V-POP CARD (Pop-up Art)

V-POP Pop-up card
Click to view or print pattern and instructions.

First First Grade Class

It was two weeks until the school year would begin.  I was just out of college.  In just two weeks, I would have a classroom filled with first graders. I carried a large box of homemade decorations from the main school building to the smaller elementary school building.  Chickens were on either side of the sidewalk, pecking at grassy grains.  I felt like Laura Ingalls Wilder at my “Little House on the Prairie” school.  But this was no prairie in the 1880s.  It was a little town near the beach in the 1980s.  The school was a family owned business.  Most of the family members lived on the school grounds.  Some of their children were students at the school.  This was my first teaching job.

My empty classroom had 16 student desks, one teacher desk, a mostly empty bookshelf, and a giant chalkboard.  As I taped, stapled, and strung decorations to the walls of the classroom, a friendly woman poked her head in the door.  She introduced herself  as the upper-elementary grades teacher, activities coordinator, and bus driver.  She’d been at the school for ten years; since she got out of college.  She liked my classroom decorations.

On the first day of school, I met my students in the main school building.   Together, we walked to our new classroom.  I had planned several “getting to know you” activities.  But the kids didn’t need to get to know one another, all but one had been students at the school’s kindergarten.  The first day went well.  The kids were adorable!

In the first week, I realized that this group of first graders was very different from the kids in my student teaching internship.  I was planning to teach them how to read.  They already knew how.  I had put together a math activity center for beginning math skills.  They were beyond most of the activities.  I had created a cool handwriting program.  They gladly played along, but most already had good penmanship.  The kindergarten teacher had taught them well.  I had to adjust my game plan.  It took some time to figure out activities to accompany their level of learning.  Even the textbooks and workbooks were easy for most of these kids.  But they were hard workers and good students.

There was no arts program at the school.  I was the music teacher, art teacher, and P.E. coach.   In my classroom, music was mostly singing and dancing.  P.E. included exercise and competitive games.  I knew a lot about art and artists.  I often told an art related story before we did an art project.  These kids, like most kids, loved information.

I still remember some of the wild conversations that transpired in that classroom.  One of the most memorable was a discussion about a Weekly Reader story in which a young boy had been severely injured and needed a prosthetic device to replace his leg.  It sparked a lot of imaginative dialog.  One student posed a question,  “If I accidentally lost my head while riding on my dad’s motorcycle and was only able to say hello with my hands and not my missing mouth, could I get a prosthetic head?”   This prompted one of the girls to share a long winded tale about riding on a rollercoaster that derailed.  In the story, several people in her family lost limbs as the rollercoaster took a wild journey through town.  The next time her family went on a rollercoaster, they made sure it was correctly attached to the tracks.  I smiled and said, “Wow, what an unbelievable adventure.”  She frowned and replied, “It’s not unbelievable.  It’s actually, totally, really true.”

I thought about my first year students as I was working on this V-POP card.  The card was inspired by my love of Henri Matisse.  I remember telling my students about his “Portrait of Madame Matisse,” also known as “Green Stripe.”  I explained that the artist painted with bold, unusual colors.  He used two different skin tones and painted a green stripe down the middle of his wife’s face.  Back then, the art critics called the painting a monstrosity, and said it looked like it had been painted by a wild beast.  That story inspired some pretty creative portraits which hung on the walls of my first first grade classroom.

Click here to get the template and instructions for the “V-POP CARD.”  I hope you have fun making it with your creative crew.

 

Web Frame

Web Frame Craft
Click to view or print pattern and instructions.

Miss Jett

Everyone remembers their all-time favorite teacher.  Mine was Miss Jett.  I became a student in her third grade classroom in the middle of the school year when my dad changed jobs and we moved.  I can still remember the day my family walked into the school.  The principal took us to the fourth grade classroom to meet my brother’s teacher.  Then to the first grade classroom to meet my sister’s teacher.  The last stop was Miss Jett’s room.   She was super friendly and so welcoming.  She hugged me.  She looked at her students and said, “Good news class, we have a great kid joining our team.  This is Tracey.  Try to remember her name.  Tracey, these are your new friends.”  She laughed and said, “ Try to remember their names.”  She had them sound off, one at a time, “Hi Tracey.  My name is ____.”

On my second day in Miss Jett’s class, she asked me to come to the front of the room.  “Look class, it’s the new girl.  If you know her name, shout it out.”  They all shouted my name.  Miss Jett looked at me, “Now it’s your turn.  How many of these kids’ names do you know?”  She instructed her students to stand when they heard their name.  I started with Bob and Bill.  They were my neighbors.  Then I continued, “Brad, David, Sam, John, Mark…”  Miss Jett was laughing, “You only know the names of the boys?”  I was embarrassed, but I’ve always been good with names.  I looked at my new teacher and continued to speak, “Julie, Roxie, Sally, Kathy, Barb…”  By now, most of the students were standing.  Miss Jet was clearly impressed.

