Saturday, February 25, 2012

5th grade science camp!!!

Our school takes the fifth graders to Camp Jolt, a science camp about 2 hours north of where we live, close to Oklahoma.  I went as a teacher/mom combo---and we had an absolute BLAST!  This post is long and picture heavy, but I wanted to have a record of the whole time!  

Day One:

We loaded onto really nice tour buses for the two hour trip.  The kids were excited to say the least!  Bill Nye on video helped to keep the adults sane on the way.
Ready to roll!  Kendra and good  pal, K.
We arrived, threw our luggage and bedding into our cabins and got started right away with LUNCH!  The food was really very good!  They had yummy main dishes and a salad and fruit bar every meal.    They also had a contest for ORT.  ORT is a real word that means "any scrap of food left behind".  We had an ORT bucket on our table and we had to put whatever we didn't finish into the bucket at each meal.  The staff counted up the ORT scraps and kept a graph.   The table with the least ORT would win!
Day 1 lunch--hamburgers, green beans, rice, and a cookie.
After lunch, we headed to meet our instructor, Andrew, and set out for our first "class"...the six mile hike to the Monkey Bridge!

The monkey bridge was a suspension deal with one taut line to walk on and two to hold with hands.  Yes, I crossed it, too, but I had the camera so no pics of me!

Next was Animal Tracking.  We had luck finding some raccoon tracks and what we thought were dog or coyote tracks.  But unfortunately, city-kids plus trails equals stomping tracks into oblivion!  

Next was "cabin time" and the girls turn to take a trip to the camp store.  Kendra bought a friendship bracelet and a bag of honey roasted peanuts :-).

Kendra with my co-chaperone, Amber, and her step-daughter M.  This was the only pic of the inside of the cabin I took.  :-(
We had dinner, then went to a Star Party.  They set up high powered telescopes and we got to see Jupiter with a couple of its moons!  We also saw a zillion was so beautiful to be away from the city and see so many stars in the sky.  I learned a new constellation---the 7 Sisters, which is a cluster of stars not far from Orion.  I also learned that Orion has a nebula which looks like a sword on his belt.  Neat.

Day two:

After breakfast we headed to our first class...Archery!

Then to Etymology, where they got to go on a bug hunt...
Kendra and partner, S, found a termite and Rolly Poly.  A friend in class found a "teenage" Black Widow.  Yikes!
Next was my favorite class, Low Ropes Challenge.  This was a team-building set of challenges for the kids.  The hardest part was we adults had to try to keep our mouths shut and let the kids work together to solve problems.  They weren't very good at that, I'll tell ya.  Kendra's teacher, Cher, and I had big-time trouble biting our tongues!

The first one was a blind-folded walk--it had two parts.  First they worked together with hands on each other's shoulders and had to walk blind.  Then, they were placed on a wire path through the trees blind folded. At the de-briefing, Kendra was the only one who said she liked the walk with the class together more than the individual walk with the wire.  She said she likes being able to count on her team.  :-)

The next challenge was one where they had two tasks...they had to stand on a platform and get a rope that was hanging about 5 feet away, then they had to swing on the rope and try to land in one of the hula hoops for points.  The first person had quite the task of securing the rope, and the problem was that the class didn't work well together to KEEP it.
The final challenge was the Port-hole.  They had to work together to get the entire class through the large suspended tire.  They were supposed to work together to decide who would go last, because that person wouldn't have anyone to boost them.  They also had to work as spotters so if the person going through fell they'd be safe.  The spotters were supposed to have their hands raised, ready to catch the person.  As you can see in the first picture, only one person was doing the spotting as Kendra came through.  :-/  Good thing she didn't fall!

Then finally they were paying attention!
Next was Owl Pellets.  They learned about owls, and then dissected an owl pellet.  An owl pellet is the indigestible parts of its food that the bird regurgitates.  They were "sanitized".  Hmmm...  Cool thing was they let me and the other teacher in the room do one, too!  So neat--I love learning!!!!

