Category Archives: School Days!

G.S.S.T.A.- Colonial America

Grade School the Second Time Around– This series of posts begs to answer the question, “Did I actually learn all this stuff when I was in grade school and then just forgot it, or am I learning it all  fresh now, the second time around? ”  

Our final unit in fourth grade social studies is devoted to the American Colonies and the Revolutionary War. Personally, I find this topic fascinating. Too bad most of our students have checked out mentally, already dreaming of summer vacation. It’s a bit hard to absorb anything, especially a lot of American history that way.

I’ve learned a lot, though! Here are some of the more interesting tidbits…

  • Colonial housewives used live chickens as chimney sweeps. Apparently, they dropped the bird down the chimney and as it fell the flapping and flailing of it’s wings would knock the dust and suet off the walls. (guess the Founding Fathers weren’t real big on animal rights.)
  • Young boys and girls would both attend beginning school, called “Dame School” to learn basic letters and facts. After that, however only the boys were permitted to go on to grammar school. The girls returned home to learn “domestic sciences” from their mothers. (apparently, they didn’t care much about women’s rights either…)
  • “Dame School” by Thomas Webster

    In the winter months, student were required to bring their own wood from home to fuel the school house stove. (And my students complain about the weight of their backpacks!)

  • Some Colonial homes had beds that folded up into the wall to allow extra living space during the day, like our more modern Murphy beds.

  • The size of the wig you wore (a very popular accessory for men and women during this time) reflected directly on your wealth. The bigger the wig, the richer the wearer.
  • George Washington (when he wasn’t wearing his wig), was a brunette.
  • Even though, historically, King George usually get the blame as being the “bad guy” during the revolution, he was only 22 years old at the time and was probably leaning heavily on the advice of his Prime Minister George Grenville.

Are you feeling any smarter? Bet I remember more about this chapter in American history than any of our fourth grade students will! Maybe I’ll quiz them in the fall…😊

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If We Were Having Coffee…5/6/17

If we were having coffee this morning… I would probably start off with, “Remember me?” It’s been a while since I’ve been inspired to sit and create a post of any kind or visit those of my blog friends. I’ve no excuse. My mind and life were just heading in a different direction for a bit, but now as I sit here lingering over my French Roast, breathing in the cool spring air blowing through the screen door I feel the need for a bit of a chat so….

First, as an update, in my last Coffee Share I was pretty excited that our family was awaiting the arrival of two new baby boys. Both have arrived healthy and strong- Chase, my niece’s son, we were able to meet on Easter (I was quite annoyed that I had to put him down in order to actually serve dinner!), and Asher, my husband’s step-sisters baby, only three weeks old now and who we hope to meet very soon.

If we were having coffee…I would fill your cup, offer a chair and ask, “How ya been?” Stuff has been hopping here in Southern New Jersey. Aside from babies being born, both of my own kids (is it ok to still refer to my college age children as ‘kids?’) have been cramming for finals. Mr D’s text responses have been tense one word answers so I know he is feeling overwhelmed and Miss Dee has spread her laptop and books from one end of the kitchen to the other, taking only short breaks to sleep and eat! Wednesday  is the magic day when they can both breath again. She will head to the movies with friends to celebrate and maybe my son will stop by to visit (although first he will probably spend an evening celebrating at the pub near campus).

The D-man and I, both working for the public school system, have been navigating the PARCC test. For those unfamiliar, this is  the standardized assessment test that  students are required to take, here in NJ and several other states. My personal assessment is that it is a colossal waste of time and a real pain in the A#%, but no one has asked me. 😊

My poor hubby has it much worse than me though because at his school, he is the guy running the test so he has to do all the preparation and pray that the logistic and technology all cooperate. Of course it didn’t. The computers had a major glitch on day one, putting them a day behind to start then the fire alarm was accidentally triggered on day two requiring the whole school to evacuate till the source was discovered, then on the final day all the programs were moving so slow that it took some students 20 minutes just to sign in to the site! He still has make ups next week but he treated himself to a day off on Friday, spending it down the shore with a friend. I think I would have needed more than one day!!

