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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Holiday Traditions

Christmas is my favorite.time.of.year.
I love everything about this time of year. From the cold weather, sparkling lights, endless hot chocolate {with marshmallows}, smell of Evergreen, the way it seems to make everyone more cheerful, and the traditions; both at home and in the classroom.

Today I'm going to share with you some holiday traditions that I have done in my classroom in years past.
Remember I'm home with my Little Man this year, so my pictures are not up to par :)

I love making gifts with my students for their parents. I usually come up with what the craft will be {I've never had a student disapprove}, I guide them in making it and in helping them wrap their presents. I always give them a bow and tag to place on their present. They love wrapping the presents and I love getting to spend 1-on-1 time with them!

I usually search Pinterest or discuss with co-workers some ideas.
Here are two that I've done:
 My Mom purchased the canvas' from Michael's when they were on sale 50% off. They came in packs of 2.  I think it ended up being about $1 each.
I then just used tempura paint.
I put green paint on paper plates and I placed the kids hands on the canvas to make the tree.  They painted the tree base brown with a paintbrush and then after all that dried, they used their fingerprints to make lights. 
I added a yellow star to the top of each. 
On the back I added an Avery Label that had their name, grade and year on it.

 I think the ornaments are my favorite.  I did this two different years. 
The kids also love them, but I am the one who does the majority of the work.
I bought packs of plain blue ornaments from Hobby Lobby when they were on sale super cheap. I usually buy the materials for my Christmas craft a year ahead when it's on mega sale! :) 
I then painted the kids hands white and had them cup the ornament. We practice together once and they practice holding the ornament once by themselves BEFORE we paint!
The rest is done by me since I have kindergartners and...well...I want them to come out cute! ha  If you teach an older grade, I'm sure you could let them complete the rest.
  I'm going to be honest.  I first initially liked the idea of having a Polar Express Day solely for the fact I would get to wear pajamas to work. I mean...dream job! lol  Then, after my first Polar Express Day, I completely fell in love with the story and all the wonderful activities and lessons that can come from it. 
My one day of Polar Express fun quickly became a full week of fun!

Here are my kiddos in their pajamas doing a holiday tradition in my classroom!

Another tradition that goes along with my unit on the story The Polar Express, is hot chocolate and donuts!  As a culminating activity, we watch the movie in our pjs and drink hot chocolate {w/marshmallows of course} and enjoy a delicious donut. Some years I turn the classroom into train, lining the chairs up, etc...

I enjoy all the stories that I hear about my students and their families throughout this week. We share traditions, favorite memories and lots of love and laughter.

Here's my Polar Express unit that I created to compliment the numerous activities my students are participating in throughout the week (the centers I use for the remainder of the month).

You can click any image or HERE to check it out at my shop.

I'm super excited to read all about your holiday traditions in your classroom. I am sure I will find more than enough to add to my list of to-do's for next year!
 To check out other fabulous ideas, click below

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

When I Knew I Was Meant to be a Teacher.

It's the same question you get asked from time-to-time when discussing your choice in profession with friends, family and even complete strangers...
My Not at all.  In fact, I wanted to anything but be a teacher. I entered college with the hopes and aspirations of being a reporter. My ultimate goal? Being an anchor on Good Morning America. I mean...serious dream job.

Aside from my career goal aimed in media/journalism, I am the proud daughter of a 38-year-veteran teacher. My Mom will be retiring this year after 38 years in education and, believe it or not, she's kinda sad about it!! She actually wants to go back and sub already!  I watched my mother work, a lot. She put a lot of time and energy into her job. I can recall countless days spent at the high school helping Mom get her room set up or getting into trouble while waiting on her to finish working. My brother and I are were always at the school and I wanted no part of that after I graduated.  

I knew I was meant to be a teacher August 26, 2015. 
This year was the first year in twenty-six years that I did not attend a 'First Day of School.' It did not sit well with me.  
Don't get me wrong, I love being with my son but I so miss my classroom.
In my 7 1/2 years of teaching, I never realized just how much I loved my 'job.'  Just how much I loved being a part of something so great.
Thankfully, because of social media, TPT, and the blogging community I don't feel too disconnected from the world of education.  I still feel like I'm current with the latest classroom trends and I'm having fun getting to create things for my new classroom next year. BUT, I so desperately miss the interaction I had among other teachers throughout the day. I miss the interaction with the students. I miss a lot of things about teaching that I never thought I would.
Being a teacher is so much more than teaching.
Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher? 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever

One of my favorite stories to read during the month of October is The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll.  It is our catalyst into all things pumpkin and Halloween, so it is usually the first book I read before diving into learning all about pumpkins.  Since the story talks about growing a pumpkin, it's a great way to get my kinders thinking about how a pumpkin grows, what it needs to grow, etc...  There's also so many opportunities for text-to-self connections and discussing real vs fantasy. Have I mentioned I love this book?!
Three years ago, I created a book companion. It is a compilation of activities that I used with my kindergartners and first graders over several years. I just updated the entire packet, adding several new pages and tweaking those already made with updated fonts and clipart. 
Here's what I've included and how I incorporated the activities into my classroom.
 These activities are pretty obvious! Your standard reading response sheets; story map, story sequencing, text-to-self connections, character trait bubble maps, character comparison venn-diagrams, etc...

The week following our study on the book, I introduce my kindergartners to the story Pumpkin Faces.  This emergent reader focuses on students writing and recognizing the sight word 'see' and I offer two version for differentiating between students who are ready to write the word independently and those that still need a little support.
We read the book together several times and work together first to put the story in order in the pocket chart before placing this activity into the center rotation. The emergent readers are placed into their book luggage for the remainder of the month for reading during read-to-self and buddy reading!

I included anchor chart ideas and labels that I used every year with my students. Simple and effective learning!
We completed the brace map the week after reading the story as we began to dive into learning more about pumpkins.
The Great Pumpkin Exploration was also completed the following week during our pumpkin unit.  Just wanted to share :)
I also included a fun little rhyming activity and recording sheet that you can use in a literacy center or use as a small group activity.
The math sheet, Fill the Pumpkin, is one of my students favorite math tub every year.  It's a simple game of roll the dice, count, fill in corresponding number of squares. Player with the most squares filled in wins. Easy!
I printed this game on cardstock and laminated. Then, had students use expo markers to fill in squares. Simply wipe off when finished!

I just love this time of year and all things pumpkins!