Love is in the air!

Valentine’s Day was a wonderful day of celebrating friendship and even my birthday! My kindergarteners are such great friends and they had a lot of fun celebrating each other on this special day. To prep for Valentine’s Day my students and I engaged in many activities. The first project was taking pictures of all the students with their friends. These pictures then went together with art creations made by the kids to create a class quilt. The class quilt shows friendship and how much we value it as a class. And I can truly say that this class are all great friends.  

The next project was decorating mailboxes for Valentine’s Day. These were graciously brought back from the States by a mom and were given to our class to decorate. They are little mini mailboxes that you can decorate with stickers for your valentines to be housed in. The students absolutely loved this project because they are all so crafty and creative. It was definitely a hit.

The last activity the students did to prep for Valentine’s Day was to make heart mobiles to be hung throughout the classroom. They glued tissue paper onto “clear-ish” paper and to create a somewhat see-through effect. Then the last step was to make a heart border to go around it. These kids amaze me at how artsy they are. All the hearts turned out great!

Now all that was left was to celebrate! To commemorate St. Valentine and to show friendship we had a party filled with cookies, cupcakes, music, and a story. And I was even lucky enough to receive a surprise birthday party as well. I wore a birthday crown, the students sang to me, I blew out a candle on my cupcake, and they made me a lovely birthday card booklet. It was a wonderful celebration! I was truly blessed to be around such great kids and teachers on my birthday. The love was in the air!

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Mam Kamba

Me and Jonas...My precious 7 year old friend who I love SOO much!

Mam kamba, my children in Moore (the tribal language of the majority of Burkina) are some of the most precious people in my life.

Baby Marie eating her macaroni. The first met this little one when she was only 6 months old. Now over a year old she has quite the personality!

Well, they really aren’t my children but they are some of the people that I hold most close to my heart. These kids live at the orphanage in Yako where I spend my weekends and where I spent a summer and part of a winter last year.

My two best buds: Georges and Evance!

I love these kids and what their heart holds. Their stories touch your heart and their smiles and laughter capture your attention. I have so much love, respect and gratitude for these children that reside in Les Ailes de Refuge. I will never forget mam kamba!

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100’s Day!

Lined up in our 100's day crowns.

It’s the 100th day of school, let’s celebrate! To commemorate the 100th day of school, ISO primary grades enjoyed a morning of activities centering around 100. The students were split up into five different teams and then each team rotated between the different classrooms: Kindergarten, First grade, Second grade, Third grade and French. In each classroom the teachers led an activity or game that had to do with 100.

In the Kindergarten classroom I led an activity where the team was split up into three different groups and then each group had a basket at their table with 100 blocks in it. The first challenge the groups had was to build something really creative of their choice using all 100 blocks. After about 10 minutes to create their wonderful creation, I gave each table an opportunity to share what they made. After this, it was time for the next challenge.

Proud of thier creative block creation.

The second activity was that the teams had to create the tallest tower using their blocks. At the end of the allotted time I saw which table had the tallest tower. This second challenge was definitely difficult because the students instantly wanted to go straight for height and did not factor in support and stability to their tower. However, amongst the struggle, it was really fun to see how the teams worked together to create their block creation. I think that each group had a lot of fun with the blocks!

At the end of 100’s day all the primary grades indulged in sharing 100 cupcakes and they were definitely enjoyed! It was a successful celebration of 100!

 

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Baking Waffles

 

W is for waffles! During my week of intensives, I introduced and taught the letter W. So, what better way to make a letter memorable than to bake! And was it memorable…

Everything went rather smoothly until the eggs were added. But, I won’t get ahead of myself…I began the lesson by making the students guess what we’d be making. They all guessed cupcakes or cookies. After I told them that it was something that started with the letter W they guessed watermelon right away but then a student shouted out waffles and then they were all convinced that this was indeed what we were making. They were absolutely right, waffles it was!

We all washed our hands and then the students sat down and we went over the recipe and ingredients together. The students then worked at two separate tables to create their waffle batter. They each took turns adding the different ingredients and mixing them together. While the mixing was taking place after each ingredient I’d go over to a back table to get the next item. When the eggs came, things got interesting…

Here you have to test each egg to insure that it is good. You plop it into a cup of water and if it sinks it’s good but if it floats it is bad. Well, I thought I was Ms. Preparation and brought 6 eggs when the recipe only called for 4 but was I wrong. It ended up that 3 of the eggs floated. That meant we were missing an egg. So, our teacher’s assistant walked to the market down the street where I had gotten the eggs and complained about it. She came back with some money but no egg. I told her that we still needed an egg so she went back to get another one. While this was all going on I moved one table along and had them finish the recipe and the other table I had keep mixing the batter. They seemed to be having a lot of fun with that so I kept it going and just made them practice their counting by letting them stir 10 times and then they had to pass it on. I was lucky my students are easily entertained. Everything ended up working out…we got the last egg…sinking and all! Now, our batter was complete.

Instead of having everyone sit and wait while the others poured the batter onto the waffle iron, I just sent everyone to free play time and called the students one by one to the iron. After free play time and when all the waffles were made, we all enjoyed our hard work. It was a successful baking adventure that was quite memorable and filled with the letter W!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Intensive Week

It it crazy to think that my “intensive” week of teaching is already over. It was a crazy, busy, fun, and rewarding time. Even with a raspy voice and sinus infection I still managed to have a wonderful week that truly gave me a glimpse into what teaching on my own classroom would be like.

Leading the Morning Meeting with the help from the "Busy Bee."

All week I was in full responsibility of the planning, teaching and the management of the classroom. I definitely was well practiced in all of these areas by the end of the week. They don’t lie to you when they tell you that as a teacher you have to be on your toes and be ready for anything that comes your way. I was dished being sick all week, a rambunctious and talkative group of kids, and changed day to day plans as well as lessons changes. But as I would say in French “est comme ca,” it is like this.

Finding the "W's" (because it is W week) in the title of one of my favorite books!

I wouldn’t trade a perfectly planned out week with no bumps or bruises along the way because with this there is no adventure and things to learn and grow from. I am a big believer in learning and growing from my mistakes, gains, and obstacles. So a crazy, busy, and exciting week is perfectly alright with me. After this week I can truly say that, “yes, teaching is what I am supposed to be doing with my life” and it is my way of   leaving a positive mark on this world.

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Tops and Bottoms

After reading the story Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens, which talks about vegetables that grow above ground and below ground, I introduced a Root Vue Farm that my cooperating teacher had purchased for our class. Because the theme for the school year is “Growing up in Kinder’garden’ my cooperating teacher has done a lot of activities tied in with gardens. So, with the Root Farm, you are able to view your three seeds that you planted: carrot, onion and radish seeds. The viewer can see how the vegetable grows underground.

Yum! Loved the peanuts but not so sure about the broccoli and cauliflower.

After introducing the farm and planting the seeds, the students went back to their tables and we got to try some plants that grew above and below ground. Each student sampled a tiny bit of broccoli and a tiny bit of cauliflower.

Enjoying her peanuts, broccoli and cauliflower!

Then they sampled three different kinds of peanuts. They tried a shelled peanut, roasted peanut and sugar covered peanuts. The reviews were mixed among the students; some loved the vegetables and one student almost gagged at the taste of cauliflower. The sugar and roasted peanuts were a hit and the shelled peanuts were neither loved nor hated. It was a great experience for the students to try things that they have never tasted before or snack on some of their favorite treats. I really enjoyed being able to do an activity that the children could relate to and see the actual object that was talked about in the book. It is always a great learning experience to actually see and do what you are taught.

