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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Last Day of School=Field Day

I love field day. I have very fond memories of helping my mom set up for field day before the kids came to school. She was the P. E. teacher for our entire district. Five schools, K-8. She was well loved. Here in Frenchboro, we do things a little differently than I remember, but it's still a blast and the kids look forward to it. They get to choose the games we play, and that's how things like 'the buoy toss' come about. Have you ever participated in the buoy toss? A classic, apparently. Unfortunately I am the one in the field marking the spots where the buoy lands. Yet again this year, I almost died by buoy. Not everyone can say that. My personal favorite, though, is the water balloon toss. On a hot day, with a big group of kids, nothing beats it.
Not even the obstacle course. This year the 5th and 7th graders made the course. It wasn't until we started setting up that it occurred to Dylan that he himself was going to have to fit through that tiny wooden square that he had built for the occasion!
Here's Elijah getting low to shimmy through the final obstacle.
Austin making it look easy. Size certainly mattered for this last one as all the older kids were wearing it like a dress as they stood up, while the little guys just scooted right through with no problems.
The sponge race. Each team had 2 minutes to try to fill their buckets by running from a water bucket out in the field, filling their sponges, and then running back to squeeze the contents into their empty bucket. It was a close race with both teams getting about 2 inches of water in the bottom.
Tug of War. Some of the adults joined in for this one.
They were pulling with all their might. Tyler's team ended up victorious, but it was a hard won battle as the teams were pretty evenly matched up.
Egg race. Can you really call this a race? It's a relay, but there wasn't much speed involved.
Only two eggs were smashed which I found incredible. Maybe because they were all choking up on the spoon, but we didn't mind as we had to play baseball on that field after it was over...who wants to slide into home covered with yolk?

And to cap it all off...a baseball game, that continued well after school ended. What a great way to finish off a terrific school year.
Looking back on all that we've done this year, all that we've learned, all the memories that were made, makes me smile. Great year. Great kids. Great school. Great island. Thanks for everything make us look forward to coming in to work every day!

Summer Reading

Marlys came in to talk to the kids about a summer reading opportunity for them over at the library. The kids will be able to read books as a group and have book talks, with refreshments and activities to keep it fun. They'll be meeting once per week to talk, but can also come in for silent reading time as well.

Summer reading is incredibly important when it comes to student achievement. If kids do no reading at all, they will be 2 1/2 months behind those who did do reading. That's time that can't be easily 'caught up' when they come back to school in the fall. Over the years, this can mean that students who don't read or do any academics over the summertime can be reading YEARS behind students who do! So, I was thrilled that Joey, an old Frenchboro student is volunteering to help out this summer over at the library, along with Marlys and a few others. This is such a
great opportunity for Frenchboro students, and kids who spend their summers out here. I hope it's very successful and has a high participation rate. THAT MEANS YOU, FRENCHBORO KIDS!!! I will have a special treat waiting for all who participate this summer. You know that usually means yummy food, so BE THERE!

I'm not above bribery.

For all the students who complete their assigned summer homework in reading and math, we give a big party in the fall. When Saylor saw her math packet, she looked at Mr. Finn and said, "I hope these are divided up by family!" Nope. That's all yours!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

2nd Frenchboro Fun Fair

Our big fundraiser is the Frenchboro Fun Fair, a gala affair with games, prizes, art for sale, and to top it all off...a pie in the face. Here's Seth playing the beanbag toss.
The kids run everything. They are scheduled at half hour increments to run the different booths and then they have some free time to go around and play the games. The tickets are all 50 cents each and each game takes one ticket to play.
We have a bake sale, too. Johnny's getting some heavy reading in during a lull in business. Everything was made by the kids save the lemonade and cookies. The frosting experience with a group of 6-8 year olds was memorable. I think the word "Vesuvius" came up several times, since they'd been reading about Pompeii and their cupcakes resembled volcanoes. With frosting and sprinkles more IS better.
The 'lobster fishing' game. Hook a lobster and check to see if it's a winner!
Our art sale was a huge success. In fact, we had to close it down because all the art sold in under an hour.
The ticket booth, with folks lined up to get their strings of tickets.
Rob trying his hand at lobster fishing.
This is the ring toss. It is nearly impossible. I think only one person won last year. This year was no different. Proof that, yes, carnivals are rigged. We've got to devise a better system next time to ensure more wins!
Dylan and I with our prizes at the water balloon toss. Seriously...a seventh grade boy who had the opportunity to SOAK his teacher and didn't take it! I was amazed. My brother would have shown no mercy. It was always his idea in the summer to 'toss' it around. I don't think he ever got wet but I looked like a drowned rat.
Next to the bake sale we had a table with jars on it. On each jar was a photo of a student with a note written underneath telling why they deserved a pie in the face. For example, Jayde's was, "I don't brush my teeth" with a picture of her grinning. Some had kids scowling and writing that they didn't shower and others were saying that they hated lobster with a big smile on their faces. If you wanted to be the one to give them a pie in the face, you could sign your ticket and then put it in their jar.
Here's Tammy saying the ball in the bucket was rigged. I think soccer is her game, not basketball.
Yeah, if I looked this cute after having THREE children, I think I'd keep going and have an even dozen.

