Sunday, December 15, 2013

Elf on Shelf: In the Classroom {Week 2}

Last Friday, our class made these cute wreaths to hang up in the classroom. A couple of the girls decided to make wreaths to give to Sparkle for their doors in the North Pole. Well, there was no way Sparkle could fly with all of those wreaths! So, when we arrived at school on Monday, we found Sparkle hanging along side our wreaths! 
This week, Sparkle also brought snowballs to our classroom! She had a little snowball fight of her own, but she also left us a little note saying that if they were good, they could have their own snowball fight
Sparkle also showed up in a new skirt!! The kids couldn't believe it!! The girls just knew that Santa must have given her a sparkly skirt because of her name!
 They didn't earn their snowball fight right away, but on Friday they were able to have one! SO MUCH FUN! I have 10 girls and 10 boys in my class so it is just easy to do girls vs. boys. We put a line down the center of the class and I told them that when the music started they had to try to get all of the snowballs off of their side. When the music stopped, whoever had the least amount of snowballs would win!
Believe it or not, the girls won every time! I think the boys were more concerned with throwing it at the girls instead of just getting the snowballs off of their side! I purchased the snowballs HERE.
I was out for team leader meetings one day this week, so Sparkle left them a little reminder to 'be good' while I was gone!
 We are having so much fun with our Elf! Read about other 'classroom elves' below!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gingerbread Craft

This afternoon we decided to relax with some Christmas music and make a new craft to decorate our empty hallway bulletin board!

As soon as I showed the kids my example and described what we would be making, I sent them to their seats. Right away one of my little girls said, "Can we listen to music?" I was like YES! Great idea! Pandora's Kids Christmas Favorites was the perfect station!
I passed out the gingerbread pieces one at a time so I didn't overwhelm the students, or bury them in scrap paper! 
They turned out super cute and the kids fell in love with them! I think my girls love anything with a bow ;)
Of course the boys came out adorable too! They kept asking me for a hat for their gingerbread man...haha, maybe next time!
I added this craft to my store this afternoon if you need a last minute bulletin board idea! 
The gingerbread man craft is also included in the Gingerbread Combo pack or the Gingerbread Math pack if you already purchased that! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holidays Around the World: Mexico

Today was our first day traveling the world!! The kids had a BLAST! On Monday we pulled down the map and discussed how our school is in a city, which is in the state of Florida, which is in a country, etc. Then we brainstormed other countries that we knew about--this was a tough one! I was getting answers like New England (I think because the Patriots game was on the night before haha). So we really had to take a closer look at our world map. It ended up being a great little lesson!
Then we talked about the holidays we celebrate and how people around the world celebrate different holidays or celebrate the same holiday differently. I asked them if they wanted to travel around the world to check out the similarities/differences. Of course they said YES!
So we started brainstorming things we would need: suitcases, airplane tickets, and I introduced passports-which was new to most students! Then we started preparing!
This morning we filled out our boarding passes. They LOVED that the bar code was on there! I overheard them talking about how there is an 'actual scanner!'
We grabbed our suitcases in one hand and our boarding passes in the other and we lined up! I 'scanned' all of their tickets and collected their suitcases to put them under the airplane! You know how those overhead compartments always fill up way too quickly ;)
We buckled our seat belts, I did a quick airplane safety presentation, and then informed them that today they were in luck...we had a free, in-flight, movie! The movie was all about Mexico!
I showed them the slides (from my Holidays Around the World unit) and we discussed the Mexican traditions. 
When we arrived in Mexico we made beautiful poinsettia flowers. But, that just wasn't enough for my little tourists. During the in-flight movie, they learned that piñatas are popular at the Las Posadas parties. So, they just had to make one of their own! 
 Each student was allowed to pick a couple pieces of candy.
We decorated paper bags with tissue paper and put the candy inside. Then, I punched a hole in the bag, tied a string to the top, and there you have it...a piñata!
We added a Mexico sticker onto our suitcases and glued our Mexico stamp into our passports.
During writing, each student wrote one page in their travel journal. They turned out adorable. I can't wait to see them when they are finished traveling the world!
The above activities can be found in my Holidays Around the World unit on TPT.

Monday, December 9, 2013


My kids always LOVE reading any story about Gingerbread! I have The Gingerbread Boy, The Gingerbread Girl, The Gingerbread Man, The Gingerbread Bear, The Gingerbread Pirates, The Gingerbread Baby, Gingerbread Friends, The Gingerbread Cowboy, and I could literally go on, and on!! The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School, The Gingerbread Loose on the Fire Truck, and The Gingerbread Girl Goes Animal Crackers. Okay I am sure you get it....hahaha I have an obsession with buying books and the gingerbread books are fun!!
We spent a lot of time last week completing story maps and really comparing and contrasting the story lines and characters in the different stories. My kids also enjoyed lots of gingerbread themed centers!

Just like the gingerbread man, their sight words escaped! The students had to look around the room to find their words and record them. 
 When they were done, they had to use some of their words in sentences on the back.
 We are also working on simple addition facts right now. In this simple math center, students had to roll two dice, add the numbers up, and dot that number on their page.
 They also put their numbers in order counting by 5s and recorded them. This was our first time doing this at a center (even though we count by 5s and 10s during calendar everyday) and they did beautifully!
At their writing center they worked on labeling. This may be the last month that I let them cut out the words and glue them on. They are definitely more than ready to start writing the words on their own! I will provide a word bank for those that need it!
 They just love when I take pictures of their work, so I had to snap a few!
 I love when they are proud of themselves for doing an amazing job!!
 I also had students writing CVC words at the word work center. They are doing this completely independently now which is awesome! So this is another center that may be 'retired' soon! Time to move on!
Today we packed up, printed our boarding passes, and prepared our passports! We are ready to start traveling the world tomorrow! I can't wait!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Elf on the Shelf: In the Classroom

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE having an Elf on the Shelf in the classroom! The kids absolutely love the elf and it really is a great behavior management tool as well :)
I have students in my room that celebrate holidays other than Christmas; however, I make sure to teach ALL of the holidays represented in my classroom (and more). I also send an email to parents letting them know about our elf and reassuring them that it is just for fun and explaining to them what a great behavior tool and motivator the elf is. My parents always agree and they love that the kids are so excited each morning to see the elf. I have so many parents each year that actually end up getting an elf on the shelf for their own home--I love that they are starting a new tradition for their family!
Before our elf arrived, we watched An Elf's Story DVD. The kids are always amazed by this movie. When it is over, we wrote letters to Santa asking if we could have a scout elf for our classroom. The letters were adorable! We sealed them up in an envelope and 'mailed' them out!
About a week later, I wrapped up the Elf on the Shelf box and put it in the freezer to make sure it was cold. I used the 'special delivery' tag from Kinder-Craze on the top of the box.  Then, our principal made a special delivery to our classroom! I told the kids to feel how cold the package was and they couldn't believe that it came straight from the North Pole! We read the Elf on the Shelf book and we quickly started brainstorming names for our new elf! We came up with Sparkle! The rest of the day I watched kids go up to Sparkle and talk to her. I love listening to their little conversations.
Everyday Sparkle is in a new spot in the classroom.  This week we were actually headed out for a field trip so Sparkle left me this little pad to write down children's names. The kids knew I had this pad with me on the trip and let me tell you...they were all as good as gold! They kept asking me if I had written down any names yet, haha.
Sparkle also colored a picture for us and left us some coloring sheets to color for her! They loved this! They all tried so hard to make beautiful pictures for Sparkle. As they were coloring I overheard them talking about how Sparkle was probably going to decorate her room in the North Pole with these pictures! So cute!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Collaborative Writing

This year our principal is really getting us excited about collaboration. He has sent us a lot of great articles and has even gotten the staff together for faculty collaborations.  I am trying my best to include collaboration within the classroom as often as I can because it is truly amazing to see the children working together! 

The first time I introduced collaboration was during our bat unit. We worked together to complete a bats vs. birds venn diagram. Let me tell wasn't that pretty! There was a lot of arguing over who was going to put the fact on the venn diagram, who was going to read the fact, who was going to get the name it, they argued about it! 

I realized that I obviously didn't show them what collaboration looked like well enough. So we gathered back on the carpet. I pulled a couple kids to sit in a little circle with me, the rest of the students stayed on the carpet and watched. Then, I led a collaboration group. I showed them how to take turns, what words to use (I just went, now you can have a turn), what kinds of questions to ask (do you agree?, what do you think?, etc.)

Then I told them that the next day we were going to do the venn diagram again and I was going to see if we could do it better! Sure enough, they did much better! Still a tad bit of arguing, but I heard some great questions being asked and I saw some real collaboration. 

The next time we did a venn diagram in class was during our Pilgrim unit. We compared and contrasted children now to Pilgrim children and they did wonderfully!! Practice definitely makes perfect ;)

I decided to try out some collaborative writing to see how my students would do with it. Let me just tell was the CUTEST THING EVER! 

Their goal: each group had to write 2 facts about the Mayflower.
Right away they went to their tables with the paper I provided and I heard them giving each other 'jobs'. They split up the amount of words in the sentence and everything. I heard one student say, "The sentence has 11 words, we can all write 2 words!" WOW!
Other groups took a different approach. One student helped sound out the words for another student who wrote. Then the 2 students who didn't have a job yet decided to split tracing the words in permanent marker when the writer was finished.
But, the picture above was my absolute favorite. One of my little ELL girls is not yet sounding out words and really doesn't know enough letters yet to write. When I walked by the table I almost asked what they were doing because I knew it would be hard for this little girl to have the job as the 'writer'! Then I looked a little closer. Another student had made the 'dash' lines for all the letters and was letting her trace them! WOW, just wow! I was so proud of them for working together so well.
When they were finished I let each group share their facts and then we added them on to our Mayflower!
I love how it turned out and some of their facts still make me smile!
'The Mayflower has a poop deck' definitely got my kids all giggling. And the splitting up of the word 'cargo' to 'car go' was just too cute!
This Pilgrim house was also made using collaboration. Each group had a job: to make grass, wood for the house, straw pieces for the roof, etc.
We tried collaborative writing again the following week. This time writing ANY fact they wanted about Pilgrims or the Mayflower. Again, they did beautifully! 

How do you use collaboration in your room? I would love to hear some new ideas!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November Centers

We have been BUSY learning all about the Pilgrims and Native Americans! I have really enjoyed watching my kids learn so much and be able to compare and contrast themselves to the children/families then.
I had all my students practice/review letter/letter sounds this week during their centers.  Even my readers need this practice occasionally-they still tend to confuse a couple letters now and then!
From the November Word Work pack
I usually don't use the activity sheets at the word work center, but this one I just had to use--it was easy for me to see who needed work on what letter! For instance...the K and Q below ;)
I actually never used some copies that I made last month (please tell me I am not the only one that does that), so my students built their Fall sentences this is still fall so I am good ;)
From the October Word Work pack
 This was difficult for some of my kids. They weren't reading the sentence to make sure it 'made sense'. This is definitely a center I will need to do again!

I have been building CVC words with my kids every week and they are becoming pros! It is definitely time for me to move on to more difficult words!
From my November Unit
 I put some of Deedee's activities in my writing center this month. Love this list one of my girls made! Thanks Deedee!
My students are making me look good with writing this year. They are seriously all becoming so independent! I had to share two writing pieces that were completed totally independently! 
(and this turkey is way better than the ones I draw!)
 I love the little Pilgrim boy below! Too cute!
 We are still enjoying our Pilgrims up on the wall! I can't believe it is almost time to pull these down and hang up some holiday crafts!! Where does the time go?