Grinch Day!

Yeah!  It is the last week before our two week break.  It is going to be a whirlwind of a week but I am ready for it.  I am linking up with Erin at Mrs. Beattie’s Classroom to share about our Grinch Day because it was just “that awesome”.

First off, I need to confess something.  Grinch Day was Tuesday and this is Wednesday.  I had full intentions of coming home after my hair appointment and Christmas shopping to write this post but instead I crashed minutes after getting home and was in bed at {GASP} 9:15.  This NEVER happens!!  I am a night owl and am usually up much later.  I think I am running out of gas and just need to get through to Friday.

Our day started with most of my kids wearing green and checking on our elf, Snowflake.  He got a hold of some scissors and decided to decorate our tree.  My plan had been to have him sitting with a  stuffed Grinch.  I asked around and went looking myself for a stuffed Grinch, but apparently they are nonexistent now.  Believe me, I tried all the possible shops but had no luck.  I have borrowed from a student in the past but I could not remember who it was, so I was out of luck.   

The first thing we did was listen to a reading of the story.  There are some great audio versions that are far more expressive then I can ever be, so I settled for turning the pages of the book.  We had a good discussion about why the book was black and white and red (no colour). The kids then paired up and filled in an organizer with words that described the Grinch.  Just as we wrapped this up our “special visitor” arrived.  My Principal had agreed to come in and do a craft with the kids.  I didn’t let them in on the little secret in case something came up at the office and she could not come.  She often finds cute crafts on Pinterest and sends them to me.  I thought it would be fun to have her do one with the kids.  I am glad that she was able to come and the kids really enjoyed making their Grinch handprint with her and an older student helper that came with her.  As you can see they still need a few finishing touches. 

After a break for recess we began another “craftivity”.  We discussed things we could do to make the Grinch grin, but first we discussed what a grin was.  I was surprised by the fact that the kids did not know what a grin was but several were happy to “show” their friends what the word meant.  Very cute!!  They partnered up with their turn and talk partner and shared their ideas before heading off to start the writing.  Once the grin was completed they got to work assembling their Grinch.  The templates came from Deanna Jump’s Grinch Unit, which I can't seem to find anywhere online now to give you a link to.  They turned out super cute and perfect for a whole class photo because their faces were all covered with the Grinch. 

Our final Grinch activity before lunch was more academic and involved talking to a partner again as well.  This is my “go-to” strategy to prepare kids to write.  Even my most reluctant kids are better prepared to write if they first share with a peer.  I used another activity out of Deanna’s unit.  We have been learning about character traits and comparing the character at the beginning and the end of the story was a perfect activity.  Colouring the Grinch when the writing was finished might have been a motivator too J


We ended our day with the Grinch animated version and enjoyed a green candy or two.  The kids declared that Grinch day was the “funnest day ever”.  At least until Polar Express Day on Friday. We will have to see!

More Elf-tastic Adventures with Snowflake!

Week 2 of our Elf-tastic Adventures with Snowflake, our classroom elf. 

Welcome to week 2 of my new linky, which highlights the adventures we are having with the Elf on the Shelf in the classroom.  Grab the graphic above to use on your page and link back and then scroll right to the bottom to link up. 

2 weeks to go before the holidays and the kids are excited!  We have had a great week with our elf.  I am having a lot of fun coming up with adventures each day.  If you were here last week you will know that I mentioned something was coming on Monday. 
On Monday morning my children found a note on our Christmas tree.  I forgot to take a picture but the gist of the note was that our elf, Snowflake didn’t feel safe in our classroom and was going to visit another elf in the Kindergarten classroom.  He had heard that the children there don't try to touch their elf.  He was afraid he was going to lose his magic if he stayed in our classroom.  My kids were a little shocked by the news but quickly pointed out that these boys were touching him and that maybe, just maybe he would come back to us.  Unfortunately, the boy who was the worst offender ended up being absent that day.  The other little guy was at school and he definitely got the message.  Snowflake also put in the note that he would come back to the classroom if the boys wrote a letter and promised they would not touch him again.  This little guy eagerly sat down to write. 

So what happened to our elf in the K room?  Well, take a look!

 Poor Snowflake, he goes there to stay out of trouble and then gets tied up and surrounded by playmobile people.  Too cute!  Later in the day my little guy and a girl who is sooo in love with our elf visited to make sure Snowflake was OK and to deliver the letter.  I think this really had the impact I was hoping for. 

