November 13, 2016

Dry Island Disaster - Silly Story #2

Below is the next Silly Story, inspired by my class. To help practice story elements, they provide the characters, setting, problem, and solution, and I combine them all together before they add the illustrations. Please enjoy!

Dry Island Disaster

SpongeBob was taking his dog Pepper out for a walk. They had a great time trotting around the ocean floor, playing fetch with some clam shells, and playing hide and go seek around the coral reef.

As they were walking back to their pineapple home, Pepper started barking loudly.

“Rawf! Rawf Rawf!”

“What’s wrong Pep?” asked SpongeBob. The barking just got louder and louder.

Rawf! Rawf! Rawf!”

SpongeBob heard a faint cry in the distance. “Help!”

As the pair followed the sound, it was clear someone needed help.

The sound was coming from a nearby island called Pickleton.

There was only one house on Pickleton Island:  Marina’s mansion.

As SpongeBob and Pepper approached, they could tell the cries for help were coming from their good friend Olaf the snowman. He was struggling to stay afloat in the water.

“I’ll help!” declared SpongeBob.

Before he could, Pepper was already doggy-paddling towards Olaf. He finally reached him and grabbed him by his carrot nose, but Olaf was way too heavy for Pepper. Now both of them needed help.

SpongeBob sprung to action. He jumped into the water and using his spongy body to soak up water.
And more water. And more water.

SpongeBob was no longer himself. He was gigantic, much bigger than Pickleton Island. He had soaked up all the water. Olaf and Pepper were able to walk to the front door of Marina’s mansion.

Just as they got there, Marina snapped open the door. “What’s going on here?”

Olaf answered, “I fell in the water  so Pepper came to save me and then SpongeBob came to save him and now. .  . . .he’s huge and the island is dry!”

“I think I can fix this.” Marina invited Olaf and Pepper to the roof of her mansion and had SpongeBob lay down on the ground.

“On the count of 3, we jump on Bob. Ready. 1! 2! 3!” The trio jumped onto the supersized sponge. When they landed, the water burst out the side and re-filled the island. SpongeBob was a little dazed but happy to be back to himself again.

SpongeBob joked, “Anybody wanna go for a swim?”

November 4, 2016

Back on the Saddle - Silly Story #1

It has been a crazy 2016. A good crazy but crazy nonetheless. Blogging here hasn't really been a priority. In fact, any time for any type of writing has been harder and harder to come by. To get the creative juices and motivate myself to try and get some more time for writing into my life, I decided to combine writing with my classroom and came up with what my class and I call Silly Stories.  Essentially, to review story elements, I ask the class to provide characters, a setting, a problem, and a solution and I scramble to write a silly story with the information they provided. The stories may not be award winners but they certainly get the creative juices flowing and I absolutely love watching my kids react to the story they helped create.  

Below is our first story.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Elroy And Elsa

Elroy the Elephant was walking to the candyland village to pick up the Gary the gingerbread man. They had a slumber party planned at Ricky’s house.

When Elroy and Gary got to Ricky’s they played games, made popcorn, and watched a movie.  After the movie was finished, they decided they wanted to go on an adventure.

Ricky’s little sister, Elsa, asked, “Can I come along?”

“No way! You’re just a little girl,” the boys replied. Elsa walked away slowly.

“Let’s all go the volcano!” Elroy, Gary, and Ricky sprinted towards the volcano. They ran up the side of the mountain and when they tried to stop, they ended up smashing into each other and Elroy fell right in. He was a huge elephant so he got stuck in the crater and couldn’t get out.

“Help! Help! Help!” Elroy screamed.  Ricky and Gary tried to pull with all their might but Elroy wouldn’t budge. 

Suddenly the volcano started shaking and quaking.

“Oh no,” the boys said. “It’s going to erupt!  We need to get Elroy out! NOW!”

They pulled again with all the strength they had. Still stuck.

Just when they were about to give up, they felt a chill behind them. They looked and saw Elsa, snow and ice forming around her.

“What are you doing here?” yelled Ricky.

“Even though you said I couldn’t come, I did anyways. I wanted to play with you. And now, I might even be able to help”

“How?” asked Gary.

“Stand back!”

Elsa lifted her hands and with a flick of her wrist, turned the volcano and all of the lava into an icy glacier.

Elroy was able to slip right out, though he was a bit chilly.

“Th th th th th thanks! Elsa!” he said.

“You’re welcome!” she said.

And from then on, Elsa was always allowed to play with the boys whenever she wanted.

July 6, 2016

2016 Resolutions Review

With 2016 past the midpoint, I thought it might be a good idea to review my resolutions from the beginning of the year and see how I am doing.

  • Turn my kindergarten classroom into a miniature nature center  - Well on the way. I've acquired lots of cool items and am just starting to prepare my room for the next stage
  • Revise some of my picture book manuscripts and maybe start submitting them a bit more regularly. You can't get published if you don't try. - I wish. While I have added many ideas to my picture book chart, my revising has come to basically a halt while other priorities have taken over. I have more recently dipped back into my writing.
  • Less pizza and more push ups! - I plead the 5th.
  • Learn how to type - Does hunt and peck really fast count? If not, then no.
  • Restore a prairie (bit by bit)  -Yes, with the help of my forest kindergarten friends.
  • Expand the forest kindergarten program I am blessed to lead -Definitely!
  • Less soda and more sit ups! - Can you plead the 5th twice?
  • Tweet better  (@TykeHiker) - Not so much.
  • Wake up earlier so I can better reach everything mentioned above :)  - Yes. With the help of my daughter (at least the waking up part).
Looks like I have some serious work to do in the remaining months of 2016. here we go.

April 10, 2016

The Easter Duck

On the first official night on vacation with old friends, what do you do? Get a babysitter and head out for a night out on the town. But with it being the night before Easter, the dyeing of eggs was essential before any adult festivities could commence.

After the eggs were all decorated, two sets of parents looked forward to a kid-free evening and were excited until about 8:30pm hit and we all were ready for bed. We did mange to make it to double digits before returning to the children and calling it a night. With an action-packed holiday ahead of us, we treasured any sleep we received.

In the morning, while enjoying bunny-themed pancakes, the rains that dominated Saturday held off long enough for an outdoor egg hunt and retrieval. In the excitement of searching for the Easter Bunny, we found the Easter Duck. She stuck around for a bit of the hunt but eventually flew off, leaving a multitude of plastic colored eggs behind. much to the appreciation of the two toddlers roaming the yard.

Once the egg hunt was completed, the rain returned and forced us all inside. Taking turns searching and finding baskets, the girls were incredibly patient during the presentation of Easter presents. Once all gifts were opened, the activity of finding baskets morphed into the game of "How much candy can we eat?" before it is taken away. With one girl being a PEZ connoisseur and the other eating anything she can get a hold of, it wasn't long before the candies were "re-hidden" until further notice.

Once the weather cleared, it was off for an Easter hike at James Island County Park. Check tomorrow for that wet and wild adventure.

April 5, 2016

The Carolina Chronicles Introduction

Being on teacher time means that taking a vacation means when the kids are out of school. Subsequently, you are joined by everyone else and their mothers. . . .literally.

Despite being on teacher time for the last decade, my family and I have been very fortunate to take some of the stress away by having generous friends strategically located throughout the country. This offers us a safe haven from the hustle and bustle of the "touristy" places and more of a "home" feel on our trips. This has been especially important sicne fatherhood took over just under three years ago.

This time around, we headed to the Carolinas for a week with family and friends.

After landing in Charlotte, it was into the rental car for the 2+ hour trek to our first home away from home in Charleston. Traveling to see close friends, their two daughters. and two dogs, we were entertained by listening to our beloved Badgers in the Sweet Sixteen. Sort of. Actually, we played a game of switching through every radio station possible in a desperate attempt to hear the broadcast, repeatedly attempting to get a signal to receive updates on our phones and failing miserably, and ultimately having a textfest with a friend to keep connected on the game's progress. Luckily for us, the radio did eventually emit a clear signal. Unfortunately, the first words we heard were the final score of the game, a dramatic but heartbreaking loss.  We didn't let that dampen our spirits. Charleston was juts a few miles away.