If we were having coffee…I might tell you how excited I am for this summer’s STEAM Camp (science, technology, engineering, art and math). It will be run, again, by my friend Jill who is a fifth grade teacher at the school where I work. She and, another friend, Karen, the third grade teacher, started the camp last summer and it was so successful that we will be doubling it and doing two weeks this time round. The themes are “World Travel” and “Sports Science.” In addition to working at the actual camp, they have commissioned me once again to make the props that enhance each week’s theme. This is the first one done:

The windows are cut out so the children can stand behind and get their photos taken as they enter camp the first day. Next I’m working on a “passport” that will act as their name tag throughout the week. I find it really fun and relaxing to have a creative project to work on during my free time.

Well, if we were having coffee…I would probably notice the time and realize that I need to get myself moving. I bought some herbs and would like to plant them in pots outside today. We also have some bushes in serious need of a trim then the D-man and I have tickets to the Philadelphia Phillies game tonight. Love me some springtime baseball!⚾️

Oh, One more thing…

If we were having coffee… I would remind you to visit Nerd in the Brain so that you can enjoy the rest of the Coffee Share Posts. May the rest of your weekend be super-fantastic! I hope you are able to surround yourself with the people and things you love the most.

G.S.S.T.A.- The State Where We Live.

The second marking period of fourth grade social studies is dedicated to learning about our home state of New Jersey. The first task our students had was to complete an informational packet. This included things like the State capital, the governor, the land masses and economy. I’m always surprised at how little some of the children seem to know about the place where they live but then I guess that’s the point in studying it!

After they slogged through the tediousness of the packet, the teacher offered them a more enjoyable project.  Each student was to research some fun facts or trivia regarding our fine Garden State and put together a power point presentation to share with the class. They really rose to the challenge and came up with all kinds of interesting (and sometimes weird) tidbits. A few were even new to me! Here are some of the highlights.

  • New Jersey was home to the first known competitive baseball game played at Elysian Fields in Hoboken on June 19, 1846. (The New York Base Ball Club defeated the Knickerbockers 23-1.)
  • Our coast is home to the longest Boardwalk (Atlantic City) the first sea shore resort town (Cape May) and the world’s largest elephant, Lucy in Margate (You know how I feel about Her!)   

  • We have more diners than any other state and are often refered to as the “Diner Capital of the World!” (Apparently, we also have the most shopping malls!)
  • New Jersey has a Spoon Museum, (over 5400) It is housed in the Lambert Castle Museum, in Paterson. (Who knew, right? 😳)
  • The first ever drive in movie theater opened in Camden Nj on June 6, 1933 (wonder what was playing?)

  • The light bulb, the phonograph and the telephone all had their start in New Jersey thanks to Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. (And the first motion picture projector too)
  • Modern paleontology began in 1858 with the discovery of the first nearly complete skeleton of a dinosaur (the Hadrosaursus) in Haddonfield NJ.

I can’t swear to the authenticity of all of these claims but as a New Jersey native, I’m pretty sure we have bragging rights to most of them (especially the weirder ones!) I’m also pretty sure that long after our fourth graders have forgotten the major economic sources in the State, they’ll still remember that we gave the world Salt Water Taffy and the Hersey Kiss.

How about your State, or Province, or Village? Do you have some fun facts you can you brag about?

http://www.njeha.org/njfacts.html

http://www.50states.com/facts/new-jersey.htm

Grade School the Second Time Around-The Atom

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http://www.clker.com/clipart-atom-nucleus-electrons.html

This semester in fourth grade science we are discussing renewable and non renewable energy sources. Because nuclear power falls under this topic, we have also been discussing atoms and their place in the universe. Last week, in order to provide the students with an idea of how really, really, really tiny an atom is, the teacher showed them a video that explained it like this…

Picture a grapefruit. Now let’s consider the nitrogen atoms in that grapefruit (there are lots of other types of atoms but for now we will just focus on that one.) Lets pretend that we can take those nitrogen atoms and blow each one up to the size of a blueberry. In order to accommodate those blueberry sized atoms the grapefruit would now become roughly the size of the planet Earth. 😳

But wait! There’s more!

Continuing along that line… if we wanted to see just how small the nucleus inside each atom is we would have to blow that blueberry up to be the size of a football stadium. Even then, the nuclei would only be the size of a small marble!

