Quick recap about me: When I first graduated from college in 1996, I taught eighth grade for three years. Since I'd been a middle schooler myself, though, I'd had an urge to work in journalism, so I left teaching to become a newspaper reporter in 2000.
Journalism was exciting and fulfilling, but once the babies came it became difficult to keep up that crazy schedule. If news breaks at 5 p.m., you're not going to be home for at least a few hours. When I was still nursing, that meant sometimes driving home with my arms stretched out to the side as I held the steering wheel. Mega milk overload.
So I turned to freelance, which worked perfectly while the girls were babies and toddlers, but a couple of years ago I started longing for the classroom again. It made sense to aim for teaching primary grades this time, since that's my world with my girls right now. I was lucky to land a wonderful job teaching kindergarten last year and first grade this year. It's hard work and I don't always get it right, but it's what I'm meant to do and I love it.
Last week was teacher appreciation week, and my firsties spoiled me rotten with gifts. My amazing room parents organized the week so that on Monday all the students brought me an apple, on Tuesday they brought me seeds for my garden, on Wednesday they brought me flowers, on Thursday they brought me sweets and on Friday they delivered sweet love notes. One of my favorite moments was on Tuesday when one boy handed me a ziplock baggie of dark, wet seeds.
"Here," he said, thrusting the bag into my hand.
"Oh, thank you! What will these grow?"
"Pear trees," he answered. "I got them from the pear I ate this morning for breakfast."
Right now I'm pressing the petals from the flowers they gave me. Once they dry, I'm going to use them to make bookmarks as a thank you to all the students. Ironically, the flowers are being pressed by giant stacks of papers to grade and lesson plans to organize.
The girls made gifts for their teachers, too.
Bo and I put together a bucket of herbs for her first grade teacher.
Inside the bag is a leaf-shaped bowl Bo made. This post about flower-shaped clay bowls from Deep Space Sparkle inspired the project. Patty from (fabulous, amazing) Deep Space used real clay, though. We used Crayola air-dry clay since we don't have a kiln.
Step 1: Roll out the dough.
Step 2: Cut out the shape you want (we didn't have a leaf-shaped cookie cutter, so we printed a leaf outline off the internet and cut around it with a knife).
Step 3: Line a bowl with plastic wrap. Press the dough onto the plastic wrap, forming the bowl shape.
Step 4: Let the dough dry for a few days.
Step 5: Once it hardens, paint with glossy acrylic paint.
Magpie took a similar route, but she has six teachers at her preschool (!!!) so we didn't have time to make a bowl for everyone. Instead she cut the dough into the shapes of letters (the first letter of each teacher's name), let the letters dry, painted them and then added a strong magnet to the back of each using a hot-glue gun.
Easy peasy, and the girls were quite proud of the results.
Salt dough works well, too, but you have to bake it and it doesn't get as smooth. We usually use that at Christmastime to whip up new ornaments for the tree. This was the salt-dough scene last Christmas: