We just love strawberries and who doesn’t.  Even the deer and rabbits nibble away at our patch.  That is why we picked up two flats at our local Strawberry Fest.  We love making homemade strawberry jam and of course eating the strawberries.

Some of the steps involved in making jam include:IMG_3383

  1. Purchase or grow your own strawberries (7 quarts)
  2. Core or cut the tops off




IMG_33933. Channel your inner Hulk and smash them






IMG_33964. Add sugar, pectin, lemon

5.Boil and skim off the form

6. Using canning safety scoop jam into jars





IMG_33987. Boil jars

8. Cool






IMG_33979. Enjoy the jam!




Christy Berry

Strawberry by Christy Berry

We also made some art to go along with strawberry fest.  Last year my summer school program drew strawberries. You can find the lesson here.





19149275_1765904050093319_1857692042435905487_nThis year I painted my marker rock and put a finish on it.





Strawberry example

My seven year old daughter did her “S” page for her ABC book.  Our goal this summer is to finish her book. You can purchase the full lesson from my Teachers Pay Teachers page.  She had lots of fun drawing her strawberry and writing her own story.




Strawberry and the Giant by Gwendolyn

Once upon a time there was a giant that loved strawberries. And, one day the giant was going along to picked some strawberries. He picked up a strawberry and the strawberry said, “Please don’t eat me. I’m a little strawberry. And you need to look at a strawberry to see if there is white still on them. That means they are not ready to be picked or eaten.  Please look at every strawberry.” And the giant said, “Well, I don’t look at strawberries, I just eat them.” It will taste bad if they are not ready so maybe look at the strawberries you are going to pick first for bugs or teeth marks. Plus, never ever pick somebody else’s garden.” “Well, I do that all the time,” said the giant. “That mean,” said the strawberry.  Maybe you can make your own garden. And probably don’t eat from somebody else’s garden. Don’t do it.   “Ok, I will make my own garden it will take a couple of days for the strawberries to grow,” said the giant.  And that’s how they came friends. That’s a magic strawberry plant. And he made his own. The End.


Mrs. Berry

What is Culture?

Bird HouseI am working on setting up my classes for the fall.  I took an online class this summer on using the 5E Model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, & Evaluate).  I’m now incorporating this new knowledge into my lessons because it will help my students go deeper into the lessons and not sit on the surface of a really cool art project.

This is paired with my new knowledge of the term DOK (Depth of Knowledge). The art class naturally lends itself to higher levels of knowledge, because art is just cool like that.  My students cover DOK1 and DOK4 very well.  It is 2 and 3 that sometimes gets skipped over in the process of making art. There is a limited time in the classroom; however, these steps are important for students to understand why they are making the art and how to explain their thinking and what steps are needed for a project. In the long run, it will make them independent artists and problem solvers. So, it is a change in my mindset on how lessons should be run.

As I am setting up a brand new class I’m incorporating these ideas into my lessons.  My first lesson for my Culture Art class will be looking at: What is culture? This covers a Common Core Standard in Writing: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.2.d: Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

My students will be probably be confused because there is no making of artwork associated with this lesson; however, it sets up the premise of the whole class.  Sometimes middle school students don’t always have a sensitivity button installed and will say the first thing that comes to their mind. I’m installing the button at the beginning so that when we look at artwork from other cultures they have a common terminology and respect for others.

My three day lesson will have students bring in an object that represents their culture; it is a show and tell. Which by making it about them; I’ve just engaged the middle school brain.  It loves attention. I also get to know my students on another level. The following day students will use technology to explore culture topics and explain their results with others.

Finally, students discuss an extending question: “If you were to work at the United Nations (there are 193 different countries); why would understanding somebody else’s culture be important?

Throughout the lesson students self-evaluate on their level of participation. I will also evaluate them with my handy dandy clipboard and tally sheet.

My shameless plug (if you worked on a killer lesson for four days you would want to sell it too): If you are interested in purchasing the lesson click here to be brought to my page on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Other websites to check out on Depth of Knowledge and the 5E model:


Mrs. Berry

Kaleidoscope Eyes Are Watching

Kaleidoscope Eyes Are Watching by Christy Berry

I recently read a book called Kaleidoscope Eyes by Jen Bryant for my literature class.  This book was one of my favorites that I needed to read.  The main character is Lyza and the year is 1968.  Gramps died and passed down his last greatest adventure to Lyza.  Lyza and her friends, Carolann and Malcolm, work together to find the pirate treasure left by Captain William Kid.  Together they face issues of race, being young, trusting others, and having family sent to fight in the Vietnam War.  I was surprised by the ending of the book.