I really struggled with what to do next: Do I wait until my other little guy returned to school and wrote his own letter or do I have him return?   I had no idea if he would be back to school the next day because we didn’t know why he was absent.   As a result, I decided Snowflake should return.  This is what we found him doing on Tuesday morning. 
I purposely “guarded” him because he was within reach and my little offender was back to school.  When we were all on the carpet we read the letter that Snowflake was reading (It was the apology letter) and everyone shared how happy they were that he did come back.  I think I will strategically place Snowflake out of reach of my little friends.  J

This morning the kids thought that Snowflake was giving another reminder, one that I didn’t even plan.  He was on top of the smart board wrapped in these great dollar store Christmas lights.  He was right beside our whole body listeners posters.  The kids thought he was trying to remind them to use their whole body listening skills.  Not my plan, but believe me I ran with it all day.  Today we also did an awesome directed drawing activity that I found on Pinterest.  You can read about it {HERE}.  I am a big fan of directed drawing because it allows all children to feel successful.  They totally surprise themselves when they are done.  I will post a photo of the collection of reindeer later; I totally forgot to take a pic of my bulletin board. 

Today our students will performing in our school concert so everyone was crazy excited and full of questions about whenwhenwhen are we going to do the show.  We were sing "All I want for Christmas is my two Front Teeth"  2 little girls arrived that morning missing a front tooth.  Perfect timing! 
Snowflake also picked this day to bring a friend to visit. It was a hippo who sings “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” but I didn’t check the batteries and he didn’t work L  Beside our elf is our class mascot, Ellie.  The kids took this really well.  However, I was reminded many times throughout the day to bring batteries to school the next day Guess what Snowflake will have with him tomorrow? ;) That makes an easy Friday set up with our Elf. 

I am looking forward to a much calmer week next week.  That may sound a bit odd for the week before the holidays but it has been an incredibly busy week at our school.  We are going to do a lot of crafting, math games, Christmas read alouds and responses, Grinch Day and Polar Express Day.  That kind of chaos I can handle because my nights are free. 

I would love for you to link up if you have an Elf in your classroom.  It is fun to see all the photos people post but I really enjoy reading the stories that go with them.  If you link up please grab the graphic above and link back to this page.  Have a great final week! 

A week of "elf" tastic adventures.

Welcome to my new linky which highlights the adventures we are having with the Elf on the Shelf in the classroom.  Grab the graphic above to use on your page and link back and then scroll right to the bottom to link up. 

It’s December 1st and time to bring out the Elf Snowflake!   I don’t have the kids name him.  I tell them that Santa hand picks classroom elves because they have to be super well behaved!  I can’t have him messing up our classroom!  The kids were super excited to meet him. 

When the kids joined me on the carpet and I closed down our attendance they let out a collective cry when they saw the elf was on the smartboard.  He hijacked my background.  Later on we were writing our letters to Santa.  I used my Letters to the North Pole pack.  You can read more about how it works {HERE}. The kids really got excited about using the candy cane spacers and crowding around our Christmas word wall.  The Grade 7 or 8 Challenge Program students are responding to their letters.  I have also submitted them to the local paper to hopefully be included in their Christmas section. 


We arrived to find Snowflake sitting on Santa’s lap today.  That was a great reminder that we needed to finish our letters today.  We are working on graphing right now in math and have been making some concrete graphs with materials in our classroom.  I love using the rulers as our “starting line” and the kids love using post its to make their labels.  We will progress to pictographs and bar graphs later this week and adding most/least to our math star chart.  Next week will start using my Christmas Graphing Centers.  You can find them {HERE}. 

More elf shenanigans today.  After our letters from Tuesday we decided that maybe Snowflake would be our mail carrier to the North Pole.  Today he arrived with a basket and sign and a letter saying he would love to deliver letters to everyone at the North Pole.  He also had a little reminder from Santa to be better listeners.  Unfortunately, that didn’t help because it was somewhat of a crazy day!  We went to our local high school to watch the musical Seussical.  They did an amazing job.  I spotted several former students in the cast and many former students from our school.  The kids truly enjoyed the show. 

TGIFIt has been a long week and the elf isn’t really helping the kids behaviour as I thought it might.  It worked wonders for last year’s class.  Today he was on our clipchart with a reminder from Santa yet again.  I have big plans for Monday so you will need to check back to see how it goes with the elf and a couple of boys who think touching the Elf is a good idea. 
What have the awesome moments been from your week? 
And since this week has been so awesome I am also linking up with Erin at Mrs. Beattie's Classroom.


Elf Adventures and our new Writing Center!

 I am linking this post up with RClassroomsRUs.  We worked on writing all week long but this is a snapshot of how it looked in our room this week. 

