karonadrummond

Because We Love Children

Happy New School Year! (Part One)

Happy New Year! School year, that is. Are you excited? Maybe you’re a bit sad to see Summer wave, “So long.” I am . But here in Texas, we’re pretty ready to boot summer out by the end of August. At least, we want to show the heat out and show the Autumn  cool in.

If you teach in the classroom, at home, or both (That’s me!) it’s time. We teachers lead the way.

Here is one of my all-time favorite quotes for educators:

“I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate.  It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.  I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or deescalated, a child humanized or dehumanized.”

quote by Haim Ginott  Teacher and Child (1976)  Avon Books

We have to come in with a positive attitude. And we owe it to our students to be prepared. One of my favorite books on getting the school year off to a bright start is: The First Days of School (How to be an Effective Teacher) by Harry K. and Rosemary T. Wong.

This book shows teachers how to bring their best professional educator selves to the classroom. You will find a treasury of tips on running a successful classroom. These tips include: preparing yourself and your environment, lesson planning, and teaching procedures. If you are clear in explaining exactly what you want the children to do, and you are consistent, you will be your most effective self in the classroom.

Happy Teaching, where ever that may be for you!

🙂 Karona Drummond

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Ahoy, Matey! Yee-Haw! Let’s Play Ball!

Greetings! I do hope all my fellow Americans had a wonderful Independence Day. God Bless America!

As summer heats up, so does that great American pastime, baseball. When you and the kids aren’t watching or playing baseball, how about opening up a delightfully imaginative book about the sport? Take a look at Pirates at the Plate. The story and illustrations are by Mark Summers. The actual words are written by Aaron Frisch.

This book caught my eye right away with it’s detailed scratchboard illustrations. The picture on the cover reminds me a bit of Norman Rockwell’s famous illustration: “Gossip”.

The Pirates “arrr” facing the cowboys in this rollicking story. But that’s not just their team  names. No sir. They are  pirates and cowboys! Some of them be fictional, like Hopalong Cassidy, Long John Silver, and Captain Hook. Some of them be real, such as Wild Bill Hickok. And don’t forget Calico Jack, the pirate who designed the Jolly Roger.

Pirates at the Plate is a fun read-aloud. My third graders kept trying to figure out just what was going on. The ending encourages our youngsters to get involved in good old-fashioned play where imagination is at bat.

Maybe you and your kids will be inspired to make some of your own scratch illustrations. You might learn more about the characters in the book. Perhaps you’ll head outside for your own game or two. Let your imagination soar!

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Blueberry Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Okay, I know it’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere. I have a friend on vacation in Australia right now. It’s winter there. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Aaaaaah…. But I digress.

Anyway, I don’t get in the kitchen a lot in the summer. But when we had blueberries, bananas, and chocolate chips in the house at the same time, I couldn’t resist. I braved the kitchen. I turned down the a.c. a bit and went for the prize.
The outcome would be worth it. I was going to modify a banana bread recipe, make it healthy, and create world peace!
Well, at least I hoped to get my kids eating a treat that also happened to be healthy. That might be the first step to creating world peace, right? Right!

So I challenge you: Bring in some bananas, blueberries, and semi-sweet chocolate chips into the house. Then create something amazing and eat it. As you wipe the blueberry juice and melted chocolate off your children’s faces
(and yours), keep smiling because you just had a sweet treat that’s too healthy to feel guilty about. Enjoy!

Karona’s Healthy Blueberry Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

3 medium ripe bananas, sliced and mashed
1/2 cup softened Smart Balance buttery Spread or 1/2 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Stevia in the Raw granulated sweetener for baking (zero calories and all natural!)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (You can use all dark brown sugar if you don’t have the Stevia)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups whole grain flour ( I used Bob’s Red Mill Oat Flour)
1 cup (preferably fresh) blueberries
1 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, stir together ingredients in the order listed above. Spoon
mixture into muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Put in top or middle rack of oven. Check at 15 minutes. Muffins should be
come out clean when a toothpick is inserted. It will probably need about 20 minutes. Let muffins cool. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk or some frozen vanilla yogurt.

