Magic Eraser

I have a red ( I think the official color name was paprika) recliner that I love.  It was starting to look at little dirty, especially where I put my feet on the footrest.  I decided this weekend that it was time to clean it.

I started with my steamer.  It took some visible dirt off, but it quickly became obvious that it wasn’t going to look anywhere near new.  Then I had a brilliant thought.  I had a brand new Mr. Clean Magic Eraser that I got from the sample machine at Sams Club.  Would it work? I dampened it and went to work on the footrest, figuring that it wouldn’t show too much if it did anything bad to the microfiber fabric.   I couldn’t believe the dirt that came up with one swipe.  It was one of those things that was fascinating in a yucky way.  I cleaned what I could, then let it dry for a while and did it again.  It did an amazing job!

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a Magic Eraser for words that I wish I hadn’t said or for mistakes I made?  If it just soaked stuff up so I could rinse it away.  Now that would be a worthwhile invention.

 

Advertisements

Looking ahead to April

I am so ready for April.  March has been a hard month.  This week has been the worst.

I started to gripe, but I’ve deleted all of that.  I don’t want to gripe. I want to celebrate that I’ve completed my first Slice of Life challenge in spite of illness, spring break, crazy days in the library (at one point today I’m pretty sure we had about 150 kids in there!), and a memorial service for a dear friend’s husband.

I started March with my bullet journal  challenge to clean for 15 minutes every day.  I kept it up pretty well for the first few weeks and was seeing real results in my house. Then I started to slack off.  April is a new month and I will begin the challenge again. In fact, I have several challenges I need to begin again.  I will focus on actions, not outcomes, one day at a time and work toward improvement.

April is poetry month.  I’m already thinking about what my event of the month will be.  I’m leaning toward celebrating Poem in your Pocket day.  It was great fun a few years ago and I’m ready to try it again. Something more to look forward to.

The school year is drawing to a close. I know that April and May will fly by. Our summer will be short because our district is shifting the calendar to an earlier start to the school year. I’ll make the most of my summer and be back at work August 3, but for now I’ll just be happy that it’s April.

And best of all for elementary school teachers everywhere, April Fool’s Day is on a Saturday.  Oh happy day!

 

STEAM Club

On Thursday afternoons when we don’t have staff meeting we have STEAM club for Kindergarten through 2nd graders. I signed on to help with the first grade group mostly because the 3rd-5th grade chess club takes over the library at that time and I can’t stand the smell of the vinyl chess boards.  The library reeks of vinyl for hours after they leave.

STEAM, of course, stands for Science Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.  We have one hour for our activity.  This week we built bunny traps.  The bunnies were plastic golf balls. The supplies were all kinds of plastic containers and small boxes, yarn, pipe cleaners, rubber bands, popsicle sticks, and most exciting of all, three real pulleys.  Before we started we talked a little about how pulleys work.  They got a quick preview of the materials they’d have to use and then they made a plan.  Once that was finished they got to work. Construct test, revise, test, revise…

The first obstacle was that I “forgot” the tape.  They had to figure out a way to attach their parts with no tape!  It didn’t take them long to figure out that they could poke a hole in their container.  One girl made a hole that was too big.  She found a piece of crayon on the floor to tie to the end of her yarn so it wouldn’t go through the hole.  Pretty cool!

It’s interesting to step back and see the mistakes they make and how they react to them. Most students approached the pulleys which we hung from the 8 foot ceiling with about 3 feet of yarn.  Until I actually put the yarn in the pulley and handed them the end of it they didn’t realize that there was no way their trap would reach the floor.  Not a one asked me to fix it…they just headed back to their desks and made adjustments.

One student quickly realized that the lid of his container was getting in the way.  He calmly grabbed a pair of scissors and made an alteration to his device.  By the end of the hour most of 15 students managed to catch a bunny in their trap one way or another.  Most had three or four design changes.  They all headed home with their traps and a bunny of their own.  No one asked for a golf ball, they had totally bought in to the story that the ball was a bunny.

I volunteered for STEAM to get away of the smell of vinyl chess boards in the library. It has become one of my favorite activities.

 

Just write…

It’s day 29 and I feel like I have nothing left to say.  All of the advice says just write.  So here goes…

On Tuesday I administered the state writing exam to five fourth graders.  6.5 hours of watching them.  Nothing else, just watching and telling them how many more minutes until lunch, and yes, you can get a drink of water when so-and-so returns to his/her seat, and yes, you can go to the bathroom again, but this time please don’t sing the national anthem because we can all hear you.  Finally with 13 minutes left in the school day the last student finished.  I was finished, too!

Today I got to read April Fools Day stories to K and 1st students and rejoice with teachers everywhere that April 1 is on Saturday this year.  April 1 means that this school year will be over in the blink of an eye. These last weeks are so busy that they just fly by!

