Thursday, November 28, 2013

I'm Thankful for being...Sick

Yes, you read my title post right, I am thankful for being sick!  Well, it's not 100% accurate...I hate being sick.  I'm pretty sure I had food poisoning from my lunch out on Sunday and Sunday night into the wee, early Monday morning was TERRIBLE!  I didn't think I could puke my whole stomach out, but I think I was very close to doing so in the last 48 hours.  I'll save you the utter, gross details for another post.  On that being said, I am still thankful for being sick because now I found a good time to write on my blog (which I do miss since I started my new job in China).*
Trying to stay warm (and not sick) during recess!
Since Thanksgiving is coming up, I wanted to count my blessings and share what I have been thankful for this year, especially in the last 4-5 months since I left America for China.

I thank God for:
2. My Family: Leaving my intermediate family in the U.S. to start a new adventure in China was a huge leap for me.  However, everyone was gracious to me and I was very fortunate to connect with my extended family in Hong Kong when I visited my grandma for her 80th birthday a couple weeks ago.
3. My Boyfriend: He should receive the Ultimate Boyfriend of the Year Award (or maybe decade?).  He has been so loving, patient, and understanding with me.  I just can't believe how lucky I am to have him and call him my own, even though we are on different time zones and continents!  6 years and we are still going strong. :)
4. Technology: FaceTime, Skype, Instagram, iMessage, email, internet, YouTube, Facebook, iPhone, SmartBoard...etc. The list goes on and on!  I truly don't think I could survive transitioning into a new, strange world without these things. I'm sounding like a typical Gen Y kid, but hey it's on my list of things I'm thankful for!
5. Starbucks in CHINA! Being able to see, smell, taste, something from America once in awhile (ok, maybe everyday...) is very nice to be thankful about.
6. Turkey!  I thought I wouldn't be able to taste Turkey until I landed back in the US or ordering an expensive, imported whole turkey, but thank God for Subway!
7. My readers and my blog: Connecting with teachers all around the world with diverse backgrounds, creative ideas, and teaming up as a global community gives me the chills!  You guys are the best!
8. My friends- Old and New, Near and Far :)
9. Fall weather= scarves and fall clothes
10. The Blue sky and clean air- It's strange how I check the pollution more often than the weather app now. 
11. My Ikea bed
12. My 8 precious students and TA- We are a small class but we are family and I love them all so very much!
13. Roommate nights- Being able to hang out and get to know my new roommate has been amazing so far. She is really God-given to me and I'm thankful for going through ups and downs with her.
14. Camera- To capture moments which may be hard to explain in words.  Just look up these hashtags to name a few moments: #sleepingchinamen #expatproblems #expatlife #livinginchina
15. Taxi Drivers, marketplace workers, waiters...people of China- For being kind and gracious to be when I ask them to take me somewhere in my broken Chinese or give me the benefit of a doubt when I say "Ting Bu Dong".  My favorite phrase meaning, "I hear you but I don't understand". 
16. My Ayi- Our cleaning lady (ayi=aunt in Chinese).  She is amazing when she comes and cleans our apartment.  Life is just better when you walk into a clean house.
17.  My School- I'm so lucky to teach in a school where everyone truly cares for each other, students and colleagues.  I love my ECC team!
18. China- As a foreigner in a country I'm not used to, I'm glad I am having a great working/living experience of a life-time.
19. My Oven- In China, people don't typically cook with an oven. I'm glad my job provided our apartment one so we can make yummy foods like cookies and stuffing.
20.Music- Life is just sweeter with music.  Anyone else listening to Christmas music as you are preparing for Thanksgiving dinner?
*I was so sick on Monday, I didn't finish this post until today- just in time for Thanksgiving day!

Having a Thanksgiving luncheon with kinders and their families!
Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of my special readers. :)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Class Assembly

Last Friday, my Kindergarten class lead our Friday morning assembly.  Every Friday, in every school department (ECC, Elementary, Middle, and High school), we have assemblies where we sing worship songs and learn something that benefits the students.  Class assemblies is when a class shares what they have learned with the school.  Also, the parents can come in and watch them perform. 

I was so nervous because this was my first class assembly ever and I only had the change to see one example the week prior.  However, my students were wonderful!  My TA or I didn't have to pull anyone out of our performance for being too silly or disruptive.

