Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Some of my favorite memories from school were making a fun craft and bringing it home to "surprise" my parents for the holidays!  

This year my own children came home with that spark in their eyes and they could barely contain their excitement!  It was killing them to wait until Christmas day for John and I to open our homemade gifts from them!  So, on Christmas Eve we gave in and were delighted to find fun new ornaments to hang on the tree!

Similar to that, I wanted my students to have something special they could take home to give their parents!  So, after a bit of searching through Pinterest, I found this fun craft:  

The students each used their own thumbprint to make adorable little reindeer ornaments!  After we let them dry they were packaged up and ready to take home to someone special!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Elf on the Shelf Adventures

This year I had an Elf on the Shelf at home and at school!  Boy did I have my hands full!  I had to remember to move these guys ~ ahem - I mean make sure they found new spots when they flew back each morning!

My kids at home and school just loved their elves!  At school, the students named the elf Peppermint.  At home, our elf was named Mack - a few years ago when he made his first appearance!

Check out some of the antics of Mack!!  Maybe it will provide you with some inspiration next year!
{Mack finished up some needed painting on our train tunnels for the track that runs around the Christmas tree!  Why can't he finish laundry while he's here, too?}

{Mack got a bit of a sugar high as he was sipping on some syrup!}

{Mack made a fun swing out of yarn and a toilet paper tube!}

{He decided to have a little fun and toilet paper the tree!}

{This was Mason's favorite - finding Mack in his Lego Chima Castle!}

{Mack must have gone ice skating at the North Pole!}

{Mack decided to start opening some of Mason's birthday presents!!  Luckily he didn't get very far!}

{Mack took a nap in the silverware drawer!}

{Uh Oh!  He got stuck in the blender!!  After a couple of days we had to take the lid off so he could get out!}

{Looks like Mack found a lady friend!}

{Mack was just hanging out in Bandit's stocking!}

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Wishes...

 This Christmas my own kids were totally in love with our Elf on the Shelf!  They truly, honestly believed in him!  To the point that one day, when Mack had not moved in 3 days, Kylie was crying because she was afraid that he hadn't been able to go visit Santa!!

This year the kids each wrote a letter to Mack to take to Santa.  They wanted to be sure that Santa knew exactly what they wanted for Christmas!  They were so adorable!!  (p.s. I saved them!!)

Above:  I want heat wave 
that can trans
form into any 
and a speed boat.  
Love Mason To Santa

Below:  I love you Santa.  love Kylie Mulheran
Please I want a computer.  Please.
And stuffed animals like a fox and 
a dolphin and a 
bear and a 
dog and a 
cat and a 
giant stuffed fox. Please

Along the side ~ Love you Santa!
I love your
elfs and you.
I love 
he is

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Spookley the Square Pumpkin

Have you read The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin?  
It's probably one of my favorite books to read in the fall.  I think it teaches such a great lesson about how important it is to be unique and everyone can/should be loved for just being themselves!  

This fall our 2nd grade team worked together to each create a lesson we could share during the week leading up to Halloween.  I chose to do a lesson on Spookley the Square Pumpkin!  It didn't hurt to have the movie as an extra tie-in for the afternoon!  

Together we read the story.  Then students were given a piece of paper that they could create their own unique pumpkin on.  I had cut up various colors of tissue papers into small squares and spread them out around the room.  Students created square pumpkins, small pumpkins, round pumpkins and more!  They were then given a half-sheet of writing paper to describe their pumpkin.  

The students loved the activity!  While it was a fairly simple activity, it allowed the students:
-- a way to be creative
-- a writing activity
-- to think about how everyone is unique & special

What are your favorite Fall-themed activities to do with students in the classroom?
Comment below!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Do you GoNoodle?

Do you GoNoodle?

This has to be, hands-down, one of our favorite ways to take a brain break!  If you have not checked out, you need to right now!

My student's favorites are:
Kids Bop Favorites
KooKoo Kangaroo
Running Races

This always provides an opportunity for ALL of the students to get their wiggles out in quick 2-4 minute activities or songs/dances!  We do at least one a day, but some days we do a few of these brain breaks!

Here's the Top 5 Reasons YOU should check out GoNoodle for your classroom!

1. Kids LOVE it!
2. You know the videos you're showing are approved content for the students/classroom.
3. You can add your own brain breaks from YouTube to your GoNoodle account for easy access.
4. It provides a quick spurt of exercise, within your own classroom!
5. The students choose a classroom mascot that grows as they continue to GoNoodle - providing a little motivation!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Daily 5: Word Work Options

I've changed how I instruct using Daily 5 a few times and each time I feel like it gets a little better!  

I am so excited to share that I get to attend the Two Sister's Daily 5 Conference in Chicago in April!  I can hardly wait!  I plan to blog about what things look like in my classroom now (before I attend the conference) but then also share some of the great things I learn and how I implement them after I attend!

Word Work is probably one of the hardest centers to make "meaningful" and ensure the students aren't just "playing with letters" during their time there.  I have purchased some things from Teachers Pay Teachers, found ideas on Pinterest and created some of my own activities for Word Work.  

One activity I use is the Flash Fluency by Stephanie Stewart on TpT (see above photo).  Students time themselves to see how quickly they can read the sight words (pictured above) or the sentences on the cards.  There are also full sheet fluency passages that the students can time themselves on while reading.  I encourage them to do this activity with a partner so that there is a little accountability if they make a mistake.

Another activity that I created during Summer Explorers are my word family eggs.  The left (small) side of the egg has an initial sound and the right side (large) has an ending sound.  Students then rotate the ending sound to match up to all of the initial sounds and read the various words.  Again, I encourage them to work with a partner for accountability.

An example of one egg is 

t  -ap

*-ap is only written once as it is the word family that rotates, to be paired with all of the various initial word sounds.

One of my favorite stations (*and a favorite of the students*) is the Spelling Task Cards Board from Amy Lemons on TpT.  There are 20 activities the kids can do with the spelling words each week.  I change out the spelling words, so that they have the current list each week.  Our spelling words always focus on a phonics skill (every 5th week is a review week) and these activities help to reinforce the skill we're working on in class.

What are some of your favorite Word Work activities?  I'd love for you to share in the comments!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Engineering: Foil Boats

When you were little, did you want to be an engineer?
Did you even know what an "engineer" was?

My students learned early on that they ARE engineers and each one of them has the potential to be an engineer when they grow up, if they choose!

At the start of the year we did a fun little lesson on using the engineering design process to create foil boats.  We put them to the test to see how many washers they could hold before sinking.  

As a class we read some books about boats and discussed what different boats do and how they appear different from others - i.e. speed boats vs. barges.

Students used their Science notebooks to draw out their designs.  Each student was given (2) 4" x 4" squares of aluminium foil.  They could cut, fold or tear it anyway they wanted.  They had to create their boat to hold as many washers as possible.

The kids had a great time testing out their boats.  They talked in small groups about which boats were successful and why.  They helped each other make changes to their boats and the next day they tested their re-designed boats.  It was so fun to see the successes the second day when the students were able to modify their original designs and watch them float!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Currently: November 2014

Today I'm linking up with Farley from Oh Boy, Fourth Grade to share what I'm "currently" up to!

I'm currently listening to the wind blowing the leaves across the deck!  I'm so NOT looking forward to cleaning the rest of the leaves up in our yard this year.  However, I know that with it being November I need to get to it sooner rather than later - after all, it is Minne"SNOW"ta that I live in!!

I'm loving this beautiful fall weather we're having!!  Today we took the kids down to Minneapolis to tailgate before the Vikings game and it was gorgeous out!  We didn't actually go to the game, but everyone had fun hanging out, making new friends and throwing the football around!

I'm currently thinking about school this week and just knowing I have to write sub plans for Friday!  I've started working on them - so that's a start!  Why does it have to be so much more work to be "absent" than it does to just be at school and teach for the day?!

I'm currently wanting to change up my Jamicure!!  I need to put new ones on - while I love my current "snow" ones (I was Elsa for Halloween so I just had to have wraps that coordinated!!) I want something fun and new!  The best part about Jamberry Nail Wraps is their so inexpensive, that I can change them after just a few days!  Do you want to try a sample?  Send me a message or comment below and I'll get a sample in the mail to you!!  Check them out at --->

I'm currently needing to take a NAP!!

I'm currently reading Blacklisted From the PTA and it's hilarious!  If you need a light, easy and funny read - check it out!!

I hope you're currently having a fantastic day!!  Be sure to check out some of the other blog posts over at Oh, Boy Fourth Grade!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Why I Chose to Rearrange

I have loved my room since it finally came together at the end of the summer!  However, I was really frustrated that the classroom library was blocking the only white board in my classroom.  Yesterday I was meeting with my team in the morning and it just came to me - flip the front of the classroom!  Then I would have open space in front of the white board and the library would be in front of the reading strategies and skills bulletin board.  It made so much sense - why hadn't I thought of it before?!  

I still love the cozy feel of my classroom library with the cute rug!  Now there's a couple little nooks for the kids to read in (between the bookcases).  It's amazing how much more space I have at the front of the room, too!

The best part is, in moving things, I was able to free up a bookcase from the library that I can now use next to my table by the window.  I chose to not have a "teacher desk" this year and I still love that decision!  However, it had been hard having one corner of the table occupied by things like - my water bottle, picture of my family, post-its, pencil jar and more.  With the new bookcase addition under the window, I can have the entire table cleared off to easily work with 6 students.  It's been great working with students all day long at the table!

Hopefully when the kids come in on Monday they'll love the newly rearranged room!