I’ve already started on my preparations for the end of school.  As the librarian I do four things to promote summer reading:

  • Identify students who probably have few, if any, books at home and who won’t be taken to the library.  These students are members of our “No Excuses Book Club.” They get to choose a book from our final BOGO book fair and they come select a sack full of books from our donations and weeds. It is like a huge party in the library. We haul out the boxes of weeded books we’ve been accumulating all year and spread them out on tables. That’s not as bad as it sounds.  There are some good books in there, they just weren’t going to hold up to circulation much longer. We bring in the 50-60 kids we’ve identified and they fill up their sacks.  If they’ve got younger siblings at home we make sure that they get books too. The smiles are huge and they are so excited about all of the books that they chose. Some can barely lift their sacks. Do they all read over the summer? No, but some of them do and we’ve seen some come back as voracious readers. Others have read enough to limit the summer slide. It’s worth it!
  • Every returning student (K-4 in my K-5 school) receives a new book to take home with their report card on the last day. The teachers in the next year’s grade select the book.  The only restriction is that Scholastic Reading Club has to sell it for $1 so that I can purchase about 500 books on my $400 budget from PTA. I’ve already purchased The Lemonade War (Davies) for rising fifth graders. Today I ordered a Wayside School book (Sachar) for rising fourth graders. I’m still on the search for books for K-3.  The message that I hope they receive is that we care enough about reading and about you as a reader to buy you a book.
  • I host a BuyOneGetOneFree book fair the penultimate week of school.  Is that week crazy? Yes. Do I have million other things I could/should be doing? Yes. But putting $6000 worth of books in my students’ hands right before school gets out is worth it.
  • On the penultimate day of school, our PTA hosts a huge party in the park next door. It is called Mustang Breakout. They have a DJ, bounce houses, hair painting, and other fun stuff.  I have a station with the children’s librarian from our nearby public library branch and we spend the day signing kids up for Summer Reading Club.  We hold their logs to send home with their report cards on the last day of school.  The public library is pushing for One Million Minutes of reading this summer and I hope my students will be a big part of that.

So, the advice worked. Once I just started writing I found I actually had something to say even if it ended up being a to-do list for things that need to be done before the first Friday in June.

 

Quotes

I’m an elementary librarian.  I read mostly children’s books partly because it’s my job but mostly because I love them.  The story, the characters, the life lessons, the adventure…children’s books have them all in a shorter version and larger print than your average adult book and usually without the drama. Most of all, I love being able to connect to my students through books.  To help them find something that will draw them in and speak to them.

Sometimes when I’m reading, a passage leaps right off the page and into my heart.  When that happens, I jot it down in my bullet journal. I love to look back through my journal and read the quotes.  They are snippets of books that spoke to me and finding them in my journal draws me back into the story.   Here are some recent ones.

From  Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart:

I was thinking about things we lose, and things we have to hold onto, and things we have to fight to get back.

From  The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd

Fear is just a flashlight that helps you find your courage.

and:

The human heart is a big thumping miracle, I decided.  What else in the world could keep beating after being so broken?

From The Storyteller by Evan Turk:

You must first find hope for yourself before you can weave it for others.

Perhaps Kate DiCamillo explained it best in Flora and Ulysses: 

All words at all time,

true or false,

whispered or shouted,

 are clues to the workings of the human heart.

 

Finding my voice

 

Tomorrow begins the first round of our state testing.  I will be administering the fourth-grade writing test to a group of five students.  After this month of blogging, I will be a little more sympathetic than I have in the past.  Sometimes it’s just plain hard to find something to write about.

I have never thought of myself as a writer but I have to admit that this evening I looked over what I produced this month and I feel proud. I feel like I have found a voice that I didn’t know that I had.

To quote author Natalie Lloyd in The Key to Extraordinary:

It is a known fact that the most extrordinary moments in a person’s life come disguised as ordinary days.

I’m so happy to have this record of the ordinary days and extraordinary moments of my life, at least for this month.

Waiting for the storm

We live in tornado alley. Not as bad as Oklahoma where my daughters live, but our storms can pop up quickly and be severe if the conditions are just right. They are tonight.

I’ve got my eye on the radar on my phone. I’m not worried enough to give up watching the Hallmark Channel where they won’t interrupt for severe weather. I haven’t put on my shoes or bike helmet or put a comforter in the bathtub.

The rumble of the thunder is nearly nonstop. Bright streaks of lightning split the sky. It isn’t raining yet, which somehow make it more ominous.

Yet, instead of scary, it feels cozy. I remind myself we need the rain. Here’s my hopeful haiku for tonight:

Nourishing rain falls.

No hail or high winds follow.

Sweet, blessed, cool rain.