Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dr. Seuss Bulletin Boards



I noticed that lately, I've had hundreds of visits from folks using "Google" to find bulletin boards for Dr. Seuss. I thought I would take a walk around our center and collect a few photos of some of the wonderful Dr. Seuss bulletin boards in our classrooms. I love seeing how different classrooms decorate their bulletin boards! One of my favorites is the one above, illustrating the opening scene in "The Cat In The Hat". The same teachers made the board below, too.




In another classroom, both the bulletin board and the back of a shelf have been decorated.





We've incorporated a few Seuss elements into our circle time board. We are recording all of the Dr. Seuss books we're reading onto the stripes of the giant striped hat.



  

The teachers in this toddler class have cleverly turned students' handprints into "Things" from "The Cat In The Hat".



 

                                        
 


I hope you find these as inspiring as I have!


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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Locks of Love For Hannah





February has been a busy month, what with the heart project and Jump Rope for Heart and Valentine's Day--the month is only half over! My heart has been filled with the spirit of giving this month!


A couple of weeks ago, I got a notification in my facebook inbox about a "Cut-A Thon", a local fundraiser for a small child suffering from cancer. I glanced at it quickly and assumed it was a request for me to participate in "Locks of Love". I've had very long hair for the last couple of decades. I cut it once, on a whim (and donated my hair), and was terribly unhappy for several years until it grew back. My long red locks have essentially become a part of my identity. I was not sure I was ready to cut my hair again, but the fundraiser was in 2 days. After much thought, I finally decided that I wanted to do it. I would donate my locks in honor of the sweet little girl whose mom had sent me the invitation. Hannah is doing pretty well now, but I remember her last year, bald and frail, with a beautiful sunny spirit. I'm so thankful for the wonderful families I teach. Sometimes, one of those special families come along and we just bond. I've come to grow quite close to Hannah and her family.  I decided to go through with it, but was too scared to let Hannah's family know. I was too afraid I'd back out at the last minute.


The morning of the fundraiser came and I felt pretty good about it. I was ready! I pulled up to the salon and there were people everywhere, in lines inside and out. I made my way to the reception counter and began to tear up just a little, as I told the girl I wanted to cut my hair for Locks of Love. At that moment, I felt a slam against my legs from behind, hugging me tight. I turned, and there was my Hannah. "Mrs. Ayn!" she exclaimed. I finished checking in and walked over to where her family was seated. The whole family was there, all getting haircuts--Mom, Dad, Grandma, Hannah and her 2 younger sisters, Alyssa and Brenna. When I told Hannah's mom that I wanted to donate my locks in Hannah's honor, they all decided to stay and cheer me on. 










It was a fabulous day! It's been an adjustment, but I haven't regretted it for a single second. It was truly one of the most beautiful moments of my life! 




Sunday, February 19, 2012

Kids Tooth Brushing Chart

I was going through my email spam folder this morning and found this cute tooth brushing chart widget sent to me to try out! I hate I've missed this for a good portion of the month~ but better late than never! Thanks Mindy, for sending it so we can try it out!






A Public Service by Dentist Advisor




I'd love for you to try it and stop by and share your thoughts about it!



Saturday, February 18, 2012

February is American Heart Month





I've been very involved in several projects this month that have taken quite a bit of my time and energy, as well as being the focus of several of my recent posts here. February is American Heart Month and the perfect time to promote awareness for the good work of the American Heart Association


Jamie, over at hands on: we grow started a fabulous e-book called the heart project. She decided to start this project because her niece, Ellie, suffers from a congenital heart defect. (Read more about that here.) For the remainder of the month, the heart project e-book is offered as a thank you gift for your donation of $5 to support the American Heart Association. Also, there are just hours left to enter to win a copy right here on little illuminations by commenting on my post "Have A Heart". 


Add to Cart




I'd thought I'd take just a moment to disclose why I'm so passionate about American Heart Month. A couple of years ago, as we were walking through the beautiful beach house my family had just rented for a week long vacation, I started feeling ill. (We hadn't even unpacked the car yet!) I had a massive hot flash and dizziness, and a funny taste in my mouth. I went into the bathroom and splashed cold water over my face and laid down over the air conditioning vent as my knees grew weak. I felt disconnected, sort of out of it. Eventually, after several moments, but what felt like an eternity, it passed. I felt better, but weak and with a migraine for the rest of the afternoon. We were on vacation, so I'd just take it easy.  I deserved this vacation. 


Right before I'd left to go on vacation, I'd gone to have a tooth filled and discovered that I had high blood pressure suddenly and had to take medicine to control it. I'd just graduated after 3 years of working full time and going back to school full time carrying a full load (and often plus a few extra courses) and raising 2 daughters. The job situation in our area had just gotten really tough right before I graduated. I had not gotten my "dream job" but had taken a position with a school that promised a position I really wanted, if I agreed to work the summer. I agreed, with the condition that I could take this vacation, planned and counted on for the last several months. I'd been very stressed for months, but the stress was all over now. 


