Do you remember the book or books that caused you to fall in love with reading? For many kids The Boxcar Children books ignite their love for learning! Many have read these books and second grade seems to be the year to read them! One of my favorite times of year is when I get to pull that old well loved book off the shelf and read the story of The Boxcar Children to my second graders. I fall in love with Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny all over again each year as I read the story with my second graders. This year I decided that we would have a Boxcar Children day. I planned a day of turning our desks into boxcars, eating a snack based on what they eat in the book, races like the free-for-all, and time to watch the Boxcar Children movie! This past Friday we enjoyed a day full of Boxcar Children fun. We drank out of cracked cups like Benny and some of my second graders even dressed up like some of the Boxcar Children! What a fun day that my students nor I will soon forget!
This week I don’t have just one picture I have 5! I couldn’t decide which one to share so why not share all five? Right?!
1. Friday marked the end of our 6th reading goal. For each goal my kiddos need to read books and take comprehension quizzes on those books. In order to read each goal they need to read at least 6 books and score 85 percent or higher on the quiz. For our past goals I have had anywhere from 12 to 20 of my 25 second graders make their reading goal. Not this month this month all 25 of my second graders reached their goal! This huge accomplishment was made by my second graders who had already reached their goal helping their friends reach theirs. It was a beautiful sight seeing my kiddos come together and help each other. I strive to make my classroom a community or family that works together and this week I saw that happen!
2. This year in chapel we have started something new. Every once in a while we have a small lesson and then split off into small groups. Each teacher leads a group and the kids know their group by the color on their headband. I have had the privilege of leading the purple group! My group is make up of kids from PK1 through 2nd grade. Normally our small group time consists of prayers, sharing a snack together, and a short discussion. I truly enjoy this special time with these children of God!
3. In science lately we have been learning about plants and animals. My high school aid led a project this week helping my kids make their own habitats. These two girls found two bottles on the playground and decided to make another habitat! It is fun to watch kids take what they are being taught and use it on the playground and at home!
4. On Friday a lot of the high schoolers were going to be out of school for an activity. On Thursday I was talking to my friend who teaches high school math and she menshioned she didn’t know what to do with one of her classes because she was only going to have 5 kids there on Friday. I suggested that she could take her class to my room and her high schoolers could lead math games about telling time with my kids. It turned out great! My kids loved it! We had 5 groups and Miss Hayes even led a group!
5. One a week I get to hand out with my second grade girls while another teacher hangs out with the boys. During this time we can work through different things that are happening amongst the boys and girls. I love this sweet time I have with my girls and we usually make a craft or play a game or read a book. This week we role played how to solve arguments amongst ourselves. We used gold fish to help us role play! I already saw some of my girls using the strategies we discussed and practiced using on the playground this week!
I am going to try something new. I have found it hard to continually update this blog, between teaching, making the costumes for our schools musical, and much more I have been really busy. I am going to try to post a photo here every week to give you a glimpse into the happenings of second grade and my life here in Nicaragua! I hope you enjoy the first photo!
Today’s picture is a coloring page I painted this morning. Since finishing the costumes for my school’s performance of Beauty and the Beast two weeks ago I have taken a little break from sewing and been having fun with other creative outlets like painting! This morning as I was painting the saying in this picture sparked some thoughts; “some pursue happiness others create it” now as a Christian I believe my happiness comes from God, but I also believe that our God has placed talents and loves in our lives to give us happiness. For me, creating makes me happy, whether I am sewing, painting, crafting, or doodling it makes me happy to create something. This morning as I painted the morning away God was working in my heart and in my sour attitude from a bad day yeastsrday and He reastored my happiness. Hard times will come, sometimes I will feel stuck, but I am thankful for a God who knows how to make me happy. I am thankful for the God given ability to create! I am beautifully and wonderfully created by our creator and knowing that fills me with happiness!
Have a beautiful Saturday!
