#FDOFG2017–Box Challenge

We read a book lately that perfectly went along with our focus on play, grit and creativity (wow, that’s quite a first grade trifecta!):

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It’s favorite that I found last year (and was so good that I started the whole year with it!), and as Ms. Turken and I planned our first days, we knew it HAD to make an appearance again this year.

The preparation for this project started weeks before we started, with the collection of boxes.  Lots and lots of boxes of all shapes and sizes.

As we read the book together, we noticed what was happening in the child’s imagination and were thinking about how we’d answer the question: “What would you do with a box?” Which by the way, is NOT the title of the box, but is somehow the way I read it EVERY SINGLE time I look at the front of it.  Weird.  Maybe I just want it to be an invitation instead of a direction. 🙂

So after we read, kiddos made plans for which box they’re use and how they’d use it.  This was not a typical design challenge in the fact that they could use whatever they wanted as far as materials, and the only real constraint was time.  And wow–there was creativity all over the room!  Check it out!

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Now, as with many of the things we do in the beginning of the year are dual-purposed.  We are learning how first grade works at the same time as we’re using our creativity and having fun.  What usually happens is that we have a debrief about how each activity went, and we chart plusses (what went well) and deltas (things we should change for next time).  This helps us become (and hopefully stay!) aware of how to manage our behavior.  We had done this a couple of times, but with this project, Ms. Turken and I decided to tweak the wording just a bit.

We’ve been talking alot at Robinson this year about expected (and therefore unexpected behaviors), as a means of helping students to better understand how to “be a Roadrunner and show it all the time” as our mindset suggests they should do.

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We added in specific behaviors to focus on and so these are what we analyzed during our debrief.  We were noticing that some of our friends are using the words “good” and “bad” when speaking of their choices and we wanted to help connect all of our behavior expectations together.  You’ll notice on this chart that there was some AMAZING stuff happening during this project and kids were ROCKING those expected behaviors!

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I’ve been really impressed since this discussion as I’ve both seen many more expected behaviors, as well as hearing kiddos using the language with their peers and as we talk about our day and how we can be our best learning selves.  Whew!  Who knew there was so much to learn with a BOX?!

ECLIPSE DAY 2017!!

OH my goodness–today was a TOTALITY amazing day.  hee hee  Yes I know, it’s a bit much.  But really, what a once-in-a-lifetime day to enjoy and experience with our Robinson community.  I am sure many other KSD teachers and families have said it, but KUDOS to Joe Bartin for all of his hard work to get us ready for the big day.  There were websites just for the day, y’all, that had videos and info galore!  If you haven’t seen them, check this out:

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We did some preteaching on eclipses so kiddos would know what was going on and what to expect, using videos and books.  On Friday, we got together with Ms. Turken’s Rm. 112 friends to do some work.  First we watched a BrainPop Jr video on eclipses and learned a little from Annie and Moby.

After the video, we read a book together called Eddie’s Eclipse.  It was written by two St. Louis librarians just for this special day!  We enjoyed it and listened for facts/details we had also heard in the video.

While Ms. Turken read and kiddos listened, I kept record of the important facts that students thought we should remember.  We made a chart of what was essential:

Also on this day, we put the finishing touches on the glow-in-the-dark bracelets Ms. Maldonado helped us make for the big event,

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and tried on the new eclipse glasses that were gifted to us by the Kirkwood School District Foundation:

Today, on the actual day of the eclipse, we did some more reading and shared another book, called Eclipse: Darkness in the Daytime together with our Rm. 112 friends again.

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For the rest of our amazing day, we watched another video, practiced with our glasses, spent the TOTALITY of the eclipse outside with our amazing Robinson friends and family, and commemorated the day with some artwork and an eclipse snack (Capri SUN, SUN chips, STARbursts and MILKY WAYs).  It was pretty intense and fabulous and I can’t really put it into words.  So I’ll just use pictures. 🙂  Enjoy!

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If you haven’t had a chance to check out Robinson’s Facebook page, be sure to see it–there are loads of other fun pics to see and even a LIVE video from when we were in TOTALITY.  Cool, right?