During that week, I had two more "episodes". I chalked it up to hormones and the early onset menopause that I'd been told to expect after a hysterectomy several years before. When I returned home, I told my husband and he seemed concerned. One day at work, I'd gone out to get lunch with a friend and brought it back to work. Before I could sit down to eat, I felt another "episode" coming on. I went to stand by the staff bathroom to wait to get in. One of the teachers in the room directly across the hall said she looked out and saw me go white and wobbly and rushed out of the room with a chair and got me in it. The bathroom freed up and I went in and sat over the air for a minute or two and the flash passed again. I splashed water over my face and went to eat my lunch. Maybe the heat (it was July in Georgia) and hunger were partially to blame.  That night, I fought my husband's requests that I go to the emergency room to get checked out. I insisted that it must be the "hot flashes". I was only 42, for goodness sake! He made me promise to get to a doctor immediately if it happened again. 


A week or two later, my sister and I decided to take our 4 children up near Greenville, SC to surprise our dad. He had a special anniversary coming up and it would mean the world to him to have us all there. We drove up, checked into the motel. Our stepmom pulled up to the motel and told him some story to get him there and there we were! Surprise! They stepped into the motel room, but before we could even visit, I started to feel weak. I stepped into the bathroom and felt it coming on again. This time, it felt stronger and scarier. I knew I needed to call for help, but right outside the bathroom door were my 2 daughters and my niece and nephew that I didn't want to scare. I called out to my sister and finally got her to the door and asked her to call 911. She called but we were pretty far out in the country and the 911 operator said that if at all possible, we needed to try to get in via car, because it would take much too long for an ambulance to get out to us and back to a hospital.


We got to the hospital, and I finally got all checked in. I was describing the symptoms to the nurse as they began to take my pressure, and hook me up to monitors. She held my hand but seemed to swallow hard and make a face when I said I thought it was probably hot flashes from early menopause. I was hooked up to monitors and the doctor came in as I was trying to reach my husband back home at work. I apologized to the doctor and handed my dad the phone try my husband, Duncan. The doctor told me he would really like to speak to Duncan himself. I heard the doctor tell my husband that they were going to admit me, and that he needed to get to the hospital 4 hours away immediately. The doctor stepped away and they talked for a minute and he turned to me. He took my hand and very gently told me that I had not been experiencing menopause, I'd been having small heart attacks. As we spoke, I had another one right there. In very short order, I was whisked away to the cardiac ICU, where I spent the next 10 days. 


Since then, I've changed a lot of things in my life. Some things I've done a better job at managing than others.   One of the major messages to me was that often, heart attack symptoms in women are often not the Fred-Sanford-clutching-his-chest-yelling-"Elizabeth-I'm-coming" variety of symptoms. Often, women experience the following symptoms:

  • shortness of breath
  • weakness
  • unusual fatigue
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • indigestion or pressure feeling in upper chest
  • lower chest discomfort
  • back pain
I hope that more women become aware that what may seem as fairly benign symptoms can actually be quite serious. I was very lucky. I was young, in good health and yet, still right in the crosshairs of heart disease.




I'm thankful to have gotten such good care and a second chance. 
I'd like to honor all those who have heart issues. Here are a few friends that wanted to honor family and friends:
  • me!
  • my stepdad, Fred
  • Jamie's niece, Ellie
  • Beth's mom and dad, Robin and Michael Favro
  • Shali's grandson, Jacob
  • Debbie's mom, Elsie


I'm now organizing our Jump Rope For Heart event at our preschool. We're planning a variety of heart healthy exercise stations (all involving jump ropes) for our Jump Rope For Heart event Feb. 29th. If you'd like to help sponsor me, click here to go to my Jump Rope For Heart page. We've got 6 classes competing in the event and fundraising, so our class can use all the help we can get! 




We've been practicing, and having a lot of fun, too! Yesterday, we hooked up the boom box outside and did the limbo! 




We managed to get in a quick found of tug o' war, too!






Thanks for taking the time to stop by. I know this isn't my "usual" type of post, but it's something I feel passionate about. If you'd like to honor someone you know with heart disease or a defect, honor them here by leaving their name in the comments. 



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Afterglow



Okay, so it's February 15 and Valentine's Day is officially over, but our Valentine's fun is still going on. I want to share a few of our activities and some of the great ideas I saw this year in classrooms.


Yesterday, we made cards for our parents...




We tried to paint with melted conversation hearts. It was definitely about process not product! The colors were to pale to actually show up on the paper, but it was fun to try! 






We've had lots of math going on! We made patterns with conversation hearts.






We also estimated the mass of a heart using candy.








One of my favorite moments was when one of my little friends discovered that if she stacked the hearts, she could get a lot more hearts on there. It was one of those "little illuminations" that I live and teach for!







We played this cute little "Roll A Bug" game... 




We have a cute little jar that is filled with conversation heart candies. We make a class chart of our estimates then take them out and count them together.






In Writing Center, some of the friends made their name in hearts....




Our families made some FABULOUS valentine boxes this year...










They also sent in some VERY creative Valentines!


 A diamond ring!


 "I Dig You!" with a little shovel and candies!
This Valentine has all the "write stuff"! A paper pencil made from candy!

These owl cupcakes were too sweet not to share here!


One of the highlights of my Valentine's Day was when this little guy came in before school and wanted a Valentine's hug to start his day before going to our "before school" program. What a great way to start Valentine's Day! :)





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