Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year ... and the CURRENTLY!

Happy (early) New Year!!! I think 2012 was just a dream, it went by so fast!
I have been a bad blogger, but I have been enjoying the holidays with my family & friends & just takin' it easy. But, it's that awesome time of the month, where we all link up with Farley for the Currently! I'm usually late on this, so I'm pretty pumped to get ahead of the game this time. Maybe that's a good omen for the new year??!!

Listening - I just LOVE Ellen. Even the re-runs make me happy. She is so positive & does so much for others. I watch her every day when I get home from school & she's a bright spot in my day.

Loving - all my Christmas gifts. I am truly blessed (and NOT in just the material way), but it was a boots frenzy this year! I got all 3 pair of the new boots I wanted, and I just can't wait to wear them. But, I've been kinda lazy (i.e. yoga pants and sweatshirts, so they haven't gotten worn just yet!).

Thinking - Oh how I hated getting out of school on the 21st. The kids were nutball, and so was I, But, now that I still have a full week in front of me, I'm a pretty happy gal :)

Wanting - So, my brain is on overdrive with my need to re-do the master bathroom. I love to decorate and change things, so I'm always looking for ideas (hello Pinterest!), but this has become a necessity!  I've already picked out the shower curtain & I just need the $$ to make it happen! Oh, January - how  broke you make me!

Needing - for the Sudafed, Tylenol Cold & Flu, and Cough Drops to work their miracle magic and make me feel better. I'm thankful I'm sick now, and not next week trying to get back into the swing of things, but I really hate feeling like poopy.  I think everyone in the free world is sick, at least according to my Facebook feed, but I'm ready to feel better!

OLW - Faith
  I tend to be a wee bit of a control freak - I want to control everything, and when something is not going to way I think it should, I want to change it. But, this year, my goal is to just have FAITH.

  I read this quote once .. " Faith in God includes Faith in His Timing".  That's my new motto this year - to truly trust and have faith that everything is the way it is for a reason . . . faith that it will all work out the way it's supposed to .... faith that my kiddies are getting all they need to & the powers that be really have their best interest at heart . . . faith that I can do the things I set my mind to... faith that I can let go of the things I simply can't control...  

   ... the list goes on & on, but you get the point! :)

Anyway, that's it for me. I hope you all have a WONDERFUL new year!!!  Here's to a beautiful, faith-filled, happy, and healthy 2013!!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A HodPodge of Christmas Crafting Goodness & a FREEBIE! :)

It's almost here ....the break! Ahhh.... that's the sigh of relief that I'm anticipating! :)

Seriously, this week has been a whirlwind. Full of emotions, LOTS of hugs, some crazy excitement, and fun filled days of crafts, books, and sharing.  Even though my kids are completely nutball right now, I love them more than they will ever know, and I absolutely adore this time of year with them. The excitement, the bright eyes, and the innocence...

If I could just bottle up that innocence, or find a way for these sweet babies to keep it as long as possible....That would be my Christmas wish. 

So in the spirit of sharing, I wanted to show you all the fun things we've done this week. Last time I posted, I showed you our super cute reindeer...
Well, we took the reindeer theme and RAN!

Of course, we made reindeer food...

 A little oats...and some MAGIC CRYSTALS from the North Pole, of course. Santa sends me these crystals special each year.:)

One child asked, "If they're magic, why are they in the bucket labeled "glitter"? (uh oh!)
But another kid came to the rescue... " She has to hide them there because they LOOK like glitter, and that way no one can find OUR magic crystals!" Love it.

 Then, we put our food in these little brown paper bags & make them into reindeer. I love how they turned out!

After our reindeer food, we made reindeer ornaments...

A whole pile of reindeer! The kids LOVED making these & who doesn't have a bunch of popsicle sticks and stuff sitting around?  We used the mini sticks for the antlers... a new twist this year, and I like them better than the usual pipe cleaners we usually use.

So, then, we compared and contrasted fiction and nonfiction text about reindeer using our Reindeer Fact Books!

The little book inside comes from Mailbox, Kindergarten 1998-1999.  I got it from a former colleague of mine & the kids always love it. Plus, it's easy to read text with facts about reindeer.

I'll admit, this week is NOT the most instructional, but I do love this activity.