What an exciting day we had today.  The kids arrived to find our elf was sitting at my computer and had changed the desktop on the computer.  He was promptly relocated to the top of our tree so we could get on with our day.
The highlight of our day happened after recess.  In the morning the kids were asking all sorts of questions about a new bulletin board area but I held them off until later. When they came in I shared with them that they were all going to write to Santa.  Everyone was very excited but some were a little concerned that they had already sent their letter to Santa.  I was quick to share that Santa is ok with another letter.
We started off by looking at the sample letters and taking a look at each part.  We talked about what each of these parts meant and they talked to their “turn and talk” about what they could say in their letter.  I asked them to think of 2 things they wanted to tell Santa and then 2 questions they had for Santa.  Everyone was very engaged and full of information to share with their partner.  This talking piece always translates into a better start to the writing part. 

Next we looked at the resources that would help them write their letter.  We took a close look at the I Can.. chart or success criteria and the word cards.  Right away the first question was “why are there candy canes between the words?”  To which I replied “We are using candy canes instead of our space men!”  They literally cheered about that, but I did add the disclaimer that they weren’t going to eat them today. 
Everyone got to their writing and it was a very productive writing time.  My principal happened to wander in while everyone was writing.  She got a first hand look at how well everyone was working.  They were very excited to share about the candy canes, too. 
After we finish our Santa letters (which our elf, Snowflake, is delivering to the North Pole) this will become our regular writing center.  Students can choose to write to anyone at the North Pole: Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, the Elves.  I expect with this shared experience and their own opportunity to write their letter to Santa that they will be able to use the center independently during Daily 5.  There will be a basket to put finished letters in and Snowflake will do nightly deliveries for us.  I think that some of the letters might even get responses. J

I have this product on sale right now.   I just realized when I went to my store that it was not discounted, as I added after I had set up my sale.  I will keep it on sale through Wednesday seeing as it wasn’t on sale the first day of the sale.  I am sure your kids will love it.  You can click on the images in this post to go to the product or you can click on the image below and check out my entire store.  Thanks for stopping by!  Don't forget to enter my rafflecopter {HERE} for a chance to win this product.


What!!! It is almost December!

I don’t know about you, but I seemed to have blinked and now it is almost December.   At the beginning of the year I always think it is such a long haul to get to Christmas, but after our Thanksgiving in October (I am Canadian) time seems to speed up.  Now, here we are 3 weeks from the Christmas Holidays!

Christmas is my favourite time of the year and my first graders think so too.J   Hallowe’en was barely over and the talk turned to Santa and Christmas.  Our school population almost overwhelmingly celebrates Christmas, so I am able to celebrate with my students.  Our curriculum in Grade 2 has a Traditions and Celebrations component so I don’t go into a lot of detail about other celebrations, although I do touch on them.  I leave that to their Grade 2 teacher.

Today I stayed after our Professional Activity Day to start getting the room ready.First up this Monday is the arrival of our Elf on the Shelf, who is currently sitting in our Christmas tree.  I am so excited to see what this group of students thinks.  I expect some will literally be “vibrating” with excitement.  We had a lot of fun with Snowflake last year and I expect the same this year.  Last year I had a student who constantly wanted to write to Snowflake.  I was inspired to take this idea and expand it into a writing unit.  I am in the process of creating a Christmas writing package that will allow the children to write to Snowflake and all of the others who live at the North Pole.  Each night when he “leaves” to go to the North Pole he can deliver our letters.  I think the kids will be very excited about this.  I hope to have it ready for the Cyber Monday sale, so be on the lookout for it. 

The hard part about December is keeping the kids engaged when their minds are clearly elsewhere.  I try really hard to incorporate Christmas themes into our reading, writing and math to help keep them learning and interested.  I recently created a collection of Data Management centers that are thematic.  My latest additions are Grab and Graph and Spin and Graph Winter Edition.
Each product has 6 centers that are print and go and have colour and black and white options, to save ink.  With Grab and Graph you print out the sheet of mini manipulative cards, cut them out and put them in a paper bag.  Students use the accompanying worksheet to graph what they “grabbed” from the bag and to communicate and make comparisons about the data.   There is just a bit of colouring to keep the kids engaged and busy for a time and it requires very little direction so it will foster independence.
Spin and Graph uses the same themes but instead students have either a colour copied spinner that I laminate (to use with dry erase markers) or a B&W version.  Students spin 20 times and mark their tallies.  They then complete the worksheet, graphing and communicating about their data.  I am really excited about using these with my students.  I am sure they will enjoy them. 

This brings me to my final though before I sign off.  I have some amazing news that I have only shared with a very few people.  A few weeks ago I decided to put together a page for the TPT Holiday Ebook.  I knew that I would be submitting to the Grade 1-2 book and that competition for those 50 pages would stiff.  I am happy to report that I got an email confirming that I would be one of the lucky 50 included in the book!  I am beyond thrilled and excited and might have did a little squeal right in the middle of my classroom when I found out.  J  It is available starting December 7th so be sure to download it for 50 awesome tips to use in your classroom and 50 FREEBIES.   
This is by far my most “awesome” news this week so I am linking up with Erin at Mrs. Beattie’s Classroom and her “Year of Awesome” linky.  Be sure to check back regularly during this month as I plan to blog about all of our holiday happenings.

