12 Down, 26 To Go


We had another wonderful week full of wonderful weather! I’ve started something new with my little munchkins. On days when it is sunny, calm, and somewhat ambient in temperature, we all go out for a picnic at lunch time. The kids love it because as soon as they finish their food, they can dash to the playground and start hopping about instead of waiting until the slow pokes finish before we go outside.  I love it because I can enjoy being outdoors, and it keeps the weeks from getting too monotonous. Texas has only a few really nice months–I want to enjoy them. 

Another fun thing we did during the week was celebrate Veteran’s Day.  We drew a soldier on a piece of chart paper and wrote qualities of veterans. Then the munchkins watched a video about veterans and why we have a holiday to honor them.  As soon as the video was over, a few hands shot up. I called on my of the little girls who asked me, 

Why does war happen?


Some people think teaching is easy. They are wrong. Most people think answering first grade questions is easy.  They are right most of the time, but this was not one of those times. I told the little girl that it was a very complicated question, and even very smart people don’t have all the answers.  I told them that wars usually happened because someone thought something was unfair, but they fought instead of using an “I-statement”  i.e. “I don’t like it when you call me names.” Except, it would be more like “I don’t like it when you invade Poland.”  The munchkins were satisfied with that answer and we went on to talk more about veterans. I told them that my grandpa was in the military. Many of them also had veterans in the family.

Later in that week, at least 4 children came up and told me that they wanted to be veterans when they grew up. 🙂


11 Down, 27 To Go


Another week, much like any other.

In language arts, we worked on cause and effect. One of the books for our read-aloud was about a visit to a dairy farm.  During the course of talking about cause and effect, the fact came up that only “girl cows” make milk.  This fact was new to some of my munchkins, so I was glad we talked about it.  We discussed that all mammals–bats, cows, people–make milk for their babies.  We got to the part where the cow goes into the pen and gets milked. The book explained farmers used to milk cows by hand, but now there is a milking machine that does it quicker.  One little hand shot up and the girl exclaimed, “my mom uses a milking machine too!”

In math we talked about addition for most of the week, but we had a test on Thursday and moved on to subtraction.  The first day of talking about subtraction is always hard for some of the munchkins because their mental mode hasn’t shifted. On more than one paper, I had to tell a student that all the answers were wrong. They laughed at me, thinking it was a joke, until I explained the mistake: “We’re eating cookies now, not giving each other flowers”

In social studies we learned about good citizenship. We learned about Susan B. Anthony and how she was a good citizen because she believed in equality.  The munchkins were shocked to hear that at one time people believed that women shouldn’t vote because their husband could vote for the family.

What if they don’t agree?

What if she’s not married?

What if her husband is out of town?

I told them that these were all good questions, and eventually women DID get the right to vote. But, I had to break it to them that Susan B. Anthony didn’t live to see that day.  The munchkins were sad, and I was too.

10 Down, 28 To Go


This week, we had Halloween and picture day. On the same day.  Who thought that was a good idea? Not me. 

Halloween isn’t an officially sanctioned holiday at my school, since it is a religious school. However, my first grade class, like most first grade classes, is almost exclusively comprised of small children. So there was a lot of “chricker-chreeting.”

There are a many pitfalls to getting pictures taken in the first grade.  The first is the “I-forgot-how-to-smile” munchkin.  She will either refuse to smile or give a really unnatural smile that looks like her lips are propped up with tooth picks.  I have to say something funny to make her show her “sweet smile.”  

The second kid is “willful disobeyer” who either gives a goofy smile or sullen stare ON PURPOSE.  I tried to remedy this before we left. I told the kids that if they all gave their “sweet smiles,” I would give them points on their reward chart.  I met with limited success: the munchkins who were already predisposed to cooperate did, and the class clowns were not deterred from their antics by the mere incentive of a few points. 

I had to monitor the munchkin who was getting his picture taken while simultaneously keeping the other kids from touching the equipment, speaking too loudly, bouncing off the walls etc. 

Then it was time for the group picture.  All the problems I mentioned above are present during the group picture, but I can’t see what’s going on because I’m posing as well.  This is when I was really counting on my little incentive.  We’ll see how it turned out in the next couple of weeks…

Pictures were all done by 9:30, but as I mentioned, the circus was far from over.  The kids all wanted to share what they were doing for Halloween had had visions of candy corns dancing in their head all day. There’s nothing wrong with that except I had to teach them….a lot….because this is school.    I was glad when I got to go home and pass out candy to munchkins who I wasn’t responsible for. 


9 Down, 29 To Go


We got to ease back into school this week with a four-day-week capped by parent conferences.   The week was a breeze, as usual, and parent conferences were just delightful.

I have an awesome group of parents. Every parent signed up for a conference and many children had both parents come.  They were all so kind and gracious, even when I was giving news about areas in which their child needed to grow.  Those are the best kind of parents!

Some parents just waltzed into the classroom, relaxed as can be; and I got to tell them how wonderful their munchkin was!

Some parents trudged into the classroom, braced for bad news; and I got to tell them how wonderful their munchkin was!

Some parents walked in slowly, nervously, giving off the impression that they believed that I was evaluating their child, not evaluating their child’s progress in first gradeand I got to tell them how wonderful their munchkin was!



