Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Being Sick Blows!!!!

And, I mean the two boxes of Kleenex kind of blows!

I got up yesterday morning with all intents of going to work only...

I had a fever.

I will teach through a stuffed nose, a sore throat, a headache etc BUT I know that fever means STOP, REST and GET WELL!

So, back to bed I went. I slept most of the day away. Waking once and managing to get out of bed long enough to check my emails (and, okay, I admit it, pin a few new pins on pinterest!).

I really, really, really just wanted to go back to bed. I felt so lousy that even my skin hurt. Yep. You heard me right. My. Skin. Hurt.
It is like a sunburn without the fun tropical vacation to go with it.
So, after a bit of Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup it was back to bed
for me!

It is now 24 hours later and my body feels better. Still achy. Still feeling a bit sunburned. Still stuffy. But on the mend. I will be able to go to work tomorrow (won't be 100% but I'll be there) assuming that my bus will be able to get up the hill. 

this is what it looked like in previous years.

I awoke to a world of white. The snow has been falling steadily (according to my hubby) and, while it is lovely to look at from the safety of my warm house, I know that it causes havoc to our roadways.

So, fingers crossed, that the buses are running smoothly and I can get up the hill to school in the morning!

WWR December 19

from here

This seems to me to be an important thing to remember at this time of year. Life gets crazy busy at Christmas time. It is too easy to get caught up in the materialism and rush, rush, rush of the season.

Don't get me wrong. I am so hoping to get the stiletto heel wine bottle holder from my hubby.

I mean, how cool is that? Combining my love of shoes and red wine in one gift. Awesome!

Yet, in among all of the wishes for new things in my life, I will be taking the time to be grateful for the wonderful things (and people!) that are already a part of my life.  I know how fortunate I am to have my family, my house, my job, my health...the list can go on.

I hope that each and every one of you remembers all that you already have over the coming weeks. May your holidays be filled with much love, laughter and happiness!!!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Spelling This Week Dec 17 - 21

We are taking a break from our spelling program this week! Instead, we are going to spend some time on holiday activities. Yay!!!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Starting to feel the magic....

It is that time of year when we all want to believe in a little magic.

This week in writing, I saw magic in action.

One of the things I love the most about teaching grade 1 is when the light bulb goes off and a student's learning just takes off.

It is like magic.

One day it is as if they can hardly write a sentence and then, magically, they are writing a half a page and it makes sense!

Of course, it is not magic. It is teach, practice, teach, practice, teach, practice over and over again day after day. 

But, even though I know all the effort that went in to learning the skill, it still feels like it just happened. Like magic dust!

I have to do a shout out to one of the students (you know who you are!) who has recently been sprinkled with some of that magic dust.

In September, this student's writing looked like this...

It says:
This is my house.
I like my house.
This is my house.
It has a (something!)
And, this week, the same student wrote this...

It says:
Finally,the gingerbread girl passed a cow. The cow said "I was going to eat grass but I think I will eat you instead." But the gingerbread girl said, "Run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me. I'm the gingerbread girl.
Without any help from me! I am so, so proud of how hard this particular student has worked this term.

I can hardly wait for the whole class to feel the magic!!!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Liebster Award....WOW!!!!

I have been nominated for an award!!! It is the Liebster Blog Award. This award helps bloggers find new blogs that have less than 200 followers (yep, that would be me!). Christy over at Mrs. Christy's Leaping Loopers AND Nikki over at Love, Laughter and Lesson Plans both nominated me. Thanks!!!!
Okay, so here are the rules:
You must post 11 random things about yourself.
Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
No tag back but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster

So, first things first, here are 11 random things about myself:

1. I seem to have developed an addiction to Oh Henry bars.
2. I am allergic to cats but let my daughter get one 8 months ago anyways. 3. This is my 20th year teaching. 4. I want to live in Australia at some point in my life.
5. I went to 3 elementary schools.
6. I love doing arts and crafts.
7. My apartment looks like a vintage shop. My hubby likes to collect all things old and colourful. Think doll heads and old doors.
8. I hate shopping in malls.
9. I read 4 to 5 novels a week.
10. I have been sewing since I was 12. I still use the same Kenmore sewing machine that I got for Christmas in grade 8.
11. I like coffee in the morning and tea in the evening.

Here are the 11 questions from Christy that I need to answer: 

1. Have you bought ALL of your Christmas gifts?
All but one

2. Do you have a Teacher Pay Teacher Store?

3. Who is your favorite actor/actress?
Don't really have one. 

4. Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob? Neither. Have never read any of the books or seen the movies. I have left that to my teenager to do!