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International Friends

Deborah, Me, and Flannery

One of my favorite things about my trips to Burkina is the amazing friends that I meet here. I have made so many friends from many different countries and there are so many unique things that these friendships hold. On this trip to Burkina I am sharing an apartment with a girl from Switzerland. Deborah is also working in a Kindergarten but hers is located a little outside of Ouagadougou. It is always a fun time in our apartment; we speak in French and English together, share funny differing-cultural moments and cook a lot together. I have been blessed with a sweet and funny roommate. Through Deborah I also met a girl from Australia who was here in Burkina for two months visiting friends of hers and studying French. She was a lot of fun and it was great to use my Australian slang with her, which I picked up when I was in Australia years ago.

Anne, Me, and Delaney drinking bissap at the Yako market.

When I am in Yako for the weekends I get to spend time with my Burkinabe, American and my new German friends. It is always a blast in Yako and there is never a dull moment. I love the people that I get to spend time with while I there. It truly is a family that I go home to in Yako and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

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Pennies, Nickels and Dimes

Who would have guessed that I would be teaching American money while in West Africa?! Well, I certainly didn’t. I have been teaching a unit on Pennies, Nickels and Dimes to my Kindergarteners. This concept, I know can be difficult for American children, but imagine a five year old African or Italian trying to learn American coins.

There is only one American in my class and she hasn’t even been in class the past two weeks because she went back to the States for a short time. So, I have been teaching a completely foreign thing to the students for the past week. Amidst a new, strange topic, the students, for the most part understand the concept.

 

To teach the coins I have been pairing games and activities with instruction. I have used play money and an overhead projector to instruct and model the different coin amounts and some simple coin addition for the students. We have also played a “find your partner” game; with this I made 18 different cards. On the cards is a picture of a coin(s) and the students have to find someone who has a card that equals the same amount as theirs. For example, if I had a dime on my card I would have to find someone with two nickels, or ten pennies, or five pennies and one nickel. This is just one example of an activity that allows the children to “get active” with their learning. I think it’s really important as well as effective to have children be actively involved in their learning and I think they have an awesome time learning this way as well.

 

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Weekend Getaway

After a wonderful week of teaching, I always venture to “my home” in Yako. Here I visit at the school and orphanage I have worked at on my previous trips to Burkina. I am always so excited for the weekend because I am able to see, who I call, my Burkina family members. It is always a fun, relaxing, and laughter-filled weekend in Yako and I am able to enjoy the simplicity and calmness of a small town and escape from the hustle and bustle of the capital every once in awhile.

The weekend before this past one, I spent some time with the babies and really got to bond and play with them. I always love just sitting and playing with these little guys and seeing how much they grow and learn over the days I am not there.

Walking around the orpahange with my baby, Burkinabe style.

You can ask my Burkinabe friends, I am always looking for tasks to accomplish, goals to set and reasons to call myself Burkinabe. Sometimes their standards are pretty high, but this weekend I was able to accomplish one. I am now one step closer to becoming Burkinabe, I have successfully carried a baby around on my back, strapped on with a Burkina fabric called a pagne. And I would also like to point out that I should receive bonus points for being puked on and peed on by little Christian. Even through the “wetness” it was well worth the bonding with Christian and the cultural experience. What can I say, there is never a dull moment in Yako; probably why I love it so very much!

 

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C is for Cupcakes

Every week in our Kindergarten class we learn a new letter. This past week was “C” week. We learned about the letter “C,” the sounds it makes and words that start with that letter. One of the fun activities that the class did was to make cupcakes!

With teacher supervision and some prompting and guidance; the students made cupcakes. The students had to read the recipe (it had pictures as well as words) and follow the steps to make the cupcakes. Each table had their own bowl and created their own cupcake batter. There were a few bumps and figurative bruises along the way, but the children did an excellent job making the cupcakes. It was when it came time to hand over the reigns to the teachers that the efforts went south. The bottom of most of the cupcakes burned, but it wasn’t a complete failure. We all enjoyed the cupcakes after they were baked…we just had to eat around the burnt part. It was a wonderful activity that had a real life connection with the letter “C” and allowed the students to take responsibility and ownership in something. C is for cupcakes!

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