Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Art of Photography ~ The Meek Moose Has (more) Issues

So, I've gotten a little nutty about taking pictures.  So nutty, in fact, that this happened.

I was trying to take a picture of a bug egg casing made by insect spit.  True story.  I am THAT geeky.  #flythatfreakflaghigh
However, after the near death thing a couple months ago, I seem to have some lasting nerve damage in my hands.  One shakes all the time, the other lets go of stuff without permission.  I should have grabbed the phone with the shaky hand and just had a blurred egg sack. Or just gotten one off the internet, like this one:

Linked to the photgrapher's site- AMAZING PICTURES on his site. Beautiful work.

And you know what?  here's another way TV has ruined reality- CHUCK.

Cougar Crush. Needs a haircut though.

If I had gone in to Buy More, Chuck would have fixed my phone for me.  I know he would have.  That's not real life though.  Those folks at the "real" establishment won't help you unless you are a member of their service plan.  But whatever- they sent me to another place that had the phone fixed in an hour.  So suck it corporate America! The very handsome man from Korea will forever get my business! Although, I'm really hoping NOT to break my phone again.  But I'm ME- so who knows?
This shall not curb my enthusiasm for taking pictures.  Which, by the way, you can see a lot more of, and much more frequently if you follow me on Instagram or my Face book page- just sayin'.  There are links at the top of the page, kittens.
It turns out- I am a gifted Chicken Photographer.  It's a thing now.  I just made it one.  Here are my lovely ladies, Peep and Ruby.

It's the Charlie's Angels Diva pose.  Natural runway modes, these girls.  Notice the foot forward on Ruby.  She knows how to work it! Ok, yeah, Peep is looking awkwardly ugly right now- but that's what makes her cute.  I'm sure she'll feather in nicely. *fingers crossed* #uglyducklingsyndrome
But the versatility! Here is Peep in her full on Velociraptor:

It's like she's about to charge. Awesome Sauce. I should make a calendar, I should.  Or greeting cards.  It's a toss up.

I also feel pretty good about this one I got of my new Betta.  Not as much of a natural as the chickens though.
And glory be!  The blueberries are in full force this year!  I think it's all the rain we've gotten.  Tomatoes- not so much- as you can see the one lonely one in the bowl there.  But we picked TWO of these bowls worth of blueberries.  And there's more ripening.  Blueberries forevah!  I'm wanting muffins...and pankcakes...and blueberry syrup. Mmmmmmmmmm.

On the selfie-front- I'm not talented.  It might also be because I'm more of a "natural environment" photographer- and the best selfies are taken in the bathroom.  With cords and towels, and toilet paper in the background.  And that's just not my thing.

This here is much more my style.  The suffering of the human condition.  Ninety degree summer, fifty degree basement.  I've slept in my moose hat, velour track suit pants, and a fuzzy cookie monster sweater all week. With the electric blanket on high- I might add. #teachersrockthebestlingerie It's a real mystery as to why I'm single, I know.

I'll leave you with two of my video productions.  The first, a fluff feel-good piece on the man who raised me. His triumphant fixing of the plastic bear arms that embrace my iPad sweetly when I don't have my shaking paws on it.

And the second, my debut as the next Bill Nye.  It's EPIC, I tell you. An egg dissection #fail. I get splattered with egg juice and manage to freak myself out enough to squeal like a #scaredycat. The faces of horror my daughter make in the background, and the wandering in and out of my near-nudist three year old make this Golden Globe material.

Overall, I'm pleased with my finely manicured fingernails in this clip.  And also that I don't seem like I'm "acting".  I was definitely relaxed enough to be the real me.  Yep- I'm that awesome.  The face of The Meek Moose revealed!

Hey- I linked up with Miss Nelson's Saturday Snapshots Linky.  And you should too!

Don't forget the flash, kittens!
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Seven Chinese Brothers - A Book to Love - The Meek Moose gets to say "Ai-Ya!"

My book of choice to share today:

Now, once upon a long, long time ago- in the state of Alaska, far, far away- I read this book as a kid:

When I became a teacher there was a bit of a hubbub about this book being outrageously politically incorrect, and racist, and a poor show all around.  And I really don't know much about that, and I'm unsure of my opinion at this time, seeing as how the last time I read it we were all running around the playground calling each other "commies".  In Alaska anyway.  I don't know if you had the whole fear of communism deal going on down here in the "lower 48".  Although, surely you did- with Patrick Swayze and the whole Red Dawn deal. And don't even mention the new one!  I refuse to see it.  Even though it is on Netflix and no one would ever know...

Yar- tangent- ok, then. What I remember about The Five Chinese Brothers that made me NOT really want to read it again was that- heck people,  the first dang brother drowns a little kid!  Granted, it was an accident.  Granted, the little kid was NOT FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS.  And yes, clearly, there is a need to make kids realize that not following directions has consequences.  But shoot!  He totally dies. Dead. As in door nail.  Also, I had a near drowning experience as a kid and that assisted in me not liking this book a whole lot. #majorbaggage

HOWEVER, and Cheesy Pete, thank goodness for it- The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy does not seem to be creating a political hubbub, nor do I get mentally rattled by a drowning kid who doesn't listen because he's super greedy and picking up fish.  Maybe he was starving!  Maybe he was going to feed the whole village!  And he's just dead?! Sheesh.

The Seven Chinese Brothers has EXCELLENT cross-curricular tie-ins to make this a go-to book all through the year, and not just during your Ancient China unit.  Because some of you aren't so lucky to be able to teach Ancient China.  And that's a shame.  It's tons of fun!  My only problem with it is that my kids usually aren't even sure that they live in Virginia, which is in the United States, on the continent of North America, Western Hemisphere, planet Earth.  But if they really had a solid handle on that- I'd have no problems with Ancient China at all.

Let's get to the dirt here before I start talking about squirrels, for heaven's sake.

The two books are similar in that they both feature a group of nearly alike brothers who get into some trouble and have to use their unusual gifts to save each other.  The Five Brothers book is more of a legalistic proceeding in a local village, The Seven Brothers ties in history with the First Emperor and the Building of The Great Wall.  So right there- Seven Brothers is in the lead once you can tie it to content.

Language Arts:

This book is fabulous for discussing Setting.

Two very contrasting settings, in which the students can really talk about how one place is idyllic and peaceful where as the other is obviously hard and strife filled.  Excellent illustrations all around.

Repetitive text:

Margaret Mahy uses a few lines of repetitive text that help kids really get into retelling this story.

After two brothers go and do their deed- the kids have the layout and chime in with me in the read aloud.  And if they are saying the lines with you- then they are LISTENING! Hello, fluency practice. How are ya?

Higher Order Thinking:

This book also lends itself to inferring while reading, because the kids can try to reason WHICH brother will need to save the brother who is in trouble and HOW he will use his special gift to do this.  My kids really got into making an argument for who should go.  And they even argued that one of the brothers could have gone back twice and made the book even longer.

Figurative Language and Characterization:

The Emperor is described three different ways in figurative language.  And each time, we could stop and talk about "what the heck does that mean anyway?"  Can you whisper like a rumble of thunder?  What does that mean the Emperor was like?

Math Connections:

Ordinal Numbers. 

One of my kids piped up after just the second page- "Hey- they're using those numbers we use to line people up!"  Would I have liked for him to say ordinal numbers?  Of course.  But he made a connection and everyone else started to nod and say "Oh yeah!" Job accomplished.  I'll just jot a note down to myself to actually read this book WHEN we are doing ordinal numbers in the first place.


Distance is used through out the book in terms of "100 miles away".  How far is that really?  Can someone see or hear that far away?  

This particular scene where a brother can grow his legs in comparison to the depth of the sea.  Comparisons to where the water reaches him when they throw him in.  How deep is the sea for real?  So how tall did he actually grow?  If it was just his legs that stretched, how did he keep his balance?

The brother that lifted the bricks on his own.  How heavy were they?  What does this picture say about his strength when he is holding three with one hand?  Also- Geometry, rectangular prisms used to construct a building.

Time - uses of consecutive days and amounts of time like "half a minute" and "less than no time" are used throughout the story.  A great way to tie in clocks and calendars.


Engineering for sure-
Check out my other post about how we competed to make the Great Wall out of different materials.

Extreme Weather-
The end of the book you could tie in flooding and it's effects on people and constructions.  You could also debate whether the Great Wall was a effective flood barrier, and could that be used as an idea to help flood susceptible areas?

Next year, for the Great Wall challenge, I will make a bigger deal out of this picture so that they can really get how it is supposed to be WIDE so that people can run along the top.

Social Studies:

Yeah.  Duh- I know. However!  You can definitely get into fashions of the times and how their dress really spoke about their role in society.

Historically, the history of the Great Wall and how many people did lose their lives building it.  Compare the construction and purpose to that of the Great Pyramids.

And the book has tons more!  It's a real treasure!  Have you read it?  What did you think of it?

I'll be I'm linking up with Mrs. Jump's Class for her weekly book linky when it goes live. In the meantime, What's one of your favorite books?

Link all fixed up now!

My second linky- quick and cute, is brought to you by The Teaching Tribune:

Here's three random things about me you may not know.  But I'm compulsively honest, so I might have mentioned these before.  I just can't remember.  Because my memory isn't that awesome.  I bet Wonder Woman's is though.

And that's a wrap, Kittens!
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Monday, June 23, 2014

Baranquilla's Carnaval Parade Day - The Meek Moose Makes a Conga Line (Monday Finished It)

I thought it appropriate to finish up what I started last Monday in this sequel Monday Made It post.  

On Wednesday, my dear Emerson came back for one last morning- and we finished up our costumes, practiced dancing, and then took the parade on the road.

Can you tell he smells delicious in person?  You can tell, can't you?  "Good luck, Middle School Girls!" is all I can say.  I predict a huge spike in the number of girls that sign up for Spanish next year. Aiyiyi.

Anyway- back on track.  I went back to all of the paper vests I had made and added in my "brain blast" fixer-upper idea I had on the commute home on Monday.

I undid the side connection and added in a piece of cardstock as an extender.  This helped the vests stay together much better, and gave them some stability.  I even added another piece across the front to close the vest.  And then I rolled the outside area of the "sleeves" inward so it was a closer fit.  Next year I'll trim the front flaps more so they aren't as wide.

My camera helper this day was more of an "avantgarde" photographer than my previous helper.  She was much more of dash and snap.  I guess next year I'll have to do photography lessons with the kids so that they know to slow down a bit and touch the screen to focus.

Photography lessons wouldn't be bad overall, actually.  A nice way to accentuate communication.

Getting the Queens dressed required a bit more than a cardstock extender.  They had to be stapled into their dressed basically.  The belt they made for themselves helped.  Their big complaint after I stapled them in was that they couldn't sit down.  Phhhht!  Like Queens sit!  they have to stand and wave all day.  What were these girl's thinking, anyway?

 So then we had to practice dancing.  Important to get our moves down before the parade.  Pretty much, I was the only one that needed practice.  My class has rhythm.  Not to worry. But I don't, sweeties. Nope. Nada. It's not going to improve with age.

For my blogger pal, Lucy - It's Brazil!

And then, at long last, it was time to parade.  And yes- I look like a giant bad permed Glinda the Good Witch.  My hair was so large it kept pushing my hat off. Oh well. #ownit

The kids had tons of fun.  And we got to spread the joy to another class, which was awesome!  I very much want to do this again next year- but without Emerson!?! Aiyiyi!  How will I manage?  Maybe a carnaval for each continent will be appropriate.  Party all year. Get down!

So there- I brought "joy to all the little children"! Just as if I was selling Schnitzels.

What did you make?  Join up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics to tell us all!

!Conga 'til you drop, Kittens!

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Great Wall of China Building Challenge - A Meek Moose Adventure in "Engineering" - by the seat of her pants

I've been wanting to learn all about S.T.E.M and S.T.E.A.M for awhile now.  I'm hoping to go to a conference this summer to get some training so I'm not just making this stuff up.

Our year ended with a unit on Ancient Egypt and Ancient China.  I usually always do a construction paper Great Wall project with them where they make one piece of the wall and we line it up end to end and see how far we can make it stretch in the hallway.

The individual pictures look like this:

I learned a lot doing this.  Like, kids don't really know how to use liquid glue anymore.  And frankly, glue sticks are sad.  They do not make good fireworks.  Only liquid glue can make good fireworks.  I need to do serious "How to Use Liquid Glue" lessons next year.

