Saturday, December 22, 2012

It Was A Crazy Day...

Have you ever seen this project? I taught this to fourth and fifth grade students at my school and they worked in collaborative groups to complete these flowers. They had a blast but some students struggled with making the pedals and were able to get help from the children at their table. They had to listen, follow directions, use a stencil to create their own template, and then put it together. Once we got through this part we decided to add some glitter to the leaves which made them gorgeous. These students could not wait to take these home to their families. I would have done some kind of writing with this if there had been time.Next year I'll be a little smarter and plan ahead.  Common Core has brought art back into the classroom and our students really "blossom" when given these creative opportunities. The Legend of the Poinsettia is a nice book to read before starting this activity. What projects do you like to do?

This is a great card to do across all grade levels and the kids loved making it. In kindergarten I cut the strips out ahead of time in shades of green. The base is a rectangle and the star is a square that they cut on the diagonal. I love teaching longest to shortest with these strips. For some children this can be a real challenge and they might need more practice with this important math concept. My fifth grade classes are in the middle of a Common Core unit on Fractions so their teachers had them measure long strips of paper and cut them specific sizes, using their knowledge of fractional parts. The directions were placed under the ELMO and they had to work independently to construct this. The results were fantastic and they were so proud of their work! This project could be done in shades of blue and purple for a gorgeous winter scene and snow could be added with paint on your finger! Does this reflect common core- you bet! Do you have any other January favorites?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Jingle Bell Rock!

The kids are so excited today! They are finally going to make a jingle bracelet with me in kindergarten. This takes a bit of prep but is well worth the trouble to do. The directions can be found in my elf packet that has , math magic.   I love this project because we can practice counting by 2's together, do a bit of patterning which actually is embedded in common core, and add a little bell for some bling. I have elf cards that go along with this project for some additional skip counting practice. The students love that they are elf feet since "Magic" has been hiding all over the classroom this week. He really likes to learn but never cleans up his mess! So if you need some elf jewelry you can grab it in this packet. I cannot wait to see how they do with this. The little book is perfect to take home and share with their families. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Heart Is Broken

Who am I?
I am mom to two daughters I love with all my heart.
I am a wife to a man I have loved for 38 years.
I am a kindergarten teacher.
 There is no other grade for me. 
I am passionate about kindergarten.
I never want to work in any other grade.
This is the work I was meant to do.
They are my school family.
Their achievements are my achievements.
Today was a nightmare.
An entire kindergarten class died. The teacher and principal died also.
My heart is broken.
I cannot make sense of this at all. 
Hug your family and be thankful for all that you have.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Perfect Attendance Because of An Elf...

Since when do fifth graders rip through the door to get into their classroom? They do if there's an elf waiting for them in the classroom to spread Christmas magic. These students cannot wait to find him and see what he is up to. My friend Christina spends a lot of time trying to make this interesting and she is having a blast with her elf. The fishing picture put me over the top and the kids went nuts when they saw him. The students never know what to expect when they come through the door. Sometimes the elf is in plain sight doing something hilarious that they write about in their journal, with a picture. Other times he is hiding and they have to work to solve a riddle to get a clue from their teacher. They never know what to expect and it made school more than slightly interesting for them. Attendance has been at 100 per cent. Who knew that an elf would get them to school and become the center of their world. Tomorrow I left  "love notes" from the elf with little candies attached for those who are on task, treating their friends kindly, and listening. The bookmark is something I created for their CCSS unit on division but naturally I signed it from the elf! It sure makes life interesting during those weeks before vacation! What is your elf doing to make life interesting in your classroom? I love all the energy we are putting into this!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Gifts From the Elf

Have you made a bubble map with your elf yet? This is the perfect opportunity to have your students describe your classroom elf students but be sure to use  adjectives. Make a large map first on chart paper and be sure to put your elf's name right under his or her picture. Have students come up with describing words that require using their senses. How does it look? How does it feel? What does he do? Those are the kinds of questions you can ask. You can even come up with character traits. When I make my big bubble map I often color the bubbles so the children know which one I am referring to (another scaffold). I just use scrapbooking chalk and lightly rub in some color with a cotton ball. This is really helpful for those children who are really not reading yet. So what are some of the words the children might be led to come up with? The elf is red and white, silly, naughty,small, magical, kind, smart, clever, etc. I only use a few bubbles at this time of the year but you can always add on more if your children are capable. Since this map is one that they will fill in I made it very simple.
1. Have students come up to your big map and read a bubble that they like. Here is a perfect opportunity to use the name of your elf or practice the pronoun "he" or "she."
You can even use a pointer with a star and some bells on it! Make it magical.
2. After this I put the language of the map on a pocket chart so it can be practices.
3. Once the children can read the pocket chart I put the words in a second chart next to the first, have them read the map, build their sentences themselves and practice reading them.
4. This makes a fantastic literacy station that they will enjoy.

This is another way to continue to build their fluency based on the map they have created.   This one is to reinforce the language of their bubble map and allows them an opportunity to practice these sentences in a different way. Have them work collaboratively using a list of adjectives they came up with on their class bubble map. With their maps to guide them they should be able to fill this in (cross your fingers).
This is a perfect opportunity for studentsE
 to read to a partner. Students love these little foldables and can take them home to share with their families. I love when all the children feel successful! I will post this after my workout today... pinky promise. Would you like a copy? Please become a follower and leave a comment if you can... Pick up your elf gifts right here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Elf Is Loose At Our School!

