We made…butter?!

I think I mentioned in an earlier post about how our goal for the first days of school is to make kids excited about school and get a feel for what the rest of our year will bring.  Another way we decided to do this was to make ice cream for our first-day snack.  I mean, come on–who wouldn’t want to come back after ICE CREAM on the first day of school?  And if THAT doesn’t give a clue that this year will be fun-filled, I don’t know what would!

So, when, in the midst of spinning the cream as the first step to our ice-creamy goodness, I saw this in the mixer, I was less than impressed. 😦


Yes, friends, instead of ice cream….we had made….butter!!

I really just had to laugh as I explained to the kiddos what I saw in the mixer and then showed it to them on our big screen.  I was glad that not a single kiddo was mad at me; somehow they seemed to understand that mistakes happen.

Mistakes happen….that’s the part of this story we honed in on.  It was almost like I had done it on purpose (did I? hee hee) as a means of highlighting how messing up is how we learn new things.  And now, we know that when you whip butter too long you get butter instead of whipped cream!

And don’t worry–I promised them that since we had messed up on our first try that I would try again and bring them some ice cream for their day 2 snack.  And BOY was it yummy!

Oh, and we didn’t let that butter go to waste, either.  The next day we had bread and butter, with some honey courtesy of our friend Jacob’s bees!  Best of all worlds! 🙂

Here’s to a fun- and mistake-filled year in first grade!

Finally! Time to Rest and Reflect….

I had forgotten how hard teaching is.  After so many days “off” this summer (while I could get on my soapbox about how teachers are not really off all summer, I’ll spare you the details.  For now. 🙂 ), we’re finally back into the school year.  Today was day 5.  And I am tired.  Exhausted. Sleepy. T. I. R. E. D.  Perhaps it comes from the fact that, even in 5th grade, you still have to do so much for your students this early in the year–mainly just since routines and procedures are not yet in place–or maybe it’s that I’m out of shape.  Either way, I’ve been ready for bed by 8:30 or 9 every night.  Granted, I haven’t actually GONE to bed that early because I’ve had work to do, but believe me, I was ready. 🙂

But by day 5, things are starting to settle down (at least a teeny bit), so I can stop to rest and reflect on how the first week (and then a day today) have gone.  And I’m happy to report that things have gone pretty well.  So far so good!

I mentioned in a post before school about how my team had come up with some great ideas for how to thoughtfully do our community building activities.  This turned out to be a genius move (if I do say so myself!) and I’ve loved how things have worked out thus far.  We even worked out the order together on a Google Doc (which has been a personal goal of mine).  It’s nice to know that even though we’re not trying to be copycat classrooms, we’re all doing similar things in a similar order.  Teams kinda work like that, you know. 🙂

While I would love to share EVERY MINUTE of what’s happened over the last 5 days, I don’t have time (nor energy) to do so–hopefully if you’re a parent in our room you have heard all the fabulous tales from your kiddo anyway!  What I will do, though, is share some highlights.  Then I will promise to eat my Wheaties and take Vitamin C so that I will not be so pooped next week and can instead update the blog more often. 🙂


IMG653One of the team building activities on our list was the Human Knot.  Basically, you “tie” yourselves together by holding hands across the circle, then you have to work together to “untie” yourselves into one big circle at the end.  We did this very early on, very shortly after we had all met each other, thinking (and hoping really!) that it would be hard.  We did pretty good for our first try, actually, and got two parts of the knot undone.  There was a pretty large tangle still left in the middle, though, that was ready to topple over at any moment.  We celebrated the way we worked together and let certain friends step up and lead, and vowed to do better next time.  I’m so excited to try this again after we’ve done some more community building, because I know they will do even better!


I found an activity on Twitter the other day, posted by another #5thchat teacher, that I thought would be a great partner thing to try–Saving Sammy!  The basic idea is that you have to get a gummy worm (Sammy) into a gummy life saver (his life preserver) so that he doesn’t drown.  The only catch is that you can’t use your hands!  Instead you have two paperclips as tools.  I added in a step at the end for partnerships to write about how they figured out what to do and any advice they had for kiddos trying for the first time.  This went pretty well, and they definitely enjoyed it!

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If you read our first day post, then you are aware that we eat lunch around dinner time.  So on Friday I brought the snacks, which included cantaloupe from Terripin Farms CSA (to which I belong and LOVE!), as well as strawberries and raspberries.  These were from the grocery store, but were also tasty.  While I am not allowed to share like I would like to (because of school allergy rules), I do what I can.  I think there is something great about sharing a meal together, or in this case a snack.  Plus, we got to use the new table!  Bonus. And yummy! 🙂

More to come…

Even as recently today, we have had some FABULOUS conversations about grit, played Appleletters, done something called 3 Things and 3 Friends, and almost completed some rather involved work with multiple intelligences.  I hope to update you on those happenings soon!  Please come back soon to visit again and catch up on the great things going on in Rm. 202!

Motivated And Prepared

Did I ever share that acronym with you?  It was created by a really smart cookie in my class a few years ago named Ellie.  We were trying to come up with something that MAP could stand for instead of just Missouri Assessment Program.  She suggested Motivated And Prepared, based on the idea that that’s how we want to feel once we’re ready to sit down and take the yearly test.  And that’s exactly what we were.  I loved it then, and have used it with my classes ever since.

So the MAP test has come and gone again in our classroom, and I realized just the other day that I never posted some pictures I took during it.  They’re not glamorous or anything, but are definitely “real life” in a 5th grade classroom during the month of April.

MAP time is snack time.  Gotta have energy to do our best!

There were lots of goodies over there like granola bars, Cheezits and fruit snacks, but the first rule is you have to have “something orange.”  On this day is was cheese, Cuties and carrots.  Guess the directions could also have been “eat something that starts with C.”  What’s really funny to me is that it was totally a coincidence that all of this orange food showed up.  All the “fresh” stuff that day was just all the same color.  And in case you’re wondering–the next time it was apples and bananas.  So, no, there were no “color” directions. 🙂

Loved having donations of water bottles for testing, too.  Water breaks are good for your brain! (Oh, and look–Goldfish.  More orange food!  That is so weird how that happened!)

So once it was all over, and we had done our best job of showing what we know as learners, we needed a little bit of a break.  Choice time it was!  I love to see what 5th graders choose to do:

What does state testing time look like in your classroom?  What do you do to help your students relax during testing?  What do you do to celebrate when it’s all over? Share with us!