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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Chocolate Touch Novel Study

I recently did a novel study with the book, "The Chocolate Touch" by Patrick Skene Catling.  You can find the book here.  It's a story that is similar to King Midas' popular tale.  John Midas only thinks about chocolate which is worrying his parents and causing him to loose friends.  He finds a coin with his initials on it and comes to a new candy story in town.  Instead of giving the coin to a friend that collects coins, he decides to spend it on a whole box of chocolates.  He goes home to find only one piece of chocolate in the box and soon finds out the magic of that piece of chocolate.  It has caused everything that touches his mouth to turn into chocolate.  At first he loves this new gift until he turns his trumpet into chocolate, his pencil during a test, and eventually his mother.  John learns a valuable lesson that he lose the things he loves from his selfish actions.  In the end, he goes back to the magic candy store and gets his chocolate touch turned back, he's a normal boy once again.
We made chocolate playdough to go with, "The Chocolate Touch".    I added the boiling water.  I actually just put really hot microwave water and it worked fine.I used about a 1/2 cup more flour than the recipe calls for and more for the counter.  It stays warm for quite a while.  You will either need to let it dry out some or make sure you put a little flour in the baggie otherwise it will be gooey in the bag they take home.  
  I will tell you everyone that went by my classroom either stopped to watch what we were doing or stopped in.  It made my classroom smell wonderful!  The kids were saying how they were getting hungry for chocolate smelling the playdough.
I gave them each about 1/2, maybe a little more in their baggie. 

I saw this idea on Pinterest.  No one seemed to know the source of the idea.  I searched the web and couldn't find the source either.  We summarized the parts of the story and made Hershey's Kiss mobiles.  They will look really great hanging up in our classroom!
I made templates out of tag board for the kids to trace around.  The also used tag board for their kisses.  It stands up better and easier to wrap the foil around.  We used heavy duty aluminum foil.  I wouldn't use regular foil, it rips too easily.
I demonstrated how to wrap the foil around the base then cut a 1 inch line around the kiss and fold it over.  We went ahead and cut foil to fit the back too since they will be hanging and moving around.  
The kids are working on their book summaries.
Bookmarks I printed for the kids that are free on Teachers Pay Teachers

We used the pamplet in this novel study.  The kids really enjoy going through it chapter by chapter.

Trifold from the Teachers Pay Teachers novel study 
This unit has a lot of skill work that can be taught with the novel.  It was great practice for each skill.  I really liked how this one compared King Midas and John Midas.  

I searched for several versions of King Midas and they really weren't age appropriate because they talked about his love for women.  I found this muppet version and the kids really enjoyed it.  I played it after we had read the book.  They hadn't heard the story before and wondered how this could be similar to, "The Chocolate Touch".  After the video we compared the two stories using a Vinn Diagram of both characters.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

May We Remember

Photo courtesy of We Will Never Forget 9-11

On this day let us remember the way we all felt.  I'm sure it varies but in a way we are all the same.  I was teaching kindergarten.  I remember going to the school's library to watch live coverage of something unusual happening with a plane, it hit a building.  Then that feeling when we all realized something was very wrong with what we were watching.  As the word spread it was instant fear.  Fear for the children in my class, fear for my two year-old at the daycare, fear for what was to come next, and fear for what the world was coming to.  As the teachers in the room popped in and out to get updates, we looked at each other in disbelief.  We cried together and hugged each other while feeling helpless and in dismay.  We locked our doors, parents came to pick up their children, and share the latest updates.  How could this happen?  Our beloved country was under attack.
Let us also remember the togetherness we felt.  We wanted to be close, to be united, to protect the children as teachers, felt close to the parents of our classroom children, we shared our desire to be with our loved ones, and questioned what the future was going to be like.  There was a sense of unity with us all as I'm sure there was in New York as well as all around the nation.
May we as a country remember that it didn't matter what social status you had, your wealth, or the color of your skin.  We were all Americans together in this tragedy wanting answers and preparing for more danger knowing we were all going into this as a united front.  We were going to rebuild, we were going to love our neighbor, and people got down on their knees and thanked the Lord for their safety.  It brought out the best in us whether we want to admit it or not amidst a terrible tragedy.  We were being Americans together.
So on this day may we remember America the great, to love one another like there's no tomorrow, and praise God for this day and every other day forward as we remember the fallen heroes that have given it to us!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Dirt Road Childhood

Today was an emotional day for myself and my sister.  I think my brother kind of felt the finality of it too.  You see our childhood tobacco barn was sold and bulldozed this last week.  We had watched it being dismantled by people driving by and stealing the barn wood off of it over the last few months until it was a naked barn from the ground ten feet up.  The house and shop that stood next to it had been vandalized and someone even shot holes through the tin of the shop.  It's the barn that got us all whether we said it in so many words or not.