We also made Rudolph! Rudolph! Rhyming Books (no picture, sorry!), and I wanted to give it to you as a FREEBIE!!! You can grab it in my TpT store <HERE>.  I know it's a little late in the season, but it's a fun activity, a great review of rhyming words, and you can even save it for next year! :)

 If anyone knows the author of this poem so I can give credit, please let me know. Every where I look, it just says "Author Unknown".

Okay, so then we moved to snowflakes - more ornaments!

Have you used these before??  I went looking for regular sticks & they were out. Lucky me - these worked out even better !!!

The kids were so pumped about the glittery snowflakes - and I loved them, too. A friend of mine is going to do them in January for her winter unit in Kindergarten & I thought that was a great idea, too.  Just wanted to share :)

Anyway, that's it so far. Tomorrow, we will make our snowman ornaments & I am super excited.  On top of that, my class won the Behavior Movie Party for 1st grade ( GO us !!!) so I get 2 hours of planning. Ahhh...there's that sound of relief again :)

Here's a preview of our snowman ornaments...thank you Pinterest!!!
I bought paint pens today to go over the Sharpie the kids will use. I think that will look better. Add a couple pom poms, a pipe cleaner & some hot glue, and TA DA... project done!!!

Okay, so that's about it for me tonight..time for bed & a LONG day tomorrow. We have PTA...yes, PTA, the night before the last day of school.  Nighty night!!! Have a great rest of the week :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Crafting Madness, Must Have Books & Winter Wonderland Exchange :)

Is it really only Thursday? And I am really blogging again?  Yeppers! I know, maybe the Mayans were right & we're nearing the end.  Ummm...nah!

I know I've said this (and forgive me if you're tired of hearing it) but WOW - the kids are going crazy & there's still 6 more school days left! Bear with me...this post will be a little ADD, but I wanted to share with my bloggy friends.

For me, the BEST way to keep the kids busy this time of year is crafts....lots & lots of crafts! :)

Today, it was reindeer . . .
 Anyone have a cute caption for this bulletin board??  That big ole' blank spot needs some attention!
 Cute huh?

Next, we'll work on Santa :)
We haven't made them yet, so you get the laminated model today.  Isn't he so much fun? I love the glitter nose. Love me some glitter. :)

Anyway, these craft patterns come from the BEST BOOK EVER!  If you've never seen this, I can tell you - it is fantastic.  We use it for Halloween, Christmas, the Presidents, Valentine's Day, St. Patty' name it!

Now that I've sold on its awesomeness, I should go ahead & tell you - I can't find the actual book ANYWHERE.  But...I'm not here to rub your nose in my fabulous book and you not being able to get one. I did find the PDF version that you can purchase online. It's 138 pages of craft patterns for every single season & holiday... and it's like $17 ! Thinking about how much I pay for craftivities on TpT & stuff, I think it's a great deal.

A former colleague of mine got this for me my 2nd year of teaching, and I have used it until the pages are falling out.  It's actually made for using with HANGERS (seriously, hang up your clothes in the closet kinda hangers), but I've adapted them to just be cut/paste patterns for cuteness. 

You can get the e-book from Frog Street Press <HERE>.  (No, I don't work for them, but I love this book enough to share! haha)

 Yep, it's been that kind of day all day.  So, another book I just have to tell you about it MY MOST FAVORITE CHRISTMAS BOOK...
Seriously, if you don't have this book - run, don't walk, run to your nearest (hee hee) and grab it up now. I guess you could actually get in your car & drive to the book store, but I'm the lazy shopper these days.

Anyway, this is literally the funniest book I read all year. The kids and I both laugh out loud when we read it & believe me when I say, it's one you'll have to re-read over and over again.  HILARIOUS! :)

Now...another book I just have to share ( and then I'll hush about books, I promise).
    How many of you make Reindeer Food with your kiddies??  It's a big tradition in my classroom, and my fellow teachers, too.  We mix some oats (you know reindeer love some oats) and some "magic" crystals (aka glitter) to spread on the front lawn to attract Santa & his sleigh. We put them in baggies with a super cute topper & send them home.

   Well, you're not going to believe this, but I actually found a book that tells the story of Reindeer Food & the magic crystals that go in it!
It's not easy to find (try Ebay!) but it's actually a book I can use to support our mixing of breakfast foods and glitter :)

 You can also get a super cute printable for FREE to top your Magic Reindeer food <HERE> at Sailing Through 1st Grade :)
Okay, now that I've written a novela on craftiness, I want to share something else really cool with you!

