Thursday, March 15, 2012

Camping Capers, Open House, “Sadsville”, & Spring Break

Maybe I should’ve just titled this post “Longest Post Ever”, because that’s pretty much what it’s gonna be. You can abandon reading now and I swear I wouldn’t blame you! HA!.
First of all, I just want to say “thank you” to all of you who emailed to make sure I’m okay! I know I haven’t posted in a while, but y’all…it’s been a rough week. First of all, getting ready for Open House was consuming all of my free time. Aside from the fun school stuff, my sweet first baby…our pug, Griffin…was put to sleep last Friday. As my sweet friend, Michelle, would say, our family has been living in “Sadsville” since last week :( Mr. Spouse got Griffin {or “Griffy Griff” as my Grant called him} in 2000. He was the absolute craziest, best dog ever. Think a pug version of Marley {from Marley & Me}. True story. He had a face only his parents could love.
I swear I never thought I’d cry when he passed, but ohmiword, I was a wreck. We made the tough decision after weeks of going back and forth trying to figure out what was best. He was blind…deaf…and could barely walk. Watching him attempt to take any steps was painful. We wanted to take all that pain away…we truly think he had bone cancer. He got so bad so quick. The saddest part was watching my boys’ react to the news. Just today Landon asked, “When is Griff coming home? You said that he was with Jesus and Jesus was going to make him better. How will Jesus get him back home when he’s all better?” Oh my. Tears. And my sweet Grant?! He will tell anyone and everyone who’ll listen that, “Griffy Griff is in heaven with Jesus now and God is making him all better!” We miss our little guy, but we’re relieved he’s not in pain anymore!!!
Mr. Spouse and I are on Spring Break this week and we started our little vacation with a road trip to Houston to celebrate my sister’s 30th birthday….80’s style. Mr. Spouse was a hot mess. He went all.out. I wasn’t far behind. We had a blast!
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The next day we woke up and headed to Galveston to stay for a 3-day/2-night kid-free getaway at our favorite little hotel. It was short lived, but SO fun. I’m now on a fried food detox. Ick.
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Now we’re back home and enjoying the rest of our break as a family of four.
Last week was Open House. Like I said before, the weeks leading up to Open House are nothing short of crazy!!! Planning, prepping, decorating…you name it. Open House is a big deal at our school and our team really tries to make it special for the kids…and parents! Since we were learning about animals & their environments in science, we decided on a camping theme and here’s what we’ve been up to…
Our kids learned in “cabins” during our 2-week camping unit.
We decorated our doors with pictures of our “happy campers” :) {We found this darling idea on Pinterest…the source of everything these days!} Just incase you’re wondering, I used 3 sheets of paper for this. I took camouflaged scrapbook paper and backed it with brown construction paper. I cut out two triangles {camouflage & black} and stapled them together. Then I took my scissors and cut a slit straight up the center of the camouflage paper and then folded back the flaps. LOVE the way they turned out!
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Of course, you saw this fun little graph we did and that’s how we started our unit of learning. It was a great way to gauge my kids’ prior knowledge on the topic and it really helped me to guide my teaching for those two weeks.
I checked out TONS of camping related books from the school library and bought a few from Amazon, too! Here are just a few I kept in our classroom library….
I also had A LOT of books about various animals available, too {bears, foxes, skunks, porcupines, owls, deer, etc.} both fiction & nonfiction. The kids LOVED reading these books!!! I swear they were obsessed!!!
Since animals & their environments were such a big focus in our curriculum, we learned and researched A LOT of different woodlands mammals. Have y’all ever heard of Pebble Go?! Absolutely AMAZING site. If you don’t have a subscription, I would HIGHLY recommend investing in one. We did A TON of animal research using Pebble Go. Each of our kids chose a different Woodland Mammal to research and ALL of their research was conducted using this site. We spent a lot of time learning about different animals we might see while we’re camping on Pebble Go. Our 2nd graders used Pebble Go for this AMAZING biography project the kiddos did. Honestly, a GREAT site!!!!! My kids spent a lot of time on Pebble Go during “listen to reading” while at their literacy stations during our camping unit. They LOVED it.
We learned a lot about skunks and ohmiword…the kids thought these stinky little furballs were hilarious. Me, notsomuch. Have y’all ever run over a freshly deceased skunk?! NOTsofunny. We read a book called Sweet Briar Goes to School , by Karma Wilson and then I had the kids write about a time something disappointing happened to them and they made a little skunk peekover to go with it. They were so stinkin’ cute {no pun intended;)}
We also did this cute little skunk writing craftivity to put out in the hallways…complete with a “puff” of stink coming out of it’s tail :)
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Another animal we researched was the porcupine. After we learned some interesting facts about them, our whole team read the book, “How to Hug a Porcupine”, and then created these darling little guys that went along with a writing prompt, “How would you hug a porcupine?”
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I don’t have a template, but I found THIS on DLT-Kids…just replace the construction paper with toothpicks and you’re good to go!
Bears seem to be a popular campsite visitor, so we decided to research these guys, too! We created a KWL to start our learning and read lots of fiction books about bears, too. One of our favorites?! Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson of course! The kids wrote about how they feel when they wake up and then created this fun little bear craft to go with it.
