Posted in Kids, School

4th Grade Wrap Up

Well, yesterday was the last day of school! It was certainly an emotional and fun last day for Hayden and Hadley.

Of course, we’ve been distance learning since March, but I was so impressed with the extra opportunities the teacher provided their students in the past week.

Last week, the music teacher hosted a Virtual Talent Show. Hadley (with the help of Hayden) had Homer do some tricks! Hadley filmed Hayden’s pitching in the backyard. They had a great time seeing what other students shared as their talents.

Also, last week, the school hosted a virtual International Week. Usually, there’s an International Night in the spring, so they modified some of those activities and students learned about different countries and continents each day and there was a video of a “Parade of Nations” with pictures of students representing their various home nations.

On Tuesday this week, the teachers provided a link for a virtual field trip to Ft. Harrod which was a trip they were to have taken in April. They viewed the video and interviews and had a discussion about colonial Kentucky. Of course, it wasn’t the same as actually going on the field trip, but I appreciated that they still planned the experience for the students.

Yesterday, the last day of school, they each had their final Google meeting followed by a virtual field day. Honestly, both my kids were pretty sad, Hadley in tears and Hayden pretty quiet, when their meetings ended. Hadley was so sad not to have a normal goodbye, and I think Hayden felt the same way, but in his own quiet way. While my heart hurt for them, I am proud that they care about their school, their classmates, and their teachers to miss what’s “normal” to them.

Transitioning to the field day fun helped them ease into summer! I think Hadley’s class ended up “winning.”

Here are my traditional end of the school year pics!

Hadley has grown (literally taller!) but also has matured so much this year!

Hayden continues to push himself out of his comfort zone and tends to be a quiet leader.

First day of school vs. last day of school. They look so much older to me with the comparison!

In kindergarten and first grade, the kids went to after school care. I remember picking them up on the first day of kindergarten and “making” them take a picture in front of the school. Then, they naturally high-fived each other…so now I make them do that every year! Hadley appreciates a tradition…Hayden grumbles at my requests! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Then, it was time for field day. On their Google Classrooms, there were links posted on the pics (the graphic in the middle of collage) with activities. Then, we took a pic of the kids doing the activities, sent the pictures to their teachers, and that’s how their classes earned points. All the activities took about 45 minutes or so. The kids definitely had fun! (and, of course, Hayden accused Hadley of cheating! ๐Ÿคจ)

Then, a few moms got together for some social distance silly string and water balloons for the kids. The activities definitely brightened their mood and were a great way to kick off summer.

This year was the first year our school has used the Dojo app. Who knew at the beginning of the year how much we would rely on it for communication?! The teachers and administrators did an amazing job communicating with us throughout distance learning and the sweet messages from the teachers yesterday had me tearing up.

When we picked up the kids’ supplies, each teacher had put a little gift in the kids’ bags. This sweet gesture made both of them smile.

My kids are far from perfect. I promise…but of course, they make me proud. Third grade was a huge adjustment last year as it was the first year of them earning grades, there’s state testing, other assessments, etc. Fourth grade felt like an easier year as they were used to the expectations but they also had more opportunities as older kids in the school.

Both kids ran for their school’s cross country team this year (coached by their dad!) and earned awards for their Science Fair Projects. Hadley joined Academic Team for the third year in a row and as a 4th grader, she was able to join chorus. Both kids ended the year on the Honor Roll…which earned them the red plate for dinner and breakfast at home!

That being said, I’m the most proud of them for trying new things, being a good friend, being respectful, and trying their best. (The last one is a work in progress…๐Ÿ˜‰)

Honor Roll dinner
Honor Roll breakfast

I’ve chatted with other mom friends about while this time has seemed surreal, and at times overwhelming, I will forever look back on this time and cherish it. I never stayed home with the kids. I chose to continue my teaching career (which was best for all involved!), so I’ve always treasured my summer time with them…and now I can add this time to my memories as well.

I have the best seat in the house to watch them dream, believe, and achieve.