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Disney World Tips for Families

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(This is me in the classic “Singing in the Rain” pose at Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

So, you’ve finally done it. You’ve saved the money for that big trip to Disney World. Congratulations! Planning can be
part of the fun. My husband, the two kids, and I just got back. We had a blast! Here are a few tips that we gathered in out process. We took a road trip. So some of my trips will pertain to traveling by car.

1. Order a planning kit from Disney several months in advance.
Hop over to http://www.disneyworld.com get the process rolling. They will send you a free video with lots of info. about the Disney World parks and accommodations. If you are planning a road trip, you would benefit from going to Florida is full of beautiful tourist destinations. Maybe you can squeeze in a couple while you’re in the neighborhood.

2. If you are doing a road trip, consider the benefits of renting a car. My husband and I both drive older cars. We keep them maintained and drive them into the ground. We didn’t want to tack on an extra 2,360 miles onto one of our cars in one fell swoop. And what if our old car broke down? There’s a vacation buster, for sure!

So renting a car made good sense for us. We used Avis http://www.avis.com because we had good success with them on a previous vacation and they are conveniently located nearby our home. We had the car for about 12 days at a cost of around $380. We had peace of mind that we were driving a new car. And if we had any trouble, Avis would come get us and put us into a working rental car right away.

3. Staying in the Disney World Resort is worth the money. Even though we were driving and could have stayed off property, we chose to stay within the resort. We chose from the least expensive resort hotels, the “Value
Resort Hotels”. The Value Hotels are further away from the parks, and the rooms are smaller and not as fancy as the more expensive hotels. Still, the hotel (We stayed at All Star Music) was decorated up really cute. The room was clean and comfortable. We had our choice of two very nice pools with activities and movies for the kids while they were swimming.

When you stay at the Disney Resort Hotel, you don’t have to worry about parking hassles. You just hop on the Disney Transportation System (for the Value Hotels it is a bus) and let them drive you to and from. Aaah…
Yes, we could have saved a few bucks by staying off property. But the convenience we received, the time saved, and the immersion of staying in the resort was worth it.

4. Planning your eating. Disney has thought a lot about what makes their customers happy. I was VERY
happy to know that we could bring food into the park. If you fly in, you will probably need to purchase some sort a a meal plan and then take snacks to munch on here and there throughout the day(s). Each resort hotel has a little store with a few basic food supplies. They also each have a quick service food area. The meal plans can be quite expensive.
So weigh your options carefully.

If you are doing a road trip, here is what we did to save money and time: When we arrived the first night, we went to the nearby Target and stocked up on food for the week. We bought fruit, cereal, beef jerky, nutrition bars, etc.
My husband brought a small microwave with us. (The Value Resort Hotels have mini refrigerators, but no microwaves.)
We bought a bunch of Hormel Compleat meals.

We got up each morning, ate a big breakfast, and packed our backpack and fanny packs. We carried in bottled water, beef jerky, fruit, and other nonperishable food items. We “backpacked” through the parks. When we were waiting in line for a ride or show, we ate a bit here, a bit there. Finally, when we got back to the hotel at night, we ate our Compleat meals. Yes, we were all ready for regular food when we arrived back in Texas. But it was a workable solution that helped us get more out of ours days in the parks.

5. Use the fast passes if there are crowds! We waited an hour and a half for Space mountain. (Ugh!)
While we were waiting, we noticed people zipping right along in the fast pass line. We assumed the fast pass was for people who paid extra. But when we (and especially our teenage son) investigated further, it turns out that anyone can use a fast pass! We happened to be in the park during a busy week. The fast pass allowed us to do so much more.

Here’s how it works: Go to a popular ride you want to ride. If there is a long wait, go to the fast pass area. Put your ticket in the machine. The machine will give you a little paper that tells you when to return. It is as if the computer is holding your place in line. You will be given a one hour window in which to return to ride the ride. When you return, you will show your little paper to a couple of workers as you get into the fast pass line. You will only have to wait
about 5-10 minutes to board the ride. Whoever at Disney who thought this system up is a genius. Thank you, whoever you are!

