Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hope you all had a...

holly, jolly Christmas!!!!

Okay, okay...I know that Christmas has come and gone and that we are now well into the swing of Boxing Day/Week.

Hmmm... Boxing Week....(does that seem as weird to you as it does to me? How did one day become a week?!?! And when did it become about getting more for ourselves and not about giving to others?!?!)

...but I am at my own house for the first time in days, with my own computer and my photos saved on the hard drive, so I want to post a few Christmas-y things.

My Christmas was quite lovely really.

As many of you know, we are now living in two houses. We spend time at our house and, are also simultaneously, living with my Mum. My daughter says it is kind of like divorced families where the kids go back and forth between houses but, in our case, it is the adults who go back and forth!!! (Well, we sleep there the most, but the good egg does sleep there at least 2 nights a week. Thank you!)

My good egg and I did up our Christmas tree a few days before the big day. It used to be that we would put lots of basic ornaments on it but now that she is 17, we mostly put her ornaments on! I started buying an ornament (or 2) a year for her when she was born. Each ornament signifies something about her life over the previous year. She now has a very large shoe box filled with ornaments about her life. She pulls them all out and organizes them chronologically and we enjoy a trip down memory lane as she puts each one on the tree. It is something I look forward to doing with her each year (her dad is a wee bit Scroogey and doesn't do the tree with us!)

Some of her ornaments are childhood memories of favourite shows. While others are of things like taking skating lessons or learning how to play the violin. One is of a woman singing and symbolizes the years she spent in choir. This year we added two new ornaments to the tree. Both from Disneyworld this past summer.  One day she will want to take the box of memories away with her to put on her own tree and I am not so sure that I am going to be able to let her!
So, as is our tradition, we spent Christmas Eve in our own home. Our little family of three has a tradition of eating a picnic in front of the Christmas tree and then opening all of our gifts to each other afterwards. The menu never varies. Shrimp cocktail, crackers, cheeses and pate. Simple and easy. Oh, and wine...can't forget the wine!

 This year, we had a real fireplace for the first time...ever! It was really, really lovely to sit and enjoy a glass of wine (a red given to me by one of the parents in my class AND my first sip in 10 days as I finally, finally finished the second round of penicillin for my now gone strep throat!) and open the gifts my hubby and daughter had gotten for me.

One of my favourite gifts  is the Pandora charm my good egg got for me. It is this one...!790950EN27/theme/~60

and has matching hearts that go together to make a bigger heart. On one heart it says mother. On the other it says daughter. I love it!!!! The thing I love about the Pandora charm bracelets is how each charm acts as a visual reminder of something or someone near and dear to me. I can look down on my wrist and literally count my blessings.

Then we headed back to my Mum's house and slept there. We had a lazy morning with my sister and brother (with their children) coming over around 2pm for an afternoon of gifts and family time. Then off my brother went to continue with his Christmas and the 6 of us left had a turkey dinner. I let myself eat wheat (how could I turn down my sister's homemade stuffing?!?!) and, unfortunately, suffered for it. Oh well. Live and learn, right? I have not been very good about being gluten free over the last week or so and, boy howdy, can I ever tell! It is back on the straight and narrow for me!

Mum did very well over the holidays, all things considered. This was the third Christmas without Dad here in person. Plus, she had her 83rd birthday two days after Christmas. When you add the stress of the holidays to all the moving out, moving in and cleaning that has been going on around her house the last two weeks, I am amazed that she has held up as well as she has. There were a few tears here and there but, overall, I think that she enjoyed the time spent with family.

I know it is very hard for her to get up and continue on each day knowing my father is no longer with us physically. I just wish that she could feel him all around us the way that I do. He is here as much as he ever was, just in a different way. I know because I see signs of him all the time.

And on that note, I am going to say a belated Merry Christmas to all. I hope that your loved ones were with you as mine were with me (both in person and in spirit!)


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Through the Eyes of a Child

You see an ordinary empty seaweed container...

But the kids see...

A bird house...

Another bird house...

A box for an ornament...

And a person or two...

How cool are the lovelies in my class who thought these up?!?!

Ms. Hughes

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013


Yay! It's that time again!

Farley is hosting the Currently linky party over at her blog, Oh' Boy Fourth Grade.