I usually only give my students nicknames, but for some reason, I nicknamed my friend's dog a few years back. When we arrived, Bearance Von Waggerson III greeted us with boisterous barking. He was accompanied by another furry friend named Randall, our good friends Shawna and the Doctor (apparently his real name is Ryan), their toddler Ruby AKA Ruby Duby and their sweet newborn Matilda, affectionately nicknamed Tilly Furtado later in the trip.

A week of adventure was ahead of us. Follow this blog the next few days and get a feel of all  this excursion had to offer.

Sneak peek:  it involves lots of turtles, fire ants, the Easter Duck, enthusiastic naked mole rats, and many other non-animal things.

January 31, 2016

Work Hard. . .Play Harder

This has been a transformational year in my teaching career. Besides starting a Forest Kindergarten program (and absolutely loving every minute of it, see Tales From the Trails ), my teaching style, beliefs, and implementation have all evolved to include something many consider taboo: play. 

Walk past my classroom at any point of the day and you have a high chance of seeing children at play. While the increased rigor of required curriculum and the ever-increasing expectations put on children at an earlier and earlier age, one might think I am wasting my time and putting my students at a disadvantage.

I couldn't disagree more.

In our classroom, we work hard and play harder. In fact, for chidren, play is work. Play is not something too avoid or push aside, It is to be embraced, implicitly practiced, observed, and practiced again and again and again. I am not just an observer. I am a participator. I am a player too.

Play allows for creativity, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration. These concepts are at the core of the buzz words 21st Century Skills. Its not rocket science though. Children can reach these goals when they are allowed to be children.

I could present research-based articles and insight from professionals in the field until the cows come home (where'd they go anyways?) but instead, I invite you to come to my indoor or outdoor classroom and play. You might just learn something. My kids certainly are!

January 2, 2016

Magnetic Memories

Analyzing one's refrigerator magnet collection can certainly tell you a good deal about a person. Their current life status. Their interests. Possible insights about their financial capabilities. I can't help myself but enjoy checking out the magnets of people I visit but at the same time, I wonder what the collection on my fridge tells them about me.

If I were to guess, I'd say that it tell them alot. And not just because my fridge is essentially hidden behind a sea of magnets.

For one,  I have a hard time getting rid of my childhood. I have somewhat old and withered magnets of my childhood sports heroes.

Secondly, I must like zoos and animals as there are over a dozen form various zoos and aquariums from all over the country.

Thirdly, I am a sports fan. A smorgasbord of current and past team schedules are patchworked all over the place.

Lastly, a true analysis must be done as part of a longitudinal study because while some aspects have stayed constant, the magnets are consistently evolving.

From childhood creations to magnet memories from tourist traps.

From wedding save the dates to birth announcements.

From second birth announcements to full blown family photos.

I find magnetic collections unusually fascinating. It has been fun seeing my own collection evolve from being a child to having my own. I can only imagine how it will evolve in the future. 

Either way, I am looking forward to it.

January 1, 2016

A New Start. .Yada Yada . .Blah Blah

Every new year brings new resolutions that tend to be forgotten about before January even ends. While I am very guilty of failing to live up to my goals with each passing year, I usually end up having fun in the attempt.

2015 was pretty awesome for me, but that doesn't mean I don't have high hopes for 2016. Besides being a better father and husband and taking care of myself, there are some other not so traditional goals I have in mind. In no particular order, I hope to accomplish these things in 2016;

  • Turn my kindergarten classroom into a miniature nature center
  • Revise some of my picture book manuscripts and maybe start submitting them a bit more regularly. You can;t get published if you don't try.
  • Less pizza and more push ups!
  • Learn how to type
  • Restore a prairie (bit by bit)
  • Expand the forest kindergarten program I am blessed to lead
  • Less soda and more sit ups!
  • Tweet better  (@TykeHiker)
  • Wake up earlier so I can better reach everything mentioned above :)

Wish me luck!