Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Having Fun With Art

This school year, I have dedicated the month of June as Art Appreciation month. Our school is going to have an Art Fair in 3 weeks and we are going to be ready!

To prepare for this, I have done a LOT of prep work on several different artists. I have read many books and online sites and then summarized their lives and artistic styles in a 2 page second grade friendly text. Then, I have made a Story Quest (sort of a scavenger hunt through text) for each one that not only serves as a reading comprehension check but also as a way to reinforce other second grade language arts skills. Then comes the fun stuff. We do a piece of art that is inspired by a masterpiece of the artist that we are studying. So far we have studied Piet Mondrian and Henri Matisse. We will also be covering Pablo Picasso, and possibly Diego Rivera and Vincent Van Gogh. The kids have been having a blast and so have I.

Here is what we have worked on so far:

Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian:

Mondrian Wall

After discussing Mondrian's life, we went into an exploration on primary colors. We also practiced making straight lines with rulers. Then I made a sample of what I wanted the kids to make. This took about 20-30 minutes. I talked my way through all of it. I had someone time me from start to finish. I wanted them to see that the task would take some time and it wasn't something they could just rush through. After that, I had them choose 3 primary colors to work with, I gave them pencils, a ruler, a white piece of paper and white erasers and they were on their own. Check it out!!!

Orange, Blue and Yellow

Blue, Green and Yellow

My Sample

Henri Matisse:

Henri Matisse

We focused on Matisse's art that he did at the end of his life, the cut outs in the Jazz Series. Matisse was bed ridden after a fight with cancer and started "drawing with scissors."

For this art project, we looked at many of his pieces in the series. We then talked about the colors that showed up most often. I gave the kids a stencil of the shape of a person and 3 stars. I of course made a sample in front of the kids. I cut out shapes, some from the stencil and others that I created myself. I didn't glue anything on the paper until I arranged and rearranged my picture several times. I talked myself through this out loud for them too so they could hear my thought processes. After that, I left out the paper for the kids and they were off. I didn't help them one bit. As they were working on their pieces though I told them to think about a title for their masterpieces.

I am SO proud of their work. The pieces look fabulous. The titles are amazing too. Here are a few of our "Masterpieces." Enjoy!

"The Lonely Yellow Star"

This piece is amazing. I love the movement that is seen inthe person in black. Everything about this piece just looks like Matisse could have done this himself.

"Culture in Love"

This piece I was worries about at first. The little girl who was working on it tried to get it done in 5 minutes. I talked with her about making it a "masterpiece" and she really got it together. She was really proud of her title by the way! :-)

"I'm Rich!"

The boy who did this said "See Ms. V.: I live in this BIG HOUSE - I'm Rich!"

"Summertime Chores"

Can you see the lawn mower? This little girl really played around with her pieces. The lawnmower started out as a piano! She was very creative.


This one is mine! I haven't been able to come up with a title that I like yet. My theme is unity, cooperation and love - I just can't come up with a name that I like!


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Picture I didn't Take

For the past two weeks, one of my students has had the privilege of being walked to school every morning by her abuelo who was visiting from Jalos, México. They arrived at school each day as I was arriving. I watched them talking and walking as I pulled up into my parking spot and walked to my room. What a beautiful sight it was to behold. There was so much happiness and pride in my student's face and so much love, pride and kindness in her abuelo's face. I caught little fragments of their conversations here and there. My student was telling her abuelo about all of the things we would be doing and he would tell her to behave, learn and listen to the teacher. I wanted to take a picture of them but I just thought it would be rude and it would be invading their private time together.

My student didn't introduce me to her abuelo. He didn't introduce himself to me either. I went up to him on the third day of their walking to school and introduced myself. The abuelo was really quite shy. He seemed embarrassed to shake my hand but did smile when I greeted him. On the next day, I asked him to come in and see our classroom. I told my student to take her abuelo to her desk and to show him her work on the walls. Her abuelo didn't want to come in though. I was persistent but he politely smiled and waved and went back home. I got the impression that my student's abuelo didn't feel that it was his place to come into my room. I also felt like I need to drop the issue of pestering him to come inside.

My student's abuelo returned to Mexico this past weekend. He never came in the room and never said more than hello to me. There will be no more morning walks to school for me to witness. I wish I could have captured those walks on film to capture the two of them enjoying each other's company. I am going to miss coming to school and starting off my day seeing those two together.


