Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Reflections

It's time for a look back at 2015. Kristen from A Teeny Tiny Teacher, Traci from Dragonflies in First, and Hadar from Miss Kindergarten are hosting their annual linky. I haven't really followed the rules. I decided to look at them more as suggestions, since I couldn't pick 10 favorite memories. 


Getting Herbie was certainly a highlight! He was so tiny when we took him home from the shelter. Now, he's sleek and sassy and loves to cuddle up with Sunshine. The kids can hold him and carry him around the house, and he's perfectly agreeable about it all. 
My Dad and me... 1976 perhaps?
Dad, Mom, and me... 1971
Dad with Gabrielle... Early 2009

Dad with Seth... December 2011
My Dad passed away in February. We miss him, but there are lots of memories that make us smile. 

On Valentine's Day morning, my husband and I slept in a bit. We woke to the sound of children hysterically laughing in the kitchen. They had found the whoopie cushions that I'd left for them and were trying them out before breakfast. 

On Seth's 12th birthday, we went camping with my friend and her girls. The first day was perfect! The next day it rained buckets and the campsite flooded. We ended up going home to sleep in our beds that night! The next day, we came back to take down the tents and then headed for the beach. More photos and fun details about our camping trip can be found here.

Happy New Year! Thanks for visiting!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Leisurely Laminating and a Freebie

I'm loving Christmas break! This morning I showered, went to a doctor's appointment, visited the drive through for coffee, came back home, and put on flannel pajama bottoms and slippers. Why not? I've been hanging out with my family and reading the new books my husband bought me for Christmas. 

Here are some Christmas morning photos. 

Yesterday, I spent many hours tackling my teacher bag of work! The last thing I had to do to prep for next week was laminate some task cards. My husband helped me. It was nice to do some leisurely laminating instead of feeling all rushed on a week night.

These task cards are a forever freebie in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Click here or on the image below to grab them. 
Enjoy the rest of your break! 


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ugly Holiday Sweaters Abound!

This afternoon my husband, the kids, and I decorated cookies. We had ugly sweater cookies (my favorite), Christmas trees, gingerbread men, Santas, and snowmen. Here are my creations. 

All of those colorful, festive, ugly sweaters gave me an idea. I'm teaching until Wednesday, and we'll have our holiday party Tuesday at the end of the day. I've decided to have a simple but fun activity for kids who need to keep their hands busy and their bodies calm.  If students want to, they can design their own ugly sweaters. I just sketched a sweater, traced over it with Sharpie, and copied it. Students can fill in the rest however they want. If you are feeling adventurous, you could pull out the glitter!  I will NOT be pulling out the glitter. Here's my example.  
It's a simple, no-fuss activity (if you don't use glitter). I thought I'd share in case anyone else will be trying to keep kids calm the week before Christmas! 

Perhaps I should also buy an ugly sweater to wear? What do you think?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Writing Christmas-y Multiplication Problems

There are six days until my Christmas break! I know some of you will be off all of next week, but my district goes until Wednesday. I'm bound and determined to keep things as normal as possible, but I'm throwing in some holiday-themed materials to keep my students engaged.

My son and I went on a local store hunt to purchase Christmas objects. I set the materials up in stations. Students rotated around the room with lined paper and clipboards writing multiplication story problems for each set of objects.

Here are the materials I used.
 Seven cups with two straws in each

Three packages of plates with eight plates in each package
Seven stapled sets of "ugly sweater" papers with three papers in each set... Some students were literal and called them sweater papers. Others said there were seven people, and each person owned three sweaters. Cute!

Four packages of bows with nine bows in each package

 Two trays with six "cookies" on each

Five Christmas gift bags with four Christmas pencils in each bag

This activity was a huge success. The students were so motivated. I circulated around the room with my Christmas stickers checking work in progress and providing feedback. This will definitely be a go-to activity every December for me.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Five for Friday

Thirteen days until Christmas! Both of my formal observations at school are completed! Report cards are done! That means I have time to really enjoy these weeks leading up to Christmas. So, you'll see a lot of holiday-related activity in this week's Five for Friday. Visit Doodlebugs Teaching for more Five for Friday fun.


 In the classroom, we've been working on theme. (More about that here.) I'm pulling in Christmas books when I can. Anything to keep them engaged in December! I read aloud Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert L. May. I typed up an excerpt that we read, reread, and annotated. We also searched for text evidence to support the theme. Next, I read aloud Sleeping Ugly by Jane Yolen. The students reread with partners and searched for text evidence. I'll be sharing our final projects soon. We didn't have them wrapped up Friday as I'd hoped!

My friend threw her annual gingerbread party last weekend, and the kids and I attended. There were SO many kids, and they were so engaged in creating their masterpieces. They also ate quite a lot of the decorations! When the sugar kicked in, they played outside and down in the rec room.

There's a nursing home in our community where the kids and I visit every week or two. It was where my dad lived for about three years before he passed away. Each year, there's a Christmas tree decorating contest. Each wing creates a tree. They are always fun to look at. This year, I think the Grinch is my favorite!

My husband brought home these Christmas coloring books. One night, all of us sat down as a family and colored while watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on DVD. Then, we drove around looking at Christmas lights and picked up some pizza for dinner. Gabrielle said it was the BEST. DAY. EVER.

My husband and I have been doing a lot of wrapping this week. I find it a fun task, especially when we listen to Christmas music at the same time. 

Enjoy your weekend! Thanks for stopping by. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Cats & Elf Explanations

Explaining mathematical thinking is always tricky for kids, so I came up with a seasonal idea to get them excited about it. 

Explain it to the elf!

Students wrote a friendly letter to a quickly-crafted elf explaining multiplication concepts and vocabulary. Click here to grab a free copy of the "Explain it to the Elf" sheets I created. I've left it extremely open-ended so you can adapt the task to your grade level. Some possible prompts could ask students to explain:
  • how to round a number using a number line
  • how to estimate a sum or difference using rounding
  • why an answer is reasonable (or NOT reasonable)
  • how to add or subtract with regrouping
Now for the "Christmas cats" portion of this post. This is what my two cats, Sunshine and Herbie, have been doing almost constantly since we set up the tree. 

My husband gets all the credit for the gorgeous photos! Happy Wednesday! I hope the rest of your week goes well.