Don’t forget to visit TPT on Monday and Tuesday and scoop up some deals.  I know my wishlist is ready and I will be spending some time leaving feedback on items that I have not had a chance to leave feedback for.  Did you know that by leaving feedback you get points that you can use towards future purchases?  It makes the 28% off sale even sweeter.  I would love it if you could return and leave feedback on any items of mine you might have purchased.  I love reading your comments.

Until next time.

A little bit of this and that!

I am linking up with Erin from Mrs. Beattie’s Classroom this week.  It has been a few weeks since I have linked up but I am back to share some of my awesome moments.  I have been commenting to my colleagues that I think this group of Firsties has finally figured it out and is settling down.  We have had two really solid weeks.  I think having said this I might have jinxed myself, as you will find out as you read on. 

For the past several weeks in Math we have been working really hard on recognizing and representing our numbers to 30 using 10 frames and base 10 blocks as well as pictures, tallies etc.  We are practicing in lots of different ways but I have shared some of our favourites.  The students LOVE using whiteboards so we use them all the time.  On this particular day I slipped a 10 frame sheet in a page protector and called out numbers for them to show in the frames.  Pictured below is the second part of the activity where they flipped their “whiteboards” over and drew the base 10 blocks.  I love how they all get comfortable and are working so hard.  Another great activity is to simply put a pile of number cards on the table and have them  use the blocks to build the number and have a friend check.  I truly feel like most kids have this concept mastered. 

Later in the week I challenged the students to solve a problem for me - I wonder how many tables there are in our classroom?.  I told them they could take a clipboard and the “whiteboard” ten frame or blank side and see if they could figure it out.  They were excited for the challenge and I wanted to see if they could represent a  number greater than we had worked on.  It was very interesting to watch them go.  Some students had a plan right away they touched each desk and made a mark in their tens frame some wrote a number, some a dot.  Others stood back and tried to count all the tables from a distance.  Their answers were very telling.  At the end of the task they shared their answers and I wrote their numbers on the smartboard.  We discussed the answers that were less than 20 (we have 20 students) and talked about why that wasn’t a possible answer.  The math talk that followed was great to hear.  On day two we repeated the task but with chairs.  This time all of the answers were above 20 and many were right on.  It was great to see the kids apply the skills that they have worked so hard on.

During our word work this week I added 5 new words that the kids all decided needed to go to the word jail.  We practiced them daily and then on one of our practice days we did “find and print’ using just our new words and the word jail.  These two little guys often struggle but when you mention that the words are in the Word Jail they light up and start searching right away.  As you can see, they spelled them perfectly (barring reversals).  They were so proud of themselves AWESOME!

Another highlight of our week was our Character Ed focus around kindness and using our WITS.  WITS is a program that our school adopted to teach children how to solve small problems on their own. For foyr days we reviewed each choice:  Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it Out and Seek Help.  On the fifth day we worked on our door.  We read some great read alouds but the favourites were probably The Recess Queen and King of the Playground.  I think the kids could really relate to each book.  We had a great discussion about how to use our WITS to handle kids like Mean Jean the Recess Queen and Sammy from the King of the Playground.  We used a Venn Diagram for the first time and compared the two books.  The kids figured out how the planner worked right away and had some great contributions. 

Midweek we took a break from the WITS focus to decorate our door.  If you ask any of my students they would say this is the AWESOME highlight of the week.  The reason being is that we made Minions!  I found this craftivity {HERE}.  I had intended it to be a surprise but I left my sample out where one very observant student spotted it.  He loves to make crafts and was beyond excited, which got everyone else excited.    Unfortunately I didn’t get to make them with them because I had a Collaborative Inquiry group meeting at our board office but they had a special supply teacher Ms. Makinson!  She taught many of them last year.  They were excited to see her.  The minions turned out AWESOME.  Now the question of the day is “when do we get to take them home? “ 

As the end of the week approached the tide turned in the classroom and things started going seriously off the rails.  I am not so sure whyearly Christmas fever, snow who knows.  When Monday rolls around it is time to rein them in again so that we can make some more awesome moments in our classroom.  Next week is filled with a number of great extra-curricular activities so stay tuned.

On a totally different awesome note:  I finally got my Christmas data management centers uploaded to TPT!  I already had posted the fall, winter and math manipulatives sets and have been anxious to get this set posted.  If you are going to be teaching graphing to your students in the next month you will want to check these sets out.