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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Stick Horse Rodeo: YeeHaw!

It's the day that all first grade teachers in Springdale, Arkansas, {present & past} know all too well: Stick Horse Rodeo day!  It's a tradition in our town that has been going on with first graders for umpteenbazillion years....okay, maybe not that many, but at LEAST 20 years because my brother participated in the stick horse rodeo 20 years ago as a first grader. {Although I'm older, I didn't participate because we didn't live in Springdale when I was a first grader.}  It's a really big community project for our school district and it leaves us all feeling exhausted at the end of the day. And today it also left me looking like a lobster {guess who didn't put on sunscreen??? #fail}.

Maybe that's why I walked out the door at 3:06 today...yeah, I'm pretty sure exhaustion doesn't even begin to describe how I'm feeling right now!

Here's a little background on what exactly the stick horse rodeo is all about if you aren't from Springdale:

*First grade teachers use a district wide curriculum to teach economics to our firsties {like scarcity, cowboy wants & needs, production lines, assemblies, producers, consumers, resources, choice, goods and services...}
*First graders produce a stick horse {a good} using an assembly line {and several adult volunteers} with their capital resources and labor resources.
*First graders go to a district-wide stick horse rodeo and participate in rodeo events.

And it's a LOT of fun and great hands on & real life learning experiences...or it was!

Until Common Core...dun, dun, dun!

With 6 Common Core Units we were required  to teach, there just wasn't the time to adequately teach the economics during stick horse rodeo time because the rodeo falls right in the middle of our Cinderella Unit.  We have an economics unit for Common Core Unit 3 {Fables, Economics, and Their Life Lessons... check it out here}

but we teach it during November and December.  Because our FFA High Schoolers are involved with helping put on the stick horse rodeo, we couldn't reschedule the rodeo to fit with our economics unit.

SOOOOO....the first year we did Common Core {3 years ago}, we tried not teaching the unit and just making the stick horses.  But that was quite the undertaking and not much of a learning experience for the kids...It's the perfect activity when it's integrated with economics.  But when you take out the economics because you don't have time to teach that again, it just becomes a really really cute craft!

And last year we finally decided to give up making the stick horses altogether and just go to the rodeo.  The FFA students provide old stick horses for the kids to use, and we get to focus on making our Fairytale Ball at the end of May *spectacular*, so it all works out for the better, really!

Here's a look at our eventful day!  The Stick Horse Rodeo is held at Parsons Arena in Springdale, which is also home to the Rodeo of the Ozarks around July 4th.  The Rodeo is a great tradition around here {my husband and I love going even though we aren't even close to cowboys/girls!} and a big part of Springdale's agri-culture.

The Rodeo of the Ozarks Rounders performed for the kids in the stadium to start off the morning!


Then, we spent the rest of the day rotating through different "rodeo" themed stations.  Here are a few of them....

Pole Bending...


Milking "Cows"...


Barrel Racing...


Line Dancing...

Cooling off and listening to the "Singin' Cowboy" sing some songs from his trail...


Buckin' Barrels {the kids' favorite!}...

We also do face painting, a McDonald's sponsored drink break and class picture, and roping {we rope a metal bull head on a bale of hay}.  This year, we didn't get to do roping because they had scheduled it too late for us and we had to get our kids back to school to catch the buses! Boo!!

During our lunch break, the kids always enjoy checking out the cows in the barn next door.  They were out in full force today and louder than I've ever heard them!

MOOOOOOO!!!

Even though our kids don't make stick horses, we still wanted them to have a special souvenir to keep since it is such a great tradition for our kids.  So, the past 2 years we have made these *adorable* rodeo t-shirts for the kids to wear and take home.

This year we were also more efficient in making the t-shirts and glued the letters to a piece of scrap wood so our volunteers could stamp the the whole word at the same time instead of a letter at a time! The kids did the handprint in brown craft paint and added the eye, mane, and tail with a black sharpie! They just look perfect!

We also ordered bandanas for them to keep, but we didn't make them wear them today since it was going to be HOT outside!

Although we don't teach the full stick horse unit anymore, we do tie it in to our Common Core Cinderella Unit as best we can.

This week, we have been learning about North America and reading some Cinderella versions from our very own continent!  We stumbled upon this cowboy version of Cinderella and it.is.THE.perfect marriage for stick horse week and Cinderella!

The kids absolutely adore this version and it's a great way to talk about the Wild West culture of North America and the Texan setting of this book!

We also read Cindy Ellen which is another cowgirl version of Cinderella and perfect for North America and Rodeo week!

If we have time, I like to do a few things from my Cowboy Mini-Pack like reading Gail Gibbons' Cowboys and Cowgirls and labeling the resources a cowboy and his horse need...This year, my kids will be doing it with a sub tomorrow!

I also plan on having them make a cowboy or cowgirl to go with their Stick Horse Rodeo narrative writing next week!  They always turn out so cute. This sample is from a few years ago when we did the "full on" unit and they wrote about what it would be like to be a cowboy/cowgirl. This craft is also included in my Cinderella Common Core Unit since it ties in with Bubba the Cowboy Prince and Cindy Ellen.

All of these activities plus vocabulary cards, matching games, and directions and supplies for making stick horses are included in my cowboy mini-pack. {My next project is to work on updating this packet to include some of the economic activities we used to use to teach the economic vocab in a cowboy-friendly way!  I'll be posting it on my Facebook page when it is completely updated!}

While there are moments when I miss producing stick horses with the kids...{here's a pic from a few years back. LOL!}
Lost among the stick horses!
 ...I'm glad that they still get a souvenir and get to experience the rodeo! It is such a memorable day for the kids, no matter how exhausting for us all!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hoppy Easter!

Yes, I'm corny.  Come by it naturally! {Proof: morning text messages between my mom, dad, brother and me included phrases like "Hoppy Easter," "Have an Eggcelent day," "Eggsactly," and "Happy Easter to all of our Peeps!"  I love my corny family!}

We got so busy this week with Cinderella business {plus I was out one day for a meeting}, that we just didn't get to much first grade Easter stuff this week. At all.  There's always next year, right??

But my Easter weekend was jam.PACKED! with family, fun and lots of memories.  So here's to a more personal post today!

As a word of caution: If you don't want to see like a bazillion Easter pictures of my family and the cutest toddler on the planet, then just stop reading now.  You have been warned...

We started off our Easter weekend early by taking family pictures on Thursday afternoon.  I feel so incredibly blessed to not only have a father-in-law that is a photographer, but to have one that is the BEST photographer around!  Each time we take pictures I think that they are for sure my favorite.  Until the next shooting. And the next. And the next...
 Bringing the oxfords back...


I just love my sweet little family of 3...


 I.heart.tulips.



On Saturday, we went to our church's Easter Egg Hunt.  And hunted eggs.  That is if you call "hunting for eggs" slowly strolling through the grass while 2 and 3 year olds run by you full speed ahead...

Cooper ended up with 3 eggs. Three! But he didn't care.  He had a blast just putting those three in his bucket.  And then stealing his cousin Jax's Easter eggs from his basket...

Ahhh, cousin love.  Hey! A boy's gotta take care of himself, right??  At least he gave Jax a "thank you" hug after politely snatching them from his basket...

I have a feeling next year's hunt is going to be a little bit more of a faster pace. And more of a fight from Jax on Easter eggs!

When we got home, we dyed Easter eggs.  Cooper was less than thrilled about this after the first few minutes or so.  But he manage to survive it all and even gave us a smile or two!
Ready to get his dye on! Thanks for the bunny glasses, Mimi and Doc!




We added our dyed eggs to my fresh tulips and I think it looks perfect!

Even though Sunday was Easter, Cooper got one of his gifts from the Easter Bunny early on Saturday.  Sunday was busy enough as it was and we wanted him to have time to play with it.  Plus, how was said "Easter Bunny" supposed to fit that in a basket?!?!

Sunday we went to church, just like normal.  For a lot of people, Easter is one of the few Sundays they come to church.  But not us.  So, in some ways, Easter Sunday is just your normal Sunday for our family.  But this year, I started thinking about Easter from God's perspective.

See, I've always thought about Jesus, and his sacrifice, and how unselfishly amazing that is.
Jesus, and his resurrection, and how miraculous that is.
Jesus, and his atonement, and how merciful that is.

But teaching my Preschool Sunday School babies about the Easter story gave me a new perspective this year.  We are using John 3:16 as our unit Bible verse and we have been practicing it all month.

"For God so loved the world, that He **gave** his only son..." John 3:16

I've read this popular verse a thousand times.  I've heard it quoted from the pulpit just as many times.  I've even heard my pastor preach on this verse specifically and the word GAVE in the verse.  But until quoting it with my 3 and 4 year olds, I never quite {{got}} it.  Our Heavenly Father gave his son.  His baby.  His pride and joy.  His beloved.  His one and only.  And He did that for the "best" and the "worst."  Including me.  Including you.

When I think about how much I love my son, my only son, I am overwhelmed.  Who would've thought that I could be capable of such a strong and unique love? And yet, I am so UNwillingly to choose to give my son to die. Not gonna happen people.  Not now.  Not ever.  Not if I have my way.  But God did choose to give His only son.  And why?  Because of his love for me and you.  I'm sorry, ya'll, but there's not one person on this planet that I would willingly sacrifice my son's life for.  Not one.

What a humbling feeling to see God's love for me through my mommy lenses.  It gives me just a bit more of an understanding of the sacrifice that God gave {not just Jesus} as well as the depth of love He has for me.

After church, we went over to my in-laws' house for Easter lunch and a family egg hunt.  With only two egg hunters this time, and Cooper being the oldest by almost 11 months, this hunt was more his speed!  


I stuffed a few eggs with one M&M, goldfish, cheerios, animal crackers, wheat thins, and quarters.  I know some of those "stuffings" sound less-than-stellar, but our little guy was ecstatic about it all--especially the quarters!  You can't have Easter celebrations without sweets, but I didn't want to go over board for my healthy-eating toddler!  What's important is that he enjoy it.  And he did!  AND he also requested that we pray before Every.Single.Egg.  He would not eat anything in an egg unless we had prayed...Guess he's got that down!

I left a few of the eggs empty because I had so many eggs.  But during the hunt I just casually made a comment about it being like Jesus' tomb {like one of those ideas that just randomly pops in your head out of no where and you pretend like you planned it that way all along!!}  It might be kinda corny, but I actually thought that might become a tradition for our little family--leave a few eggs empty as a simple reminder of the resurrection! What's the prize in a "empty tomb" egg?? Salvation, of course! {Don't remember who exactly to credit that thought to, but it was one of my family members, and not me!}

Plus,  Cooper got to dig in to his Easter basket from Mom & Dad! {bucket was inspired by Pinterest!}

I can't imagine a more perfect way to celebrate the resurrection of my Savior and the undeniably selfless gift God gave me!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Cinderella Around the World

We're continuing our Cinderella Around the World Unit.  This map is posted in our room and we have been referring to it throughout the unit. As we read each version of Cinderella, we add the book cover to our map to show the setting of each story.  This is a great reference tool for the kids throughout the unit.
This week, we focused on Africa.  Our message time this week was about Africa.  During our message times, I write a paragraph and students help read and predict what I will write.  We reread the whole paragraph after I write each sentence.  Then, the kids get their own copy of the message to put in their poetry/shared reading binders.  {There is an informative message on each continent in my Cinderella Unit Packet.}  Since the messages are only 5-7 sentences, it gave just enough information to get the kids interested in Africa and asking questions!  So, Monday, after our message time, I gave each student a sticky note and they wrote an "I wonder" question about Africa.  Then, they posted their questions on our wonder wall in our room.


The goal is to get kids asking good questions, and then be motivated to listen for and answer their questions.  Once we find the answer to their question, they write the answer on their sticky {or sometimes I write it if we answer their question as a class} and we move their sticky off of their wonder wall "bubble" to the Key Questions board as an answered question.  Honestly, I haven't been as good at setting aside time to allow kids to write down their questions as I have been in the past.  But they were just so interested in the continents the past two weeks that I just had to make time to do it this week! And they loved it...I need to be better and making the time for this during EACH unit!  After all, good inquirers, make good learners!!

Later, we read books about Africa and charted our learning on our anchor chart.

The versions of Cinderella we read this week were Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters

and The Egyptian Cinderella.

We pretty much followed the same pattern as last week with these books and then voted on our favorite African version of Cinderella.  This is the third year I've taught this unit, but this was the first year that Mufaro's didn't when the popularity contest! Clearly, each class of firsties has a mind of its own!

Next week, we are moving on to North America and cowboyin' Cinderella up a bit!