Things Teachers Do in the Summer: TRAVEL

In addition to finding tons of great, new books to share with my new class, I also had some fabulous opportunities to travel with my family!

Ok, I’ll give you one guess as to where we went.  Alright, you can have two or three guesses if you need them, but if you know me at all, or if you’ve spent any length of time here on this blog you already know the answer.:

This IS indeed, the Happiest Place on Earth!

This IS indeed, the Happiest Place on Earth!

We spent the first 10 days after school was out in our favorite place, which is the week we typically go because it’s not too hot yet, and the crowds aren’t as crazy as later on in the summer.  This year’s weather was a little weird, though, because Tropical Storm Andrea decided to come for a visit at the same time as we did.  It was rainier than normal (not the usual 3 o’clock shower that is over in 5 minutes) and cloudy most of the time we were there.  But hey–we didn’t let that get us down!  We’ve been to WDW many times, but we always find a way to make new memories.  Two highlights from this trip were the Princess dinner we had at Akershus Royal Banquet hall–in Epcot’s Norway pavilion–for Allie (which we actually went to on Daddy’s birthday–HA!) as well as a Pirate cruise that Riley took with a small group around Crescent Lake near Epcot.

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I was so surprised as how shy she was around the princesses.  Those are pretty much the only two that she would talk to–when the others came around she was buried in my shoulder hiding her face!  She did the same thing for Mickey and the others, too, which just surprised me because of how naturally outgoing she normally is!  Our prince was not at all bothered by all the pretty ladies who came to our table, though, and he took pictures with them instead!

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I don’t really have many good pics of Riley’s cruise, but that’s mostly because I wasn’t there!  He took off in his pirate skipper with the tour guides and 5 or 6 other kiddos in search of Captain Stinkyfeet who had stolen the pirate treasure!  I was so proud at his willingness to do that without us (he’s learning to let go 🙂 ) and he had a SUPER time. It was all he could talk about for days afterward!

The one other highlight of the trip was meeting up with some an old 5th grade friend and his family who happened to be there at the same time as we were:

What fun to run into Keelan, his sisters Macie and Amelia and his parents!  Fun in the Florida sun!

What fun to run into Keelan, his sisters Macie and Amelia and his parents! Fun in the Florida sun! (Doesn’t Riley look like he could be related to all of them?)

Disney is usually our big excursion for the summer, but this summer we finally got around to going somewhere else in the world (which is honestly a BIG DEAL for our family!).  So in July we packed up and headed east to Charlotte, NC to visit some friends who had moved there a few years ago.  We spent a lovely weekend with their family (of which I have NO pictures–I realized this after we were home…) and then headed to Asheville for the next few days.  We were excited to see the mountains, as well as enjoy Asheville’s food scene, which is focused on sustainable, local, fresh ingredients and is right up our alley!

Several days we went driving on the Blue Ridge parkway, which is the scenic route through the Blue Ridge mountains and afforded us some AMAZING views, along with tunnels and roadside overlook points to stop and check out.  We went shopping, ate some fabulous food, and also visited the Western North Carolina Nature Center.  While we’re definitely still lovers of all things Disney, this was a great time for our family and it’s the trip that Riley keeps going back to when he reminisces on his summer fun!

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This one cracks me up! Just an example of the cool rocks we drove next to on the road–here we stopped to look at the water running down the walls. Obviously it was more interesting than smiling at me for the picture!

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We also learned that Asheville is home to the highest point east of the Mississippi river–Mount Mitchell.  So fun to trek to the top of it!  Such beautiful views from way up there!

IMAG0854IMAG0882IMAG0872Doesn’t that picture just say it all?  WE HAD FUN!!

What did you do this summer?  What adventures did you go on?  Where did you visit?  Leave a comment and tell me all about it!  Send me a picture, 5th grade friends, and I’ll add it to the blog! 🙂

Starting to Get Settled…

I love to share what things look like when I first walk into the classroom in the summer.  Remember these from a couple of years ago?

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It’s the classroom I was in 2 years ago, but gives you a good idea of my first sights when I return to school at the beginning of the year to get stuff put together again.  This year’s view was very similar, only in the room next door.

Putting a classroom back together is a tedious process, with lots of bits and pieces to put in their places and a big puzzle to work out.  And that’s if you put everything back where it was last year!  If you decide to make any changes (because something didn’t work last year or just because you want to try something new for a new group of kiddos), then it’s pretty much like starting all over.  Your plan has to be completely different.

So I started by putting all of my furniture back right where it was at the end of last year.  And then I started thinking….

We really loved our room arrangement last year, and it worked for us based on our traffic flows and how we used each part of the room for different activities.  Except…that I knew I wanted to trade my desk with the table right next to it so that I could use the only whiteboard in our room for small group teaching times (instead of just having it behind my desk and covered with random things I tacked up there and didn’t really use).  Smart, right?  Yeah, it took me all year long to figure that one out…:)

So once I got the table and desk switched, I really liked it.  But then I couldn’t leave well enough alone, and it so it got me wondering what else I could move around that might work even better than what we had last year.  My carpet was the next thing on my list.  Maybe moving it into the corner (where my desk had been and where that new table was now sitting) would be a good idea–again because of that whiteboard.  Having it in our meeting space might be even better than for small groups.  So I picked up the fabulous carpet (remember when we got it last year?) and moved it into the corner, along with my easel and my chair.  That left me two tables, two filing cabinets and a supply shelf to figure out.  I think I like the new changes even better than last year.  I figured out that putting the rug in the corner also meant that the doors of my closets can now be used for charts and other things we’ll refer to during lessons (more on my ideas for that soon!).

And then….I looked at the spot where my next was and agreed that I liked it there…but then had another (even better!) idea: maybe I don’t even need a desk anymore.  I’ve gone back and forth over the last few years about whether or not I really need one; I don’t sit at it except before and after school, and it’s space that kids could probably use in a better way.  It really just serves as a place for me to house all my stuff.  What I really have wanted for a while is to have a dining room or kitchen table in my room.  I love the idea of kids (who are really a part of our learning family) sitting all around it having lively conversations and growing together.  The problem?  I still had a desk, and no table.  I knew I could probably find one on Craig’s List, after having no luck at Goodwill and garage sales over the last few weeks, but I thought instead to appeal to my friends on Facebook.  It worked.  I really quickly found a friend (who also happens to be a parent from our school!) who had a table that she’d been hoping to do something with–perfect, right?

I don’t have it yet, but I am SO EXCITED for what the room will look like when it’s in place.  My new plan is that it will go where my next was, and all of my stuff will find a new home.  Then, if I need a place to perch, that will be my primary home, but kids can also sit there with me when they like, as well as using it for conferences and small groups.  What do you think about that?  (Really, you can tell me. I promise. 🙂 )

So the title of this post is starting to get settled, then, because I feel like with the furniture in the right place, then I could start to get some things on the walls.  This makes me feel like things are closer to coming together, and it definitely makes it feel a little more like home.  So here’s where I am so far:

I got our We're Connecting with the World map up!  It's just waiting for some time zone clocks (a new addition this year!) as well as all the pins to represent the new friends we'll make around the world this year!  This is definitely an important part of our room.

I got our We’re Connecting with the World map up! It’s just waiting for some time zone clocks (a new addition this year!) as well as all the pins to represent the new friends we’ll make around the world this year! This is definitely an important part of our room.

I moved the calendar this year around the corner.  We only really use it for reference, but on this wall we can see it more easily from most parts of the room (as well as if I'm sitting at my new table or if I'm on the phone).  We'll see how we like it.

I moved the calendar this year around the corner. We only really use it for reference, but on this wall we can see it more easily from most parts of the room (as well as if I’m sitting at my new table or if I’m on the phone). We’ll see how we like it.  Oh, and I found that little bucket in my closet–it has the calendar numbers in it.  Cute, right? 🙂

This will give you a better idea of all that craziness I was trying to explain before: rug in the new corner, my desk which will become our new table.  You can also see (as well as in the previous pics, too) that I got our Read Aloud Timeline hung up and we're ready to get started adding to it for this year's new titles!

This will give you a better idea of all that craziness I was trying to explain before: rug in the new corner, my desk which will become our new table. You can also see (as well as in the previous pics, too) that I got our Read Aloud Timeline hung up and we’re ready to get started adding to it for this year’s new titles! Oh, and that big mess of books on the table is the middle of a reorganization project in our classroom library.  Anna and I are going to start tackling it on Tuesday, and believe me, I’ll share when I’m done. 🙂

The new birthday wall will be next to our meeting space here, as well as those closets I mentioned before.  I plan on changing the titles there to other topics...

The new birthday wall will be next to our meeting space here, as well as those closets I mentioned before. I plan on changing the titles there to other topics…

Ok, one last picture:

Just a little treat from the littlest Bearden's in our family!  Had to keep them busy while Mommy was working in the room the other day. :)

Just a small treat from the littlest Beardens in our family! Had to keep them busy while Mommy was working in the room the other day.

What does your classroom look like right now?  What about at the beginning of your work?  How do you tackle that big pile of “stuff?”  I’d love to hear how it works for you!