This book would fit beautifully for Talk Like A Pirate Day for middle school students.  Click here to be linked to my blog about Talk Like A Pirate Day. I would have students read this book right around September.  An activity that I did for my class was to make a concrete poem.  Well, I sort of did this.  Concrete poems are poems that look like what they are talking about.  My poem is like an eye with very long lashes.  In the background I used the idea of a kaleidoscope and had the eye lashes break up the spaces.   I also painted the words so that you would need to turn the painting like a kaleidoscope so you can read the poem. I made a short video about the process in the Animoto. (I really like Animoto, it’s fun and easy!)

The painting is an example of what students could make to create concrete poems to go along with their reading.  (It is important to note that you would need to have a lesson on concrete poems before having students create their own interpretation.)


Brainstorm a list of words or phrases for the characters in the book:

  • Kaleidoscope Eyes are watching, watching like Janis Joplin
  • 1966 1968
  • Fractured into small pieces
  • Dad is hard working single father.  He spends working time at Glassboro State.  He supports his family with a no-nonsense approach to life.
  • Mom disappeared when she ran off.  She fractured her family with her shopping addiction.  She appeared colorful, slim, and unpredictable.
  • Denise plays the annoying older sister.  She has prying eyes.  When not acting like a princess she works. at a dinner.  A soft spot in her heart can be helpful to her younger sister.
  • Harry was a part of the little story as Denise’s boyfriend.  He is trustworthy, colorblind, and ever so helpful.
  • Gramps He traveled all over the world as a navy navigator.  He died before his final adventure.  He passed his last adventure to his granddaughter.
  • Lyza adventurous, researcher, problem solver, loyal
  • Malcolm’s role is a best friend. He is not allowed passage on the “white” only restaurants.  He is also known as a genius to his friends.
  • Carolann’s role is the last best friend in the trio.  She watches her young twin siblings.  She is a planner and a reader.
  • Dixon plays guitar, works at the lumber yard, nice, sent to Vietnam, had an afro, nick name Beach
  • Captain William Kid pirate who hid a treasure, on the run from the royal navy, born in Scotland 1654, reluctant pirate.

Next find images to go along with the story or the idea of the concrete poem:

I pulled all my images from a 2009/2010 SVA Catalog (This is probably the most clever college catalog that I have ever seen.)  I pulled out several images about eyes and random colors.

Next Mod Podge the images:

I used a standard canvas; however, any type of surface will do.  Cardboard works well for students.  It’s sturdy and does not cost as much as a canvas.  Let this dry overnight.

Next add paint:

I used acrylic paints and as I was painting I used a paper towel to remove some of the paint over the images.  I ended up covering up most of the images but kept the outlines to add designs.  I used black paint for the background so that the white letters could contrast well.

Finally add the concrete poem on top:

Pick the phrase or phases that bit best on the canvas. I used a smaller brush for the letters.  I also turned the canvas as I was working to make it easier to write the letters.

Let the painting dry.


-Mrs. Berry

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis

I came across this book after looking at a book list from the’s page.  The list title is called: Strange Bedfellows: Picture Books of Distinction in 2007.

Several memories of my own came flooding back when I read the story The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis. I remember when the wall came down; I was in middle school at the time.  Our school had a play about the wall being torn down.  I helped with the set and was an extra in the play.  It wasn’t until I was in high school when I started to really understand the significance of the wall being torn down.  When I was in Germany the Reichstag in Germany was being wrapped.  Our school group toured the Government building in Bonn and I remember the tour lady telling our school group that they were transferring to the new capital.  I remember seeing the building wrapped on the cover of a newspaper at my host family’s coffee table. My memories and Peter Sis memories of the Berlin Wall are very different.  I grew up on the side that had freedoms and Sis did not.

Review of the book:

Peter’s book is a mix of drawings, personal journal entries, and a story of an artist.  Many of the images are in black and white with a small section of red in several of the black and white drawings.  The images are interesting to look at and there are little treasures throughout the book.  I needed to go back several times to see all the details and layers in each image.  For example, in one of the images a person is trying to escape and the guards and their dog are hidden among the trees.  The personal journal entries give the reader an interesting view into Peter Sis’s feelings and thoughts.  The beginning and end come full circle with a baby starting to draw and an old man drawing in the same position.

I would recommend this book to any teacher talking about the Iron Curtain and what life was like behind it.  For ages 9 and up.

Summary of the book:

There is an artist who has been drawing ever since he can remember.  He continues drawing through his childhood; drawing what he wants at home.  Drawing what he is told to at school.  He draws what is around him and doesn’t question.  When he is older he starts to question what is going on around him behind the Iron Curtain.  He is worried that his drawings could be used against him.  He dreams of being free and in the end he sees the Wall come down.

Possible activities to use with this book

Vocabulary Study:

These would be words to introduce before reading the story.

IRON CURTAIN: “The boundary that symbolically, ideologically, and physically divided Europe into two separate areas after World War 2” (Peter Sis).

COLD WAR: “The geopolitical, ideological, and economic struggle that emerged between capitalism and communism from 1945 to 1991” (Peter Sis).

COMMUNISM: “The ideology of the Soviet Union and other countries; a system of government in which the state controls all social and economic activity” (Peter Sis).

Writing Prompts:

Explain: what would you do if you were behind the wall?

Explain: how you would feel if your freedoms where taken away?

Visual Arts:

Look at the artwork by Peter Sis.  Draw in the style of Peter Sis a picture from your childhood.  Add a small part of color somewhere in your picture.

Other Activities:

Here is a link to a teacher’s guide put out by Macmillian.  Scroll all the way to the bottom. You will need to download the PDF before you can view it.

Links to other places related to this amazing book

Podcast: If you click here you will be directed to a podcast interview with Peter Sis about his book.  The podcast is about his growing up and why he created the book.  The interview is five minutes of listening pleasure.

Author’s Homepage: If you click here you will directed to Peter Sis’s homepage. Sis’s page has a book list of all the books he has written along with books he has illustrated. There are also three different games that can be printed out related to Sis’s books.  There is also an author’s about page with Sis’s history.  Peter Sis also has other links related to his other books on his home page.  I rather enjoyed his slide show of work and himself.

Bibliography Information:

Sis, P. (2007). The wall: Growing up behind the iron curtain. Frances Foster Books. New York, NY.


-Mrs. Berry

Here Ye’ Here Ye’

Word Cloud with this week's post.

Here Ye’ Here Ye’ is the old way to bring in people to your location.  We are a far cry from the town crier in our age of social networking and bringing people to our spot.  I am rather a newbie when it comes to social networking in the 21st century.  I am a first generation blogger.  I still communicate with my grandma through letters and snail mail.  My parents and mother-in-law were on Facebook before I was (ok, that is really sad).  However, I am the first to start blogging in my family.

Challenge 8 is to write about promoting your blog.  I was a bit stuck since; I don’t tweet or ping yet.  I’m going to try my first ping with this post.  I’ve developed my bag of tricks for advertising my blog.  Every teacher needs a good bag of tricks. I learned most of this these techniques from other bloggers.

Berry’s Bag of Tricks for promoting her blog

  • Add Tags
  • Let your friends know on Facebook you added a post
  • Add your blog’s site to all your emails
  • Link your blog to other blogs
  • Add a spot on your sidebar where people can sign up for your blog through email (Hint Hint)
  • Keep writing to bring people back
  • Use Ping-o-matic and Pingoat (I am going to try this one and see if it works.)
  • Communicate with people that leave comments on your post and visit their site
  • Tell friends, family, and other professionals about your blog

This lesson could be used in the classroom when discussing advertising and marketing. The instructor explains how we present ourselves and where we present ourselves is as important as our message.

Something things for students to consider when they are promoting their blog:

  • Do you want to promote your blog for everyone in the world, or just a few friends and family?
  • Do you want to pay for advertising?
  • Where do you want to promote your blog? (Discuss how some companies pull their advertisement campaigns from TV shows or events because the TV show or event has a bad image.)
  • Do you want to be linked to a friend’s post or a post you like?
  • What kinds of topic words do you want for your tag?
  • How much writing to do you want to write?
  • Do you want people to sign up for you blogs?

-Mrs. Berry

P.S. Sign up for email posts if you would like ideas with books or art.  Most of my posts discuss reading or art and how to use them in the classroom.

Once upon a time . . .

My daughter and Myself infront of an Inuksuk

There was an art teacher who wanted to present information about the Inuit people and their art to her second grade art students.  She wanted to make her presentation fun and interesting.  So she tried a couple of different ways to tell a story about the Inuit people.

First she made a power point and found that easy to do.  By attaching her power point to the blog, she found that this took up her blogging space. Inuit power point

Next she tried to upload and share her PowerPoint with SlideShare but found it disappointing because the sound effects and the nifty slide animations did not transfer. 

She also tried to put her power point on YouTube and found that the turning a power point into a movie takes a way from reading the slide slowy. It also snowed five inches in the time it took to download the movie to YouTube.

Finally, she became engrossed by prezi.  She found that she could write out a lesson plan in an artistic way, and add images.  Because when she plans her lessons ideas are not always linear.  She can now plan out ideas on an infinite canvas. She is currently working on this document.  The meat of the document is there.  She is working on adding scoring opportunities and vocabulary words.  Her only critique of the program is that spell checking needs to be done the old fashion way with a dictionary (or using word and copy paste).

.prezi-player { width: 550px; } .prezi-player-links { text-align: center; }

Please check out my Prezi.  This lesson is geared toward second grade students; however, the projects could go as high as high school with modifications.  Also check out my book review of Smiler’s Bones.  I also made a video to go with the book talk.

-Mrs. Berry

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