Winter is such a fun time for crafts. Don't you just love seeing all the crafts everyone is putting on their blogs?? I swear, sometimes with all the Common Core & craziness of teaching these days, the craftivities are what keep me sane.

Anyway, Maria at First Grade Carousel is hosting an awesome Winter Wonderland Craft Exchange. 
 This is how it works, from Maria . . .
   " It's easy to participate just pick a winter project, have each student in your class make one or more. Send 20 projects to my address with a short letter that tells about your class, winter in your area, and a bit about your project. You will receive back a package with one project and letter from each participating class. I love getting mail, and I know our children will be very excited when the package arrives at school."

There are still some spots available, so head on over to her blog to sign up!  How much fun, right?!  The goal is to decorate your class with 20 different crafts from all over the country...and Canada, too...and learn something about all the places.  I can't wait to make my Polar Bears & Penguins :)

Head on over & check it out!! 

Hope all is wonderful with you. Hold on tight - it's almost FRIDAY!! :)


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December Currently - Last one of the Year!

Okay, okay, so I'm a little late to the party, but I'm linking up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for the monthly Currently...finally!

I do love doing these every month & seeing everyone's posts, but I have to say, they come around so fast I am reminded of just how fast this year is flying by. How is it already only 2 weeks until Christmas??  WOW!

Anyway, here goes...
  To Howie Mandel & this crazy new game show called "Take it All". I'll admit it, I'm a complete sucker for random TV - reality shows, game shows, you name it. If it's mindless TV, or especially if it involves any kind of competition, I'm in.  I'm a marketer's dream!!  haha.  It is pretty interesting to watch how people's greed will take over when it comes down to the line.

    It goes without saying, but isn't Christmas seriously the MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR?!?!?  I just love everything about it - even the crazy crowds are okay as long as they're surrounded by jolly music, red & green everything, & all the holidays smells.  I know most people love the holiday, but it truly makes me so happy. I think I get it from my mom - I swear, my parents' house looks like a Christmas village threw up in there.. but I love it :)

    I can't believe we STILL have 8 more school days until the break.  In years past, we have gotten out a week before Christmas & gone back shortly after the new year. This year, we go right up until the 21st, and if my kiddies behavior is any indication, the next week and a half might just kill me...or drive me totally nuts.  I'm serious - there's  a strong possibility that the custodians might find me curled up under my desk in the fetal position any day now!
    I really do have a great group of kids . . . but those sweet little first graders have been Elf Napped or something, and I'm left with pure craziness.  I'm talking whining . . . crying . . . tattling....tantrum throwing. . . nutball kiddos.  I wrote more parent notes home today than EVER in my teaching career.  I've been told to never pray for patience, so I'm praying for survival !

Wanting . . .
     Doesn't it sound awfully shallow to want more money?  I know.  And as embarrassed as I am to admit it, I really would like some.  We got paid before Thanksgiving which is making the trek to the 21st a LONG one, especially with all the present buying & those awesome quarterly bills that show up when you completely forget they're coming.  But, then after Christmas, we wait SIX weeks until the next check, so that should be a rockin' good time, too.  Wow, that PowerBall lottery sure does sound good about now!  Does anyone's else's school system pay like this??

    A magic elf.  Now, I have an Elf on the Shelf (named Prince Noah Jingles...for real), but he's really not been much help on the wrapping and writing forefront. I need one of Santa's elves to come into my humble abode & wrap up everything, write & address cards...and, if I'm being honest, he could do a couple loads of laundry, too! :)

    I just LOVE the idea of Random Acts of Kindness.  There's nothing that truly embodies the spirit of Christmas like RAK's & I adore Farley for including this in the Currently.

    For me, I learned from a friend of a local assisted living facility in need of some holiday love. Most of the residents don't have a lot of family or friends, and when asked what they wanted for Christmas, they listed things like "Dr. Pepper, peanut butter crackers, shampoo that smells good, and sharp razors".  Broke me heart.  Seriously... I mean, with all the hustle & bustle to get the biggest and best presents, these sweet people just want some simple little things.  So...  I contacted my principal & we're going in as a school to get goodies bags together & cards for all the residents.  And, we're going caroling after school one day, too!  I don't know if this counts as totally random, but I'm super excited about it :)

So that's it for me! 
   I can't wait to read all your blogs to see what's going on (and to make me feel better about my craziness, too!).  I hope you're all having a GREAT week & you are surviving the madness. Thanks for stopping by ! :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fun Shape Pictures, Great Christmas Idea & A FREEBIE! :)