Thanksgiving is not just one special day each year, I believe Thanksgiving can be a season and it can also be a mindset. Yes, we should be thankful all the time, but truth is that in the busyness and craziness of life we often forget to be thankful. And the more we forget to be thankful the harder it can be. Each year as Summer turns to fall or in places with eternal summer (like Nicaragua), as August turns into September, September into October, and October into November we are reminded to be thankful. As a teacher, Thanksgiving preparations start a month in advance. We start practicing our thanksgiving program song, put together a bulletin board about Thankfulness, and I start planning a few extra Thanksgiving themed activities. Throughout the month leading up to Thanksgiving I am reminded over and over again to be thankful. It’s like during the winter when it is cold outside you are reminded to wear your jacket and depending on how cold it is maybe a hat and gloves; when you are anticipating Thanksgiving you are reminded to be thankful. This is the Thanksgiving season.
This year I am reminded that Thanksgiving should not just be one day a year. As preparations for Thanksgiving continued in my classroom and the days on the calendar showed the nearing of Thanksgiving, thoughts of thankfulness floated though my mind more frequently. Thankfulness for family, technology to stay connected with family, friends, community, students, supporters, mentors, a beautiful home, clothes, food, a savior, a Heavenly Father, and so much more. I even found myself giving thanks for dirty dishes in my kitchen sink because I am thankful to have a kitchen sink after washing my dishes out of my bathroom sink since May. When you are in the season of Thanksgiving it can sometimes seem easier to find things to be Thankful for. One of my second graders said to me, “Miss Johnson writing what I was thankful for was really hard the first time you asked us to write a list, but now that I keep thinking about it I would need one hundred pages to finish my thankful list.” This student is spot on. When we have not taken the time to be thankful it can be hard to come up with all the things we are thankful for, but when we let thankfulness flow throughout our mind and throughout our days being thankful becomes more than a holiday it becomes a mindset.
The meaning and purpose behind a day of giving thanks is beautiful, but this year I have learned that even a season of thanksgiving is not enough because seasons change. As I reflect on the past month I am amazed by the vast amount of things I have to be thankful for in the last month alone. As I look ahead to the Christmas season I want to continue to be thankful. In every situation I want to be thankful and give thanks to my God who continues to bless me more than I deserve.
Thanksgiving the holiday has come and gone, but let a mindset of thankfulness go with you throughout this Christmas season and beyond.
It is the rainy season here in Nicaragua and although it is not raining as much as it normally does (Nicaragua has been in a drought for a couple years) it has been raining more frequently. I am one of those people who loves the rain. Reading a book or watching a movie to the pitter patter of rain is one of my most favorite things. I also love rain because it symbolizes growth and rejuvenation. To me rain is refreshing. When it rains, I usually see it as a beautiful moment, but not today or at least not in the same way I normally do.
My day was going along like a typical Tuesday, it was lunch time when it started raining. I was sitting at the teacher’s lunch table eating my lunch and enjoying the gentle rain and the conversation with my fellow teachers. Then the bell rang and I was brought back to my teacherly duties. Side note-One lesson I have learned from being a teacher: kids are affected by many things, the weather is one of those things. This was especially true today. My kids were wound up at the end of recess and it took much longer than usual to get them from the pavilion where they eat lunch to the classroom and on the rug ready for Bible class. AND with each second that passed it rained harder and harder. With metal roofs and open air classrooms that also means it got louder and louder. I was trying to teach my Bible lesson, (I had a fun lesson planned which I was really excited to teach) but I was getting frustrated because after only a couple minutes I had several students playing with their neighbors hair, one student attempting a break dancing move, one student was sticking a pencil up their nose, two students pretending to play the drums on the head of the student in front of them, some students were talking, some were facing away from me watching the rain, and only three students were looking at me even though they clearly did not want to be. I wanted to scream, I had really tried to plan an engaging lesson, but I was not even engaging my easily engaged students. I stopped my lesson, frustrated and annoyed, I asked my kids in a frustrated tone why they were having such a hard time focusing. One kiddo in the front raised her hand and when I called on her she yelled, “MISS JOHNSON WE CAN’T HEAR YOU. THE RAIN IS TOO LOUD.” Oh, yea, that explains it, okay new plan. I moved them to their seats and had to yell out the instructions for an independent activity because yes the rain really was quite loud.