Grammy trying her luck at lobster fishing, as Saylor cheers her on with a noisemaker prize.
Outside we had the water balloon toss. Each participant paid a ticket and had to throw the balloon back and forth to each other a certain distance to win. Kids grade 2 and younger had a shorter distance. Unfortunately for Grammy, Teressa is in 3rd grade.
Katie taking it easy on son #1.
Johnny is looking scared, and Marissa is looking very happy at this opportunity! They remained unscathed and actually had quite a distance between them by the time they were finished.
As Marissa said, "Hey Elton, c'mon over here." These sunglass prizes were a hot commodity.
And then! Dum-da-dum! It was time to count the tickets for the pie in the face. Well, it soon became apparent that our kindergartener, Jayde, was going to win. She did. With 70 tickets. Folks, if you can't do the math, that's 35 bucks that folks dished out to see Jayde get a pie in the kisser. And guess whose name was on most of the tickets? DAD. Yup. Also note that the above picture is NOT Jayde. It is her older sister, Saylor. When Jayde saw that she had the most tickets, she was not terribly happy. And Dad was feeling a little nervous to pie his little girl who was in tears. So....Saylor volunteered to take the pie for sis! Can you believe that?! So cool.
Right in the kisser! Last time we did this inside. We won't make that mistake again. But last time I was ready with a towel to clean off the whipped cream.

Poor Saylor had to walk around like a frothing zombie for several minutes before I got my act together and toweled her off!

Awesome day was had by all. Thanks to everyone for showing up and being such good sports. We love all the enthusiasm and support from Frenchboro folks. And thanks to our great students who pulled off another successful Fun Fair!

Grammy's in the House

Jean's gonna kill me. She hates having her picture taken. I did ask if I could post one, but told her she could pick. She told me ONLY ONE picture was allowed. Jean is Saylor, Brody, and Jayde's Grammy. She grew up in Frenchboro and she went to this same one-room schoolhouse. She wanted to come for a visit and see how the old place was holding up. Well, not to let a guest pass by without sharing some of their own wisdom, we encouraged her to talk with the kids. She brought in old pictures from her family of Frenchboro when she was a kid, even going back to when her mom was young. It was amazing to see pictures of the schoolhouse, with the teacher stoking the fire in her skirt and heels. That's me alright...ha!
Jean told the kids about the outhouse and where it attached to the cold it was walking down that hallway in wintertime! There was just a lone teeter totter out on the playground. The pictures of the kids playing in the snow weren't so different than our own, but the old desks in the classroom pictures really contrasted to our big group tables. We loved hearing Jean's stories of Frenchboro now and then. Grammy's welcome back anytime.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Finished Tiles and Pots

These are some of the results from our recent smoke firing. The pieces that are shiny had a low-fire glaze put on them, but the tiles were pre-fired in a kiln and then finished in the smoke fire method. Smoke firing is great because you never know how it will look and each individual piece is very unique. I love the contrast of blacks and whites and greys.
The kids were pretty happy with how everything turned out. Because their tiles had a hole in them, the kids can hang them anywhere they wish.
Here's everyone with their finished tiles.
And Jessica also passed back all of the glazed and fired pieces that the kids had done on the wheel and during the last session.
Each family got a fruit box to pack in all their beautiful pottery to take home. Many many thanks to Jessica for all her time, energy, and expertise. For all the late night kiln firings, mixing glazes, air drying and firing over a hundred pieces, coming in to two hour long weekly ceramics sessions, preparing pounds and pounds of clay for student use, trips to the store for supplies and the myriad of other efforts that she made on behalf of Frenchboro students....Jessica-YOU ROCK!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Smoke Firing

As our last pottery class, we decided to go out with a bang. Jessica had saved out the tiles the kids had made earlier in order to smoke fire them. They had the chance to do a low-fire glaze as well, but only Brody (and I!) took advantage of that with a couple of our pieces. The idea with smoke firing is that the low heat, smoldering fire creates great black, grey, white, and even brown patterns on the ceramics.
So we loaded the kiln, aka trash can with multitudes of holes punched in it, with sawdust and newspaper with layers of ceramics in between. We started with a layer of sawdust and then put some tiles in, and then just kept layering as we filled up the kiln.
Then we lit it.
Perhaps I shouldn't post this picture of the kids getting their eyebrows singed off, but just look how they crowded in after we had them step back...mesmerized. Must. Get. Closer. To. Open. Flames.
And then, as soon as we covered it...look what happened. Nothing to see here. Let's step WAY BACK from the covered trashcan that poses no potential risk. And then, it went out about twenty times and Jessica had to come over all day to relight it. BUT the pieces came out GREAT. Check back in to see how they came out.

Beading Project

In honor of reading Julie of the Wolves, I brought in some traditional Siberian Yup'ik beading that I was given when I lived in Alaska. Miyax from the story, is Yup'ik, not Siberian Yup'ik, but the cultures are very similar, along with the language. In Alaska, they have Eskimo dancing, where the men drum and sing and everyone else dances traditional dances. Well, the girls put these beads in their hair.
And the Eskimo people who live in Russia who are of the same ancestry as the Siberian Yup'iks of St. Lawrence Island, wear these in their hair when they dance. One of my friends gave me this, which had been given to her by a Russian dancer during a cultural visit.
So, we tried our hand at beading. I have a ridiculous amount of beads, needles, threads, clasps...I'm a regular beading supply store, so there was plenty to go around.
They all chose three colors that they liked...yellow, metallic grey, blue and red were pretty big hits.
Well, the older kids felt very left out and they guilted me into letting them bead for reading class, too, even though they weren't reading the book. Guilt trips rarely work with me, but ask me for something when there are only three days left of school and let's just say I'm a little more...malleable.