So, without further ado, here's mine....

listening... so I went on iTunes to find songs for Hanukkah and ended up with a whole lot more!!! Now have a playlist on my phone to listen to over the holiday season. And some really cute songs to sing for Hanukkah. The Latke song by Debbie Freidman is my favourite. Check it out!

loving...well, if you have been reading the blog lately, you'll know that I not only had a cold at Halloween (that lingered and lingered and lingered) but then a flu last week AND strep throat on top of it all! Today was day 1 back at it after sleeping for 8 days. Geez, they were chatty!

thinking...there was a time a few years ago when my daughter refused to attend school - any school- for over a month. Needless to say, back then I was just hoping she would get out of bed, go to class and (with a lot of praying) graduate from high school! But, once she hit grade 11 she really blossomed. She is now not only talking about going to university but just got accepted to her #2 choice, York University (in Toronto). I am so proud of her for pulling up her bootstraps and working hard to meet this goal. But, I'd be lying if I didn't say that I wish she was going to be closer. 3,000 miles seems awfully faaaaaaar away!

wanting...pretty self explanatory. Have you looked at the cost of university lately? Her first year is going to run close to $25,000 by the time we are done paying tuition, residence, food plan, flights to and from and daily allowance. Yikes! Cross your fingers that she gets some of the scholarships she'll be applying for in the coming weeks.

needing...okay, so I know I'm not really behind if I'm not done on December 2 but I have this thing about being finished my Christmas stuff as much as possible before the end of November. With being sick and all, that timeline is slightly shifted. Maybe I could mix them in with writing report cards? One report card, one Christmas card, one report card, one Christmas card....

favourite tradition....hands down it is Christmas Eve. We turn off the lights, turn on the tree (this year we'll have a fire, too, as our new place has a wonderful working fireplace - unlike the other years when we would play the fireplace screen on Shaw cable!!!!) and have a picnic on the floor. We started this the year that my good egg was born. The menu is pretty consistent. Finger food and appies and wine (don't forget the wine!) We have shrimp cocktail (this one is a MUST DO for our daughter!), cheese and crackers, olives and other appies. After eating, we open all of our presents to each other. Then we watch a Christmas movie. Often The Sound of Music - though I'm not really sure why this is a Christmas movie. I just know that ever since I was a little girl, it has played on tv around Christmas time and I strongly associate it with the holiday season. It is the one time at Christmas that is just the 3 of us. After that, it is all extended family time, friend time, busy, busy, busy.

And there you December Currently...what are you doing these days?


Ms. Hughes

Friday, November 29, 2013

This e-card pretty much sums it up! I have not had a Fall so full of illness in I don't know how long. First, a horrible head cold. Then the flu. And, now, strep throat. I think I'm due for some healthy days soon, don't you?

I suppose the only positive is that I'm down 7 pounds in about a week! Craaaaazy!!!! That'll happen when one lives on ginger ale and Popsicles! 

I have spent the better part of the last week sleeping. I couldn't even manage to stay awake long enough to watch a one hour tv show. Or read. Or go online. Or read. Or anything!

The flu symptoms finally pretty much left by yesterday but the fatigue just wouldn't give up. Then, today my doctor calls...strep throat. Yay me!

Now, two doses of penicillin later, I am starting to feel human again. I expect to be pretty much 100% by Monday and back at work raring to go! How I have missed being at work (when I was awake enough to miss anything that is!) and being with all of my lovelies. I was so happy to hear from both my support worker and colleagues that my guest teacher was really great. Knowing that everything was under control made it much easier to just go back to sleep and concentrate on getting well.

But I am sooooo looking forward to being back at work next week. Beyond just simply missing my days with the lovelies, I also just love the three weeks before the holidays. We spend time talking about family traditions, learning about winter festivals of light and just plain having a good time. Report cards are done (well, that is the idea, though they are due next week and I haven't even started!), vacation is coming and there is a general feeling of excitement in the air!  

I love teaching the grades I teach. It is still the age of wonder and I really don't think there is more of a season of wonder than the winter holidays (although I suppose the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny come a close second!) The belief in miracles that is Hanukkah. The story of Christmas. The magic of Santa Claus. It all comes together to create a time of year when teaching 5-7 year olds really is the best job on Earth! 


Ms. Hughes

Friday, November 22, 2013

Elements of Art: Line

This year I am loving that I am able to make my art program work again. Last year with the move and everything, I really didn't teach art the way I would have liked. But this year, that is all changing.

I am teaching both my class and Division 14 art this year. (Thank goodness for me, the other teacher does gym for both classes!)

We are starting with the elements of art. Each student has a duotang where we do a theory lesson. The plan is to do an art theory lesson followed by a "hands on" lesson where the students create a piece of art using what they have learned in art theory.

Our first art theory lesson was all about line. So we learned things like contour line is a fancy way of saying outline, there are different types of lines (straight, curved, thick, thin etc) and created examples to keep in our art theory book.

Then the next lesson was an art lesson called Lines in Motion. Students reviewed line and talked about what kinds of lines would show motion. They then took a printout of a bird's silhouette and created lines to make it look like it was in motion. I got the idea for this lesson from here and, must say, that I am very pleased with both the work that went into these creations and the finished result. (Note: there are still a couple of kids who are not finished. I purposely stuck to a 9X12 paper format so that the job wouldn't take as long. Good thing I didn't go bigger!!!!)