As I was walking around watching them work I was thinking about what had just taken place. It occurred to me that my teaching during that bible lesson and my students inability to focus is a lot like God and us, His children. God is trying to teach us and lead us in the right direction, He has something awesome planned for us. However, Satan is using everything he can to drown out Gods teaching and leading. Satan uses worldly expectations, selfish desires, unexpected road blocks, pain and suffering, and more to try and drown out God’s voice. It is sometimes hard to pull God’s voice out of all the noise. I needed to wait with my lesson until the rain quieted so that my students could focus on my voice. God often waits for a quiet moment to clearly speak to us or he will find a way to speak above the noise. My frustrations today have helped me appreciate God’s persistence and patience. He does not let the loud noises and distractions in our lives keep us from His plan, He does not get frustrated or annoyed with us, He keeps trying and finds the right moment to teach us the lesson we need to learn. Today I am thankful for the loud rain which has reminded me how I am often distracted and struggle to focus on God’s voice and His leading. I need to find a way to quiet the noise and remove the distractions in order to focus on God and hear His teaching and leading.
As my first year teaching and my first year living in Nicaragua comes to a close, some fellow first yearers and I decided to do a little reflecting on this past year. Together we came up with a list of things titled “I Never Thought I’d Ever” to describe the ups, downs, and crazy happenings of this past year. *Some of the things on this list did not happen to me but happened to a friend of mine. I hope you enjoy this fun reflection on my first year teaching and living in Nicaragua!
I Never Thought I’d Ever…
~have a monkey brought for show and tell.
~end up in the ER with a giant bug in my ear.
~get rear-ended by a motorcycle.
~participate in a corrupt system by paying off a police officer to escape a fraudulent fine.
~be pulled over 8 times in two weeks.
~witness water gushing out of my electrical sockets and live to tell the tale.
~kill a tarantula in my house.
~hear and see rolling waves of lava.
~vacation on a secluded Caribbean island for less than $500 (and snorkel with sharks and shipwrecks).
~get sent home from school unexpectedly due to political rioting.
~have an actual earthquake evacuation.
~want to go to the movies for a reason other than the movies. #AC
~have a shower-head that catches fire and pitches smoke at me.
~have a shower every day under something called a widow-maker.
~be called “grandma” by my students.
~own a car in another country.
~navigate the nameless streets of Nicaragua like a… pro!
~have every creature on God’s green earth fly through or live in my classroom (iguanas, bats, birds, rats, ants, geckos, beetles, cockroaches, termites, and butterflies, to name a few).
~watch a volcano erupt from our school office.
~teach in 102-degree heat. #noAC
~navigate public transportation in another language.
~have bronchitis for 3 months
~sweat all the time.
~be cold in 70-degree weather.
~love my second graders as much as I do!
~love living in Nicaragua as much as I do!
Through the good, bad, and the crazy I LOVE teaching and doing life in Nica land. God knew what He was doing when He called me here! This has not been a easy year, but I have grown and learned so much through it and would not have changed a thing about this past year! I am a better me because of it!
I am excited to see what year two brings!
I love each and every one of my students and I am so proud of them. There have been many times over the last week or so that I have noticed how far they have come, how far we have come since the beginning of the year. My 21 kiddos make me one proud teacher! Today I had one of those proud teacher moments! Every Friday the first and third graders at our school join my second graders in my classroom and we start the morning with a time of worship. Today, I decided we would sit down on the floor after the first and third graders left and we would continue worshiping as our devotions for the day. My second graders requested the songs Trust in You by Lauren Daigle and Fix Your Eyes by For King and Country. As I was sitting on the floor in the surrounded by my 21 kiddos I was in awe of the way my kiddos were beautifully singing their hearts out to their Father in Heaven. The words of the songs hit me and I felt the need to talk about them with my students. A beautiful moment took place as we sat, all on the same level discussing what God was telling us through those two songs. Their questions and answers to each others questions were amazing! They even found meaning in those songs that had not occurred to me yet. As I sat their listening to my kiddos, discussing our amazing God I was so proud. I was proud of the their growth over the past year, proud of their faith, proud of the young adults they are, and proud of the work God is doing and going to do through them. Moments like these are what make me feel blessed to be a teacher. There is not just one teacher in my second grade class, there are 22 teachers! My students teach me so much each day! I am blessed to be able to learn and grow alongside them!