5. What's your favorite adult or kid book? Loved The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Can never read Goodnight Moon too many times!  

6. What's your favorite color? Turquoise 

7. What color Christmas lights do you prefer: Multi Color or Clear?
Clear for decorating the house. Coloured on the tree.

8. Sneakers or flip flops?
No question...flip flops

9. Are you afraid of heights? Kinda. Certainly don't like them much. 

10. Did you go shopping on Black Friday? Does going to the Salvation Army thrift shop count? 

11. What food do you hate?

Here are the questions Nikki over at
Love, Laughter and Lesson Plans asked me to answer:

1. What movie would you identify your life with and why? I don't know the answer to that one. Don't watch enough movies,
I guess!

2. What is your favorite sport? Not much of a sports person. If I had to pick one to watch, it would probably be football. One to play? Running.

3. Are you a dog person or a cat person? Didn't think I was much of either but now own one of both!

4. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?
Art. No contest. I love everything creative.

5. If you could move anywhere in the world where would you go?
Melbourne, Australia

6. What is your favorite winter time tradition?
Our family picnic in front of the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. We eat shrimp cocktails, cheese and crackers and have a glass of wine while we open all of our gifts to each other.

7. What is one thing that you wish you had for your classroom right now? A full time aide.

8. Favorite book of all times? I read 3-4 novels a week so this is a hard one to decide.

9. What are some of your hobbies? (outside of school!)
Painting, sewing, making things, reading (a lot!), blogging

10. What do you do for stress relief?
Go to the gym. Read.

11. What is your number one thing you advise new teachers to do for a successful school year? Pick one subject and teach it to 150% of your ability. Do all the others but don't give them as much of your time and attention. The next year, pick another subject to really concentrate on. Do this with each subject for your first few years of teaching. I got this advice when I first started and it made everything less overwhelming. Plus, within a few years, I had a really good grasp on the expectations and how to teach each subject.

And here are the 11 questions that I am asking the blogs I choose to answer:

1) How long have you been teaching?

2) How do you spend your spare time?

3) Iphone or Blackberry?

4) Books or TV?

5) What is your favourite holiday?

6) Have you traveled anywhere?

7) Are you finished all of your holiday shopping?

8) What is your favourite drink at Starbucks (or your local coffee spot)?

9) Do you have any pets?

10) If you were not a teacher, what would you do instead?

11) How long have you been blogging?

And now for the drumroll please....dum dum dum dum....

I wish I knew 11 up and coming blogs but I don't. Seems like everywhere I go everyone has way more followers than me! So here are 5 that I like.

1. Amanda and Stacia at
Collaboration Cuties

2. Jordan at
Team V's First Grade Fun

3. Ashely at
The School Supply Addict

24-7 Teacher

5. Samantha at
Learning with a Happy Heart

Monday, December 10, 2012

Going, Going, Gone!!!

This afternoon my admin came to my room and told me she would cover my class if I wanted to go watch them tear down my old room. So, off I went!

See the arrow? That is pointing at my old room. Both windows on the left hand side were once my classroom.

And with one GIANT bite my ceiling disappeared!

A few more bites and half of my old classroom was gone, gone, gone.

I didn't expect to feel as sad as I did watching it come down. Some of my fondest memories happened in that room.
I loved being there.
It was my happy place.
I miss it more than I anticipated.
But, I know, that, given time, the new building will be a place that holds just as many fond memories for me.
It is my happy place in the making!
Ms. Hughes

Spelling Week 13 Dec 10 - 14

This week's words are:


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sometimes the smallest change can make a HUGE difference.

Since the start of the year the class has been going through pencils at an astonishing rate. They had a basket to pick up pencils if they couldn't find theirs and another basket to put broken pencils but both were inevitably empty each day at 3pm.

Just where do all those pencils go? Honestly, if I didn't know better, I would think that they were secretly eating them or something! Or perhaps they were running off to live with the socks that disappear in my laundry each week?

After sharpening and putting out the very last of our pencil supply FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR, I decided that something had to be done.

I saw an idea on pinterest (where else?) and decided to give it a go.

And, so, the Pencil Hospital was born!

Check it out.

The idea is that sharp pencils are in the top drawer and "hurt" (or unsharpened pencils) go in the bottom hospital drawer.

