Friday, December 21, 2012

Final Day of Christmas Fun (for this year)

Teaching in a multi-age classroom gets a little tricky on special days like today. Some general education teachers invited our students to their classrooms so we actually ended up with only 3 students for most of this final half-day before Christmas vacation. We read The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst and let the students decorate their own gingerbread cookies. In this version, the girl is made with lots of candy to make her especially sweet so she won't want to run away. With so few students, we just let them have at all the decorations they wanted. This is what they ended up with:

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Enjoy the holiday season with your family and friends and we will be back after the New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Santa's Workshop

Just some quick pictures of our gifts for the students parents. Santa came to visit us at our morning program and he read the book 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to the whole school. We made a mini-book for each student and re-read it together. Then we used baby food jars, construction paper and cotton balls to make a Santa face. We filled the jars w/ red tissue paper to give him Rosy cheeks.

We read Frosty the Snowman and again used baby food jars to create a decorative jar using the children's hand print wrapped around the bottom of the jar so each finger is a snowman. We did a similar craft last year using a plain bulb ornament.  

In order to safely wrap these glass gifts, we used a brown lunch bag and had the student cut Christmas images out of wrapping paper and printed gift tags made by Mrs. Moody. This was a great activity to work on cutting and planning for size and space usage.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

All Aboard! Polar Express Day

We started our day by reading The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. This is such an amazing story to read to students this age. To see the wonder and excitement in their eyes when we show the bell that Santa gave to us to share with them really sparks your Christmas spirit!

As a writing activity, the students needed to recall and choose a favorite part in the story. We really got the students to stretch their thinking to specific moments. Many of them liked the train or the bell. With encouragement, they were able to give the exact moment from the book such as when they drank hot chocolate on the train or when the little boy opened the bell on Chirstmas morning. We are working very hard on getting the students to meet the common core standards of supporting their ideas and responses with specific information from the given text. I was pleased to see how well they were able to do this with a much more complicated text.

We followed up with independent work that included activities for handwriting, cutting, word work, shapes and letter recognition.

For snack, we made Polar Express Hot Chocolate and train treats which were both inspired from pinterest.

The occupational therapist pushes into our classroom every other day and today was her day. We put a model of a train on our SMART board. The students needed to cut out given shapes and use those to build the train. Then could then color the train anyway they would like.

The following amazing bloggers helped us create this fun, festive and educational day!

Monday, December 17, 2012


This week is a crazy week in the world of a primary school. So we are embracing the excitement by celebrating a little differently each day with one of our favorite Christmas books. Today is How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. We only had our K/1 students this morning because the 2nd graders were off carolling at the VA hospital.

We started by reading the story and making our own connections booklet. The students needed to identify the Grinch's feelings at the beginning and the end. They then made a page giving an example of what makes them feel grumpy and happy. This was a great writing activity and I was very proud that they were all able to come up with their own ideas and reasons to support their answers. We brainstormed other words we could use to describe his feelings as well.

We then watched the movie and with a little "pinspiration" I came up with a cute little craft that we turned into ornaments to be taken home. All you need is a small paper plate, green paint, red and white paper, a cotton ball and google eyes. The students painted the plate green to make his face, and then used their fine motor skills to rip paper to make the hat, eyes and mouth.

For math, I found 2 great math activities. One is a dice game for addition and the other is using the 100s chart to color a surprise (a Grinch face). I modified the dice game for my younger students by whiting out 7-12 and adding a 1. I gave them a dot dice to count sets and record their data. The other students used 2 die; one dot and one with a number to practice counting on for addition. They all recorded their information by coloring in one square for each sum they got until they filled one whole column. This is slightly different from the directions on the page.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Reindeer Games!

This Friday we themed our Holiday activities around reindeer. We started by reading the short story "Five Little Reindeer" The story is similar to the Five Little Pumpkins poem which helped the students follow along as we read it together. We were also able to review ordinal numbers and rhyming words.

