Monday, March 17, 2014

brain breaks at school

Being new at my school this year I'm part of a newbies group.  It's full of the young pups and a few of us old gals.   One of our assignments is to participate in professional discussions via group emails.  We've been sharing articles and research journals and websites and all kinds of good stuff.  This week was my week and I talked about 'brain breaks.'  I figured as long as I had it typed up I might as well share here too.  Here's what I shared...
I am sharing a few articles, but also a neat website I found.  I have been incorporating a few brain breaks into my week, the past few weeks.  I have a few long stretches on particular days and have found that by taking out 2-3 minutes for a break, I can increase productivity and attention for the next task.  I’ve been seeing ‘brain breaks’ on pinterest all year, but thought they were a little silly and a waste of instructional time, but I’ve changed my mind!
First, here’s some research concerning ‘brain breaks,' which is where the following quotes come from. 
“Brain Breaks are a quick and effective way of changing or focusing the physical and mental state of the learners in your group. They are also a useful tool for students to use to help activate, energize and stimulate their brains.   Research indicates that brain breaks also improve students’ concentration and relieve stress.”
“Students should have a kinesthetic brain break every 25-30 minutes. Brain break activities do take about 1-3 minutes of class time to complete; however, the efficiency of our students goes up when brain breaks are incorporated.”

Here is a lengthy (84 page) research study on the effectiveness of brain breaks.  It does have an easy to read summary in the first few pages.

I have some of Eric Jensen's books on my summer reading list.  They address learning and the brain.  I love a good nonfiction!
Here’s the website I mentioned.  It's called GoNoodle.
You do have to sign up, but it’s a free service.  There are many, many breaks, videos, dancing, songs, wii style track games, yoga etc.  It has calming features as well as fun energy exuding activities.  My students look forward to these and seem to appreciate the release of these brain breaks.  There is a feature where you have a character and they character earns minutes, but I have not needed that to motivate them. It has items that would interest all ages.
-Speaking of brain breaks... Spring break is next week!!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Boy birthday gift

We've been invited to a boy 'military' themed party.  Lou is a thoughtful gift giver and always knows just want to give his buddies.  He suggested we find some dog tags and make him a shirt.  I couldn't find a '90s style army shirt, which is what I wanted, so I made one. I don't know what the real name for this style of shirt is, I'm sure there's a name. I used a cheap target shirt and cut heat transfer letters with the silhouette.  When Lou saw the shirt, he was a little disappointed.  He thought the army shirt would involve a bomb picture.

The dog tags were ordered from a great shop on Etsy, Way To Cool.  The guy has a vintage WWII dog tag machine and types these out at home.  I emailed him and he was able to get it done for me ASAP and I had it three days later. They are a steal too! (Shhh.... I would have paid double for sure!)  They are flipped upside down in this picture, but the quality is great.  Lou wants a set and I'll be sure to get them for his birthday.  I'm pretty excited to see the birthday boy open his gifts!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Play Day

Sorry, you're about to see a lot of pictures from the Peter Pan play.  The last of the 66 costumes was finished the morning of the dress rehearsal!  But, it got done, the kids were amazing, and the costumes have been sorted and boxed up and stored away.  My sewing room is cleaned and back to normal.


It was tons of work, but I had so much fun!  I'm ready for the next show. (Don't tell my poor family!)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Bee, the sewing girl

Our school had a variety show. Some kids sang and danced and told jokes and played the piano.  Other displayed their talents on tables.  Bee displayed some sewing.   A lot of kids displayed rainbow loom bracelets!

This little pillow and blanket are all her!  (Don't tell her I told you the purple and white fabric is called cheater fabric)  She picked it out and was certain it was what she wanted. Its leftover from this picnic dress project.  She did all the sewing, quilting and binding.  She's a sewing girl! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I had a birthday.  Wasn't a big one.  Lets never talk about it again.

No, I really had a fine birthday.  I was treated at home with flowers and cards.

My students treated me baked goods and chocolate and my family treated me with much loved goodies.  I got these great new bowls from West Elm (the stacks on the right) from my mom and some tulip bowls from my dad.   I have a thing for colored dishes.