We did a skit based on Moses' story.  Here is Moses talking with the burning bush with the rest of the class being sheep.  They were TOO cute!  We sang a couple Bible songs but their favorite was definitely Who's The King of the Jungle.
Since I had the parents coming in to watch the kids perform for class assembly, I changed my bulletin board to a Moses theme.
The Moses craft is of Moses in the basket.  Here is a link where I got the craft idea from (Love pinterest!) but I changed it up by adding a brad on the basket to open and close the basket.  I love how adorable this craft turned out to be.  The reed hands add a nice touch and dimension to it. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

International Day- The Netherlands

My school had its International Day two weeks ago.  I started writing this post that night but never had the time to finish it until now!  The days were filled with short school weeks, lesson planning and parent/teacher conferences.  But I'm so glad they are over with!  This week is our first full 5-day week in a long, long time.

Each year, my school has an International Day where we celebrate a specific country for the whole week.  This year we learned about the Netherlands (Holland).  In my school (an international school in China), we have 2 families that are from the Netherlands. Apparently this is one of the biggest events our school produces because they went ALL OUT for this particular day. 
 This is the huge stage for students (ECC- high school age) and guests were able to perform on. 

Each ECC teacher gets a 3-D display to share with parents and on-lookers what we are learning for each unit or week.  Here is mine displaying what we learned about the Netherlands.

 My dad used to travel to Holland annually for his job when I was growing up.  He got me the wooden clogs as a gift.  It was adorable to see my kindergarteners trot around the classroom with them on.

 Miffy is basically the "Mickey Mouse" of Holland.  Here is a TV show, books, and merchandise about her everywhere!  We had a surprise visit from her and a Dutch lady.  The kids adore Miffy!
 For International Day at my school, everyone is encouraged to dress up in their home country's cultural clothing.  I didn't feel like dressing up "American" because dressing up in jeans and colors Red, White, and Blue didn't appeal to me.  So I resorted in wearing a Chi Pow (Chinese traditional dress).  Next year though, I'm planning on being the statue of Liberty. :)  The girl next to me is one of my Japanese students with her younger brother.  Her Kimono was so beautiful!
 We studied the Dutch artist, Vincent van Gogh.  We learned about his famous paintings and use of landscapes.
In my school we have about 25 countries represented through the students and staff.  I loved seeing everyone dress up, sharing and embracing a different cultures and backgrounds because that's what truly makes up our school.  I'm so blessed to be a part of a school that reflects so many walks of life!

Does your school do anything special to celebrate different countries or cultures? I would love to hear about it!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A perfect day in China

Today was a perfect day in China for me.  To make my post short and simple, I compiled a list of why I thought today was a perfect day.

1. I love Wednesdays! Who doesn't love hump day?  I especially love them because my students are at specials all afternoon.

2. My co-kinder teacher (Mollie) gave me a handful of Chai tea bags!  You wouldn't believe how incredibly difficult it is to find Chai tea that is easily assessable.  Starbucks and many of the coffee shops here in China don't have them!  Chai tea has always been my go-to drink, so Mollie has saved my life (and probably sanity) when I saw the tea bags!

3.  I loved my student's energy today.  I could see and feel their yearning to learn.  This week we are learning about pumpkins (one of my absolute favorite units to teach).  They were fully engaged today and were curious little learners.

4. Today was a student's birthday.  I love it when parents bring in cakes and/or cupcakes for the class.  Even though everyone is sugared up, my class always seems to be in a fun, giggly mood when there is a birthday.

5.  Today I saw the seamstress!  She is an amazing Chinese woman that can turn any kind of fabric into something fabulous.  She can make literally ANYTHING!  I already had her make owl pillows for my classroom and a dress.  I just love getting one of a kind stuff from her!  Today I asked her to make another dress from a cute chevron fabric I found in cheap street for only $4 (USD)!!!

I saved the best reason why I thought today was a perfect day for me....
6.  My boyfriend, Kevin, surprised me when a bouquet of red roses at school today!  Today marks our 6th year anniversary together.  I didn't think he was able to pull this romantic gesture since I am all the way in China and he's in Indiana, USA.  I got a phone call from the security guards at our school gate that I have flowers from someone.  When I got to the gate and saw the roses in the Chinese delivery guy's arms, my eyes swelled up with tears because I knew they were from my amazing boyfriend.  I'm so thankful to have him in my life!  This is the second year we've been away from each other on this special day.  Long distance is tough but worth it when you have someone super special. :)

I hope you are having a fabulous Wednesday as I did!  I'm hoping to post more of what I've been up to in both the classroom and in China!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Enjoying a Holiday Break in China

Wow, time flies by fast when you're living in a new country.  I can't believe I let a whole month slip underneath me without blogging about China.  I hope I don't let that happen again.

This past week, all schools in China are on a break.  They call it a National Day Break when always occurs the week on October 1.  What is National Day?  I realized I had no clue so I did some research with my trusty and reliable friend-- Google.

This holiday is a public holiday for the People's Republic of China to celebrate their national day and founding of People's Republic of China.  It is three days long, but for many schools they get the week off. This holiday is celebrated throughout all of mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.  How do people celebrate? There are many festivities such as fireworks, parades, and concerts.  The fireworks are constant and people are always lighting them up all day.  The noise can get very loud and it's not a pleasant sound to wake up to.

Many Chinese will use this holiday to travel.  I had to travel to Beijing for a few days for a teacher's conference.  Afterwards I visited the Summer Palace with the other new staff from my school.

Since I had a whole week off, I had the chance to visit new locations of my city I am currently living in.
Summer Palace, on kunming Lake

With my roommate on a paddle boat

Went to visit Ancient Culture Street: lots of touristy things to buy and eat

Went on a Riverboat cruise in my city-- Tianjin

The Tianjin Eye. There were a lot of Chinese lanterns floating for the National Day holiday.
I just updated my calendar and it looks like I have a more exciting things planned this month and I will commit to share my experiences with you soon!

Read about my first blog post on another blog I contribute for.  This blog (Global Teachers Connect) is written by teachers who teach in different countries all over the world. :)


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mo Willems Mania!

For the past month, my kindergarteners have been studying the famous author, Mo Willems.  My students love his books, especially the Elephant and Piggie series.

Funny thing about Mo's books is his humor with all of his characters.  Because I work and live in China, my students didn't understand this joke.  So I had to change with a post-it!

 Here are some things we did to celebrate Mo Willems.

 We talked about speech bubbles, wrote our own and posed with our speech bubbles.

When we read "Pigeon Finds A Hot Dog", we talked about things we liked to put on our hot hog.  Some of the kids put silly food on their hot dogs.

When we read the Knuffle Bunny books, we talked about the real photographs Mo used in the books.  Instead of printing similar pictures from his books, I printed famous areas all around China like the Great Wall, the market, the mountains, the river, and McDonalds. My kids enjoyed drawing themselves with Knuffle Bunny!

We ended our author study by having a Happy Pig Day party.  We discussed what you would wear to a Pig party.  We made Pig hats, had a pig dance party with our principal who dressed up as a wolf (we were studying 3 little pigs), how a piggie photo booth, relay races, and a pink ice cream party!  This is the first year I tried having a Pig Party and it was a success!  Everyone in our school was talking about our party.
 On Mo Willem's website, there is a link for Gerald and Piggie where you can make different dance sequences to music.
 I used printed different party hats, pig noses, lips, and mustaches for the photo booth.

I also had this cardboard box turned into a bus for students to take pictures and pretend to drive a bus.  They loved this so much, I let them play with it during drama center time.

 I used a paper bag to make a nest and a plastic egg for students to walk back and forth trying to balance the nest on their head.  Read "There's a Nest on my Head" from Mo Willems.

We ended the day with a pink (strawberry) ice cream party!

How do you celebrate Mo Willems and his books?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Open House Freebie

I should have posted this a long time ago but the first month of school can get really busy!  Open house for my class happened about 3 weeks ago.  My school separated our open houses by division-- ECC/Elementary, Middle, and High school. 

I was expecting only some parents attending my open house since I work in an international school, and I heard from other co-workers that it was hard for some parents to show up on a school night to attend these meetings.  But I had everyone but 2 parents that didn't show up.  After I gave my presentation and tour of my kinder classroom, I had a piece of paper on each child's desk for the parents to write/draw a special note to their child in their home language. 

Here are some of the ones I thought were adorable written by my student's parents.  I didn't know some of my parents had some artistic talent in them!

This is a freebie I put in both of my stores for you to use in your open house.  I had some people already ask me to change the wording to "a note from your family" for those students who have single parents or guardians.  I should have thought of that while I was creating this but I realized my students are very fortunate to have both parents in their lives. 

Click on the store buttons to go download this FREEBIE!  Enjoy! 

Also, happy Mid-Autumn Festival today-- a Chinese holiday that celebrates the first fall full moon!! We didn't have school today because of this holiday.  I will post about my experience with this holiday this weekend! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A must read for all teachers!

I'm sitting here in a coffee shop near my apartment because we lost electricity in our whole building.  As I'm catching up on emails, lesson planning for next week, and reconnecting with friends and family back in the US.  I came across a beautiful and encouraging letter written by a mother of a Sandy Hook victim to all teachers in America.

This letter has uplifted me, whole-heartedly, because it reminded me why I am here in China, teaching these precious Kindergarteners.  Tomorrow I will walk into my classroom with courage, with faith, and with love for my students.