Tuesday, December 30, 2014

One Word Resolution

New Year's resolutions, as a teacher I make them twice a year.  I make them in January and I make them again in July, right before a new school year starts.  I love having a positive goal(s) to work towards.
I'm linking with the super teachers at Primary Powers to share my One Word Resolution.  Mine is Gratitude.

Living with a sense of gratitude is a great path to contentment.  Gratitude for small things, like my favorite kind of pizza and gratitude for big things, like a healthy family, there are so many reasons to have gratitude.  Avoiding comparisons and consciously focusing on what is right in your life leads to gratitude and happiness.

There you have it, Gratitude is my One Word Resolution for 2015.

Primary Powers 

Would you like to share your resolution for 2015?  Stop by Primary Powers and linkup.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Just a Pinch of Grinch

Just unloading some pics from this week and wow, these past five days have been busy.  Christmas programs, parties, crafts, assessments, the flu, presents, special books, class visitors, and lots of repeating myself.  The week before winter break is crazy, but of course lots of fun.
Some of our time was devoted to the mean one, Mr. Grinch.  Most of my students know the Grinch, so they were super excited when I had "Grinchy Activities" up on our class agenda.  We started the day with a read aloud of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Then we moved straight to our craft.

Our Grinches were inspired by a Glyph Girls' project I pinned a few years ago.  I love how they turned out.  The kids loved making them and were totally cracked up when they realized their Grinches would not be wearing any pants.
We did these first because I wanted to pop them up around the room to Grinch-it up a bit before our other activities.

After finishing our Grinches, we moved on to a little literacy scoot game I put together.  I placed a Grinch word card at every desk, face down.  Students had to read the word on the card and determine if it has a long vowel sound or a short vowel sound.  Then they wrote their answers on a recording sheet.  When I gave the signal, everyone scooted to the next seat.
Since we just wrapped up the basic vowel, consonant, silent e pattern for all long vowel sounds, this activity was a perfect informal assessment.

We broke up the morning with a yummy pinspired snack one of my dear moms sent in.  The kids were really happy to get a treat.  (Maybe next year I'll let them put their Grinch treats together on their own.)

For math we got moving again with a write the room fact review.  I put addition and subtraction facts around the room.  (Some of my kids need lots more practice solving addition and subtraction facts when they are mixed.)  Just like in scoot, students started at one card, solved the problem, recorded their answers, and then moved when I signaled.
Since it was the week before winter break and my kids were a little more lively than usual, I built in another element of movement besides moving from card to card.  I printed a set of "Max cards" to help get out some of the wiggles.
The Max cards have various exercises on them.  "Do 4 squats."  "Do a plank and count to 12."  "Do 10 jumping jacks."  (You get the picture.)  After about for or five equations I would announce that it was time for a Max card and then I'd read the exercise.
The kids loved, loved, loved the Max cards.  It was something just a little different in our routine and it worked great.

Another activity with Grinch was an entry into our Elf journal, Diary of an Elf.  The kids wrote about what they thought was going on between the Grinch and our class elf.  They wrapped up their entries by telling what they thought might happen that evening, when it was time for our elf to return to the North Pole.  I got some very interesting responses.

We ended our Grinchy learning by watching the classic cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  After spending much of the day learning with Grinch, my sweet students were extra interested in watching the story unfold on screen.
Our time with Grinch was just what we needed this week, a high level of engagement with a beloved character and plenty of chances to move around.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your well deserved break.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Keeping It Groovy with Pete the Cat Saves Christmas

We are down to one week before winter break.  Not that I'm counting (wink, wink).  Like most of you, I am trying to fit in every fun bit of learning that I possibly can before we wrap things up for the year.  One book I knew I wanted to hit during these last few days was Pete the Cat Saves Christmas.
I'm in love with the Pete books (especially the first four).  I'll pounce on any opportunity to use them in class.
One of the ways we extended Pete the Cat Saves Christmas was to make these super cute Santa Pete crafts to decorate our room.

Our Petes turned out awesome.  They are so colorful.  They really make our space festive.  The kids were so excited to make them.
If you would like to make this project with your class, you can click on the picture below.  