In kindergarten letters are the upper and lowercase kind. This is that time of year when assessments come rolling in and you need to see if your little ones can match and make upper and lowercase letters. At one time I would have made this an independent activity over several days but now I realize that it is a perfect performance based assessment to reflect foundational skills for the Common Core. Who said the Common Core can't be fun? The elf is still running around our school getting into all kinds of mischief. Yesterday he left snowflakes all over the table in 5th grade and hid in a drawer with a scissor in his hand to give his poor behavior away. Yup, he forgot to clean up his mess which is something this teacher has to remind her students about all the time. Fifth graders got into teams, had to solve a math problem, and finally she gave the winners a clue that led them to Toby, their elf. They had a blast with this and practically jumped on me when I came in the room to see all the havoc the elf had caused in room 14. OMG what can I come up with in January to keep this going? Help! I am lovin' the power of this magical elf.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Elves At Work Creating A New Culture

Students can't wait to get into their classrooms. You can hear a hush in the room as they frantically look around for their class elf. Where is he? Do you see him? Does he have love notes? Are there treats? Can you find him? That's what I hear as I walk around the school in the morning...Bless the elf on the shelf.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Magical Morning Work...Free From the Elf

I always love providing an opportunity for students to write for an authentic purpose. This is quick and simple and can be used throughout the grades. For kinder I would eliminate the last page or do it together. For the older kids it allows them to write a persuasive paragraph which is encouraged with the new CCSS .
This might be a magical elf but the writing is purposeful. Even older students need an opportunity to draw their thinking and we might bust out the colored pencils for this little activity. Character, setting, and event can be revisited while the kids are having some fun! Now where should he be hidden tomorrow? Any suggestions? The 5th grade teacher put him high on a shelf next to a book, holding a roll of toilet paper that she dropped and wrapped her cabinet in. OMG her class is lovin' this! Christina told me her kids are asking each other if they still believe in Santa and with their elf in the room they are not quite so sure of this... If you want this journal our elf is offering it up right here.
Run off as many pages as you need collated and staple them on the left corner before you cut them apart. This is a freebie for your classroom only! Thanks.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Putting the Magic Back Into the Classroom...

Today I had so much fun at school. I wrapped up the famous "elf on the shelf" and stuck him in the freezer to chill him out. I asked the principal (who was super busy) if he would deliver the elf to a fifth grade classroom in the most dramatic way possible. He was outstanding and really belongs on Broadway. Yup, he took the package down to this classroom with ice chips all over the top of it! The kids were shocked that he was insisting that they stop working because he had received a special delivery from the North Pole. He brushed off all the ice and insisted that students feel this strange package that just appeared on his desk. The kids were so freaked out by this. 
The teacher is my friend Christina and she was loving all the drama. She unwrapped the package slowly and pretended to be amazed by the contents. The kids were practically falling out of their seats. She put the note she found from Santa under her ELMO so the kids could read it. They were dying from excitement. It was precious.The note reminded them that they needed to treat each other kindly because the elf was WATCHING them and reporting back. I think I will have him holding my cell phone one day, texting Santa.  So you are probably wondering why I am writing this about a 5th grade classroom. I realized today that we forget that fifth graders are just overgrown kindergarten kids and need some magic in their lives too! Right? Their joy was so touching and wonderful to witness...
We had them work collaboratively and decide what to name their elf by voting and using tally marks. Hey, this is still a Common Core School Zone. Now we are writing CC riddles for them to solve in teams to find the elf each day. I cannot wait to see how they react to our silly hiding spots each day. Do you have an elf spreading some magic in your room? I hope so.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sales and Kindergarten Tales

Wow, the sales on TpT were  crazy last week. I could not believe how much people purchased. They took advantage of all the packets bloggers had created. I appreciate every one of you and the items that you bought. But, with that being said, you also went to the trouble of leaving such kind and thoughtful comments and I promise you that I read every single one of them. It was such fun for me and made me realize what a wonderful community has been created by all of us who spend hours creating these units in the hopes that it will make learning so much more interesting and valuable for our kids.There is so much talent out on the internet that I would not dream of purchasing anything from a store. No way. Bloggers are so much better at creating interactive and creative materials. I just told my upper grade teachers about  TpT and most of them have never even looked for stuff... That is about to change. Okay, so they will hate me for spending all their money for them. What can I say?
If you never made it to the sale these are still available in TpT and Teachers Notebook. I think you will enjoy using them with your students.
One of my 5th grade teachers has a son in kindergarten. She told me she purchased the Winter Warm-Ups to Make Your Room Cozy packet, ran it off, is laminating it and putting it in a beautiful basket for her son's teacher. That is a fabulous gift. Where was she when I was teaching kindergarten? I would have adored an entire unit ready to go! Keep that in mind if your kids' teachers would like such a thoughtful gift! Find your favorite blogger and buy something she will love using or might need...
Did you make any awesome purchases?