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We wrote facts about owls underneath the little “chest fluff” on their bellies. The kids LOVED this activity and absolute LOVED being able to put their owls in our tree! SO fun!!
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Speaking of owls, we also connected our learning to a little math craftivity. We drew a camping scene and then used our fingerprints to place owls in the picture. The kids had to write about the fraction of owls that were in the different parts of their camping scene and then create a little owl to go with it! They LOVED this one!
You can download the template & instructions by clicking on the pic below.
As much as I hate the idea of running into frogs while I’m camping…or anywhere else for that matter…we created these little handprint toads to review our “tOAd words” {/oa/ words}. LOVED this idea when I pinned it! Our TL had the idea to use it with our spelling words…perfect way to tie it all together!
Deer are always fun to see on a camping trip, so I thought it would be great to incorporate these little guys into our learning as well. Pebble Go taught us lots about deer and we learned SO much!!! I also thought this would be the *perfect* opportunity to read “Dear Deer” by Karma Wilson and teach them about homophones. We wrote a letter using pairs of homophones in our writing and then created this little deer craft to go with it. I don’t know about the kids, but I LOVED this activity! HA!!
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Needless to say, we learned A LOT about animals!!!!
We also threw in some fun camp themed writing activities, too! We created these cute little hiking legs and wrote an acrostic poem to go with it. We brainstormed a list of camping related words that started with the letters in HIKE. Whoa…that was hard! One of my babies suggested we use a “resource” to help us, so I called on the Internet for some help :) The kids had to choose two words to use for each letter when they created their acrostics. Our TL found these cute camping scrapbook paper packs that we used and I LOVE the way they turned out! Sorry I don’t have a template to share!!
We also learned some funny camping poetry! My TL found this cute idea on THIS website. We practiced reading the poem and learning familiar patterns within it. Then we copied the poem to practice our handwriting and created these cute little sleeping bag campers. I cut out the sleeping bags {using the scrapbook paper from that same pack} and the heads and the kids added everything else.
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We worked on fractional parts of a set with Goldfish…
And with marshmallows, too!
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Speaking of marshmallows, one of our culminating activities was a day full of nothing but S’MORES!!!!! Aaaaahhhh!!!! I don’t know who was more excited…me or the kids?! HA! We spent the morning knee deep in marshmallow math and then headed right into S’more themed literacy centers in the afternoon. We even made our very own S’mores and then followed it up with some expository writing!!!
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As the kids were eating their S’mores, we brainstormed a list of adjectives to describe them.
The kids made their own little S’more and wrote some of the adjectives on their copy and then I hung them from the ceiling. The kids wrote how-to books {all about making s’mores}, investigated & wrote about them using their 5 senses, and determined the fractional parts of their s’more, too! If you’re interested, ALL of the s’more printables mentioned are included in my Camping Capers unit…the s’more craftivity is NOT!
When it was finally time for Open House…and time to show off ALL of this learning…I got busy making the room presentable. Sadly, our desks were beyond the point of cleaning, so I threw some butcher paper on top of them and then made little makeshift campfires on each table using tissue paper and leftover twigs that we used for a different project.
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I set out “Brain Bait” {sour gummy worms} for the kids to take home…
I placed their “backpacks” on their seats {you might remember these from Open House last year}. Their backpacks held all of their camping related work inside! They made the little nameplates using twigs {they collected during recess} and glue….a hot mess, but cute!
We also set-up tents! I didn’t bust this out until the night of Open House because trying to find space for it was a little nuts! However, we had a big camping day the very next day and I kept it up for that. The kids brought in sleeping bags and flashlights and we did lots of flashlight reading!! We also told lots of “campfire tales” around the campfire…the kids had been working on their stories ALL week!!!
Our TL’s hubby made these tents for our team…I wanted them for my boys so badly that I had Mr. Spouse make me two more! HA!! Now we’ve got three just hangin’ out at the house…perfect for movie nights or camping in :) The boys LOVE it and they were SO stinkin’ easy to make!!! We found the tutorial on Pinterest!! You can find it HERE. I added a little half sheet to the front of my tent to make it a little more “private”. My boys are LOVING it and they demand breakfast, lunch, AND dinner inside :)
Our halls this year were pretty cute. Nothing like last year, but cute nonetheless. We were visited by Mr. Fire Marshall a few times before Open House, so we didn’t want to go too crazy and make him mad ;) HA!
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I didn’t make it around to the other hallways to take pictures, but I gotta say that they were pretty dang cute, too. With Griffin on my mind, I was just in another world!
If you’re interested in having a little camping unit in your classroom, you can check out my 135 page Camping Capers packet in my little shop.
I’ll give away 3 copies of this little unit to the first 3 friends who leave a comment.
For those of y’all on Spring Break, I hope y’all are enjoying every little minute!! For those of you still teaching, I don’t envy you…but I will in a few weeks!!! HA!!!

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