If you don't know by now, art is my favourite subject to teach. I love being creative and I really, really love watching children express themselves through means other than words and writing.

I love that in art you really can't do it "wrong" (as exemplified by the pictures above) and that each child can interpret the lesson in their own way. I love how they each take what they have learned and create something that is not only unique but uniquely them.

Happy creating!

Ms. Hughes

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fall is Here

Just wanted to share some of the beautiful leaf art that the kids did while I was away sick a couple of weeks ago. I found it hidden under a pile of papers on my teaching table when I got back and just had to hang it up. It is so colourful and vivid. It makes the windows look so seasonal.


Ms. Hughes

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

No time to get bored when you have this board....

BORED quote

I am in love, love, love with this poster! I need one, no two (or maybe three) hanging in different places in our community. 

There is very little I dislike more than a student telling me they are bored. The majority of activities I give students are open ended so that they can challenge themselves. (Think of the doubles exercise where one student chose 20+20=40 even though that was not one of the simple doubles taught) They can always challenge themselves to do more, be more, show more in their work. So, no excuse for being "bored."

And, it is especially annoying when a student tells me there is "nothing to do" or that they are "bored" during centres when they have a gazillion choices to make and (on community centres days) four rooms of activites to choose from! Blocks, lego, marble run, drawing, sewing, k'nex, puzzles, math tubs, reading, writing, arts and crafts...the list goes on. How can anyone be bored amidst all of those choices? 

Some days I think it is not boredom so much as an inability to make choices on their own. So many of our kids spend so much of their time in planned, programmed schedules where they go from this activity to the next without choosing. Give them a choice and they don't know what to do. 

I love that this poster gives a very simple yet effective way to redirect students who use the B word. You can be sure you'll see this in my classroom very soon!

Ms. Hughes

Monday, November 18, 2013

Double Trouble

We've been learning addition strategies in math lately. 

Last week we learned about doubles. Knowing your doubles can really help when figuring out answers that are only 1 or 2 larger or smaller than the double.

For example, if I know that 5+5=10 then I can use that knowledge to figure out 5+6. I can say to myself that 6 is one larger than 5 so the answer is going to be one larger than double 5. If I wrote it out it would be something like saying 5+1=6 so 5+6 can also be written 5+5+1. Then in my head I can do 5+5 is 10 and add 1 to it. Voila! 11!

I found a great unit on addition strategies on TpT from Teacher's Clubhouse and it comes with a craft activity for each strategy. I don't plan to use them all but this one was a fun one to do. Check it out!

I put a bunch of them up on the small bulletin board. I love my classroom but, boy, do I wish I had more bulletin board space to display the class' work!

And, below, are a few that didn't make it up on the wall. 

I enjoyed this lesson because it involved so many different skills. We reviewed sets and talked about how you had to have equal sets in each part of the glasses. We chose doubles (only 2 students were allowed to pick the same double) and learned about using them as a mental math strategy. And, they had to follow directions in terms of adding the face and colouring in using crayons so it was a listening skills exercise as well.

Needless to say, there were 3 students who immediately started colouring with felt pens. If the day ever comes when each and every student carefully listens to and follows directions, I may just fall over in a faint!!!!

Happy adding!

Ms. Hughes

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Family Literacy...Dr. Seuss Style!

I have finally gotten around to starting my Family Literacy bags again. I used these ALL the time at my old school and haven't used them once since moving to this school (8 years ago!!!!)

I was inspired this summer when I found some Dr. Seuss pencils and erasers at Target and then found a Dr. Seuss backpack at the Goodwill. (I know, I know, I was in Florida on vacation! What can I say? You can take the teacher out of the school but you can never really take the school out of the teacher!!!!)

So, I put together the Dr. Seuss bag and started it with one of the students last week. He was soooo excited to take it home (I have to be honest here, I chose him first because I knew he loved Dr. Seuss!)

When it came back to school and before I sent it off again, I took some photos. Check it out!

The cost me a whopping 99 cents!!!!!
The contents...3 stories, a pencil, an eraser, a journal and a stuffie.

The Cat in the Hat stuffie up close. I've had it for years. I also have Thing 1 and Thing 2 that I can add later to spice the bag up a little for its second go around!

Here is the journal.
And the letter that is glued in the front explaining the bag.

And here are the two pages written by the first student to take it home. He did exactly what I was hoping he would do! And, I also love that his parents didn't help with the writing. This is grade 1 kid writing at its best. And I love his illustrations. Aren't they great?!?!

The class is so excited about these bags that I have promised to get more bags ready. I have the makings of a Paddington Bear bag, a Biscuit the dog bag, a Curious George bag and a Frog and Toad bag. Now to find all the bits to go with them and I'll be all set. Stay tuned!


Ms. Hughes