Wednesday, December 16, 2015

So much gratitude

We have been so busy learning and having fun that I have neglected to update my blog in a little while! My apologies for that! Below are some exciting stories about our last few weeks. As always, I am so thankful to have the opportunity to work with such amazing children and supportive families!

Thanksgiving Lunch

Our annual Thanksgiving lunch was a tremendous success this year. Each and every student participated in food preparation, cooking, and setting the tables. It was great to see how closely kids paid attention to the details in their measurement and their visual recipes--I hope they will get to continue to practice these skills at home. At lunch, each student sat with at least friend from his class, but also one or two friends from Miss Amanda's class. We really loved hearing their conversations, and seeing the modeling of language, social behavior and table manners from the older kids to the younger kids.

Harvest Party with Friends

This year Sexton Mountain tried something different for our harvest parties and did it all together! We had a blast dancing in the gym with our friends from our buddy classes in the kindergarten, first and second grade classes! And because we couldn't get enough cooking, we made some fun snacks after!


One of our buddy classes noticed that their buddy was absent on the day of the Harvest Party. So in an incredible act of compassion and kindness, Mr. Hayhurst's second grade class threw a party for some of our friends! We cut out snowflakes, had snacks and danced! They even wrote us letters thanking us for joining! This month Sexton Mountain Elementary has been focusing on acts of compassion, and I think that this class, and our school, proves on a regular basis how incredibly full of love we are :) We are so thankful!

New people

As some of you may have heard, we have some new people in our lives. This year we have a student teacher, MacKensie who will be working with us. While MacKensie has been with us all year, she is going to be taking more and more of a leadership role in our classroom. We also have a new friend in our class--ask your student about him :) With both people I have been so proud at how well our kids are introducing themselves and each other, tolerating change, giving high-fives and overall being a warm and accepting community!

Donors Choose, individual donors and Google rock!

As you heard through my email, through private donors and a huge help from google, our classroom has already had TWO donors choose projects funded, and so has Miss Amanda's classroom! Since we work as a team to bring awesome experiences to our kids, this year there are FOUR funded projects changing lives already this year! Our amazing district gave our classroom library a BIG update, so we got new shelving and organizers to make the most of our library. We also got TWO field trips 100% funded! That means there will be no cost to families! In February, we will be studying the environment, and we will further our learning with a trip to the Portland Aquarium. In March, we are studying Movement, so we will take a trip to the Portland Children's Museum for the Run! Jump! Fly! exhibit! :)

What we do need from you though, is permission for your student to be photographed enjoying these resources. Donors choose is a wonderful charity that attracts donors from all over the world because the projects are from the hearts of real teachers and you can see real kids benefiting from your donations. They ask that we submit photos (with no names) of students that benefit from these projects, to keep the momentum going. Photography permission slips are in your student's folder. They will cover the projects that benefit your student from myself, Amanda, Jessi and Marcia for the next year. 

Giving with our full hearts

This winter we set off to try something big and new for the first time. Rather than going Christmas shopping for our loved ones (which is always fun!) we decided to shop for a family in need. We explained to our students that while we have things that make us happy, some people do not. And when people do not have what they need, they feel sad. We talked about how great the holidays are, and how we want all people to be happy during the holidays. We talked about ways we can make people happy, like talking, and smiling. We also talked about ways we can make people happy that we don't know--like making cards and giving presents.

We practiced this concept all month long, until it was finally our big shopping day. The day of the trip, it was pouring rain. As Oregonians, we were prepared with umbrellas, boots and coats. What we were not prepared for was construction and weather conditions disrupting the trimet bus schedule. We ended up waiting in the rain at the bus stop for more than 40 minutes. Through it all, our kids were absolute gems. They were patient and happy, and while shopping, seemed very excited about their purchases. This week we created our gift basket for a family in need--a family who has a newborn baby that they just learned is blind. These thoughtful gifts and cards will bring joy to a family that needs a little extra love at the moment. I am so proud of our little guys for their big, giving hearts. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Buddy Classes

In the last week, each of our kids spent some time with their buddy classes! For those of you who are new to Sexton Mountain, we participate in an inclusion program where each student from the SRC has a buddy class at his or her grade level. The idea for this is simple and incredible.

Each buddy class gets to know one new friend from the SRC. This means that our kids visit their classes for fun activities, songs, parties and special experiences. This means that we have new friends to send candy grams to, or camp learned a lot mail in June. This means that each of our kids have one whole class of friends that knows their name and some of their interests. This means we have more people to say "hi" to on the playground and at lunch. This is just one of the many incredible ways that Sexton Mountain is a fantastic community.

As we introduced ourselves in the last week, all of the students I talked to (in my class and our buddy classes) were excited about how much we have in common, and we spent very little time talking about how we are different. We talked a lot about the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Minecraft. We talked about brothers and sisters, and how much we love Thanksgiving. We talked about how cool it is to speak 2 languages, and how hard we work at school. Below are some pictures from our visits. It may be hard to find your students in these pictures, because really, we're all one happy community.

As always, I am so thankful for such a fabulous place to teach and learn! <3

Monday, November 9, 2015

Little chefs

Happy November families! Well, while we aren't able to cook with stoves or ovens, we certainly are cooking up some fun, hands on learning! This month, we are learning about why we cook our food and which foods we can eat raw, and which foods we cannot. We are learning how to read and follow recipes. We are learning about the actions we do when we cook, and practicing them to make yummy snacks. Kids are working hard to read, measure, open, cut (with plastic butter knives), stir, spread and microwave. So many of these activities build tremendous upper body strength, and are great activities to help with at home to help support fine motor skills like handwriting.

We are going to continue to make fun foods each week this month, including our big Thanksgiving Lunch on Tuesday, November 24th! If you have any questions about your family's contribution for that, please let me know.

Our kids absolutely LOVED making pancakes with fruit faces last week. I will email the recipe this morning, feel free to print and use at home!

Update--11/10--To celebrate the new Peanuts Movie, today we made "Snoopy Snacks"! Recipes and some extra snacks came home in backpacks today! We had so much fun!