Some of the students decided to sort the pencils and use the top part of the unit as well. So, now the Pencil Hospital looks like this:

And, lo and behold,I took this photo on Friday afternoon after fixing up all those "hurt" pencils and the spaces are filled with pencils.  Yippee!!!
We have now decided that the buckets that hold extra scissors and glue are going to be "hotels" and the supplies need to be there each afternoon so that they can get a good rest in their "hotel rooms."
It is such a small, silly thing to rename the baskets with "hospital" or "hotel" but it seems to spark something in the students' imaginations and suddenly they buy in to the idea of putting things away. Will wonders never cease?
Ms. Hughes


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rocking It Old School

I haven't really done a proper update in awhile. Sorry about that. This is going to be a long one so go grab a cup of tea and get ready for a visit.

Go on.

I'll wait.

Got your tea?

Okay then, here goes...the last few weeks have been a whole lot of crazy. They have felt a bit like two steps forward and three steps back.

It has been like September all over again with students exhibiting very annoying challenging behaviours as they test out the new space and try to figure out just what they can and can't do.

Routines that worked just fine in the old school haven't been working AT ALL in the new space.

And the talking. Geez, the talking. What can I say about the talking? Well, if I could find the on/off switch I would be in heaven. They talk when they should be listening and talk when they should be talking. They are a very social group.  It is crazy, crazy, crazy!!!!

This past week I hit the wall with the chitter chatter. I decided to wait them out and see how long it took the whole class to notice that I was standing at the front waiting to start. Wanna guess how long it took?

Come on, make a guess! Thirty seconds? A minute? Two??

Nope, not even close! It took over five minutes for each student to notice that the others were not talking anymore! One by one they s-l-o-w-l-y noticed that the class was getting progressively quieter and stopped talking to look to the front.

And, believe it or not, the last two talking continued their conversation for at least a minute while the other twenty students and I were all silently waiting!!!! They didn't even notice that we were all silent!!!!

So, we no longer have desks in groups. We are rocking it old school and sitting in rows. I can't remember the last time I had a set up like this (or if I ever have!) but I am so, so, so glad that I changed it up. Every year is a different school of fish (or children as the case may be!) and what worked one year, does not necessarily work the next.

This set up is soooooo much better! They are still a chatty bunch but, let's face it, that is unlikely to change unless they all have personality transplants (and that would be very sad indeed as they are a wonderfully fun and creative bunch!)


Sitting in rows they are not talking as much! Yay!!!!! And I am able to work with more of them one on one during seat work time. Double Yay!!!! And I am able to separate more students from each other which also cuts down on the chatter. Triple Yay!!!!

I also moved all of our math stations and levelled books into the DaVinci studio. We are using the yellow studio for our Morning Meeting and Choosing Time. I was finding the math tubs were just too big a distraction. (Plus, the Smartboard is on the fritz again so I am rocking it old school with the chart stand as well!!!!)

The group area in the DaVinci looks like this now...

See? I am rocking it with the pocket chart, too!!! I am just one rockin' teacher, huh?!?!

The past three days have been so different from the three weeks before them. It feels like we are finally finding our groove. Yay!!!

In other news...we started a study of the Gingerbread Man. So far we have read three versions. We read the classic, The Gingerbread Boy,  by Paul Galdone...

And then we wrote about our favourite part of the story. Here are a few examples of their writing...

Today we re-read The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires
and wrote about how the book ends. Then we put our writing into our Gingerbread Man folders. They are so darn cute! Check out a few...


 They are made to look like they are in a bottle. There is a cute poem about keeping the Gingerbread Man in a jar so he won't run away again. We had so much fun making these on Monday. I love how each Gingerbread Man (or Girl) is as unique as the student who made it.

And we read the Hawaiian version today. It is called The Musubi Man and was first given to me by a student who went on a trip to Hawaii around the same time as we were doing a Gingerbread Man unit. It is such a cute story and has a surprise ending which I love!

This week we also did some sewing. We made decorations and donated them to the craft sale tonight at the school. All the money from the sale of these decorations will go to our sister school. Such a good cause. My fingers are crossed that lots of money got raised!

I saw this ornament at Pier 1...

and thought...I can do that!!!! So, off to Michael's I went for supplies. Some felt, a needle and some threads with a jingle bell to be festive and the class made these!

They turned out so well. All the kids did such a great job sewing. I am determined to have the sewing centre up and running after the holidays. Know anyone with an old coffee table they don't want anymore? I still want to make one of these:
found at this site here

I know that they would love to sew on it and it would be so beneficial for their fine motor skills. Fingers crossed that I find one soon!