You can only hold one fast pass during a time period. So plan your day around your fast passes. Do the less in-demand rides, the shops, and the shows in your waiting time. You will be amazed at how much you get to do, even when the park is crowded.

6. Pin Trading is So Fun! disneygo.com/eventservices/whatispintrading.html
My 10 year old daughter loved this. You buy a starter set of decorative Disney trading pins at any Disney store in the park. My daughter started out with all Tinker Bell pins. She also bought a Disney lanyard to wear the pins on. Then the real fun began. At every park and every store, workers will trade pins with you. Sometimes other guests will trade, too.
My daughter traded continually. There are pins representing every Disney movie and character. In addition to being fun,
pin trading helps the children attending Disney to be comfortable talking to Disney staff members. That way, if a child got lost, he/she would already feel comfortable going up to a staff member for help. Great thinking, Disney!

7. Check the weather. Be prepared for rain. It tends to rain a lot in Florida. Before you book your Disney World vacation, check yearly trends for Orlando weather. Some months are rainier than others. Even in the less rainy times, you should bring a couple of umbrellas or some rain ponchos. We didn’t heed this advice and ended up having to buy a couple of umbrellas at the park during a downpour.

I hope for you that if you dream of going to Disney World, your dream will come true and that you have a wonderful time!

🙂 Karona Drummond

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My Home/My Workshop

 

 

If you’re a teacher like me, you probably have some challenges with home upkeep. If you have kids at home, and if you homeschool, you face even greater challenges.

Maybe you’re a lot neater than I am. If you are, I commend you.
You can probably give me some pointers, which I can try to use.
🙂 I homeschool part time, teach in a classroom setting part time,
and write poetry and children’s stories. It’s a blessed life.

But if you would like to drop by my house for a visit, please call a couple of weeks ahead. You may still want to put blinders on when you walk into my home. If you’re a frequent visitor, you might comment, as a friend of mine did recenty, “Don’t worry. I’m used to it.”

We have SO much STUFF! My kids have homework, projects, and regular kid stuff. My husband adores books and DVDs. I have all sorts of teaching suppies and goodies, including many books, and my ever-present tub of library books which flow in and out of the house.

Now that it’s spring, I am attempting to hatch praying mantises, herd ladybugs, and farm worms. Then there are the regular critters:
indoor dog, indoor cat, and outdoor cat, with all their sundry
ammenities.

Sometimes I look around my house and sigh. Just getting OUT of the house for awhile is refreshing. But one must come home. Mind you,
we DO clean. Laundry, dishes, bathrooms, food prep, etc. It’s all ongoing and seemingly going on forever. The kids pitch in.
The hubby pitches in. I take stuff to Goodwill frequently. But still, there is so much that in all the “getting things done”,
that never gets done.

Then I had a realization which has dramatically changed my outlook.
Maybe it could help you, too. My home isn’t a showplace, and never will be. My home is well lived in and filled with love. My home is our laboratory, our workshop, and our studio. It oozes with creativity and productivity.

Maybe someday I will have a separate studio to work in. But for now, I am right AT HOME in my very own workshop! And I hope you will be,
too.

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Spring Carpe Diem

I hope that you are enjoying some pleasant spring days. Go ahead. Answer Spring’s call You’ll be glad you did.
If you have kiddos in your life, get them outside in the spring, in the dirt. You’ll all be the better for it.

Here is a poem I wrote after enjoying a very satisfying spring Saturday:

Spring Carpe Diem
(Carpe Diem: Latin phrase meaning, “Seize the day.”

I might have been in the house with the clothes.
The washing and drying is endless, you know.

I could have been scrubbing the toilet and sink.
But I gave the toilet a flush and left with a wink.

I would have been up to my armpits in bubbles
Washing each dish and rinsing the troubles

Of the endless pursuit of a house clean and spiffy.
But Spring started calling. So quick–In a jiffy

I closed the clothes hamper. I shut a few doors.
I made a quick deal with the dirt on the floors.

I traded that dirt for another dirt calling,
“Come out! Come, dig in! Stop scrubbing! Stop stalling!”