She was the first teacher who believed in me.  She treated me like I was special; like I mattered.  But that wasn’t the only reason she was my favorite teacher.  She was also the master of making learning fun.  She planned lessons that were hands-on.  She involved the class in her lectures – lectures that sometimes included food samples.  It was fun to go to school!

The back corner of Miss Jett’s classroom was a cool little hideaway.  We were allowed to go back there when our work was done.  The hideaway had bookshelf walls.  The shelves were filled with books and puzzles and games.  Miss Jett had created most of the games.  I loved the games!  There was also a box of colorful laminated story cards with comprehension questions.  Miss Jett challenged us to read as many of the story cards as we could.  She had a chart on the wall where we marked each card we’d read.  I didn’t really like to read, but I read a ton of those stories because I liked coloring in the squares on the chart.  The hideaway also had a globe, a world map, and a flashcard game about states and capitals.  There was a chalkboard so you could practice your writing.  The very best thing was the science area with an aquarium and a terrarium.  Because Miss Jett lived on a farm, we often had live animals in the classroom.  The animals weren’t always confined to the hideaway corner.  Once in awhile Miss Jett brought in a baby kitten that got to wander around the classroom.  We were allowed to pick it up and bring it to the hideaway when our seat work was completed.  On the days the kitten was in the room, I finished my seat work in record time!

By the end of the school year, Miss Jett knew me well.  When the baby snakes crawled out of the science lab terrarium and got stuck to the tape on the bulletin board, Miss Jett knew I was the snake-loving student who would gladly free them from their sticky nightmare and return them to their habitat.  She made a big deal of how well I completed the task.

On the very last day of school, Miss Jett told us how much she’d enjoyed having us as students.  She was so proud of us.  She wished she could be our teacher forever; or at least for another year.  Then Miss Jett said she had an announcement, “Guess what?  I’m moving.”  A big gasp of disappointment rose up from her devoted fans.  “Oh, let me finish that sentence.  I’m moving to fourth grade.  We’ll all be together again next year.”   “HURRAY!!!”

This web frame activity is something Miss Jett taught in a lesson about how to use a ruler.  She had us use our ruler to draw a capital L.  Then she asked us to mark every half inch on the L.  We had to connect the dots from the vertical line to the horizontal line.  It created a neat Op Art piece.  Click “WEB FRAME” to get the instructions and template for this craftivity.

 

Goofy Goggles

Paper goggles craft
Click to view or print pattern and instructions.

Jack’s Superlative

Jack’s third grade year was one of his favorites.  His teacher was really young, but she was one of those amazing people who had definitely chosen the right career.  She seemed like she’d been teaching third grade forever.  For the first time since preschool, Jack loved going to school.   Every afternoon, Jack would do his homework, eat a snack, and talk non-stop about what happened in his classroom.  Everything seemed to be coming together for him.  I could see his confidence rising.  What a difference a great teacher makes!

It was also in third grade that the school conducted an eye exam and Jack was flagged as “probably needs glasses.”  When his teacher gave Jack the note, he stuffed it in the bottom of his backpack, hoping it would go unnoticed.  Unfortunately, for him, I was the Room Mom, so I was often in his classroom.  When his teacher asked me if Jack had been to an eye doctor, I was caught off guard, “What happened to his eye?”  She told me about the exam.

When Jack got home, I pulled the crumpled note from his backpack and made an appointment with an optometrist.  Jack said it was a waste of time.  He insisted his eyes could see everything – perfectly.  The eye doctor did not agree with Jack’s self-diagnosis.  In fact, I was amazed watching him struggle to read the eye chart.  His eyesight was terrible.

Two weeks later, Jack walked into his third grade classroom, wearing his new glasses.  The kids all commented.  “What’s on your face?”  “Why do you want to be a nerd?”  But the teacher told him, “You look so handsome!”  And the kids, because they loved her, decided Jack’s glasses were alright.

Soon after he got the glasses, Jack was chosen for the lead in the class play.  It was “Arthur the Aardvark.”  (If you are not familiar with Marc Brown’s books, Arthur is a third grader who, among other things, wears glasses.)  Later that year, Jack was tested for and accepted into the school’s gifted program.

Toward the end of the school year, the teacher gave each student a list of superlatives:  Most athletic, most creative, most likely to be rich, smartest, funniest, handsomest, prettiest, kindest… You get the idea.  The students were asked to write a classmate’s name by each description.  The winner of each title would be announced on the last day of school.

On the last day, there was a breakfast celebration.  All of the parents were invited to attend.  At the end of the breakfast, the teacher gave out awards.  The final awards were based on the students’ votes.  I assumed Jack would get most artistic or fastest runner.  I nodded in agreement as the teacher announced and handed out each certificate.  Jack was one of the last kids to get one.  His superlative, “SMARTEST!”  It was hilarious!  This kid who struggled in school and was constantly being reminded that academics were not his thing, was just handed an award that proclaimed him the smartest kid in class.

The name of this craftivity is “Goofy Goggles.”  Click the title to get the template and instructions for the craft.  Your students can decorate them to create an alter-ego.