As my 12-year-old son really wanted a sleepover, we opted for a Friday of a long weekend so that would give us enough time to recouperate. As it turned out it was a big night for Risk and playing the Nintendo Switch. Here are the boys eating pizza and taking over their countries and working out their “world peace” strategies. This game of Risk went on for around 3 hours until there were enough “peaceful takeovers” of the countries they cared about.
We took a break for cake time and this year as I do not have a great deal of free time I made a chocolate mint pound cake and iced it with melted chocolate with sprinkles which tasted a treat as well!
Saturday was a huge celebration for our littlest neighbour who turned 1! My neighbours are right next door, and we have hardly seen each other as their little one was born with congenital Glioblastoma which is a Stage 4 brain tumour and they have spent most of the last year in the hospital with their little one. I was so happy to have been invited to their celebration as I have hardly seen them and their little one. It has been such an arduous journey for my neighbours to go through as it was so worrying, but it was such a beautiful experience to be spending time with them over the weekend and celebrating their little girls birthday.
The theme for the party was ‘Super Girl’ as that was the costume for Halloween as well as being super for getting through such a stressful time. I love the superhero theme as it was so appropriate for what their little girl has been through – she is smiling, happy and super social just like her wonderful parents.
And what has been happening in the classrooms of late – I have been volunteering Thursday mornings for Arts Focus, and we are in our 4th week this week. Last week we did fleece pillows, and I found one of the students embellishing hers with plenty of bows. I love it when the kids go that extra step and get creative with their pieces.
And in the 2nd-grade classroom, one of the students has been working on pattern sudoku with shapes, and I was working with them to finally come up with the solution to their puzzle. It required a lot of examination and looking over and over at the shapes until we had finally solved it! This is how I like to see math in the classroom, hands-on and engaging.
This week we celebrated the Harvest Moon with the Chinese Moon festival in the classroom and enjoyed a story of how the moon festival came to be with a fascinating folktale, a paper lantern craft, and snacks of fruit and mooncakes. Oh and the lovely tea our parent volunteer made from jasmine flowers.
We were introduced to some new math games, two different versions of Sequence which is a fun game to play.
Friday afternoon after a big week we had exploration on Friday afternoon with a collection of materials ready to play with. The kids had a blast and made many beautiful things using wire, string, beads, sticks and other pieces to tinker with.
Here is a necklace in progress on a wire string which turned out beautifully.
Here is a rainbow sting of beads made for a friend. The perfect way to end a week of writing my report for its deadline and my co-teacher out sick.
Still, my Friday did not end at work – I even had the Walkathon at my daughter’s school where she walked 12 miles doing 60 laps and had really sore feet which is understandable! So we went off to visit a friend at his fancy apartment with a pool, and we had a BBQ and the kids relaxed in the hot tub. I had a lovely time catching up with friends I have not seen in person for ages (only on Facebook) chatting about the life and times of living in da valley.
Sunday we finally had a day out! Even though I still have not handed in my 3850-word report which is due this week, I felt good as I had edited the day before. So I got to go out to Ardenwood in Fremont and meet our friends for a catch up in the pumpkin patch and of course, ride the train and see the animals. I remember going ages ago when the kids were babies, now they just like to run around and chase the cool looking rooster away from his harem of ladies. It was quite random to land there and say oh the pumpkins are ready for Halloween and it is 30 days away!! In the wheelbarrow, the kids collected the pumpkins – that big mother pumpkin went to our friends and I just wanted a fairly small pumpkin to look festive around the place.
The kids were very excited to check out the pumpkins as I said to my hubby, “Who buys their pumpkin this early in October?” Well, it turns out we do, at least that errand is out of the way for this year! Our friends were laughing at the memories we have at pumpkin patches over the years – in Pescadero one year we went to a farm and saw gorillas pooping pumpkins 😀
As we met our friends on Sunday we did a bit of Fall shopping for Halloween decorations. I really like Halloween though I am not a fan of the crappy candy the kids get, we send it away with the Girl Scouts somewhere or overseas to my family to taste what bad candy is like. We found this Indian corn for sale to decorate around the place and the colours are just amazing – you can make beautiful necklaces with the kernels and they are so pretty.
Our lovely pumpkin from the farm bought on the 1st day of October – no we really are not that organised otherwise the costumes would be with us too! The kids are still deciding on that?
Back to work and reality, the observational drawings from our class of the cacti – the colours look amazing in real life. I really need to get out some watercolour and have a play when I am free again in the next couple of weeks only a couple of more days and my report will be handed in – yippee!