I can’t believe in a year they will be in middle school #omg and then I will blink and they will be graduating high school!

Here are their thoughts on the 4th grade.

I hope everyone has had a great end of the school year wrap up and an even better summer.

Have a great weekend,


Posted in Kids, School

End of the School Year Interview

I can’t believe the kids only have one week left of the 4th grade. I also can’t believe how the school year is ending! I thought I’d ask the kids a few questions about how they felt about the 4th grade, and share some of my thoughts too!

I found these questions online, and loved how they were organized to allow for both kid and mom responses!

Hayden’s Thoughts:

August 2019
  • What was the best part of this year? Recess (#realtalk)
  • What was your favorite thing about your teacher? She pushes us to do our best.
  • What was your favorite thing to learn about this year? I learned more difficult math like how to divide fractions.
  • Who was your best friend? Graham
  • What did you like to do at recess? Play football with my friends
  • What is something hard you did? Playing the recorder in music class
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? Basketball player
  • What was something that made you laugh this year? When my teacher would mess up, she’d say, “Oh man!”
  • What was your favorite specials class this year and why? Art because I like to draw.
  • What was your favorite school activity or field trip this year? Science Fair

Mom’s Thoughts:

  • I’m proud of you because…you push yourself out of your comfort zone when necessary.
  • One of my favorite memories of you this year was: watching you grow as a runner on the cross country team.
  • It has been fun to watch you: become more confident as a learner.
  • Three things I love about you: your inquisitive nature, your loyalty, and your perseverance
  • An area you grew in was: your speaking skills.
  • You strengthened our family by: your smile and your affection (You give the best hugs!)

Hadley’s Thoughts:

August 2019
  • What was the best part of this year? Being accepted into the Gifted and Talented Program for dance
  • What was your favorite thing about your teacher? She worked hard for us and had special activities for holidays and other parties.
  • What was your favorite thing to learn about this year? National Parks
  • Who was your best friend? Stella and Maggie
  • What did you like to do at recess? Run on the track
  • What is something hard you did? Math (#shegetsitfromhermama)
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? Elementary teacher
  • What was something that made you laugh this year? My teacher’s jokes and sometimes my teacher would call me Hayden (Hayden had the same teacher for 2nd grade.)
  • What was your favorite specials class this year and why? Music because we learned how to play the recorder.
  • What was your favorite school activity or field trip this year? Winter “Snow Biz” Chorus Performance

Mom’s Thoughts:

  • I’m proud of you because: you are enthusiastic about all that you do!
  • One of my favorite memories of you this year was: watching you sing and dance in your chorus performance.
  • It has been fun to watch you: continue to blossom into a confident young lady.
  • Three things I love about you: you are kind, inclusive, and fearless
  • An area you grew in was: dance performance and math.
  • You strengthened our family by: your intuitiveness (You know when I need extra help or a cup of coffee!)

I’d say that 4th grade was one of the best years for both kids. They are fairly independent with their school work, they have tried new activities, they continue to work on their confidence in areas of growth, and thankfully—THEY STILL NEED ME!!!

Cheers and high fives to a great school year!….even if it ended in quarantine!

I hope everyone is having a great week!

Take care,

Posted in School

Home โ€œSchoolโ€

Home “School” #fortheloveoflearning #andprayIkeepmysanity

Well, we are one week into this home school situation, so I thought I’d check in and share what we’ve been doing and hope to do during this extended time off.

First things first. Y’all, just because I’m a teacher, doesn’t mean this home school life is for me! This is a big adjustment for all of us. Also, I’m continuing to work on finding the balance of accomplishing learning with having the kids play outside and even have some independent time.

My kids were sent home with books and their chrome books. They can use the chrome books for their online math and reading learning.