And some one-on-one tutoring on drawing bricks.  Still, the pictures are adorable.

But I wanted to take this up a notch. I wanted to try a little something engineery.  This was my basic idea:

Read The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy as a tie-in the the Great Wall of China.  Set out five stations of materials and ask the kids to make a representation of the Great Wall with whatever material they were given.  They should be able to make it from one end of the table to the other, and include towers.

So I went material hunting.  Originally, I was really wanting those big wooden blocks like you see in pre-schools.  But I ended up using the geoblocks I had on hand.  I had TONS of Legos from a yard sale find a couple of years ago.  I have a plethora of connecting cubes that the kids usually try to fashion all forms of weaponry out of, so I figured they should be able to handle making a wall.  I borrowed a set of Lincoln Logs from a Kindergarten teacher (and now want my own set). Then decided to have a "challenge" material. An homage, if you will, to that Food Network show Chopped!  where some poor guy always gets the box with nothing but Chicken-in-a-Biscuit crackers and a sea urchin and is told to create a dessert.  I pulled out my mass hoard of plastic straws and pipe cleaners.


 Geoblocks were a favorite for "tower building".  The kids showed their greatest creativity with this material.
 Lincoln Logs:

The lincoln logs were a favorite for just play.  The kids either hadn't been able to play with this material since Kindergarten, or hadn't ever played with it before.  It was interesting to me that most of them did not attempt to lay the logs together as the manufacturer's intention, but did try instead to really model the Great Wall.


 Legos were definitely the most time consuming material to use, but it offers greater possibilities.  This was the only material where the kids really gave the Great Wall the width that was appropriate.  As the rotations went on, they began to be more creative with adding details.

Connecting Cubes:

They built the length quickly with this material.  However, they never branched out into making it wider, and therefore the towers began to pull the wall over.  The first group was the only group to build up uniformly on one side for height.

The Challenge: Straws and Pipecleaners:

It turned out this material was "too challenging".  The first group didn't even manage to construct anything.  Although they were attempting to create bundles of straws tied together with pip cleaners.  It was the second group that discovered threading a pipe cleaner through the straw and then connecting them end to end.  This caught on with each consecutive group until the last group manager to create a fence perimeter around the entire carpet area.

They weren't much for trying to make towers though.

After each rotation we did measure each group's creation, and then vote on the "handsomest" Great Wall replica.  Blocks and Logs overall were winners each round.  Although the Legos did take it once.  In the first round, where no one was quite sure what to do- no one made it the entire length of the table.  But then, in proceeding rotations, everyone made sure they made the length before constructing towers.  Except for straws.  Each group just got caught up in a competition to make a longer straw chain than the group before.

In reflection- next year I want to put more emphasis on making it really sort of model the Great Wall as far as width goes.  I think I'll also add in a requirement for height in general and how many towers they should build.  Perhaps I'll make the overall length shorter, so they can concentrate on one masterful piece.

I might even make it a Lego only activity- but I'm not sure.  The kids really did enjoy going from material to material and trying out something new.  But I will need a different challenge materal I think.  The straws were neat, but the kids never really took off in being able to "construct" more than a chain.

I know I need to make this more engineery. The superlative alone gives me away as a big dork.  But, that's pretty much my feeling.  I'm just not sure how.  And I'd love some input on that.  I know I need to add something to the challenge aside from just "building" the model.  Perhaps the construction will need to be able to perform a task of some sort- like be able to hold up the weight of a thick text book, or be able to withstand a catapult attack.  Oooo- that just felt overwhelmingly fun. The Wall will have to hold up to an attack by the "Northern Huns".  Perfect.

I know I'll need to have them film themselves while they are constructing, and do an after interview on their reflections to put on their blog portfolio pages.  I think that will make the project even more robust.

Just remember- I made this up on a whim while they were making a mess with glitter.  Which makes me think a step further.  Aren't there apps for augmented reality or something?  Perhaps they could film their Wall, or take a picture of it or something, and then in the app make fire works explode above it in the night sky?  Too far fetched?

What do you think, my fellow engineers?  What do I need to make this better for next year?

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