Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Project Mania on a Budget

If you ask any teacher or state employee they will say that January is the hardest time of year to budget your money.  You have to make that check last for 6 weeks.  
School shopping isn't in the cards.  

This year I have some brand new challenges.  I actually have my first hearing impaired child.  My teaching has me delving even further into the world of language.   There is an intensive plan but no handbook to accomplishing it.  It has required me to do a lot of independent research.   
This vacation I have been trying to create a therapy bag that contains some hands on projects and concrete items to use in my units, and I've tried to do it on a budget.  It has been school project mania. 

This free Bitsboard app for the ipad is great for introducing new words and language, I've even been using it some with Carlee.  You can create a set of visuals and it allows you to play games, reads words, and gives an assessment.

The Mitten-
I found a spinner online, student can say or match the animal, and place in the mitten (probability for older students).

Mouse Count:  
I'm not sure if my mice look more like rabbits, teddy bears, or kittens, but it was the best I could do.

Thankfully Connor has about 25 fake snakes in his room.

Cut Sponges= Shape Paints

At the end of the month, I do a penguin unit.  One of the new words I introduce is 'slide'.  The only slide I could find in Connor's closet is part of a shark escape.  See the fins?

These happen to be Arctic penguins.  I covered up the fins with (cotton ball) snow.

I really could use a doll house to teach basic words, but all I have is the Gothic City Jail.  I found it in Connor's Goodwill pile. 

I covered up Batman's villains with some flowery stickers, and turned Gotham City Jail sign into a Welcome Sign.


I have NO idea what this is at the Gotham City Jail.  Electric Chair?

The electric chair is now a set of drapes.

2 for $1 Ice Trays=  Ten Frames

DIY- Snow Play Set
The grass (fake moss) and blue streamers (water) were getting everywhere, so I bagged them up before laying them in the tub.

Now a snowy town.  
I should probably put snow on the homes and in the sky? 
perhaps glitter?

I don't actually have a family play set, but I did find Scooby Doo and the gang in Connor's closet (and this naked baby I used for Moses one time).

"Hey Scoobs, this sure is a creepy phantom ghost town!  
Let's get the heck out of this classroom!"

Velma making a snow angel.
Winter Writing Project:  If I were trapped in a snow globe....

materials- students draw a small winter background,
 concrete glue, a cut up box, a picture of a student, clear plastic cup, and epson salts.

Connor was my guinea pig.

I am not sure which way works better.

This is a great clip to inspire a snow globe story-
Pixar Knick Knack

Candy Land- Language Edition
review prior words (and you could use it as a sight word game).
It's pretty easy, read the card before you can move spaces.

I figure I will 1.  do some good teaching  or 2. confuse the heck out of the children.
Either way, I have a cool playhouse now.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Recap!

I've packed up all four tubs of Christmas decorations, bagged up old clothing and toys, and have begun to work on lesson plans for the New Year.  
I really miss my relaxing Christmas week already. 
I just love the time of year when the world slows down a bit and celebrates.

Sunday Best- 
shinny, shimmery, and gleaming Christmas outfits at church


Cousin Tru and Uncle Cody- 
Tru is a December baby.  Happy Birthday Tru!

purple boots, ice cream money from Mrs. E., Youth Christmas Party, and Connor helping me wrap presents.

Sugar Cookies

Christmas Morning-
I really thought Santa was going to disappoint.  We ordered Connor's major gift on December 10, and it still hasn't come in the mail YET.  
Of course, all he talked about on Christmas Eve, "I hope Santa brings me an Andy Dalton jersey!"  oh boy.  Every time he would say that, Darren and I would cringe.  
Additionally, Connor's football gloves didn't fit and his kindle cover didn't come in...  I just thought Santa was terrible.

Connor had a letter Christmas morning.
I was so worried about it all.
Of course, he really didn't seem to care or notice it- proclaiming it 'the best Christmas'.  silly parents.


The special gift from mom and dad was the Kindle Fire 7 inch.  I would normally never purchase something like this, but a Facebook friend posted it for sale at a REALLY great price.  It is like brand new.

As you can see from the picture, Connor turned a flip when he saw it.  He asked me if it was 'for rent' or to 'keep'.    
The snazzy blue cover for it came the very next day.

He even read a book to me from it on Christmas Day.  
It was awesome.

Carlee really wasn't into the whole unwrapping presents, until Connor showed her how.
She loved the wrapping paper best of all.


She loves to clean and she loves shoes, so Santa gave her the best of both.

I tried to get in on the action, but they just wouldn't fit!

On to Nana and Papa's house!


Carlee begin to get into the action a little more as the day progressed, she just loved on her baby Dora.
Connor scored a jersey from Clemson (I think he is trying to start an athletic jersey collection).

Facetime with cousins in England.   
Uncle A. is in the Airforce and they are getting ready for a BIG move in the New Year- finally the USA!    

Aunt M. made sure Santa brought a lot of great gifts for a LONGGGG flight!  Perfect for four energetic boys.  They have the best (proper) english accents.  

Carlee cut my Facetime down by making me sweep.

More Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Grandmas, and GIFTS. oh my.
....and more jerseys.  Go Panthers!

We had so much fun opening gifts, but as the family expands so does the time.
It takes hours for everyone to unwrap,
 but as they say, time flies when you are having fun!

Carlee really warmed up to Christmas here.  
Boy Howdy, a set of MORE high heels, a bouncy ball, and a luxurious recliner.
(somebody thinks she is a princess)

I may be hard at work, 
but some people get to play!

But the BEST gift of all- The BUBBLES.

Happy New Year-
God Bless Your Families

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sechrist Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Sechrist Family.
It is that time of year that we reflect on our many blessings and joy!!!
This year our family has had a very lovely and joyful year, and all without the help of antidepressants!  Of course the year isn't quite over yet.  My children are currently bouncing on the bed with candy canes stuck to their butts, so the doctor may hear from me yet.

I can't write a letter without mentioning my sweet precious angels.
My son Connor is in the second grade.  He is so full of life and energy. I love our conversations.
He recently attended a fancy Christmas party at his teacher's house.
He was thrilled until he saw the housewarming gift I bought for him to take, a lovely sparkling apple cider.

He flat refused to give his teacher "champagne".  I told him it was apple cider not alcohol.  The only way he would take this picture was to pose in the BACKYARD.  No matter what I said, he still acted like I was a drug dealer pushing crank, so I delivered the gift myself.   
I thought it was a great gift idea, and I am sure you all agree that I am a brilliant gift giver.
Second grade has prompted a lot of growth in Connor.  He is working hard daily.
Gingerbread Assignment: in the morning, because we forgot to write it that night.

Although we may not have achieved "Academic All Stars" or even "Mom Signed Planner Nightly All Stars", I am proud to say Connor did compose an entire breakdance to MC Hammer's- Too Legit to Quit' that included both 'the worm' and 'the moonwalk'.  I remain proud and agree always that you are too legit to quit Connor.
Breaking it Down
My daughter Carlee is such a little doll.  

This picture was taken after the one of her reaching into the knife drawer before I moved to the living room.  

I just love each new word, expression, and personality trait.  Just this morning when I made her breakfast she threw it across the room and screamed "NOOOOOO mama!"   Lucky for her, my NEW Keurig machine (is the Keurig machine an accomplishment?)  just completed a fresh cup of coffee for me before I could tackle the high chair in my sleep deprived mode. 

Both brother and sister, love each other very much.  As their mother, I have encouraged a close and loving relationship.  As you can see from their joined Santa picture, Connor means to be comforting his screaming and terrified sister instead of posing for the camera.  To his credit, Connor is at the age he really wants to show Santa he means business.  When it comes to being on Santa's nice list, you are on your own baby sister.

Carlee, i've worked hard for this moment, cool it.

My wonderful husband, continues to work hard, love his family, and after ten years of marriage he is close to properly unloading the dishwasher.  
#1 Dad

He plans to go into the New Year with a goal of health.  Basically, when he tried on his black sunday pants, he said he 'looked like a trapeze artist'.   He may have put on the pounds, or it may be where I tumble dried the pants four times because I kept forgetting to get them out of the dryer.

Sunday Best

I am thinking of making health a priority myself.  Just the other day, a pair of maternity pants almost felt a little loose on me.  I call that progress.  Now that Carlee is a little older I have been taking some ME time, doing things like brushing my teeth and showering daily.  I may even make time to go to a spa, and get one of those fancy wax jobs for my facial hair.

Professionally,  I am still serving and loving children with my sidekick Mrs. E.  This year, I have enough second graders that keep the schedule and stapler up for me.  We have only forgotten pick up times a few dozen times, lost the stapler a few dozen more, and my cell phone hasn't ended up in the fridge.  
The other day I held a meeting, and when I didn't agree I didn't burst into tears with snot running down my face. I just made this face:

 and moved on.  Professional accomplishments mean much to me. Additionally, Mrs. E. has only had to redo her time sheet once or maybe twice.  Together we continue to grow and learn in our field.

Keep Calm:  And Sing a Christmas Song

Spiritually, God continues to offer His loving patience, guidance, humor, and daily mini-lessons.  I certainly need it.  This year I have stepped out of my comfort zone to teach the youth, teen group, on Sunday mornings.  

   Youth Bake Off

This past Sunday not only did my lesson last longer than twenty minutes, but I taught my own lesson from the bible, Luke Chapter 2.  We had a very enthusiastic discussion.  The discussion was actually about Star WARS parts 1-5, and somewhere I lost control, and paper balls went flying.  
My skills are slowly developing.
Like they say, do not take life too seriously, or you will never get out of it alive.


This year the Sechrist family wishes you all a Merry Christmas, and we pray that this holiday you enjoy the important things in life:  faith, family, friends, laundry that doesn't multiply, Facebook(s) that aren't political, and unexpected naps during the day.

With Love,
Amanda Sechrist