Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reflecting at the end of the year.

The past few months have had more struggles than successes in them...professionally and personally.  Some days I am just grateful to have made it through to the end of the day intact.  There have been moments where I question every decision I have made since becoming an adult.  I hear those cliches in my head such as"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and I just think "Seriously?  How much stronger can I possibly be at this point?"  It is all so overwhelming at times.  

And then, something happens that gives you a glimmer of hope, a peek into a future in which the successes will outweigh the struggles, a time when there will be more smiles than tears.  Usually the moment is a small one....a student muttering under her breath "The struggle is real" as she tackles a challenging math problem; a presentation that veers off topic into an unbridled joy of sharing something "very cool"that was learned during the process; hearing your dog snorting with joy when she gets a treat;  listening to impassioned speeches to the school board about the value of teachers....the list of tiny moments goes on.  And it is the tiny moments that are the moments of saving grace for they are the things that make you stronger....that help you get through the ick and muck of everyday living. 

I hope that 2016 brings tons of tiny moments to you.....and to me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Reddit Gift for teachers!

So this year, I read about the reddit gift exchange for teachers early enough to sign up.  I really didn't know what to ask for---any basic school supplies would have been appreciated.  I couldn't have asked for my first experience with reddit to be better--not only did it warm my heart, but it taught my students a valuable lesson in kindness.

My secret Santa, Edmund, was incredible.  When we were matched up, he emailed me asking for more specific ideas about what would be helpful.  (He said it had been a while since he had been in school--I loved that!)  I wasn't much help with my reply--colored pencils, books, a set of Mr. Sketch markers.   I knew that we would use whatever he decided to send.

Then about two weeks ago, I got a call from the office asking me to send a student down to pick up a box that had been delivered.  I started mentally cataloging my recent Amazon orders, but nothing came to mind.   So when the student returned with a huge box, I was surprised.  As I started to open it, I realized that it was my reddit teacher gift!  I stopped what I was doing to tell the class how a stranger out in the world had sent us some gifts--just because---not to get anything, not because he had to, just because.  (Of course, I had a famous "marshmallow moment" and had a few tears trickle down my face......I used to be as tough as nails, but I think old age has turned my insides to mush--I warn my classes about it now because I cry over touching things all the time.)  We couldn't believe how many things we had received:  pens, pencils, paper, a pack of the Mr. Sketch markers.

The kids applauded spontaneously and one of them suggested we write thank you notes.  So, we stopped Social Studies and got about the business of expressing gratitude.....I think it was an excellent trade off.  I gave everyone a few pens and pencils...which made them super happy--my kiddos love pens this year.

But it wasn't over.   The following week 4 sets of Crayola colored pencils arrived---boxes of 50!  I go through tons of colored pencils every year.....such a useful and fabulous gift.  I will be able to refill my colored pencil pails with ease.

And it still wasn't over.   Today a giant box of books arrived.    The kids have already called dibs on the ones that they spotted as they were peering over my shoulder.  Could there be a better moment for a teacher?!?!?

The best part of this is that my kiddos---who see a lot of horrible things in the world--things that 10-11 year olds shouldn't even be aware of--were able to see that there are wonderful people out there who do wonderful things just because.  And, at a time where we as teachers hear a lot of negative things out there about our chosen profession, to have someone give so generously....well, I have no words.....just another marshmallow moment.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Edmund, thank you so very much.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Back to School: Engagement

I am linking up again for the final Back to School in a Flash topic from Ramona Recommends, the Not So Wimpy Teacher, and Fancy Free in 4th.  This week it is all about engagement--how to keep the kids motivated and interested in learning.  I think that novelty is so important in this area--especially with 6th graders.  They are usually game for just about anything--as long as their friends don't scoff at it!  And if they think it is a game, they are usually all in.

Last year, I picked a Jumbo Magnetic Spinner Wheel up on Zulily for a bargain.  It took a while to arrive, so we only had it for the last month of school--but the kids loved it.  I think the physical act of being able to spin it themselves and hear the clicks was a big draw.  I think the applications of it are somewhat endless--so I can't wait to introduce it to my new class.  One of its best features is that it has a variety of different laminated faces with different numbers of sections--and you can write on them with dry erase pens.

Another fun way to keep them engaged is to keep them moving.  GoNoodle, Scoot, Math moving chairs, Scavenger Hunts, Gallery Walks.  There are so many different things that you can do to keep them on their toes.  I know that sitting for hours in a workshop is difficult for me--and I have far more patience than an 11 year old.  Being able to get up and move around is beneficial in so many ways--I try to make sure that we move at least once every hour.

Having students work together in partners or groups is an easy way to implement engagement strategies.  There are so many great activities that teachers post on TPT to encourage this--such as the Stick it Together reader response activity from Runde's Room.  Kagan is also a great resource for engagement strategies--one of my favorite is Sage and Scribe. (You can find a simple explanation of it here.)

I truly think that even your most resistant students can't help but learn when they are actively engaged in whatever the subject is and the more entertained they are, the more involved they will be.  A structured, active class is usually a happy, productive one.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Advice for New Teachers Link -Up

Teaching in your own classroom is a great profession--and as much as they try, your college courses aren't able to truly prepare you for it.  This Back to School Link-Up is a great idea because it gives new teachers some invaluable advice and reminds us that we are not alone.

I remember my first day of teaching like it was yesterday.  I was 21 years old, fresh out of college, and had been hired four days before first day of school.  I was in awe of the knowledge of my new teammates and too new to know the right questions to ask.  Luckily, I was armed with a book called "The Keys to the Classroom" that was developed by the New Teacher Project out of my alma mater UCSC.

And then, 20 minutes after school started, one my new 4th graders blurted out "That's jacked up" when I was going over my expectations.  At that point, I don't know who was more terrified--the student who said it or the teacher who had to deal with it or the 28 other students who were waiting to see what was going to happen.  With a deep breath and a prayer, I asked her to step outside and after I got the other kids busy, I was able to talk with her and found out that she was just scared because there were words up in the classroom that she didn't know and she was afraid that it was going to be a bad year.  It was easy to empathize with her.  I was experiencing many of the same emotions.

So my major piece of advice to new teachers is be empathetic.  There is that saying that goes something like "Be kind for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about."  Too often we make assumptions about situations based on our own experiences. My first thought was that little girl was challenging my authority because she wanted to show off in front of her friends.  Turned out that she was just acting out because of her own fears--she actually was a really neat kid with a really horrible background.  By removing her from the spotlight, it allowed her dignity to remain intact, as well as my own.  And the conversation we had was the first step toward developing a relationship that made her school year more successful.

Two things that are indispensable to me are my Mr. Sketch markers and my planbook.  I make a lot of anchor charts for the kids (we used to call them VIP--visual instructional plans!)  Mr. Sketch markers are beautiful, bold colors that rarely run out as you are creating the charts.  Using different colors helps focus students--for example, you might be showing the steps of long division and can use different colors to match the different steps so that it easier for the kids to follow or refer back to at a later time.  Making sure that you start off each week with plans is essential.  It is so easy to lose instructional minutes throughout the day--especially when you are first starting out.  Planning helps to keep you on schedule and focused.   I doubt you will stick to the plans as written, but they will give you a great framework.  This year I am going to attempt to make the jump to an electronic planbook---I don't know if it will take or not, but I figure it might be worth a try.

Lastly three tricks of the trade--wow, there are so many tricks out there.  Before you know it, your bag of tricks will be overflowing and you won't believe there was a time when you didn't use them.

One of the most important things that I have learned throughout the years is that kids respond much better to positive directions instead of negative ones.  Tell them what you want and expect to see instead of what you don't.  Are there some students who are off-task?  Instead of calling them out, try to say "I see 20 students working really hard on learning right now--thank you so much."  I bet the off-task ones will get right to work.  I am not advocating the "Let's be more like Johnny" approach--refer to table groups, or areas of the room, or just say students.  It really is amazing how much most of them will respond to this method of classroom control--and it helps build a really positive classroom environment.

Another trick I have is clean-up at the end of the day.  My 6th graders love to use our clean-up time to stand around and talk--they aren't too keen about picking up after themselves.  However, if I say that I have a "mystery object" and will give a prize (always small) to the person who finds it and either puts it away or throws it away, you would be amazed by how many kids start scurrying around the room desperately trying to be the winner.  When most of the trash is picked up and things are put away, I pick my object--that is the trick part!  (Although most of them never figure that out!)

Finally, a handy trick that I have learned with creating my anchor charts in front of my students is the pencil trick.  Create a chart ahead of time lightly in pencil.  Then, when you are making it with the students as you are providing direct instruction, you just go over the pencil marks with your markers.  Your chart ends up looking pretty good, it helps keep you on track with your lesson, and your kids think you are a superstar as you create the chart with ease!