You see, we all grew up on a tobacco farm.  We weren't full time farmers, we were part-time/full-time farmers meaning my dad worked in the city while my mom took care of things on the farm during the day and my dad came home and worked till after dark and all weekend on the farm.  We farmed row crops for a while and had livestock too which bring back fond memories as well but there's something about a tobacco farm that is unique.  Almost all the work was done by hand from the planting, pulling the plants for transplant, to cutting it, hanging it, and stripping it.  It was all done by hand.  Most of our childhood was spent in or around this barn and so many lessons learned in the fields and from this old friend.
I probably missed out on many parts of childhood growing up on the farm that other kids were experiencing.  We really didn't spend the night at other people's houses that often because there was work to be done, we didn't spend days at the pool, or going to Worlds of Fun like some of the other kids.  We were working with the family for the family.  There were times the hours felt like they were dragging on and I daydreamed of a million other places I'd rather be at the time rather than in a hot dirt field planting tobacco.
My mom and sister at the tobacco field in about 1980.

As I've reflected back there are so many life lessons I learned at this place.  We were constantly throwing dirt clods to see who had the best throwing arm.  Maybe that prepared me to throw from short stop to first in softball during the summers.  I would practice my pitching against the side of that barn with chunks of dirt waiting for my next job to be given to me.  I pitched for the softball team for years pretty accurately.
My dad and brother in about 1980

I helped my mom fix food for up to 20 men that came to our house for lunch while working in the tobacco fields.  I remember my job was to fill a large metal bucket of water, put out the Lava soap, and a couple of old bath towels for the men to wash up.  I set the table and put food out, sometimes 6 meatloafs or 3-4 peach cobblers at a time.  Many of the men said they came to our farm to work because of my mom's cooking.  I suppose I learned how to cook because of these times I spent helping in the kitchen.  Feeding a family of five is a cakewalk compared to feeding 20 men working on a farm.
I learned how to drive on the farm like most farm kids did.  If you can push the clutch in on an International 140, (with two feet not really being able to look over the steering wheel) you can probably drive just about anything.  I also learned how to back a trailer up working on a farm, something I learned as an adult not everyone knows how to do.  Who knew?
I learned how plants grow, when a rain storm is coming in, and how a well works.  I also know what it feels like to work.  When I say work I mean work hard enough that the minute your head hits the pillow, you are out.  It didn't matter that we had no air conditioning, we were tired enough that we went straight to sleep after supper and a cool shower.  It's a different kind of work on a farm for sure.
I learned to love music, it was the only entertainment I had at the time.  The portable AM radio might be on the tractor or in the tobacco stripping room.  It was my connection to the outside world and it passed the time as I sang along.  My children stare in amazement at me at times that I know word for word the songs on the oldies station.  They have no idea how many hours I sang those songs over and over in a cold tobacco stripping room during my childhood.
I also learned a sense of community.  Many people came and went working on our farm.  There was something amazing about watching the men cut and spear the tobacco in unison.  They would joke around with each other and sit on a tailgate under the stars and have a root beer or beer cussing and discussing the world problems or just sit in amazement about how much they had actually got done in one day.  I loved being part of the friendships we were making and hearing everyone's stories.
We were all together working.  My family spent hours together working side by side.  We laughed together and bickered when someone wasn't pulling their weight.  Everyone had their job and it just seemed what was meant to be at the time.  The oldest rode the tobacco setter while the youngest followed along walking to make sure all the plants were standing up straight or didn't get broken off in the tobacco setter, (planter).  It was a treat to finally get old enough to ride the setter and not have to walk all day.  I think of how many steps I would have had in one day on my Fitbit if I had one back then, probably 20,000 steps plus.
My sister and I in the old barn a couple of weeks ago.  

So you see, this barn seems like an old friend myself and my siblings have lost.  If the walls could talk, oh the stories this old barn could tell.  It watched us all grow up, care for the crops, fix it when the weather would damage it.  It was part of family.  My sister and I dug through a little of the rubble today and got a few salvageable pieces, there isn't much left.  Our plan is to make something out of the pieces that will be a keepsake.  I feel like we owe it that much.

Many people that grew up in my neck of the woods can relate to how I'm feeling I'm sure.  There's something about growing up on a tobacco farm and having a dirt road childhood that is special.  Even though I live in town now, drive a mini-van, have a manicured lawn and abundant flower gardens, I tend to think that all that I have done in my life was influenced by this way of life and although the barn is gone, those memories will always remain, dirt road childhood memories.