Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Last day of School

As another year comes to an end (15 of them now) I always get a little sad and a sense of deja-vu.   The end of every year is basically the same. All garbage out.  All materials locked up.  All desks clean and empty.  The kids come and the kids go.  But every year is special and different in its own way.  Some better, some worse, all unique.  This year was a pretty good year.  The kids were nice with only a small handful of issues.  As this year goes into the books, and another summer begins, I'll remember the highlights and hopefully most of the kids.  And of course, start looking forward to a new year sometime in August.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Final Field Trip Idea

As promised, here's my third and final field trip idea.  Every year as a reward for working do hard, we take the kids to Luna Park in Coney Island.  Yes, I know it's not an academic trip but all work and no play....

Tickets prices range from $17-$22 depending on how many kids you have and with that they get an unlimited ride bracelet for 2 hours to all of the rides in the Luna Park section. There are 2 sections and one doesn't open until noon.  Altogether, there are about a dozen rides for middle schoolkids to go on. Believe me, I have never had a kid tell me they were bored or had nothing to do.  There are a few food stands within the parks, as well as shops and games.

Overall, it's a great day and the kids love it.  It can be very crowded and if it's sunny, there's very little shade. Other than that, it's a perfect end of the year trip.

Just like the aquarium,you can take the Q or F to West 8th or the D or N to Stillwell.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Last Set of Pics

More Theme Park Pics

Here's my next class.  You can see these kids stepped up the theme parks!

End of the Year STEAM Fun

Who would have thought a theme park project based on a book they've read during the school year would be such a big hit?  Not me, that's for sure, but boy was I wrong!  My kids LOVE this project.  They were given building materials, a poster board and the simple directions of pick a book we read this year and build a 3D theme park using the book as the theme.  And my kids ran with it.  I thought it was going to be a lot of screaming and a little work.  They are blowing me away with their creativity.  I am going to post pictures of every single project because I am so ridiculously proud of the work they've put into this project and the theme parks they are building.  This is one of my classes.  I'll post the others later as I teach them throughout the day!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Oldies but Goodies

Ok, for my penultimate (fancy word, right?)  field trip post, I decided to focus on a few trips I used to do, but for various reasons they've fallen by the wayside.  I still love them and highly recommend them

First up is the Coney Island Aquarium. Technically it's the NY Aquarium, but it's in Coney Island.  It's a fun day right on the water.  They have several exhibits and shows that the kids love. Admission was pricey, $9 a kid, that's why this trip fell off.  But a bonus is, you can take the kids to Nathans's afterward. It's very easy to get to by subway.Take the F or Q to west 8th or the N or D to Stillwell Avenue.


Next up was a fan favorite, pun intended,  Yankee Stadium. I haven't taken a class trip to the new one, but the old one was a great day.  It is really far away and that's why this one fell off.  I honestly do not remember how much it costs but it used to include a tour of the dugout, the press room , and the locker room. It was a great day Getting there is the D or 4 train to 161st in the Bronx.


My last one was always my favorite, the Bronx Zoo, another far away trip from Brooklyn.  But such a great day.  It used to be free for NYC schools, but maybe that was only on Wednesday.  It was VERY crowded.  And it's almost impossible to see everything. We would go to the gorilla exhibit and then swing around to the lions and that would be it.


There are a million other great trips out there, If you are looking for somewhere to go with your kids in the NYC area, give this website a try: http://www.fieldtrip.com/ny/.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Discovery Times Square

Ok, so I've been here, there and everywhere with the blog.  Sorry about that.  The end of school is a little hectic.  I'm heading back to the field trip posts for this week.  I promise, at least 3 posts about cool field trips in NYC, starting with this one.