Did you notice my Blog Day tag to the right of this page? It is to announce and count the days down to Blog Day which is coming up on August 31st. Find out more about Blog Day here in English on The Cooking Diva's site or here in Spanish on her other site, Diablo Rojo.

Surf the web and find 5 other sites to share with the blogging world on August 31st. There is plenty of time!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Weekend

I didn't get to Carnaval in San Francisco! Maybe next year....

Yesterday I hung out with Sabi. We went shopping to spend some gift certificates that we had been hanging on to for a while. The first place we went to was a children's boutique. Sabi has a $25 gift certificate for the store. She barely had enough $ to buy anything there, it was so expensive. The clothing was way to expensive. For example, I saw a cute but simple skirt there for $45. $45 for a 7 year old who will outgrow it by next year? I don't think so. I saw a cuter skirt at Target for $14.99 and I have been waiting for that to go on sale before I get it for her! Anyway, Sabi ended up with a bag of bath junk (beads, body lotion, body spray and a butterfly washcloth) as well as a musical jewelry box.

After the boutique, we headed out to Border's to get some books. Sabi got the first four books sin the My Weird School series and I got the newest Diane Mott Davidson book, Dark Tort. Guess what, we finished all of our books by today. Now we are hungry for more books...
Today, we went to Stockton with my mom to shop. Sabi has worn out yet another pair of tennis shoes so I wanted to look for some new ones. Ladies foot Locker was having a sale so I went in and asked to have Sabi's feet sized. Guess what? She is now officially in women's sizes wearing a size 6 and 1/2 shoe. I almost passed out when I heard that.

We then sauntered over to Old Navy. Now the way shopping has always gone in the past is that Sabina is bored out of her skull with looking for clothes. She just wears whatever I give her and is happy with that. Today, she asked for permission to go to the girls section and look for clothes. I was more than happy to get her out of my hair and I said yes. I just figured that when I was ready, I would go over there, pick out a few items and then we would be ready to go.

That isn't what happened today. I found Sabi in the girls department taking her job seriously. The girl had a mountain of clothes that she wanted to try on. On top of that, she wanted her own dressing room once it was time to try the clothes on. Well, it all went downhill from there. All of the clothes that I liked, she didn't. The things she liked, I didn't. We then got into an argument about bikini bathing suits too. She wanted one and I said "not in this lifetime!"

We ended up agreeing on one orange knit top. It was exhausting. I guess that I knew that this day would come. I just thought that it would come a little bit later down the road and that I would be able to ease into it. I am just thinking that if this is what it is like when she is 7, what will it be like when she is 16?


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Am I A Grammar Snob?

As quoted by our President, George W.

" Rarely is the question asked: Is our children

-Florence, South Carolina; January 11,


Overheard in conversation at Sabi's gymnanstics class by two parents

"Me and her didn't want none so we went home."


Overheard at school by another teacher (so embarrassing!)

"I seen it."


Overheard at the grocery store:

"Man! I didn't get no hot dog buns, I need to go back and get them."


Why do so many people speak with such poor grammar? I just don't understand it. I was taught the proper grammar rules of both written and spoken language at school. I teach the same rules to my students today as a teacher. It can't be the fault of the schools. I think the fault lies in the homes.

When I was growing up, my brothers and I were taught the proper grammar rules by constant reinforcement in our spoken language by both our mother and grandmother. It was quite difficult at times to get a complete sentence out without being interrupted by one (and sometimes both at the same time) to correct our speech. I used to hate that so much. If we wanted to be heard, we had to do it correctly. My brothers and I rolled our eyes at this so many times that I am surprised that our vision wasn't damaged! I have to say though that I am so glad that my mom and grandmother did this for us.

The first month or two of school each year is spent with me torturing my students the same way that my mom and grandmother did with me. Around the thrid month though, the kids get it. When they talk to me they either say what they want to say correctly, self correct as they speak or are politely corrected by their peers. This should be happening at home. It obviously isn't.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about proclaiming English as a National Language here in the United States. Aside from all of the other reasons why this is a stupid initiative, why should we proclaim English as a national language when many of our citizens, even our own President can't even speak English correctly?

Friday, May 26, 2006


I'm Going!

I am going to the Carnaval parade and festivities tomorrow in San Francisco. It looks like it will be fun. i will blog about it when I get home. I can't wait!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I am a copycat.

I copied both Jenn and Xolo.

It was fun. You can be a copycat too!

Kkk E- Liquor Store at Balboa & San Fernando Mission L L One Letter / Y J E Eh? N n E T T E

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Librería Martínez

Rueben Martinez

On Sunday, after our Mother's Day Graduation breakfast, we went to Librería Martínez. Our original plan was to go to the bookstore to see María Elena Salinas at a book signing. However, that plan fell through as the book signing was held the day before! We still had a great time at the bookstore though.

Before we went to the store, my mom and aunt were talking about going to the store. My aunt suggested that we also stop by another bookstore she had read about. As it turns out, the bookstore she was telling us about was the same one we wanted to go to! This bookstore, Librería Martínez, started out as a barber shop and over time was converted into a bookstore by the barber/owner, Rueben Martínez. Read more about that story here. At breakfast, we mentioned that we were going to the bookstore and then Karina mentioned that her sister met the owner of the bookstore at a conference in Chicago and that he was going to speak at her school sometime in the future. Small world!

Once I stepped inside the bookstore, I knew that I was in trouble . I could tell by looking around that I was going to spend too much money there! It was an amazing bookstore. The store has an incredible selection of Spanish books as well as English books. On top of that, the books are displayed so vividly and temptingly! To make it an even better, there was a separate bookstore, next door just for children's books. WOW!

I was helping Sabina to look through a small selection of books in the main store when I noticed her doing the "potty dance." I told her that we would find a bathroom. At that moment, the owner, Rueben Martínez walked by and he said that he would escort us next door to the bathroom in the children's store. As Sabina was taking care of business, I had the best talk with him. I mentioned to him that my brother's friend's sister had heard him in Chicago at a conference and that I heard that he was going to speak at her school. He knew right away who I was talking about! He then asked me a few questions about myself and found out that I was a teacher. At that point, I received nothing but praise about my job as a teacher. He even thanked me for working hard at what I do to improve our world by educating children. Let me tell you, I don't hear that from people too often, it felt great! He then went on to tell me about the talks that he does around the nation to help promote education, reading and parent involvement.

We then walked back to the main store and I introduced him to the rest of the family. He then took us to his "office." It was too cool. The office walls were covered with pictures and newspaper clippings about Rueben Martínez and the Librería Martínez. Smack dab in the middle of the office was a barber chair.

The Bookstore Barber and Sabina

Mr. Martínez told me that in every store he opens he will have a barber shop chair to remind him of where he started, as a barber. Very cool!

Rueben Martínez is a true supporter of education through literacy. It was such an honor and a pleasure to have made his acquaintance that day. I can't wait to go back to his store someday soon. I am also trying to figure out how I can raise some money so that I can bring him to speak at my school.

Mother's Day and Graduation Day

Mother's Day 2006

My little brother graduated from Whittier Law School this past weekend. What an accomplishment! We didn't get to spend a lot of time with him as the weekend was rushed but we did get to enjoy spending time with him on the day of the graduation. We started the day out at Chili Pepper's restaurant in Orange.

Mother's Day 2006

We were celebrating both Mother's Day and Aaron's Day at the same time. Breakfast was great and the fellowship was even better.

Mother's Day 2006

I loved the fruit tray that came witht he chips and salsa.

May 2006 125

YUM! Aaron and Amy showed up and surprised all of us ladies by bringing flowers for us! Ruben also had something for us Moms. Aaron received lots of Trader Joe gift certificates as well as some other nice graduation gifts.

After breakfast, we went to a bookstore and then went over to the graduation which was held at UC Irvine.

Mom's Last Child Graduates

The graduation was long but worth the wait to see my littlest brother finish up his law studies. Congratulations Aaron!


We love you!

Congratulations Baby Bro!

The Birds, The Bees and Ladybugs

Today we released out butterflies. We went over to grab the ladybugs to release them too. One of the kids got there before I did and said " Ms. V! I think the ladybugs are dead. No...wait... they are fighting I think. They are beating each other up." Of course all of the kids had to run over to see what was going on. Well. What do you think was happening??? NATURE! The ladybugs had coupled up and were busy getting busy! Well, not all of the ladybugs. There were 3 busy couples and one lone ladybug with no partner. (I can relate!)

What did I tell the kids? I said , "maybe they are just getting cold in here and want to cozy up with a friend!"

They are second graders.

It worked!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Modesto Certified Farmer's Market

Melissa, the Cooking Diva and Elena from El Amor por la Cocina have organized an online tour of Farmer's Markets around the world. Here is my submission.

Gorgeous Produce

Modesto Certified Famer's Market:
Modesto has a SUPERB Farmer's Market. (It is even online!) Unfortunately it is not open year round. It open in May and closes the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The market is open on Thursday and Saturday mornings.

