Kent and I on the Plaza

Kent and I on the Plaza

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Second Week of EER - Wednesday, August 31

In History Mystery we are discussing The Spanish American War.  It's fun to teach because very few of the kids have even heard of it.  The mystery is that of the sinking of the US Maine.  I found a great 7 min. intro. to the war on Youtube.  We begin with it and then talk about the causes of the Maine's explosion.  We also get a chance to discuss primary and secondary sources.  We read an actual  newspaper article and letter from an eyewitness.  The assignment at the end is to write a letter back to the eyewitness stating an opinion on the cause of the explosion and to support it with facts from the sources.  My Wednesday students did not get a chance to complete the letter, so we'll finish it next week.

In The Poet Tree, we read The Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee by Mildred Pew Meigs.  We found examples of imagery and alliteration.  We started writing limericks and the kids all did a great job.  We'll continue with limericks next week.  We'll work on writing limericks using alliteration and each student will choose one to "publish."  The chosen limerick will be edited and handed in for scoring.

Good Gifts for Kids

Kids love to get mail.  If you have a favorite child in your life that loves to read and learn, consider a magazine subscription.  At EER we subscribe to several magazines for students.  They cover a huge range of topics and are colorful and well written.  We receive:

Faces - geography and cultures
Dig - archaeology
Muse - science, history, art, music, communication arts...
Ask - sscience, history, art, music, communication arts... (younger reading level)
Odyssey - science

The magazines are published 9 times a year  by Carus Publishing and the price for a subscription is $29.95.    Except for Ask, they are written at a middle school level.   Go to for more information.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday, August 24 - EER today

Today we began the 2011-2012 school year with our students.  It was so good to see them!  In my History Mystery class, we spent time talking about different history mysteries and the kids were very interested in the books I had in the room.  We didn't have enough time to start the activity I planned, so I let them peruse the book collection.

In The Poet Tree, we did an activity with "The New Kid on the Block" by Jack Prelutsky.  We talked about the words Prelutsky used to create images in our minds.  At the end of the poem, the students discovered that Prelutsky had tricked them with the image he created. We also talked about the memorization assignment due at the end of the term.

I really believe that memorization is a great mental exercise.  In addition, when we memorized words of beauty and/or meaning, we keep them with us and take them wherever we go.  They cannot be taken from us, but are ours forever.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Toporopa Geography Game

Kids are going to spend time on the computer no matter what.  My pediatrician recommends no more than a total of two hours of "screen time" per day.  Screen time is all inclusive - tv, computer, video games...I do the best I can to limit my kids' screen time, but it is a challenge.  Now that school is back in session, it will be easier.  I think setting limits on the computer is important for several reasons, mainly that kids need to exercise their minds and bodies.  While electronics can provide some of both (a Wii can give some physical exercise), it can't be the sole provider.  However, computers can be a great learning tool and here is where we get to my title topic:  Toporopa.  I love this online geography game.  It has really helped my  European geography, which was lukewarm at best.  It isn't as exciting as an RPG, but it is good  use of screen time.  Go to to play!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Letter about Literature Contest

This contest is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and is sponsored by Target.  There are three competition levels:  grades 4-6, 7-8, and 9-12.  Students must write a personal letter an author (alive or dead) and explain how that author's work changed their perspective about the world or themselves.  Winners choose their favorite library which is then granted $10,000!  The winners themselves get a $500 gift card.  Smaller prizes are also awarded.  The deadline is December 2011.  For more information go to

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lunchables Kids Ultimate Field Trip

This is an instant win game for kids 6 - 13 and will be ongoing through September 30, 2011.  Ten grand prizes will be awarded and they include a trip for six friends and two parents to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History - all expenses paid.  The link to enter is below:

Kraft is also offering 100 first prizes which are $100 gift cards for a local field trip.

Good luck!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I just finished this great book.  I read it so that I could recommend it to my students and discovered that I shouldn't.  I handed it to my seventh grade son and he enjoyed it, but I suggest reading it before recommending it to your middle school child.  You might have objections that I didn't.  Girls might enjoy reading it, but I see it as a strong "boy book."

The Absolutely True Diary of A Part Time Indian is a valuable read.  It addresses the issue of being a "smart kid" and the feelings of isolation that can accompany it.  It addresses the issues of poverty friendship, loyalty, love, and death.  As a teacher, it reminded me of my potential to impact an at-risk student and how hard it is for some students just to attend school.  There are many good reasons to recommend it to teen readers!  I'm so glad I finally picked it up!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Ozark Medieval Fortress: A Great Roadtrip!

Yesterday, I visited the Ozark Medieval Fortress.  It takes about 4 hours to get there from Jefferson City and is about 45 minutes south of Branson.  If you and/or your children are interested in the Middle Ages or architecture, it is worth the visit.  Our guide had a degree in medieval history and was very interesting.  Artisans are in a twenty year process of building the castle using medieval methods.  Much like the Rennaissance Festival, there are artisans such as weavers, blacksmiths, and stonecutters in costume practicing their craft.  If you're interested, check out this link!