Discovery Times Square is a super, awesome, fun field trip in NYC.  It is a little pricey.  My school is Title I and we are charged $10 a kid, but it is so worth it. Discovery Tines Square has rotating exhibits.  Some are good for younger kids, some for older kids and some for all kids of all ages.  In the past, they've had Harry Potter, Lego,  Marvel Avengers, the Chinese warrior sculptures from Xian, King Tut and Pompeii.  Every single one of them had been amazing.  In the Harry Potter, Marvel Avengers, and Lego exhibits, you could interact with some of the exhibits.  Some I did with my class, some with my family, and King Tut was both!  That's how much I love this place.  They are very school group friendly.  But be warned, the kids have to leave all of their belongings in a bin.  No coats, bags, lunches, etc.

The current exhibits are: Vikings, Star Wars, and what seems to be the constant, Body Worlds.  Once again Title I school pricing was $10 as of December 2015.  Non Title I schools are $16 for students.  They also offer study guides for free and an add on workshop for $5 per kid.  There are a thousand places to eat around the location or kids can bring their lunch and eat on the promenade.  Getting here is pretty easy if you're using the subway.
  • A, C, or E train to 42nd Street
  • 1, 2, 3, 7, N, R, or S train to Times Square
  • B, D, M, or F train to 42nd Street-Bryant Park
  • N or R to 49th Street


Wednesday, June 15, 2016


So, it took me a few days to write this post.  The massacre in Orlando hit me deeply.  Many of my family members, friends, and colleagues are gay.  I go dancing with them all the time.  I was very affected by the fact that any one of them could have been in that very same position. I am extremely upset by the event and every day is another horrific story especially now that we are hearing the survivor's stories.

I'm angry as well.  Not at the gunman, although there is anger there, but at how many schools, including mine,  aren't addressing the massacre.  If you think you don't have gay staff or students, you're mistaken.  And ignoring the massacre, or just lowering your flag to half staff is not enough.  Ignoring this shooting harms all of the students.  Children need to learn early on that all people are beautiful and special and are just as much a part of society as they are.  The students who fit the mold need to learn that accepting LGBTQ students is not an option, they have every right to be in that school as they do.  There is nothing wrong with them, they are not bad or evil or whatever.  This is just as important for the LGBTQ students too.  gay shame is a thing.  Many gays hate the fact that they are gay because many people have that reaction toward them.

If we start early, and I mean Kindergarten early, by showing that everyone is included, many of these problems will disappear as these kids grow into accepting adults.  You don't have to teach that students should change their beliefs on homosexuality but it is mandatory that children are taught acceptance and tolerance.  If a students doesn't agree with the homosexual lifestyle due to religion or family or whatever, they still need to treat ALL students with respect.  No name calling, no bullying, no ostracizing.  It's time.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Where Next?

I thought I'd lump my 3 museum trips into 1 post.  Even though we are a 20 minute subway ride from Manhattan,  I really don't take advantage of all the amazing museums it has to offer. I guess that is mostly because I can only do so many field trips a year and kids are not the biggest fans of museums. They're good for about an hour, maybe 45 minutes, and then they've lost interest and want to eat or play.  But I do usually go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Transit Museum.

The Met is a ridiculously huge museum and I highly recommend going with a plan.  I do Greek myths with my kids every year so we focus on Greek and Roman art.  I also highly recommend taking a guided tour.  Both self guided and guided tours are free for NYC schools.  The docents who give the tours are very knowledgeable, although I usually explain that 10 minutes per exhibit is plenty.  I made that mistake once and the woman spent 25 minutes on one statue.  It didn't end well.  There's a playground a little north of the museum that works well for lunch or of course, Central Park is right behind it.You can take the 4,5, or 6 train to 86th street and walk.  The walk takes about 10 minutes.


Next up is the American Museum of Natural History.  Here they have paid guided tours, which I've never done and free self guided tours, which are great.  Of course, there's the planetarium which was $5 the last time I went 10 years ago.  Basically pick a hall and go at it.  We usually do Ocean Life with the whale or dinosaurs.  The butterfly exhibit is also pretty good for the kids.  Bonus - they have lunchrooms for the kids or Central Park is right across the street.  2nd bonus - there's a train station in the basement.Just a head's up, just about every single time I've gone, the security guards are, to put it nicely, unpleasant.  Avoid them if possible.  The B train 81st Street stop is in the basement.


And of course, one of my favorite museum trips is the Transit Museum in Brooklyn.  It is really cool.  The museum is in an old subway station.  The top floor is exhibits about the history of the subway and old token booths, turn stiles, and actual buses.  Downstairs they have vintage subway cars from the 1880s (pre subway) up to the 70s.  You can go in them and sit!  They have vintage ads on the walls too.  It's really a fun trip and the kids love it as much as the teachers.  They only do guided tours which are $175 for up to 30 kids.  Special ed classes are priced differently.  They do expect a $50 deposit when you book.  They have a lunch area too, if you want to reserve it.  You can get there by 2, 3, 4, or 5 to Borough Hall, the A, C, F, or R to Jay Street or the A and C to Hoyt Street.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Another Trip Freebie

A great trip in Brooklyn this time of year is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  I try to go every year.  It's actually a great trip in the Fall for the leaves, April-May for daffodils, tulips, and Cherry Blossoms and June for roses. It's a an easy trip and kids usually appreciate the beauty of the flowers and quiet of the garden in general. I do highly recommend telling the kids that it is NOT a park, so they need to behave as if they were in a museum. 

I always go to see the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden. I love it, the kids love it, especially looking for carp or turtles and exploring the temples, and it takes a good 20 minutes to see the whole thing.  I also like the biome pavilions. They have the desert, warm climate, and tropical. I sometimes skip the tropical one so my hair doesn't frizz out like a poodle, yes it's that humid. 

They have a Mother's day plant sale every May but I haven't been to that in years, so I don't have any info on prices or times. The rose garden is really pretty and so are the Cherry Blossoms, even when not in bloom. They have several other gardens but I've never taken the kids. The Children's Garden is closed for construction right now.

The garden is off of Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. You can take the 2 or 3 to Eastern Parkway - Brooklyn Museum stop and it's about a 5 minute walk from there.  The B, Q, and S go to Prospect Park station, but that's a bit of a hike - about 15 minutes - to the entrance because of the construction. And the 4 or 5 to Franklin Avenue, I've never taken this stop so I don't know how long the walk is.

There is nowhere for the kids to eat in the gardens, but they can  eat on the steps of the Brooklyn Museum and watch their fountains, there's a park with benches right off of eastern Parkway on Washington Ave, and there's a playground on Ocean Avenue, about 15 minutes away.  The trip is free is you do a self guided tour but they do have paid excursions as well. I've never done those, so I can't tell you how they are. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fun, Free Trip

So Friday's trip to Fleet Week was a big let down.  We waited on line for 40 minutes, didn't get anywhere near the ship and had to leave otherwise we wouldn't make it back to school by dismissal.  We did get a picture with 3 sailors on their way off the boat.  Next year, we're going to the ships at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, hopefully that will work out better.  

To make it up to my kids for sweltering in the city for nothing, we're going on an impromptu trip this Friday.  If you're in the NYC area and you need a fun free trip to start or end the year, try taking the Staten Island Ferry.  I've done this trip a few times, and it's actually pretty fun.  The ferry leaves out of downtown Manhattan (or Staten Island if you're in that borough).  To get to the Manhattan site take the 1 or R to Whitehall South Ferry, the J or Z to Broad Street or the 5 to Bowling Green.  Then just walk over to the terminal and wait for the next departure.  They ferry leaves every 1/2 hour from 930 into the early afternoon.

The ride itself is the trip.  It takes about 25 minutes to cross the harbor and you get amazing views of Governor's Island, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Verrazano Bridge.  There are plenty of decks with outside viewing space so the kids can take a million pictures.  There is nothing to do on the Staten Island side but eat and get back on the ferry.  If you give the kids time to eat and use the bathroom in Staten Island, the whole experience takes about an hour and a half.  And it's a really nice day.