Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tried it Tuesday: Where Are You Board?

It's Tried it Tuesday!

After another busy day working in my classroom, I have an exciting creation to share with you.  To be honest, I have not yet "tried" it out with kiddos yet, but I tried making it, so I feel justified in sharing it with you.  Hehe.

It seems like "Where Are You?" boards are popping up all over the Pinterest and blogging worlds.  All of them are super cute and seem to be very handy in helping teachers keep track of where their kiddos are.  Here are some of my favorites that I've found.

~Joy in the Journey~: Monday Made-It: "Where Are You?" Board!
Where Are You Board Inspired by #CTP  - I used Dots on Black Border and Poppin' Patterns Letter Stickers.
Spectacular Second Grade

Being a non-crafty person, I was a bit intimidated by the cuteness and originally did not think I wanted to make one of these boards for my room.  However, after thinking about it for a bit, I mustered my confidence and created one.  Ta da!

It's simple, but bright and colorful.  More importantly, it should be quite practical in helping me keep track of my firsties and helping teach them responsibility.

Since my white board is magnetic and I don't have much wall space, I decided to just use the corner of the board near the door, rather than using a cookie tray.  I made the labels in PowerPoint and printed them on colored card stock.  

The adorable stars come from a classroom jobs pack from Sweet Times in First.  I printed them on card stock, laminated them, and then used a roll of sticky magnet tape to turn them into magnets.  Since, I am using the stars for my jobs sticks, I decided to continue the theme throughout my classroom.  Stay tuned to see where else I used them.  

So, that's my Tried it Tuesday.  Link up with 4th Grade Flipper to share what you have tried recently.

Now, for a short...
Left My Heart in Hyderabad

Day Seven: Sarampet Adventure
        God is an awesome God!  Though today’s scheduled activities have yet to begin, I have already been filled up by the Lord.  Last night, I read the letters from family and friends.  They were so touching.  Between reading them and listening to “All Because of Jesus” by Casting Crowns, I felt really convicted and encouraged that this trip is all about Jesus and His love.  It’s definitely not about me. 
          After waking up early, we all finished packing for the farm before going to breakfast.  The hotel clerks did not have the food ready, so we waited awhile.  E and Paul did card tricks and we all laughed at the Kenny G music playing in the background.  Once we ate, we hurried up and then waited.  Hehe.

Our bus came 3.5 hours late!

          Instead of feeling stressed, I was glad to have the chill time.  W, A, and I did today’s Live It journal entry and had a deep conversation about telling our stories at home to people who may not be open to hearing them.  Then, we spent a long time in prayer for our team, the children, Paul and Mary, Raju (bus driver), and people at home.
          Since it was BJ’s birthday, Emily had all of us secretly sign a card.  When the bus finally came, we sang “Happy Birthday” to her in Telegu when she got on.
          For most of the bus ride, M and I worked on finishing our Indian musical.  After driving for a bit, we stopped at KFC for lunch.  I got ice cream and a crispy potato sandwich.  Man was it spicy!  An orphan boy, Vamshi, rode with us to the farm.  He thought my name was “Blacky.”  Heheehe!  I am totally the whitest person on the team, so that was super funny.
          Oh, I almost forgot the craziest part of our whole trip so far!  When we were waiting for Paul and Mary outside their apartment, a truck tried to drive past the bus through the narrow space.  I thought it was a bad idea to begin with.  My fears were confirmed by the crunch of glass as the truck shattered the bus’s side mirror.
          Emily immediately told us all to stay low and act chill, but we all scooted up to watch as our driver and the truck driver had a hardcore fist fight and yelling match.  A crowd gathered in the alley and some people pulled our driver back by the collar.  Then, the truck driver drove off.
          It was really tense for a while, but all was okay in the end.
          We arrived at Sarampet farm around 3:15.  The bus actually didn’t make it all the way to the house because it got stuck in the mud.  Emily had us abandon our backpacks and walk through the rain to the house.  Once there, we spent the first hour or so sitting around while throngs of boys helped bring our stuff in from the little van that drove out to get it.  We also learned that the church van had come out and gotten stuck too!  Eventually both vehicles were free from the muck by a tractor.
          As crowds of kids poured into the house, it took me a while to figure out what to do.  I ended up singing, playing Rock Paper, Scissors, and other finger games with a variety of kids.  Then, one boy, Vijay, took a special liking to me and started teaching me MILLIONS of Telegu words.  Some of the other boys including, Abushai, helped me write them down.  Pastor Pratesh helped too.  It was so much fun!  Even though Vijay had trouble with English, he loved teaching me his language.