Also, I donโ€™t feel like I need to come up with grand ideas as the kidsโ€™ teachers have provided the school work. I just thought since we have a bit of extra time on our hands, I could incorporate things the kids would like to do anyway….or activities we don’t typically have time to do. #nowwehaveallthetime

For me, (and the kids!) a schedule and a routine are important. My kids are going to bed just a bit later, but then they are also sleeping in. Instead of being in bed by 9, I’ve let them start getting ready for bed at that time and then lights out by 9:30. Thankfully, my kids have always been good sleepers and will sleep in as late as needed for them to feel rested. Of course, on a regular schedule, I’m more strict about it. And, actually, I don’t feel like we are too far off course of our normal routine.

So, I’ve basically told them that once they wake up they have an hour to have breakfast and do whatever they’d like (watch tv, text with friends, play xbox, etc). Then, the schedule begins…

  • Get dressed, brush teeth, make bed
  • Read for 30 minutes (me too!)
  • Play outside if possible/play inside (Legos, drawing, etc)
  • Lunch
  • Math for 30 minutes
  • 1 hour free time
  • Chore
  • Snack
  • Other learning (all the ideas I’m sharing below)
  • More independent play (or hopefully play outside)

Again, I’ve seen lots of schedules with specific times, but I’m just going with more of an order of events structure.

Hadley decided to type the schedule out (I think a few of her friends have done this) to keep in her room.

Or this schedule may work for you. ๐Ÿคฃ

Math/Science

Hadley had given Hayden this crystal kit for Christmas. So, we took the time to put it together last week. We found it at Michaels. *disclaimer: so far, nothing is growing! haha Probably user error.

Update: the crystals did grow! Took about 10 days or so.

We’ve also taken the time to bake a few treats. Hadley’s pretty independent with baking. She’s really good at reading the directions, measuring, mixing, etc. Baking counts as math and science, right?

Art

I’ve shared about these Sticker by Number books before, and they’ve come in handy for a little break in the academic learning. I even ordered myself one a few months ago.

Here are a few sticker books we’ve ordered in the past.

I read Andrea’s blog faithfully, and she always has really great educational ideas. She’s a middle school math teacher, but she also has a super creative side, so I love seeing what ideas she has to offer.

On Friday, we did this watercolor art project based on art by Wassily Kandinsky. Real talk: I’ve never heard of this artist! Well, maybe I learned about him in my college art history class twenty years ago?? Anyway, Andrea included three videos in the lesson. My kids watched all three and really enjoyed them and learned from them. Also, my kids also said their art teacher had taught them about Wassily Kandinsky. Yeah for prior knowledge ๐Ÿ˜‰

After watching the videos, I drew the lines on the paper. Together, we found circular objects around the house and traced them using pencil. Then, they traced them using crayons and then used water colors to paint. From start to finish, this probably took us 45 minutes to an hour. It was a great way to spend our Friday afternoon.

little artists
Finished products! I did one too.

I also saw people post on Facebook about Mo Willems, children’s author and illustrator, who is posting a Lunch Doodles series each day. The kids were excited to watch his episodes because they know his books. Plus, Hayden especially, loves to draw.

Lunch Doodles with Mo

Also, in an effort to support local small businesses, I bought Easter cookies from Maddie’s Cookie Co. for us to decorate this week. We love these cookies and want to support her business.

Social Studies

When I was tidying up my classroom last week, I found these books. I’ve had them forever as I’ve used them for years with some of my struggling high school readers. They are high interest, lower leveled reading. Thankfully, my kids are skilled readers, and these books are perfect for them to learn a bit more about these regions and topics.

The regional books have short passages about travel, folklore, environment, culture, people, and pastimes. After reading a passage from the book, I’ve just had the kids share with each other about what they read or write down three things they remember from the reading. They could also draw a picture or a map if they wanted to include some art in their learning. They aren’t reading the whole book in one sitting; they are just choosing the chapter that interests them.

I also picked up a few of the graphic novels in my room as well.

Experiences

Again, I’ve seen posts about various virtual field trips and online resources.

  • Zoos and Aquariums with safaris, live cams, and virtual tours-Cincinnati Zoo, Georgia Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Diego Zoo, and more!
  • There are museums with self-guided tours – Smithsonian, Van Gogh Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, among others!
  • International landmarks like Buckingham Palace, the Galapagos Islands, the Great Wall of China, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia with videos and virtual tours.
  • Theater, Film, Symphonies, and Operas live streaming recorded performances and music.