POW!!! Mind blown!

I can tell you the students were certainly impressed. It was a learning experience for me as too!

Interested in seeing the video we watched in class? Follow this link: https://youtu.be/yQP4UJhNn0I

If We Were Having Coffee…9/24/16

imageHello! Welcome! I’m so glad we were able to get together today. I haven’t attended a Coffee Share in weeks. My only excuse is that my life ran away with out me and it took me this long to catch up. The weather here in southern New Jersey is overcast and cool and even though I am loving the fall like temperature, the day itself feels a bit dreary.   Never mind. We can pretend the view from my porch is sunny and bright. Around here we try to focus on the positives. It’s a day off work, it’s not raining, and you wonderful friends have stopped by for a chat!

If we were having coffee...I would offer you a cup of nice strong French roast and a donut to go with. We have tea (iced or hot) or lemonade if you prefer. Personally I need the coffee. It’s been a very long week. We have just completed our second full week of school and the students are settling in pretty well. I’m still struggling, but they are fine! This getting up early stuff is for the birds!  I’m not sure I can make a hundred and sixty-something more days of this.

My work as an instructional aide at our local elementary school precludes that each year, my schedule is different depending on the ages and number of children that we are working with. This year I am spending most of my day in the fourth grade classrooms helping out with science, social studies and math. The two fourth grade teachers are very nice but I am missing my old pal. For the past ten years I have mostly worked with one particular special education teacher and she and I have become very comfortable together. This year, though, her group, which ranges from first to third grade, is very small while the fourth and fifth is much larger so I was bumped upstairs (literally -the upper grades are on the upper floors). It has been a bit of an adjustment for me but I’m sure it will be fine.

A few years back, when I was spending a lot of time with the second graders, I started a weekly post called “Grade School the Second Time Around.” I filled it with interesting facts and  tidbits that I was re-learning as an adult. It’s amazing how much of this stuff I’ve forgotten over the years. I’m thinking that fourth grade will also have a plethora of cool things to share so watch for some new “GSSTA” posts! Are you feeling smarter already? I am.

If we were having coffee…I would share that we added a baby to our family since we last chatted. My niece’s son’s wife gave birth to a beautiful little girl on Wednesday. They named her Emma Jayne and I’m really sad that she lives across the country in Oklahoma because I seriously want to cuddle her. It’s a little weird to think about my brother being a great-grandfather. I guess this makes my sister’s and I great-great aunts! Of course I was already a pretty great aunt anyway!😉

How are things going in your world? Let me top off your drink and you can tell be about you week. I hope it was filled with happy moments and happy people. If you are interested in some more coffee and conversation run over and visit The Weekend Coffee Share brought to you courtesy of Diana at Part Time Monster. 

Thanks for stopping by!

The Weekly Smile – Phanaticly Speaking

We had an especially exciting day at school yesterday. Thanks to the fifth graders and their mad reading skills, our school won a visit from the one and only Phillie Phanatic!

“WHO??” you may ask.

The Phillie Phanatic is the official mascot for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team and he is quite a character! Wikipedia refers to the Phanatic as one of the most recognizable mascots. He’s been with the team since 1978  and according to his bio, this 6″6′  furry green bi-ped hails originally from the Galápagos Islands. When he is not busy cheering on the Phillies, the Phanatic enjoys dancing, playing pranks and watching his favorite movie which is, of course, “Rocky!”

The students greeting the Phanatic!

The students greeting the Phanatic!

The students were humming with anticipation as we gathered in the gym to meet the Phanatic. We were greeted by his “Squad”  from the Phillies and were told that he was running a little late so they asked our principle, a very enthusiastic lady and a rather good sport, to read a book to the children while they waited for their guest to show up. Well, of course, as she was reading to the children, the Phanatic snuck in behind her and started doing silly dance moves! The kids pointed and laughed but the principle played right along and pretended that she didn’t understand why they were laughing. Eventually, the Phanatic revealed himself and gave the her a big phuzzy Phanatic kiss!

Our Principle receiving a Phanatic smooch!

Our Principle receiving a Phanatic smooch!