Kendra's team had almost the entire skeleton of a shrew in their pellet.  Amazing.
We had a fantastic night activity that night.  We took a night-hike in which we had to walk single-file on a hike path, with only the chaperones having a red flashlight (red light doesn't bother your night vision acquiring abilities, but one tiny flash of white light does).  It ended with a campfire with s'mores and funny stories by the camp instructions.  That night also included a couple of scares by the dad of Kendra's good friend, R, and a pillow fight.
Here are the girls in my cabin...I had all but one in my class last year, and the one I didn't have is K's bestie, R, who I've known since we moved here.  They were so great!

Kendra decided not to participate in this madness!
Day 3:

Short day with only two classes, lunch, and then departure.  The girls had to clean out the cabin, pack up and be ready to go by 8:00.  They did awesome!

First class:  Tree Cookies  They learned all about different kinds of trees and how to tell their age.

Second class:  Fossils.  They got to explore the Fossil Garden and learn why there were fossils with shells in them (because North Texas was once under the ocean).

A few random pics:

The girls found some very soft sandstone and had fun carving into it. 
The whole class with their instructor, Andrew
Pretty much the only proof that I was there!  :-)
Awesome things about camp:
--The girls in my cabin were so sweet and did exactly what I asked.
--The weather was amazing.  The first two days were in high 70's and sunny! 
--We learned a ton of stuff!
--Kendra made some really great but hard choices.  The girls from her class got together the second night to do a "show" in the common room of our cabin.  I was inside the sleeping part of the cabin at the time, and apparently several of the girls were being inappropriate.  Kendra and her friend K came into our cabin and told me that they were uncomfortable with the choices of the other girls, and friend R was soon to follow.  Of course, I nipped that mess in the bud right away, and I was very proud of Kendra for standing up to what she knew was right and walking away from it.
--I was also proud of another thing Kendra did.  We had a special needs kiddo with us, and Kendra made sure to include him, encourage him, and had him be with her groups when they broke off to do things.  She has such an amazing heart.  I love that girl!  
--Our cabin won the ORT contest!  It was a three way tie at the end, and it came down to a rock/paper/scissors challenge between us and two boys cabins.  R went as our rep and won it all!  Woo!
--Awesome parent volunteers who came too.  I taught Amber's step-daughter last year, so I knew her well and we got along great as co-chaperones.  There were also some way-cool dads there who helped so much AND kept me in stitches, too.  :-)  They were my voice at camp, and I was grateful (see first part of not-so-awesome parts of camp)

Not so awesome parts of camp:
--I lost my voice completely on the bus ride TO camp.  Yep.  On the way.  I needed to be able to be my loud self to help with the class, and I couldn't.  The laryngitis was due to a sinus infection, which reared its head on the trip, too.  Lots of head gunk and coughing.  Fantastic.
--Day three was windy and chilly.  It wasn't horrible, but after two days of bliss we were freezing!  The last pic of Kendra and I was taken that day (hence the winter coats and gloves!)
--I came home to find that I had brought home a stowaway with me.  A gross one.  A TICK!!!! It was on my stomach and I had to have it removed at a clinic.  $150 later, I have no tick.  YUCK!

Kendra and I had a fantastic time at camp...memories for a lifetime!  :-)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day

Our Valentine's Day is PACKED.  We have two hours of our after-school performing arts club, then Kendra has musical theater dance class shortly after dinner.  So we got our Valentine's stuff together for school this weekend and decided to go ahead and celebrate together early.  We went to see a movie on Saturday (a rare treat) and gave each other our gifts.
Kendra went right to my teacher's heart and got me these GREAT pens!  Perfect for grading papers.  I love fun colors to grade with!

This is way, way, WAY more than I usually spend on a V-day gift, but we have wanted this complete set since we had our HP movie marathon over Christmas.  So, technically, it was a family gift.  Kendra was THRILLED!

