Friday, October 5, 2012

Chickens At School

What is the benefit of having chickens be a part of the school experience?

Students can learn a lot through taking care of chickens!  The knowledge they acquire is cross-curricular and will stay with them for a lifetime as it is an authentic learning experience. 

Each day our students work in different crews, for their crew jobs.  The jobs are an important component to the functioning of our school and students are learning responsibility in the process.  This blog post will explain the Chicken Crew.  

Each crew starts by getting their handy clipboard and checklist!  This really helps the kiddo's to be leaders of the crews. 

Students on Chicken Crew are responsible for feeding and watering the chickens.

Our hens get pellets, scratch and scraps.  

Scraps from lunch and snack are saved in these cute tin buckets and given to the hens each morning.  

Making sure the chickens have clean water every day is very important.  This is a task that requires team work and cooperation as the watering cans are very heavy when they are full!

  They also collect, wash and log eggs .  The eggs are sold for three dollars a dozen and the money is managed by the students.  

Sometimes we find them in silly places!  

This little lady thought this was a great place to lay an egg!  One of the tasks of chicken crew is to make and note observations about the chickens.  Finding an egg in an unusual place would be something they would note.  

Once the eggs are inside they are washed and left out to dry. 

After the eggs are dry they are placed in cartons to be sold and placed in the fridge.

When the eggs are washed they are logged and graphed by color and the time of day is noted.  

Our chicken store manager (a student that had to apply for the position) keeps track of the transactions.  Eggs purchased, feed purchased and any supplies are all tracked here.  

We recently purchased thirteen new chicks!  The kids are in love with them and enjoy spending time with them on their lunch break.  Chicken crew also checks the nesting boxes for eggs during lunch and logs the data at that time as well.    

It is a lot of fun having chickens at school and the students are making observations, connections, gaining a sense of responsibility and ownership.   

Monday, September 10, 2012

One Million Bones

Today our students had an amazing opportunity to be a apart of an impactful social arts project to bring awareness of and to raise funds for the victims of genocide.  Your students can too!  In the spring of 2013, the project will culminate in Washington D.C. where 1,000,000 handmade bones will be placed on the National Mall as a reminder of the millions displaced and sufering from historic and on-going genocides and mass atrocities, particularly those happening today in Burma, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  

 Now, I know genocide is a very intense and heavy subject and that it can be very uncomfortable and scary to talk about with small children.  Yet, when approached with great care, it can also be a very real way to emphasize the importance of tolerance, respect, appreciation and cooperation.  I strongly urge you to visit the website and join this powerful movement.    

                       As you engage with the One Million Bones project, you and your students 
                       will become a part of a larger community of artists, activists and students 
                       from around the United States and the world. Emphasizing the ways that 
                       art can build bridges between people, connect us to each other, and 
                       provide individuals with the ability to turn creative impulse into social 
                       impact stands as a core belief of art activism and this project.

If you aren't sure how to approach the subject with your students the website has some fantastic resources with complete cross-curricular lesson plans.  They are differentiated and available for classes k-12.

{click the picture to take you to this page.}

Our students had a great time creating their bones for the installment and are so excited that the bones will be traveling all the way to our nations capital.  We are studying body systems right now so it was perfect to have a life size skeleton visit the school for our students to see.



The volunteers came from the organization to talk to the students about tolerance.  Their message was that underneath it all we are all the same.  No matter what we look like, where we live, the clothes we wear, the languages we speak, our religion or interests we are all the same.  They told our students that the reason for this project is to promote peace and acceptance and that it's not right to suppress or kill people because of their differences.  I think this message is quite fitting considering the New Mexico state flag proudly waves the Zia symbol, which represents friendship among united cultures.  

They were so proud of their sculpted bones.

As the volunteers left and carried away the skeleton I couldn't help but feel this eerie presence of the real importance and meaning for this project.  The fact that  people are dying every day in genocide is unfathomable in this time and space.  I feel so proud and grateful that the bones we created today will help to bring aide to some of the suffering.  We must always remember to teach our children love and respect for everyone and the best way is through example.  

I hope you are inspired to take part in this beautiful and powerful art installment!  What a great way to help make a difference!      

Sunday, September 9, 2012

River Exploration and Observation

I'm back!  I have missed being able to share our adventures in learning and exploring with you.  

Like I've said this school year our theme is Rivers and this quarter our projects are based on river systems and body systems.  

A few weeks ago we walked down to the river that is on the same property as our school.  Clipboards in hand the students were making observations and sketching and labeling what they saw.

We first had to make our way through the alfalfa field.  
*Did you know alfalfa is a nitrogen fixing plant and can be used in guilds?

The school can be seen in the background up on the hill, the hoop house is located on the playground.  We will be installing a drip system soon,
 as we just received a grant to fund the project!

Tyson, the horse, just had to get in on all of the excitement!  The other adult is Miss Erin.  She is my amazing partner teacher!

Students observed scat.  Helping us identify some of the local fauna.  The students guessed this belonged to the coyotes we heard one morning.

More evidence of local fauna... it appears to be the markings of some beavers hard at work!

We stopped to observe the pond and mini-wetland ecosystem. 
 It's quite abundant with biodiversity.  Nature at it's best!

Manure and some fungi, one of my favorite animal kingdoms!    

We made it to the river but stayed behind the fence for safety purposes.  

We headed back to the school house to talk about what we had observed.  On the way we passed the corn field and garden.    We added another observation the next day as we were all scratching the mosquito bites we endured in the name of science.  We can add them to the list of species inhabiting the river system!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Checking In

Hello Blogging Friends!!!

    I wanted to check in and let everyone know that I am missing my blogging world!  This weeks marks my third week back to school already!  We have been having a lot of fun and I have SO much to share.  Unfortunately, while I was at school my house was broken into and my house was robbed.  My computer was one of the items that was stolen from me :(  This means that I will now have to purchase a much better computer though.  So, I guess that is a good thing, right?  I look forward to sharing some of our learning adventures with everyone just as soon as I can!  For now I am doing my blog stalking via smartphone!  

Monday, July 30, 2012

DIY Story Case

This year I am teaching in a multi-age, project based classroom and am SO excited about this change of pace!  Our school year theme is "Rivers" and the first quarter projects will be based on river systems and body systems.  I am leading the body system projects.  

So, today I am working on making some felt body organs as part of my anticipatory set for the projects.  Using felt made me remember this super cute idea that I made for a creative story telling class that I took in college and I had to stop what I was doing and blog about it!  We made these story cases out of old VHS cases.  

I am thinking that I can also have my students use this same concept as book reviews, retelling of a story, making up their own story...etc.  

Start with an old VHS tape case.  {Does anyone remember these?)  You can have families donate them or even ask your local video store for donations.  You could also use the thin plastic baby wipe cases. 

Cover the outside of the case with felt for a background for the story.  This could be a great way to tie in "setting".  Students could make different props to change the setting.  They could make mountains, ponds, castles...etc.  

This is the one I made in college.  It is a simple blue for the sky and some green for grass.  

The characters and other pieces are stored inside the case.  

In a traditional classroom setting this could be a project that students could work on when they finish their regular work early.  Have the materials available in a work station for students to create their story case, characters and story pieces.

Some supplies to have available for students would be:
* vhs cases
* felt
* scissors 
* googley eyes
* glue
* feathers
* gems

Students can tell their story to a friend while placing the characters onto the setting.  Their friend could practice retelling the story trying to remember the important details.  They could make up different beginnings, middles, and endings to the stories.  You could have students practice all of the story elements with this one student made manipulative.  

You can keep all of the finished cases in one place and let the students use them throughout the year or let them take them home.  So fun!  
What other ways can you think of for students to use these story cases?


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Crate Seat Makeover

Last summer I jumped on the crate seat bandwagon and my hubby helped me make six super cute crates.  The crates were donated and we had scrap wood.  I used a left over piece of plywood that my husband had.

One reason why I like the seat crates is because they are a simplified example of one of the permaculture principles which is "stacking functions".  Instead of only using the crates as storage you reuse some old plywood and make them much more versatile.  You can also use as seats, put them together and take a snooze on them, sit on the floor and use them as a little table, as a step stool...etc.

Last year I used regular cotton fabric and even took the time to sew cute little handle strips out of one of my favorite leaf patterned fabric.  This was a learning experience for sure.  DO NOT USE REGULAR COTTON FABRIC  The cotton fabric didn't hold up and I wasn't able to wash them very well.  Needless to say, by the end of the year they were pretty much disgusting.  They were filthy, someone even smashed a PB&J into one!  Yuck! 

So, I decided to recover them with a oil slicker fabric.  Yep, USE OIL SLICKER FABRIC INSTEAD :)  It's kinda like a cheap table cloth type material, which you could also use, you know how I like reusing!  I didn't have an old table cloth so I bought the slicker fabric.  It is slick so that you can easily wipe it off with a wet rag.  Then I used some ribbon for the handle to save on time and because the ones that I sewed just got all wrinkled and sloppy looking.  

I found the cutest owl fabric at Joann's.  Does everyone know that you can get a teacher discount card there for 15%?  I love those teacher discounts!!!

I have really low light in my house today because it is monsoon season here in the southwest.  I'm not complaining though, I have been LOVING these afternoon rain showers!

For a tutorial on how to make the seats go visit Rachelle @ What The Teacher Wants and see her post from last summer!

I think they turned out pretty dang cute, don't you think?!

In other news, my husband and I celebrated our third anniversary yesterday!  It is so nice to be living together again!  


Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Made It

    Last summer I purchased this little hardware organizer at a yard sale for $1.  I bought it from a retired teacher who used it for word work.  I wanted to turn it into a supply organizer.  I finally got around to it today!  Yay!

This is not my original idea.  You guessed it, I saw it on pinterest!  Mrs. Rojas has a super cute blog and she wrote a tutorial for this project.  She is also sharing her labels.  


 Here is how mine turned out.  I love it!  I can't wait to put it in my new classroom!  


You can download the labels here.

I am linked up with Tara and 150+ other bloggers at 4th Grade Frolics for the Monday Made It!  Go check it out.  There are so many fun projects to see!!!