Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pets in the Classroom

My "Pets in the Classroom" Grant aquatic turtle

"Why have a class pet? Won't it just be extra work?" "Won't it SMELL?" 'What's the point?" "Not in my classroom!" 

These were some of the responses I received when I announced that I had won a "Pets in Classroom" grant and would be getting an aquatic turtle for my classroom.  

My reaction - "Why would I NOT want a pet in my classroom?" 

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

I have always had pets since I was a kid. Granted, they were mainly cats and dogs (with a few rabbits thrown in the mix) and I obviously can't have dogs or cats as class pets, but the point is I still had pets. That thought got me to thinking about my students. I teach in a school that sees poverty (a pretty good bit of it) and I began to think about my students that don't have pets and what all they are missing out on.  

What are they missing out on you might ask? 

Well, LOTS! Pets give you a sense of responsibility and ownership - knowing that something depends on YOU to stay alive is an awesome feeling.  
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

By having a pet in the classroom, students are given an opportunity to be responsible for something other than themselves, and to gain respect for the life of other living things. By having a pet in the classroom, students are able to experience animals in an entirely different way! They are able to not only see the animal, but also touch and connect with the animal. 

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

Students get the experience of owning a pet and learn the responsibility of caring for another living thing. Also, studies have shown that the presence of animals tends to lessen the tensions in classrooms (Can I get an amen?) and can also improve attendance

Now how in the world can having a class pet improve student attendance? Think about it! You have a student who isn't crazy about school and has parents who don't really care whether their child attends school regularly or not - if you have a class pet, that child now has a reason to come to school. The students take ownership of the pet and want to come to school to care for it. 
It's a win for everyone!
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock
If you are interested in getting a pet in classroom, I recommend visiting Pets in the Classroom and reading about the different types of grants that are available. It is really simple to apply and the response time is about 3-4 weeks. Once you are approved, you will be sent coupons to HELP cover the cost of your pet. (Disclaimer: Your grant will not cover the entire cost. I didn't realize that when I purchased my pet, so I wanted to make sure that you were aware.) You simply take the coupons to the store that you chose and get your pet! Easy peasy! 

If you have a pet in your classroom, I would love to hear about it! Please share in comments! 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Table Rehab: the BIG Reveal!

So, last year I decided to cover my tables with wrapping paper and Modge Podge. Great idea, right? Sure, if you plan on leaving them that way and you don't have picky kiddos who pick holes and pull up pieces of the paper. The little holes and torn places wouldn't have been such a big deal if I had continued to use the tables for station activities and computers, but I decided to get rid of my desks this year and use tables, so now I needed the tables for my students' workspace! Should be simple, right? Grab the Goo Gone and a scrapper and get to work! Easy Peasy, right?

Wrong! As you can see from the picture, Goo Gone didn't work. It seemed no different than just scraping the paper off dry, which is what I tried next.

My daughter, Rylee, helping scrape the table.
Again, no luck. At this point my goal was to just get the tables smooth enough to recover with chalkboard contact paper and hope for the best. I couldn't quite get the table smooth enough with only a scrapper to suit the purpose of a student work space. I mean, this is where handwriting, directed drawing, and coloring would take place and any bump or ridge just wouldn't do!

So, my next step was to try sanding the bumps and ridges off.

I loaded up the tables in the back of my truck and carried them to my dad's shop to use his air compressor sander. The sander would have worked eventually I think, but by this time my dad was helping me and he said he had a better idea.

My genius Daddy :)

He does a little bit of auto body work (mainly painting) and he wanted to try using some of his extra strength paint thinner-remover-stuff (sorry I can't remember the technical name) to see if that would release the glue enough to scrape it off. So he brushed it on and we let it set for a few minutes, then got to work scraping.

Photo courtesy of Rylee
Praise the Lord! It worked! We finally got all of the paper scraped off and then my dad went over it with the sander to get of the left over glue, and "Voila`!"

A nice, clean, smooth table! We worked and got the other tables cleaned off and moved them back into my classroom.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the way that tables changed
the entire look and feel of my classroom! It actually looks and feels like a kindergarten classroom. I can't wait to get the rest of my room put back together and share my classroom with you! 
Hope you enjoyed reading about my table rehab. 
What is something that you have fixed up to use in your classroom?