Tonight I designed the invitation to my retirement party, and started an invitation list. I know there are a few more names that will come to me, but I finally stopped at 216. I know I won't find contact info for all of them (mostly former students), and I'm sure a lot won't be able to come, but I was surprised at how many names I came up with. Actually, I think it's a little ridiculous.
I used my scrapbooks to find the kids' names I wanted. And what a trip down memory lane that was.
In recent years, I've pretty much known that I wouldn't really enjoy being a classroom teacher anymore. The expectations are too stringent, not much room for creative projects, way too much data gathering. But after looking through ALL my classroom scrapbooks tonight, I'm more convinced than ever. I have such wonderful memories of my classroom years, but I had forgotten about all the fun projects we did through those years, and how fun those kids were. The best times were probably when I taught fifth and sixth grade--the last ten years or so of my classroom time.
State Study--Each spring we would study the states, kids would create a book about a state and the final project would be a state parade around the school. They designed a float that had to be able to be pulled around the school. It was a blast.
Colonial Day-- we'd spend an entire day doing cooking, crafts, colonial games, and everyone would some to school dressed as a colonial person. There were three major projects we'd do over a month or so: one teacher would be responsible for each one, and the kids would rotate after about a week. Mine was always pretzel box dioramas in shoe boxes. The kids had to research a colonial business/building (blacksmith, school, cooper, etc..) then in teams of two had to design a diorama of that building, they had to make everything by hand, using junk around their house. The pretzels were glued to the outside as the very last thing--to look like logs. My favorite project ever. Another teacher taught how to make coil baskets, another one did leather tooling. We'd also make embroidered pictures and mount them in embroidery hoops for display. My last year I was in the classroom, I had my kids design and stitch their favorite 5th gr memory, and we had it made into a quilt. it's hanging in my office at school now.
Batteries and Bulbs--after this science unit, kids designed some project that used miniature light bulbs, then had to create it. So fun.
Rocket launch-- the last thing we did each year. We ordered model rockets for each kid, they constructed them, painted them, then we spent a whole afternoon launching them on the playground.
Earth Day--we'd always go to the local park and clean and rake and spend time making it better.
Back to School Night-- kids would bring in jeans, a shirt, and shoes. We'd stuff the clothes with newspapers to make it look like a person, they'd design their own face on a paper plate which we would tape to a ruler, which would then get inserted into the neck of the shirt. They would also trace their hands and color in fingernails, rings, etc. The last half hour of the school day would be spent in arranging the "stuffed buddy" on their chair so it looked like it was them sitting there. They'd always make the hands holding a pencil or writing something.
World War II unit-- after a long study of what it was like here on the home front during WWII, and also the holocaust, we had a Holocaust survivor come and spend an afternoon with us. What a memorable experience that was for the kids.
Wolf unit--I taught a wolf unit for years and years. We'd adopt a wolf or two at some wolf sanctuary in Minnesota or Washington. Finally I actually took a trip to both of those places and took pictures to bring back and show the kids.
Pen pal--we had a pen pal all year who was a firefighter at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. When he came home, he came and spent an afternoon with us.
Birds of Prey-- we studied owls, falcons, eagles, and then dissected owl pellets to delicately extract the skeletal bones of whatever the owl had eaten. Then the kids put the bones back together like a puzzle and made a display.
I was also so lucky to have great teammates all those years. We spent a lot of time together outside of school, which doesn't seem to really happen much anymore (or maybe it's just my school). I still consider a lot of those people close friends.
I'm so glad to have had all those wonderful memories. And that I have them all in my scrapbooks.