Ok, one more thing…if you’re reading this and you were in the path of totality, please comment and let us know what you experienced today!  We’d LOVE to hear from others about how they celebrated the day and what they thought of the experience.  I know for me it’ll be something I will NEVER forget!

First Grade is FINALLY here!!

Welcome to 1st Grade, Friends!

I am so excited you’re here!

The following letter contains 2586 words that will begin to shape your child’s first grade year (I know–it’s a little long.  Sorry!).  You will want to have your family sit and read this so you can all be excited about first grade together.  You should also have dancing shoes on (you’ll learn why later!) and your phone (or other recording device) handy.

Ready? Of course you are! Because you are all about to become…

First Grade and Fabulous!

I am excited for the year ahead – how about you??

Let’s get started!

First a little bit about me. 🙂  As you read in my letter,  I am going into my 17th year of teaching and every one of them has been at Robinson!  I even did my student-teaching here long ago, so Robinson is definitely my home-away-from-home.  In my real home I have a fabulous family that I love dearly.  My husband, Grant, is a teacher, too, in Mehlville.  He has taught 3rd, 4th and 5th grade.  We have a 10YO son, Riley, who is in 5th grade at Robinson, too.  We also have a little girl named Allison–we call her Allie–who is 6 1/2.  She goes to Robinson, too, and you might even know her (if not, I’m sure you’ll meet her soon).  We LOVE (yep, love) Disney World, and travel there often.  Chicago is another one of our favorite places to travel to together.  We also just like to hang out together at home (or anywhere, really) and spend time with each other.  So that’s me.  What about you? Can’t wait to learn more about YOUR family!

Like I said, this is my 17th year as a teacher, and every year, I begin the school year as a different person. I decide on that first day and then every day thereafter, who I am as a teacher. What is important to me. What I want to accomplish. What I want my students to see when they come to school. I choose that. I don’t let other people tell me who I will be and I don’t just be who I think other people want me to be. I read, I think, I write and then I decide.

Parents, I am excited to find out who YOUR CHILD will be!  

Another wondering: What is important to you? (This is another big question and one I am really curious about so I will ask it twice.) What is important to you (and your child)?

There are lots of things that are important to me: my husband and my kids, sharing ideas, reading, writing, being able to have a conversation, making things, discovering things, sharing what I know, sleeping in, staying up late and knowing when to say sorry (and when to say nothing at all!).

As a teacher, there are a few more things that are important to me:

* YOU and YOUR CHILD!:   They’re the reason I’m there, after all right?  It is important for me to get to know your child (and your family!), and know them well.  Not just as a learner, but as a kid, too.  I want to know what they like, what they don’t like, what makes them tick.  Who they are.  That’s ok, right? 🙂

* Respect: At Robinson, it’s pretty much what we’re all about.  I expect respect to be a huge thing in our classroom.  I will respect your child, and I expect them to respect me, as well as everyone else in our community.  This counts when we agree and even when we don’t.  I have a saying that I learned from my good friend Mrs. Ford years ago, that is really important with this whole respect thing.  It’s this: You are not the sun. In other words, the world does not revolve around you, and there are lots of other people in our classroom that have needs, wants, likes, dislikes, etc., that we need to take into account.  I love your child, but I love everyone else, too!  Additionally, it is SUPER important to me that we learn to love each other as people, learn to support each other, learn to cheer when our friends do well (and know that that doesn’t mean anything negative about us), learn to encourage each other when they need it, learn to understand and appreciate how we’re different as much as how we’re the same, and learn to learn together.  We are in this together and none of us will be as successful alone as we can alongside each other.  That’s a life lesson, not just a 1st grade lesson.  🙂

*Reading: I know–you’re thinking, “well isn’t every subject important?”  And yes, to a point, that’s true.  But in my opinion, one of the single most indicators of success in life (and let’s face it, enjoyment as well!) is developing a love of reading.  I ask that you join me in the task of helping your child LOVE reading.  I am sure they’re probably already on their way, but let’s keep it up together!  Read to them as well as with them.   Share your own reading with them.  Read in front of them.  Show them the importance of words and how you can lose yourself in the right text.  HAVE FUN and help them do the same!  I hope that I will do my part to encourage all of these things as well! (In case you want to see more about how important this is, read about our #classroombookaday challenge from last year here).

