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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Oh, Yes We Need a Little Christmas!!

Now that Thanksgiving is officially's definitely time for CHRISTMAS!
This is my favorite time of year and I know most of our kiddos feel the same way.  There is something magical about working with kids during the month of December.  There is also something a little stress-inducing about it too.  But, I've got a ton of products to help keep your kiddos busy from now until Christmas break, so maybe they won't make you pull all your hair out!
But wait!!  Did you know that it gets even better?!?!  There's a TPT site-wide sale Monday and Tuesday!  TPT is holding their annual Cyber Sale Monday November 28th and 29th.  My entire store will be 28% off using code CYBER2016 when you check out!

Check out some my products to make your December run a little smoother!  Prices listed are 28% off - you have to use the code CYBER2016 when checking out to save the additional percentage from TPT!

Centers - my best friends!  Math centers are a part of my daily routine, but sometimes as the holidays approach, I like to do some special holiday centers for Language Arts as well.  These Christmas Jammies centers are just too cute and include both ELA & Math Centers.

Does your classroom have an elf?  Our elf Curtis will be making his return this coming week and the kids are already waiting for him!  

Our "Elf Door" made an appearance this past Monday.  The immediately started guessing what it was and how it got there - they soon decided that it must be a door for the elf!

During the month of December I like to change up our morning work routine and let my kiddos track Curtis' nightly adventures and also practice math and language/grammar skills each morning.  My Elf Fun At School set includes 18 days of morning work and much much more including the Elf Writing Craftivity.  You can also purchase the elf craftivity separately.

I don't know about you, but my rack of Christmas books is practically overflowing...and I have even more on my bookshelf at home!  Adding in some comprehension activities and book studies makes them educational...cause you know...that is why we are at school!

One of my newest and favorite activities - Ugly Christmas Sweater writing craftivity.  We did this activity this past Tuesday before we left for Thanksgiving break and my kids had so much fun.  Each child designed their own ugly Christmas sweater.  I showed them some examples online so they could get some ideas.  Then, after they designed and created their sweater, they wrote a paragraph describing their sweater.  We wrote them so that it makes our bulletin board like a guessing game - they had to describe their sweater and then ask the reader to find their sweater.  

As the last week of school approaches, we like to celebrate with our kiddos!  Years ago, we had Polar Express Day to celebrate, but the last few two years we have had Grinch Day and the kids love doing something different!  Each set includes comprehension activities, Language Arts centers, math centers and more to make it a memorable day (or week) of fun focused around two very popular Christmas books and movies!

Need resources beyond just the month of December?  My 2nd Grade math center bundle will save you a bundle of money and time!  Prep your math center cards ahead of time and they'll save you time next year because they're already ready!  I store my task cards in ziplock bags and then each month, I pull out the cards, make copies of my center activity sheets and I'm ready to go for the month.  Just pull out the cards and activity sheet and bam! I'm ready for math centers!

Getting ready for January yet?  Leave for Christmas break all ready for January.  Start the year off right with my Happy New Year writing craftivity having your kiddos make New Year's Resolutions.  January math centers will keep them busy and reviewing math skills.  My Snow Day Challenge is perfect for when you are going to be out of school due to snow - keep your kids learning even at home!  I prep these when the weatherman is calling for snow and then send them home in case we are out of school.  They bring them back, completing a couple pages for each day that we are out of school, and I hand out a few rewards!

Don't forget to use the code CYBER2016 when you are shopping the TPT site-wide Cyber sale this Monday and Tuesday!  Happy shopping!


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Easy Rustic Snowmen Gifts for Parents!

Long time since I blogged!  Wow!!  It's so hard to believe that the holidays are upon us and Thanksgiving is only 4 days away!

If you are anything like me, you are already thinking Christmas!  I've got an easy parent gift that you, your kids, and their parents will love.

A couple months ago I was on Pinterest looking for craft ideas for my mom and came across these cute snowmen made out of landscape timbers and I just knew that I needed to these for my parent gifts this year.

Here is a quick how-to of how I prepped my materials and assembled my example snowman that I'll use to show my class when we make them the last week of school before Christmas.

Gather your materials:
8 foot Landscape Timbers - Lowes - I purchased 3 to make a class set
Googly Eyes
Buttons - JoAnn
Toe Socks - Dollar Tree - 1 pair of socks will make 2 snowmen
Christmas Fleece - I got mine from JoAnn, but can't find it online
Orange Felt
Spool O' Ribbon - Michaels
White Paint/Kilz
Black Sharpie

Here is the Christmas Felt I got from JoAnn's.  I purchased 1 1/3 yards to make 24 scarves.

Toe Socks for hats

 Prep Your Materials:
1.  Cut your landscape timbers.  I cut each timber into 8 pieces, between 11.75" and 12" for each piece.  My dad was able to cut them for me, but you may also be able to get them cut at Lowes (asking never hurt anyone!)

2.  Sand and paint your landscape timbers.  I painted my pieces first using leftover Kilz that we had from previous painting projects.  One coat was perfect so that you could still see some of the wood grain through the paint - exactly what I wanted.  I sanded after I painted, just on the edges, to clean off the rough edges left over from cutting.  You could also quickly sand the edges before painting - that's probably the better thing to do rather than waiting until after painting.

3.  To make assembly easy for me once I'm surrounded by kiddos I also cut the fleece for the scarves, cut squares of the orange felt for noses, and then the ribbon to tie for the hats.
Fleece - I purchased 1 1/3 yards of fabric, so I had 4 feet.  I was able to make 24 4" wide scarves out of that fabric.
Orange Felt - I purchased 3 sheets and cut 8 rectangles out of each sheet
Spool O' Ribbon - I cut ribbon into approximately 18" pieces

Make your snowmen!
When it comes time to assemble with your class, it's basically putting everything together and gluing on the wood timbers.  I used Gorilla Glue super glue when I made mine, but you can also use hot glue.  I haven't decided which I'm going to use when I make them with my kiddos - I can just imagine super glue all over their it might be hot glue!

1.  Cut orange triangles for the nose

2.  Glue on eyes and nose

3.  Draw a mouth with Sharpie marker

4.  Put 1 toe sock on top and use ribbon to tie hat so it'll "poof"

5.  Tie on scarf around neck - students can cut slits in the ends of the fleece to make a fringe on the scarf

6.  Glue on buttons under scarf

7.  Use sharpie to write their name and year on the bottom - that'll be something parents will appreciate in 10 years!

And Done!

This can be a somewhat time consuming project to prep the materials, but go ahead and start now and do a little at a time - that's what I did!  It may have taken me 45 minute to an hour to paint the timber pieces and then another 30 to sand.  But once that was done, assembly was easy!

I can't wait to make these in a few weeks and I know the parents will just love them and I hope they'll remain part of each family's Christmas decorations for many years to come.

Have a great week y'all!  It's a short week too!  I'll be on Thanksgiving break come Tuesday and lunch.  I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving break with your family.  We do have so much for be thankful for.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

TBT: Pumpkin Week 2015

It's Thursday and I'm throwing it back to last year to our first ever Pumpkin Week!
This year, I'll just be doing one day of pumpkin celebrations (on Halloween) because of other events going on, but I can't wait to do some pumpkin investigations with my kiddos in a couple weeks!
Post is originally from Oct. 2015
We've had a busy week in 2nd grade this week!
We had Pumpkin Week Monday through Thursday and then went on a field trip today.  So...this teacher is T.I.R.E.D but satisfied with all of the fun and learning we had this week!
We started the Pumpkin Week fun last Friday.  We had an Early Release day so families could enjoy the NC State Fair without pulling their child from school, so after we finished up some things from our Spider unit, we "planted" pumpkin seeds to germinate.  The kids were so excited to see what would happen to their seeds.   We ended up having quite a few to germinate, so they got to take their seeds home yesterday to plant and try to grow a pumpkin.

I forgot to take "after" pictures, but here is a video clip of some excited kiddos checking out their seeds Wednesday morning - 5 days after "planting".

We did all of our pumpkin fun at the beginning of this week focused in Language Arts.
We kicked Monday off with a nonfiction book called Pumpkin Circle about the life cycle of a Pumpkin.  The photographs in this book are awesome.
After reading Pumpkin Circle, we did an activity with Main Idea - a concept we did before track-out back in September - so it was time to cycle back to it again to jog their memory.  They did a good job coming up with the main idea and finding details to support the main idea.
On Monday we also did a KWL about pumpkins as well as using adjectives to describe pumpkins by size, color, shape, and texture.  It was a full 40 minutes of Language Arts on Monday -we were almost late to specials!
On Tuesday we read a book with one of my favorite characters - Splat the Cat!
We read Splat the Cat and the Pumpkin Picking Plan to talk about author's purpose.

Obviously Rob Scotton writes all of his books to entertain his readers, but I made them come up with some details from the book as to what was entertaining.  We brainstormed together and worked on writing our details as a class.  Then they got to color (their favorite part) and put their pumpkin together!

Wednesday we read one other pumpkin fiction book called Pumpkin Town and retold the story using Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then.

We worked on the top chart together retelling the story.  I have used SWBST with some of my reading groups, but not everyone had used this retelling strategy before, so there was a good bit of guidance with them helping me fill in the boxes.  Then, I gave them time to transfer the information from the chart to their retelling paragraph.  Maybe this strategy will stick, but I'm sure I'll have to keep going back to it.

I only wish I had had time to read all of the pumpkin books I had - we had so much going on there wasn't time to touch even half of them unfortunately.  Note to self for next year - gotta read more of them :)

During our excel intervention time this week, we had a pumpkin twist - seems only right!
We made life cycle of a pumpkin flip books!