“Get out here! Grab shovel. Grab gloves. Rouse a rake!
Find seeds. Find old shoes. Spring is at stake!”

“Today is a gift. It won’t come again.
The dirt will still be there when you go back in.”

So I dug. And I planted. I breathed in the breeze.
That day wasn’t wasted.

That day was seized.

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Plastic Eggs are for More Than Egg Hunts

Have you filled any plastic eggs lately? Egg hunting season is in full swing. Enjoy!

You can use the eggs for more than the “Big Day” egg hunts. Here are a few ideas for you. I am sure you will think of more.

1. If you’re a mom or teacher of young children, give your kids some eggs and containers to take turns having their own egg hunts for each other. Supply them with containers to put the eggs in. This can be done inside or outside.

2. Set up a big tub of uncooked rice or uncooked pinto beans. Place plastic eggs in the tub. Encourage your children to
fill, empty, hide and find the eggs in the tub.

4. Set up an egg number-object matching center. Put numbers 1-12 on a dozen eggs. Get something small, like uncooked beans. Have your child fill each egg with the number of beans on the outside of the egg.
For an edible version of this idea, use a small cereal pieces, such as Cheerios.

5. Have your child work on his/her color skills. Use pom poms. Your child can match the pom pom to the color of the egg. Have your child put the matching color of pom pom inside each egg. Then put unmatched colors of pom poms and introduce the word “mismatched”.

6. Make an edible version of the above activity.Use a small colored cereal, like Froot Loops.

7. After you do the Froot Loop activity with counting, involve the sense of smell. Have your chlid close her eyes or put on a blindfold. Can she identify the color of the egg by the matching Froot Loops’ smell? Open the eggs one at a time and “see” how it goes.

8. Next, let your child blindfold you. Can you identify the color of the egg by the smell of the Froot Loops
inside? “Waste not, want not.” You had better go ahead and eat those Froot Loops in the name of frugality. 🙂

9. Simple addition: After you do the number matching activities, try this simple addition activity: Choose 2 eggs with numbers on them and the corresponding number of small objects inside. If you add those two numbers of objects, how many will you have? Empty the contents of the eggs and check your answer.

10. For older children: Work on math facts with plastic eggs. Using masking tape, write a simple math fact on the outside of the egg. Write the answer on a small piece of paper and insert into the egg. Do this with as many math facts as you would like to work on for the day. (Example: all the addition 3s facts) Have your child say the math fact, then the answer. Have him open the egg to check if he said the correct answer.

11. To extend the above activity: Place all the answers to a set of math facts in a pile on the table. Give your child the eggs with the math facts that go with those answers. Have your child put the right answer in the right egg.

12. An oldie but a goodie: Fill a bunch eggs about halfway with rice. Tape up the eggs. Give each child (and yourself)
2 eggs to hold. Put on some happy music. Shake those eggs to the beat of the music! 🙂

Happy Easter!!

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Delighted by Dandelions


photo courtesy of Creative Commons: twowheelsblog.com

The next time I fill out a Secret Sister questionnaire at church, I have a new answer for favorite flower:
“Dandelion!”

Oh, I know. Even my third graders objected when I mentioned my love for the little yellow flowers.
“Weeds!” they declared. “Our parents don’t like them.”

Yes, I suppose a lot of people would like to eliminate dandelions from their yard. But according to http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com, dandelions are a good source of pollen to bees and an excellent source of vitamins and minerals to humans. Quite a weed, aye?

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(That’s me in shadow, out on my walk.)
As I was walking on a late winter’s day in Texas, bare trees stared down. Brown grass stared up. But out from the
monotony popped bright circles of pure sunshine, alongside sky-reaching stems topped by snowy orbs made of tiny potential parachutes. Drawn into the game, I playfully kicked the white orbs and watched as the parachutes lifted onto the wind, on their way to start the game afresh.


photo courtesy of Creative Commons: lookatmyhappyrainbow.com

I figure maybe I’m in good company with my love of dandelions. Robert Fulghum, in his acclaimed book of essays, All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,(www.robertfulghum.com) remarks that if dandelions were endangered, plant nurseries would  charge $14.95 a plant and start dandelion societies.