You know those moms that search over Pinterest and make all those adorable, hand-crafted Valentine's for their kids to give to their classmates?  Yeah, I'm not one of those moms.  I have forty-one kids I take care of for 8 hours a day---that's not including my own precious kiddo---and frankly, I don't have much left to give to crafting, folks.  So yep.  We get the store-bought variety.  I picked these for my two classes of kiddos--they are so apropos because I call my kiddos "Nerds" fairly often (with utmost affection and humor, of course!)

Kendra has been receiving an allowance since the beginning of the year so she purchased all of her Valentine's gifts this year.  She decided upon SweetTarts Valentine's for her class and the pens for me (have I mentioned I love them?)  Kendra has a special end-of-day responsibility at school--she picks up about 8 little kindergarten bus riders and escorts them to their buses every day.  She also wanted to do something special for them, so she bought these:
They each get to choose a rubber ducky and two treats
 I'm hoping that I can run down to Kendra's class tomorrow for just a minute to see her at her LAST school Valentine's Day party.  Sigh.   Happy Valentine's Day! 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Battle of the Books

Much to my frequent dismay, my daughter is NOT chip off this block when it comes to reading.  I love, love, LOVE to read.  She does not, not, NOT.  So I was completely shocked when she came to me in the fall and asked if she could join the Battle of the Books team for our school.  This team reads quite a large list of books in preparation for a district competition on knowledge of said books.  So yeah, a lot of reading is required.  So no, not really up my kid's alley.  One of her oldest friends has been on this team since kindergarten and apparently the team was short on participants, so she asked Kendra if she'd be interested.  And shocker of shockers, Kendra said yes.  When Kendra asked me if she could join, I picked my jaw up off the floor and, of course, agreed that she could join.  The reading fest began! 

Kendra is an excellent reader with an excellent memory.  She just doesn't LIKE to read.  I don't get it.  But that steel-trap brain of hers served her well as she read through that list of books.  The team practiced twice a week, had a Friday night lock-in the week before the competition, and designed a really cute shirt for the team. 
They did a play on words.  Two of the books they read were called "We the Children" and "Word after Word after Word."  So they did We the Roadrunners (our mascot) will win after win after win (there are three rounds in the competition). 

The back of the shirt with those cute faces and names!

There were three teacher sponsors, one of whom is one of my best friends, Missie Rodgers.  They also had a parent volunteer, who happens to be one of my student's parents this year.  The parent helper volunteered to do all the older girls' hair for the competition---they all had the same 'do!

Here's Missie, fixing her daughter's bow

The finished 'do.
This is the good friend who roped Kendra into this!
I felt like the world's worst mother the morning of the competition.  I had talked to Kendra ages ago about whether or not I should take the day off to go.  We decided together that I shouldn't, because I had other things going on that required days off, it's a stressful time of year, and I am also going to take three days off later this month to go to science camp with her.  But come the morning of the competition, I felt horrible.  There were several other "teacher kids" on the team, and ALL of them had taken the day off.  Well, it was way too late for me to do anything about it, so I just lived with mama-guilt.  Kendra was not the least bit perturbed about me not going--she kept telling me it was fine.  I believe her--I think she really was fine with me not going.   The district streamed the competition live so I got to check in throughout the morning as I was teaching, but if I had it to do over again, I would go for sure!

The competition was fierce...our team finished only three points behind the winning school but they didn't place!  Crazy!  Kendra's buddy was heart-broken--she was the team captain and felt she shouldered the burden more of why they didn't place.  But they really did fantastic, and it was a super learning experience for Kendra.  Too bad she's moving on to middle school next year so won't get the chance to do it again. 
But she did win a medal for participating!

Fifth grade dance

Our school has a fourth/fifth grade dance as a fundraiser for fifth grade science camp.  Kendra went again this year as a fifth grader and had a great time!  I was a teacher chaperone (of course!) and also had fun groovin' the night away.  Well, the early evening anyway!  It WAS a school night!  :-)  Pics are a bit blurry--my camera was working hard in the dark, I guess! 

Me with 3 of the 5 other teachers on my team.  Aren't they cute?  Good teachers and good friends!  :-)