Fava Beans

It is located between the public library and a local church. The market takes up the entire road
(1 block) in between the two buildings.


It is It has a little bit of everything that you could want from fruits, vegetables, pastries, breads, eggs, flowers, cheese, kettle corn, olive oil, honey, coffee bar and more!

Fresh Eggs

Living in the Central Valley of California we are very fortunate to have so many farm fresh products.

In addition to the food that can be purchased at the market, you can also enjoy a variety of music each week. On Saturdays, local bands come to play at the market. On some weekends our local politicians are also available to consult and speak with at the market.


The coolest thing though is the cooking display. On Saturdays, a local chef will come and prepare a dish or two in front of the market audience using items that can be purchased at the market. How cool is that???

In my household we rarely have the chance to get to the Market on Thursdays due to the fact that we are working.

All types of potatoes

Saturdays though always start off early at the Market. Sabina, my mom and I all jump into the car and head down to enjoy our Saturday routine.

Sabina's first stop is always the French Bakery, Le Croissant. Last year, her favorite Saturday morning delicacies were churros. This year, her tastes have changed a bit and she is into the gooey cherry filled pastries. (I have t0 make sure to keep baby wipes on hand!) After Sabina has purchased her pastry, she really doesn't care where else we go. She is happy to follow us around (slowly) with her tasty treat!

My mom and I attack the Farmer's Market in a different fashion. Our first stop is usually the Word of Mouth Bakery stand.


My mom likes the gorgonzola and onion topped ciabatta bread andf I like the sciciatta (sp?) bread. After that, we walk, talk and shop. Sometimes it takes us a LONG time to go down the street because we run into many friends. It is not uncommon for us to run into someone each year that we haven't seen in a long time. It is fun to reminisce and catch up in the market setting.

We have been going to the market for many years now. Many of the vendors have become like family to us. There are vendors there who remember Sabina when she was born. Each year when the Market opens back up in May, they are eager to see her and catch up with all that she has been doing since last year. Last Saturday we went for the first time this year.


The lady from Oakdale Cheese noticed right away that Sabi had cut her hair. She then went on to ask her about all that had happened since they last talked.

There is one vendor in particular, The Apple Lady, who we have come to adore at the market. The Apple Lady doesn't show up at the market until late August when her Fuji and Granny Smith apples are ready. Each week when we see her she has a special child size apple waiting for Sabina. She first polishes it up with her apron and then gives it to her with a smile. We have shared Sabi's accomplishments with The Apple Lady and she always shares her photos of her grandkids with us.

I love our Market. I think that it is one of the best Markets that I have ever been to. What are the Markets like where you live?


Why don't you blog about your Market and enter the Farmer's Market Worldwide Parade?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Road Trip

We are off to Los Angeles.

My baby brother is graduating from Law School this weekend. YAY! Sabina is excited because she might get to meet her pen pal from La Verne too. How cool! If there is time, we might stop in to see María Elena Salinas at a book signing for her new book.

Have a great weekend y'all!


Mother's Day Presents!
Today we were working on our Mother's Day bookmarks. As the kids were done with their bookmarks, they came up to me to help me tie the beaded tassels on their bookmarks. During this time I was having small conversations with each child. They wanted to talk to me about the books that their moms read at home. Most of them said that their moms read the Bible also known as "that book about G-d" or the "G-d book" or "the one that G-d wrote, he is the author." One said "Ms. V., she reads anything. If you can read it, she reads it!"
Mother's Day Presents!

One of my conversations was with a little girl who also wanted to tell me about her family. She told me how many siblings she had and that her mom said that after 3 kids she was done and wouldn't have any more kids. I then asked her if she thought she would like to have kids when she is older. She looked at me with a kind of puzzled look and said "Ms. V., I have to go to college first. I can't think about that yet!"

She is one smart cookie!Teacher's Day Present!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Teacher's Day, Mother's Day and A Sweet Gesture

Teacher's Day:
Today was Teacher's Day. I didn't tell my students that it was Teacher's Day though. One of the students knew however and she shared it with all of her classmates. Today I received a wonderful present from my class. They all tried really hard to be well behaved and work their hardest. What a treat!