Me with orphans at Sarampet.  Vijay is next to me.
          Before dinner, we had a mini-birthday celebration for BJ.  We sang and then she fought to blow out trick candles on a birthday cake.  It was funny.  The celebration turned sad to me because while all of us Americans got our own plates with big pieces of cake, the orphans only got one bite each off a shared plate.  Even though he got very little, Vijay was still smiling and urged me to eat my piece.  However, because the cake was anis-flavored and I felt weird eating it in front of the kids, I gave it away.  I wanted to share it with the kids, but I didn’t want to seem ungrateful.  Later at debriefing we talked about how it was more special for the kids to get one bite than none at all.  My mind is still processing this whole situation.
          Right now, I am laying on patterned sheets under a bright pink mosquito net.  Just after I came in here to go to bed, Emily came in and told us some awful news.  One of the boys, Santeesh, was bitten by a scorpion as he was walking home!  The sick irony is that he had been making his fingers into a scorpion shape tonight as we played.  My team and I all just prayed for him for a long time.  It was super powerful.  All of us declared that God is the Healer and that He can work even this for His glory.  We prayed for wisdom for all those helping Santeesh, for a smooth way to the hospital, and for healing.  We trust that God can provide all this and more. 
Santeesh is in the green.
          W and Emily were wise to pray against the dark forces that seem to be attacking us today.  As they prayed, I had a vision of God’s light radiating from this house and the other children’s homes here.  The blackness was being repelled and the Light was winning!  Take that Satan!
          “Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.  Our God is Healer, awesome in power, our God!” -Chris Tomlin

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back to the U.S., Back to the Classroom, and Orphan Stories

Becky's back.  All right!

Any fellow Backstreet Boys fans out there?

I was/am a die hard fan and proud of it.

Anyways, I am back in the U.S. again after a crazy awesome adventure in the Netherlands with my best bud Arielle.  We had a wonderful time exploring museums, churches, and shops; biking around the busy streets; and taking pictures of epic windmills.

Highlights included a visit to the Ten Boom Museum, the former home of Corrie Ten Boom and her family.  For those of you who may not know, Corrie Ten Boom and her family were Christians who worked for the Dutch Resistance and hid 6 Jews in a secret hiding place in their home.  When the Germans came to their house, the entire Ten Boom family was arrested and set to concentration camps.  The Jews were still hidden in the wall and were able to escape two days later.  The Ten Boom family was not so fortunate.  Only Corrie survived the war.  Once liberated from Ravensbruck camp, she returned home and then began to tour the world telling her story.  Her most famous book, The Hiding Place, is one of the most inspiring books I've ever read.
The hiding place.
This wall was broken open to show the space,
 the actual entrance is a trap door in a linen closet.
 We also tried the local cuisine.  Poffertjes are AMAZING.  Raw herring...not so much.

Poffertjes (tiny pancakes) loaded up with strawberries,
whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate shavings.

 And what kind of teacher would I be if I didn't find a children's bookstore?

Overall, it was a fabulous vacation!

Now, however, vacation is over.  It's time to go back to the classroom and get to work!  School starts in 2 weeks and I have a lot to do.

Today was my first day back in the room.  I went in with an ambitious agenda and was actually able to get most of it done.  I don't want to reveal everything yet, but I'll share my first bulletin board now and something else tomorrow.

Ready to Fly in First Grade
All it took was some cute Boho Birds, two coordinated borders, and a homemade sign to match to create this board.  I love how colorful it is.  I have the sign here for you to grab for free.  Unfortunately I can't include the Boho Birds because I don't want to get into legal trouble, but these ones from MyCuteGraphics.com are also super cute.  Click the picture to download the freebie sign.

Well, that's it for now.  I hope to be back tomorrow to share more exciting things in my classroom.

Now, I know it's been awhile, but I still want to share another edition of...

Left My Heart in Hyderabad

Day Six: NTR Nagar
        This morning I slept until 8:00, which was nice since I had been so tired yesterday.  As I was getting dressed, I could not decide whether or not to wear my Punjabi outfit or not.  My roommates were wearing theirs and looked so pretty.  I was afraid to get mine dirty.  In the end, I decided to wear my colorful dress-like one. 

          All day long I felt comfy, cultured, and cool.  Many of the other girls on our team wore their outfits too, so it was fun seeing the nationals confused looks when they saw white people dressed as Indians.  Breakfast was mostly carbs again.  I am craving fresh veggies and fruits other than bananas.  However, J warned us to be careful transitioning back to U.S. food since our bodies won’t be used to it when we get back. 
          On the drive to NTR Nagar, we saw 3 huge cows laying on the cement median.  It’s moments like that that confirm I really am in India!
          When we arrived, the kids greeted us enthusiastically again and it was not long before we were all singing “Baby Shark,” “Allelu,” “The Banana Song,” and “Joy, Joy, Joy.”  The kids also taught us “Watermelon, watermelon.  Pineapple, pineapple.  Banananananana.  Fruits in one!”  When they sing, I can barely understand them due to their strong accents.  It cracks me up.  We also sang a song during which we had to be very aerobic (running, jumping, bowing, walking, praying etc.)  So fun.
          During the Jonah craft, I helped Naveem.  He was a very slow and distracted worker.  The bus driver kept talking to and teasing him.  As I worked with the kids, I kept asking Paul how to say things in Telegu.  He taught me kanu-eye, kallu-eyes, and akali- hungry.  He and the bus driver cracked up when I called out “akali chepa!,” which means “hungry fish.”
          Rather than go outside to play ball, I stayed and talked to Shrivanya and Jakil with B.  I tried some Telegu and used lots of hand motions.  I learned that Shrivanya is the pastor’s sister.  She is in university and wants to be a police officer.  Jakil is in college, wants to be a teacher, and is apparently always hungry (according to Shrivanya).  It was really neat to talk with some young adults as a break from the crazy kiddos.
          After a yummy lunch of eggs, chapatti bread, cauliflower curry, bananas, and NO RICE (yay!), we listened to the kids’ stories.

Sushil (15) and Sony (7)- Their mother died when they were both very young.  Their father re-married, but his new wife died too.  Their father did not work or do anything to care for them, so Sushil had to seel everything in the house in order to buy food.  Finally, a pastor from where they lived brought them to the Bethel home.  When they arrived, they did not know how to eat properly or how to bathe.  Sony was 2 ½, but still drinking milk.  Now, they are growing and learning.  Sushil plays keyboard and wants to be a music director.  Sony wants to be a police officer.

Naveem (11)- His father died from drinking and using tobacco.  His mother did not and can  not care for him, so Naveem never used to go to school and would get into trouble.  Now, that he is at Bethel, he plays drums, goes to school, and wants to be a software engineer.  His sister still stays with their mother.

Srikanth (14)- His father is an alcoholic.  His mother is in the hospital and is very sick with heart disease.  He used to use tobacco, but came to Bethel and overcame his bad habits.  He is now happy, but asks for prayer for his mother.  His two older sisters live elsewhere.  One is married, the other works in a hostel.

Devendhar (7)- His father is an alcoholic who beats Devendhar’s mother every day.  Now that Devendhar is at Bethel, he is happy and wants to be a police officer.

            Compared to the stories of the kids at the last sight, these ones are filled with more pain and darkness.  I was surprised to learn how many of the orphans were only partial orphans or social orphans because one or more of their parents cannot care for them.  The life experiences these children have had is heart-breaking.  I can’t imagine having to sell everything my family owns just to get food or being addicted to tobacco as a young child or watching my mom getting beaten every day.  I feel very burdened to pray, not only for these children, but for their parents who are trapped in darkness.
To break the heavy mood, the kids danced for use before we left.  It was hard to say goodbye, but now as hard as when we left the first place.  I feel like I did not connect with these kids as well until tonight as I thought back over their stories.  Now, it’s too late to really love on them.  Still, I will pray for them fervently.  That is all I can do. 
            After leaving, we shopped at a handicrafts market.  On the way in, I hit my leg on the turnstile and got a HUGE, swollen bruise.  Ouch.  The outdoor market was full of stalls selling bright colored scarves, shiny bangles, various kinds of elephants, tiny chai cups, and much more.  Though the shopping was long and tiring, I was happy to get lots of souvenirs for people.  Sarah and Paul helped us get the “Indian Price,” not the “Foreigner Price” by bartering.  The shopkeepers went crazy trying to get our attention and our money.  While shopping, we joked about W being the cashmere expert when he examined E's scarf.  He majored in lighting and minored in cashmere.  Hehe.
          I am thankful for the team’s sense of humor.  Laughing so hard helps ease the weight of the hardships we are seeing and hearing about.  Of course, I don’t want to ignore or forget about the suffering, but the balance of fun helps a lot.  That’s why it’s good to have fun with the kids.  They need joy and humor too. 

Speaking of the children needing positive experiences, I want to remind you all that fundraising is still going on for the orphan camp coming up this October.  For those of you who didn't catch my earlier post, here is what is going on.

This coming October, World Orphans planned to sponsor a team of Americans to go to India to host a camp for the orphan children.  God, however, had other plans and as a result, the team has been canceled.  The exciting thing is that God is equipping local believers to run the camp!  So cool.

In order for 200 orphan children to attend this amazing camp, it will cost $35/child ($7000 total).  That cost covers transportation, lodging, food, supplies etc.  Right now, only $630 have been raised.  There is still a long way to go.

Would you be willing to sponsor a child or two so that they can attend this camp?

Would you at least give up one Starbucks, so you can help make this camp happen?

Every little bit helps.  

Click the below to donate.  The faces you see in the picture below are actual orphans that I met and now hold in my heart.  They are some of the many beautiful children who would be blessed by this camp.

Donate Now

Have a great night!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday Everyone!

Just wanted to pop in for a quick second and say that I won't be around for the next week or so.  I know I have already been really MIA this summer, but hey, that's how summer goes.

Tomorrow I leave for an exciting vacation adventure with my best friend from high school.

Can you figure out where we are going?

Clue 1: It's not in the United States.

Clue 2: It's in Europe.

Clue 3: I have not been there before.

Clue 4: It's the country with really tall people.

Clue 6: The country goes by several different names.

Clue 5: We will be visiting Anne Frank and Corrie Ten Boom's homes. 

Clue 6: We will probably see lots of windmills.

Got it?

If so, leave a comment!

Hope everyone has a great week!  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tricks of the Trade: Intro Letter and Supply List (Freebies Included)

Good morning all!


As all or at least most of you know, I went to India a few weeks ago and had a life-changing experience working with orphans there.  I have been sharing my journal entries on my posts for the last several weeks.  You can search for "Left My Heart in Hyderabad" to read about my experiences.

Anyways, what's the exciting news you ask?

There is an AWESOME, OPPORTUNITY coming up this October for the orphans in Hyderabad.

Here's the deal.  This coming October, World Orphans planned to sponsor a team of Americans to go to India to host a camp for the orphan children.  God, however, had other plans and as a result, the team has been canceled.

The exciting thing is that God is equipping local believers to run the camp!  So cool.

What's even cooler is that we can help them out in their ministry even from far away.

In order for 200 orphan children to attend this amazing camp, it will cost $35/child ($7000 total).  That cost covers transportation, lodging, food, supplies etc.

My team members and I have decided to band together to raise the necessary funds, but the 12 of us can't do it alone.  We need your help.  That is why I am asking you:

Would you be willing to sponsor a child or two so that they can attend this camp?

Would you at least give up one Starbucks, so you can help make this camp happen?

Every little bit helps.  

Click the below to donate.  The faces you see in the picture below are actual orphans that I met and now hold in my heart.  They are some of the many beautiful children who would be blessed by this camp.

Donate Now

So, now that I've shared that awesome opportunity, it's time for Tricks of the Trade Thursday with my best bud Jessica from Joy in the Journey.

Joy in the Journey

This week, Jessica and I are asking you to link up to share your introductory letter to parents and/or students and your supply list for the year.  Though today's theme may be a bit late for some of you who already started back to school, we hope it will be a good pinning opportunity for next year.

Before it's your turn, check out my tricks of the trade.  The following items are what I include in a packet that is mailed out to my students one week before school starts.

Parent Letter

To make a positive first impression on my future students' parents, I always include a letter to parents in my packet.  The letter introduces who I am, reminds parents of important first day information, and sets a positive tone for the year.  Also, I set up communication by offering my e-mail address.  Some teachers in my building give out their cell phone numbers, but I prefer not to.  I do not think it is necessary and I do not want to give parents that much access to me during my off time.  E-mail really is my preferred way to be in touch with parents.

Here is a copy of my letter.  I usually print it out on cute paper, but for blogging purposes I added a cute border from The 3AM Teacher. a template for you to modify.

Student Postcard

Along with introducing myself to the parents, I also send a postcard of greeting to the students.  I tell them my name and that I am excited to have them in class.  I encourage them that they are going to have a great year in first grade.  In the past, I have used cute postcards from Lakeshore, but it seems that they have been discontinued.  Thanksfully, I did find some cute free ones from A Rocky Top Teacher.


Letters from Past Students

Perhaps the coolest thing I include in my initial packet is a letter to the students from my previous students.  At the end of each year, I have my class write "Dear Future First Grader" letters.  They share about what they loved about first grade and offer advice to my upcoming students.  The new students LOVE these letters because they are super fun and written by their peers.  Plus, the letters get new firsties excited about the prospect of writing their own letters at the end of the year.  I had one girl who waited in anticipation all year to write to the kindergarteners! 

Although I probably should have made and shared this at the end of the year, I am still going to share a "Dear Future_____ Grader" letter freebie with you.  My hope is that you can pin it for the future.  Click the picture to download it.

Supply List

My grade level creates a master supply list and then each individual teacher adds his/her own additional supplies to the list.  I copy the list on the back of my parent intro letter.  Here is my list.  I know it's not cute, but it's functional.  Plus, it gets printed on the back of my cute parent letter paper.

Some of the key supplies on the list besides the normal pencils, crayons, tissues, hand sanitizer etc. are:
  • Ear buds for listening centers and Computer Lab
  • Thin dry erase markers (I can never have enough of those.)
  • Ziploc bags (sandwich and gallon size)

Over the past two years I've discovered that all of these supplies come in handy.  The students and I really need everything on the list.  

I'm curious though...

What do you include on your supply list?  

Link up or comment to share your ideas.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Made It: Behavior Clip Chart

Guess what!  

It's Monday.


I finally have something to share for Monday Made It!!!


I am pretty excited.  I'm sure you couldn't tell.  Hehe.

Last week, I finally kicked it into gear and started working on projects for next year.  One of the things I wanted to make was a behavior clip chart.  You can read more about why I decided to use this system here.

After some serious pinshopping, I came across a fabulous and FREE behavior chart over at Teaching with Love and Laughter.

My Photo

To replicate the chart and make it my own, I printed out the signs and then backed them on colored construction paper.

Next, I laminated everything to make it more durable.

Then, I got really "crafty" and hot glued the pages to a thick ribbon.

The final result is....

Personally, I LOVE it.  The colors make me so happy and the kids are so cute.  Plus, the ribbon worked out very well.  I plan to use 3M hooks to hang it in my classroom.  I might put padding on the back to help it stick out far enough to hold the clips.  I will have to test out how that works once I get to my room.

One other cool thing about using ribbon is that it allows me to roll up the hole chart for easy storage!  Win!

I can't wait to set this beauty up in my classroom and to try using it with my kiddos!