*Writing: Words are important.  They help us to communicate and tell our stories.  When you write those words, you can deepen thinking and learning, as well as better process things you heard or are still thinking about (I know this is one of the most important reasons I write!).  We will write, write, write in Rm. 202, just like we will read, read, read!  (And no, don’t worry about correct spelling or perfect handwriting–everyone is allowed to make mistakes, the message is the most important part!)

* Mistakes:  I expect your child to make them. 🙂   I want them (and you!) to learn to work through it when it’s hard and figure out what to do.   I want them to feel the joy and success of learning something new because they persevered!  Not everything will be easy here. And that’s ok. We’re in it together and I’ll help you all along the way. 🙂 THIS IS A PLACE WHERE WE WILL BE GRITTY!

* Collaboration: I love to share ideas and get ideas and try new things and even when those things fail, I know I am just one step closer to finding what does work. I love to work with other teachers to figure things out and find new solutions to old problems.  But just as much as working with adults, I love to collaborate with students.  I love to hear what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling about things, what they think would be the best way to learn something.  It’s OUR classroom, and often your kiddos’ ideas are WAY better than mine.  I know I’ll share lots of examples with your child (and you!) about how that’s happened to me over the years.

Aside from collaborating with me, though, they’ll be collaborating with each other!  Your child will have lots of opportunities to share with their classmates, to give ideas, ask questions, prove reasoning and challenge each other.  I expect that we will work together to help EVERYONE in our class be the best they can be.  Together we’ll achieve much more than we would if we tried to do it on our own. 🙂  Reminds me of a sign I saw in Disney World at the Animal Kingdom:

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I like to say that in our room, everyone is a teacher and a learner.

And as a new level of collaboration and learning, we will be combining with and I will be co-teaching with Ms. Turken for many things this year.  We are still working out all the logistics, but just be ready to hear about how your kiddo talk about a whole other class of kiddos, and their “other” teacher, Ms. Turken.  Can’t wait to share more as we go forward!!

* Curiosity: There is no better way to learn something than to ask a question.  It is DEFINITELY how I learn, and so please understand if you find me asking you (or your child) lots of questions as a means of figuring out how best to meet their needs or to connect with your family.  In turn, I hope you will feel comfortable to ask me any questions you may have, and the perhaps most importantly, your child will feel comfortable to ask me–and their classmates–questions when they need to.  Knowing when to ask for help is an important part of learning. 🙂  Also, WONDER is a natural part of being a kid, as well as a super important part of learning something new.  WONDER is something that I will always encourage, and hopefully many things we learn together will start as someone’s wondering about the world.

 

* Technology : I  love technology because it allows me to connect to new ideas. I like to think about what I want to do and look for tools to help me do it. I want to hear your ideas on technology and what works for you–and I ask that you be open to trying new things (that goes for BOTH you and your learner). We will be using technology in many new and exciting ways this year, so get ready!  You child be blogging, using Twitter, KidBlog and other sites (like Skype to connect with other learners around the world), using iPads, working on the ActivBoard, making videos of learning and trying out many new things that we may not even know about yet.  Whatever we do, though, the goal is always learning.  We will use technology in meaningful ways to better create new knowledge.  Excited?  I know I am!  PLEASE let me know what–if any–apprehensions you have in this area, either for you or your student.  This will be an important area for us to explore together. 🙂

* Community: Our class, our families, our school, our neighborhood, our city, our state, our country, our world. There are so many amazing people doing amazing things. I bet your child can think of ten amazing people who do amazing things right now. We need to hear those people’s stories. You (grown-ups) should be on that list. You are awesome. (Assignment one: help your child email me a List of Awesomeness about people in your family* -*family = people you love and are connected to even if they don’t happen to live in your house or share your last name).  I am also hoping to better integrate your family stories into our classroom this year, as well, taking full advantage of all of the amazing things each one of us has to offer.  That might mean I ask you (grown-ups) to come read to us, teach us something, help us make something, send in things, etc.  We want EVERYONE to be a part of the Rm. 202 family!!  One of our first units this year will be learning about our names and families so stay tuned!

* Taking risks: I like to take risks.  I hope you do too. It is scary sometimes and it fails sometimes but sometimes, more often, it is just A-MAZ-ING! Usually when you do something scary you do things you never thought you could.  You surprise yourself.  And then you want to do more! Someone smart once said “Fear and Excitement are shades of the same color”. Cool, huh?  (Parents, this is true for you as much as it is for your kiddo!! 🙂

HANG IN THERE….You’re almost done!

OK…if you made it this far and are still with me, congratulations, you (and your kiddo) are a rock star. Stop reading right now and do some kind of victory dance.  No really, go ahead.  Dance.  I’ll wait.  Better yet, have someone video tape your dance and send it to me!  I’ll even post it on our blog! (Did you see the posts where I did that with my last class?  They didn’t believe that I’d do it, either. 🙂 )

So….what now? How can you best prepare for the extreme awesomeness of first grade?

  1. Have a great summer! Be extraordinary.
  2. Read something.  Write something.  Wonder something.  This will get your learning muscles warmed up. 🙂
  3. If you have any questions you can always email me. Anytime. No question to big or too small.
  4. Think about what I said about who you want your child to be. Most importantly, remember that everyone else in our class is thinking about that too. Be gracious to those who are brave enough to set lofty goals and make the effort to become an even better version of themselves.
  5. THIS ONE IS FOR THE KIDDOS!: Look around your house (or your computer, maybe) for a picture of your family.  I’d love to be able to decorate our room with us–pictures of all the people who help make us who we are and who encourage us to do our best.  I want to be able to fill our room with love, support and smiling faces, so please bring a 3×5, 4×6 or 5X7 picture (framed or not) with you to Open House or on the first day of school.  And if you don’t have one, don’t worry!  We’ll take your picture!

Despite having now used more than two thousand words, there are no words to describe how excited I am about working with you next year!

Here’s To Being First Grade and Fabulous!

♥ Mrs. Bearden

PS. If you didn’t get up and dance before and are now wishing you did, there is still time to do it. Anytime. Send me that video with your best moves (we’ll check these out together once we’re all in school together.  Fun, right?).

When you have had a chance to relax, digest this letter (maybe talk about it with your family or friends) and get your first grade brain tuned up, I would love for your child to write to me to introduce yourself, ask questions, maybe respond to something you read in this letter that made you think.  An email, postcard or a good ‘ole letter via snail mail is great!  Don’t worry–there’s still loads of time before school starts!  You can send your letter to Robinson, c/o of Mrs. Bearden at 803 S. Couch Ave., Kirkwood, MO 63122.

I look forward meeting you!

Mrs. Bearden: Email–jennifer.bearden@kirkwoodschools.org; Phone–314-213-6100 x4211 (after August 9)

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MrsBeardensClass

Twitter: @jbeardensclass (This is our class feed, and we will tweet here together with my supervision and instruction.  It’s a great way to stay on top of what’s going on in our classroom since you don’t get to be there every day!  Follow us!)

Blog: http://www.20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher.com Feel free to leave me a comment here to let me know what you thought, what you wonder, how your summer has been, etc….this is always a great place to talk to me! 🙂  Also–if you have a minute while you’re here, go ahead and subscribe to the blog feed.  That way you’ll never miss anything that happens here.  I add things often and you’ll want to read it all!!  Just click on the button on the right side of the page and add your email address. 🙂

**Thanks to @terSonya for help with writing this post! Like I said, I love to share ideas!**

Veterans’ Day 2016

Our school knows how to do things right. 🙂   And Veterans’ Day is one of those things that we do that has quickly become a day we look forward to celebrating together with our friends, family and honored guests.

Let me share our day with you. 🙂

First of all, here’s the first grade portion of the program.

Aren’t we a handsome bunch of kiddos?

We’re talented, too. 🙂  Here’s our Veterans’ Day song:

Before we sang, there were some tributes to our honored first grade guests.  It was pretty special. 🙂

Lastly in the program, some Robinson friends (including our RM. 202 friend Kaiden!) read the official Veterans’ Day proclamation:

Now…in case you wanted to see the entire program, it was live-streamed on Periscope and can be viewed in its entirety at these links: Part 1 and Part 2.  Also, Mrs. Sisul has updated Robinson’s Facebook page with pics from the day.  Check it out here.