In math we used the Pete the Cat Saves Christmas theme to practice place value, with a write the room activity that we used two different ways over two days.
On the first day the students simply went around the room and wrote each number from each card on their recording sheets.  After all of the numbers were recorded, they grabbed a highlighter and headed back to their seats.  Then, with the whole group, I told them to "highlight the number in the tens place" or "highlight the number in the ones place."  It was a simple activity that made my young learners really have to think about the place values of the digits.
On the second day, students went around to each card and drew the base ten counters to represent each number.  This variation provided some much needed practice with place value and number representations.  Since it was a write the room activity, the kids had a good time because they could get up and move, move, move.

This activity could also be used for a round of scoot.  It could also be prepped in a tote and made into a math center.  If you would like to check it out and try it out with your own students, you can click on the picture below for a FREE copy.

A literacy activity that we fit in this week was a color word review match up.  I printed enough cards for each pair of partners to get their own set of cards, so that we could complete this task whole group.
This review worked really well and hopefully helped build more confidence in my young readers.  

You can also have this Pete inspired literacy center for FREE by clicking on the picture below.

We had such a good time learning with Pete the Cat this week.  This time of year can be a challenge to keep everyone focused on learning.  Pete is a a great way to grab your students attention and keep them engaged.

The FREEBIES in this post are my little Christmas gifts to my sweet readers that stop by to check out School Is a Happy Place.  I really appreciate your visits so much.

Have a groovy week.  ;)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Good Things Come in Small Packages: Fun with Our Class Elf

Monday was a big day in our classroom.  Our Elf arrived from the North Pole.  He was a bit of a surprise.  He was peeking out of a big basket of Lincoln Logs on top of a tall cabinet.  I really didn't think he would be spotted until later in the day.  But my kids found him right away.
Now, every morning they rush in to be the first to see where our Elf is hiding and what he's up to.  
We are keeping track of all things Elf in our journal (Diary of an Elf).

Students wrote about our Elf's arrival and a personal introduction.  After that, they write short daily entries telling where the Elf is, what he's doing, and possibly how he got in that position.  I've encouraged my students to write as though they are the Elf.  Some of the entries have been funny and creative.
For a FREE copy of my Diary of an Elf, click on the picture above.

Another Elf inspired activity we did was a quick and easy to prep rhyming words sort.  I used some of the rhymes from the book, The Elf on the Shelf to create this sort.  It was a great little review for my firsties.  You can have a FREE copy of this sort by clicking on the picture below.

Elf also made an appearance in our December math centers.  He is featured in our place value center.  That's the thing about Elf, you just never know where he's going to turn up. ;)

On Friday morning Elf (at least we think it was Elf) left a little treat for everyone at their desks.  Food is always a hit.  Food from a secret admirer is over the top thrilling.

Later in the day we made our Elf Glyphs and I love how they turned out.  Students answered a set of holiday related questions to determine what their glyphs look like.  On Monday we are going to use our glyphs for some data collection and analysis during our math time. 

If you are interested in my Elf Glyph, it is available at my tpt store.  You can click on the picture below for more details.

I'll wrap this up with a pic of this upcoming Monday morning's elfscapade.  Nothing over the top, just a little snack.  But knowing my kids, they are going to be totally cracked up by an Elf and his sandwich.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Rewind (Plus a Math FREEBIE)

This past week (or so) we have been having a little fun with Thanksgiving.  Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Native Americans, I love this time of year in the classroom.  
Here's a peek at some of the special projects and Thanksgiving inspired learning we've enjoyed . . .

One adorable craft my classes have made for the past few years are these wooden spool turkeys.  I pre cut turkey bodies from craft foam.  The kids glue the wooden spools to the body.  Once they are good dry, they glue the feathers to the opposite end of the spool.  After a little more drying time, they add the felt beaks and waddles and then finally the pipe cleaner legs.  
They are really cute and even more fun when they are all together in a group before they go home with each student.