8 Down, 30 To Go


This was the best week of school, ever!  There was no school Monday-Thursday and Friday was a fun day.  The whole school went to Reunion Ranch in Georgetown for a day of fun.

It was a little hectic getting the kids loaded onto the bus because they had to sit three to a seat. It’s hard to take small children anywhere, but packed as tightly as they were, it was quite a challenge to get them to sit still and use a soft voice. Fortunately, there was a big reward at the end of the bus ride.

When we got to Reunion Ranch, I hurried the kids to cast off all their coats, lunch boxes, and other supplies at the picnic tables and make a bee-line for the bathrooms.  I was standing at the entrance to the boys bathroom letting a boy in for each boy that came out when I heard “Where are the handles for the sink?” I assumed it was one of those automatic faucets so I told them to wave their hands in front. They yelled back that it wasn’t working.   I warily poked my head in to find a bunch of my boys standing in front of a metal trough that was used as a urinal, waving their hands.  I directed them to the sinks.

Once the class’s immediate needs were taken care of, we got to play on some of the most wonderful playscapes the munchkins had ever seen.  There were mazes and a balance beam, a hovel of sorts to hide in as well as a tall rope ladder and very slick slide.  They were just bordering on getting tired of playing when a tractor carrying a trailer came driving up. It was time for the hay ride.

I want to take a moment to give credit to all the middle school and high schoolers who patiently waved at not one, not two, but four trailers full of small children all screeching and flailing their arms.  My munchkins loved it.

After the hay ride, we went under the covered picnic area to enjoy lunch.  The rain chose this moment to come, which was so convenient, because it kept all the kids from galavanting off onto the fields or into the pond while I was overseeing the lunch proceedings. After a ten-minute deluge, the rain stopped and the sun shone again.

It was time to head to the mini-golf course. First, let me say that the ability to swing a golf club is not inherent.  But, the munchkins really outdid themselves in terms of being awkward.  Most of them couldn’t hold the club correctly, despite my instruction. And those who did manage to hold the club correctly rarely swung with any ease. They tried to hit the ball with the tip of the club instead of the side, and stood behind the ball instead of next to it.  On the bright side, I now have some of the funniest 3 minutes of video ever recorded.

After mini-golf, the kids took a few swings at a pinata and then returned to the bus for the ride home.  It was noticeably quieter on the way back, and with the exception of occasionally hopping up to keep an unconscious chid from hitting the floor, it was a very peaceful ride.


7 Down, 31 To Go


This week was good as usual, but it was a little tricky to plan for.  On Thursday, there was a school-wide performance for parents, which we knew would last from 1:00-3:00. But, the administration also planned two little rehearsals for Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon. Also not a problem. Except I found out about the rehearsals right before I left last Friday and had already made plans for this week. 

Normally, this isn’t an issue, because first grade has a relatively flexible schedule. But, I had scheduled a math test for Wednesday and a social studies quiz scheduled for Tuesday.  I got to school on Monday and started by slashing a bunch of science activities since I can rarely afford to sacrifice language arts and had those social studies and math tests to work with!  My lesson plan looked like the scene from a Civil War battle there was so much red!

It all worked out in the end. We started the social studies test on Tuesday and I told the munchkins ahead of time that it would be interrupted and to just go with it.  We were 15 minutes into the exam when we were summoned, so my kids just quietly got up, put the privacy folder over their test, and lined up.  *Another good thing about first grade: It would never, ever occur to first graders to talk about the quiz while they were outside the class rehearsing for the performance.* When we got done with the rehearsal, we filed back in and finished the quiz.    Then we repeated the steps again on Wednesday for the math test.

The munchkins thought the test interruptions were hilarious and we had a fantastic performance on Thursday.  And, there was an added bonus for me: my postponed lessons just got added onto next week’s schedule…no planning needed!

6 Down, 32 To Go


This week was all about anticipation.  I was anticipating going home to my invalid husband each day and my students were anticipating the matter show on Thursday.

On most days, I go home and bide my time for a few hours reading books, tidying the house, going to Target, etc.   I like having time to myself, but it was also fun having someone at home waiting for me!  We talked, had Friends marathons, went to Bible Study, went on errands, and had more Friends marathons….

This week at school everything we did was seen through the lens of the upcoming Matter Show, a presentation that Jackson does in connection with our physical science unit. The munchkins were on their best behavior and frequently pointed out solids, liquids, gases, freezing, and melting throughout the week.  I anticipated (there’s that word again!) that the kids might get antsy on Thursday waiting for the show. So, before school I wrote the following message on the board:

MATTER SHOW IS TODAY!!  The children who are going are Munchkin #1, Munchkin #2, Munchkin #3….. you get the idea.

When the munchkins came in, they inquired about the message, “Aren’t we all going?”    “Yes, as long as you follow our class rules and don’t get your name erased.”   *audible gasps*

Fortunately, my class is a group of angels and they all got to see the Matter Show.  Jackson froze a rose and smashed it, froze a racquet ball and made it shatter like glass, froze a banana and used it to hammer a nail into a piece of wood, created a non-Newtonian fluid that is both a solid and a liquid, and made ice cream with liquid nitrogen.

It was a resounding success and my little kids could scoff  at the green-with-envy high schoolers and tell them that “There are good things about being little and good things about being big.”