Is it really only December 4th???  With Thanksgiving so early this year, we have 4 weeks between breaks.  Yes, that sounds awfully whiny, but we're used to only 3 & the kids are already all kinds of coo-koo crazy waiting for Santa!  Our classroom Elf on a Shelf arrived early Monday morning & he is not having QUITE the effect he usually does.  Could be because my kids named him "Prince Noah Jingles", but who knows?!  Last year, Santa called my cell (with his own personal ringtone) and that worked like a charm, so maybe I'm gonna have to implement that little trick ASAP. :)

Anyway, it IS December, and around my school, that means teaching shapes. 

I admit it - I dread teaching shapes. Wait, I dread THREE to FOUR weeks of teaching shapes. With so much background knowledge, the kids usually bore easily with our unit on shapes, but we are required to teach them for three weeks.  BUT, this year, with the new Common Core, the depth of knowledge is much deeper, so it made planning for this unit much more fun.  

So far, we have only focused on flat or 2D shapes, but this was such a fun activity, I wanted to share. I also used it for my "formal" observation, so fingers crossed that went well :)

Anyway, we started with the book Shapes, Shapes, Shapes by Tana Hoban.
If you aren't familiar with it, this is just a picture book - no words. So, each page is a picture of "real world" scenes full of shapes. I scanned each page & imported it into a FlipChart for the Promethean Board. Then, with each page, the kids came up and found the shapes in the picture with the pen. They outlined them, identified the shape & told how many sides and corners. They loved it !!

Then, we talked about composite shapes (new math vocab!) & how we could make pictures from existing shapes.

I passed out baggies of die-cut pattern blocks (thanks to Room Mom for cutting out HUNDREDS of shapes!) & told the kiddies they had to create a picture using at least 12 shapes and ONLY shapes (no drawing!).  In no time, the kids went to work!

It was AWESOME to see their creativity & what they came up with !
 This is a bee hive with a flower!
 A Christmas tree with snowflakes.
 A rocket & stars
An alien!

Another one of the rules was that the children had to create a picture they could really explain - i.e. they couldn't just glue down their shapes & then give me a blank stare when I asked what it was.  They had to write 3 sentences about their creation & count the shapes.

Later, they tallied & graphed their shapes.
Then, they had to reflect on their work & complete a self-assessment rubric.  This is an area we are really trying to focus on in 1st grade, so I keep it simple, but want the kids to reflect on their ability to follow directions.
No idea why it's sideways.

Anyway, here are the final products!

I just love how they turned out ! :)
We're still working on sentence structure ( do kids EVER learn to capitalize & punctuate consistently??!!!?!) but the whole thing went well. I'll tell you - it's time consuming, but every single one of my firsties could tell me what a composite shape was when this was over.  And, you'll just have to trust me, that's a BIG deal ! :)

Anyway, if you want the documents, I have put them in my TpT store for FREE.  Just click <HERE>!

They're nothing fancy, but you are more than welcome to them :)

Okay, lastly... a great Christmas idea!
  So, you might have heard of this & I've been living under a rock, but this week, I have received the CUTEST & sweetest Christmas surprise from one of my sweeties. 

  On Monday (December 3rd), this little girl came in and said " I have presents for you!". I asked her "for what?" to which she just replied "Cause it's December!"

  She then handed me the first gift - a little clipboard with the note (I'm improvising here...) "On the 1st day of Christmas, I give you something to use . . . this clipboard so your papers you won't lose".

  Then, she handed me the second one - TWO red sharpies with the note "On the 2nd day of Christmas, I know the kids are busy bees. But, you can grade their papers with these two red sharpies!"

   The third one - THREE binder clips with the note "On the 3rd day of Christmas, I give you three binder clips. I'm sure it'd be tempting to use them on some of our lips!"

   And today, FOUR highlighters ... "On the 4th day of Christmas, highlighters come in packs of four... as my first grade teacher, you have really helped me soar!"

Isn't that the BEST thing ever?!?  I just think it's about the most clever and creative teacher gift to come along, and I can't wait to see what the rest of my days bring :) I mean, what teacher doesn't love school supplies, some creativity and a personal touch?  I just had to share!

Anyway, as always, thanks for stopping by!!! I love your comments, so if you use this in your room, let me know how it goes! :)