Another amazing and thoughtful day spent celebrating some really important people and appreciating the freedoms and opportunities we have in America!  Great job, Rm. 202!

Who’s in YOUR Village?

I don’t even remember when I first heard that saying “It takes a village…,” but goodness knows I live it and breathe it in so many ways at this point in my life.  Whether that means my personal life at home with kids or my professional life at school with my other kids (which is what this post is about), I could definitely not do it all alone.

So when I read someone else’s post a few months ago, it got me asking and answering that question “Who’s in YOUR village?” for myself.  And this is my answer.  At least for this season of life. 🙂

And so a few words for the few that help make my school life bearable and even fun!

1.) My hubby

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Ok, so there’s about a thousand things I could say about why I love this guy and how he helps make my life possible, but two of the biggest reasons are that he gets me and he gets my job. We’ve been together (between dating and being married) for 23 years and it’s been super amazing how we’ve both grown over the years into new and different people, but have grown in the same direction.  I love that he gets my weird moods and what that “thinking face” I make means, and how he knows just when I need him to bring me a Diet Dr. Pepper (and he does this without being asked–love it!).  Also, he’s a teacher, so while there’s WAY too much shop talk at our house, he can TOTALLY relate to lesson plans, report cards, parent conferences (from both sides now!), how the school week really starts (and the weekend really ends! :() on Sunday about 5 when we have to start getting ready for school again, and that some times I just need to either 1) talk to NO ONE for a while when I get home or 2) talk to an ADULT and have a conversation with someone other than an 8YO.  Anyhow, he’s kind of a catch and I’m really lucky that he’s on my team. 🙂 Love you, Grant!

2.) My friends

It’s always to hard when you start to write a list, because two things usually happen: you leave someone/something off because you mean to, or you leave someone/something off inadvertently.  I’m not really sure which is worse, because especially when you’re listing friends (which, ok, doesn’t usually happen after high school) it seems harsh.  And now I’m going to write a list.  And hope that it doesn’t make anybody upset. Oh, and it’s in no specific order. 🙂

IMG_0143 2.JPGShannon–What can I say except God put her in my life at just the right time and the friendship that has blossomed in the last two years has been nothing short of amazing.  Besides being an amazing teacher, she’s kind, loving, understanding, funny and challenges me in a respectful way.  Shannon cares about me as a person as much as an educator and takes such interest in my life, regardless of the topic.  What’s important to me is important to her, too.  She understands that I might do things in a different way than everyone else (and she would sometimes, too!), that I have to think (often for a llloooonnnggg time) before I can answer with my opinion or ideas, and she accepts and love me for those things.  She has the most intense belief in her students as learners and works to make them better people when they leave her classroom (and I know this firsthand–she was my son’s teacher and he blossomed in her care!).  She inspires me to be a better teacher just by doing what she naturally does. It makes TOTAL sense that her last name is Appelbaum, because she truly does plant seeds and grow children.

Rachael–IMG_3020Yeah, I know that’s a picture of a dog.  It’s Rosie, actually, but it’s the only picture Rae would let me post of her.  Aside from that silliness, Rachael is a pretty fabulous person. 🙂  She also came into my life at a perfect time; after being an acquaintance for a very long time, our paths finally crossed on a teaching team.  We quickly found out we have much in common (and much that we don’t because she’s so much nicer, calmer, and more considerate than me, LOL), and that we get along really well.  One of my favorite things about her is how she loves on my kids; Allie and Riley love her bunches and love to spend time with her as much as I do.  She asks thoughtful questions, encourages at just the right time in the right way, and has probably the biggest heart of anyone I know.  She has a way of seeing such good and potential in people (little people, too!) and inspires me to be a better version of me.  It’s true when she says she’s for students.