This week we were doing 3 digit addition and a new game was bought in the classroom to play – this is Addition Spinners, where you spin to find two numbers and add them together to find the answer on the sheet and the first player to line up 4 numbers is the winner.
Variety of resources for fun Storytelling, Math, Science and Literacy (collected from my co-teacher):
Mystery Math Town provides a math challenge at various levels for children comfortable with math symbols and operations.
EPIC! – A fun reading app (used in class) – listen to stories, read a variety of books
Today as I wanted the kids to have a bit of a stretch we ended up having a bit of fun with GoNoodle.
It was a hectic week and I am happy that I am nearly done with my report – this time my reward for this teaching period is to watch Twin Peaks new series so I am really excited about that as it came out when we were in Australia over the summer.
The weekend was so relaxing, and I think that my body was just saying slow down after I went to visit my acupuncturist for a Seasonal Adjustment. My last treatment was in February, so it took a while for my body to just say OK now it is time to relax and stop! So I did and even took time out on the hammock in the sunshine – it felt so good to have a nap.
As the weekend was my hubby’s birthday weekend our weekend began at our friend’s place for Navratri Golu to see the collection of dolls (collected over 11 years since my friend’s daughter was born) reenacting various Hindi stories, watching kids perform and eating a delicious Indian feast. On Saturday we enjoyed pizza at the park with our neighbours and hung out and relaxed on the blanket while the kids were playing and Sunday I made this amazing raw vegan cheesecake (plus two quiches).
I made a vegan fresh mango and strawberry cheesecake to share on Friday night to take to my friend’s place and it disappeared in seconds! The second one I made for my hubby’s birthday cake was mango and passionfruit, was divine and took me to the tropics! I found this recipe and modified it the second time using my Vitamix to make it extra smooth. For the Friday night version, it was the one bowl food processor recipe as I was making it before work and had to get it in the freezer, quick sticks!!
Raw Mango Passionfruit Cheesecake
to fit one Pyrex Pie dish
1 cup almonds
8 medjool dates
1/2 cup dried coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 large mango
1 lime (plus lime zest)
1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight, and drained)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup agave (or maple syrup)
1/2 cup coconut manna
3 passionfruits for mixing
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 passionfruit for swirling through the mix
1. Mix all the crust ingredients in a food processor for about 1 minute.
2. Place the crust mixture into a pie dish and flatten evenly with your hands.
3. In the Vitamix (a very smooth mix) or a food processor mix the mango, lime, cashews, coconut oil, agave, coconut manna, 3 x passionfruits and vanilla extract.
4. Swirl the passionfruit insides through the pie to see the black seeds everywhere.
5. Pour the filling into the pie dish and place in the freezer – freeze for at least 5 hours.
6. Remove cheesecake from the freezer and let sit at room temperature to cut into slices.
This can keep in the freezer well-covered for a couple of weeks or just scoff the whole thing down which is what happened at the party on Friday night.
Now back to work/school so I have been really enjoying working as a Teacher Assistant at Ventana School, and I love seeing the art around the place especially when it is kiddos painting chickens! These are artworks by the kindergarten kids, and I just love their colours in their observational drawing.
So more math games and fun with the kids – this time Race to a Flat where the kids cut a strip of paper to record their numbers at each roll of the dice. The aim of the game was to get to 100 or more rolling the dice and adding to the solution each time. The kids were so excited that they wanted to make stip of paper longer and longer – I wish I learnt math this way back in the day. Perhaps I would have loved it like I do now after the course in my Education degree.
More math resources for the classroom and another fun game I really like is Capture 5 using the 100s chart, and all you need is some objects to be the players, and these kiddos used glass pieces and ones to capture. Check out the video link for info how to play, but it is a super fun game to practice addition and subtraction. These kids were trying to play Capture 25 and were working as a team.
This is another fun math game using simple things such as a paperclip for the spinner and whatever objects you can find for the players – you can use coins or coloured rocks whatever is small enough to fit in the squares. This cool game is Place Value Munch, and my co-teacher finds all sort of fun math games on the Teachers Pay Teachers website. The kids really enjoy this game and so did I when I was playing it with the kids in the math rotations. I have to say this is the best way to learn math playing games and having fun!
Back to another week of work and life – taking it much slower as the weather is warm again even though it was the first day of Autumn last Friday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 – we 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.
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 – the 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 – another 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!!