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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!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How to Make Your Fall Walks Learning-Filled

I love fall!  I like enjoying the warm weather before it turns cold.  I think the colors of the trees are beautiful.  It is definitely my favorite season. Which of course means that I have been doing lots of fun fall things with my class.

The other day, we took a fall walk outside and did some fun fall activities.  I thought I would share some of the things we did on our fall walk.

I am so thankful that our school is on a large, wooded property. This gives us the perfect place to walk around and observe nature.  We took our clipboards, pencils, and a fun fall scavenger hunt activity as we started our walk. Because some of the words were still a little tricky for my first graders, I read through the list of items to them before we started. This gave them at least some idea of what we were looking for.

 We stopped along the way to examine and talk about anything interesting we saw. We looked at different kinds of leaves and noticed the types of trees they had fallen from. We pointed out different mushrooms on the ground and fungus growing on fallen branches. We picked up acorns, twigs, and any brightly colored leaves that caught our attention. 

We felt different kinds of tree bark and talked about whether each one was rough or smooth. My kiddos spent quite a bit of time looking for frogs too, but I'm pretty sure they were loud enough to scare away any little creatures.
And of course, as we found things on our list, we checked them off.

Next we headed to an open platform area on our property that is perfect for doing work outside. The students then had to finish a sentence about our walk and draw a picture to go with it.  Afterward, I showed them how to make leaf rubbings on some extra paper I had brought outside.

Most of my students had never done leaf rubbings before so it took some extra explaining and demonstrating on my part. However, once they got the hang of it, they had a blast. I think each student filled at least 2 pages with leaf rubbings and would have kept going indefinitely!

We had so much fun learning about the trees, leaves, seeds, and plants growing in the world around us. Even better, we were out of the classroom, enjoying a beautiful day, and still learning. Who said school has to be boring?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Why I Send Home an Awesome Work Folder Every Week {with a Freebie}

Every week, I painstakingly look at every paper that every student does. I mark questions wrong and put stickers or smiley faces on every good paper. Then I sort all those papers by subject and put them into each child's Awesome Work folder.

The Awesome Work folder is the folder I send home with my students every Friday. It has important information for parents like our class newsletter, a monthly school calendar, and any permission slips or forms that need to be filled out. 

But the most important papers that can be found in the Awesome Work folder are the papers that my students have done all week long. Every paper that they complete {unless I hang it on a bulletin board} goes in this special folder.

 There are 4 main reasons to send home an Awesome Work folder.

Parents stay informed about what you are learning. Because they see every paper their child completes, a parent knows exactly what you have covered that week. Hopefully this will eliminate some of those "I didn't know Johnny had been learning about nouns!" messages the night before a test. 

 Parents can catch and review problem areas. We all have students who struggle in one area or another in our classes.  Maybe they aren't grasping how to rename in subtraction. Or maybe they are forgetting to put a punctuation mark at the end of sentences.
Parents who look through their child's Awesome Work folder can
My son needs to remember to follow directions!

 see exactly what their child had trouble with that week. This gives them the opportunity to practice that skill at home with their child.
{And as a parent, there is nothing worse than finding out the night before a test that my child didn't understand a concept. Talk about hours of reviewing and practicing in one night. Not fun!}

 Parents can praise good work. As teachers, we know the value of praising our students. When a parent sits down with their child and
My son is doing great with irregular verbs! Yay!
looks over their weekly papers, they have the chance to get excited over all the good work their child has done that week. Hearing that praise over the weekend may be the push that a child needs to keep working hard next week.
Students love it!
This is the best reason to send home an Awesome Work folder. Students are so excited every week to take their work home. After all they work hard all week long, and they want to show it off.
It helps that I make it a big deal. I make a big announcement when I hand them out on Friday. "It's time to get your Awesome Work folders!"  I also mention them throughout the week. "You want to do your best. Remember, this is going in your Awesome Work folder." Just knowing that they are going to take the papers home in their Awesome Work folder motivates my students to write a little neater and work a little more carefully.

 You can start using Awesome Work folders in your classroom right away. Simply print off a free Awesome Work Folder cover for each student. Let them color the picture on the cover. {This is a great time to introduce the concept and make it a big deal for your students.} The glue or tape the cover onto the front of a folder for each student.

I will admit that the Awesome Work folders take a little extra work every night. I try to grade the day's papers every evening and sort them into the folders right away. It is time consuming, but the help it gives my parents and the excitement it provides for my students makes the extra time worth it.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Five for Friday

It has been a crazy week month.  It seems like October flew by so fast that I can't believe it is already November.  We have been doing so many fun things in our classroom this month.  I am sharing five fun things today for Five for Friday with Doodlebugs Teaching.

Five for Friday

My kiddos are still loving quiet reading time {thankfully}.  Lately they have been obsessed with the Elephant and Piggie books.  They also have found new interesting reading places around the classroom - like laying on pillows under the desks. 

 It may be different, but as long as they are happily sounding out stories then I am happy too.

The weather over the past couple of weeks has been amazingly warm. I'm not a big fan of the cold so I am always happy when the weather is nice. We even had our Heritage Studies class outside the other day. So fun!

Doesn't my son look vicious with his wooden sword?

We sponge painted,


and hung up pumpkins in our classroom.

They came out super cute, and I love seeing them all hanging from the ceiling.  It's such a fun and easy craft that looks awesome when finished.

We used number cards and sticky note operation signs to practice subtraction the other day.  When I gave them the sticky notes, you would have thought I was giving them the best treat ever!
It always amazes me how excited they get over little things - clipboards, sticky notes, markers, stickers. I love it!

We have had some beautiful fall colors here in New England this year.  And while most of the color has gone by, and the leaves have almost all fallen, I wanted to leave you with some pictures of the beauty we experienced. Because...

Happy Fall Everyone!
Make sure you stop by Doodlebugs Teaching to read some other great Five for Friday posts!