Another craft we do around Thanksgiving time is a bean wreath.  They are so easy to make and I think the colors look like fall.
To make them, all you have to do is pour several bags of dried beans into a large bowl.  Next, add white glue and mix until the beans are well coated.  Give each student a piece of wax paper and a few scoops of bean mixture.
The students shape the mixture into a circle.  Let them dry for a few days.  Add any kind of bow you would like and you have a wreath that was super fun to make.

I also really enjoy these Native and Pilgrim photo projects.  As you can see, all you need for this activity is construction paper, glue, and photos of your students (feathers are also a nice touch).  Kids love using their pictures for this project.

For the past few years I have also really enjoyed using Babbling Abby's Spelling for All Seasons.  This packet has several paper toppers that are seasonally inspired, as well as a variety of recording sheets.
We used Abby's patterns for the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.  We made Native Americans, Pilgrims, and Turkeys to top our practice with word families.  
They looked fabulous hanging in the hall outside our classroom.

In math we worked on word problems using the math mini book that I made last year, It's Turkey Time.  Students work with a variety of skills in this mini book.  Addition, subtraction, fractions, fact families, and time to the half hour.  It is a great little review before going home for Thanksgiving break.

I'm all about using these types of seasonally inspired mini books to practice word problems.  
You can have a FREE copy of It's Turkey Time by clicking on the picture below.  (or maybe just pin it to use next year ;) 

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Thanks for stopping by.
Have a great long weekend!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dominoes for Days (Freebies and Ideas)

I love things that you can use in lots of different ways.  It is so fabulous when you can buy something and put it to use in a few different activities.  Dominoes are one such item.  They can be used for so many classroom activities.  With a little creativity, dominoes can be a fun part of many math and literacy activities.
For math, they are a perfect way to work with math facts.  We use them for addition facts, subtraction facts, related facts, and fact families.
Before we started all of this domino math fact work we read, Domino Addition by Lynette Long.  This simple text helps students see patterns in the dominoes and how to generate addition equations using dominoes.

After reading Domino Addition, we played Domino Scoot (Addition).  I placed a domino at each student desk.  The students used their recording sheets to illustrate each domino and write two related addition facts to go along with that domino.  After about a minute, I signal them to scoot to the next desk.

We used the same setup to play Domino Scoot for subtraction facts.  After a little more practice, we will use this activity once again for fact families.  
Since the recording sheets are so open ended, I can use this exact activity again later for review or for reteaching purposes.  
At the bottom of this post you can find a link to my Domino Scoot recording sheets.  

Besides fact practice, we've also used dominoes for odd and even sorting.  This activity is super simple, with very little prep required.  Students just write odd or even on a note can and then sort the dominoes into the correct category.
You could use this same strategy with other skills as well, like less than 5/greater than 5 or doubles/not doubles.  Just think of different ways students can sort the dominoes.

Another low prep use for dominoes is to use them for word work.  They are very easy to arrange and use to make words.  My students like to use them to practice their spelling words.

Other domino literacy activities I've used require a little more work on the front end, but are fun and a great way to practice a variety of skills.  For example, we work on short and long vowel discrimination by playing domino match ups.  
I make dominoes with a picture on one end and the corresponding vowel sound on the end of another domino.  Students match the correct vowel sound with each picture.  When they complete the matching, there is an optional recording sheet.
I like to use these match ups as a partner activity with the whole group.  Which means, I print half as many dominoes as students so that all the partner sets can play at the same time.
I prep these by printing the dominoes on card stock, laminating, and cutting them.  However, for a quicker prep, you could print them and have students cut out their own sets.
Domino match ups can also be use for small groups, as centers, or as homework.

My young learners have also practiced contractions with domino match ups.  I printed dominoes that have two words on one side and the corresponding contraction on the end of another domino.  Students match the correct words with the correct contraction.  When they complete the contraction matching, there is an optional recording sheet.
If you would like a free copy of the Contraction Domino Match Up or the Long & Short O Domino Match Up, see the bottom of the post.

You can click on the pictures below for free domino activities for your classroom.

I hope you enjoy these activities or at least get some ideas to address your own student needs.  Thanks so much for stopping by.