Mother's Day:
Today was also Mother's Day in Mexico. My students were quite interested in knowing if we were going to be making a special present for their moms. I hadn't even given any thought about preparing a gift this year as I have been so busy trying to prepare the kids for the test. I don't have time to waste since we are doing review work. My first thought was "Gift? I am working hard to get your ready to do well on this test. That is your Mother's Day present!" I of course didn't say that to the kids. When I calmed down, I resolved to make Mother's Day bookmarks with the students. Reading, after all, is what I have been pushing each and every day of class. I will have the kids put their pictures on the bookmarks and make fingerprint flowers on them. They can then write their own sayings and add any art that they want to them. I will laminate them and then attach a piece of yarn to them. Voila!

The Sweet Gesture:
After school was over we had a staff luncheon to celebrate all of the staff on our campus. As I was walking toward to cafeteria, I passed a 4th or 5th grade student. I recognized her face but didn't know her name. I smiled at me as she passed me by. About 10 seconds later I heard her calling me. She is a very shy girl so her voice was very quiet and soft. Here is what she said "Ms. V. , Feliz día de las madres." She then gave me a huge smile and turned around and went on her way. It was a very sweet moment.

How lucky I am to work with wonderful and sweet children. I am definitely glad to be a teacher!

Happy Day of the Teacher!!!

Teacher's Day - May 10, 2006

To all of my former teachers and fellow teachers:

Happy Teacher's Day!!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

FLICKR + Target = A Very good thing!

Tomorrow is Teacher's Day. Sabina is giving her teacher and student teacher a framed picture of herself with them as well as a signed Vission Latina CD. I meant to copy the pictures on my memory stick today so I could run it over to Target and print it today after school. In my rush to get to school today though, I just forgot to do it.

During my lunch break, I was going through my FLICKR photos and I saw the pictures that I wanted to have printed. I then rememebered reading something on FLICKR about sending pictured oonline via FLICKR to have them printed at the store. Well, that is exactly what I did. I just clicked a few buttons and I was done. After school, I walked into the photo dept at Target and the pictures were ready. What was even better was that they were FREE. I guess that your first two pics are FREE! YAY!

I am loving FLICKR and Target right now. Can you tell?

Monday, May 08, 2006

*During Journal Writing Time*

Student : "Ms. V., How do you spell Buffet" (pronounced Buff-it)

Me: "What?"

Student : "You know, Buff-it, like Hometown Buff-it."

Me: "Oh, Hometown Buffet."

Student : "No...Buff-it!"

Me: "Actually, it is pronounced Buffet. (writing on a piece of scratch paper Buff + ay) See, it sounds like Buff + ay put them together and you get Buffet."

Student : "Ms. V., you only use the + sign when you are adding, not spelling. "

Me: "Well, I was just trying to show you how it sounds."

Student : (looking at me like I have lost my mind) Um ... Ms. V. It isn't spelled that way with the plus sign. It is spelled B-u-f-f-e-t.

Me: "Well, it is a French spelling."

Student : "But we live in the U.S."

Me: "Well, it is a French word that we use and it is spelled one way and sounds another."

Student: "Why"

Me: (at my wits end by now) "Why?"

Student: "Yeah, why?"

Me: "Because I said so!"

Student: "Oh, ok, why didn't you just say that in the first place?"

Me: *sigh!!!*

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Vocabulary Lesson and Visits From the Tooth Fairy

Vocabulary Lesson:
Today we went to our synagogue to help at our annual ethnic food brunch fundraiser. My mom and I pooled our money together and bought 50 raffle tickets. Before we went home, I found out that we won several items in the raffle. I won some kind of lip enhancer that makes your lips look fuller (like I really need that!), a teddy bear, a Gymboree gift certificate and I won a US Mint Proof Set.

United States Mint Prrof Set

As we were driving home, Sabina was marveling at all of the prizes. She said "Mom, can I try one of your mints?" At first I didn't understand what she meant. Then it came to me - the US Mint Proof Set! I tried really hard not too laugh. Then I went ahead and explained to her the other definition of "mint." HA!!!

Tooth Fairy:
Yesterday, I wrote about Sabi losing a tooth on Friday night. Today, she lost another tooth.

More Windows!

It really didn't come out naturally though. Sabina had been working on it pretty hard after she got her treat from the Tooth Fairy this morning.

Bake Shop:

Today, my post at the fundraiser was at the Bake Shop. It is such a hard job because I have to be around amazingly tempting and fattening food for 4 hours! This year though, I was good. I didn't buy anything. I decided instead to take pictures of the food. I will leave you with some pictures of the bake shop goodies.

RUGELACH (My Favorite)




Apple Strudel:

Apple Strudel