Happy (Chinese) New Year!!

We did something this past week that has never happened in Rm. 202–or in any classroom I’ve taught in: celebrated Chinese New Year!  Our friend Baron’s mom, Mrs. Eyrick, was born in Taiwan, and offered to come share some of their Chinese culture with us.  It was perfect because we both got to see a little more about our friend and his family, and also, it fit in with our Social Studies unit right now.  Match made in heaven!

She showed up a little early and got busy decorating with some traditional Chinese New Year symbols and colors.  We learned that red and gold are important, as they stand for life and fortune.  Mrs. Eyrick brought us a dragon, lanterns (realized I didn’t get any pictures of those! :(), some fish as well as decoration for our door and a big Happy New Year sign.  So festive!

We sat down together on the rainbow rug and she told us all about the history of Chinese New Year, and how the Western Hemisphere (where we live) bases their calendar on the sun, and how the Eastern Hemisphere (where China is) bases their calendar on the moon (lunar) phases.  She explained the Chinese Zodiac, and told us how friends in China celebrate this happy time.

She even brought us a treat!  She shared traditional Chinese New Year “lucky” food–clementines–and gave each kiddo a lucky red envelope.  It had real money inside!!  We also got to enjoy some other Chinese tasty treats together.

What a great afternoon and a fabulous celebration! Thanks, Mrs. Eyrick, for coming to teach us about your culture. 🙂

 

 

Yet….is now!

I have loved looking up at these butterflies all year:

They are pretty, but also help us remember that we are about possibilities in Rm. 202; we don’t know to do some things now–YET–but we will some day if we work hard and keep going.

I’ve been thinking about how/when we’d return to these goals (written during our first days of 2nd grade together), and Valentine’s Day seemed like as good a time as any.  Our focus was showing how we care about each other, and it’s definitely because of how we love and care for each other and work together that our yet has become now.  So we took some time to review them, and then make new goals to hang up and work on.

Kiddos took their butterflies and reviewed the goal they had written.  If they knew it was something they knew how to do now, they wrote “NOW I DO!”, along with the date, on their butterfly.  It was pretty exciting to see that almost all of us were able to celebrate achieving our goals, and we assured the others that their yet would come. 🙂  Check out how proud these kiddos are of their progress!

(There was one more, but he didn’t want me to post his picture. :))

After we took down our butterflies and declared our progress on them, we need something new to fill our wall.  It was looking a little lonely:

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So we got to work.  I don’t have the finished product to show you, because we’re still working, but here’s a sneak peek at what will go up here:

It will be beautiful for so many reasons!  I’ll share soon. Come back, will you? 🙂

Valentine’s Day 2016

I didn’t want to call this post just Valentine’s Day, partly because we tried to celebrate it differently (does that surprise you?), but also because it didn’t really happen on February 14.  This story is from Thursday, but in elementary school world, it was the last day of school before Valentine’s Day so alas that’s what we celebrated.  Ok.  I’ll move on.

As with the 100th Day, this day felt a little contrived to me–what 7-YO has a Valentine?  Ok, well maybe their mom, but no REAL Valentine.   Or maybe the whole class is their Valentine?  Anyhow, I began thinking a week or so ago about what we could do that made this day about something real and “normal” in our classroom.  I decided to connect to the conversations we’ve been having about caring and showing each other that they are important.  I mean Valentine’s Day is about love, right?  Caring is love. 🙂

So I formed our day around these three essential questions:

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Since these are big, “chewy” questions, we didn’t really answer them, but we did think about them as we went through the day, and referred to them at various times, as well.

Our first job of the day was to read a book together, which was about a dragon who wrote Valentines for all of the people she loved.  It was an ABC book, and while we didn’t do anything with all of the letters of the alphabet, we did take some time to tell the people we care about how we felt about them (remember our questions?).

This was one of those areas where I wanted to be really purposeful with Valentine traditions, rather than “cutesy” or just fun.  Last year we did a pretty cool Makerspace situation, and while it wasn’t a real Makerspace since I gave them their purpose, they were able to create and try and discover and explore, which was great.  This time I wanted them to be able to both give love and get some back, so we decorated our Valentine bags with words.

I gave them the big idea and even some stems that they could use:

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These were not “have-tos,” but I wanted to give them some place to start so that we didn’t end up with 20 different “I’m glad you’re my friend”s.

Next was getting them into a spot so we could start our bags.  We did this in a version of the game Scoot, where they would “scoot” around the room (in a certain order that I’d share) until they wrote on everyone’s bag.  I had them get into alphabetical order–like dragon’s Valentines had been in the book–and then gave them a spot to start.  Basically I started in one corner of the room and just snaked the line around, putting each kid in a seat/spot as we went.  They would then rotate one slot each “scoot,” following the person in front of them each time. It was honestly kind of complicated, taking the layout of our room, but they got it by about the 4th or 5th rotation and then I didn’t have to lead them anymore.  I was honestly surprised.   Surprised but really impressed and happy. 🙂

I wish I had taken a picture of each one, to document how sweet their words were to each other, but I didn’t.  I only have ones of how great they look all lined up in the hall.  That is where they were as we delivered Valentine’s cards to our friends.

I didn’t get pictures of their bags, but I did get a pic of their words to me.  Check out how caring and lovely they were to me:

Pretty great, right? 🙂

Later on in the day we had a party.  Mrs. Raeber, along with many other parents (and grandparents!) came to help us have a fun time at the end of our day.  We had a snack, played a game, read some winter/Valentine’s Day books and make a keychain.  What a perfect collection of fun, low-key things to do!  These parents are super good at giving us lovely things!

Check out some pictures.   They are pretty sweet. 🙂

There’s more to share–but that’s for another post.  Hope you have a great weekend, and that you feel loved and cared for this Valentine’s Day! 🙂