I made myself Baked Alaska.  It wasn't like I thought it would be.  My stepmom used to make baked Alaska and my sister and I have been trying to replicate it.   I'll have to try again.  This wasn't exactly it.   It took us three years of trial and error to figure out the marinated mushrooms, so I won't give up just yet.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Back to Valentine's Day

It's a snow day here, so I have a few extra minutes (while taking a break from sledding and sewing costumes) to post about Valentine's Day in my classroom. 

I saw this idea on Pinterest and wanted to use it for Valentines for the kiddos to give to their parents.  Early in the week, I photographed them in from of this paper and printed out 2 for each student. 

At the party, one station was to come work with me and personalize them. 

They just used sharpie and wrote directly on the blank space.   I had them put the cards in envelopes.  This may be my favorite:

I know her parents are lovely, kind people, so no worries there.

One station was decorating and eating cookies.

Another was a game, which I'm not really sure what it was.  One of the moms planned it and I was at my table and didn't get to go investigate.

One station was passing out the valentines.  The kids decorated their boxes at home and we had a little friendly competition that morning.  Here's one of my favorites!  The opening was his mouth and the kids all thought it was funny to leave their valentines half hanging out.

Another station made this great craft.  The kids pressed little pins into foam board and then added string to make pretty string art.  The mom who organized this craft had drawn the heart shape on lightly with pencil.

Bee's class made these adorable coasters as their craft and gift to parents.

Who knew that Valentines was such a give-your-teacher-candy holiday, but I sure got spoiled.  Here's my haul.  Seriously.  The flowers are from hubby for my birthday.

Here are a few fun valentines the kids and I brought home from their friends.


I'll be buying bigger pants!

Monday, March 3, 2014

up to my eyeballs


My sewing room it looking slightly like a sweat shop.  There's a bunch of sewing of costumes going on right now.  A whole bunch.  My mom was in town last weekend and I put her to work too. 

Here are Bee' sketches.  We're making costumes for Peter Pan, the musical.  Our school is putting it on.  Lou and Bee are too young to be in it, but they've been working costumes with me.  I've really put them to work, especially on costume fitting days.

I have pages and pages of notes and fabric everywhere.  There are 62 costumes for this musical!  Several we were able to find at the thrift store (like the John Darling's jammie shirt below) and a few others came from local churches costume closets. Tinker bell and the Indian Chief had their own costumes.   I'm sewing outfits at least for the fairies, mermaids, Indians.  We're piecing things for the pirates from what we already have, have purchased, and what I've made or reworked.  It's an elaborate mess of costumes.

Thanks to a snow day and two really productive sewing weekends, I think we're going to make it.  It wasn't looking so good there for a while!  Really wasn't looking possible.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

3rd grade assembly line project

 My third graders got to do my favorite school project of all times, the assembly line!  Learning about assembly lines and production is a third grade social studies standard and just fits in so well with the chapter in our book on production.  We've been reading about factories, production, assembly lines, specialization and different types of resources. 

While they were gone to music class, I lined up a bunch of same height desks, made a butcher paper belt around it and readied the fruit in bowls.  When they came back I welcomed them to their first day on the job at the fruit salad factory.  I explained how the assembly line worked and what the jobs were. 

Everyone was assigned a job and we set to work.  Someone pulled the paper slowly to move the line down (girl kneeling at the end of the line), someone placed the bowls onto the line, others added one spoon each of their particular fruit as the bowls moved down.  One child at the end was in charge of shipping and receiving and he unloaded them from the belt and gathered them on a few empty desks.  In about three minutes it was all over and we could enjoy our fruit salad and discuss the process.  We talked about what different specializations we had, what natural resources we used- both renewable like the fruit and non renewable like the plastic spoons.  We discussed the capital resources, like the assembly line machine and  the building as well as human resources- us. 
I was shown this project by another teacher my first year and have done it several times since.  At my old school, we were able to do it in the cafeteria and line up several really long tables.  We have 3 third grade classes work at once and it was a big production  This was a scaled back version for sure, but just as fun and memorable.