Hope you have a fabulous year and--when you get a chance to breathe--remember to enjoy it!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Giveaway & BTS in a Flash: Decor

Hi there--

My $20 TPT giveaway ends soon, so if you haven't signed up, click here.

I'm joining the Back to School in a Flash Linky Party that some great bloggers (Ramona Recommends, the Not So Wimpy Teacher, and Fancy Free in 4th) have put together.  This week it is decor and more!  

I use colored pencils a lot in my teaching.  I am not a huge fan of markers because they run out of ink so easily and crayons can be difficult to use due to their thicker I encourage my kids to use colored pencils on a regular basis for their coloring.  I also use them to underline specific things we are looking for in our reading, instead of highlighters (mainly because they are cheaper and you have a greater variety of colors.)  I used to just toss my extra colored pencils in a bin and when my students needed to find a particular color, they went searching.  However that took a lot of class time--waiting for them to root through the container.  A few years ago, I saw a teacher who separated colored pencils by color and then I spotted the pails at Target.  It has been one of the best improvements in my classroom!

Another thing that helps me out a lot in my room is the words that I have hanging from the ceiling.  They are the different verbs for Bloom's Taxonomy and are a great visual reminder for me when I am discussing any subject matter with them.  In the past I would tend to ask questions that were mainly knowledge or comprehension--but now I hit the higher level thinking questions with greater regularity.  In addition, having the those academic words posted is great for the kids to see on a daily basis.  

I can't wait to see what other teachers have posted...there are so many great ideas out there!

Saturday, August 8, 2015


I have been attempting to get my room ready for the new school year and I have come to the realization that I simply have too much stuff.   Education, like fashion,  is cyclical and, if you are in it long enough, you see the things that you did 15 years ago come around again.  There is usually a new name and a small tweak, but the bones are the same.  I was in a meeting at the end of last year and one of our new administrators was talking about using the "gradual release of responsibility instructional model."  Not recognizing the phrase, I googled it as quickly as possible--only to learn that it is essentially just a combination of many excellent teaching methods:  scaffolded instruction, collaboration, Madeline Hunter.  And combining a variety of teaching methods to maximize instruction is something that good teachers do on a daily basis, throughout the day.

When the next new thing comes around, I am reluctant to just toss the old thing out just because it isn't new.  Change in the classroom is good--lessons should be looked at every year to see ways in which they can be improved upon.  Teaching is an art and artists are rarely satisfied with their creations--there are always little tweaks to make it better, a section that just isn't quite right, a desire to make good into great and the great into amazing.  The kids are different too--which means the lessons have to adjusted to meet their needs.  But when it comes to getting rid of manipulatives, books, materials, etc., it can be hard.  Because that manipulative is perfect for teaching adding positive and negative numbers, and that anthology has a fabulous story in it that the kids love to read.  So I save.  And 20 years later, the room is full.

So, I have been making some tough choices and discarding things that I haven't used in 7+ years.  Rather than keep 30 copies of an anthology because it has one great story in it, I have saved one--and I can read the story aloud.  Sets of chapter books that I collected but don't really use because there are not enough days in the school year to have them read all the novels I want them to can be given away to the kids to take home.  Testing materials that practice the old way of testing with the old standards--they can go.

My cabinets have more space now and my new materials---task cards from TPT, new literature books, etc--have a permanent home.  The feeling as I was doing it was bittersweet, but, in the long run, I know it was a good choice.

And now I am going to move on to my closets at home.  :)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

BTS in a Flash: Curriculum Musts and a GIVEAWAY!

Hi there--

I am joining the Back to School in a Flash Link Up from Ramona Recommends, the Not So Wimpy Teacher, and Fancy Free in 4th.  I love curriculum that is specifically designed to teach a particular standard--it just makes so much sense.  Sometimes can be so frustrating to try to figure out how a textbook meets the standard as it claims.  It feels like it is easier to make your own or head over to TPT to find the perfect piece of curriculum.

One product that I created that is a lot of fun for the kids is a decimal operations scavenger hunt.  Scavenger hunts are fun for the kids as they get to be really active while practicing their newly acquired math skills.  I love them as a teacher because they get immediate feedback on their work---if the answer isn't there, a mistake was made.  They are also great because they allow kids to work at their own pace.  And this one's panda theme is just fun!

One product that I purchased last year that I love is the Greek and Latin Root Word Trifolds from Teaching in Room 6.  My students really learned a lot from doing these on a weekly basis.  I love the fact that it includes a review on a weekly basis. The kids really learned a lot of new vocabulary and we incorporated the words into our spelling program as well.  It was a great purchase.

And tomorrow I am buying a few things from Teaching with a Mountain View.  I love her products and so do my kids.  I think that her Back to School Math Project is going to be a great addition to our first week activities.  Plus it will let me immediately see the strengths and weaknesses of my new students--but it will do so in a way that is fun and at a lower stress level than an assessment.

Finally, I am going to try to have a rafflecopter TPT giveaway to celebrate the start of the new school year!   I hope that it works correctly!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Two For Tuesday

I love a good sale so I am linking up with Chalk One Up for the Teacher's Two for Tuesday bargain.

I have a new product in my store: a novel lapbook project.  I used it for the first time this past year and the kids really enjoyed their final products.  You can read all about it here.

My second product can be used two ways:  as a game or as task cards.  I think it is really important to build number sense with percents---and being able to quickly determine 10% and 50% of any number is a valuable skill.

 Thanks for stopping by....  :)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Back to School in a Flash: Favorites

I'm joining the Back to School in a Flash Linky Party that some great bloggers (Ramona Recommends, the Not So Wimpy Teacher, and Fancy Free in 4th) have put together.  It was hard to choose just a few things as I am a bit of a school supply collector--there are just so many great products out there!

I bought these dry erase pockets on Amazon toward the end of last year.  The kids loved to use them and I loved the fact that they were durable.  We are going to try Eureka math this year, so I think that they are really going to come in handy.   

My second favorite thing are InkJoy pens.  I love the different colors and the smooth way that they write.   Office Depot had a great sale on them last year---I am hoping that they will repeat it, so I can replenish my supply.  I am pretty hard on felt tip pens, so the ballpoint ones are a better choice for me in the long run.  

I love these composition books from Staples for our writing journals.  The covers are durable and lightweight--which is great if I ever have to take them home.  I prefer these to spiral bound notebooks because the kids don't really rip the pages out.  They are a few cents more than the standard composition book, but worth it to save me the aggravation!

It has been fun seeing teachers' favorites!   I have a few things that I have added to my Back to School shopping list.  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Daily Journal Writing

Now let me preface this with a disclaimer...I hated daily journal writing as a kid.  I absolutely hated having to do it.  I don't know why.  I love to write.  When I am struggling with something, I write about it.  I enjoy writing stories and notes.  In looking back, I realize that I have always preferred written communication to oral--let me read about it or write about it instead of having to listen to it. 
So, I have never been able to put my finger on why I was so resistant to daily journal writing.  Maybe it was too open-ended for me, or maybe we were given too much time and I ran out of things to say.  I can't remember....but I do know that I didn't enjoy it.

But now, with the shoe on the other foot, I see the benefits of it.  Daily writing is a good thing for students.  It encourages them to think, to process their thoughts, to communicate.  I worry so much that my students aren't given enough opportunities to talk--especially at home.  Getting information from a pre-teenager can be difficult in the best of circumstances--especially if you are "just an adult."  But in today's society,  parents are tired from working long hours for little pay,  kids focus on screens constantly (cell phones, tablets, televisions, etc.,)  the "family dinner table" is non-existent in many of my students' homes.  

In previous years, I would have the students work on spiral reviews in math and Language Arts when they walked in the door.  I needed time to take attendance, give a few extra minutes for my tardy students, deal with those unexpected last minute things, etc.  However, I was finding that a) I was spending too much time going over them, and b) the students who needed the review weren't doing the review.  It was frustrating and didn't feel like it was a good use of time: theirs or mine.  Especially as I was going to have to redo them all to align them with the Common Core.  So, after much discussion about the pros and cons, my teammates and I decided to try a daily journal instead.  

Well, let me tell you...I loved it.  I had a few kids who were like me as a child, and they hated writing in their journals---I just kind of let them be.  I encouraged them to write, but I didn't make too much of an issue about it.  However, the majority of the class really got into it  The prompts were varied:  some were though-provoking, some involved math, many were fun and/or high-interest.  (I always knew when I had a great prompt by the number of hands that shot up when it was time to share.)  But the best part was that they allowed me to get to know my kids on a much deeper level this year.  I know the writing and the sharing (which we did daily as well) created a sense of community in the classroom that was priceless.  It made it easier to teach and made it easier for the kids to learn as it helped establish a fun and safe environment.  

Although it still needs a few tweaks, I will be keeping this as a daily routine next year.  I put the prompts on an editable PowerPoint file--let me know if you would like me to send it to you!  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Novel Lapbook Project

When I was a little girl, I loved it when my teachers would assign me a project.  It didn't matter what the subject as long as it had an element of creativity in it.  Education has certainly changed since the 70s, but my love of the project hasn't!  Although now I see it from a different perspective.

I teach in a Title I school in which 85% of our students are socioeconomically disadvantaged.  When it comes to projects, many do not have the at home support that I had growing up.  As an educator, it is important to keep in mind that many students are working alone on projects without an adult to guide them, or perhaps the support is there, but it is limited.  Projects need to be designed to be accessible for all students, no matter their backgrounds.

Beyond that, standards and expectations are different. My shoebox diorama in 1977 would depict a favorite scene from a book with a sentence or two about it.  I think if I had to make one now, it would have to include a well-written summary free of personal judgments or I would have to use evidence from the novel to describe the scene in depth.

I have seen lapbook projects all over Pinterest and TPT, and I knew I wanted to have my students try something like that as a culmination for books we had read. I had assigned my students a variety of what I called "Classic Books"--books that I remembered reading from my childhood.  My kids were all about the "latest, newest thing" this year and I wanted them to understand that "old" does not equal "bad."  So I gathered up some beloved books written before 1985 (30 years or older was my guide) and hooked them in with some book talks.  And, in spite of themselves, they really enjoyed reading them (and begrudgingly conceded my point.) I needed a book project that I could apply to any book and would meet my 6th grade standards.  I found a few great ones on TPT but none specifically designed for 6th grade--so I decided to create one myself.

I was pretty pleased with what most of them did.  Here are a few pictures of some of them (I forgot to take pictures and when I remembered only a few kids still had them at school.)  I would love to give this product away to the first five people who leave a comment below or email me at

Friday, July 3, 2015

One Size Doesn't Fit All

If you have ever bought a "One size fits all" shirt, you know that, while it often holds true in theory, the reality is that the shirt really doesn't look good on most people.  For some it is way too large and on others it is too tight.  The shoulders might encroach into the sleeve area and it could hang too long on the torso.  Instructional materials remind me of those shirts.

As I continue my journey into the Common Core, I am looking at working with my third set of instructional materials in math.  Next year we are going to try Eureka Math.  I attended a district training on it and have spent the past few weeks looking over the materials.  There is much I like about it, but there are also parts that are worrying to me.  And it has been that way with all of the instructional materials I have been given for many years now...even before Common Core.

Over the years, I have come to realize that just because a text book presents the material in one way, it doesn't mean that is the correct way to teach it.  As professionals, we need to look at the materials we are given with critical eyes.  Just because something new comes along, it is not necessarily better.  In fact, it might be worse.  It also just might be worse for the group of kids you have in your classroom this year...but it might be perfect for next year's students.   And the following year might require a combination of things that "have worked before" or maybe something entirely different.

Give yourself permission to do what is best for the students in your room--trust your instincts.  Design lessons that get to the heart of the standard, make them as engaging as possible, allow for struggle for that is when real learning occurs.  Start it will get easier.

Teaching is an art, not a science.  It is not about trying to put the same shirt on every student, but instead, it is about bringing a variety of different outfits into your classroom.  It is about encouraging some students to design their own get-up because they are ready for the challenge.  And it is about giving extra support to those who don't feel comfortable in their clothing.

A textbook, no matter how well-designed, will never be able to do that because a textbook doesn't know the children.
But we do.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Who Was Series.....Making it work in 6th grade!

I love the "Who Was" biography series.  Many years ago Amazon was offering them in a 4 for 3 sale, so I decided to grab a few.  I have continued to add to my collection as more books have become available (although I certainly don't have them all!)  Generally written at a 3rd to 4th grade reading level, these books are not only fun to read, but are also informative.  And the kids loved the cover illustrations!   For the past three years, I had my students read a biography and complete a ""Who is Behind the Secret Door?" project.  It used this really cool foldable that I found here.  The kids enjoyed doing this because the "secret door" made it cool.  (You can find the directions and a rubric here for this project.)

However, this year I wanted to do something a bit different.  Common Core Standard RI 6.5 asks students to "analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas."  RI 6.8 wants students to "trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not."  We worked on these concepts together through a read-aloud I did with them called George Crum and the Saratoga Chip.  Then they worked on them collaboratively with the KidsDiscover Ancient Greece magazine--we identified a claim made by the author and found evidence to support the claim.  Then it was time for them to try it independently--but I didn't want them to struggle with the text and the "Who Was" series is perfect for that.

Most of the books in the "Who Was" series make a claim in the first chapter of the book or within the last few pages.  Students had to identify a claim made by the author (I did verify each one with them before they started proving it--I didn't want them to choose a sentence that was incorrect or too difficult to prove.  Only two of the books posed any real difficulty in finding a claim.)  Then they had to prove the claim by citing evidence from the text.  The best part for them was drawing the subject--using the cover as a guide.  They made them about the size of the books --and they really worked hard to make them look good.  After they cut out the person, they traced the outline onto lined paper--I gave them colored lined paper that I found at Walmart because 6th graders love bright colors!   Then they flipped the colored paper over and wrote their response on it (that way the writing was visible when you turned the picture around.)  We taped the picture to the writing at the top and taped a bamboo skewer (also from Walmart) on the back.   Then we stuck them in a foam board I had.  They were so proud of their finished projects.  And they made a great display for our Open House.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Country Fair!

April has been a busy month for me this year.  

Besides the normal day to day operation of navigating a classroom full of hormonal preteen kids---picture screaming girls and too cool for school boys--we have been getting ready for testing.  With the changes in our administration the past few years and the new computer based assessments, things have not rolled out as smoothly as in the past.  However, after many hours of reading and re-reading the test administration manuals, I finally felt I had a handle on it.  The instructions reminded me of slogging through IRS tax code---what should be simple and straight-forward is written in a complicated, vaguely threatening manner.  We have two weeks down, and two weeks left to go.  I think my favorite moment must have been running back to class after our recess break to make sure that we got logged back in before reaching the dreaded 20 minute time limit of no return.  Most of them made it---but there were a few kids who didn't type their log-in information correctly and they didn't beat the 20 minute countdown.  One was laughing hysterically because he forgot the "n" in his name which is why the computer wouldn't recognize him---I did have a thought that perhaps hysterical laughter is not the best testing environment, but since I was just a few breaths of self-control away from it myself, I rolled with it.  All in all, I will say that it was a learning experience for next year.

The other major event that was consuming my life was our annual school carnival, the Country Fair.  The very first year of this event (which was like 23 years ago) it was a small shin-dig with a "country" theme--there were hay bales and themed activities.  The name stuck, but the event has evolved over the years.  Now, it is a school fundraiser (each grade level earns about $300 to use for field trips and what-nots) with about 30 homemade booths.  The teachers and students from our high school Key Club operate the booths.  Our PTA helps to subsidize it by buying the prizes which enables us to keep the ticket prices low ($0.25 per ticket and most games are one ticket to play.)  We sell hot dogs, nachos, soda, and chips.  It really has become an event that is embraced by our community--present and former students love the Country Fair.  It is a lot of work to organize it all, but well worth it in the long run.  I can remember how much I loved my elementary school carnival when I was a child, and how sad I was when it was no more.  My 6th graders are a great help too...the day after the fair, they had the trash removed from the playground, all of the leftover prizes sorted, and all of the games & equipment boxed up for next year in just TWO hours.  (And they worked cheaply too---they got to pick TWO leftover prizes each---the thrill of it all!)

I have a list of all the booths we operate, complete with instructions.  If you would like a copy, please feel free to email me.  I would be happy to send it to you.  Most of the booths are simply made with basic materials.  (Trust me when I tell you that if I can make it, anyone can.)   Some popular booths include the Dinosaur Dig in which we bury many plastic dinosaurs in the sand of our volleyball area--those who find the rare black-footed dinosaurs (courtesy of a Sharpie pen) win an additional prize; the Cake Walk (donations from the families of our first graders); a game called Bug Your Teacher in which little plastic bugs are tossed into cups with the teachers' pictures on them, and the Chicken Coop in which they pick a plastic egg and get whatever prize is hidden inside.  I try to add a new game every year--"Cover the Circle" was in "beta testing" this year (I think I will have to make it stronger in the future--as I only used a piece of foam board from the Dollar Tree when putting it together.)  I purchased  a set of vinyl stars and put a circle in the middle of the foam board.  Each player received three stars to toss to try to completely cover the circle....sounds simple, but it was harder than one would imagine.

Here are a few more pictures from the beginning of this year's Country Fair: