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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Winter Break Plans

My Winter Break has started, and I am planning on taking advantage of every free moment.  The past few weeks have been crazy so I am feeling a definite need to slow down and relax. 

With that in mind, you will not be seeing any new posts from me for the next two weeks or so. I will be back with more fun ideas for your classroom after the new year.
 If you have already started planning for next semester, you can pick up some fun ideas in the following posts.

I hope each one of you has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Introducing Fact Families: Christmas Style

So my curriculum called for my first graders to learn addition and subtraction fact families for the first time this week. I looked at that and panicked. Introducing a new concept? The week before Christmas break? Worst timing ever!
So I did what many of us as teachers do when we come across a teaching dilemma. I turned to Teachers Pay Teachers to find a way to make this concept more interesting for my students. I found some amazing fact family products, and I think my kiddos are really starting to grasp how facts can be related.

Of course, I started by using some hands on manipulatives to demonstrate how the same numbers can form different facts.
 We held Unifix cubes in two different colors and used those cubes to write our 2 addition facts and 2 subtraction facts.
I then wrote those facts on the board.

Our next step was to discuss how those facts were related. We talked about some of the things we had in common with our families. The students gave their own examples like living in the same house, having the same hair color, or having the same last name. I pointed out to the students that these three facts were in the same family because they had the same three numbers in each fact.  Then I added the house and told them that the related facts lived in the same house. We followed up with some more manipulatives and more fact families in board houses.

From that point, we started our first activity. I used a fun {and free} Milk and Cookies Fact Family Craftivity from Deirdre at A Burst of First. I wrote the three numbers on each cup of milk, and each student wrote the four facts onto their cookies.

I was able to differentiate a bit by writing easier or harder numbers based on how well I thought the student understood the concept.
Next, we colored, cut, and glued the pieces onto a red piece of construction paper. 

Don't they look great?

I had also found a cute gingerbread house and cookie craftivity from Herding Kats in Kindergarten. I saved this activity to use the next day as a way to add in some more practice. We still did a few together on the board before starting, but today my kiddos were able to fill in the facts with little help from me.

 The concept I thought was going to be so difficult seemed much easier after pairing it with a cute craft. Maybe it would have been simple for them to understand anyway. Either way, we had fun learning our fact families, and now my students have some cute crafts to take home and admire over Christmas Break!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Creating Crayon Resist Paintings

I don't know about your students, but mine have been pretty checked out lately. You can definitely tell Christmas Break is close.   
Today I decide to let them use up some of their extra energy with a fun art project: a crayon resist painting.  The great part is that this project turns out amazing with such a small amount of prep work on my part. {This project was entirely for fun. Don't tell my administrator! :) }
I simply found a free online coloring page. {I chose a Christmas tree with presents, but any picture would work.} I then copied the picture onto card stock for each child. I told the students they had to color the picture hard and not leave any white spaces except the background. 

Once the coloring was complete, the students used their watercolor paints to paint over the entire page. 


They were amazed to see that the paint didn't stick to the colored part of the picture. The bright, heavy coloring and the watercolor painted background resulted in some vibrant and beautiful art pieces!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Self Portraits: A Fun and Easy Way to Incorporate Art in Your Classroom

I haven't blogged about our monthly art classes for a while, but I wanted to take a minute to share one of my favorite art projects that we have done this year - self portraits.

Doing a self portrait is such a fun and easy art activity. However it can be a great introduction to some great writing activities as well. 

Our art teacher began the lesson by reminding the students how art tells a story. (This was something that we focused on last year quite a bit.) He then showed slides of some famous portraits and had the students tell what those portraits showed about the person in the painting. Finally we discussed how adding details to a portrait, whether through the clothing, the background, or even items the person was holding, could show facts about the person.

Next it was the students' turn to draw their own self portrait. We gave each student a small mirror. They drew themselves and other items that symbolize them.

It would be easy to adapt this fun art activity into a writing lesson. You could have your students surround their self portrait with adjectives that describe them. This would also make a great culminating activity after a biography or autobiography writing unit.  I hope your students have as much fun as my class did making their own self portraits.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

My Favorite Christmas Memory {with a Freebie}

Christmas has to be one of my favorite holidays of the year. I love the Christmas lights that twinkle at me as we drive around the neighborhoods. I enjoy listening to children sing Christmas carols for our school program. I have fun shopping for the perfect gift for my friends and family.

To get you in the spirit of the holidays, a group of us from Fabulous Freebies for Teachers have teamed up to share some favorite holiday memories and some fabulous freebies for you to use this winter in your classroom!

My absolute favorite Christmas tradition is making Christmas cookies as a family. Every year, my mom would make the best shortbread cookies ever. She would let us use the cookie cutters to help cut them out. When they were baked and cooled, my brother and sister and I all sat around the table and frosted cookies.

Probably the part of this tradition that was the most memorable however, was the fact that Mom only had one tool to pipe the frosting on with. That meant that we could only use one color frosting at a time and we had to take turns using that color. Was that frustrating at times? You bet! But it also made for some great times of conversation and laughter. It also forced us as kids to slow down and make fun of admire the cookies that the others were decorating. My brother and sister and I still enjoy reminiscing about how much fun we had frosting sugar cookies every year.

{I will say that the first year we were all married, we tried this tradition with our spouses. They didn't have quite the same sentimental feeling about the process. Now when we frost cookies with all of our children, we make sure we have plenty of frosting and tools so that all the kids can frost at once!}

To celebrate this fun memory, I have a Christmas cookie word sort that will be perfect for your students during the holiday season.  My first graders have recently been learning about nouns, verbs, and adjectives. To help them practice over the next few weeks, I will have them read the words on the Christmas cookies and sort them onto the correct cookie sheet. 

 Christmas Cookie Word Sort Freebie

They will then write each word in the correct column on the recording page. I specifically chose all short vowel words for the cookies so that it would be simple for my first graders to read independently. You can pick up this product for free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Also my entire store is 20% of today and tomorrow. Along with the site wide 10% off sale, you can save up to 28% off of some amazing educational products! Don't forget to click the green star to hear about other new free products as I upload them.

Winter Freebies Blog Hop

Don't forget to hop over to my friend Laura's blog next by clicking on the image above to pick up another fabulous freebie!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My Black Friday Wishlist

Black Friday is right around the corner, and I am already looking forward to our shopping trip.  My sister-in-law and I always go together. We never have a huge agenda so we spend the time talking, watching the other shoppers, and picking up at least a few deals. In the spirit of Black Friday, I am linking up with the Primary Pack to share my Black Friday wishlists with you!

I don't have an actual Black Friday shopping list yet {mostly because I haven't had a chance to look at any sales fliers}. However, there are a couple of things that I would like to have.

Thankfully my mother-in-law already bought me a brand new printer for my Christmas present. Mine stopped working a couple of weeks ago, and so I desperately requested one for Christmas.  She was nice enough to not only get me one, but she also sent it to me early so I could use it. {Thank you so much Mom!}
I love Flair pens, and some of mine are running low on ink. I am hoping to get some new ones for Christmas.
And the chair is a totally unaffordable dream for someday. That beautiful chair reclines, massages your back, and heats up. Talk about reading and working in comfort.

Like many of us teachers, my classroom wishlist is even bigger than my personal wishlist. Three of the items on my list I would love to use this year with my first graders. However, I am planning on teaching 5th & 6th grade again in the next year or so. The other three items are products that I know I will need when I start teaching the upper grades again.
 You can add these products to your own wishlists by clicking on the links below.
  • Winter Math and Literacy Packet {No Prep} by the Moffat Girls - This huge packet covers every topic with no prep worksheets that are perfect for homework or extra practice. I loved her Fall Packet and can't wait to use the Winter one.
  • Christmas Math and 3D Ornaments by Art with Jenny K. - Both of the these pop art products will be so fun for my students this holiday season.
  •  Math Enrichment 6th Grade Math Task Card Bundle by Alex O'Connor - This bundle covers all the 6th grade math standards, and it will be so helpful to have them all prepped and ready to go when I start teaching 5th & 6th grade again.
  •  Practice and Assess Reading Literature and Informational Text by Lovin Lit - I have almost all of Erin's Interactive Notebook Reading products, and I am working on collecting all of the practice and assess packets to go with them. These products make planning and teaching reading concepts so much easier!
And just in case you are still needing some products to round out your own Black Friday wishlist, here are some of my most popular products. 
  • Addition Properties Equation Sort - Perfect for practicing the properties of addition in a fun way.
  • Multiplication Properties Equation Sort - Another fun center activity to review the properties of multiplication.
  • Monthly Sort and Solve Growing Bundle - This growing bundle will include 2 story problem task card sets for every month. I am in the process of finishing December's sets so grab this bundle now before the price goes up!
  • Adjective vs. Adverb Sort - This fun activity asks students to read a sentence and decide if the colored word is an adjective or an adverb. It is a fun way to review a tricky concept.
  • Writing a Complete Christmas Tree Shape Poem - This is an complete writing unit that would be a great addition to your Christmas activities. It includes every step of the writing process in an easy to follow format making it great for even a center or independent writing activity.
I hope this gives you some more ideas as you form your own Black Friday wishlist. I would love to hear about the products you are looking forward to purchasing. Happy Shopping!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fun Thanksgiving Activites for Your Class {with Freebies}

I'm going to begin this post by saying that I am slightly jealous of those teachers who have this whole week off. Thankfully, we only go through Tuesday.  I am looking forward to a few family-filled days off. 
We have been doing some fun Thanksgiving themed activities over the past week, and I wanted to share some of those ideas with you. If you are off already {lucky!}, you can save the ideas for next year. However, if you still have a few more days, hopefully an activity or two will make the time go by faster.

 We had a Thanksgiving Dinner last Thursday at our school. So of course, we had to make Pilgrim and Indian hats to wear. {I actually let all of my students make one of each because we had extra time.} I printed out a pattern I found online and traced the feathers onto white cardstock. Then I let my students color the feathers while I taped the headbands in the right sizes. 
 The pilgrim hats I copied onto black construction paper. We added the yellow buckle after cutting out the hat.  
 They came out very cute! Most of my students chose to let a younger sibling wear their second hat during the dinner.

It worked out perfectly that we have been studying Native Americans in our current Heritage Studies unit. Part of each lesson had us making a different Indian item. Over the course of last week, we made both teepees and canoes. Again, they are just cut out of paper, colored, and taped together, but my students had a blast making them. They were especially proud of the designs that they drew on their creations! You can grab a copy of the patterns by clicking on the links above.

One of my favorite activities from last week was our Build the Mayflower STEM activity. I used this activity on Thursday afternoon because there was no way I was getting very much work done after a huge Thanksgiving Dinner. Luckily, my students had no idea this was anything but fun so they willingly spent at least 30 minutes building and testing their boats.

Each student was given the a piece of tin foil, a small lump of clay, six popsicle sticks, four straws, and 3 rubber bands along with tape and scissors. I told them ahead of time that they would not get any replacement items so they had to use them wisely.
 They spread out around the room and started building. I told them they could talk about it together so some of them spent some time talking strategy.
Once the students were done building, they were allowed to come up and test how many "Pilgrims" their boat would hold by filling it with small pebbles. {I didn't have enough pennies so you make do with what you have, right?}

 We had some very different designs, but the two pictured above held them most pebbles before they sunk. And of course as scientists, we had to record our data. After testing their boat, each student wrote their name and the number of pebbles the boat held onto our recording page. 
 You can pick up your own free copy of the recording page for this fun activity here.
We have had so much fun with these activities in the past week. Hopefully, they give you some fun ideas to get you through the next couple of days!