3.) My team

1443305819373I still laugh about the story behind this picture.  It literally happened because as we were starting the day one morning someone said, “Hey, this is the first time we’ve all been in the same place together in a long time!” (Guess it had been a busy week!).  I said, “Well then grab a camera!” and of course, a selfie followed.  No, it’s not the best picture of any of us, but it speaks to a moment in time and for sure shows the joy that’s on our faces each day when we’re at school. No, every day is not perfect, but for sure we work through those rocky parts together.  This is my first year on this team, and it was well established before I came into it.  In many ways this scared me, as I am probably not what you’d call an “established” person; I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, make plans and change them, respond to the moment and see what happens–well at least at school I do. LOL  Instead of being scary, though, the organization, structure and flow of the way our team works has added so much to the way I teach and learn.  We each bring something different to the table (including unit plans for each subject that each one of us is responsible for creating and then sharing with everyone else), and there is always laughter when we’re together.  We’re different in many ways and that works so well.  I love Team Tuesday lunches, even though it took me until January to remember to have lunch there that day so I could join in; I love that someone else sends copies for me to the copy center because I don’t usually think that far ahead; I love that these ladies think so fondly of everyone at our school and send holiday cards to ALL of the support staff (I never knew 2nd grade did this!); I love that they understand and respect how I might not always be the first to follow the crowd.  I will get there eventually–usually–but might also put my own twist or spin on something and that is ok.  We care about each other, talk about many things other than school, and have each others’ backs.  That’s good for the soul. 🙂

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 4.) My kiddos (and their families!)

These are the friends I’m here for, after all, right?  These kiddos are perhaps some of the best little people I’ve met in a long time!  This is my first (well, and second since we’ve been together for 2 years) class of primary students for almost 10 years and they’ve been a breath of fresh air.  I had forgotten how eager young minds can be to learn new things, how they come into pretty much everything with zest and anticipation and I love how these learners are willing to try each new and kooky thing I suggest we do.  Even better than that, they have some super ideas of their own that I think they know and trust that I will in turn be willing to let them try.  We are truly a big, happy family (who sometimes bicker like siblings LOL), and we’re in this together.  And I can’t mention these amazing students without of course mentioning their families.  The support and love I get from them is unmatchable, and the way they help and support their kiddos is inspiring.  I am lucky.

5.) Robinson

As much as I have these few close people on my team to hold me up, I can truly do what I do because of WHERE I do it.  My school (because of our principal and the rest of the staff) is truly a magical place to work and play everyday.  It’s been my home for the last 16 years, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.  While the teachers have changed over the time I’ve been teaching there, the culture and “feel” of our school remains the same because our mission remains constant: we’re here for our kids and we are willing to do whatever it takes to help each and every one learn.  We care about kids–all of them and the whole child–and it shows.  There is always mention of how welcoming and warm our building is, and it’s definitely not because of the 1930s era heating system (I kid).  You can feel the warmth and love that resonates from all the people who work and learn inside the walls of 803 S. Couch.

So…who’s in YOUR village?

Video of the Day: May 28, 2015–BE THE CHANGE!!

I wasn’t even sure how to title this post, because it’s really not about me or even about the kids in Rm. 202.  It’s from May 28, for sure, but is more focused on the AMAZING work of Mrs. Puzzo and her 4th graders in Rm. 206.  They have worked pretty much the whole year with making a change in our school, our community, our world at large, after learning about social injustice.  The story is much longer than can be told here, but after reading A Friendship for Today (which actually took place in our school!), and learning more about situations closer to home (i.e. Ferguson), Rm. 206 kids wanted to do something.

I’m attaching the video they made (along with help from StLTV), as well as an invitation to you to help these friends be the change–as well as you!

First check out the video:

You can also check out what’s going on with this story on Facebook and Twitter. Get involved and please share this post with others!  Excited to see what happens when we all work together to be the change!

Pictures (and Video!) of the Day: May 22, 2015–SPRING SING EDITION!

Pics are all related to the Spring Sing today. 🙂   

Say Cheese!! Just before we went to get into our riser lines. Such a handsome bunch!! 🙂

C.J. have made selfies a tradition for special events lately. This one was too special not to share. :0

First Grade Selfie on the back to class after a successful Spring Sing!

And here’s the video: I would love to share both of the songs our amazing firsties sang, but I also wanted to enjoy it (rather than just watching through a tiny screen as I recorded it, you know?).  So here’s the first one: Down By the Bay.  And boy is it great!!  These kids are TALENTED!!