Next, we made reindeer food to help the reindeer find our homes on Christmas eve with oats, sugar and glitter to catch their attention in the snow.  (Hopefully, we'll have some by then)  We read Olive, the Other Reindeer by J.Otto Seibold & Vivian Walsh to keep us in the reindeer mood!

Then, we watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and made reindeer treats using a chocolate donut, a red peanut m&m, 2 white chocolate chips and a pretzel. The students made one to eat now and one to take home. This was an excellent activity to work on their fine motor skills, visual perception and planning.

We went on to read "Rudolph, Rudolph" which was a great little book to review color words and rhyming. We also used the coloring activity that required the students to roll a number to find the correct color. The students worked as teams to complete this activity.

We did not get to many activities today, but they will make great centers for next week. We had a great addition packet and color by number activity.  I also found a cute reindeer themed bump it game for math and a pattern activity. Check out the links below to get all these FREE activities from some great teachers!

The following people helped provide materials for these activities: reindeer snack , reindeer food tags, dice game, addition packetFive Little Reindeer book, , bump it math game, patterns, The Rudolph, Rudolph book came from, but I can't find the link to the exact unit and there is a bunch of great stuff in it!  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Think Win-Win: #4 of the 7 Habits of Happy Kids

Thinking Win-Win is a tricky thing for 5, 6 and 7 year-olds to understand. As we study the 7 Habits of Happy Kids, we are trying to find real situations to put the students in to help them practice these abstract skills we are teaching. Our school psychologist comes to our classroom once a week to teach a social skills lesson. Since she is expecting, we decided it would be fun for the kids to throw her a surprise baby shower and give her gifts. We talked about how they won't be getting any gifts because the party is not for them, but how they will "win" because it will feel good to do something for someone we care about. They were just beside themselves with excitement as we made cards for her with all the items they thought that she should have in order to be prepared (habit #2: begin with the end in mind) for the arrival of her new baby. (The cards were adorable!) She also is not finding out the sex of her baby so the kids made predictions and used pink or blue paper based on their prediction. She was so surprised when she came into the classroom and the kids just lit up because they kept the secret and the surprise was a success. They were also so proud to read their cards to her and help her to be prepared. What a great lesson!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Snowmen Adventures

With so much excitement in the air about the Christmas season, we decided to use Fridays as our winter/Christmas craft day and incorporate a variety of language, literacy and math skills throughout the activities.

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner is one of my favorite winter stories. We used this book as the base for our first literacy and craft activity.

We read the story and while we made our pine cone snowmen we brainstormed ideas for the adventures each one would have. You can find the directions for the craft activity here

The students were then asked to write a short story detailing the adventures their snowman would take. We used printed snowmen to help them see that the character they chose will be the same character through the story. We then used transitional words (first, then, next, finally) to help lead their ideas and make a story. Here is an example from "The Adventures of Daisy" by Alexander. "First, Daisy will go sledding. Next, Daisy went skiing on a giant mountain. Then she went down the mountain to the finish line. Finally, she had hot cocoa and candy."
I will put the free template for the story on my Teachers Pay Teachers store soon.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

When I Grow Up I Want to Blog Like...

I will openly admit that Darcy has lead the effort on our blog so far. I am making it my new year resolution to be more involved :) I was very nervous to get started and to be honest, I don't really know what to write a lot of time! I will start with sharing some of the blogs that I follow. I get so many ideas from these lovely bloggers and most of them have a teacherspayteachers page that allows you to access all of their cool stuff!

Communicating With Families

Each week we write a short newsletter home to families giving tidbits about our week and what we are looking forward to in the next few weeks. We are beginning to wonder if this is truly the best way to communicate with families as these newsletters are often still in their take home folders on Monday morning. Starting this month we will be changing to a monthly newsletter. I've also been playing around with our classroom website available to parents through the district website. I'm trying to include pertinent information for our classroom that is included in every newsletter. We still only have one official blog follower, but I would like some feedback from anyone who happens upon our little blog. How do you communicate with families?

Also, check out our parent website. What would you add/change/remove?