So I have now spent much of my evening writing this post and I just looked at the clock and it is past my bedtime! Yes, I know, it is very sad that my bedtime is a couple hours earlier than my teenage daughter's. I wish I could get by on 6-7 hours of sleep but it just isn't possible!

If you have managed to stay for this whole, long winded post, thanks! Hope you enjoyed the update and that your tea didn't get cold!!!

Ms. Hughes

WWR December 5

from here

Monday, December 3, 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Can you believe it is already December? Me either!!!!

I love, love, love everything about this month. The Christmas spirit, the lights twinkling on houses, the classic holiday movies and cartoons, the teaching topics (Gingerbread Boy here I come!), the Christmas carols at school, on the radio, on the cd player.

If it is about Christmas I am all over it!

I am linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her monthly linky party.

Happy, happy holidays to all of you!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

If there was some magical way to take my thoughts and send them straight to this blog, I would be posting all of the time. I will be walking the dog or waiting for the bus or whatever and think of something to share on here. Of course, by the time I get a chance to be at the computer, the thought is gone! That happened a lot this past week as I was home sick. I would think of an idea and, the next thing I knew, I would be waking up again and the idea was gone, gone, gone!

So, today will be one of those days with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. All the bits and bobs I have thought of sharing over the past couple of weeks (in between sleeping, taking sinus meds and sleeping some more!)

Grab yourself a cuppa and stay awhile!

Science first...

Last week the class had their first Science lesson in the new DaVinci studio. They did an experiment where they had to predict what would happen to a cork if it was on a bottle with vinegar and baking soda inside. Mrs. V. said the interesting thing about the experiment is that although each class did the experiment, they all had different predictions. Most of our class predicted correctly. The cork flew off!!!!

Holiday time...

One of our School and Staff Support Workers (SSSW's) celebrates the Hindu festival of Diwali. It translates into "Festival of Lights." Many of the teachers were wearing saris for the occasion and we all enjoyed an amazing Indian lunch in the staffroom. Yummy!

I spent forever and a day searching for one of my stories on Diwali to no avail. One of the things I hate about moving is not being able to put my hands on things again right away. So, I borrowed a book from another teacher and told the class a little bit about Diwali. Then, we made our own candle holders in honour of the occasion. 

We started playing with mixing glitter into the play dough. It was so much fun and the results are so wonderful. See?

And some up close...


Aren't they pretty?

I have to say that the invention of plasticine and play dough may just be what gets me through the rough patches this year. The class loved it! I mean loved, loved, loved it!!!! They were on task and happy as clams for almost an hour. It was a miracle!

Stay tuned for more plasticine/salt clay creations. Now that I know how much this class loves to work in this medium I am all over coming up with new ideas!

We are Mathematicians...

This past month we have begun using math stations during our math time. They are called B.U.I.L.D. stations with the letters standing for different activities. I love teaching this way because I am able to group the students in many different ways. One week the groups might be based on needs. Another week I can group randomly. The groups are fluid and constantly shifting. Students get to work with all of their classmates over time but I am also able to separate students who need a break from each other for awhile.

B is for Buddy Games where the students practice addition, subtraction, regrouping etc by playing games (they think it is just playing but we all know that they are learning while they play!)

U is for Using Math Tubs. Some days this is free exploration of the variety of manipulatives in the tubs but, most of the time, there is a specific task attached to the math tubs. One week, we might be building (no pun intended!) addition sentences with dominoes and another week we might be solving puzzles with 2-D shapes.

I is for Independent Reading. At this station, students read books about math. They can use the story to solve a math problem using pictures, numbers and words.

L is for Learning About Math. This allows me to give students either extra practice on certain skills or extra challenges where needed.

D is for Doing Math with the Teacher. Here I work with small groups on reviewing skills or teaching new skills. Some days this means working in our JUMP math books. Other days it may mean teaching a new game or activity using the Math Tubs.

A new fun way to do our DPA (Daily Physical Activity)...

The class has been loving the new brain break video I found on youtube via pinterest. I have to admit that I have a lot of fun doing it, too! Check it out!

I am sure that as soon as I post this I will think of a bunch of other things to share but I'm going to call it a day on this post. Thanks for visiting. So glad to be able to say that I am back in the classroom as of this Monday. I hate being sick!

Ms. Hughes