Earlier this week, we had a guest custodian in the building covering for our regular night technician. As he entered my room and introduced himself, he began to look around soaking in the decor of the room. Gazing about, he then asked if this was the social studies room. I proudly said to him that it was actually first grade! His response to me was "It's good to get them thinking early."
I couldn't agree more! Social studies is the key. I can't imagine a day going by in my classroom without a conversation entering into geography and history.
Space it a big thing to me. It makes me happy to have my room filled with images that might spark a child's inquisitive nature. Why not fill their heads with stories of leaders, inventors, musicians, artists and those that opened doors for others to follow. There are too many to count, but I plan on doing my fair share of door opening to the many stories we are all connected with!
Today, my husband and I returned from running errands to find this little gem in our mailbox (yes, my kids know where I live). Such a fun surprise from one of my first grade students from this last year. Silas has been very busy!
Earlier in the day, I had been speaking with a retired superintendent from Kansas about writing. His comment was that kids need to be writing all the time. I explained to him, that in my classroom and with my cross-curricular approach, we write a lot. By the time my students leave first grade, they have written a USA atlas on all fifty states, as well as a book on United States history.
I use Moffat as my vehicle for my state studies, with the students referencing powerpoints that I have created with my travel photographs as a reference. The stories they come up with are rather magical. The only hitch is that they must include appropriate references from that state.
With that being said, all of my students went to Build-A-Bear in May after they saved their money as part of our personal financial literacy unit. The students all made their own Moffats and named them. Silas named his Cletus.
Take a moment to look at the fun story that I received today in my mailbox. Thanks Silas for the terrific surprise! It's great work!
August 1st is Colorado Day! As the unscheduled days of summer come to a close, my husband and I enjoyed a peaceful, early morning walk through one of our new, favorite outdoor spaces, Red Rock Canyon. Our goal was to retrace our last hike so that I could photograph Moffat in the quarry for a new Colorado Springs alphabet book. The trails in Red Rock Canyon are substantial and on a weekday morning, fairly empty. We strayed from our intended path and enjoyed new scenery along the way. Next time we want to look at the well-know "Section 16" that I have heard so much about.
I am pondering starting a new Colorado Springs alphabet book. We have truly enjoyed our summer in the city (I was even home for the entire month of July) and have new ideas buzzing through my head. Additionally, I have been inspired by the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum's new exhibit Story of Us done in an alphabetical format. Q is notoriously a tricky letter, so the quarry section of Red Rock Canyon was perfect.
Can't think of a better way to enjoy the start of Colorado Day. Now I need to do some more research and planning!!
Moffat at the top of the Manitou Incline
For years, my students have been asking me when Moffat's birthday is. As a five or six-year-old, birthdays are a really big thing. I have thought about it for a long time, not knowing what to tell my kids.
The answer came to me very recently while I was organizing pictures. I realized that it was ten years ago this Mother's Day weekend that Moffat took his first family trip to San Francisco. My, then, 9-year-old daughter, carried Moffat around for the entire trip in a backpack.
I have very fond memories of that Mother's Day, enjoying a nice, long walk along the beach of the Pacific Ocean. We enjoyed a relaxing lunch at the Park and Beach Chalet, at the very west end of Golden Gate Park. This trip marked the beginning of many trips that my family would take with Moffat in tow. One reason I enjoyed having Moffat along, was that it gave me the opportunity to photograph the many spectacular settings on our travels without my kids making faces and not wanting mom to take pictures. It also gave me the opportunity to take my travels back to my classroom to share with my students.
I would never have guessed at that time, that Moffat would be alive, and VERY well, ten years later. I am proud of the work that I have done in using him as a teaching tool. To this day, there are over 10,000 pictures of Moffat across the country and a couple hundred students have adopted Moffat at home as part of our extended learning.
Outside of the classroom, it has been a joy to see Moffat being adopted by the next generation of young learners. This weekend, Moffat enjoyed some birthday festivities with some of his younger fans. Life is good when there is homemade birthday cake and sand castle cake to be had. Moffat traveled safely in carseats as he went to the beach and then was later tucked into bed after a long weekend. All the while, he was loved and well cared for. My favorite picture is that of my own daughter, now grown, sharing Moffat with the next generation.
I dream of what Moffat might do in the next ten years. He is something and he is part of the family. Happy 10th birthday Moffat!!
It's #FridayWithFriends and I thought today would be the perfect day to introduce my dear friend Jill. Today's her birthday and I wish I could celebrate with her!
Jill and I met at the NEH Benjamin Franklin Institute in 2011. It was the first one I ever attended. I can remember being quite fascinated by this teacher that taught at a museum school. It is a concept I am still very intrigued by. As our time came to a close, we said our good-byes, connecting on Facebook. I then learned of her upcoming trip to James Madison's Montpelier. She graciously accepted to host Moffat for her trip and the rest, as they say, is history.
To this day, she is one of Moffat's biggest champions. Despite the multi-state difference that separates us, we reach out to each other regularly for professional support and advice. Our friendship began with a stuffed rabbit. I love seeing the adventures she and her family participate in, with Moffat often tagging along. I think it is best to have Jill sum it up. The following is a post from her blog.
Here’s the thing…I carry around a bunny.
Yes, I am in my late 30’s.
Yes, it’s a stuffed bunny.
No, I don’t care what I look like with it.
Yes, my family is occasionally embarrassed by the bunny.
Yes, he’s kind of a part of my family.
His name is Moffat (think Flat Stanley, but way cooler). He’s met presidents and authors. He’s traveled the world. He is always a conversation starter. He has built friendships. He’s taught lessons. He’s opened the world for students and for the crazy adults that carry him around as only a stuffed bunny can do.
I figured that I better go ahead and introduce Moffat because chances are he will show up in my blog. He’s already the star of his own blog.
I met Moffat in 2011 at a National Endowment for the Humanities Institute on Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. When kindergarten teacher, Christy, introduced herself to all the participants on the first day she also introduced Moffat, explaining that Moffat was how she brought history and geography to her young students. “Everything is more exciting with a stuffed bunny in front of it.” I watched during the week as Christy posed him in front of buildings and with interpreters. Moffat became participant number 41 in our group of 40 teachers. I didn’t think much of it except that Moffat was an ingenious way to make history exciting to young children.
Fast forward to 2013 when Christy saw I was at James Madison’s Montpelier. She messaged me and asked if she could send Moffat my way. She didn’t have any pictures of him at Montpelier. I obliged. He arrived on the last day of my visit and was a hit with everyone. I found out the bunny was fun to have around. I posed him all around the estate and even took him to a Civil War camp the following day. I kept him as I returned to Florida so I could snap a few pictures of him in front of Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine. And, before I knew it, Moffat was a permanent fixture in my house and the one thing we never forget on a trip. The first few years we had Moffat my son happily carried him and posed with him. Now that he is middle school, he is too cool for all that.
Moffat has made friends with me all over the United States. This little inanimate object has brought lots of people together. Check him out at http://www.moffatstravels.com/.
Happy Birthday to one of my heroes, Dolly Parton! One day I dream of meeting you. In the meantime, I thoroughly enjoyed teaching main idea and primary source analyzation while listening to your songs. More samples to come! We have projects to do in first grade.
This post was supposed to go up last week until the terrible bug attacked my ENTIRE class! Anyhow...
I can't imagine not teaching cross-curricularly. It is such a fun and effective way to tuck so much in and the kids make connections. Last week, our states of study were Tennessee and Mississippi. Chattanogga is home to the Moon Pie factory, supporting the local economy. So of course, we needed to eat Moon Pies!
To meet multiple standards, we started out by looking at a MoonPie package to see what information we could learn from it. The students discovered that the Moon Pie is celebrating 100 years in 2017. We even did the math to double check. We learned the location of the factory and checked for nut allergies for a classmate. We then watched the Youtube video tour of the factory. The kids had to listen for how many Moon Pies are made daily and what ingredients are in a Moon Pie.
We then transitioned to the carpet to do a poll checking to see how many students had tasted Moon Pies previously. Only one out of the 23 there (yet more math). My daughter was in this afternoon and read the great story, "Jimmy Zangwow's Out Of This World MoonPie Adventure" by Tony DiTerlizzi. Such a fun story!
Our current writing focus is opinion writing. The students are modeling their writing with the OREO model (opinion-reason-explain-opinion). That a better opportunity to work on that writing than while sampling vanilla and chocolate Moon Pies. They then added some facts from the video and an illustration from the story. All in all, it was a rather grand afternoon of work!
We met for the first time the summer of 2013. His incredible tan color, calm, quiet, almost stoic demeanor, and his willingness to participate in all group activities drew me to him. It was on a battlefield in Gettysburg that our love story started, the tale of Tara and Moffat. I can honestly say that I never would have imagined that my favorite travel companion and history enthusiast would be a stuffed rabbit, but now that we have joined, there is no one I would rather share my adventures with.
I met Moffat through another Moffat keeper, Jill Cross in Gettysburg. I then had the distinct privilege of traveling with Moffat to Boston, and Washington D.C. in year following our chance encounter. It was while we were bonding as roommates at the Anderson House in Washington D.C. that I decided to reach out to Christy to obtain my very own Moffat. Much to my excitement, and my nieces, and my students, Moffat arrived that summer and became a true fixture in my classroom.
Everyone I know for the most part that is Moffat handler teaches elementary school, so I was nervous about how middle schoolers would respond to this stuffed character, my worries have long since subsided, as they love him. He comes on field trips with us, just last year he saw King Tut, tomorrow he is taking in a fashion exhibit. He travelled with our eighth graders to Washington D.C. last summer, and he is fought over when I use him as a teaching aide in class. The students want to interact with him, they want to hear the stories, and see his pictures. Moffat was even had his picture in the yearbook last year, and will again this year. He has become a known and loved entity within our school and I couldn’t be more tickled about that fact. He lives in my display case most of the time, surrounded by images of his adventures, and daily I see students stop to look at his pictures and smile. There is something about my floppy eared friend that makes even the coolest middle schooler a fan.
wife, mom, teacher, author, history nerd and the lady that carries around a rabbit