The Phanatic’s Squad  talked more about the importance of reading everyday and then they congratulated the fifth grade students on their achievement. The class was then asked to come up and have their photo taken with the Phanatic. Finally, the big green guy himself led us all in a group dance-along to the song “Happy.” He even pulled several teachers and staff members out to dance with him. He sure has some great moves!!

When ever we go to a Phillies game, one of my favorite parts is when the Phanatic makes his appearance. I can’t believe some of the mischief he gets up to!  He usually rides a four wheeler out on to the field before the games and our neighbor, Doug, who works part-time for the Phillies, happens to be the guy in charge of opening the gate to let the Phanatic on and off the field. I always wished that I could do that job for one night just so I could get a close up view of the big green dude’s crazy antics.

Now, all of us at the school can say that we did get to see the Philly Phanatic up close and personal and it was all thanks to the magic of reading!! If you would like some more information about this fun, educational, literacy program visit the Phillies web site and check out “Phanatic About Reading!”

imageThe Weekly Smile is brought to you courtesy of Trent’s World. Stop by and collect a few more smiles or perhaps share one of you own!

The Weekly Smile – A Silent Parade

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The elementary school where I work offers a half day preschool for 3 and 4 year olds. The classroom is in the main building along with the rooms for the older children and is taught by Miss Jessica, a pleasant young woman, not long out of college with lots of energy and clever ideas.

Case in point…

As I was coming back from lunch today, Miss Jessica and her parade of tots were heading outside so I stopped and held the door for them. I couldn’t help but smile when I noticed as they walked past that each little boy and girl had their cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk storing acorns!

I recieved a few waves from the preschoolers as they passed but not one word was spoken. I raised my eyebrows in question to their teacher who was at the end of the line. As she passed she leaned in and whispered,

“When we go in the hallway, we all pretend we have a mouthful of marshmallows. It helps them remember not to talk while the students in the classrooms are working.

Hmm? I wonder if that would work on the older students in the lunchroom?

It’s a thought. 😊

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The Weekly Smile is brought to you courtesy of Trent’s World. Be sure to stop by and gather a few more smiles or maybe share one of your own!

If We Were Having Coffee…4/10/16

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If we were having coffee today…we would be sitting at my kitchen table looking out the back door (past the Audrey Hepburn calendar clearly turned to the month of April), at the snow and ice covering the yard and deck. Ugh.

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Yesterday was such an interesting Spring day. I had planned on running some errands and cleaning up the yard but instead I sat inside and watched the snow fall. I worked on a page for Miss Dee’s “Senior Year” scrapbook, I cleaned the bathroom and did some banking so it was a productive day, just not the one I had planned.

The view, yesterday from my sister's front window.

The view, yesterday from my sister’s front window.

It was, howevera more comfortable day than my Hubby had. He was down the shore helping a friend rebuild a garage….in the rain….and the snow. The garage had been damaged in the last flood that the Jersey shore had endured. A few weeks ago they had cleaned it out, throwing away much of the contents, and removing the siding and water soaked wood. My hubby has a big heart and this friend has done a lot for him so he was determined to help him finish this job before the elements did even more damage. I will find out this evening how it all went.  At least today is sunny and clear.

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If we were having coffee…I would tell you that I am pretty excited that I was able to score a piece foam board big enough for the astronaut photo backdrop I was designing. I was a little worried because I needed a piece that was 4’x 5 1/2′ and that size is usually only sold by the case for big company presentations and such. Thank goodness for Craig’s List! There was a gentlemen in Philadelphia that had purchased a case of 20 sheets of  4′ X 8′ foam board and only used half so he was selling the rest for $10 per sheet. Even luckier was the fact that the teacher I’m working with has a husband who works in that area of the city and he ran over after work Tuesday and picked up two sheets. We figured we might need an extra piece somewhere down the line. I can’t wait to get started!

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If we were having coffee…I would refill our cups and ask about your week? I hope I has been exciting and productive. Are you reading any good books? Have you done any traveling? Fill me in! I’m so glad you stopped by!

Be sure to visit the rest of the Coffee Share Posts brought to you courtesy of the lovely Diana over at Part Time Monster!

Weekly Smile #14

As a tension breaker during testing, the fifth grade teacher gave the kids a fun assignment. She had them read some articles and  showed them some videos on splunking (the sport of cave exploration) and then challenged them to write song parodies telling how they felt about this pastime.