Young children know the joy of dandelions. They pick them by the handfuls. They blow the magical tufts aloft,
wishes soaring.


Image courtesy of Creative Commons: seenobjects.org

Bring some dandelions inside. Drizzle some yellow paint on a few paper towels. Let your kids make dandelion prints.
When the prints dry, the kids can add faces and other details with crayons or markers.

Complete the dandelion fun with a good book or two.

Dandelions: stars in the grass shows the remarkable life of the dandelion plant with crisp, colorful illustrations.

Another picture book: The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony tells the story of a lone dandelion seed reluctant to face the world. It is a story of courage. The illustrations are gorgeous.

Tonight, when I pillow my head, I will pray to be a bit more like the dandelion: a bright spot in a weary world, persevering in the face of adversity, a source of nourishment to the sojourner. And when the time is right, please lift my hopes, dreams, and plans. Please send them soaring to the place they are meant to be.

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Close a Screen, Open the World, Part 2

I LOVE books. Books on screens are okay. And I am glad they are available. But for young children (and for me),no

reading experience is quite as satisfying as a good book. I love to feel the book in my hands and physically turn each page. I love the fact that I can take a book anywhere with no need of an electrical charger or outlet.

One book that caught my attention recently is called Press Here by Herve’ Tullet. Press Here is a perfect picture book: simple and engaging. When I put this book in my library corner at school, everyone wanted a turn.

Press Here starts with one yellow dot on a white background. Each page gives the reader a new instruction to
do to the dot(s). One yellow dot becomes two dots, then three, all in primary colors. By following the tapping instructions, the reader is able to “make” the dots multiply,shift from one side of the other, turn out the lights, and turn the lights back on. Finally, the reader is empowered to clap the dots bigger and bigger until at last, the reader is back to one yellow dot. Then the reader is invited to start over.

This book could be followed up by some creative activities. You could give your child(ren) red, yellow, and blue paint.
Have them make dot art, using a thumb or finger. If you have time, try asking the kids to make one picture, then write
instructions at the bottom of the picture, such as “Press Here”. The next picture shows what happens when the instructions are followed. The children use the book for ideas on what would happen.

Happy reading and painting!

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Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

We are studying fruit in botany these days. Yesterday, my third graders and I had a wonderful time exploring oranges.
We started by guessing what was in a closed bag (oranges, of course). Then each child estimated the weight.

When the bag of oranges were revealed, I asked the class: “If we know the weight of the whole bag of oranges, and we know, the number of oranges, how can we determine the weight of one orange?” Ahhh… long division in action.

I partnered the kids into pairs. While we played music, the kids rolled , then tossed the oranges, promoting friendship, cooperation, and fun.

Next: We studied our oranges:
geometry: What shape are oranges? (spheres) What other spheres can you think of? (balls, the Earth)
geography: We imagined the orange was the Earth. We found the stem of the orange. That was like the North Pole. We found the navel of the orange. That represented the South Pole. We took our oranges and rotated them in the same way that the Earth rotates.

We looked at real globes and found the Equator. We drew the Equators on our oranges. We named the Northern and Southern Hemispheres We noted that we live in the Northern Hemisphere. We found the International Date Line on the Globes. We drew it on our oranges and discussed the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.

We drew rough shapes of the continents.

geology We peeled an orange and compared the peel to the Earth’s crust.

We also explored orange buoyancy. We found that an orange will not float in a large, shallow, tub. I asked the class how we could get the orange to float. They said, “Add more water!”

“That might work,” I agreed. “But we can make it float without changing the amount of water.”

“Hollow out the orange!” the students suggested.

“That could be fun. And it might work,” I said. “But we don’t have to change anything about the orange to get it to float. What do we need to change?”

“Put it in a different container!’ the class decided.

With that, I poured the water out of the shallow tub and into a tall, cylindrical container. The orange floated!

We wrote orange adjectives, like: juicy, orange, sweet, round, fruity, bumpy, nutritious, and delicious.

Finally, we feasted on our oranges.

By the way, I do like bananas. But that is a blog for another day. 🙂

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