We did read a couple books with one of my groups that covered the life cycle a little more in addition the Pumpkin Circle we had read on Monday.  Most of my kids didn't know about the Green Pumpkin stage.

Then, came Thursday - the day - Pumpkin Day!

After a couple of assessments we had to complete, we finished our Pumpkin Diagrams that we started on Wednesday.  We have been talking about diagram and labels a lot recently between spiders and now pumpkins.  While they colored, I set up our Pumpkin Taste Test snack!

Mixed review on this picture of the inside of the pumpkin I had taken for them last weekend - some said "eeewww" and some said "cool!".  I love how it looks, so I'm with the "cool!" kids on this one!

I wish I hadn't been so busy passing out snack, doing our graphing, and dealing with a fire drill (of course!) to take pictures of all our pumpkin food.

Because we were doing some graphing of our favorite pumpkin treats, I made my kids take at least one taste of the following so they could pick their favorite:
Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin Pie
Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Swirl Bread
Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

The favorite was the swirl bread.  I have quite a few picky eaters this year, plus 7 and 8 year olds haven't all acquired a taste for pumpkin quite yet, but they loved this bread!

Then I let them choose if they wanted to try the following:
Krispy Kreme Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts (MY FAVE!!!)
Apples with Pumpkin Fluff (most just wanted the apples - okay - more fluff for me!)
Keebler Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripe Cookies

Needless to say - they had tons of sugar - which probably explains part of their hyper-ness that came later in the day - I should have known better.  We also made pumpkin hats with facts about pumpkins - I let them loose on this one, no guidance at all - so it was interesting to read their facts!

After lunch, we became scientists and mathematicians!  We covered our tables and pulled out our pumpkins.  A couple had rotted, so I was glad I had extras so that each table could have one.

For each activity, they would estimate and then actually measure/count.

So we started by estimating the height of their pumpkins using unifix cubes, tens sticks, as well as inches.  Then they got to use the tools to measure.  We haven't covered measurement this year, so considering that, they did well with this activity.

I LOVED how this table decided to measure the height of their pumpkin with the unifix cubes - I hadn't thought about going across to make sure that they had the height right.

We also measured the circumference of our pumpkins and talked about the right tool to measure around the pumpkin - and guess who forgot to bring the right tool to school?!?!  This teacher!  So, we modified and I pulled some old Christmas curling ribbon out of the closet, they worked together to measure around the pumpkin, and then cut it, and then we laid it up against a yardstick (or 2!) to find their circumference.

After measuring the height and circumference, we moved on to weighing our pumpkins.  Unfortunately, but fortunately, the scale I ordered to weigh our pumpkins did arrive in time (it came today - ugh!).  BUT, since our school nurse is directly across the hall and she has a doctor's office scale in her room, she was nice enough to let us pull it in the hall to weigh our pumpkins and it actually turned out better!  So Nurse Sami for the win!!
After each group weighed their pumpkin we ranked them from lightest to heaviest.  Two groups were tied at 11 pounds, followed by an 19 pounder, and our biggest pumpkin at 22 pounds!

We then did a quick Sink or Float experiment with a big storage box full of water and one of the pumpkins.  Almost all of them thought it would sink, so it ended up being a good lesson about how the inside is hollow and the air keeps it from sinking below the surface.

Then, came the most time consuming, and loud part of our afternoon - cutting the pumpkins open and counting all the seeds.  As I carved each table's pumpkin open, I talked to them about strategies for counting their seeds.  They were going to put them in groups of ten, circle the ten, and then move on. That would help them when it came time for counting.

"YUCK!  Pumpkin guts!"

"This feels awesome!"


And the counting begins...

By the time it was all said and done, this table came in at the winner with 583 seeds!  Of course, it was the 22 pound pumpkin too!

Little tip for you - as I was helping this last group count their seeds, to make sure that we didn't count a group twice, as I helped them count, we moved 10 groups of 10 seeds into piles of 100.  Then once we had all the groups grouped and counted, it was easy to count the hundreds, tens, and ones.  Goes back to place value - wish I had thought of it WAY earlier to help the other groups count their seeds!

And that was our pumpkin week and day!

Did I get to everything I wanted to do?

Did I get to everything I made for my Punkin' Day unit?
Not even close!

Did my kids have fun?

Did my kids learning something?

And those last two are what matters most.  At the end of every special day like this, I always go "Why am I doing this to myself?"  But then I have to think about these two last questions.  If they learned something and they had fun, then it was worth it - messy floors and all.  Seeing their excitement this week over something has simple as sprouting pumpkin seeds made me realize why I went into teaching.  They were exploring something new and that was so exciting for them and me.

Where did I get all of these activities for Pumpkin Week from you ask?
You can find them in my It's Punkin' Day unit in my TPT Store!