Personally, I don’t even like spending too much time in our basement so after watching  the videos of these spelunkers squeezing into crevices, sliding backwards into spaces checking to see if they “can fit” and keeping track of passages so they can find their “way out” I was having a mini panic attack! Therefore, I really appreciated the group who came up with a parody using Bruno Mars’  “Lazy Song” changing the words to say…

🎶”Today I don’t feel like Splunking.

I just really don’t want to die!

Stalactites falling on my head,

spiders biting at my leg!

Today I don’t feel like splunking,

Think I’ll just stay in my bed.” 🎶

If it was up to me, these kids would get an “A+” 😊

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This post is part of The Weekly Smile brought to you courtesy of Trent’s World . Pop over and collect a few more smiles or even leave one of your own!

If We Were Having Coffee…4/2/16

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If we were having coffee…I would welcome you to a dreary New Jersey afternoon.  The rain today has been on and off, just as the weather people predicted and the cloud cover is about ten layers thick.  Sounds like an excellent day to curl up with a cup of something hot and have a chat with a friend.

How has your week been?  Did you have good weather? Did you hang out with friends or family? Have you had any life events, good or bad? I hope you’ve had a sufficient number of smiles and laughs in your week.  I know sometimes that’s hard to accomplish, but it also makes all the difference.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that my week at school has mostly revolved around preparing our classroom and our students for the testing that will be starting on Monday.  That being said, I think that I’ll skip any further mention of the subject lest I veer off into a tangent. Sufficient to say that I am sad for the children who are dreading this interruption and for the teachers who will need to work their real lessons around this testing for the next month. Ick.

On a brighter note, I want to tell you about Martin. Martin is a second grader who recently came to us frustrated and unhappy and who has, in the last month, soared to heights that he never knew he could.  Basically, he’s the kind of student that makes me love my job.  Anyway, Martin has a habit of randomly throwing questions at me while we’re working….

“Mrs D, what’s your favorite movie?  What kind of dogs do you like? If you could fly, where would you go?”

Stuff like that.  Yesterday he said, “Mrs D, what’s your favorite song?”  Since I have a lot of favorite songs depending on the day, I just responding by saying,

“I’m not sure.  What’s your favorite song?”

“Well,” says Martin, “I like a lot of songs from ‘Nirvana’ but mostly I like the ‘Beatles,’ especially their ‘White’ album.” Then he went back to gluing his spelling words onto his work sheet.  I swear this kid makes my day.  I can’t wait to hear his next question!

If we were having coffee…you would have noticed that we were joined for a bit by my mother-in-law, the amazing M.J. who was out running some errands and just stopped by to drop off some cash for Miss Dee.  We have begun our prom dress shopping and M.J. insists on contributing each year.  My kids really have great grandparents and Miss Dee, being the only girl, tends to get spoiled a bit. My daughter, like myself is rather cheap  frugal, and never takes these gifts or their generous nature for granted so she will truly appreciate it and, of course, will call her grandmother to thank her after she gets home from work.

Speaking of that, you may have noticed that my house is rather quiet today. Shh!….Hear it?….silence. Miss Dee is working till 5:00 and the Hubby and Mr D are at an afternoon Philadelphia Flyers game and won’t be home till dinner. I was just saying to M.J. (as I’m sure you heard :),) that there was a time when the children were young that I could count on one hand the number of times I was actually alone in the house.  It was a big deal and I usually got really excited about it.  Now, the times they are a changin’ and I find that more and more there is no one home but me.  Hubby and I have also been doing a lot of “just couple” stuff again., which is very nice but also a little strange.  I see an empty nest in our near future. Oh, boy. Time to suck it up and adjust.

If we were having coffee….I might notice that the afternoon has run away without me while we were enjoying ourselves. I’m sure there are many other things that I should be doing like getting together some information for my “A to Z Challenge” or even vacuuming the cat hair off the sofa, so I suppose we should rinse out our mugs and put them on the drainer till next time.

Thanks so much for stopping by and, as you know, this post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by the wonderful Diana at Part Time Monster.  Be sure to stop by to see what everyone else has been up to.