Of course, I haven’t checked all of these out, but I plan on using this link as a resource for some of our “other learning” time.

Hadley watched the daily 3:00 Facebook Live of the Cincinnati Zoo yesterday. The focus of the live was showcasing Kris and Remus, a cheetah and her companion dog! She really enjoyed watching it.

Also, the kids don’t know how lucky they are. Travis took them to the horse farm this past weekend to check out some of the baby horses!!

“Recess”

We’ve had lots of rainy weather recently, but thankfully, with each day, there’s been a break in the rain. The kids have ridden bikes, played basketball, had batting practice with the hitting net, walked Homer and gone for runs around the block.

We haven’t done it yet, but I know we can use side walk chalk to draw or even play Hop Scotch!

Also, maybe we can take a “field trip” and go for a hike soon.

Amy at Coffee and Cocktails at the Casa also had some awesome ideas! I love the idea about driving around and playing I Spy.

A Few Funnies

I wanted to leave you with a few laughs during these uncertain times. I hope these provide a giggle or two.

Real talk: Hayden and Hadley may want to schedule an appointment with their counselor for a schedule change due to a mean teacher ๐Ÿ˜‰

Are my kids probably still spending too much time on electronics? Yes. Do they still grumble at me when I ask them to brush their teeth? Yes. Also, you wouldn’t believe the number of times I have to ask Hayden to change out of his pajama pants in a day! Simply put, implementing a schedule and providing a bit of a routine is good for all of us…even if some days I feel like we get nothing accomplished ๐Ÿ˜‚

Also, I do try to be “present” in the learning with them. Except for math. I do my chores during math time ๐Ÿ˜‰ I just mean that when they are reading, I read. If they do an art project, I do one too. Also, I make a point to go outside with them for a bike ride or a walk.

I’m going to try to keep this routine over the next couple of weeks. Starting April 6, the kids will have more online learning, so I may adjust the schedule if needed.

Please share your ideas. How are you keeping your crew busy ?

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Take care,

Posted in Flashback Friday, Kids, School

Flashback Friday

We’ve survived the first two weeks of school. While I’ve been setting an early alarm for two solid weeks now, the kids have been able to ease into the back to school routine. In our district, students started on a Wednesday, so it was a three day first week of school last week; this week they had school Monday through Thursday with a teacher work day today.

I thought I’d share a little flashback of through the years on the first day of school, although I’m not sure why I do this to myself. ๐Ÿ˜‚

First day of 4th Grade

They definitely are looking like the big kids of the school this year.

And old enough (& I guess responsible enough?!) to ride their bikes to school.

Big kid status!

First day of 3rd Grade

Back when Hayden would wear his glasses and not just his sports goggles.

First day of 2nd Grade

2nd grade pic is one of my faves. They look older but not too old…and I loved their back to school outfits that year because they actually did pick them out themselves.

First day of 1st Grade

I do think 1st grade pic is my fave. Hadley’s outfit is the best…bow and all.

First day of Kindergarten

Ready to rock elementary school.

And just for fun (or a kick in the ovaries)…

April 2010 –First day going to their sitterโ€™s house.

Ms. Joan watched them until they went to kindergarten. Such a special lady! โค๏ธ

Babies donโ€™t keep, & time continues to fly by.

I hope you have a great Friday,

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Posted in School, Traditions

Back to School (Breakfast!)

We started back to school this week…and the go to bed at a decent time / wake up early struggle is real (for the adults as well as the kids!) Once the kids started kindergarten, I decided I better go all in to get them excited about going back to school. To be honest, my goal with sending them off to school to have the best day ever is also for myself. Each year, I’m a little sad when I realize how quickly time is passing. Also, each year, it’s hard for me to get in my own back to school groove. While I’m always happy to get back in my classroom and meet new students, it’s not as simple as that. As a teacher, with the return to school, it also means: meetings, organizing my classroom, planning lessons, making copies, learning 150 new names, writing a professional growth plan, evaluations, waking up early…the list goes on and on…as well as juggling life and activities at home.

