Bill Nye the Science Guy & Mammals. They learned how a sick sea turtle was nursed back to health and then returned home to the sea. They were able to play touch screen games including games that taught about sea life, recycling, the food chain, and the coral reef.

I am wearing...a goofy grin and my field trip shirt. Two years ago, we were going on a field trip and I wanted all the kids to be dressed in the same shirt so that they would be easily recognized as being with my class. I used an iron on transfer paper and made a design that was put onto shirts for the students and then I made smaller images that went on the pocket of shirts for the staff and frequent chaperones (people like my DH that goes on most all of our field trips to help us out, or parents that go everywhere and do everything with us). I pulled those shirts out of the (virtual) mothballs and wore it today. My assistant and my husband wore their shirts as well.

I am reading...up on a few fish that we saw today that we'd never seen before. For instance, have you ever heard of a sea robin fish? Their fins appear as if they're flying when they're swimming and it almost looks like they are walking as across a sandy area. I have found out that they are thought to be part of the flying fish family as their tail fin will make the fish appear to jump out of the water when they are in shallow water. But the actual scientific classification does not put them into the same family.

I am hoping...that my students enjoyed this field trip as much as I did. I know that there were several times when the staff and volunteers of the center were watching us trying to figure out who the "kid" really was--is she just a kid or is she the teacher? Hmmm, I'd say the answer is BOTH! LOL I'd hoop and holler when the students got answers right or would touch things. I was the one with all the excitement as we went from one exhhibit to the next. Even though my students don't always show their enjoyment and enthusiasm (like a lot of other people I know as well), I certainly hope that they felt as good about this trip as I did. I know that the 3 chaperones that were with us, the bus driver and my teaching assistant all loved the trip as much as I did. So that only leaves the students. Unfortunately, there's not really a way to determine if they had a good time or not--as a post trip evaluation. Besides, they were all so tired when we got back that I think they were all just sort of zoning.

I am creating...a picture slide show or maybe I'll put it into a power point file all the pictures that were taken so that I can share the experience with the students' parents and other teachers so that they can see the fun we all had. I am also trying to write up an article for our local newspapers that will provide exposure for the Education and Research Center, exposure for our school, and some good words for the folks that helped us out so much today.

I am praying...that our school/school district will have enough funds to allow us to go on more field trips throughout the year. Field trips can provide experiences that nothing else can--not even virtural field trips. They have the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of things in a particular environment that you can't always describe or teach.

One of my favorite things...the discovery of this new Marine Education and Research Center!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Simple Woman's Journal Entry--or is that a Woman's Simple Journal Entry

Do you sometimes feel like you have nothing worth blogging about? Do you feel like there isn't anything to say? How about using these thought provokers to get you started. You can then keep either add to it or use as is. I have borrowed this idea from Amanda (and I thank you for it. Sometimes I need that little bit of help to get me started, and this is perfect to do just that.).
For Today...August 26, 2009
Outside my beautiful and dogs and my "adopted dogs" (the ones that showed up on Saturday and we haven't found their owners yet) are enjoying the almost cool air. Its under 75 so that's cool for this time of the year in the mornings.

I am thinking...about a lot. Babies, babies, babies, babies--in the grandbaby format!!!! 'Nuf said!!!

I am thankful for...the ability to love my friends and family without worrying (any longer) if they love me back or not. That has been hard for me to do. Previously, if I loved them, I felt they should return the love--even if they don't show it. I have finally (ok so I'm slow) figured out that I don't have to have them love me back for me to love them.

From the kitchen...hmmmm I think I better clean the kitchen before I start cooking in it. Since cooking last night only involved the heating of chicken nuggets, maybe I should actually cook tonight. Then again, maybe not! LOL

I am as my youngest son used to call it for years Geen, Mommy, you're wearing Geen!!!! Green scrub pants, lime green top, and my most favorite of all shoes (well at least the ones I wear the most--guess that makes them my favorite) New Balance tennis shoes. I wear them to work, I wear them to go shopping, I wear them most all the time that I'm not at the house where I can go barefooted!

I am reading...Swimsuit by James Patterson

I am hoping...for so many things, that there is no way to categorize them. I guess my biggest hope was answered yesterday when Dave was hired for a great position at the new Best Buy! He begins the new job Sept 12 and his current job ends on Sept 9. There is a possibility that he will be able to continue (especially during holidays and big sales) on a part time basis at JCP.

I am creating...the bedding set for Gigi's baby! I have the bumper guard about 1/2 way finished. As we are down to 40 days until the due date, I suppose I should get my butt in gear and get it (and all the other things that are planned for the new little one) done!

I am praying...for healthy pregnancies and babies....for a new satisfaction with Dave's new job...for a good day at the IMMS on our field trip tomorrow...for so many things.

Around the house...we are working hard to get the remaining boxes unpacked, find room for things that we really NEED to keep or feel we HAVE to have and de-clutter and get extra junk out of here. It seems the more we try to de-clutter and throw things away, the more things we have come in or acquire in one way or another.

One of my favorite my DVR !!! OMG what a wonderful device. The ability to record shows (ok, no biggy, you could always do that with VCRs), to pause a show in process to go grab a drink or a potty break, to play the same show picking up where you paused instead of missing the "good part" of the show! is the greatest!!! That way we don't miss anything in shows we're watching and NOT taping! Awesome, Awesome, Awesome!!!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

It may take hand over hand assistance, but who is to say that our special students shouldn't be allowed to do things that our general education students do? Pouring a carton of milk (8 oz.) is easy for most of us and most of our children. But teens like this young lady get as, much if not more, out of the experience of cooking as her "normal" peers. I am so thankful for my teaching assistant, Micki. She and I have a wonderful class; but our class would not be half as wonderful without her!

Monday, August 10, 2009

An Untimely Choice For Me

At the beginning of this year (was it really 8 months ago--yes it was 8 months ago to the day no less!) I had made the decision that I was finally going to get my butt in gear and start making all the quilts that I see so many others make and I was going to be as good at it as my mother and grandmother were. I was all gung ho about making the 3 different quilts I was starting. I was working on them diligently.... and then.... well..... the excuses started... the time ran short... the patterns wouldn't cooperate... the people were supportive and I never looked back to see how many complaints I got about my block being the wrong size... I never went back to finish the "Make it up as you go along" quilt.... I got through the first couple of months of the calendar quilt and...... well there hasn't been anymore done on it or any other quilt. I look around at all the blogs that I started following (YES, I do still lurk and read them, just not daily as I did before) and I see these absolutely beautiful quilts that have been completed by so many. I see crafts and ideas and organization coming out the wazoo! Yet I haven't seemed to be able to take any of the ideas, the creativity, the organization and do anything with any of it! So I have discovered that I made an UNTIMELY Decision back in January. I have realized (and should have realized this 8 months ago) that I don't have the discipline, determination or dexterious skills to handle one let alone three quilts at this time, nor any time in the near future.

I have some baby blankets--as I refuse to call them quilts as I cannot quilt and no longer claim to even be able to piece them together--to make for my 3 grandchildren and one precious child that I call my adopted grandchild, Forrest, that doesn't have any grandparents that live close to him. I will be putting fabric together or sandwiching batting between fabric in the attempt to make these blankets; but I refuse to call them quilts. Others may, but I will not.

In the event that my life finally finds a point in time where I can slow down long enough to focus, concentrate, and become disciplined enough to complete projects; then I may once again take up the endeavors of learning to quilt. To all of you that have been a part of my brief quilting existence and hopefully an even longer blog life yet to come, I thank you for using the blogosphere as a means of support for those of us that can't do what you do, being there giving your ideas freely, sharing your creativity, allowing us in on your organizational hints, and for allowing us to view a glimpse of the lives of true quilters. I will continue, if allowed, to follow your blogs and your daily triumphs and occassional defeats. To those of you that have become true hat is off to you and I profess my adoration for your skills.

Update Part 4

It seems that I have lost track of time and what number of this update should be. Seems like just yesterday I was telling everyone about my newly born granddaughter--who is now 3 1/2 months old! And NO I still haven't had the opportunity to go see her. Hopefully I will be able to see her at Thanksgiving if not sooner. She is so beautiful. I still say she looks just like her Daddy--but I know she will be as pretty as her Momma.

It also seems like I was just announcing that my daughter was going to have a baby. We are now down to 8 or so weeks! That just doesn't seem possible. We still don't have one of the side rails for the crib she was given--it is still in the woman's storage unit. And I just can't seem to light a fire under my daughter to get her to call about it so we can have the crib set up and ready! I don't have the bedding made yet for the crib, nor the curtains and other accessories to match. Of course, I've just been able to find the first of the fabric pieces I'll need to make them. Do you know how hard it is to find space themed fabric that isn't cartoons? The remaining fabric I guess I will have to bite the bullet and order from somewhere online. The place I've found the fabric I like the best is But now that I have some fabric I found at Wal-mart (and of course, its a fabric that Wal-mart has discontinued carrying!) I have to see if it will "match" or at least coordinate. And that's hard to do when you don't know for sure the colors in the fabric! OK OK I'll quit griping about it.

I'm proud to tell you that we are now expecting our 3rd grandchild as well. Dave's son, Zach and his wife, Amanda, announced that they are expecting and will be due in March. That will make 3 grandchildren in 18 months. I told our other two children (one of which is still in high school)--"Ok, every 6 months someone has announced they're pregnant. Neither of you need to be making that announcement 6 months from now!" Of course it wouldn't surprise us if we did get that notification!

I'm also proud to tell you that my expectant daughter is now engaged as well. Scott was so cute when he proposed (and if I can find the right file I will attach it here so you can see it). It was nothing spectacular, nothing over the top, but he was sincere and nervous and so excited when she said yes!

On the reverse side of all of this happiness, I need to express my grief and also my ability to rejoice at the loss of two of my former students. Yes I did say my ability to rejoice--as the fact that I know that they are both in the home of their eternal Father allows them to once again be whole with no limitations for them. They have no limitations physically, mentally, emotionally and they are now our own special guardian angels watching out over those of us that were family, caregivers, teachers, medical professionals, friends, and many that only had brief contact with them.

July marked the end of life for one of my students, Ralphael or known to us as Ralphy.

This weekend marked the end of life here on earth and the beginning in heaven for another, Earnest or better known as Nookie. Nookie & his Mom, LaDonna

These two young men were in my life for many years. I have known and taught Ralphy for 9 years and Earnest for 12 years. I was not only their teacher; but also became a part of the family in some respects. The two of them definitely were a part of our family. Both girls and Dave knew them and had visited them both in the class. In addition, the girls had been out to Ralphy's house when I was his homebound teacher. In addition, I also taught 2 of Ralphy's sisters and now have his 3rd sister in the class this year.

So these students become a part of me, like all my students do. Unlike most teachers that just have a student a year and then they are off to another teacher, my students are with me from anywhere from 1-10 years before they graduate. And I often try to keep up with them and their families after graduation as well.