Stepping into the New Year

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The first week back got off to a good start with a package arriving from Australia from my sister with some super cool prezzos¬†for the kids and the best surprise of all a pair of shoes from when I was in Grade 9! These shoes are vintage, they were from my mums family – either my nan or aunt which makes them even more special. They are just beautiful and are such a work of art in shoe design, I tried them on, and they were just like a Cinderella slipper way too small and too tight for my now flatter sole feet compared to when I was a youngin! So, for now, I will keep these shoes on show in my house as a piece of art from back in the day to remind me my love of shoes began a very long time ago ūüėÄ

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Last week I also began my 2nd half of the school year at my work as a Teacher Assistant at Ventana School covering for a maternity position until the end of the school year. I will be working with two amazing teachers in the Kindergarten and 1st-grade classrooms and I am so happy to be working with the kids too, they are just so sweet. I have forgotten how kids at these ages enjoy hugs and spending time with their teacher and in the classroom. In the Kinder class, one of my favourite things is the light table, and the kids were making up all sorts of wonderful stories with these little glass pebbles. I have to say a Reggio Emilia classroom is certainly a direction I would love to work in for the future.

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For the 1st grade classroom, there are rocks to explore and a glass container of mosses and lichen with lots of twigs and sticks, stones and many natural materials to use for when the children are creating stories. It is amazing what they come up with when you talk to them about what is happening in their creations.

The beautiful bead mobile on the left was created by the parents and the students with their intentions for the school year as a Back to School night activity. In the centre of the class the children created this branch, wire and bead mobile, I just cannot believe that I am working in a place with such an appreciation for nature and exploring – sometimes the serendipity of life takes you in the direction where you are meant to be!

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Going back to work full time for the next few months has also got me thinking about food planning a bit more and tonight I made a broccoli soup from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Soup book, the base for Vegan Ramen from Minimalist Baker and tonight’s dinner a rice and vegetable casserole. Plus my neighbour who is moving back to her amazing remodelled house has cleared out some jars¬†from IKEA, and they¬†are perfect for stashing a kale, mustard green and watermelon radish salad for the week and these jars fit perfectly in the fridge.

Last week I made this incredible Japanese Pizza Okonomiyaki from 101 Cookbooks as we scored a massive cabbage in our Imperfect Produce box and this is a perfect way to use up all that cabbage (I also have a small experiment of Sauerkraut happening in the dungeon).

So between organising some delicious meals for this week and¬†food prep over the weekend, I wrote my second assignment for this teaching period creating a folio of resources for children with certain behaviours in the classroom. It feels good to have written my draft, and it is due next week, so I had better get into gear and start proofing this before I lose another weekend studying away! Not long now until I start the 3rd assignment which will be a case study in support children’s behaviour – whew, take a breath or two. In another 5 weeks and this subject will be over and I have a break for a couple of weeks. I have to say I am thankful for the Nintendo Switch and Just Dance to get me out of my study room and dancing in the lounge room with my family, it is such a great relase and excellent exercise!

Riding around the town

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Last week was my first week in a full-time job with a class of 2nd-grade kids. It went by so fast, and I was quite exhausted by the end of the week, and I was ready to celebrate my first week in the classroom with a glass of wine at the park on Friday afternoon with my own kids and neighbors. As I am doing an Education degree, my posts will reflect on my time in the classroom and help me compile resources for the future to use, this way I can always share with my teacher friends fun ideas for math as well!

Some of the fun stuff we enjoyed this week was math manipulatives in the math centers, after each 20-minute rotation, the kids will reset the space ready for the next group of children to play. The kids just love math time, and for the first couple of days the Mystery House Place Value game was a hit but as the week went by the popular place was the Geo boards – creating patterns with rubber bands.

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Race to 1000

This is always a hit with the kids and the kids adding up in 1s, 10,s 100s and 1000s in their head by rolling the dice, and they sometimes work in pairs to race to 1,000. The cool thing is that my co-teacher has wooden dice that we customised with larger numbers to travel to 1,000 quicker rather than using dice up to 6. The kids have also tracked down Dungeons and Dragons game dice which can be challenging with many random numbers coming up.

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Geo Boards – design creation

The Geo Boards are always very popular with the DIY your own pattern to share with the class I did see many animals that were already designed to use as a reference, but I think what the kids enjoy most is creating their own patterns after they have made them.

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The game of Blokus

Another fun game is Blokus where the kids have to take over territory on the board, and the shapes of your own color cannot touch and are usually placed on the diagonal to go across the board. The boys here have designated each color fire for red, water for blue, grass for green and lava for yellow all the way making a story to add to this super fun math game.

Oh and some other fun resources for the maths growth mindset is Jo Boalers student and parent resources.

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Building a car

What I really love about the school I work at is their emphasis on team building and collaboration. This was a fun team building activity where the children were working in pairs with each group designing a part of their dream car – after everyone had developed their part, the pieces were assembled together to see what it would look like. The idea was to make a flying car which is what the red wings were, the kids really enjoyed this project and working together with a small team.

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The Marshmallow challenge

For science class this week we wanted to work again in teams and were inspired by the Marshmallow challenge as a design challenge for the kids. This video was featured in one of my units for University last year, and I just loved it, it was so good to see the kids in action. Each group had their own interpretation on how to build the structure to test out what would work. The presentations and gallery walk around the class were quite impressive Рwe are doing it again this week with different materials such as a wooden skewer instead of spaghetti to see how high the towers can get.

Some highlights of our class time this week was when we spoke about goals, and one one of the children mentioned that when there are problems or challenges, there may be gaps in the way to help. This makes sure that you are not making your goal too high and unattainable.

The kids also love Story Workshop where the children make a dry collage using materials such as:

  • an octopus and other sea¬†creatures in amongst shades of blue fabric with sea related objects in the scene arranged on the desk.

This helps captures the idea, and the children use these props to talk through an idea. This has to be the best way to create ideas for stories, and the kids are so enthusiastic when creating their scenes that they either want to make a movie from them or to capture a still photograph to remember what they made.

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The weekend was not a time of rest for me as I volunteered to help with the 3rd Annual Safe Mountain View Summer Bike ride. We had such an incredible turnout with 149 people turn up with their bikes for a 28 degree Celsius day Рthe perfect weather in the California sunshine.

Initially, I had signed up to scoop ice cream, but the energy of volunteering got a hold of me, and in the end, my post was directing bike traffic through Mariposa Park, it was so much fun! I loved seeing so many bikes parked ready to go on the ride while we waited for people to sign in their waivers, decorate their bikes, get their face painted and get a bike tune up courtesy of a local bike store.

Here are my friends beautifully decorated bikes ready to hit the road. It was so good to be riding on the road with so many other cyclists Рanother time where I participated with many bikes on the road was with Critical Mass in Melbourne to stop traffic. Hey, I was a student at the time and did not really think about the consequences of really annoying commuters!

After a lovely dinner at our friend’s place on Saturday night, I was well and truly knackered but the weekend did not end there! I still had one more event to attend for our Home Owners Association annual BBQ, and I made a raw chard salad topped with slivered almonds and my fave fig tart with a cornmeal crust. After this was all over I managed about 2 hours of study, I think I had better get myself organized this week so I can add more hours to the study time to get my final report written!!