One of my favorite blogs to read is Momfessionals. She is a teacher as well and does a Back to School Brinner (breakfast for dinner) the night before school starts. http://www.momfessionals.com/2019/08/back-to-school-brinner.html#more

After reading about her brinner a few years ago, I thought it would be fun to start the Back to School Breakfast tradition at my house.

It may look like a lot of effort goes into kicking the school year off right for my family, but I have it down to a science now, and I keep all my props in a tub with lid that I just pull out when it’s time for our Back to School Breakfast.

I set up the night before school starts. I’m always afraid I will forget something in the morning if I wait until then.

I bake the muffins a day or two before. Usually, I ‘m throwing a PopTart at them to eat in the morning, so I’m always happy to start the school year with muffins, yogurt, and strawberries. The muffins are just made from a Betty Crocker mix. Easy peasy.

I printed the “Back to School Breakfast” page off of the internet back when the kids were in kindergarten and have kept it in a folder for safe keeping.

Like most of my back to school books, I found This School Year Will Be the Best Yet on Amazon a few years ago. When the kids were younger, we usually read it after the first day of school, but now that doesn’t seem to always happen.

I always just pull a few apples from the fridge to add as decoration, and the kids snack on them later, of course.

I’ve had this chalkboard for years. I actually have a couple of them, and sometimes I use them around the house. After using it for a breakfast decoration, the kids use it for the back to school pictures I make them take ๐Ÿ˜‰

I believe this is the third year that I’ve purchased back to school cookies for the kids. I’ve had such great luck buying cookies from some local ladies to support their small businesses. These cookies are from Maddie’s Cookie Company here in Lexington,and I’ve even taken a couple of decorating classes from her. I always have so much fun and dream of doing this one day on the side…but it takes so much time and effort. I certainly understand the price point after seeing what goes in to making these cookies.

The black plates, book, napkins and paper apples all came from Amazon. Honestly, it was a 20 pack of napkins, but I use the same folded one every year. The apples came in a pack as well, and I just use a new one each year and write their new grade level on it. I think this is the second year I’ve use the folder as a placemat with the same sticky note with their name on it. The placemat idea came from the Momfessionals blog. Lastly, I’m always surprised with what books I find on Amazon after searching for whatever grade the kids are starting. Thankfully, both my kids like to read, so it’s a way to keep them reading and give them something to start the year.

Luckily, the kids oblige with my back to school pictures, and I appreciate it. Time is flying by, and it’s nice to have the pictures to compare each year. (while I’m curled up in the corner crying ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hadley’s shirt is the best: More Summer Please!

It’s such a blessing to live so close to our kids’ elementary school. We always walk the first day (and I snap a backpack picture). We usually walk 2-3 days a week until November and then again in the spring when it warms up after spring break. We’d walk every day, but I have to hustle to school, so dropping off some days does provide for a quicker turn around time for me. I really enjoy walking with them, and Travis joins us on the walk as well (and this year, Homer too!)…thus giving the two of us 1:1 time when we walk home to get a plan for whatever activities we have going on after school or that week.

This year, their school really welcomed the students with cute and colorful yard signs!

Lastly, here’s my classroom as I start my 18th year of teaching. I’m hoping all three of us have a great year!

It’s hard to believe that I only have one more back to school breakfast for the kids before they start middle school. Middle school has a later start time, so I may have to use the Back to School Brinner idea because who knows what our mornings will look like once the kids are in 6th grade?! It may sound cheesy, but I always want all three of us to start the year putting our best feet forward, and I think the breakfast tradition is a great way to set the tone for the year.

I hope everyone has had a great first week of school. I’ve taken a nap every afternoon this week as the back to school transition is always the hardest on me! I’m planning on resting up this weekend before all of our activities start up next week!

Take care,

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea